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Sunday, 01 January 2017

Gir Lions, India - Page 3

Written by Richard Taylor
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My cabbie picked me up at six the next morning and we proceeded to the safari camp.  It was a handsome layout but the tour didn’t start for another two hours and was prohibitively expensive with extra fees for camera, jeep and guide.  I glowered and grumbled and walked in circles.

 

“Let’s go,” I said to the cabbie, who obviously couldn’t believe his ears.  But I had lapsed into Stubborn Stupid Mode and now, heading back to Junagadh, there was the deepening shame that I’d come here for nothing.  We drove off in silence.

 

“There is a second place,” said the cabbie.

 

I looked at him.

 

“Okay.” I said.

 

He turned left down a bumpier side road.  The ‘second place’ was not so grand but clean and reasonable priced, with nothing extra for camera, jeep and guide. No jeep or guide at all actually.  Visitors were filing through the gate and filling up the bus.  A bus safari.  No jeep.  Sniff.  Snort.  How inauthentic.  The bus rolled off and stopped at a series of cages, where leopards and other critters were prowling their pens.

 

“A bus safari to see a zoo,” I thought.  Sniff.  Snort.

 

But then we were out in open country and the bus pulled up for a spotted deer.  Cameras flashed.  We carried on.  I felt deflated.

 

A whoop of excitement rippled through the bus – two male lions were roaming hither and yon and the camp jeeps circled and flushed them in our direction.  Nothing milquetoast about these creatures.  They looked formidable beasts, with a formidable history. Foes for Samson.  Foes for Hercules.  Reduced to entertaining the gawkers.  Our cameras snapped in chorus.   The bus moved off.  There was another antelope or three.  Were they on the menu?  I’d been told the Asian lion was strictly predatory, unlike those shiftless African lions that would dine on carrion when they found it.

 

In an hour, we’d returned to base.  The tour was done.  Another bus was prepping to leave.  A monkey in a tree watched me get into the cab.  We drove off.

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Back in Junagadh I shook my driver’s hand and tipped him two hundred rupees for saving the day.

 

That evening, after a long walk to a dustier part of town, where the crowds were thin, I crossed Jayshree Road to the banks of Narsin Mehta, Junagadh’s lovely little lake.  I stared at the water.  A stork flew by and landed on a bit of log that lanced the surface.

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Now there was closure.  I’d seen the Gir lions.  What other childhood mysteries remained on the bucket list?  There was that voracious, slobbery devil creature for one; that nasty critter that spun like a dervish, somewhere in Tasmania.

 

 

(c)Richard Taylor

 

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Friday, 30 December 2016

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