Do you believe in love at first sight? I Do… My first love – The Tiger. Or should I say – “The Tigers” and “Wilderness”. My journey started in Ranthambore and continued to Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Bharatpur, Kanha, Nagarhole, Kaziranga, Bandipur, Chambal, Sariska, Dudhwa, Pench, Mudumalai, Nameri and its still on. What happened en-route? Well quite a few things. I had worked in the hotel industry for a pretty long time and while traveling with clients through beautiful jungles I fell in love with them. My camera held me in good stead; capturing some breathtaking moment with Tigers, which even pros would die for. As time passed my entrepreneurial urge grew stronger and stronger. Finally I felt my job and after scouting for the perfect place found my dream land in Kanha. There I built my first wildlife lodge-Chitvan, Kanha.

Throughout my life I’ve been fascinated by Tigers. Slowly as I started spending more & more time around these magnificent beasts, I started understanding them better and with that understanding I came to know myself better as well. If you think about it, you can easily identify the traits of a Tiger with that of a CEO of a company. Let me run you through my observation and you will see my point. Let’s take the most important aspect which allows the Tiger do dominate his territory Fitness. It’s a quality shared by any CEO. To run a company he has to be physically & mentally fit to handle the reigns of the company and take informed decisions. Another characteristic is ‘Adaptability’. Tiger is one predator that’s perfectly adapted to various terrains be it the swamps, grasslands, snow or water. Similarly the CEO of a company needs to adapt to the ever-changing international scenario where the competitive advantage of any company can disappear overnight. ‘Eating Right’ is another trait which is essential for both to keep them in perfect fighting condition. The Tiger generally covers more that 10-15 miles of his territory every day. A CEO also needs to keep ‘Patrolling’ to judge the market sentiments and make sure the company isn’t losing ground. Hunting, Ambush, Concentration; all discreetly are the traits of any predator on the top of his game. A Tigers success rate is only 10 % but it always gives its cent percent. This is what any shareholders of a company would expect from the CEO; that he gives his heart and soul in all that he does.

And remember it’s always lonely at the top. You will have few friends but you will have to persevere. Hope I could share with you my complete awe and respect for these majestic creatures. In the case of the Tiger I firmly believe “Looks can Kill”. Will like to sum it up by a famous thought, “John Seidensticker, of Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington DC, come to mind: “The tiger lives in a world of sunlight and shadow; always secretive, never devious; always a killer, never a murderer; solitary, never alone; for it is an irreplaceable link in the process and the wholeness of life…”

Note : The above is a write up of a great presentation given by my dear friend Sharad Vats.

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At the subconscious level something must have happened in school which made by brain stop me going back there. In school I was the guy with average IQ, sandwiched between friends to whom studies was a walk in the park. Over all I would say school was a very enjoyable phase in my life, which makes me wonder why is it that I’ve not kept in touch with more of my school friends and teachers or attended any of the alumni meets, albeit being in Delhi all these years.

So it was a pleasant surprise when out of the blue I get an invitation on Facebook to attend the wedding of two of my school mates. I was thrilled that at least someone did remember me even after such a long sabbatical. I congratulated my friends and promised I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I would be meeting my school friends after nearly ten years.

I made plans for the 15th Dec’11 with the only school friend that I am in touch with. Unfortunately she had to cancel and I made the journey alone. I arrived on time (I hoped) since in my excitement I hadn’t even seen whether the invitation was for the marriage or the reception, let alone the time. After giving the valet my car to park, I asked where the marriage is and was pointed vaguely towards the front. I entered the wedding hall at the end of a corridor which had an arch decorated with flowers at the entrance. I was pleasantly surprised to see all the women dressed in traditional Bengali attire. Surprised, as my friends are now settled in the states and had come home only for the marriage. I hadn’t expected it to be a traditional Bengali affair. But my happiness did not last long as I soon realized I didn’t recognize any of the guests present in the hall. I made a hasty retreat to the archway to have a look around to see if I could see any signage to confirm if I was at the right place. Then I saw it, “Arindam Weds Anuradha”…. and heaved a sigh of relief. But I didn’t feel like going back in. Suddenly I heard the sound of band baaja and hoped it was my friend Arindham. It was. Arindham and a lot of barati’s dancing away to glory. I don’t know whether the groom had a horse to start with, but at that moment he had both his feet firmly on the ground, dancing along with everyone. After a lot of photo opportunities and hip swaying the crowd finally covered the last few meters and reached the entry to the hall. Anuradha too arrived at the spot in her car and the couple did a dance together in front of both the families who were laughing, shouting, and dancing at the same time. To my relief in that merry crowd I finally saw some familiar faces. I must tell you I was a wee bit disappointed at the boys. I think if I had seen them even after another 10 years they wouldn’t have changed. It was if it was only yesterday that I had last seen them. The girls on the other hand had become ladies. It took me a while sometimes to recognize their faces. The first half and hour was exciting as the ex Patalian group grew larger and larger, and sometimes a little embarrassing as sometimes there was a long pause trying to match faces with names. After a while once the first hiccups were out-of-the-way, everyone fell deep into conversation, reminiscing about the past and catching up on the present. I have a feeling that Arindam & Anuradha too wanted to join us. Haha…ha

Once the ceremonies were done and the bride & groom were having the customary dinner with close family, Anuradha couldn’t stop herself and joined the party happening on the dance floor. The last song played by the DJ was the song which is a rage now ‘Kolaveri’. In the end the blessed couple too didn’t want the party to end and fervently insisted that all of us come again for the reception. Let the party continue….

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