I’ve been here a couple of days and I am having an absolutely incredible time. The place I am staying is really lovely – the tent is hot but otherwise perfect and the staff are treating me like visiting royalty. I have found the perfect butler! Well, assuming of course – one that I could afford to have a butler and – two that I had the lifestyle that required a butler! Ramsingh is always there; quietly and unobtrusively, anticipating my every need, preparing my meals and drinks perfectly (after only one time), smiling sweetly as he serves my morning wake-up Masala Chai – at 05:20 and wishing me pleasant dreams as he walks me back to my tent at bedtime – at 22:00. Him, I could really acquire a taste for – so to speak!
I have also lucked out massively elsewhere too. On the recommendation of the owner in our email correspondence, I had booked three seats in a six seat gypsy which with all my camera gear turned out to be excellent advice. BUT I also have the owner – “Dicky” Singh who is an incredible photographer as my photo buddy. It is just the two of us and our guide Salim and a driver. What luxury! Dicky hasn’t instructed me as such, but he has such a great eye for composition and light that I am absorbing a lot.
The driver changes everyday but Salim has been with me from the start – twice a day for five days. Besides being incredibly knowledgable, a fine photographer in his own right and a very senior guy at the park, he is not hard to look at either!
Yesterday was Eid and Salim invited me to join Dicky, his wife Poonam and two year old daughter Nyra at his home for the feast. I was reluctant initially, thinking that he was just being polite but as Dicky said, “there are no strangers in India.” So off we went – all sorts of family, food and kids running around. They live in a sort of stacked house; his parents on one level, I think a brother or two on another and Salim’s family – he has four daughters and one son – on the last. I didn’t really meet his wife as she seems rather shy and was probably doing all the cooking! We sat on the roof under the stars, a nearly full moon and ate spicy, fatty, curried goat with chapattis. I wore one of Sheeba’s Salwar Kameez picks which met with a round of approval from both the women (vastly more important) and men (flattering). They have been by far the best purchases I have made here I think; they are incredibly comfortable, cool in the heat, keep the sun and dust off, and people seem really pleased to see me dressed this way.
The game drives have been both exhilarating and tranquil. The first morning I saw Langur Monkeys, Sambal, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, a Crested Serpent Eagle and “Sultan” a young male tiger – all by 07:30 – exhilarating indeed!!!
Since then we have seen lots of wild life and birds but no tigers. It has therefore been tranquil as we frequently park the gypsy and let the sounds of the forest wash over us as we listen for indications of the whereabouts of tigers. Hardly a hardship – especially with good company and the extra fillip of watching all these grumpy, sour faces who pass by periodically asking “have you seen anything yet?” How they could possibly say that in the midst of all this riotous life is beyond me really!