Kissing a Bengal Tiger

August 12, 2010


If Webster needed examples from the real world to explain the word ‘inappropriate’ – the names of two tigers I met and cuddled, Sticky Rice and Spicy Sausage would be on the top of his list!

These of course were not their real names… they were the English translations of their real names in Thai that they were given at birth and answered to.

I have pictures of us rolling around the grass with both, one by one…but since I do not understand Tiger markings I have no idea which of the photos feature the sticky one and which of them show the spicy one.

But both are deliciously cute. Never expected tiger hugging to feel so secure and snuggly.

There were larger tigers and smaller frisky babies, but mine were just perfect.

As I tried every attention-seeking act in the book, SR (or could have been SS – but whats in a name) continued to be engrossed in the piece of grass that he was playing with and continued to ignore me…

He got 10 minutes of tummy rubbing, and cuddling and lots of stroking from an extremely exhilerated me. The smiles bursting in my heart spilled over onto my face – I was totally exuberant in those moments.. His ignoring me meant nothing – I was still immensely happy to have this unexpected physical intimacy with the beautiful cat! Of course, if he would have returned my affection and hugged me back and played with me like my lab used to, I’d have been unable to handle the thrill…but SR / SS was not about to oblige…..But this was good enough.

Then it was time to leave Sticky Rice and move onto Spicy sausage (…or the other way round).

By now, I had the feeling of being fulfilled – the kind of feeling that descends upon you after a great Gujarati Thali meal – all was well with the world – I was smiling inside and outside – incredulous at what had just happened – grateful for this serendipitious unplanned way to spend the afternoon – and kept recounting all the pleasure of petting those cuddly cats.

About two years prior to this, I had heard of a place in Argentina where this was possible – and I had made a mental note to visit that place someday. It didn’t seem possible that I would get to do this at all in this lifetime. So on that fateful day, when on a drive in Thailand I saw a sign about tigers – it was really not what I expected. We diverted the taxi and went in to check it out…

Once more serendipity had held my hand and led me to one of the most amazing unforgettable experiences of my life!

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