On a Tiger Hunt!


Let’s go on a Tiger Hunt, I bellowed but my son, a firm lover of the Leopard and the Lion, could not be enthused. But then, three year-old’s dont know what they want I thought as we forayed into the Jungles of Kabini to the Serai Resort located off the backwaters of the Kabini River. A safari holiday is always full of anticipation, and tests one’s patience, but it is also calming and happiness inducing, what with all that time in nature. Every trip to Kabini (the last we went was about two years ago to the Jungle Lodges) has never disappointed us, for the tiger has showed up every time. On a trip to Bandipur, Kanha, again a few years ago, the rather reticent jungle cat showed up, all with its glistening hide and athletic stance. Beautiful, majestic and real. We saw the tiger make a dash this time sitting aboard the water-safari on the Kabini river. The first time I saw a tiger run, for it’s prey, for leisure or simply getting away from us.(!) Majestic creature it was a beauty through and through. But taking on the safari and enduring it for over two hours has its charms and banes. On the water safari, we had a bunch of documentary makers for company, from Australia, who had come to make a film about Tigers, the animal that we spot only in the Indian subcontinent. On the Land Safari, we had for company thick fog, and could hardly spot any animals, wild dogs and their puppies, however rare they maybe are not counted.

The Serai, with its cozy pool and great food, provides a warm hospitality after the brutal hours on a Safari and with temperatures scorching up in March itself, one is rather glad to be surrounded by cool waters. The jungle though is extremely chirpy with birds singing away in the early mornings and late evenings, announcing the coming and going of the sun. The miracles of the circadian rhythm are best seen in the jungle, as it comes to life and retires all in circular motions. Equipped with about twenty rooms and sixty bicycles, the residents are encouraged to go cycling all around the property and mostly along the water-front which has a beautiful charm of it’s own. The birds that come visiting to the Serai, the various insects that stop by, the grazing cows who dont really give a damn or even the wild boars that come calling are all a part of the wildlife extravaganza. Nature does infact put on a show in Kabini. On the water-safari, that is very popular in the summer months, Tigers, elephants, birds are all more likely to be stopped as they come by to quench their thirst. The picture is extremely pretty and very peaceful all through. Swinging on the hammock and breathing in the fresh air by the lake, life literally slows down, the breaths get longer and the tan lines get deeper, but then what is a holiday minus the tan!

While the tiger population in India has finally taken an upturned curve, we are lucky enough to find our national animal making a headline in all the national newspapers. We could only hope that this trend continues and the jungles are kept untouched. I must say we did find plastic packets along the safari route inspite of the continuous warnings to not use plastic or dump plastic in the forest. This plastic fixation of ours can never end, the Ghazipur landfill seems to only keep growing higher, we definitely need to find alternatives, cause nothing can grow out of plastic. Doing our bit is not the way to go, doing what needs to be done maybe a way but as humans being conscious of our actions is extremely important. Cutting the clutter has umpteen benefits not just for the tigers but for us too. The Tigers are growing just as we are becoming more conscious of our actions on this planet. Its extremely thrilling to see the animals in the wild, in their natural habitats and those habitats are only possible if we let them be, for nature can and will take care of itself.

In my tryst of chasing the Tiger, and with Marie Kondo still embedded in my psyche, the blue zone research that I happened to listen to, notwithstanding my sustainability degree, I cannot help but want to keep the pristine jungles just as they are, pristine. Clutter, comes in all forms, there is real clutter, digital clutter, all of which prevent us from chasing or even spotting our tigers, our goals in this discussion. The very popular #noshop year kept a lot of people from going shopping last year. The idea was to not buy anything unnecessary or absolutely essential except for food and toiletries. With petrol prices hitting a hundred rupees a litre in India this month, a milestone considering the crude oil prices and government subsidies, going places literally costs a lot more. The followers of Greta are thumping up a storm but how effective they are in making sure of putting in place sustainable practices remain questionable. The governments are of the people and seem to be doing their bit, in putting up signboards and making the required announcements, but in effect, there is no place for sustainability in a capitalist economy. If people are not travelling, not buying things, the GDP does not benefit, nor do the people living on the planet. While the millennials write a tome about how experiences trump materialistic pursuits, they both are hazardous to the planet, running up equal costs if not more. Going to new place, fires up mental neurons and makes one more creative, so do a lot other things. Once upon a time my dream was to travel to every country on the planet, I still do nurture that dream, to lap up as many quaint and diverse experiences as I probably can, to live out of suitcases, to trot the globe. But one more trip into the jungles and staring at the beautiful cat, a pride of our nation, am beginning to question my choices, and perhaps to tread as lightly on this planet as possible. What’s my carbon score I wonder. (Incase you are wondering here is a Carbon Footprint Calculator https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx)

On a tiger hunt, in a hurry to live, harried to catch the mirages, making sure we are at benefit, may we question our incentives and our tallies, the reason of why, building a life we do not need a vacation from, so bereft of wanting. Oh boy, the pensive mind feels the responsibility of a class rep(!), the foolproof way to mend a naughty student, taking a stand, making way for Greta and simply ensuring Great. The jungle’s brought out the philosopher in me, while I figure out my choices, I’d prod you to think of yours! The Tigers are for all to see, but the question remains, do you want to see them?