While I write this, I am sitting in a jam-packed airport lounge, with AC running at its lowest pace and chitter-chatter is at its highest possible decibel. Kids running helter-skelter, often bumping up, splashing eatables, eventually snowballing the messy affair. To add to it, the flight is delayed by another hour.
But nothing does irritate me, not even to a slightest possible extent. I sit here, peacefully penning this piece down, intermittently wiping sweat off my gleeful face. Even I am surprised, as this is not quite me. The usual me would get irritated even by 1% of this. This is when I realise, the magical effect of the super-duper vacation, I was returning from. Yes, certain vacations do this to you. They wave their wand to suck out all your frustrations like a vacuum pump and set you freely floating like a cheerful butterfly.
Kanha national park was the destination chosen, which lies in the heart of India and ends up coloring it green. Our day here, would begin as early as 4.30 am, getting fully equipped with winter jacket (yeah, winter jackets in summer, that’s the beauty of it), scarf entangled with only eyes and nose wriggled out, neutral colored clothes and a pair of sunglasses. All this to protect from cold in the first half of safari, sun in the later half and dust all the way.
At 5.45 am sharp, park gate would open and fleet of gypsies would enter, dusting the dawn in it’s full glory. Quest to seek the king of jungle would commence. It would still be slightly dark, making the sighting probability shoot sky high. Tracing the paw marks, listening to the animal alarm calls, scanning through the water bodies, we would pray for the mighty king’s sight.
Getting to see an hour full of road show, 5 in 1 frame kind of bonanza, hunting scene, passer by look, sleeping beauty, just a glimpse, all of these or none of these – is all in lady luck’s hands and of course of the king himself. With the day’s ascend, hope would start descending the ladder down from “hunting scene” to “a mere glimpse” and then further down to at least a Leopard or a Bear, if not the tiger himself. 10.30 am, morning safari would end. On the way back, we would start reading the faces in the fellow gypsies to make out if they could spot a tiger. Nothing can hide the ecstasy of sighting a tiger or distress of not spotting one, off the faces.
As we return, hotel staff would all be ready to welcome with steamy breakfast followed by a rejuvenating cup of tea. Knackered by the bumpy gypsy ride (or by not having sighted a tiger), we would take relaxing warm shower and pounce straight into cozy bed to recover for the evening round of safari.
Evening round would begin at 3 pm. Tiger sighting chances are usually high early in the morning or late in the evening. So the first half would be spent in clicking sambar deers, barking deers, spotted deers, monkeys, langoors, barasinghas, black bucks, bisons, boars, peacocks, mongooses, eagles, owls and plenty of other flora and fauna. When the sun harshness is reduced, it would set a perfect stage for mesmerizing jungle landscapes. Evergreen Sal trees, bright orange fallen leaves, brown tinted bamboo and yellowish meadows would offer a great canvas to thin curvy roads.
End of the evening would again engage us in scanning water bodies for the big cat, as it’s his time to wake up, have water and fight scorching heat by dunking into it. Again, what we would get to witness, was complete stroke of luck, like in the game of poker. Striking similarity, made us assign this, some teen patti terminologies – we would refer “a mere glimpse” as “pair” , “more than 1 tiger in a frame” as “color”, “road show” as “sequence”, “hunting scene” as “trio” and “no luck” as “pack game”.
Although this set of safaris did disappoint us a bit, by a mere “pair” most of the times, we believe there is always a next time and promise “Kanha” we will definitely return. After all, sighting a tiger is just a small part of the overall chain of wonderful experiences and there is no paradox intended ☺
Beauty of closely observing birds and animals in their natural habitats, of dawn and dusk, sunrises and sunsets, virgin forests, abundant flora and fauna and pollution free fresh air – surely leaves the soul purified, mind refreshed and heart overjoyed. As someone rightly said, this connect that the woods have to offer, no wifi in the world can!