29th December 2013
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 view.
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!!