To listen to the soul of the wild.

Author: Anju Gyanchand

It had been five minutes since the walk resumed and with the mid-summer sun beating down on our “just lunched”bodies, it was no surprise that the pace was slower and the mouths quieter.

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We were in the middle of the Western Ghats and besides seeing bugs , fighting off ticks and delicately placing stick insects back on what looked like their extensions, the trees, we had had  little that …hey wait, shhh… What was that? Hisss hiss..…. instinctively all eight of us stopped in our tracks. Yes, it was unmistakable. That was the hiss of a snake. As we stretched our necks to see where the sound was coming from… suddenly, right there on the ground ahead of us, its little green head bobbing out, was the baby of Malabar pit viper swaying in the sun like a queen would twirl her scepter on her coronation.

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As we watched awestruck, it slithered away from us after what seemed like a long ten hours but was in actuality only ten seconds. Not long enough to take a picture, but long enough to have so clearly seen it and heard it, that the image would stay in all of our minds embedded forever.

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Of course, this was the most exciting thing about our trek through the jungle, but not the only reward for sure. As we all contemplated on the luck we had had  in not just seeing but also not being injected with  its poisonous venom, the oblivious being slithered into and out of our lives faster than we could breathe. But what it left behind was a sensation so real and an awareness so brutal that made us almost spiritual. Obviously we know that there are these other beings in existence that breathe the same air we do,but to see it so up close makes it so much more real. We heard more, saw more, felt more… it was as if seeing that reptile had magically opened up our senses to everything around us.

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Suddenly, everything was magnified tenfold; every sound was clear and loud. There was music in the jungle unlike any other heard ever. And unfortunately no gadget has been built that can record this as accurately as the eardrum. It’s something else when you aren’t being clogged with human voices and there is realization that you are in fact capable of understanding and hearing more decibels than the human ones you are so used to!! I mean, we heard at least ten different birds, although not all of them I can tell you with surety were actually birds. Who knows?!

There was the distinct sound of water flowing somewhere and all we had to do was follow that sound to quench ourthirsts’. I mean have you ever had to hear water before you drank it? Flowing down a rock of the most perfect dimension? Colder and tastier than any drink you’ve ever had. And it didn’t even need to go through the aqua guard!

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I mean, seriously, you could hear the leaves falling off of trees. And it was so crystal clear that at any point you could hear atleast ten different sounds at one time. It is so much better when the sound matches the environment .And I can tell you, it is far less tiring when you have to walk 10 kms if you played a game of “identify that sound!”

It would be advisable for anyone venturing out into the forest to stay quiet…well, as quiet as is possible. Thatway, you get to hear the things that you never heard before; sounds of nature, if you will. And I think even the beings living there aren’t so petrified by the loud noises coming from you.You will certainly have a better chance of sighting something then and enjoying the oneness felt in nature. Also it gives you a better chance at staying alive! You know, in case you might hear something dangerous and need to hide quickly! Being quiet here gives you a chance to actually find the calmness that the forest can offer so gratuitously. You certainly will miss it once you’re back home!

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My first time venturing into the jungle was certainly not the last and I’m telling you, no one believes me, but I think …I think I heard a tiger roar in the distance…