India 2 -- Tigers

Early the next morning I went to the train station for my trip to Ranthambhore National Park. The train was hours late arriving at the station and I amused myself watching a family of monkeys climb all over the station. And this was still in the middle of Agra, a city of 1.2 million people.


After the train finally arrived we moved along at a good speed, but it was the middle of the afternoon before I arrived at my resort just outside the national park. I was too late to join the other guests on the afternoon "safari" search for tigers so I spent a lazy afternoon reading a book in a hammock and jumping in the swimming pool for a three-minute swim every half hour. Even though it was only April 1, the weather was fire hot, well over 90 degrees. The country-side was not quite a desert because it would rain hard in the summer time, but outside of the resort there was not much green because the rest of the year it never rains. At the resort were about a dozen two-room cottages and a central pavilion for our meals. When the other guests returned shortly before dinner, they said that I had not missed much. It had been a hot safari and they had not seen much wildlife. We enjoyed a barbecue dinner and a performance of Indian music.

The next morning I got up early, had a cup of tea and a piece of toast then at 6:30 got on a seat in the back of an open truck to go look for tigers. Near the entrance to the park we saw dozens of monkeys, peacock and other birds hanging out by the road, looking for hand-outs from tourists.


We continued on our way, on small dirt roads through very brown countryside. Eventually we saw an antelope on the road.

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We kept driving around and saw many small animals but no tigers. Then we went around a corner and looked a short distance to the side of the road and saw a tiger walking slowly through the woods. He didn't seem to care that we had arrived. He did not run away or approach us looking for food, he just kept going slowly on his way, as we followed him up the road, watching for ten minutes. I could never have imagined that a tiger's bright yellow stripes could possibly be camouflage, but in this dry country it made sense.

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Then we happily returned to the resort for a late breakfast. In the afternoon we set off again. We drove all around the park and saw many elk and small animals but no tigers.

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Then, as were on our way out of the park, a ranger told the driver that a tiger had been spotted not far away. We turned around and found three other trucks admiring a tiger in a large clearing.

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The next morning we drove into a far corner of the park. Then the truck broke down. We had visions of a very long and very hot walk surrounded by tigers. But several other trucks showed up and the drivers all helped fiddle with our engine. Eventually the truck started and we did not have to walk.


We saw two tigers peeking out at us. The first was in a room in an archway that was also a bridge over the road. We waited for about fifteen minutes and saw his eyes, but he happily stayed inside. Later we saw another tiger lying in thick underbrush. But this tiger also seemed comfortable and not eager to show us anything more than his eyes. We did see many other animals and some interesting countryside. At the entrance we said goodbye to the monkeys.

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After returning to the resort and having breakfast, I caught the train to Jaipur, a city of 2.3 million known as the "Pink City" because three hundred years ago the Maharaja decided to paint all the walls and many of the buildings pink.

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Many people in Jaipur spoke of their pride in the cricket team for the victory over Pakistan. Fortunately I left before they lost the second match!

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After wandering around the city, I rode to the outskirts, passing an unusual palace on the way.


Then I rode on an elephant up to the Amber Fort on top of a hill.

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I ended my trip with a train ride back to New Delhi so that I could catch my flight to Tashkent. At the end I was tired of having so many people approach me to try to sell me something. I was annoyed that so many of them pretended to be students who just wanted to practice their English, trying to start a conversation at the end of which they would invite me to visit their shop. When I was exploring an interesting site, "students" would walk up to me and tell me all about the site then expect me to pay them for their services as a guide. I just wanted to be left alone! India was the first country I visited where I was overwhelmed by the vast number of poor people. I was glad to look at my pictures and remember all of the amazing monuments that Indians have built in the past thousand years. I would like to return to see the mountains of Northwest India and Kashmir and to see some of Southern India.

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