Saturday, November 29, 2008
I dont remember the exact time when the first waves of the Mumbai terror attack struck. I dont know where they first happened. What i DO know is, Ive taken whatever happened, very personally. And give me ONE reason why I shouldn't! It's my country! Whether it is my hometown that blew apart or not, it IS my native people who were ripped. And ANY country facing something like this, should make it a point to take the strongest and hardest measures.
When someone I know tells me his house vibrated because some jackass blasted a bomb near by, I wake up, put on the TV, and what I see, shocks me. There are no tears. No blood is coming out of me. But Im just as exasperated as some other citizen of my country would be. Im not the one who's been shot, Im not the one who's lost a close person (phew!!), Im not the one with the bullet proof vest and a gun storming into a building to take on the cause of this chaos. A sense of respect, frustration, anger, MASSIVE anger, sorrow, and then disrespect fills me, in that order.
One thing I'm glad about is, that finally, India accepted that no matter how many attempts you make to reconcile with someone, things dont work out, if the other party is only pretending, but not taking some action. Unfortunately, Pakistan really IS playing a part in this. And no, im not advocating a war of words or something. But what's so awfully VISIBLE, cannot and should not be denied. And NO im not anti-Muslim. I have wonderful friends who are Muslims, and tomorrow if anyone accuses them of being terrorists, I'll murder that person. And then I will be the terrorist. I cannot have people just randomly accusing my friends only because they're of a particular religion. And honestly, you think that among the people who died in the WAR on Mumbai and India in the last 3 days, no one was a Muslim? So please, stop being racist or whatever the word is, just bloody open your eyes. It's high time that someone takes a step and boldly addresses problems we HAVE. India's Muslims are VERY much our own!! Pakistan however, is nothing close!
We really don't need people creating more problems right now than there already are! I mean our Politicians. I think, you know, Politician should be declared a different religion. Because somehow, they're the blind asses that DON'T see what's happening to OUR country. When Narendra Modi hops into the scene of drastic security, and announces a "compensation" of 1 crore to xyz, it's kinda distracting! I told you, Politician. The people with NO hearts, little sense, and hardly any common sense! What's happening there, and what's he saying, no idea! It's a freaking terror attack. get OUT of there and stop harping about how sad and hurt you are. let the defences do their job and keep SHUT! but no! He think money would sooth the victims' families. Because obviously, they died coz they wanted to see their folks drowning in currency notes na? Jeeez, i mean come ON! What kind of jerk sits and starts a politics game right in a middle of this!?
And that word they keep using -"resilience". WHAT?? You EXPECT Mumbai and India to be resilient about terrorist attacks and not say anything and "bounce back" like they "always have"?? Get the point mate- we've always ignored and moved on, but how much more?! How much more do you want this country to endure? Its being blasted from North to South and West to East along its extent! And you WANT resilience?? Are you BLIND? Or downright crazy??
You should be saying, "This time on, no resilience, dont just take it in and move on, STAND up to it and FIGHT!". Dude, this is a WAR! That those cowardly bastards have started against us. You want to look like a wimp and sit and bounce back, sure, go ahead. We're not with ya mate. We're going to see this END and we're going to fight it off. No blind moron is ever going to enter this country with intentions of cracking it. It's not a cardboard box. Its a COUNTRY with people in it! And those people that are not politicians, have hearts!
Foreigners are dying, our people are dying, security folk are dying, and you're standing and offering money!!??!! Will it take losing a loved one in this sort of thing for you to give up on madness and join the sense brigade? How much more!? How many more deaths? This isn't a natural calamity. It's a planned destruction! A planned murder! Of our country and that spirit! Which , im sorry, will NOT be resilient any more! So you can go back to your A/c office and NOT do anything about it, as usual, while you see your people die on TV on your flat screen plasmas, and we will take up charge. By the time you get up for lunch, or lunch is brought to you, your cook will have been shot. But that's ok, you;ll hire another one right? Can't you people just SEE the AMOUNT of damage this has done to us for so many years and now this!
The flaws in the Government are gaping holes. And no amount of concrete coverage will cover them. They're a cavity. And no matter how many times you fill it in, it's going to erode again. Because your covering material is wrong. Your attitude is wrong. YOU are wrong!
In complete self awareness, I would like to state, that I did register to be able to vote, but you know what, here's my decision, Im going to vote for - NOBODY. Till the time this country gets someone sensible, till the time I can trust someone here, I WILL NOT VOTE. Because, I dont want to feel guilty that I elected someone who failed my country again! And comments on what people feel about me not voting are downright unwelcome coz it's no one else's business.
You have NO idea about how to deal with your people, you think money solves death for cryin out loud! So learn, and then earn (votes).
As for the rest of what I feel (oh yeah there's MUCH more), - that will not be coming up here as of now at least. Its too personal to go up for the world to read.
- The End - (or maybe just starting from scratch)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Someone I know just asked me, "what do u find in _____ ?" (fill that blank with the name of any wildlife place u want). I started typing when I thought ," why?! why should I be telling him what he can find there?" I mean yes, fact that i do know means i can tell him. But why? Why go with a predefined idea of which animal can be found where? There are different takes on this. if you're going somewhere for a specific reason, like data collection or photography or filming, then yeah, you need to know what comes where. Lekin if you just want to go because you want a change and you want to go back to the wilds for some wildlife sightings, then you should be prepared to take in whatever the wilderness has to offer you. Whether it be a wasp or it be 12ft long Python! Why go with the ReadyMade Knowledge in the first place?
