Friday, April 27, 2007

One WILD trip!!

The journey began in the night. Summer was at its peak and Delhi was scorching hot. Starting in the day was simply unthinkable. The destination was Jim Corbett National Park. Amidst tigers, leopards and other wild animals…it was going to be a one memorable holiday.

Four guys. One driver. One car. 300 kilometers. Things looked promising. Among burning cigarettes and bottles of beer and pieces of chicken, conversation gained momentum. Initially it was funny and eventually took an emotional turn as everyone started to open up under the influence of the marvelous discovery of human beings – alcohol. The traffic of the city gave way to nearly deserted highways, save a few trucks which were plying at the wee hours of the night. But oblivious to the surroundings, the four boys in the huge car were lost in their own happy high world. The driver though, was unaffected by all the chaos around him and focused entirely on the road.

I am not aware exactly when conversation, coupled with music as intoxicating as the alcohol itself, gave way to the Tootsie Fairy of sleep! But sleep came deep and sound after really long. I guess the rat race of daily life had tired all of us beyond realization. I remember dreaming. Though, I have forgotten exactly what the dream was…
I opened my eyes of the dim light of the rising Sun. one by one, all of us woke up, rubbing our eyes to adjust to the light. Slowly, the Sun rose higher and got brighter like a ship sailing towards someone from the horizon. Soft clouds encircled the Sun and looked like the untamed waves of a fathomless ocean! It was a sight to behold! We were speeding at 80kph. Rural landscape greeted our eyes and I felt like a prisoner who had been let out on parole…though, the parole was a little wild!

Our destination was within sight. I felt like could already feel the presence of the Panthera tigris (that’s what biologists would call a tiger) in the air. We were to board at a guest house in the middle of the jungle. All of us were tingling with excitement.
We reached. For all of us, it was love at first sight with the wild. It was simply mesmerizing and something we city dwellers do not get to see too often! The fact that it was an all boys’ outing made it even more exciting.
We were shown to our rooms and we showered and changed as soon as our limbs would allow us. After breakfast, the plan was to go on a forest walk! Whoa! My spine still tingles when I think of it!

The walk was long and supposed to be tiring but we were so excited that we didn’t realy feel the tiredness. Looks like the nicotine failed to dampen our zest. We came across plenty of langurs, leopard paw marks and deer. One strange thing that we all noticed about our ‘guide’ was the fact that he added WILD before every animal to make us probably feel that it was very exquisite. So, a pig was renamed WILD pig, buffalo became WILD buffalo, rooster became WILD rooster, peacock turned into WILD peacock and so on. The list is endless…
We drank water from the springs and fountains and very honestly, it was the best tasting water I ever had. And sparkling clear and cold. Probably, even an entire crate of aerated drinks will not quench thirst like that plain, cold water of the mountains. We went to a temple in the mountains which was inhabited by just one very old priest. And there we rested for a while. As we took a look around the temple, one of us discovered a footprint. Nothing extraordinary about coming across a footprint but this one was a little different. It was barely 3 inches long. The toes were the size of a full grown man but the heel was the size of an infant’s! And even more eerie was the fact that it didn’t exist when we came to the temple and nobody (atleast nobody visible) has passed by…for all practical reasoning we urban people might give, it had appeared out of thin air! One of us took a picture of it but later, it was noticed that the photo had just disappeared! The video that we took during the trip was playing perfectly except for that one part which had the clip of the footprint! Strange, isn’t it?

A safari followed. Time was short and a lot was to be seen. It is surprising how much 200 rupees can fetch in this country! For us, it landed us bang in front of the tiger’s den in the restricted area. Two little cubs were playing outside and our open gypsy parked itself right next to them. Seeing tiger cubs, which looked like little fur balls with small teeth like thorns, we were a little surprised. We picked up one and I put it on my lap. It didn’t disturb him one bit and he kept playing with me and clawing with his tiny paws at my palm and wrists. Then it happened. A soft growl…then a full fledged angry roar! The mother was standing behind our gypsy. We froze. The cub jumped off my lap and went running to mommy! The angry tigress started circling our vehicle. Anger, arising from motherly instincts, flashed in her eyes. Another roar arose from the den. Probably the tiger. We had taken it for granted that we were destined to die in a forest reserve at the paws of a tigress. An interesting death in many ways but a death nevertheless! But something made her leap back to the den. I still shudder at the thought of what MIGHT HAVE happened!

We came back…with no videos and no pics because it wasn’t allowed. That was not a rule we could afford to break! We came back and while drinking at night, we were paid a little visit by a little bear cub who came and sat at the steps of our room and ate French fries and nuts. But that is another story altogether and for another time…

For now, the fun ends here. Tell me how you liked this narration.


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