August 28, 2015

The World as per the Todas

Todas came into this world a long time before us. They also have more PhDs on them than most of us have on us. Enough doctorates to fill a small bookshelf. But what I like and love about Todas are that they are ardent conservationists. They have truly imbibed the understanding that they are just a small part of nature and it is nature which is everything. Some time back they protested to be given rights to go to Mukurthi National park to collect the required raw materials for their temples. Many people said they should not be allowed to enter the pristine park. But the park was not there when Todas used to live there.

The Todas know more about nature than most of us and do not go shouting in the streets that they do. They are just one of the exotic communities of the Nilgiris whose vote don't count. I can only wish that they manage to survive this kalyug. I can only wish that my best friend Aradu Kuttan keeps on planting trees and share his knowledge of the Shola system with the world, for when he is gone, these trees will be botanical wonders and not cultural glues.

August 27, 2015

Ahhh, the well

There was a well ahead, glistening with sweat,
Promised a better future, it promised some light as well.
There was a rope and a bucket, some flies buzzed around,
It had everything to make my heart go giddy with strange sounds.
I saw the well from far away, I could see it glisten with sweat,
The well had an issue though, it could walk as well.
As I walked below the flaming sky, the well seemed at hand,
The sun created mirages, yet the roots of the well held strong.
I was almost upon it, when the roots began to shake,
I rushed for the bucket, desperate for water for parched souls.

Just then, the well walked away, leaving me stranded with the bucket in my hand,
It kept walking and I cried in shock,
'Oh my hard work has been lost, there walks away my redemption'.
The well stopped some distance away and beckoned me over..
I stood in disbelief and stared around,
I knew the trick. The well is going to play all along.

It will make me walk to my end, it will kill all desires along.
The well was just a mirage, I ended up saying 'Ahhh, the Well'.

August 25, 2015

What happens when the lights go out...

What happens when the lights go out,
Whether the sun shines or the light dims.
Where is the path that stood at the end of the tunnel,
Was the tunnel just an illusion to lure the gullible.
When I entered the tunnel, there was darkness all around,
There was water, there was food but where was the goodness around.
I felt trapped, felt weak and sat down with a sigh,
Ohh I knew that the tunnel was just an elaborate hullabaloo.
It was never meant to open up,
It was meant to pin you down.

August 24, 2015

The Debate on Zoos

There are zoos and there are more zoos and the debate on zoos will possibly never end. Here is my take.

I feel zoos, if properly maintained like the Mysore or the Sepaijhala Zoo in Tripura, if properly maintained are a great boon to the society. While we have become a bunch of ....... basically uprooting nature till she dies a forced death, zoos actually help in reducing the impact. And this impact has primarily to do with the positive educational effect, it has on children. Where does a child who lives in Hyderabad or Chennai or Delhi, lets say... where will this child see a tiger. I would say not in Nagarhole National Park but in the nearest zoo. This is his way to move away from the National Geographic syndrome and actually see an animal. Only when he sees an animal, will he gather empathy.

My love for wildlife started late and it was around when I used to regularly visit Van Vihar in Bhopal. Seeing, the crocodiles, tigers, turtles and other beings did I gather the strength to do something about them.

There are purists who maintain that zoos are an inhuman form of keeping animals. They have their views and I have mine. I agree with most of their views but the fact is, if not a zoo, then what.

I was witness to one of the best zoo programs under Vijay Ranjan Singh at Mysore where he took cleanliness to a high level. The animals surely thank him and his predecessors but the purists may not. And all, he was keen to do was to make sure that the animals lived healthily and the kids learnt.

I vote for GOOD ZOOS, not for badly maintained ones.

Anu, the tigress is there to tell the tale.

August 21, 2015

People at Work

People - Waiting, standing, laughing, staring - A long forgotten staff tour that we had.... To Pondhichery then...


August 18, 2015

Narmade Hare


What do I remember the most... What do I remember about the Narmada river. Is it the clean living stream that passes you by when crossing Hoshangabad, is it the view of the ghats when you are about the reach Dindori, is it the waterfall at Kapildhara when the river is barely there yet bubbly with new life or is the small spring that bursts into action at Amarkantak. Perhaps, all these and more. The forests that clothe her at Dindori, all the tributaries which joins her, the forests of Panchmari which sustains her... The forests form an integral part of the river system.

Just as the steep slopes of Uttarakhand defines the Ganga, the forests of Eastern Madhya Pradesh defines the Narmada. For me the memories are clear...... the adivasis everywhere, pot in the village, roaming around with locals, seeing the local banias siphoning off money from the adivasis, the festivals, the sadhus of Kapildhara, standing under the falls, walking by the river-shore, the peace that life cannot impart but the river can.

The peace that Ma Reva can extend is psychedelic to say the least...

August 16, 2015

Forget the Nature of the Beast

Forget the nature of the beast,
for his is yet a concocted thirst.

Be careful of the silent ones,
for they gobble up the fears within.

I happened to pass one of them today,
and he asked' Hey, where to?'
I said, 'beast, why do you care where I go'.
He chuckled, he smiled,' I can smell fresh meat'

August 15, 2015

There she was,

walking like a flower twirling....
Her hands held a giggle and her smile was all radiant.
I could feel her standing, close, like a doll...
But when I opened my eyes, there she was... She was not.

August 12, 2015

Gopalswami Betta

A long long time back, Himavad Gopalswami Betta was the end of the social and cultural world of the people of the Nilgiris. It had become the same for me as well and crossing Bandipur seemed like I had entered a different world. A world that was drier and closer to reality than the fairy tale of the Nilgiris. But the Betta itself had a strange magic to it.

One of the things I do when I climb to the top of the world is to check for wind speed. Recently, I walked above Mana to a place callled Vasudhara and unbelievably, the wind speeds there were phenomenal. The closest to such speeds were what I have always experienced at the Gopalswami Betta. The winds here have the capacity to blow you away and if not, atleast shake you of your foundations for as long as you stand there....

For me, visiting the betta with its clouds and the phenomenal views is the sheer fun of experiencing the winds.

Go on, check the winds there.

August 11, 2015

Mangalore, Belur, Halebid and Mysore



One of the many visits made over the past decade. Reminiscing, this was one of the first staff tours we had while at Keystone... We went to Mangalore, Belur, Halebid, Mysore and back to Kotagiri. Who would have known that I will be in South Karnataka for almost 7 years now and will have roamed these areas umpteen times... This was the first trip and there were many more thereafter... May the trips keep on rolling...

August 10, 2015

And a step taken and the eyes open,
No desire to thrive and no life that shines,
It is so easy to die when you just close your eyes

In the Forest of the night