The Unusual Vacation- One life is just not enough to cherish the beauty of wildlife.

Let us go back in time to 2012 and to the much-awaited months of the year in a student’s life, right! It’s May and summer vacations are on. Just like every year, I was excited to go to Kolkata (“City of Joy”) because spending your vacations with all our cousins is just what we want. But I did not know, what was coming ahead would be much more fun.

As we reached Kolkata, I was informed by my parents that I would be going to Bangalore for the rest of my vacation to my eldest cousin. I was happy because I was going to a new city and would finally meet my nephew, but the thing which scared me was I was going there with my cousins, grand-parents, and my aunt….My Mom was not going to be there, I know it might sound weird to some of you, but this was my first trip without my mother and I know how difficult it was for me to digest the fact that I would be without her for the next 2 weeks. “There’s always a first time” so I prepared myself for it, and two days later we left for Bangalore. Just like every other kid I packed a bag with “Tinkle” comics and UNO to keep us entertained during the 32 hour journey. My brother had come to pick us up at 7:00 am in the morning, we were all excited to reach home and plan out everything we would be doing during this 2 weeks (No parents, No restrictions !)

So as we sat down for breakfast we were all ready with our to-do lists but then My brother said that we already had an arrangement for us at Masinagudi (One of the 5 zones of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve) for a 2 day stay at the reserve. Now, for a kid at that age (P.S. I was 12 that time) vacation was either on a beach or a retreat resort, also I did not expect anything adventurous because I had been to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and I didn’t expect anything new but what happened next, completely changed my thoughts about how exciting it could be to have a vacation spent with nature. I would like you to visualize the journey as you read through. I have tried my best to make you experience at least some part of it through this blog.

We flagged off on a Saturday morning at 6:00 am for Masinagudi which was a 250km drive from Bangalore. The road trip was amazing throughout as we got to learn about stories of each town that we crossed (one was famous for occult and one was famous for wooden toys out of a dozen of them).We kept on refilling ourselves with ample of Coconut water to beat the scorching heat, and Vithhal Kamath had been our go-to restaurant throughout the trip, and it was for the first time that I tried “Pongal” (a south Indian dish) and believe me it was amazing. Now as we moved ahead after our lunch, the sides of the roads started to become more luscious and denser with the Nilgiri Mountains as the backdrop, and I could see some very amazing road signs out of which one said “Elephants have Right of way, do not obstruct” I was actually surprised because we had entered the park but there was no ticket counter as such (which I had been seeing in Sanjay Gandhi National Park), We could also witness various species of deer, gaurs and elephants on our way. This was when I realized this is going to be something different.

After some 10km of drive, We had reached a checkpoint from where we had to leave our vehicles back and go in the Gypsy till our cottage. This is the time from which all the fun began, just think of the feeling between excitement and the fear of being eaten by a tiger, this was the feeling I had back then as we went along the cobbled trail, as the silence prevailed, and it was just the chirping of the birds and the babbling of the river which could be heard. We reached our cottage, and everyone decided to rest for the afternoon as we were going for the Safari in the evening. But I was really fascinated as this was something way beyond my expectations so I along with my grand-father sat outside on the patio talking about various things and it was our moment, but during our conversation we heard squeaks from the high grasses around and within a second we saw a singular of boars chasing a bunch of deer, I was frightened by that sight and held my grand-father as hard as I could and as soon as they were out of our sight, I insisted on rushing back to our cottage. Now as we shared this with everyone, surprisingly everyone was feeling sad rather than being amused and scared because they had missed witnessing it.

The sun was ready to set and we were ready to head for the Safari, so we quickly got our handy-cams and jumped into the gypsy and were off. As you move ahead towards the safari zones the butterflies in your stomach increases and the thrill of witnessing an animal in the wild makes you excited. During our safari we witnessed various deer, boars, and gaurs; we were a bit disappointed because we wanted to see a tiger, and as we were approaching the end of the safari, I could see our dreams of witnessing a tiger shattering slowly and eventually it did! After seeing us disappointed, my brother who had organized this trip went to the tour guide and asked him if he could arrange a safari again for us later that night and after some tries, he did agree to it and now the hope had rekindled in our hearts and the safari was scheduled after our dinner.

After the supper, we played some games around the bonfire until we were interrupted by our tour guide who had come to us to remind us about the scheduled safari. Though this interruption did not seem like one because the latter was more exciting. As it was late, my grand-parents and aunt decided to stay back with my nephew (who was not even a year old) and the rest of us started to have the same feeling of thrill and excitement as before, but we kept our hopes a bit less, because we knew how it felt when the hope shatters. The jungle was dense and amidst the darkness we heard a howl, I clenched my teeth to stop myself from screaming and held the bars of the jeep, we could hear a lot of creeps and rattling around as we moved past the forest. Suddenly, the driver stopped the car and all of us started looking here and there as if there was some animal but the reason we stopped there was because the guide saw a Bison’s footprint and at a distance we saw wet tiger poop which indicated it was still fresh, there was a possibility that the tiger must have been here quite recently, my sister grabbed my arm in fright and I was high on energy as I heard this because it could be the moment.

After waiting for few minutes, the driver started the car and we slowly followed the trail, all of us picked a line of sight where we would be looking at, just to make sure that we have our sights all over the place as we didn’t want to miss anything. After moving for some time we ended up in an open field and right then my sister patted me on my thigh and said “Look on that tree”, as I turned around I saw something illuminating over the branch and that’s when I froze, had goose bumps and a lots of memories started to pop in the back of my mind. Maybe we had witnessed the tiger or it was some other wild cat, we are still not sure what it was but that feeling was mesmerizing.

That’s just a day of my very unusual vacation if y’all wish to know what happened the next day, let me know in the comment section below and I’ll share the part 2 with you the next week.

See You!

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