We sat down for our drinks that consisted of single malt liquor and peanuts followed by dinner that was chicken and baingan bharta. Gagan did mix the menu with continental stuff that included baked vegetables and toasted sandwiches along with fresh tomato pasta. He mixed the menu up well and always kept the food light and non-spicy making sure that the cooking was perfect home style. At night, we would use torchlights and lanterns to light up the place. I admired the wall Gagan had crafted just by using old beer bottles. The wall came out green and brown in colour and reflected sunlight in the afternoon to give the wall its sheen and glitter. The insects, bees, birds and reptiles of the forest come out at night and it can be tricky walking around the lodge area barefooted. You never know which insect could bite you. There were huge bugs, beetles and moths. Trees had huge spider webs and nests where birds rested at night. It all felt like you were in the jungle and not away from it. Near the Tigergarh resort is a huge water pond with trees in the centre coming out of mud islands inside the pond area. Looks like a fantastic place to shoot a video.

However, the excitement for the night was yet to come as Gagan delivered his monologue on nature, forest and the balance that needs to be maintained. “You see yaar! We, as a species, have only screwed around with the balance of nature, forests and glaciers. We caused the greenhouse effect with our machines and now we talk about saving trees and villages. Man, due to his evolved mind and intelligence, has managed to play havoc with the earth. Otherwise, everything in nature is as it should be. It is our greed and desire to hoard the natural resources, provided to us by the mother, screwing up things. Without man, life would run perfectly and the world will not miss us human beings.” He paused to have a drink. I, for one, was getting into the groove and enjoying forest life. There was a special trinity in this place. I am sure Ram’s Kutiya during vanvas also had the same buzz. After all, many wise men, creative artists, musicians and philosophers have spent large parts of their lives in the forests or the mountains to understand the secrets of the universe. Why should I be left out? You can contemplate a lot in and find your balance in places like these.

Suddenly there was pandemonium from the kitchen staff of the resort as people ran into the garden. Yes, someone had stepped on a snake. A black slippery snake about three feet long all coiled up on the grass. They were trying to catch it with sticks but it kept coiling up. I ran to get my camera and take a few pictures as Gagan tried to reason with the snake. Lucky for us, we had the torchlight and I got a better view of the reptiles. It had white circular scales on its black shiny body. I could barely see its face, which was jet black too. This was a rare treat of the jungle – snake in the resort. Real jungle mein mangal for us all.

Yes, snake of Bandhavgarh had appeared to say hi to us all. It looks like this forest has many more surprises in store for me.