Pench has a spot in the middle of the jungle where the gypsy pulls over and tourists can get down and eat breakfast. It’s quite an experience to use the bonnet of a gypsy as a table. Our driver pulled over to the spot and as we got out and stretched our legs our driver dutifully pulled a big hamper out, spread a laminated table cloth on the bonnet and went about setting up breakfast. Boiled eggs, sandwiches etc. etc. A veritable feast.
Lala and I were discussing the fruitless attempts made so far at spotting any tigers on this trip so far while munching on some incredibly yummy sandwiches.(Cucumber sandwich+boiled egg+pickle) Just then a jeep pulled over next to us with a very excited family. “Tiger!Tiger!” was all the superbly incoherent group could say.
Lala and I looked at each other and then at the driver. “Gaadi chalu kar!” I half shouted at the driver as Lala ran towards the jeep. In one quick move the driver pulled the table cloth and everything on it into the hamper. It was pretty cool actually(Just like the waiters in the movies). In less than 30 seconds we had pulled out of the picnic spot and were driving back towards the jungle. By the time people could understand what had happened we were gone leaving behind a plume of dust over their breakfast.
We had our cameras out, ready for the first sighting of this trip. We came across a couple of jeeps parked at a spot. The tigress had just gone by into the thicket we were told. We had had enough of close shaves and were in no mood for another one. The engine idled and we sat quietly contemplating the next move. “Seedha lo. Dikhegi humein.”(Go straight. We will spot her.) Lala said in his quiet, dismissive way as he went about adjusting his lens. The gypsy went along and we stayed on the lookout. The summer months ensure higher visibility as the trees don’t have any leaves and tigers come out to drink water at the ponds.
“Stop here.” he said. The driver braked. I looked at my brother and he pointed towards the right. I couldn’t see anything. In the meantime he got into position and pointed the camera towards the right. Confused, I got into position as well though I didn’t lift my camera. I was still trying to sight the tigress. 20 seconds later, a silhouette appeared in the distance.