Late-Morning Action

My friends have a most profound distaste for the road that runs precipitously down from Vulture Nest to Ghodademon Junction. I’ve always loved it for the sense of adventure and anticipation it evokes but my friends find it too bumpy for their hips, so they’d rather spare themselves the teeth-clattering ride for all the obscure fruit the discomfort had ever yielded.

And we had already been on it thrice that morning.

So when Vikas ventured down its unsettling surface for the fourth time in pursuit of a tiger encounter, the only reason they didn’t usurp the wheel and steer straight to the exit was because they couldn’t drive.

I’m glad, for we immediately stumbled upon the tracks of a tiger, and following them found us the Banbehi male cub, sitting just on the lip of Ghodademon watched by several others. Soon, the sun got to him and he jettisoned himself into the gorge to seek asylum from the thermal oppression.

I’m not sure what prayer they had said just then, but it must have been properly powerful, because just as we returned to Vulture Nest, she saw the female cub, this time, walking parallel to the vehicle track.

Banbehi female cub in May 2013, Santosh Saligram

Then the young tigress sat awhile facing away from us, giving us a square view of her adorable ear-whites and slender neck, before taking a walk down the road, in the middle of which she even sat down, leading to the creation of The Bold New Face of Banbehi.

Then, she went off the road stalking some deer, and thanks to some superb anticipation from Pandeyji, emerged again, climbing up after us on the precipitous road and coming really close before easing herself into the rocky jungle towards Silvaria to the vehement angst of langurs.

Banbehi female cub in May 2013, Santosh Saligram

And my friends didn’t mind the fifth trip on the road quite as much as the previous ones.

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