Dont u want the mystery to be alive when u go? The excitement? from personal experience, when I go someplace without expecting a particular species, every thing I see excites me. Even a caterpillar! Coz the fact is, it's there! Whether you see a Tiger or not, the moth is still there! Its still a wild creature. Except in size. So does size really matter? Truth is- yes it does. Why?! Because we care only about what our eyes perceive as "great". The mighty Tiger they say. Man I'd say a wasp that can kill ya, is worse off than that Tiger. So whether its a speck or a mammoth sized animal, point is, how you perceive it. And i use the word "perceive" purposely. Because we THINK that what we see is reality. However, the opening of eyes happens only once you've lived within the forest long enough to understand its functional details.
I use the term "ReadyMade Knowledge" because thats exactly how it is. People want readymade information on something. When they themselves can make an effort and answer their questions themselves, they still want to look dependent or worse, BE dependent. They wont once consider actually stepping out feeling vulnerable not knowing anything, and coming back with a sense of mini-triumph at having learned something on their own! Thats a terrific feeling. Gives you a certain high.
What is the point of going to Bandhavgarh knowing that Im going to see B2 and Chorbehra? What if i go and i DONT see them? Isnt that a let down? So then why "know"?? As it is, someone else has told you "what you will find there", so its easy to blame that soul if you dont find those animals, but its even easier to lose respect for a potentially LOADED place. Thats what happens to most people. They dont give their ambitions a chance! They dont give their choice a chance! They choose to go some place and when they find nothing, (firstly, they're not looking...they're expecting. thin line of difference), so when they find nothing, they came back disheartened and the next time they choose another place. Understandable if you really made a giant effort and then lost out. Even then, Indian wildlife doesnt come on a platter (unless you eat it!), So it pays to keep your mind, eyes, and ears open!
If I go to Tamhini and dont find that Bamboo Pit Viper, I wont be disappointed, because I'll know I tried. And even then, I know it's there! Somewhere. Unless the tragic road killed it.
Sometimes, giving youself that chance, to go explore, to go find out, to go experience the difference, realllllly helps! And sometimes still, making a choice also is a step forward. To being independent. Crediting your finds to yourself and not to someone else's handed down knowledge, is definitely worth a try!
Polish your wings, and fly for yourself. Dont ask for a nudge or a push. Confidence is the key!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
There are some people who will just stay fixed to their opinions on some things. And it's very frustrating if, as the time passes, their scope of thought only gets narrower day by day. Because then no matter what you say, it becomes very tough to convince them that there does EXIST at least 4(random number) other points of view.
There is one such person I know of. Who is a lovely person on the whole. Just that when her thought process comes into the light, it kinda gets tricky. Coz if you're convincing a 47 yr old that what you're saying isnt just based on "self-righteousness" but instead, on facts and logical reasoning, it is going to be one complicated procedure! I mean, at such times, you come to sucha frustrated peak level where you forget the good points of this person in front of view who is turning a blind eye to a practically opaque and blindingly bright topic. At the end of an exchange of firey words and phrases, you finally decide its best to let such people live in their divinely knit world of wonders.
In a similar, but much more intense situation, Im finding myself wishing once again, that I wasnt living in a place where people just wait to strangle someone else's freedom. Whoever it may be. It can be the civic authorities not allowing you to exercise your esteemed right/s (just an example!!), it can be the educational institutions who take their pay cheques for even the crappiest of facilities and knowledge, but manage to fail to give anything back at all. It can be family, who inevitably tries to push and pull you into that horrifying circle of "social responsibility". I wish these folks could define social responsibility. I mean, not wanting to attend a certain person's marriage or not wanting to meet family members after ages suddenly becomes anti-social. Fine! I'm like that. How hard is it to understand that maybe, someone just does not like to mix with certain kind of people!? I dont like people who only gossip about how bad someone else is and laugh like inherent witches.
It feels extremely suffocated. When people are trying to pull you one way and another, just to get you to do what they want you to, not even thinking once, about what YOU want to do. And when it's people like me, who will still stand upto it and say "No!", then these self-proclaimed socially responsible people throw a bunch of insults, taunts, and looks at you, making you feel like moving to some place where people dont give shit about society. Unfortunately not a lot of such places exist! However, there is that eternal "escape" solution.
And yes, there apparently IS a silver lining to a dark cloud. Because, even though such tragedies exist(in terms of the way people think), you always have that eternal excuse to leave the city,country or even continent for "further education". (Disclaimer: In my case, it aint no excuse! it's an actual reason!I can think of better excuses.) Im just tired. Tired of people thinking that they have the right to exploit someone else's freedom, someone else's way of thinking and personality.
Im fed up of people handing out orders and expecting things to be done at the stroke of the new day. fed up of people thinking they can just stretch someone's patience and willingness to help to a limit beyond which it signals the END of even the smoothest relationships. It's time to change. From the eternal "do-gooder for others" to the selfish person who makes at least some time for herself before being piled with emotional, physical and mental problems - of other people!! I'm sorry, I hereby declare that I will not entertain anyone's bullshit henceforth. I got my own life. And anything that takes a toll on that, is highly unwelcome. You want help, get in line. Or at least, be deserving of the help. Dont just call up once in 3 years and say "Hey, could you please do this for me?" and using the environment as an excuse to get work done is cheap. Downright stinking cheap!
