Our gypsy was speeding deeper into the jungle. Leaving behind whirls of light brown soil. Everyone was looking around to spot the rare yet famous Tigers of Jim Corbet. Everyone except me, my eyes were focused above our gypsy to find a leopard. After basic research, I had found out that population of leopards in Jim Corbet was 700 as against of 225 tigers. So, I thought finding a leopard on some tree was much easier.
Despite my neck hurting after 20mins I was determined to find something interesting. Right when I was thinking of bending to take bottle, I saw something black and yellow on the branch of a tree on the right of our gypsy. “Ek second! Ek second! Ek second!” (Trans: One second) was my instant reaction. The driver stopped immediately and the guide looked at me and followed my direction.
Everything almost came at a standstill; everyone was looking on their right focused on the same. Two other gypsies also stopped to watch the spectacle of nature. Standing their calmly, the neck turned towards us, giving us a perfect pose. But before we could click few photos it just flew. But then the flight of Great Indian Hornbill was much more beautiful than just the sitting pose.
I prayed that the next yellow black I see in this forest should be a leopard but Great Hornbill was the only attractive and exotic wildlife we saw during our entire 3hrs safari. The whole ride was a waste time and money we thought and sat down in the dining area of our hotel for a cup of hot tea. The weird and so called eco friendly and not butt friendly bamboo chairs were increasing our irritation. Thus, we decided to drink our tea on the Machan (Trans: Tree house) facing the Kosi river.
The waiter in his camouflaging clothes but with extremely bright red turban came in with our bamboo cups filled with watery tea. Seeing us irritated he asked us, “Sir acchi nai lagi kya chai?” (Trans: Sir did you not like it?)
We being nice tourists, “Nai nai kaafi acchi bani hai. Bas hume safari me kuch nahi dikha, paise to gaye kosi me humare. Aisa humesha hota hai kya?” (Trans: No its quite nice, Actually we did not have any good sighting in the safari. Does that happen a lot?)
The ironically camouflaged waiter proud of his forest replied, “Nai sir vo to abhi naseeb pe depend karta hai.”
We immediately sighed knowing it was again our fate causing the problems and we could not blame the government. He continued, “Abhi kal kihi baat lelo. Kal raat apne hotel ke bahar se tendua gaya niche pani ki taraf.”
I don’t know if it was due to this new information or was the tea really that bad, I wasn’t able to take another sip of that tea. It was 7:00pm and the berry blue color of sky was also frightening me as it was a sign of nearing darkness and the leopard walking towards our hotel.
Our rooms were a bit far or I would say too far for this situation. I almost ran towards our room praying to not show us anything in yellow and black. Inside my safe room I was now questioning my mind, just a few hours ago I was praying to see a glimpse of leopard in the jungle and now I was praying not to see one near our hotel.
In jungle I felt I was safe from leopard but in human habitat I was at more risk. The fear was as due to the thought that I was living in a hotel which has encroached their space and now the angry leopard could attack me to conquer his place back. That thought made me respect the wild more than just fear it.
At that point I remembered saying a great Noble laureate and theologist Albert Schweitzer, “Until man extends his circle of compassion to all living things, he will not find peace with himself.” This was the reason I was scared the whole time until we left Jim Corbett to Nainital.
“Until man extends his circle of compassion to all living things, he will not find peace with himself“-Albert Schweitzer
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