Suddenly my guide, Gokul entered the room and announced, "Sir, lunch is ready.Should I ask them to serve?" I nodded my head without looking at him.
As lunch was being served, Gokul pulled a chair and sat beside me. He said empathetically "Sir, don't worry, I have hired a spotter for this safari. His name is Binod and his success rate is 100% in this season". I bursted into laughter and exclaimed.. "What! since when you needed a spotter?" Gokul replied, "Sir, this is a game of luck... since our stars are not shining, there is no harm in trying new ones". I never believed in stars as they never affected me but at that moment I decided to follow what Gokul had planned, there was nothing to lose anyways.
I finished my special lunch served with many varieties of Assamese delicacies including my favorite dish, 'Maasor Tenga' (Sour Fish Curry). To make is even more special, the manager of lodge declared that lunch complimentary for me. Never experienced such warm gesture of saying good bye! Humbled and with full of gratitude I stepped out of Wildgrass and walked towards my gypsy. By now the weather was slightly improved, it was cloudy but not as gloomy as it was before. My driver,Bipin who was cleaning the front glass of gypsy saw me coming and said, "Sir, I have cleaned it so well that now you can take pictures from inside as well". I smiled at him and hopped in the back seat.
asked Gokul in a jovial tone, "So, where is your spotter?" "Sir, Binod will join us at Kohora gate" Gokul replied in his ever smiling voice. Binod was awaiting us near Kohora in his camouflage attire and binoculars around his neck. Elated with his first impression, I said "now we are all set for this safari". Binod smiled and like a seasoned leader made his first decision quickly, "We will go to Western range, there is not much hope in Central." We agreed without any question and reached Bagori gate before time. Gokul completed entry formalities quickly and we were the first one to enter the jungle. We covered some ground and few meters ahead of Dighali Beel (lake) Binod asked Bipin to stop, for routine scanning of the potential area. There was nothing alarming, all guides follow similar practice; so I was sitting calmly in the back seat until all of sudden Binod shouted, "Tiger!!!". I jumped from my seat and took his binoculars to confirm. Before I could spot Gokul confirmed, "Sir, it's there; sitting in the grass". His confirmation had given shiver down my spine. I focused in the direction and saw an orange head popping out of green grass.