P.S. - the above vent of frustration does not apply to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. - it applies to everyone apart from them! Even to family. You guys think you can insult someone on their face for a decade and then expect a very nice person in return? oh go get real! Have the b***s to go and do things yourself.
~~ That's All Folks!! ~~
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Then there are those people who fail to use their main functional weapon of mass destruction : their brain. The people who just CANNOT understand things no matter how much u try and explain. You fight, over some shitty trivial "issue" and then one person decides to let ego come in between. Thats when it all goes kaboom. Even men dont have as much ego as this particular person! And until now, it was being used in the right ways. All of a sudden, things swerve around and your trying to figure out which part of anything of this was your fault!! Someone comes and blames you for something so highly stupid you dont even want to laugh, and then restricts the number of people and the time you can meet them at. For someone like me, thats craziest thing to do to me! And when things are said about my "dog" then, its beyond my patience level. I wouldnt fight otherwise, and very rarely do i take the first step towards a reconciliation, but when opposite parties do not wish to reconciliate after claiming to be your "best friends", its a highly sad situation. You can use words. But u cant make sure their brain processes them. Hard luck. For them. They're losing out on one of the most "i can do anything for my friends" types of people.
Someone who cant tell the difference between egoistical behaviour and possessiveness, and friendship and chocolate bars... certainly deserves to be sent to me for lessons! I refer to chocolate bars because u dont even need effort to break them apart. As opposed to that, consider Friendship. My most divine word. And that too today, the day of Dad, this whole nonsense erupts..and out the balcony goes my Organic Chemistry text book. (Not literally)..i was only wishing! Anyway.. Steve Irwin Day ending on not-so-good note. However, chances of other party coming to senses seeming a little teeeensy weensy bit up now. Without expecting much, this extremely annoyed and in awe lady signs off.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I still yearn for those days...those moments. When my friends were my own. When only I had a right, an authority over them. The days when the word "guarantee" had a genuine meaning. I could guarantee that no matter what happened, these people would never leave me and walk away. They were my pillars of everyday life, and thats a big thing to be to someone. Someone like me at that. Someone who rarely trusts, and when she does, she does so with immmmmense care. These guys have been such strengths for me at such terrible times. Looking back at those times now, they dont seem as terrifying as they did then, because now I have another way of thinking about them and their solutions. Back then, anything happened, and I'd just want to be with these guys..and then out the window went all problems.
I wonder why people forget the feelings they were once capable of having. Wonder why they fail to understand that friendship doesnt come with a "Best Before" date. Wonder why there are just these certain specific people who can be what they are. Why there is no one else that fill in for or replace those people. Why there isn't someone who just one day, walks by, ends up becoming your good friend as years pass, somehow makes a new position in ur life and heart for him/her self, but never occupies those empty positions. Guess I know why, coz those empty positions are actually lying in wait for their original occupants, that one day that jackass you used to cook for or who used to pick u up from the other end of the world will turn up for you, and make you feel like a Queen again. Someone who would never think twice before getting up and coming to get you. Or being your escape route if your life sucked big time, or who cared for you and loved you more than he would himself[ok ok..at least more than he would his girlfriends!! :-) ] Its a different deal to have these champs around. You'll never see them doing for anyone else, the ridiculous things they do for you!! You'd never see them even looking at you if some amazing chick was around.. then you'd be the salad. But if at that very moment, you slipped n fell, these would be the guys to be there and help you up and they'd be the ones gunning for you when the rest of the world is trying to make sure you lose your job! Dreamy thoughts. But well.. never mind! Im actually wishing I had these nuts around right now.. they have an uncanny knack of making u feel triumphant and amazing about yourself! :-)
The first time we met. The way we got along. The kind of things we would do to get to that phone and talk to each other. If anybody else called while we were asleep, we'd turn deaf but if it was either of us, we'd pick up and go, "Heyyyy!!!" , like nothing better could have ruined your sleep! Like there was no one else who was more qualified to claim most of your time than your best bud. The number of times Ive had to hear "You're one of the guys..you dont qualify as one of them" when you were ranting and raving about how horrible girls are! Do you have ANY idea how weirdly cosy that felt? The things you'd say, you never realized how much they meant! But to see me smile again, you turned from superman to clown to stupid blind fool to everything else! The number of times we've been kerchiefs for each other, or just massive support systems.. the number of virtual coffees we've sent each other, the late night conversations that went into the wee hours of the night, without us even noticing the time, the urge to speak to each other even when one of us was in some petrifyingly far away land and even then, discuss what we ate for lunch! These moments have been some of the best times Ive ever put down as memories in my mind. And thanks to each of you.. Life's been a ripper! ... Really wish you were all here..!
