"I'm Hungry Over Here!” (Sundarbans, Bangladesh) Part IV
SECOND CONSECUTIVE NIGHT in the watchtower near the Katka (Kotka) Forest Station. The results were much the same though we did spot an unidentifiable shape skulking in the moonlight. Tiger? Maybe. Unicorn?…Probably easier to find. All along the watchtower…with only a blissful night’s sleep in our favor. There are worse tragedies.
We awoke the next morning to discover yet another large group of Bengali men on a company outing. Of course, their first stop was the tower. The fact we were in sleeping bags and occupying most of the platform space did nothing to deter a photo shoot. I requested a moment to put on my pants. Still, before I’d extricated myself from the bag the session had begun. They were super friendly and kept apologizing for the disturbance.
We were rescued, in a manner of speaking, by our faithful crew that came to help gather our things for return to the boat. On the way to the ship, we inquired as to a strange guttural “aaawwww” sound coming from the forest. Apparently, it was none other than Mr. Khan himself. Rashid, our guide, told us it’s the sound a tiger makes when hungry.
Hungry? Ummmm…huh? Let me get this straight: When a tiger is hangry, it makes a loud “aaawwww” sound to ensure every prey animal within a few hundred meters knows certain death lingers nearby?…Right. Why not stand up and scream, “Yooooo Hoooo! I’m hungry over here! And I’m coming to take you away, ha ha! Roaaaaaaaaaar, muther fuckers! I said…Roaaaaaaaaaar, muther fuckers!”
Nuh uh. Don’t think so. Either Rashid was nervous or didn’t have the patience to watch us crawling through the underbrush (or both), so I imagine he created that preposterous explanation to curb our enthusiasm.
Later, I would learn this is a call for sexy time—Feline flirtation, jungle style. Grrrr, baby. So close, yet so far away…darn it (To seeing a tiger, not having sex with one.)
After breakfast, we went back to Tiger Island for another look around and a longer walk along the coast. More forlorn coastline and few signs of humanity. Plenty of pug marks. We conducted a few forays into the forest edge but came up empty. We walked as far as we could around the island before seaside marshland turned us around. It might have been annoying if the landscape wasn’t so damn enchanting. Tiger or no, that place is special.
On the return walk, we met a fisherman with an interesting tale about Raju the Pirate. He’d been employed on a new fishing trawler when, unfortunately for him and his employer, it was captured by pirates of the Zulkifar group. Our storyteller (I’m assuming he escaped) recounted the plea made by his boss to Raju himself via cell phone about the injustice perpetrated by a rival group. (Perhaps the owner had an agreement with Raju?)
Raju agreed. Stealing a new vessel was a bridge too far. So, he “reacquired” the ship and returned it. I guess Raju (or should I say Robin Hood?) has a conscience and isn’t a complete wretch. Kind of warms the cockles of thy heart, does it not? We asked if this fisherman had Raju’s cell number, or if he could contact him. He said it was possible but the number was in his phone at home and he wouldn’t be returning for two days. He took our guide’s cell number and said he’d call. Alas, we never heard from our liaison. I suppose that’s for the best…but, oh, the possibilities. Next time.
Upon return to the small country boat, we discovered the boatman had fallen asleep during low tide. Our dinghy? Stranded in the mud. We opted to walk further out to the main boat. Doing so entailed an arduous slog through the muck once again.
We spent the night moored at the forest station near Kochikhali. The next day we were off to explore the channels cutting through Tiger Island.
Heeeere, kitty, kitty, kitty…Niiiice kitty, kitty.