Every few months I run away to the jungle to rediscover my sense of purpose in the real world. For me, there are 2 distinct worlds … the first is the chaotic world with work & responsibilities. But when the din gets too much, away I go to a world that really is my calling. The deep jungle! A quiet world with no mobile network, & lots of time to get my batteries recharged. Peace & Tranquility were certainly something I was not expecting in this group, coz in tow were 14 other people with me, looking to see the tiger after a long long lockdown, and then there was another – our 16th member. A man who was serving his purpose on our trip. Saurabh Thakekar- our trip organizer, our guide & the man we looked to when … there was no sign of the Tiger.
A long trip with 8 safaris, the trip to Tadoba was supposed to be a killer of a trip. Multiple Tigresses with cubs were present in every part of the jungle & there wasn’t a doubt that this trip was going to be a super success. But when man proposes, nature disposes. On the prowl in the jungle were 2 new alpha males. They sent the tigresses & the cubs into hiding, us on long safaris with no sightings, & a chance for Saurabh to truly achieve his purpose.
Safari trips are almost always a strain on one’s nerves and patience. Dry Safaris, missed sightings are all part of the usual script. Through all the 4 days Saurabh’s sense of purpose shone through. Be it his swagger when we saw our first sighting on our very first safari, or his palpable tension as he spoke to various guides & drivers when we hit a dry spell of 6 safaris, or then his jovial nature, as we unknowingly spoke & sang about a trip not panning well – IN HIS PRESENCE, and finally his sheer tenacity when he refused to give up top space for his jeeps when we finally saw the tiger – one last time. Saurabh was a man possessed & his character & sense of purpose on these days shone through and helped us see the positives on the dry days.
But there were 16 of us, and I was lucky to get up close with a few of my fellow purpose seekers. Delightful side stories in a journey that was supposed to be about the tiger alone. Purpose, I also saw in a dad who started to go to safaris with his son because the latter wants a career in wildlife. It’s as if the son’s dreams now mirrored his own. I also saw that in a wonderful couple who run marathons together & now celebrate life with every safari they take. The purpose to make life more fulfilling – together.
It’s remarkable, the chasm of difference in expectations & reality as I finish every jungle trip. What I go for is just a handful of pictures, but what I come back with is a wealth of wisdom, memories, lifelong learnings & a renewed sense of purpose. One where I try & make my everyday life as fulfilling as my days in the jungle.
For a glimpse of a Tiger, there will always be another safari, for these moments of happiness & joy, I will readily get up any 4 am on any given day across the year.
Until my next time folks!