Seven years have passed since that day. As I sit writing the story, I can still see the tiger before me, his bloodshot eyes adding threat to an already insistent glare like the last rays of daylight which cast a fiery glow all over. I can feel the myriad emotions that raced through me at the time, my naive shock at the scene, my confusion and my sense of powerlessness. It was a day among those golden seven days of our honeymoon in a romantic hill station named Ooty in India.
Third day of our honeymoon
Perhaps it was the third day of our honeymoon. I still remember vividly that cold morning in the lap of the Nilgiris (which literally mean blue mountains) – a part of the Western Ghats mountain range. My eyes were greeted by greens whenever I glanced afar from our hotel room.
Heading towards the Avalanche forest
The clouds that were slowly drifting on the Nilgiris and the wind that was blowing through my hair were beckoning us away from the hubbub of the city. We took a rented car. While deciding the locations of our visit, we thought of going to Avalanche forest without knowing that we needed a permit to enter. When we were informed about the permit, we thought of securing one from the forest officer, but unfortunately he was on holiday. The solution came from Ramanan, who was driving our rented car. He told us that he knows a forest officer there and if we go, he can manage a permit for us. Our faces just melted into huge smiles and without thinking much, we headed towards the forest unbeknownst to the adventure awaiting us.
Ramanan was driving the car smoothly. The road was flowing like a river under the wheels of our car and we kept pondering over the beautiful vistas we were leaving behind. We were often struck by the picturesque meadows.
After some time we reached the Avalanche lake. Our final destination was still a few kilometers away. The moment we stepped down from our car and saw outside, we were instantly carried to a realm of calmness. We saw wildflower-covered hills jutting down to shiny blue water.
A Romantic Couple
We were listening to echoing silences of the valleys; our breaths were entangled in one another’s; our lips were closer, but we let our eyes speak what our twin lips wanted to say. I felt like I had touched some dream and did I say that I whispered, “I love you to the moon, honey”.
Hand in hand, we set out for our final destination. Suddenly, the car felt like a chariot, floating amidst the soft mists of fog and we were touching the sky! Am I exaggerating here? It’s called honeymoon doze which lasts forever.
Reaching Avalanche Forest
After reaching the final destination, to our surprise, we met not a forest officer but a forest guard. He took some extra money from us to let us enter. After the long journey, we were not in a mood to come back without seeing the forest. The forest guard and Ramanan assured us that there will be no problem. The forest guard told that he will accompany us into the forest which he knows very well. Finally, we entered.
As soon as we entered, we could hear an orchestra of nature. Birds tweeting, a waterfall was meandering through big and small rocks to the loch, trees were greeting each other when the wind was blowing. The sound of our footsteps on the trail too was the part of the orchestra. It was an untouched wilderness; a world of its own.
A few meters deep inside the forest, our forest guard handed over to us some tree branches to protect ourselves. After receiving my weapon, I thought the best use of it was to pose with it for some pictures. I told Siddhartha, how on earth could we protect ourselves with it if a tiger came – unknowingly I was predicting the future!
I know, you all must be waiting eagerly for the next episode. Just wait a little while until my next blog post. I promise, I will come up with the rest of the story pretty soon. In the meantime, please don’t forget to add a comment. I love reading your comments and appreciate them very much!