Elephants and Tigers!

While the birds and crocodiles are amazing, every visitor to Nagarhole hopes to catch sight of a tiger. I was content just to watch the elephants grazing, like the two females below who playfully rubbed heads every once in a while digging up the grass.

We were on our last “safari” at sunset when up river we spotted a strange shape on the bank of the river. Our boat driver crept closer and shut off the engine. The silence on our boat was part suspense, but mostly awe of the beautiful tiger that was cooling herself in the river.

Credit for most of these photos goes to my Dad, who came with a great telephoto lens. My mom had messaged me one day saying she was considering buying him a lens for Christmas to shoot the wildlife that inhabits the pond in their backyard. I thought this was a great idea saying that if she bought the lens, I’d give him a place to put it to good use.

I did my homework, read reviews, and settled on a recommendation for the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3. I even managed to find it on sale, so I sent her the link by SMS. My Dad, hearing a phone beeping in the other room, decides to investigate. “Don’t buy me a lens. I don’t need it,” he tells her.

A week later, he went out and bought himself the same lens.

I still kept up my end of the bargain.

She sat lapping up the water, and kept a watchful eye on us.

It wasn’t until a baby on one of the boats let out a cry that she decided she’d had enough. She slowly got out of the water, meandered up the banks, and silently disappeared into the jungle. It’s amazing how effective bright orange and black stripe are as camouflage.

The biggest crocodile I’ve ever seen

The banks of the Kabini River are lined with crocodiles. This guy was huge.

Our boat pulled up pretty close, and he didn’t even flinch.

He was a monster. A very prehistoric looking monster.

Let’s throw a monkey in the mix, just for good measure.

The the birds of Nagarhole National Park

We were looking for an interesting place to go for Christmas that would be accessible from Goa. We settled on Nagarhole National Park, which is somehow also known as Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The park service offers boat and jeep “safaris” into the park just after sunrise and just before sunset each day.

The big wildlife is the selling point, but I found the birds to just as impressive. It was a couple of kilometers up the Kabini River from the Waterwoods Resort where we were staying. Along the way, the shores were packed with birds of all kinds. I wish I had taken notes as our guide was naming  them all.

Signs that amuse me: Keep smiling

Elevators are the bane of my existence in India. Our office tower has the most absurd system I’ve ever encountered, to the point where people schedule meetings and trips outside based on how long the wait for an elevator will be.

This elevator in Pune was a much more positive experience.

The artist of Kohima Village, Nagaland

We were wandering through Kohima village, being guided by the wonderful Nino Zhasa of Explore Nagaland. We stumbled across this gentleman adding a name to the tablet describing the history of the village and its leadership under the watchful eyes of some local children.

Meeting this gentleman was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

He explained that he was the artist who worked on all kinds of projects around the village. He took the time to read the legend of the origins of the village and the history recorded on the tablet. Nino did a fantastic job translating and putting it all in context. He took us to see some of his other works around the neighbourhood.

Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival: The Pochury Tribe

Nagaland is the one of the far eastern states of India. It’s tucked in the hills just north of Bangladesh, on the border of Burma. The government organizes the Hornbill Festival, an annual gathering to bring the various tribes together, and we made a point of going.

This is part one of a series on several of the tribes dancing, relaxing, and having fun. The photos below are of the Pochury Naga dancing.

Hatching termites are crazy

If aliens were to invade Earth, I’m sure it would look something like this.

We stopped on the side of the road to stretch our legs. Something on the ground caught my attention. Turns out it was a mass of termites emerging from the dirt.

Well, I just lost an hour reading all about termites on Wikipedia.

Phusachodu Village, Nagaland

High in the mountains above Bangladesh and close to the Burmese border, is the Indian state of Nagaland. Our first stop was the village of Phusachodu, where we wandered around checking out people doing what they do.

Traditional dress is now reserved for special occasions (and tourists).

The harvest was over, and the cool weather kept everyone close to the fire. Many of the women were busy weaving or, like this older woman, processing raw cotton.

Some of the men were enjoying the fermented version of the proverbial fruits of their labours. The local rice beer is a watery rice dish that smells like beer, has a bubbly effervescence of soda, tastes a bit like alcohol, and has the runny watery rice texture of congee.

Signs that amuse me: Ultimate fisherman

Can you spot what is strange about this advertisement on the wall the Kolkata airport?

Here, let me give you a close-up of the two fish being caught simultaneously by ultimate fisherman dad.

The ad is for the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the slogan says “With life, after life.”