This time I found myself in the jungles of Ranthambhore in Rajasthan. Remember the national park I wanted to run away to from Tadoba because I felt that it would be easier to see tigers there? If you haven’t read that article, it’s here.
This time, my mother-in-law (MIL) accompanied us. She had never seen a tiger. The pressure was high.
She is someone who could have gotten bored if we had those kinds of long and dry safari rides as we did in Tadoba last time. Did she have the patience that would be needed? This was, after all, her first trip to look for tigers. I mean, even me - the veteran tiger-safari-frequenter, lost patience the last time around.
I prayed to God that we didn’t have to work that hard on this trip, more for her sake than mine. We were told to keep our expectations low because the sightings had been weak for a couple of days. I was very nervous. I had hyped it all up so much that I was extremely keen that she sees a tiger and understand why I repeatedly drag her son to the middle of nowhere to look for big cats.
Also, I was nervous that if she didn’t see a predator on her first ride, would she have the motivation to wake up in the morning at 6 am for the next one? I was biting my nails and bowed down at the Ganesh temple at the foothill before we entered the impressive gates of the Hamir fort that led us to the lovely plains between the Ranthambhore lakes.
As luck would have it, we saw our first tiger - a new male who had come into the area, about 45 mins after we entered.
My MIL was in awe. I thanked the lord 🙏🏼. Not only did we see this big chap, but he also allowed us to be with him for almost an hour while he marked his new territory. Apparently, he had scared away the older male who was the father of the cubs in the area and the mate of the famous Arrowhead and had sadly killed her cubs in the hope that she comes into her estrous cycle and that he can mate with her and spread his genes far and wide.
He rolled on the grass marking his scent; he sprayed trees with urine – in short, made it very clear that this part of the land was HIS!
This was a rare sighting, not only because we saw a male tiger within an hour of entering the park, but we saw him for 45 minutes and he was so bold, allowing us to take pictures of him as he went about his business.
My MIL was thrilled. And I thanked Ganeshji again.
When Mr. Tiger finally decided he had had enough of us (because we can’t have enough of him), he disappeared into the thickets. My MIL said that we should search for another one.
I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Come on…this is not easy!”. Just because we saw one with hardly any effort, doesn’t mean there are many just waiting for us to find them. It’s a tough game. In my mind, I was saying, “lower your expectations, Ma.”
Just as I finished my last eye roll, another tigress (the one Mr. tiger was out to impress), Arrowhead herself, appeared and daintily walked in front of us against the romantic backdrop of the lake.
It was right out of a fantasy movie. I mean it was a fantasy… this doesn’t happen normally! My MIL was thrilled, and we went home with such a full stomach that we even skipped dinner.
The next morning, she was ready well before all of us and with a smiling face, she mounted the jeep, all set to see many more. I told her to keep her hopes down, that we couldn’t possibly top what we had seen the evening before.
Just as I finished telling her this, and before entering the main national park gate, we again saw a tiger perched on a wall next to us, literally doing a 'catwalk' on a ramp (the wall).
It was surreal. And after that, we went in and saw yet another tigress and her three cubs playing and nuzzling her!
By the afternoon ride, I had stopped telling my MIL what not to expect because I was beginning to look foolish. And thank god, I didn’t, because we saw yet another tigress sprawled in front of us, sleeping on the road like an entitled princess, with all her subjects waiting on her and eager to see her get up and walk… which she did, too!
My MIL was so happy, and so was I, but I didn’t know how to tell her that this is just too lucky and doesn’t happen to most.
I just kept quiet, smiled, and decided to enjoy the moment.
While I was recounting this series of events to myself, I couldn’t help but see the parallels to the world of investing.
Like the markets from March 2020 to today. An unpredictable event like this with consequences so far and wide-reaching, doesn’t happen very often.
But, how do we explain that to a new investor without seeming silly?
My MIL will be back soon for another trip with us, and her benchmarks will be so high that she is bound to be disappointed. Luckily, she is a very calm lady with a positive attitude who doesn’t act entitled in any way.
So, what do we tell those new investors who entered the market for the first time last year, or even this year?
What does a financial advisor even say to them without sounding ridiculous? Who wants to listen to another ‘this won’t last long’?
But the last time, and the time before, when you said it, the market kept raging. Even when we experienced dips, it soon recovered.
How do we tell them to diversify because there will be a dry ride at some point? That there will be a sideways market such as what we saw from 1993 to 2003, or like the more recent spell from 2008 to 2013?
How do we tell them that this time it was just special, to not expect it again in the future, not feel that this is the norm, and to accept this time as an exception?
How do we make them consider the wide range of possibilities and guide them to play safe?
To our distributors: I was speechless at the end of the trip, but my mind was empathizing with all of you who need to communicate to your investors and must find it so hard to explain to your clients, especially new ones, that this market is exceptional and that one must diversify, keep expectations low and think more long term.
To the investors: Please listen to your more experienced advisors who track and analyze markets for a living and understand this space deeply. Remember that returns don’t always come this easy. You need to be diversified and thoughtful as to where to invest your money and manage volatility, that is bound to come. Don’t forget, markets will fluctuate. If not today, tomorrow.
Till then, enjoy the ride and hope you continue to see many tigers. :)
PS: I found it much harder to contemplate in the forest on my trip (unlike last time where I had plenty of time to analyze my feelings) as there were plenty of tigers all around to keep me excited and occupied. This happens with markets too – when the going is good, why think about anything else? Be aware.
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