So today I’m on a flight to Jaipur. I’m excited for this trip, it might be the only time I ever see the Tiger.
Ranthambore National Park beckons. The tiger has always fascinated me – a solitary beast that has been victimized for its body to such an extent that it is on the verge of extinction. Without the help of the very race that uses its bones for its so called medicinal properties it cannot survive another decade on this cursed planet.
I remember seeing a tiger for the first time at a zoo in Chennai, when I was quite young. I was seated all the way at the back with my family, the ring master called for the cats to be let out. I remember the roar to this day, I don’t know which one tiger it was – the first one that came out slowly, looking around accustoming itself to new surroundings? Or the second one that walked with a lot more poise and was definitely bigger than the other tigers at the circus? Or was it the third one – the smallest of them all, walking out gingerly as if sick or recovering? Or was it the fourth one – the one I got to meet face to face, of course with a steel barrier in between us.
Once I heard the roar my cousin and I ran down in between chairs and flocks of people eating popcorn and cotton candy. I got to only see the fourth and last majestic tiger to walk into the huge tent and from one steel enclosure into another. I stopped right next to him and he looked me in the eyes for what seemed like eternity. I didn’t flinch, neither did he. The noise of the whip and he snarled and looked away towards the center of the ring where the master wielded the whip.
I personally didn’t like the show – getting a tiger to jump through rings of fire. It didn’t make sense to me then, it doesn’t make sense to me now either.
I vowed to never go to a circus again after that day and I haven’t so far. I have always wanted to see the tiger in its natural habitat – even a glimpse would be one of my favorite moments in life till date. And if I am not lucky enough to see one, I know I’d be disappointed but I wouldn’t push to go see a tiger again.
Ever since I went to the circus my fascination with Animal Planet and their shows began. Lions, hyenas, snakes, tigers, monkeys, hippos, rhinos, spiders, sharks and of course the negative impact of humans on animal life around the globe – I paid attention. I did see how much a few individuals and groups of people tried to help the animals, trying to conserve forests, save endangered species, build habitats and support sanctuaries.
People tell me I don’t have goals – I keep saying that I’m a person that doesn’t want the best things in life, I just want to be happy. If tigers are no more, I wouldn’t know what to do, I definitely wouldn’t be a happy person.
Playing darts, many people have asked me why the name “Royal Bengal”. Do you love Bengal so much? Oh Tiger, tiger, wah wah!! Its a joke to them.
The Royal Bengal is a dying breed and there aren’t many left in the wilderness. The Royal Bengal needs help to thrive now and to regain some foothold considering the fact that the same people are the reason for its numbers dwindling. However, if just left alone, the Royal Bengal will make a comeback. Its an alpha predator that sits on top of the food chain in its part of the world. Its just a matter of time. So now, I hope people understand why the nickname “Royal Bengal”.
I don’t know when this ramble became about me, I don’t know where the shift happened. Maybe I can relate to how the treatment of such a majestic animal happens, maybe I relate to the way it’s has been raped by the very same race that wants to save it.
Yes, it is personal to me. It is something I noticed in the eyes. I saw hurt, I saw pain. I saw a dried up tear, I saw a slightly burnt mane.
If I do see a tiger or not this time, it will be the only time I try in my life. Its part of my bucket list. I have 10. So far, I have 2. This would be lucky number 3. Something ironic, in ten days time I will participate at a National Darts event. If I win, it would also be my 3rd Nationals win.
Time to land. I’d like to thank god for making such an animal. Its funny that I look at god for help in such things. After all god did make a huge mistake getting us into the picture. Hopefully, it can be made right.