Snake with a soft soul

By admin
29 April 2011

HE WAS the guy every­one loved to hate – the snake in the grass who lay in wait, plotting and scheming and capable of telling breathtaking lies without batting an eyelid.

But finally after all the fibs and backstabbingTejan Pillay’s luck ran out and his tribemates took revenge by voting him off Survivor SA: Maldives.

If the 32-year-old engineer is nursing any grudges about how he was booted off the M-Net reality series to become the fifth member of the jury he doesn’t show it.

The Tejan we came to know on screen constantly strut­ted around without his shirt on, showing off his tattoos and ripped body as he cooked up ruthless plans to pick off his ­rivals one by one.

But the Tejan who welcomes us into his parent’s home in Durban couldn’t be more different. Soft-spoken and thoughtful, he answers all our questions thoroughly – even the really awkward ones about how it feels to be one of the most disliked villains in South African Survivor history.

Despite everything he’s proud of the way he competed. From the start it was clear in his mind that it was only a game – he wasn’t there to make friends; he was there to win at whatever cost.

“Every single move was calculated,” he says. “It was like a chess game and I always thought four or five moves ahead.”

But in the end he was too clever for his own good. His physical strength and innate ability to manipulate others to follow his lead ultimately led to him being voted off because his fellow castaways decided he was just too much of a threat.

Tejan admits he was in his ele­ment while playing the game.

“Survivor is everything I believe in. It involves pushing your body and mind to beyond their limits and it’s all about psychological warfare which I loved.”

But he cringed a bit when he watched the series and saw how he came across.

“What viewers saw made me look like a snake – I’m nothing like that in real life,” he says, flashing a winning smile.

HIS childhood provided him with plenty of opportunity to rough it in the great outdoors. Growing up on his parent’s 16-hectare farm near Verulam, north of Durban, amid wildlife and a bamboo forest, Tejan developed an appreciation of nature from a young age.

When the call went out for entries for the fourth season of Survivor last year he didn’t hesitate. Even though he’d never watched an entire season of the reality show he knew he’d thrive in the game which pushes contestants to their limits mentally and physically.

While most participants spent time at the gym to prepare for the tough conditions on the ­island Tejan chose a different route. As a dedicated martial-arts fighter he was in great shape but knew he needed to learn survival skills to be an asset to his tribe.

“I did some extreme things to get ready for the competition,” he says. From meeting with an Olympic swimming coach who gave him swimming and diving tips, to getting a crash course in outdoor survival from the Boy Scouts in Hillcrest, Tejan threw himself into learning every­thing he needed to know.

He even flew to Cape Town to meet a colleague who taught him valuable survival tactics.

“I met Dr Wallace Vosloo who spent hours teaching me how to make rope from coconut husks and fish hooks from branches and natural ways of purifying water,” he says.

“He even taught me how to make fire using nothing but a condom and water.”

Get to know Tejan Better in the issue of YOU, 5 May 2011.

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