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Tiger Trails

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13 Dec '23
5 min read


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It was ten years ago , a  landmark vacation with a cousin and her husband , we had planned a trip to Delhi , Agra , Naukuchiatal , culminating with the famed Corbett National Park .

Hopes were high on tiger sighting at Corbett, the rest of the places getting relegated to the background , of course we were awed by the beauty of the Taj Mahal , did our couple snap over the love seat , the beauty of the Swaminarayan temple left us speechless as did the light and sound show at the RedFort . Yet , the heart looked forward to the trip finishing off with a bang !

The journey from Naukuchiatal to Corbett was fun , filled with laughter and anticipation . Our resort at Corbett was beautiful with  the river Kosi flowing very nearby that a stroll around in the orchards at the resort took us to .

Eager not to waste time , we booked our safari at the National Park , got a slot at 1 pm. Not quite equipped with the nuances of the forest , we equipped ourselves with hats and caps thinking it will be hot with the mid afternoon sun .

An open canter got allotted to us and we all sat almost towards the end .  Hauling ourselves up on the canter is quite an exercise and am I glad I was ten years younger then ! Not quite confident I can  do it now .

The canter moved finally and far from being sunny and hot , the forest and it's winds had us shivering mid afternoon, our caps and hats not being of any use , we would be better equipped with shawls , jackets and sweaters .
Excited to be finally moving towards our prized sighting , I was all agog chattering to my cousin . The jungle and it's paths are not even roads but have ups and downs and the driver has to really be skilled to be driving an old vehicle , full  of people . 
A little  into the jungle the driver tried to overtake a jeep and we heard a thud . Thankfully though we were that all of us were intact , the canter refused to budge with the axle broken!  The jeep who the driver had tried overtaking , went past us and disappeared . We were stuck on a slope and any movement from any of us was making the canter slide backwards . With our breaths held tight we watched the driver jump down and place a stone for the canter to balance itself from sliding down the slope .

Trying to call for help , all of us , inmates of the canter , were shocked to check there was no network . All of us silent with the predicament at hand , my chatter had died down . Finally one blessed soul amongst us found  network and called for help . We had to wait patiently till help arrived and had no clue how long it would take .

Meanwhile we continued to enjoy the silence of the jungle broken by an odd cry of a bird / animal , we wouldn't know . Scared , that we can  be attacked by an animal , the thought of sighting one was far from our thoughts at that moment .

Our stomachs rumbled and the bladders, well , less said the better . Finally after what seemed like a few hours , must have been a few minutes or an hour at the max , our help arrived . Getting off the damaged canter and hauling ourselves  up a second time around was an exercise best forgotten  .

We had lost a good time in all of this and the afternoon was almost turning to evening . 
We continued searching for the prized sighting but sadly there was none .

Reaching the second gate of the forest , alighting , the first thing we searched for was a washroom .  Then of course the stomach had to be satiated . Looks like  with us humans the monkeys around too were hungry and snatched a bag from hubby's hand which he was fortunate enough to snatch back without an attack .

I went around to get a few snaps of the beautiful Kosi in the evening dew that had just started to gather , to not find hubby anywhere in sight . Worried to the hilt ,  the phone now slowly showing some signs of life , we got to know , he was at the little restaurant beside digging into a hot omlette !  Realised then that when it comes to hunger , no one waits for company not even the so-called better half !

Settling in at the same restaurant for some got maggi , my cousin , her husband and I finally let breath we had caught when the canter broke down , out !  

The return journey on the canter was thankfully uneventful , the sun , almost on its way to biding a farewell ,  if there were animals around , we couldn't sight them . 
We only got to hear stories at the gate after  we alighted , that hearing monkey calls when the guard came to see what the commotion was about , he spotted a tiger walking across ! To think that we went deep into the jungle , with an adventurous drive , only to have His majesty walk across a little away from the gate was the classic rubbing salt into the wound .

Not to be outdone with the disappointing safari , when we got to dinner at the restaurant that night , my brother in law posed with someone masquerading as a tiger !  We were not to tell anyone we had not sighted the tiger even if it meant posing with a human guised as a Tiger ! We had afterall ,a picture to prove we had sighted one 🤣!

 

 

Category : Personal Experience


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Written by Poornima Nalkoor