Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

We told Max that we were calling from the tiger preserve. He wanted to know how they get the tigers in the little glass bottles. We told him that there were very few tigers left to preserve because most of them had been poached. He said, “I guess that’s how they get them in the little glass bottles.”

We had high hopes of spotting one of the remaining 15 tigers left in Rhanthambhore National Park, located about 3 hours east of Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Every day jeeploads of expectant tourists are bounced up and down over sandy paths and rock strewn roads that are river beds when the monsoons come. Many spines are realigned and many fillings shaken lose from teeth.

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Many tourists did, in fact, see tigers. We could hear them comparing sightings over the buffet table at the fancy hotel where we stayed.

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We did, in fact, spot some wildlife:

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And remained hopeful through the very last minutes of our third and final outing while we waited for an hour at the spot on the trail were just minutes before a tiger had crossed the road right in front of the jeep traveling in front of us. The final blow came when our trusty driver Laxman arrived and told us that the day before he had gone to the temple just outside the park and there was a tiger sleeping off his last meal in full view of dozens of spectators. He (Laxman, not the tiger) didn’t even have to pay to get into the park or sign up for a rather expensive jeep safari.

This was about as close as we got to seeing a tiger:

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Two Indias, Two Kilometers and A Thousand Worlds Apart

If you want to begin to get a sense of the vast gulf between the classes in India, our stay in Ranthambore is a good place to start. Our hotel was an opulent maharaja’s palace, and the village, 2 km. away, was just an ordinary place. No real poverty visible to us on the street. Just an ordinary village, but the contrast was still striking for us. I shot the first video as we traveled by jeep through the village. It gives a tiny sense of the total craziness that is India, and why we love it so. I can’t figure out how to edit video on this iPad, so the beginning isn’t nearly as interesting as the end. I urge you to stick with it at least until the cows, the pigs and the camels have their star turns.

Outside The Palace

The second video was taken inside the hotel grounds. The hotel (quite a few leagues beyond where we typically stay) was being used as a stage set for a popular Indian television series. To be able to go from one world to the other by virtue of who we are and where we come from is never far from my mind.

Inside the Palace

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