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Romancing the Wild.

The lockdown has a lot of people going cuckoo and raring to escape! But howsoever restricted our movements may be right now, there is no limit to where our minds can take us... And in my mind, I am already in the beautiful Saal forest of Kanha enjoying the company of my boyfriend and a beefy tiger! :)

I wasn’t big on jungles till the summer of 2016 when Bakshi proposed a trip to Kanha National Park. He’s been visiting the jungles since he was a kid, but hadn't been lucky enough to see a cat in the wild yet. This time was different - beginner's luck for me as you'd call it, the trip was a total cracker and we ended up with a family of 6 tigers! Our first experience with a cat in the wild!! It’s truly a rush one can never explain until you actually experience it and I did! TBH, I wasn’t even seeking a tiger but guess it was my first lesson on unpredictability in the jungle (albeit a happy one)!

What changed the game for me altogether was a fortnight trip we took in October 2018 across 3 national parks - Nagarhole, Pench and Kanha. For 15 days straight, we woke up at 5 am to catch beautiful sunrises and watch the jungle wake up to a fresh dawn. Together we shared stories of an alpha male tiger patrolling his territory, 5-tonne mighty elephants fake charging at gypsies, a pack of wild dogs tormenting fragile fawns, an Indian Roller adding a burst of color in the jungle skies, a camouflaged leopard disappearing in a hot second, the beautiful winter sunlight nursing old jungle wounds and calling out for new battles! It was indeed as dreamy as it sounds and we understood how each forest has its own personality and gossip! We understood how each forest amuses you differently and how the rumour of a cat is sometimes more powerful than the cat itself!

One thing that keeps the two of us going is that we look at the same jungle very differently! Being a photographer, he is always on the lookout for a subject and although he enjoys clicking cats the most, a serpent eagle against great light makes him just as happy! For me, the joyride is in the thrill of a 4x4 bouncing across broken tracks to find a tiger, no matter if it’s a hit or miss. Now, while Bakshi is excited to catch a leopard feasting on a treetop next, I look forward to another round of aloo bondas and lollygagging in the jungle listening to how he missed the focus just a little bit! ;)

All said and done, we’re too small to understand anything as complex and magnificent as the animal kingdom and all its intricate dynamics. The more we explore it, the more astonishing it gets! So go as deep as you can and let the wild within you mingle with the wild beyond!