Tigers people! We saw TIGERS!!!

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Asia » India » Uttarakhand » Corbett National Park
March 22nd 2011
Published: March 22nd 2011
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Thursday 3-10
A one day layover in Delhi taught me that it’s not worth going to see an R rated movie in India. We went to go see the Black Swan and all cuss words, as well as references to a woman’s body were bleeped out. I’m assuming there were also some sex scenes cut out because the screen would jump from one very steamy moment to a completely new part of the story, giving you the feeling that whatever was about to happen next was deemed appropriate for viewing audiences.

Another little nuance of Delhi is that there are security checks everywhere. I thought TSA was bad just to get on a place in the US, but in India, you have to go thru a mandatory pat down, metal detector and get your bags scanned at the movie theater and every time you go into the subway. I can only imagine what a hassle that would be to a crowded city like NYC with 8 million people trying to get onto the metro each day. But in Delhi, there’s over 12 million and they all have to do it! In addition to the screening, in some metros there are also armed guards with machine guns standing behind sandbag barricades at each entrance. I realize there were devastating bomb attacks in Bombay several years ago, but I didn’t realize there was such a similar heightened level of security in Delhi.

Although it was pretty nice to have the armed guards block the men from getting onto the women’s only section of the subway cars. I learned from a British woman sitting next to me that India has always separated its men and women and designed the metro to have separate female cars even before it was built as a matter of propriety. It was only an after effect that the female only cars also offered protection from overcrowding and groping. Now why there are still one tenth the number of women on the subway as there are men is still unexplained.

Friday 3-11 to Saturday 3-12
Tigers people! We saw TIGERS!!! We could never guess that we would be so lucky, but clearly Ganesh provides! It took us about 6 hours to drive from Delhi to Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand – and what a painful ride it was. Aside from the constant honking, our driver – as with all others on the road – drove as if there was no such thing as a dividing line. He swerved this way and that, all over the road. He would accelerate quickly only to slam on the brakes as a cow or oncoming vehicle would get in “his” way. I told Nick I was either going to puke once the car ride was over, or scream my friggin head off. I was soooo miserable; I half hoped I would pass out from the raging car sickness so I wouldn’t feel the pain. Trains, planes and boats. I really think these are the best means of travel in India – all of them keep you off the insane roads!

Crazy car ride aside, we got into Corbett and were sooooooooo amazingly lucky! Corbett is the oldest national park in India, set up in 1936 specifically to protect tigers, of which there are reportedly over 160 within park limits. Our first outing was a jeep safari into the park where we saw not one but TWO tigers lounging in the tall grass together, a rarity except in breeding season. We even saw them sparring and could hear them roaring with each other! IT WAS SO AWESOME!! The largest cat in the world and one of the rarest of animals in existence and we got to see two of them! It’s amazing how well they camouflage in the tall, dry grass. You’d think a bright orange animal as large as a tiger with black markings all over it would stand out against green grass but it’s impressive how, with the slightest movement, they immediately disappear from sight. We have seriously been so lucky on this trip to see such wondrous animals! A platypus in Australia, rhinos in Nepal, and tigers in India! We even had the good fortune to come across a wild elephant on our way out of the park! It was a huge male with giant tusks and it was headed towards a muddy pool for a bath. It was so rewarding to finally see one of these elegant animals wild and free instead of saddled and chained to a post.

The next day we went bird watching in the morning and I got to see my very first wild hornbill!! Thanks again Ganesh! (Next: I want to see a leopard!) At the Corbett Museum (which had very little in the way of electricity…) they have a series of stuffed animals that they’ve found at the park: a baby elephant crushed in a stampede, two tiger cubs separated from their mothers, several tigers that were found dead in the park, and a couple leopards that had eaten some village children and were shot dead. Oddly enough, we read in the paper that a woman was mauled last week just outside the park while collecting firewood. And then this very afternoon, we found out a guy had been killed by a tiger down the street from where we were staying. We couldn’t believe it! But sure enough, when we drove past the site of the attack, there were lots of guys standing around, a few with guns, I guess waiting to see if the tiger would come back. For the tiger’s sake, I hope it doesn’t, otherwise it’s sure to become the newest edition at the museum.

In the evening (and possibly at a need for some sports and male companionship), Nick joined the hotel staff to watch India vs. South Africa in the cricket world cup. It’s rather cute how, ever since New Zealand, Nick has tried to learn all he can about cricket. He doesn’t have anyone to talk soccer with or play volleyball, so little by little, he’s tried to learn the insanely complicated rules of cricket. I think he finally succeeded because after more than 2 hours of watching the game, he proceeded to come back and tell me all about the scoring and which player had the best stats, how to make the runs, etc. I was impressed and, at the same time, completely uninterested. But good for Nick ;o)

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27th March 2011

Nick understands CRICKET?!! I'm even more impressed with his intelligence than I was before! Cat, don't pass that comment on unless his ego needs a boost!

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