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Looking For That Elusive Tiger!

Simple things, little joys, that’s what life is all about. Enjoy the company of friends. And the sunrise. And that hot cup of tea. And nature

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‘Welcome to the Tiger capital of India’ proclaimed the billboard in the arrival area of Nagpur airport. And for a moment, I wondered. How did they know we were here for a tiger safari?

We picked up our bags and drove off to Kanha. In search of the Tiger. We had lined up a safari for each day that we were to be there. Quite like the punter who buys multiple lottery tickets to improve his odds of winning!

Early next morning, we braved the cold, jumped into the open jeep and made our way into the forest. Breathing the clean, crisp air, watching the sun dancing through the trees, and seeing birds and animals in their natural habitat made for an amazing experience. We saw peacocks and deer at close quarters, including the rare Barasingha. And as we crossed a pond, our guide informed us – in a secretive whisper – that a tiger had been spotted here yesterday. Damn, wish we were here yesterday, we felt when the four-hour safari came to an end. The disappointment was palpable. We hadn’t seen a tiger.

Next morning, we set off again alongside over a hundred other jeeps, packed with people from around the world. All with one mission. To see a tiger. The sights were pretty, no doubt. We saw jackals and wild boar to add to our list of sightings. At one place we saw pugmarks that our guide told us were of a tiger. Wow, tiger pugmarks!  But we didn’t see the tiger. Alas.

On day three, our safari was in the afternoon. A change in timing, we hoped would bring a change in luck too. We heard a call from a bird which the guide deciphered to mean a tiger was somewhere nearby.  We waited. And waited. But it was not to be. Another safari ended with lots of sightings – but no tiger sighted.

And just as we were thinking how unlucky we were, a friend said “Maybe we should look at it differently. We have had a great time together. We’ve seen some amazing animals and birds – and some terrific, picture postcard scenery. Let’s feel good about that – rather than worry about the tiger we missed.”

Great advice, I thought. For a jungle safari. And for life. The problem for many of us is that we get caught up in wanting to see the tiger. And we miss out on the joy of seeing several other animals and experiencing nature at close quarters. Maybe it’s time we re-calibrated our goals. Learned to celebrate small wins. And enjoy the ride.

The tiger is like that big prize in life that we come close to winning – but don’t. It’s the one that someone else – always someone else – seems to get. Wanting to be No. 1, wanting to build a unicorn, wanting to become a billionaire, the list of tiger goals is endless. Good to remember that what we are all looking for in life is happiness. Not tigers. Finding the elusive tiger might make you happy, but remember, there are other routes to happiness too. Finding tigers is not always in our control. Finding happiness usually is.

Simple things, little joys, that’s what life is all about. Enjoy the company of friends. And the sunrise. And that hot cup of tea. And nature.

The tiger can wait.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Prakash Iyer

Iyer is an author, speaker and leadership coach , and former MD of Kimberly Clark Lever

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