Maybe some people do have a "Best Before" tag in their minds when they make friends.. Perhaps.. you never know. Whatever be the case, right now though, Im just wishing my friends come back.. coz guys, right now, I really need you. Miss you three. I want my 'ol buddies back.. :-(
Without u guys, everything seems different. Incomplete. The light seems less bright. The rains are less wet, the winds dont seem to swirl around as usual. Those ambitions seem so much fader now.. the moments... our moments.. just fading away.. :-( Its like the time has stopped right now... to wait for you to come. Its like everything is right here. It's all there. But there's a little less of everything. They say distance makes you grow fonder.. I still dont know how true that one is. Wonder what this is all about. That madness, the things we'd do together. Things we'd talk about. That selflessness, that urge to always be there for one another. And the fact that we never needed to be told to do something for each other. It had all just fallen in place. But packing up and leaving wasnt such a great idea. Yes there are amazing friends I have today. But Im left wondering everytime I hear,see,feel, experience anything reminding me of you, that "why are you not here??" Chuk the hide n seek now fellas.
Today, when people dont even care about each other, there are these gems that still exist.. Somewhere.. and im hoping, Someday, I'll find them again. and We'll have our times back.
.. Pranav, Ram, Rishi and Manan..(in order of arrival..).. Miss you guys !!!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Are we fighting a lost battle?
Are we fighting for a cause that is not understood at all? Or are we merely pretending to be fighting? When one moment, something makes you overjoyed, and you think positive that Life isnt really all that bad. yeah fine. It isnt. Not for you. not for me. But what about those innocent animals, those innocent creatures that go about their own business, living their lives silently, but even then, at the end of the day, they get slaughtered, they get trapped in cages and poked at and beaten up, all for the sake of human wellfare(??) or human entertainment.
Why are we like this? Why do we behave like this? What is it that makes us such a selfish race? A race that doesnt't even once think of the consequences that their acts could have on another species. When did we become beasts? Why is the world so careless, so heartless now? Where did all that love and concern go? Where did the strong advocators of wildlife conservation go? Why dont people stand up to corruption in our government? It's us who elects these people after all. Then why are we seeing today like this? Why cant today be a much better day? Why cant tomorrow be beautiful?
I wish I could answer ANY of these questions...I wish i had the answers. Because I would really like to know what gives us humans the power to proclaim that we are the superior race on Earth and hence, have the authority to behave as we want with Mother Earth and her other children. If one person could give me a satisfactory answer to any of the above questions, I'd be very very grateful!
About half an hour ago, I almost jumped with joy at the thought of my dearest person coming back home, my doggie, Whiskey. And seconds later, I read an article on Kalyan Varma's live online journal about the the trapped Leopard in Valparai. that made me forget my own existance. What can we do to make sure animals dont get treated like scum in this country!? Why is the proportion od the "do-good"ers so negligable compared to the crackpots? Why did that leopard have to go through so much torture? Why should only 4-5 people fight for it while others think of the poor stressed animal as a source of entertainment?? Why do we always fail to appreciate the wilderness? Why is it that the first thought that comes into our minds at the sight of a forest is "what can i build here??" ? Why cant we just for once, for once, appreciate in all its might and beauty, the gifts that we still have left with us in the wild today? Why must the Gharial go extinct because its almost already got there?!?! Why must the Tiger see extinction as the next step!? Why cant we just keep out of their lives and let them live on their own? Why cant we let them do their thing and bounce back?! Why interfere!? Why cant everyone think of rehabilitating poachers as a means of reducing poaching?? Why dont these ideas hit with the masses? Are we that closed-minded even today? Cant we think out of the box, and face reality before we're left with nothing to face!!?
Why should every forest be looked upon as a potential residential/commercial complex?! Why cant it just be the eternal source of our oxygen and refuge from the killing suffocating fumes of the city? Why cant I choose to live where I want? Why does someone else have the right to destroy it? I choose forests. I choose not to live in a city. Why is that so wrong in the eyes of even those educated smart ass people??
Why cant ONE animal be left with his right to live!? MUST we snatch everything from everyone!? Cant we let the other species live in peace?? Please? Havent you ever seen an animal in pain and FELT it yourself? Thats what it's like to lose your home, your right to live, your world! That's what we're doing to ALL wildlife... and eventually, ourselves!! Please wake up .. I dont know who im addressing this to. But please at least help those who ARE doing something good. ..
having approached a severe loss for words, I now sign off.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Not a pretty sight is it? Well, considering this is a country in which politics and terrorism mixes and blends so well that common men cannot even tell the difference between the two, its quite an obvious sight. You cant tell the difference, because there IS none! Politics in India, and terrorism, are chained. Linked. Sub-sets of each other. You'd think they'd do something more than just keep saying ," We are doing all we can to see to it that terrorism is thrown out from India". But the truth is, if they have to throw terrorism out, they gonna have to pack up and leave the nation themselves! We cannot spend all our time asking Pakistan to stop encouraging terrorist camps. We need a life! Get up, out of your air conditioned offices, walk on the streets that are set ablaze by the bombs. Go and DO something about it. Actios speak more than words. Literally. If a bomb speaks, I'd love to know what the hell it means! Instead of blaming other countries, just enforce strict laws, give incentives to your own citizens to remain loyal to their own country, and for heaven's sake, show some faith and loyalty yourself! Expecting the government to come and clean up after a blast is bullshit. You chose the government. You voted. You have as much responsibility as a citizen. People like me, who do NOT believe in this government, would be most willing to go and help!
