And just like that….. there he was. The moment that I had been waiting for, was finally here. Just when I was on the verge of giving up all hopes of seeing HIM……there he was!
I got a feeling that he was waiting there, just for me. For a few seconds, I felt it was just he and I, the world around me had stopped still.
It almost felt like he was waiting for me to give up searching for him so that he could appear magicLly before me……as though he wanted to prove to me…..’don’t give up hope, anything can happen here……you are in the jungle remember?’
His sudden appearance startled me, I let out a sudden gasp that seemed to make him turn towards me and just for a fraction of a second, our eyes met before he turned away and continued to walk. His walk….oh his walk…. So majestic, so confident…..I was literally swept off my feet!
Mesmerised and awestruck, like I had seen a vision, I had seen GOD! It was love at first sight. What was it about him that makes me fall in love with him again and again? What is this love draws me to meet him every year?
Have you ever seen a tiger in the wild? Roaming free? If you have, then you know what I am talking about. The thrill, the excitement, the rush of adrenalin, the awe, it is inexplicable!
The feeling is comparable to ‘Falling in love for the first time’
But you know what……when you see a tiger in the wild….you fall in love with him over and over again….. (Wish that were true in real life……that we could fall in love with the same person over and over again)
A jungle safari, for me is akin to going to the temple. Some people are willing to stand in long queues or undergo penances , to get a ‘darshan’ or a glimpse of the deity. But rarely do they get to see God.
The jungle is my temple. It is here that I see GOD, everywhere around me, in trees, birds, deer, peacocks, butterflies, the kingfishers, the serpent eagles, the spotted owls, the woodpeckers and of course, the lord himself… the great Bengal Tiger!
What have I learnt from my jungle safaris?
- Always have a goal in mind but don’t let that stop you from appreciating the milestones on the way to reaching that destination.
Most people set out on a safari with the sole aim of seeing a tiger, so much so that they miss out on the beauty of other equally rare and unique species. Did you know that sighting a sloth bear is actually so much rarer that sighting a tiger? Celebrate small successes !
- Listen to the signs and hear the signals. Trust your intuition and inner voice
Just like how the jungle speaks to you, the universe sends you signals that could help you take a decision or keep you on the right course. Tune your antennas to these signals
- Trust your guide.
The jungle guides and naturalists are able to track animals by simply interpreting the signs and listening to the sounds of the jungle. It could be the sight of fresh pugmarks of any of the jungle cats, or it could be the alarm call of a monkey that had just spotted, from his vantage point on a treetop, a tiger on the move. A good guide can help you track the tiger and spot it too.
In real life, these guides can be in the form of your teachers, parents, friends, co-workers, your boss or even your spouse. Trust them, they will increase your chances of success.
- Stay in the present.
A jungle safari is full of surprises. You could encounter a tiger as soon as you enter the park of sometimes you could go for even ten safaris without seeing a single tiger. The key is to stay alert and enjoy the jungle in all its glory. The trees, the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze, the cooing of a solitary dove on top of a dried tree or even seeing wild orchids growing on a dead tree! In life too, stay in the present and enjoy the small things. Look for beauty in oddest places.
- Let go of the need to control
Acknowledge the fact that there is some great power at work here. The jungle is a great reminder to us that no matter how much we try, nature has her own rules and all the jungle animals are bound by those rules. The tiger, the leopard, the shy sloth bear…. They will show themselves to you only when they choose to, not when you want them to. All you can do is wait and watch! It’s a very humbling experience.
- Stay positive and have faith.
So what if you did not see a single tiger in any of your safaris, that should not stop you from going for the next safari! Who knows, you might see an entire family of tigers or even a sloth bear or two, in your next safari!
Afterall, it’s a jungle out there!