Not all our holiday plans work out well and I usually only post positives but, at the risk of sounding like a privileged whiny white tourist, hopefully our experience at Ranthambhore not seeing tigers is amusing:
I just wanted a holiday where I could have a break from work; as much as I love my jobs, I needed to get away for a week. Somehow I’ve ended up hiding in our “deluxe” resort room – a space that is furnished and smells like the 1907s time capsule that was the Doctor’s Room at Shenton Park Hospital before it was closed, something that once might’ve been a tad luxurious but is now ventilated by the hum of the bar refrigerator that refuses to die.
Dan is sitting outside, in a cement circle that surrounds a pubescent tabla player and his mid thirties singer/accordion player. If the entrances are labelled as 12 and 6 o’clock there is a hotel employee swaying from foot-to-foot at 7 o’clock, guarding a platter of stale biscuits half-covered in cling wrap, and two urns of hot water. You may request either tea, or instant coffee. After a two-year coffee exile in Canada I learned to appreciate even Tim Hortons brown dishwater as drinkable but I couldn’t finish my hot cup of brown bitterness tonight.
From 8 to 12 o’clock are spread out a group of mainland Chinese tourists. They appeared at the hotel reception area an hour ago, probably returning from a safari, as Daniel and I were working on our laptops. That’s when the hotel reception wifi gave up. Dan was finishing up a proof-reading job for the Americans who occasionally send him work, I was catching up on TripAdvisor reviews. Since TripAdvisor began rewarding review entries with points I can’t help but want to achieve the top rank, or just accumulate points. The hotelier had given us the wifi password with a request to review them favourably on TripAdvisor. A bit presumptive, as we’d only just checked in. If I sleep through tonight, I’ll consider it. My review of the Taj Mahal hung, as the wifi struggled to cope with so many users. It timed out. Can’t review the hotel if the wifi doesn’t work.
The two performers are sitting in the circle at 1 o’clock, half a radius from centre. The “cultural experience” would have been bearable, perhaps pleasant, if the tabla player stuck to doing what he could do. Instead they are both singing. The boy is tone deaf, and tries to make up for being very off-key by screaming. It’s like watching the joke reality TV talent show entries where everybody else cringes but the performer doesn’t know they’ve only been put forward to be made fun of. I felt embarrassed for the performers, the Chinese tourists were taking selfies and chatting to themselves, the other hotel staff watched forlornly, and Daniel read his book. I swatted insects from buzzing about may head and hoped I wasn’t getting bitten by mosquitos.
I hoped for an improvement but when, Three Blind Mice, was mixed into the presumably North Indian repertoire I decided to accept reality: I am stranded in a tiger forest in North India without working wifi, a laptop screen that now flickers with coloured lines and threatens to go permanently black, to the squawking of an adolescent in a turban. My only hopes at survival are my 60 mL roll-on insect repellant, the 5 sugar sachets next to the kettle and an oblivious and very relaxed Daniel, who is reading an ebook on his iPhone and very much looking forward to possibly seeing a wild tiger tomorrow.
Things we travelled to see but didn’t:
- Northern lights in Iceland.
- Wild moose in Canada.
- Grand Canyon in winter.
- Tigers in Ranthambhore.