Our big shots and "leaders" are never going to understand how it feels to be a victim of a blast or the victim's relative. Unless you lose something, you dont learn how to value it. Sadly , that is human tendency today. We have forgotten to value human life. It is evident from the state our country is in. And you call it a developing nation! Yeah absolutely!! And Im Albus Dumbledore!
To the Terrorist/s :
Well, welcome to India. To those of you who were thinking of coming visiting... think once again. Is it really worth it?? To lose your life!? Blow up innocent folks.. so easy isnt it? Such sadastic pleasure!! Obviously 7 blasts in Bangalore , 17 in Ahmedabad were needed na to make your presence so evident! Way to go all you terrorists... oh man!! You guys are such BLOODY COWARDS that im amazed!! Ever heard of those folks in the Army, Navy, and the Airforce that put their lives on line to PROTECT their country? Yeah, well, is you havent, go to the houses of their family members, listen to the stories of how it feels to lose them at the front, and then decide whether what you're doing is even worthy of a Rat! Nah... you guys are sore. far worse and deep down in shit. Because all you can do is attack behind someone's back. That too, attack people who have never done anything to you. And then you say - "Muslim women have trouble in the country..etc..etc.." Dude! You expect them to get royal treatment?!!? Do you even REALIZE how much of convincing it takes to make oneself accept that not all Muslims are bad. Some of my best friends are Muslims. And i simply LOVE them. If anything EVER comes upon them, if you by chance, shoot at THEM instead of other people you seem to love killing, I would rather that bullet of your's goes into me (or you!!) than it goes into my friends. Your activities are the reason that Muslims face so much trouble around the world. Not just here! Because of YOU cowards!! because YOU cannot accept that they are happy here! Because YOU are disillusioned!! No one else! India and Indians stand by all their Muslim friends. You are the lot who dont. Just learn to live like civilized humans first. Leave the animalistic behaviour to the animals themselves. You know, the whole country would be really grateful if u come out of your dreamworld and face reality. You suck! Bigtime! And for you to blast cities and their residents, is something equally cowardly. Pity you... coz you cant even give yourself a chance to ACT normal. Yikes!! Poor you!
To the Indian:
Well, obviously, something is amiss isnt it? Most of us wills leep over it and forget about it the next day. But to those of you who cannot sleep while you know someone as innocent as you are, just got blown up,and someone else is about to - well, time to go! We have the power to change things (even slightly, lets start small) if we want to. Look at our sheer number! But sadly, we do not want things to change, coz we're too lazy.
To the Indian Politician:
Sorry, you do not fall in the above category of "Indian". You have worked very hard and extremely diligently to create this separate category for yourself. Something that commands ZERO respect. You're even lower down than the terrorist! At least they are disillusioned into believing that some weirdo God wants them to blow uo the world. Which God came and told you to sell your country?! The chap needs a reality check. Anyway, while you are away blaming other countries for having supported terrorism in various ways, our country is literally, going to the dogs! (Metaphor!! I happen to love dogs!) So, you know what! Nothing can be sadder than a country full of politicians that are fighting for money and power, while their homes are being blown apart. You guys really evoke a bought of sickness in me you know. Coz you have so many people believe that you can ever be of some use. I wish they'd just see your true colours. You sit in a Parliament, and fight. Abuse each other and our Honourable Speaker. Dont even LOOK at what's happening beyond your world of power and money. Free eye check ups for all then, is it? Dont think it will work though. You need to be "blasted" with the concept of being an Indian. Of being human! Of valuing fellow human lives, even if it is the life of a vegetable vendor who got blown in a blast. It's still human! It's not a threat, but a hopeful prediction when I say that- If you dont mend your ways now, you will face nothing short of mutiny in this country. And believe me, the citizens EASILY out-number you.
To the concerned Indian and the actual hard working Politicians:
I have nothing to say to you , except that- we are very few in number, but still have scope. If we choose to never give up , we WILL win. Against money minded fiends who call themselves our "leaders" , against misled,heartless Terrorists, against people who fail to, or are to scared to believe in their own power, over the disputing politicians, and the blasting terrorists. We WILL win. Keep the faith.
To anyone else who doesnt fit in ANY category above-
It's best to join the last category. Needs people doesnt it!? Unless you have other dispositions that make you want to be a feuding fiend.
