Taking risk allows you to challenge yourself.
But there are all kinds of risk takers, impulsive ones, and calculative ones to name a few. The calculative guys are those who have been to school, the impulsive ones are well, like gamblers. Once they have made the first kill, they can’t stop. It is the same spirit that rules the entrepreneurs.
They are not afraid of failure, they have to start something and they will continue to throw the dice, risking everything.
The exhilaration of the adventure drives them to challenge all odds and eggs them on to test new limits.
And they begin to enjoy the challenges, like serial entrepreneurs who are continuously testing new grounds. One can understand how easy it is to get addicted to this new high of challenging the known for the unknown.
Embracing the unknown doesn’t mean giving up the familiarity of home to embrace the jungle, but to feel the exhilaration it brings in order to be rejuvenated, energized and be born again and, to look at life in a whole new perspective.
Like when I went in search of a tiger in the jungles of Corbett. Did I find my tiger? May be, may be not, but I surely came back burning bright like a tiger who is the king of the jungle.
In search of a Tiger
I was vacationing in Uttaranchal and dying to see the tiger in its natural habitat. The fact is, after two days in the Jim Corbett National Tiger Park, I hadn’t seen a single tiger. I was beginning to doubt.
Are there tigers at all? I had heard there are at least 200 of them in the jungle, so where were they? This is the same kind of self-doubt many people in business ask themselves when they don’t make a sales kill, am I in the right place, at the right time?
Early morning at 5:30am Govind Singh Bist walked in with his shy smile and asked. “Would you like to take a nature walk in the jungle?” Of course! I jumped at the opportunity.
Neither of us carried any gadgets (except my Cyber-shot) or weapons to defend ourselves from the wild animals or water. Govind was an amateur ornithologist who took this thick book of birds wherever he went. I was in my cushy Corduroy Crocs that made me feel like the ad says, ‘walk on clouds.’
Should I have worn a different pair of shoes, be more prepared and have carried something more robust, I began to wonder. Some products are designed so well you almost forget you have them on, they call them deep products, but if you ask me, good products are not good for you all the time.
The jungle looked awesome with mountains on one side and the Kosi river all around its border.
But the river was pebble dry and no animals came near the river. We kept walking in the heat of the jungle. My companion was not much of a talker; he spoke the nouns and acted the verbs beyond which, there was no need for language.
Indian Pitta!, he would cry out in muffled excitement, and flap his arms like a bird to indicate flying, and whisper ‘Pakistan,’ enough for me to understand that the bird had come from the neighboring country.
So you see, Communication gap has nothing to do with language, it is about the ‘willingness’ to communicate.
As we walked deeper into the jungle I recalled my dad telling me that the best navigation in the world is internal.
Trusting my instincts, I instantly began to put my senses into use.
I sniffed like a dog, arched my ears to record every sound of the jungle and recorded in my brain every visual I saw. Thus I stored in my brain the data from my senses; the smell of Eucalyptus trees and a variety of flora, the images of the pebbled river and the fort of mountains, and the now distant hum of the Gypsies on safari. By this time, we had walked 3 kms.
Then there was this distinct tree that instantly rooted in my memory like it were a Bodhi tree of sorts that awakened all my senses. The tree was a home of harmony sheltering more than 100 varieties of birds. I decided it was my navigation point and set the Geo-tag in my mind for the Lat and the Long.
Soon, I learned that the birds came here from all over the world, as far as Russia taking nearly seven months to migrate and making this jungle their temporary home. I began to admire these tenacious multinational birds even as I began to marvel their cultural diversity and peaceful coexistence.
As we continued to walk I suddenly saw the skeleton of a cow.
It was obvious the king of the jungle had enjoyed a good meal not too long ago. My skin tingled as we walked further in silence. The air was tense; we could feel the heat on our skin.
Few steps further, we spotted the skin of a dead snake.
This is just a snake slough, not to worry, I told myself and moved on thinking of various medicinal uses of snake slough. I believe it cures a wide range of diseases such as hypertension, skin disease, arthritis, and cancer. But does it cure fear?
No such medicine unless you are delirious enough to believe a drink will help you overcome fear. I was never much of a drinker but deep in the jungle you are prone to weird thoughts. This is not the right time or place (Opposite to Bill Gates words of Wisdom) to get lost, moreover, I have an evening flight to catch! I took a deep breath and hurried along.
Then, I heard the sky rumble, God it was going to rain and, and we were lost!
“Govind, follow me close and quick”, I said taking on the role of a guide now.
He followed me without a moment’s loss. It was all coming back to me in bits and pieces; when situations change, we leaders need to be agile enough to change! I looked for signs that I had stored in my memory.
The mountains, the pebbled river, the eucalyptus trees and, as I turned around I could see the river in all the directions of the jungle, and so were the mountains, and wait a minute now, so were the eucalyptus trees! We were going in circles, or the jungle was all around us, I know not which, but we were surely in the middle of a big crisis!
I picked up a forked stick that, I thought, could pierce into any flesh but it just about helped clear my way.
And with a brave heart, I took long strides guided by instinct more than anything. After about 200 meters of instinct management, Govind pointed to some monkeys on the treetops.
Now, hang on for a second, the monkeys were surely telling us something! Just then, I could hear a strong movement nearby. We stopped walking. My heartbeat increased. The wind rustled. We held our breath. For a few moments, we heard nothing. Nothing at all. There was this hushed silence. We waited for a few more minutes before we decided to move
We were about to move ahead when suddenly a huge antler jumped out of nowhere.
It had huge frightening horns that could easily poke you to death. This guy was easily over 1200 pounds (550 kgs). And, before we overcame the sudden shock, another sprang right behind it. Then another, and another, and another.
A continuous train of speeding antlers jumping the shit out of me! Jumping and running along in full steam they went past us without stopping. Shocked, we hid next to the nearest tree giving way for the speeding herd to pass on. We surely didn’t want to be part of the antler stampede!
I had never been more frightened in my life than by the herd of Sambar.
Govind would tell me later that Sambars are the larger members of the deer family that have antlers growing to up to 1 meter in length!
We had barely heaved a sigh of relief when my companion jumped in excitement. Now what, I thought. Yeah, I had asked for adventure but we just had one, didn’t we? Govind was pointing to a fresh pile of dung! What the hell? Tusker, Tusker, wild tusker! he said looking around.
I remember when I was a small boy I used to stamp on fresh elephant dung in my village, cuz it had medicinal values (Don’t ask me what it cured, I merely followed the footsteps of other friends *smiles*).
I asked him, how safe we were from this tusker to which, he simply nodded his head.
But what I really wanted to know was if the tiger was around somewhere, “is the err-the-tigerrr around somewhere?” He nodded his head again like before.
“What if he attacks us?” I asked him innocently. He stopped, turned around and looked me in my eye and told me in a full-blown sentence, “The tiger is the king of the jungle”.
After we made it to the hotel, I heard from various sources the same sentence over and again, in different languages by different people at different times, but the same sentiment expressed repeatedly.That night when my driver dropped me to the airport I overheard him telling my four-year-old daughter not to be afraid of the Tiger who is ‘’jungle ka raja hai”.
And then it dawned on me that the tiger is not the predator roaming in the jungle, he is the one hiding in the heart that we need to set free.
Note: This blog was published in 2010, and it was the most popular story I have written with close to 300,000 readers and hundreds of incredible experiences they shared. But unfortunately, I am not able to reproduce those thoughts since Medium doesn’t allow me to migrate the comments from our blog. I am thankful to all the people who shared their heartfelt comments.