This blog is dedicated for those who have never been to jungle. It will give you some insights on possible conversations that happen. I had to limit the blog, to keep short reading times. However, I am sure you will have fun reading it. For my wildlife fraternity, I am sure you will reflect and recollect all your memories as you go through this blog. I used a role play method in this blog, assuming you are the first time visitor to park. This conversations is what I call language of foresters. It is actually simple. You will learn it quickly. But wouldn’t it be better if you know before hand what forester mean to say? This blog is in form of conversation, dedicated to the special language of foresters. This is also based on some popular terms you will hear during jungle safaris. Let’s roll your imagination.
Imagine you have arrived in a tiger reserve, a real jungle, to experience the wild for first time. You have a morning safari and you woke up at 4:30am. This is something that you are not used to doing. The resort employee knocks your door as wake up service and serves you hot tea and some biscuits to ensure you roll out of bed. Most resort will not give a wake up call on phones, since phone lines will take away the rustic jungle experience. Once out of your bed you get ready in earthen color special cloths you bought for this experience. You put them on and head to reception of resort. Your pick up & drop driver is waiting to take you to jungle check post.
At check post, you are in que to get safari vehicle and guide allocated as per your permit. Once allocated, guide/travel takes you to vehicle and make you comfortable over a small chitchat. You climbing into the safari vehicle. It is your first safari ever. You are super excited as you know that everyone who comes to this jungle never has never had a dull moment. This park where you have come is known for predators like tiger, leopard, dholes and has unfathomable list of herbivores like sambars, chital, neelgai, gaur etc. The water are infested with crocs and avian fauna is mesmerizing. As safari start time approaches, your driver, let us call him “D” leads you the gate, where guide (let us call him “G”) joins you. The guide occupies seat next to driver. He is the one who ensure your identification to forest department personnel at gate. Only then the safari starts. Time now is 6am.
After formal introduction to park, the guide informs you about history, flora and fauna. In between moments of silence, you can hear the guide and driver muttering something to each other. You get suspicious what are they talking about. You remember a pro-tip from wildlife friend, “D and G can make and break your safari experience”. So now you want to know more about skills of driver and guide. After 15-20mins of drive, you can’t hold your anxiety any longer and impatiently you (Y) ask the guide, “Tiger kaha dikkhega?’
Guide to driver and you: “Scene to meadows mein banega sahib. D aaj seedha wahi chalte”
You: “Kya chances hai”
D: “pichli baar last safari mein 6 tiger dikhe thay, kuch saal pehle ek guest ko ek bhi tigern ai dikha 8 safari mein”
Guide: “Jungle hai sahib, humare haath mein kuch nai hota, koshish karke dekhte hai,kuch to zarur dikhega ”
Drivers and Guides gave you very practical answer. You can’t control nature. No one can guarantee a tiger sighting. So the drive goes on. As you enjoy the fresh oxygenated breeze running through your hair and on your face the, driver and guide are busy trying to read signs of nature. After sometime into the drive,
Driver: ” Sahib ye dekho….(He is showing pug marks to you) Yehi se chala hai, fresh panje hai”
Guide: “Badey panje hai, male tiger lag raha hai. Raat bhar chala hoga”
Driver: “Road hi road chala hai territory marking”
You: “Kitna bada haii”
Guide: “Sabse bada sahib, purey zone ka control hai uska. Kabhi kabhi hi dikhta sahib. Apka luck raha toh zarur dikhega”
Driver: Dikhega, bahut dino baad idhar panjey miley hai“
You: “Sahi hai”
After following tracks for quite a few kilometres, your adrenaline runs to its peak as all three of you are tracking the pug marks. You feel the tiger is walking just around the bend..
G explains: “Road pey soya milega sahib. Ekdum bindaas hai ye. Last time road pey chalai pura ek ghanta aur koi gypsy bhi nai thi”
Suddenly D exclaims to guide “….Abhi kata kinarese!”
You lose hope as pug marks are suddenly lost. No sighting nor hope. This is what jungle safaris are all about. Thrilling game of hope and despair.
Since the day has just started the foresters are optimistic. They raise your hopes in a moment.
G: “Sir hum uss par paani hai waha check karte”
D: “ Last time mere guest ko wahi dikha tha panni mein baith hua”
Your hope is now revived. You are back to your thrilled state.
Y: “ Challo fhir jaldi. Nikal na jaey”
After another 10mins drive, you reach spot. Did I tell you that laws of jungle can be test you till you give up?
