Waiting with our eyes peeled wide open; our ears pricking up at every slight sound. The sound of silence overwhelming our senses, injected with just the sound of birds, insects and the occasional trumpet of an elephant. Spending time in the watch tower next to ‘Tiger Tank’ in Nagarhole National Park, has become a ritual that we follow every day that we are there. Sitting for around six hours in that large, green steel structure in the sweltering heat of the summer afternoon is something that I would not give up for any book in the world. There is something about this quiet wait that makes me feel like I’m snuggled up in a blanket of peace and warmth. For me, this has been the apt place for completing all my holiday assignments, reading a book, or just staring into space, dreaming and conjuring fantasies.
There are a lot of things to look forward to when we are up there, but not always do we get to see animals. There have been days when we haven’t seen a single creature, and there have been days when we have witnessed a lot of action. When the animals sense the presence of alien creatures (us) near the water hole, they tend to avoid it (and for good reason too, as the Homo sapiens haven’t been completely fair to any of the other species they share the earth with). And of course, there is the lunch time. Opening boxes of sandwiches and bananas and munching away in silence, having no words to express all our feelings, but just smiling at each other and saying it all.
A few incidents which stand out from the times I have spent on the watch tower include, the time when a herd of deer started giving out alarm calls, when one of them spotted one of us moving in the watch tower (man, it was really embarrassing!). And then there was the time, when a tiger walked up to the salt lick next to the tank. We were so excited to see the tiger, and had just begun to roll the film, when a tusker marched into the scene, chased the tiger away and triumphantly walked away too (I mean, why chase the tiger away, if he does not want to use the salt lick himself? At least we would have got the shots that we had been long waiting for!). And then there was this other time when a herd of elephants walked into the tank, and had the time of their lives, splashing around in the water. And of course, we had the time of our lives too!
Sitting there in the watch tower, for me, is kind of like sitting in a spiritual trance… Every little speck of dust around you attains utmost clarity, and you finally feel at peace with yourself. “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”