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Since 1st March, 1999
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Kaziranga calling
A Blue Jay at Kaziranga; (above) elephants block the path. Pictures by the author

Kaziranga is a mind-blowing place; it’s one of the best national parks in India. You get all the rare animals in this forest — elephants, water buffaloes, leopards, tigers and one-horned rhinos.

Going by car wouldn’t have been a good idea; so we decided to take a flight to Guwahati. After breakfasting in Guwahati, we hired a car to Kaziranga. It was about a five-hour drive. Our address in Kaziranga was the government-run Aranya Lodge.

It was a February morning and the forest was full of birds. I spotted a beautiful Blue Jay (neelkantha) and got ready with my camera. I waited for it to take off. But that was a mistake as I couldn’t catch the bird in all its splendour.

Escorted by a team of forest guards, we went deep inside the forest and came by the Brahmaputra. The river was very serene and we spent a lot of time there. But we didn’t realise that a herd of elephants was quietly waiting for us to leave the place so that it could bathe in the river.

On our way back, we found the herd blocking our path and grazing. We were very happy; we got off, took pictures and got back into the car. But the elephants were in no mood to budge. We kept waiting for them to move. There were a few kid elephants in the herd; their mother was in charge.

A long time had passed and we were clueless about what was happening. Then our guide came up with a strange theory. He said that the mother elephant was deliberately keeping us waiting because we had done the same with them by the river! He also said that he would try and appease her.

Our guide went up to the mother elephant, got down on his knees and mumbled something in Assamese. After a while, the mother and her kids turned back and walked away. We were stunned!

The guide told us that he greeted the mother elephant with a “namaste” and assured her that we had no intention of harming them. He then requested her to turn right so that we could leave the place. I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes! I don’t know if animals really understand us but it was a baffling experience.

(Next week: Feluda meets a gibbon)

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