At water body, jungle is quiet except for a pair of Pied kingfisher keenly feeding on fishes in water body making occasional water dive sound. You look at watch to check how time you have at hand. More despair, its almost 7:30am. 90mins passed by just like that. This is what happens in jungle, time flies. You are left with only 2 hours and 30mins. You wait there for another 20-30mins. Reason the pugmarks direction was towards the water body. So all of you decide to wait to hear sounds and sight any peculiar behavior of herbivore. Presence of predators sends herbivoures into frenzy and their body language changes and they vocalize alert calls. At water body, no sighting no pug marks, no alert call, no nothing but just the two pied kingfishers. After waiting your hopelessness and patience gives way,
Y: “Kab aayega”
G: “Kabhi bhi aa sakta, Wait karte hai thodi der”
Finally at 8am, G: “Sir woh andar hi baitha hai, badmein fhir attay hai. So raha hoga”
G to D “Hum aagey meadows mein check karke fhir yehi pey aatey”
Now you are completely heart broken and distrustingly agree to go to meadows. You tracked him, yet you missed the biggest male of area. You start feeling more hopeless as clock keeps ticking on you. After almost an hour of introduction to other creatures of jungle, at a T intersection, driver slams brake and car comes to halt.
D: “Panje lagey hai”.
You again see pug marks of tigress who has crossed road from left to right. From caves into dense wood into open meadows. You recall guide had told you a story at beginning of safari. Story of a tigress of cubs and how she leaves them alone and goes on hunt. Leaving her cubs in caves along the narrow ravines on left.
G: “Tigress hai, Yehi se nikali hai, kill kiya hai kal usne. Bache bhi hai”
D: “Chootu ki gadi kyu nai yaha, who yehi aney wala tha. Udhar game toh nai hua”
After hearing this your heart sinks. Game refers to tiger sight in some other area. While you were tracking the male and planning to come to this spot, erroneously or due to overconfidence or lack of information or sheer luck, Chotu went to other area. D is also now joining your list of pessimist. Guide is still hopefull. Time is now 9am. Clock is ticking.
G: “Jane ke panjey lage hai. Idhar hi dabake baithay”
While guide is thinking of his tactics, you see through binocular that lot of gypsy have gathered at one place.
Y: “Udhar itni gaadi hai, kahi game ho toh nai gaya?” (Finally you picked up, foresters words)
G: “Sir hum wahi se aaye, peacock ki call hai. Saap bhi ho sakta aur tiger bhi”
While you were contemplating, how will you tell your friends you didn’t see even a single tiger, suddenly, you hear sharp call from spotted deer.
G: “chital bola sir”
G to D: “Gaddi aagey rakh”
G to Y: “jabardaat bol raha sambar, tiger paka wahi hai. Sir camera tayar rakho… yehi se katega ye tiger. Female hai, kill khake bacho ke paas jayegi nullah mein”
By now you have frenzy of movement around you. Hearing the sambar deer calls, few more gypsies join you. They all ask G what is the news. All drivers scramble to position the car in such a way that their guests get to see the tiger. One of them is chotu. He is last in que. G talks to chotu.
G to Chotu:”… tum udhar ruko, mein yehi teerahe pey rukhta”
After a long wait, no sighting. Everyone starts returning back. It is final blow on any hopes you had. Permit time is over you must head back to entry check post.
D to G: “Calling bandh ho gayi, tiger wahi baith gaya hoga”
Now all vehicles have left. Your guide who is most optimistic still waits for a minute more. His patience rewards you.
G: “Sir woh raha, woh raha tiger, ghaas mein, sukhe ped ke nichay”
Finally you get your sighting though very far. You are kinda satisfied you saw a tiger. But somewhere inside you feel dejected as you head back to entrance gate. With head down you try to anlayse what happened in last 210mins. You have many Why’s on your mind. But just like in any story, safari is not over till its over. On your way back, you are trailing all other vehicles and driver slams car to stop again. The mysterious male in walking on road heading towards your vehicle. He is humongous. Your hands shiver and you can’t believe that you have seen biggest cat in world that too in wild.
G exclaims: “Sir chappo, sirf hum hi hai”
Refers to guides optimistic provocation to shoot your best shots. This is like dream come true for every photographer. You oblige and your camera goes berserk. Finally you return to check post with thrill. So excitedly you show photographs to guide
G: “Sir chaap diya aapney toh”
D: “Sir woh daat wala shot mila ke nai”
D: “Mein bola tha na, aaj male tiger zarur dikhaunga”
D: “Aur kitni safari hai sahab…”
D: “fhir toh ye paka phirse dikhega jayega sahab”
So your safari is over and you tip the driver and guide well. Wishing each other good bye, you headback to rest and comeback again in few hours to play the game of hope and despair. Game played out everyday by the spirits of wild.
**For remaining four safari conversation, you can join me on real safari 😉 **