“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne – bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”
– Karen Blixen
I don’t remember the exact time I fell in love with the jungles. Was it the nippy morning I saw my first tiger in the wild? Or was it the first time I laid eyes on a Scops Owl through a pair of powerful binoculars? Maybe it was a lone peacock trying all his dance moves to woo a peahen or a troop of grey langurs somersaulting around high Sal trees to assert dominance… Could it be listening to the loud twittering of Jungle Babblers? Lol, probably not 😉 I really don’t know, but being in these bewitching jungles is a delight and I always return home happier!
These mystical depths of India also hold a lot of little nuggets which you can ponder over, take home and apply to your own life. Here are my absolute top five:
1. The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results (Well, mostly!)
There is immense thrill and suspense in tracking big cats in India – following resounding alarm calls, chasing pugmarks on the burnt-orange jungle pugdundees, gypsies hurtling behind each other – all leading you to a cinematic encounter with the apex predator of Indian jungles. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss and sometimes the rumour of a cat is more powerful than the cat itself!
If you have a penchant for adventure, you’ll know that the real joyride is in the thrill of a 4×4 bouncing across broken tracks to find a tiger in the dense jungles of India, no matter if it’s a hit or miss. Like they say, nobody can assure you a tiger in the wild and that’s the fun of it! 🙂
2. You create your own kingdom
It’s not easy. To fight the bloodiest battles for power, to reign over a vast territory and protect it from intruders, to raise and feed cubs in war-stricken zones, to divert the attention of intruding males by mock mating, to move out of the mother’s safe territory, to develop a will to survive and to adapt to unfamiliar environments…
It’s not easy for the animals but hey, don’t the laws of the jungle bind us all? Don’t we all have to continuously make way through ruthless competition for acceptance and survival? Doesn’t power and coercion govern our exchange of resources too? I hope the territorial beasts inspire you to create your kingdom and give you strength to fight for it every day. And don’t forget, you win some, you lose some.
3. Don’t overplan. Life surprises you sometimes…
I vividly remember that happy afternoon from an evening safari in Kanha when our naturalist murmured, “there are 6 tigers in the bushes on your left”. Barely 100 metres from where I sat in an open gypsy, I knew there were 6 formidable beasts who could walk out any moment and give us a show. I’d say we had decent time to adjust cameras, gypsy and our composure most of all, but they say even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels!
None of us knew there was an elephant inside giving the tigers a major scare and in the following few minutes, we got to see a tiger jump 3-feet in the air to charge at the elephant and give out the loudest roar that pierced through the jungle and our hearts!
Don’t kill the moment by planning or anticipating it all; let the capricious jungle (read life) surprise you a little!
4. Patience is a virtue, as cliché as it gets!
Never ever in his otherwise adventurous escapades had Bakshi seen a leopard in the wild till the October of 2018. You know what’s extra funny about that? He’s grown up in leopard-rich places like Shimla and studied for years on the fringes of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, where it’s not uncommon to spot one. Add to that the numerous jungle safaris he’s been doing; yet he’s missed seeing one in every conceivable way! Years of patience that kept him going till he FINALLY saw one, and that too bolted in a hot second!
Maybe this lucky leopard that we got to see for just a few seconds was hungry. Maybe he hadn’t eaten in days and was trying to hunt. Maybe he failed again. We’ll never know, but we wait till we see one again. Jungle teaches you patience in mysterious ways and how
5. Impermanence is the only permanence
Jungles stand testimony to impermanence. They teach us that no secret can stay buried, no wound can stay unhealed, no ruler can stay undefeated, no season can stay unchanged, no fear can stay unconquered…
Everything around us is constantly moving and nothing lasts forever. Not even my camera’s battery. Not even my long weekend. Not even Coronavirus!!
Bonus: Tiger piss smells like buttered popcorn
Or maybe it does not. I’d leave it for you to find out for yourself 😉
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve had a rendezvous with the Jungle Book crew and if there’s anything they’ve taught you 🙂