It was the final minutes of my last safari in Ranthambore.
With day light dwindling slowly, I was lost in my own thoughts. Another two
minutes, we will be out of the forest gate and another 30 minutes of boring
journey will put us back to the hotel. The elusive “Tiger” was still at some
corner of my mind. I was not much bothered about sighting a tiger. It may be
because I had seen few Tigers in wild before and I know it is hard to better the
experience at Tadoba. Just ‘feeling’ the forest gives me immense satisfaction.
What I hate is when people in hotel asks about Tiger sightings and feel pity at
my ‘bad luck’.
But as I mentioned before, “Tiger” was still at a corner of
my mind in spite of me claiming to be dispassionate about tiger sightings. While I was lost in my own thoughts, our guide
suddenly jumped and screamed. It has to be a Tiger. Everyone jumped from their
seats including my little daughter who was struggling to put her head up to get
a clear view of the feline.
The tiger appeared from nowhere to cross the Jeep track and
enter into an open area. I pressed the camera shutter and immediately knew that
I had taken a badly ‘shaken’ photo. Quickly jacked up the ISO to take another
one only to get another shaky snap. The ISO was put to the maximum limit.
Grainy photos were any day better than shaky ones. But it did not help. The
tiger was on continuous movement and slow shutter speed unable to get decent
snap. I started taking videos!!
The tiger after wandering for few minutes disappeared into
the forest. “Good way to end the safari”, I thought. But contrary to my
expectation the drama did not end. The tiger then entered the main road after
the safari gate. Until now, the tiger was exclusively for us (our route!) and
we had a peaceful “darshan” so far. But now it had entered into public domain.
The main road though passed through Ranthambore forest but
it was a public road as people used it to visit Ganesh Temple inside
Ranthambore fort. There were numerous safari vehicles and public vehicles now. Everyone
was rushing towards the Tiger.
I thought the Tiger would hate such pandemonium and run
away. But the tiger seemed to be least fazed by the maddening crowd. It was
like a celebrity who liked the crowds and the attention bestowed on them!!
The Tiger then decided to sit and relax. Some decent shots
were fired from the camera amid ruckus created by people. Now there were more
than 200 people watching the Tiger!!
The Tiger was on the move again. Vehicles moved along with
it. Everyone wanted to have a look at the Tiger. Some drivers overtook others
in dangerous fashion. Few insane people got down the vehicle to get a better
The day was over and darkness enveloped the forest. Our vehicle developed a snag and we could not follow the Tiger further. That was fine as we had a good view of the cat for 30 minutes though only few minutes of it was peaceful. Our guide became philosophical and told that let others also get a chance to see the other.
A final good bye
When I look at the title of the post, I feel "People mayhem" would be better suited. Why blame the poor Tiger!!