Yesterday, I had a startling animal encounter. It happened as I was exploring the rocky wilds around Mehrangarh Fort. For the previous week, I had been planning to take a walk in that area, a tract of uninhabited land between the fort and the northern wall of the city. Not many people venture out there, not even residents of Jodhpur. The terrain is full of thick, thorny bushes, and feral dogs roam through the valleys. But the jagged hills provide tremendous views of the fort, the old city, and a marble memorial called the Jaswant Thada, which holds the remains of some of Jodhpur’s former Maharajas.
At the top of one of the largest hills, I passed a small dog wandering on its own. It was thin but not sickly, and it panted while looking up at me with wide, puppy dog eyes. I started down the hill, and it followed from a distance.
The descent was steep, so I focused on the ground ahead of me, taking care with every step. Then I heard a rustling from behind. I turned and saw the little dog sprinting in my direction, except it wasn’t little anymore. It had grown into something five times larger, with a snout and a pair of tusks. Not a dog, a wild boar.
“Oh, shit,” I shouted.
I backed a few steps uphill, and the boar ran downwards, displacing rocks as it went. My heart pounding, I watched as it dashed across a dusty plain and disappeared into a thicket. It was just as scared as I was.
I looked back and the little dog was still there, small as it had always been. It watched me curiously, with its tongue out, panting. At that point, I was panting, too.