Rise India.. your time is Now.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Chambal Expedition came at a time when I was least expecting important work to come my way! At the beginning of graduation! I had hopes. That now that I'm doing my graduation, there's got to be some kind of strong work I can get. Having no idea that the expedition would happen to me, I just kept going, looking, working with what I had, and hoping. Just as I'd begun to think that nothing's going to come to me, the Gharials came calling. And now, when I have established that there isnt a day I'd like to spend out of the wilderness, comes Agumbe. To the rescue. Well, not technically a rescue. Because Im not hating or disliking my life currently. It's going impressively well!! But I'd really never thought that a target that was set about a few months, if not years, ahead of this date, has been pre-poned to the next 3days! I leave for Agumbe Rainforest Research Station on the 14th of June, 2008. Today, is the 11th. Life's changing. It's taking a turn for the better. In all possible ways. Have wonderful people in my life. A great purpose to live it, some amazing things to do, a couple of promises to keep, a million watt smile to keep, and then, those massive unthought of times I need to take a leap! :) If only he'd been here to see this. I bet Mr.Hero is watching. I bet he's happy too. So am I. But it's different.. to have a personal reaction. Anyway, so heading out to King Cobra land, doesnt leave you any scope for being ill-prepared. Rain jackets, sweaters, plenty of plastic covers for equipment, clothes (duh!!), leech socks!! , sleeping bags, swiss knives, etc.. :) Camping gear establishment begins! packing starts tonight. Tickets need to be booked. And basically, Im loving every bit of it. Maybe not the bit that requires me leaving some VERY important people behind and going... missing important days with them, but returning, to see (hopefully) wild wide smiles on their faces! Lots to anticipate. Lots to do. Lots to care about. Very less time. So I thought, before I disappear for sometime now, I'd leave an account of exactly where this writer's gone off to. And assure myself (and anyone who reads this blog), that the account on Agumbe is going to be action packed n wild! ;) So back to the wild goes this creature... to where it belongs.. to secure a wilder, better future! :)
Parting words - Stay Wild ... for none of us really is mild.. wake up inside, bring out the wild child inside! :)
Monday, May 26, 2008
It's specaled with Hanuman Langurs who are either pouncing on bits of food or jumping from tree to tree. We reached the top most point and were looking at the lake below spotting Marsh Crocodiles swimming in it, and Sambhar Deer wading through the water and a White-necked Stork flying above us. We waited for a good 30minutes or so. Only a couple of us knew why we were waiting there. For that one chance. That one glimpse. That one sight that would set the pace of this camp. We were scouting the lake and the surroundings with our binoculars and as sudden as a flash of lightning, we realized, there were stripes moving through grass far away near one of the ruins. Then emerged that god-like animal. The Tiger. Mayuresh was describing what the Tiger was doing, and I was trying to explain to him that he was wrong!! Because I was seeing the Tiger walk towards the road and he was saying the Tiger is walking towards us!! Bewildered!! Took us a whole minute to realize neither of us is wrong!! There were indeed TWO Tigers!!! Talk about double bonanza!!! Talk about LUCK!! Talk about the RECORD breaking smiles that were starting to show on our faces!! TWO Tigers!! Both emerging in the open, walking next to each other, along the lake side. Two sisters, walking in front of our eyes!! Tehn disappearing into the vegetation, and emerging centimetres away from the water and then entering it!! We were witnessing gypsies frantically swerving here and there to get an angle that would help them see what the Tigresses were doing! We, however, at our vantage point, were the winners by a looonng way!! I can STILL feel that warmth within, the second the two Tigresses emerged out in the open and began walking together. That smile creep onto my face. The feeling that softly said to me, " Yes! It paid off!" "Yes!!" The excitement that is still within me!! Im beginning to believe that I have a way with the feline family! Incredibly so. Just minutes before the Tigresses were spotted, I was saying to a few of the campers, that a Tiger will come out from one of those ruins there and walk to the road. I had had NO idea whatsoever, that it would really happen!! and not one but TWO would come!!! I guess Rajasthan's way of welcoming me back just shows how special the place is to me. Always will be. I know the homely feeling that settled in when I set foot on the Sawai Madhopur station. It can never be replaced by anything! I can only hope that I will always get my chance to keep going back!
So even before camp had began, our group had seen the big cat that we'd come to look for! :) Everyone was super excited as we set out for our first ride the next morning. 2 cantors and 40 people. Off we went on the 22nd at 5:30am. A few minutes into the park and we spot a Tiger cub eating from a kill in the valley to our left! I dont think anyone realized what we were seeing! It just hadn't sunk in! A cub!! Eating from a kill!! Eating with utmost concentration. Shaking his little head about in a strong effort to get the meat off the bones. And then, standing up, walking about, and then sitting, and then returning to the kill. All this, being watched by us from above. Luckily, everyone in both the cantors was able to see this magnificient sight. No one missed out on it. That evening , we saw another part of the jungle, but no Tiger.
