Greedy Langurs, tall green trees and herds of Chitals giving you a cheeky look while crossing the road after looking right and left. This was just a little taste of how driving through the Mudumalai forest reserve felt.
The first thing our driver said to us was ' if you spot an elephant, it’s a good day. But if you spot a tiger, your holiday is made.' We were charged and kept pointing at anything that was slightly yellow and ruffled, as a tiger in the bush. The chances of spotting a tiger were bleak but we were hanging on to a little string, I’d like to call 'tiger hope'. Thinking of taking this wildlife game a step at a time we decided an elephant first, then a tiger.
Half way to the border we spotted a wild tusker minding his own business and chomping on some shrubs. When you see an animal as big as that, apart from being in awe of its size alone, most people wonder if it actually is as wild as the stories say. Not making a sound we took a couple, maybe more than a couple of photographs and drove on. We sat in silence still thinking of that big guy and what he, must’ve thought of us. The game had begun.
The next level in the game was going to be much tougher. Seats were exchanged, the most observant was made to sit near the driver and the loudest was sent back. When you enter a forest it’s almost as if Mother Nature works her magic on you. Your senses are suddenly at its prime and the silence is too. We breathed as much jungle as we could.
Slowly the attention moved to the newly acquired iPod. Will technology ever leave us alone? The loud yawns had begun even before our holiday did. ‘No tigers here, just Google a picture’ someone said. Our tiger hope was crumbling, not giving up yet; the boy in front was still on the lookout. He scanned through every inch of the quickly passing jungle and kept his eyes peeled for any movement. And, boy oh boy! There was movement. That very old cliché about how something’s in life just stay for a fleeting moment. This was our moment.
That marvellous carnivore took one leap in front of our car and was gone even before we could finish saying ‘tiger’. The boy in front was the only one who saw the beast clearly. The driver saw his head and was thanking every supernatural force for the sighting. The people in between caught a glimpse of the paws and were raving about how big they were.
I on the other hand, the back bencher, saw that tiger’s tail. The game was over, the winner had tales to tell his grandchildren and the loser had a tail to tell hers.