Whenever the urban grind becomes a tad overbearing, I head to a jungle. Theres this terrible menace though, often making its unruly presence felt in the wildlife circuit, thats hard to shake loose. Commonly known as VIPs (or very infuriating people), this highly invasive species has begun creeping its way into the jungles of India.
Now, booking a safari in the early weeks of November is a fairly straight forward task. Ranthambhore had just thrown its gates open and the generous monsoon downpour had turned it into an impenetrable bastion of green, diminishing our chances of spotting our beloved striped predators.
We werent here for the catwalk and we knew it. However, what we didnt know was that the safari rates had been shockingly escalated by more than two thousand rupees Why There were VIPs present in the park, and the price-rise had been orchestrated to deter ordinary tourists from partaking in the afternoon safari. Im not sure if a Volvo safari service had been pressed into the service of the VIPs, because the parks permissible quota of 30-odd jeeps had apparently proved insufficient
Another time, Id booked a safari in Corbett many weeks in advance. When I arrived, I was told that I couldnt be allowed in as there was tiger conservation in progress, being conducted by VIPs. And so my frustration continued. Finally, I had the amazing fortune of getting inside one of our National Parks, in Tadoba, and I thought that Id finally survived the worst of the VIPs. However, my euphoria was short-lived. The sight of a jeep full of VIP conservationists, scaring the wits out of a pair of tigers, is not something I will ever forget. I doubt if the violated felines will either. If only the lucky tigers knew that all the sound and fury was for the greater good of their conservation