The next day, on the 23rd, my day began with Ranthambhore giving me the BEST birthday gift I could have EVER asked for. An hour into our ride on the morning of the 23rd, we came to a point where there was eevry chance of a Tigress ebing spotted since we'd had reports the previous evening that she had been spotted there. Just as we were about to take a right turn, our guide pointed to the top of the hill and said, " Tiger!! " BANG! Everyone was jolted from their seats like an electric current had passed through them. No sudden movements. Complete silence. And very very good concentration levels. The requirements and instructions at a time like this. We fumbled quietly for our binocs and cameras, whichever we could lay our hands upon and all this without removing our eyes from that spot. And there she sat. A gorgeous female on top of a hill, with the air of the Queen around her. Seconds after that, another yellow and balck and white head emerged from behind her and began walking down the hill towards the open area to our left. A cub!!!! The cub got camouflaged in some bushes in front of us but we knew he was still there. And then, the female got up, walked down right in front of us!!! Very close!! She chased a Sambhar Deer in front of us. A try. The herd of Sambhar fled the scene ASAP. This female then went ahead, and sat down all comfortably on the grass. The hidden cub then followed and came out in the open. We were starting to go mad when we realized this was not it! One MORE Cub came onto the grass!!! There were 2 CUBS!! and 3 Tigers!!! Right in front of our very very stunned eyes!! The cubs proceeded to the pool of water on the left, in the open. The Mother followed. She lay down in the water, to cool herself, and then one of the tiny tots came in beside her. The other cub lay down in the water behind her, with his/her back to us. I have NO words to explain what was going on inside my head that time!! I wanted to give a bear hug to those 3 Tigers and our superman of a driver Vinod and to everyone around!!!! Madness I tell you!! Happy Birthday to me!!! Turning 19 like this!?!? Who would want more?!?! They sat there in water displaying their antics for the next 36minutes. After which one of the cubs got up, went to a tree, and tried to climb it, and then the other one joined the first one, and they stood under the tree, contemplating what to do and how to capture this tree!! The mother however, was still chillin out in the water leaving her cubs to their play time contemplation. She kept changing her positions and giving us wonderful poses!! Its like she was modelling for us there!! Those 2 cartoons however, were bored with their tree and came back into the water soon after. Then the mother, and both the cubs were out of the water under the tree, the mother was licking one of the cubs and showering her affection on the little one. We were witnessing the private life of a Tigress and her 6/7 month old cubs!! Felt heavenly!! I'd waited for this since ever!!! Ive realized, the BEST things in life come when u least expect them!! It's spellbounding to see how she was looking out for her cubs, how they were hiding behind trees when a gypsy came along, how they waitd before they concluded that it was safe to emerge, how they tried to climb trees and got bored, how they sat and drank water, how they yawned, how they played with each other!! It's something that qualifies as "one of the best experiences of my life"!! I genuinely couldn't have asked for any more. I know who's blessings are upon me that this is happening. And cant stop being grateful to that mighty power that resides in my mind each moment. That mighty power who is the god of all Crocodiles! :)
That evening was our last ride. We saw no Tiger. It didnt matter to me. It was a day I'd thought fit of being one the BEST! The afternoon had been spent with the people I place in the Treasure department of my life. Doc and Fatji and Ushmuddin. Our kids got to talk to people like Fatji, Prern Singh Bindra and here their inputs on wildlife. I got to spend my entire afternoon with them and relive the times spent with them 4months ago. :) The 3 hours spent with Doc the previous night had been wonderful. Quality time. And finally some satisfcation. I'd been dying to meet these three again!! I guess it was just meant to be my day! :) So, in this way, camp Ranthambhore turned out to be one heckuva 5 day period with all sorts of madness. New campers, new faces, new bonds, and of course, new things learned, new experiences! Splendid is the word!! Too good. Now, being back in the City of Cement, writing bout these camps, the experiences, the important things that made the camp what it is, feels so strange. Oh yes, the train journey back was quite a memorable one too!! Considering 86 people were occupying 40 seats!! :) Foliage Outdoors rules!!!! And so does camp Ranthambhore!!! :) Thank you Rajasthan!! Thank you Ranthambhore!! Thank you Croc Hunter!! ;) Ranthambhore jindabad!!!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Bandhavgarh, the land which has the highest Tiger population density in the world! A forest which is ENTIRELY different from any of the forests Ive seen so far! It's hills, rocks, sand, Sal trees, wildlife, weather, peace and calm, are all part and parcel of Bandhavgarh. A wonderful place to be in. The gorgeous meadows of Chakradhara, Raajbehra, Sidhhababa, etc., are an expanse of awe with Lesser Adjutant Storks in the water, Chital (Spotted Deer) grazing in the distance, and that majestic yellow and black striped Cat lying somewhere in the protection of the grass. The Tiger. Lying low, resting, ready for attack, walking, sleeping, running after Deer, and all its other activities, that make the Feline attraction so majestic! Our very first ride into the park was on the 7th in the morning. Waking up at 4am (IST), we entered the park at 5:30am. On that day, the route assigned to my gypsy was Route C. A very very beautiful route, great forested patch, wonderful activity of wildlife. I was half expecting a Tigress to come walking out of one of the thickets on the left and cross the route and go to the other side. I guess I should have expected the other half also! (Coz no such thing happened!! :( ) Anyway, we saw a lot that morning, on our way to the Central Point of Hardia. After that, we went to Sidhhababa meadow. And there she was... seated on her rock.. watching. The Sidhhababa female (Tigress) who was surrounded by three Elephants who were carrying tourists to her seated site for offering them a closer look at her. Our Elephant walked through leaves, water, rocks, sand, mud, possibly anything that came in his way, and reached her. She got up just as we reached her. A BEAUTY to the core!!! Ive no words to describe her. A pregnant Tigress, walking ahead, with us following in COMPLETE shock! (Plus, that Elephant wasnt contributing .. he was being really shaky and hence, so was the camera! ) She walked, marked a tree, turned around and looked at us in our respective faces, walked on ahead, waited, walked, sat at the edge of a stream, drank water with her eyes on us and our not-so-co-operative Elephant who thought it was upto him to chase her away. So we stepped into action and made him go back. Frustrating a gorgeous pregnant Tigress!! We aren't cruel!! So back we went. She took the chance, and got up, walked around the two other Elephants(much smaller than our's) with other tourists on them, and found herself a nice cosy spot and lay down. She slept on her back. :) a huge Tigress, sleeping like a domesticated kitty cat! How cute is that!! And now, common sense, would make people want to leave the poor soul in peace, and observe her antics.. but no! Our bunch of campers listened to us when we aksed them to keep quiet. But our jurisdiction unfortunately doesnt extend to all tourists there. People in bright red and orange clothing, with flashing cameras (illegal!!) and very very loud voices, talking about how the Tigress was very lazy! You have NO idea about the fury I felt then. If it hadnt been for 4 kids in my gypsy and 2 adults, I would have even said everything I wanted to! But kids hearing an instructor abuse stupid tourists isnt a bright idea. So the thought got abandoned. Instead, I took a different way to this. I got out my camera. And while people clicked away at the Tigress' changing positions, I clicked away at them! :) I got photos showing the torture they put a Tigress through. A tigress who's supposed to rest, and if allowed, she can do that in our presence! Only if we keep those traps shut. But apparently it's a very tough thing to understand. I pity the people who come there to enjoy a "picnic" and yell and shout and express their excitement in the worst ways possible. Educated people. Shameful.
