The second season of It Happens Only In India on FOX Traveller visits new destinations and meets people who are quirky, bizarre and fascinating. Vivacious actor Sugandha Garg takes over after RJ Mallishka, who anchored the first season of the show.
Having hosted TV shows before, Sugandha says, “The first season covered major cities in India, but there isn’t much of a difference in these cities in terms of food, culture or people. But our country’s hinterland are fairly untouched by urbanisation. People there still follow customs the way their forefathers did. This season brings the rustic, exotic and desi India to the fore. We have featured spots that a foreigner wants to see.”
She adds that most Indian travel shows are anchor-driven and give information about a place with few visuals. But Sugandha claims her show will be real in terms of places, people and anchor. She says, “Viewers will feel as much danger, fear and apprehension as I did.” For the 13-episode show, she shot for four months and it was a personal experience for her. She adds that she met a lot of people and did things, which will go into her book of achievements.
Recalling her experiences, Sugandha says, “I went mousa (rat) hunting in Bastar, Chattisgarh. I was queasy to eat it, but I learnt they hunt wild rats that eat the best vegetation. Once I got over my squirming, I realised rats tasted just like meat. I caught fish with my bare hands in Kochi following the custom of not using nets. I dunked my head in the water and grabbed a fish. It wasn’t risky, but the water was muddy and I am hydrophobic. Getting over my water phobia was a big high for me.”
In Bundi, Rajasthan, she was part of a Gujjar community procession which had 5000 people dancing on the road, with animals like camel, horses, donkey and monkey trained to dance to drum beats. Later she was shocked to see a custom of self-flagellation in an attempt to get closer to God in a temple in Bidar, Karnataka. “They worship the guy who wields the whip and also got into a trance. One guy predicted the future, which is trouble. He said there will be many earthquakes soon and the end of earth is in the near future,” she says, adding that her favourite moment was in the Marine National Park in Jamnagar, Gujarat. “There, the water recedes into the sea during the day and you have three kms of sea bed to walk on. I held a live baby octopus from the reef, which was amazing. Our show isn’t a travel guide, but will depict that we have more to offer than regular tourist spots and we are bizarre as people too.”