Just as he finished explaining, a monkey gave the call from the top. A flurry of action followed in the trees as well as on the ground. All the deer ran for their lives and the monkeys jumped trees as if their lives depended on it. The area was clear within seconds. I had heard and read about symbiotic relationships in the wild but seeing it in person was a revelation. Order in the jungle, a line of communication without a language. And, this symbiotic relationship isn't limited to just the deer and the monkeys. There is a third beneficiary of this symbiosis - humans. Naturalists, guides and tourists depend on these calls to spot tigers.
Amidst all this, I also noticed an oddity. Ancient Hindu scriptures often mention the 'monkey mind' - an unsettled and restless mind like that of a monkey. Yet here in the jungle I saw fully focused monkeys concentrated on the solitary task of spotting the big cats.
The obedient children of the jungle
Tiger spotting is a matter of chance. I've seen numerous photos of tiger pugmarks on Instagram and Facebook. These photos represent disappointment more than anything else. Knowing the odds, I wasn't ripe with expectations. We waited next to a water hole because Arvind noticed some movement elsewhere and predicted that a tiger might come this way. I couldn't control my nervy excitement. I had never spotted a big cat in the wild and the thought of it gave me goosebumps. Binocs, camera and the phone were on alert. One sight please, just one sight.
I dropped all three. I lost my breath as my eyes fell on the majestic yellow coat and the prominent black stripes. Someone in the back said, "she is T-19 also known as Krishna". In that moment, I felt that the purpose of my life was served. But, I underestimated the travel gods. There were three ten-months-old cubs right behind her. They were cute and mischievous. We followed them for an hour and I carefully observed their movements, expressions and characteristics. The purity of their love and affection for their mother left me teary-eyed. This was the simple and beautiful world of the wild. And, it was the world that gave life to my dreams.