We set out early at 7:30 am for a guided walk from the hotel through fields of cumin, tobacco, and mustard and with views of the 17th century Ajabgarh Fort. Another couple from London, Ros and Nick, joined us, and we found much in common. Ros and I fell back a few hundred feet from the men so I could take some photos of the raised huts farmers sleep in to fend off destruction of their crops by wandering cattle or wild boars or other nighttime visitors. A boy appeared on a bicycle and started asking me something and putting out his hand. I thought perhaps he was related to the farmers I was photographing and wanted money, so I gave him some rupees. Big mistake. Not only would he not leave, but people showed up from out of nowhere and started grinning, holding out their hands. Ros and I quickly caught up with the others and we resumed our walk.
About a mile away we came to a family compound shared by seven brothers. Our guide showed us how the people cook and live. About ten children came up to us and were very curious and smiling. They all wanted me to take their photo, which I happily did. I kept trying to take a photo of this one 11 year old girl and her baby brother, but a 5 year old boy kept photo bombing. We all thought it was pretty funny. Then we sang ABC’s and counted to ten. A few women were going about their chores and showed us what they were doing. Our guide brought us to a young woman who shyly, but with broad smiles, showed us her humble home - one room in a concrete shell that served for everything the family did. There was an electric line with a few light bulbs, but nothing else was modern. Except, however, for the cell phone that she pulled out from under her sari! Everyone has one.
Back at the hotel by 10:30, we all had a very hearty breakfast. On our way back to our room we found the monkey man was busily poking and vocalizing at the rhesus macaques and Hunaman langurs on the roofs and in the garden.
Later on in the afternoon, Barry and I drove with a guide to the Sariska Tiger Preserve where we hoped to see a tiger. However, there are only 17 tigers, including 5 cubs, so the odds were not great. I’ve read that by 2005 there were no tigers here at all. In 2008, the park service began relocating tigers here from Ranthambhorne and the population has begun to grow a bit. The tigers are constantly under threat of poaching, mainly from the local people, until the government paid villagers to move away.
At Sariska, we joined a driver and local guide and spent a few hours looking at sambar deer, spotted deer, a wild boar, many peacocks and other birds. But no tigers. The driver found a few paw prints, but no tiger. At one point, the driver heard a grunted huff, an alarm called by a Hanuman langur, so we pulled over and listened intently for some minutes. Nothing showed up. Regardless, it was a beautiful drive through the park.
On the road back to the hotel, we encountered the usual commute: herds of goats going home, cows strolling down the road, motorcycles everywhere carrying sari wearing women and various children.
We had dinner outside overlooking the pool and garden so we could enjoy the drums harmonium and musicians singing softly.