Whenever the urban grind becomes a tad overbear­ing, I head to a jungle. There’s this terrible menace though, often making its unruly presence felt in the wildlife circuit, that’s hard to shake loose. Commonly known as VIPs (or very infuriating people), this highly invasive species has begun creeping its way into the jungles of India.

Now, booking a safari in the early weeks of November is a fairly straight forward task. Ranthambhore had just thrown its gates open and the generous monsoon downpour had turned it into an impenetrable bastion of green, diminishing our chances of spotting our beloved striped predators.

We weren’t here for the catwalk and we knew it. However, what we didn’t know was that the safari rates had been shockingly escalated by more than two thousand rupees! Why? There were VIPs present in the park, and the price-rise had been orches­trated to deter ordinary tourists from partaking in the afternoon safari. I’m not sure if a Volvo ‘safari service’ had been pressed into the service of the VIPs, because the park’s permissible quota of 30-odd jeeps had apparently proved insufficient!

Another time, I’d booked a safari in Corbett many weeks in advance. When I arrived, I was told that I couldn’t be allowed in as there was ‘tiger conservation’ in progress, being conducted by VIPs. And so my frustration continued. Finally, I had the amazing fortune of getting inside one of our National Parks, in Tadoba, and I thought that I’d finally survived the worst of the VIPs. However, my euphoria was short-lived. The sight of a jeep full of VIP conservationists, scaring the wits out of a pair of tigers, is not something I will ever forget. I doubt if the violated felines will either. If only the lucky tigers knew that all the sound and fury was for the greater good of their conservation!