I wake up to the loud twittering of birds… The wind whistles through the trees… and the soft sound of the water – definitely not a time to stay in bed. Wake up – they all say, “It’s time for another day with us.” That is the magic of Kabini – the river, the silent sounds of the jungle and the occasional roar of an animal far away.
It was just yesterday that I was in the middle of loud noises of the city. Just a couple of hours into our drive and we had already left the city din way behind. The roads narrowed and bullock carts and cycles took the place of autos and swanky cars.
So what is the similarity between the bulls and the autos of the city? Very simple, even after persistent honking, they don’t move…and when they do move, they create their own pathway which keeps the others on the road, umm, displaced!!
Gone were the big concrete structures, instead one could actually see the wind (not just feel), in the paddy fields – a rare sight to a city bred.
The young children playing carelessly in muddy puddles of water waved out at us and I sighed – what a life! I wish sometimes we could slow the hands of the clock, maybe…that would slow the pace of our stressful lives too. Finally, we reached the tents where we were supposed to be staying in. The air was nippy with tall trees on one side and the river Kabini on the other. The sky was still orange, showing traces of the setting sun. We refreshed ourselves and then the call of the stomach took over all sensibilities. After a warm, delicious dinner, the activities of the day overwhelmed us and we hit the bed.
So here we are after a restful night, all ready to start the day early. After a hearty breakfast, it was time for the trip into the forest. Like all safaris, we too were in open jeeps and the drivers cum guides drove them like they were driving trucks which were filled with cattle. Needless, to say, the forest is bumpy and more often than not, there are no real roads. We looked out earnestly, wide eyed, at every animal call, trying to spot the elusive tiger. The entire morning was futile. But we were not the ones to lose hope so soon. We were back at our tents for lunch. It was followed by singing and dancing. After a while there was a tired silence. Each one of us snoozed, some sitting by the pool, some against a tree.
Later in the evening, the excitement was high again. We set out for the night safari. After a long, uneventful, bumpy drive, we stopped…bang in the middle of nowhere. We could only see darkness but evidently, our guides had heard something. We waited in absolute silence and then we heard it – a low muffle of an animal; then again, louder and this time, closer. I could feel the tiny hair on my skin stand up. He was really close. The moon above showed us a big, strong, smooth, yellow body of the tiger. He looked at us and we looked at him. We clicked and clicked and then, very callously, he turned around and walked back into an abyss of darkness. We waited for some time, but the moment had passed. We drove back in silence, disturbed by the power of his look and the satisfaction that we had achieved it!!