Once back in Delhi, with time and leisure to trawl the Internet, I intend finding out exactly what are the terms and conditions attached to my PIO status.

One thing for sure is – it counts for zip in Pench.

As I told you, the booking was accepted from a PIO and the first 2 game drives were at local rates, and then suddenly, no I am a foreigner therefore license to extort money from me.

Today is a case in point.

We went on what is called “Tiger Show,” which is when a tiger has been found by the elephants, and then you go on elephant back to see it.

It’s an amazingly paper-intensive procedure, involving writing your name in a register, then going back & checking your status, then getting a chit from the man with the register, then driving to the spot, then taking a ticket from a bloke sitting there with a ticket book (that’s a daft statement, but you know what I mean) and then – finally – off you go to see the tiger.

For 2 minutes, tops.

2 minutes.

Noni and I couldn’t believe it. We asked the mahout to move to a slightly different angle because the tigeress was lying down and we could scarcely see her face.

No.

One minute for Noni to take her photos (all 2 of them)

And one minute for me to take my photos (all 6 of them, thanks to motor drive).

And for that I had to pay Rs600.

Rs200 for Noni.

And the 2 rather rank smelling children who were popped into our jeep at the register place, were free. We presumed they were rangers’ kiddos, and we had no problem whatsoever with them accompanying us.

But please just tell me why the heck should I pay 3 times as much ?

What is the logic ?

White skin = licence to fleece.

Actually it’s not just white skin. Non-Indian skin = licence to fleece.

And even Rs 200 for a minute is expensive, but Rs 600…

Our best sighting of this, our last game drive, was not at all this fleeting glimpse of a tigress, but rather the 4 jackals on a just-killed deer. We must have missed the kill by moments, but watched for at least 20 minutes while the 4 animals dismembered the carcass.

Now that was a truly special sighting.

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