Bengal Tiger
The Patient Arrowhead.

For my journal,  I cut out the brochure or travel planner photos and descriptions of what I will encounter. And since it never matches my experience,  I have learned to embrace the difference.  With a little practice and a lot of writing, you will too.

From the tour company’s description of our Indian safari: …  we regroup for a second safari expedition. Though it is rare, we may see the Royal Bengal tiger, usually sleeping by day in the tall grass. A recent census showed 26 tigers in the reserve. We also see lakes that hold crocodiles and a wide variety of water birds in season.

The cautious marketing language is in boldface.

Here is what we did see: a Royal Bengal tiger.  Her name is Arrowhead.   She posed just long enough for photos, then casually wandered around the preserve just enough out of reach that our drivers had an excuse to whoop and holler and recklessly hurl the tourist-filled jeeps over potholes the size of VWs.   Not exactly a hushed moment in nature.  But it is probably better to view even an indifferent tiger from the relative safety of a crowded jeep than to face the same tiger – no matter how calm – unprotected in the wild. (Many of the tourists were decidedly more snack sized than me but we weren’t testing that today.)

Pleased with the encounter, we photographed Arrowhead and happily posted her photo on Instagram, Facebook and eventually, the holiday newsletter.

Then, unlike any Facebook post you’ve ever seen, we turned the camera around.  Against the calm tiger, a dozen jeeps lined up to give a hundred tourists, all breathless, yet chattering, the chance to frame the lone animal. Not the private moment the first photo would have you believe.

What kinds of discrepancies have you encountered?  We are accustomed to being lied to by advertising, what about brochures and travel fantasies?



Leave a Reply