Everyone tensed while the spotted deer screamed in alarm. She stood stock-nevertheless beside our safari van—ignoring it, as opposed to bolting, as she commonly would—right the front leg half of raised, ears erect, staring carefully on the undergrowth throughout the rutted track in Mysuru’s Nagarhole National Park. There was little doubt about what became lurking. In the van, there had been whispers of “tiger, tiger,” because the naturalist accompanying 3 Americans, for once, stated the relaxation people, waving excitedly and pointing to the undergrowth. The driving force killed the engine, and we waited for the lord of the jungle to emerge.
I raised an eyebrow. However that was about it. I don’t get excited using alarm calls and coming near tiger sightings because I am convinced I am now not destined to peer a tiger inside the wild. I don’t really agree with in future or fate, but in relation to the tiger, there may be manifestly an otherworldly power at paintings.
I have roamed India’s national parks and flora and fauna sanctuaries since I turned into a touch boy. In almost half of a century of wandering, I even have seen the leopard, lion, wild canine, caracal, crocodile, elephant, gaur, Malabar giant squirrel and every different animal that inhabits India’s—steadily receding—wild areas. I even have traversed buffer quarter, center location, deciduous, evergreen, montane and rain woodland, waited on observation structures and made nighttime trips. From Dachigam to Periyar, I have seen the sun upward thrust and set over forests on the ends of the subcontinent, in the summertime, wintry weather, monsoon, and spring.
But Panthera tigris Tigris has eluded me.
So, I bit my lip and waited, flippantly, knowing the exhilaration of my fellow safari-goers could soon burn up. Sure sufficient, in time the deer grew calmer and got here to recognize we were within handshaking distance. It swept down its erect ears and bolted. A few stray birds stored up the alarm calls and the snooty naturalist made an extraordinary show of listening and muttering to the Americans within the the front row, however, the rest of the van settled again with a sigh of sadness.
As we rattled away, I went back to my tigerless safari. The noticed deer, I noted, had been now like vermin—everywhere. Even the appeal of the effective Crested Serpent Eagle wore off after the nth sighting. They’re like crows now, said a friend, taking a cue from my cynicism. But we were joking. I love the forests and am content not to look a tiger, just as long as I recognize they are there, silent and alive, performing their function as nature’s keystone species, preserving alive the mystique of our untamed areas.
You can’t blame me. We left each morning for our three-hour run at 6.30, earlier than breakfast, which never becomes earlier than 9.45am. Halfway via the safari, I began marveling at the meaty however lean flanks of the spotted deer and effective wild boar. They looked so, nicely, tasty. Although venison and game meat are now banned in India, I—like many others—have had the singular pride of consuming them as a toddler. I, in particular, keep in mind wild boar curry, strong and aromatic. These mind intensified as I intermittently spotted colorful jungle chicken skittering across our course.
Yummy, I notion.
Back on the safari resort, a assets of spiffy tents plonked at the banks of the Kabini reservoir; those cravings were unluckily unfulfilled. It became a brilliant location, specifically for our five-year-vintage and her new seven-yr-vintage pal. There were dogs and cats lounging around the property, permitting the girls to be sensitive-feely—a whole lot to the chagrin of the careworn animals. When the dogs raced down to the little jetty and ran wildly through the rushes chasing geese, two overjoyed little ladies followed (see image), splashing via the slush and mud. With their moms on an afternoon safari run, I became babysitting, so they had unhindered get entry to to moments they might by no means enjoy returned in the town.
All this tearing around left all people hungry, however, while the 2 hungry girls ate something came their manner, the adults—properly, me—were left relatively unfulfilled. The cooks made valiant efforts, and the food becomes regularly simply what became needed after an energetic day, but jungle fare it wasn’t. Meat consisted of chook entrées (occasionally, fish) for lunch and dinner, broiler chicken at that, and plenty of oily greens. Ruing the truth that they have been not approximately to give us boar or venison, I recalled the crocodile, zebra, gnu and other game meat I had wolfed down at South Africa’s Kruger National Park some years ago.
After 4 days of sameness, I back to Bengaluru thinking about how I should break out of the culinary rut. Nagarhole reminded me of the sameness of our components. That’s after I remembered nati Koli, u. S . A. Hen.
In the West, they could be known as an unfastened-range hen. In India’s relatively more prosaic fact, they are small, brown fowl scratching about within the dust and dirt. You see the symptoms for “nati Koli biryani” throughout Karnataka’s lush, southern lands. I quickly found out nati Koli become to be had around my house at some roadside chook stalls. It’s not cheap, and nati Koli bird is bought with the aid of the chook. We paid ₹ 780 for 1.6kg, towards ₹ one hundred eighty in line with kg of the meatier broiler.
Nati Kolis are scrawnier than farm-raised broilers. However, I remembered them as being infinitely tastier. So, after buying a few, I decided to make an easy nati Koli curry, with freshly roasted and hand-pounded spices. Chapatis and sliced onions tossed in lime and inexperienced chili made up the relaxation of the weekend meal, a difficult-and-ready make-agree with a try at an imagined jungle repast.