Reached the famous national park yesterday. Nothing more eventful than a blissful sleep with the promise of seeing snow in the morning. Bhaunkhal, the spot at which we might catch a glimpse of the snowy ranges of the middle and upper Himalayas! And ambitiously we rose at four to race the sun to the locale. Alas, woe begone, we missed not only that rise of the mighty golden orb but also the mist fogged the snow-topped ranges. And thus, I did not (as I was promised) get my first glimpse of snow.
And so it came about that we got off the car into the early morn and decided (ambitious still) to climb a hill in the cold Shiwalik air up to a 'mandir'. "Jai shri Ram" indeed. We could not walk beyond thirty paces! Downhill was worse. Bhavan Singh roared with laughter as he watched us struggle, puffing and panting our hearts out, grabbing every tree and rock in sight praying (okay, not me but my parents) that we do not fall.
Nice man Bhavan Singh. Spoke of his dreams to visit Tamil Nadu and see the Marina, giving us 'garam chai', requesting us to stop by the woods on a lonely morning to sit and share a few square meals with him. But then we had miles to go before we slept. How true that turned out to be!
Breaking the fast in Corbett Hideaway (the hotel), we refreshed and off we were to the National Park's museum, having missed the sun and snow. The museum was grand. Well, not technically, but ideally. It was simple, small and gorgeous, with models of living tigers speaking of their lives, deaths and their majestic royalty. With cubs, preserved embryos even, foetuses also, stored in ethyl (um.... whatever). A tiger fought an elephant the whole night, dying in the process. Even great leaders die a fatal death- at least she died fighting!
The various National Parks around India, pictures and so on decorated the walls- that summed up the museum that guarded the entrance to the museum that guarded the entrance to the National Park. We bought t-shirts promoting the tiger ("Save me" and all). This was followed by a lot of conversation and reminiscences of Zambia.
Then we go back to the hotel. That followed by a 20 minute swim, the buffet feast at the Hideaway (for lunch), a little slumber for the parents (book reading time till four) and on the move again; this time to Kaladungi falls and museum.
Long ride looking for a fuel station that had diesel, since supply was short, and finally up to the falls which sadly closed at 5.00 (us reaching there at 6.30). So also the museum which apparently contains Jim Corbett's belongings. And thus we stopped at Punian restaurant (near the falls) for chai/coffee, saw tamed geese and decided to get back.
Just our luck: as the clock-hand passes eight, our lovely game of antakshari was interrupted by a harsh realisation- flat tyre; no spare!! The two men of the family (dad and uncle) sent the driver on a mission to get a good spare, and the ladies in a share auto type auto (where you stand behind with the wind in your face) to Ramnagar (the nearest town).
Ma, chitti (aunt), Bhavna and I reached safe and chose to call the resort for a vehicle to take us from Ramnagar to the resort. Big mistake! Apparently they charge innocent strangers to the area a meagre amount of Rs 650/- only (excluding taxes). Aunt’s tantrum… a reduction if costs to Rs 350/- only and finally reaching our destination (the temporary home).
Noodles for dinner, and hopefully a lovely sleep before a better day where, hopefully, the Honourable majesties shall grace us with their presence. Awaiting the tiger…
I sign off.