When a plan comes together. An extended family trip.
It all started at the end of the decade. We desperately wanted to go to northeast India. Mind you, I am writing about the northeast for the 4th time in my own blog. You see my desperation? The quotation was with us, the plan too, but the holidays were not.
When one person could afford to take off and chill in the forest at 1-2 degrees, the other person was not free and was strangled with office work. Our motto? “Either all of us go, or none of us”. It always has been.
What started out as a full week holiday was slowly burning away due to the fires of the weekday and the conversation restricted itself to “Let’s take a day off and make it a weekend affair”. A weekend was too small for a 2000+ kilometer trip. Of course. After much deliberation, the location was pinned to 11.5722° N, 76.6427° E; Masinagudi, a name that I could never pronounce. Anyway. we booked in a place called the Jungle Lodge Resort. What a beautiful place. We were 10+ people and shared a large 4 bedroom house in the deep end of the resort, a couple of degrees colder. *cue “You can’t take the cold” comments in the background.
We rented out an SUV from an apparently established car company (I’ll explain why, later). However, the car we saw on the application page was not the same as the car which was delivered to us. We booked what looked like an XUV (a brilliant car) but what we got was a stripped-down version of one of the earlier models of some other car we just did not anticipate. Just us huh? Rotten luck. With power steering on one side and brakes holding up like a truck, we were about to have a drive of a lifetime. Woah. Woah. Hold on. We just started the trip then we realized that we did not have an AUX cable to play the music. We stopped and bought and then something happened. We found out that the AUX port itself was on the malfunctioning end. Pretty legit car, I’d say. Apparently, a big rental company. I vouched for it. It became plain comedy.
So with portable speakers playing the music (God bless them) throughout, we hit the jungle area of Bandipur just before sunset. Bandipur is famous for its dense forests and primarily the magnificent Tigers. As someone who is hell-bent on the autofocus feature on the camera, having cousins who are camera and nature photography aces makes me whine in the corner of a room. Let’s pretend I never mentioned that. The cool breeze, the silence of humans juxtaposed by the eerie brilliance of the forest made it a brilliant 20-mile drive.
Featuring a sporting look, peacocks and peahens graced us with their presence. We even managed to catch a glimpse of a peacock spreading its wings and soaring through the trees; a majestic sight. Everyone wanted to go on a Safari. I mean, who doesn’t? We decided to go to the safari on the second day. Unfortunately, we were a little late that day and the lady at the ticket counter ensured that we came out sulking. But, persistence paid dividends. We spoke to a cop near the ticketing booth and I don’t remember what he said but I do remember that we used him as a reference to get the tickets to the Safari. Scowl more, lady. The golden rule of a Safari is “Sshhhhhhhhhhhhh” and we had a bunch of losers running their mouth throughout the wild run. I still remember, one of the guys sitting inside the vehicle spoke something about bears and their existence in the wild when a person in the loser gang said: “I like to have a beer”. It was so cringeworthy that people were ready to punch him at that moment.
Anyway, the highlight of the safari was when we spotted a leopard, casually sitting on one of the branches, motionless. We were excited to spot the beast but the beast did not care one bit and just ignored. Following the leopard, we saw a horde of elephants and a random mongoose. Yeah, a mongoose.
The sun came down and creepiness of the forest went up. We drove back in absolute darkness. With our mind bent on adventure, we switched off the lights and followed tail lamps hoping for something to happen. Switching on the headlights was the only thing that followed.
The next day, we were on our way back, maneuvering the vehicle to extents which should have actually resulted in the company paying us the money for driving that car. We stopped in Mysuru for lunch and my cousin insisted that we go to a hotel called Mylari for dosa.
Yeah, well worth it. The holiday ended with the traffic welcoming us back. Well, what else can give us a better welcome eh?