After getting a wonderful time watching her, by learning to ignore the blabbering all around, we headed back to the gate as it was time for the park to close. So off we were. Our people being elated at having gotten close to the Tigress on the Elephant. That evening we had our second ride in the park. Evening rides don't have routes alloted to gypsies. One can choose where he/she wants to go. The trademark moments of this camp were sighting the Raajbehra male (Tiger), the Sidhhababa female crossing our path and giving us a beautiful one hour on our last ride, the Tigress at Andhyari Jhariya whom we followed for 65 minutes from 5:30am, the Patiha male cub (Tiger) who we spotted sitting faaaaaaaaar away in the bushes... but were super excited all the same!!The brilliant birds and those awesome Vultures that glided their way everywhere, that rare Egyptian Vulture, the injured Long-billed Vulture, their roosting sites, that MASSIVE Bandhavgarh Fort and the even more fascinating habitat in Bandhavgarh of meadows, marshes, drylands, green forests, hills, all in all an awe inspiring Reserve! Then the next highlight being the Raajbehra male making a dash at a Chital and killing it and then dragging it into the grass to ensure no visibility.
Oh yes, and truely saving the best for the last, I now announce, that after 7 freakishly frustrating years of searching and waiting, I have FINALLY spotted my FIRST Wild Leopard!!! While returning from a one hour observation of the Raajbehra male (Bhokha) , who by the way, is stunningly handsome, we were racing away to reach the park's gate in time before it closed, and on our way, some Cat like animal crossed the road in front of us at a little distance from us, and went into the forest on the right. I stopped the driver immediately saying it's a Jungle Cat. The guide with us, said it's a Tiger cub. We stopped. The cat stared. We stared back. Then it sunk in. Leopard. Leopard!! Leopard!!!!! Oh dear lord!! Just out of the blue!! Without warning, without anticipation, she's there! Right in front of my eyes! 10 feet away from me. Looking at me. Contemplating her next move. Her eyes talking faster and faster. My eyes big and flabbergasted. She turned, ran, stopped, and turned again, to look at us, waited. And then it dawned on me - photo!! I fumbled for the camera while she took a few more paces away. I clicked, while her head was behind a thicket and only her body and tail were visible. She was far away by then. I didnt even care about the photo. I had just seen a Leopard for an ENTIRE 75 seconds!! People I know, who have seen a Leopard before, have told me - "It stood up, jumped, and went away." , "I saw it for 4 seconds! How do i know if it was a male or not?!" , "Those cats dont stay man!! U get the camera, look up, and realize they're gone!!" . And with so much of a feedback, my instinct told me, - "Observe. Chuk the photo. Just observe." That's exactly what I did. Observed. One photo. And 75 seconds of observation. A Leopard. I don't think anyone understands the importance of this sighting. 7 years!!!! And now suddenly, when I'd given up hope that I can spot one in the wild, it just comes! Well, after we came out of our dazed state, we realized we had 5 minutes to make it to the gate. So it was do or die. The race had begun. We sped across no matter what we spot now. Tiger , Leopard, Sloth Bear, who or what came, we kept going!!! Reached the gate with 4 seconds to spare for closing time. :) PHEW!! I can actualyl FEEL that excitement!!
Undoubtedly, this camp, has been one heck of a rocker!! With much more stuff than mentioned in this article, it's been a splendid time knowing a forest I can only wait impatiently to go back to!! The sessions with the campers, the meal times, the rides, the frustrating times when we had to control the kids, the chase for the Rat Snake, the Wolf Snake caught on campus, the Scorpions, the early morning tea times, the rooms!!! Everything was downright amazing!! Memories that will last all of us for a very very long time Im sure! The night spent sleeping by the pool, looking at the stars with rain drops falling on our faces now and then.. it all seems so clear. Like the water that glistens on a dark night with a full moon over it, causing the ripples to shine and shimmer. Moments of glory and those not so bright (-the train journey back to Pune) ; this camp, had it all! :) So the next time anyone is travelling by the Darbhanga Express, make sure u have enough memories to last you that harrowing journey and some left over till you go back again! :)
So for all those wilderness residents of Bandhavgarh, here's a salute to their majesty, their existance, and their sheer effect on us. May the Land of the Tiger live on!! :)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
A very common scene with most people is, become very responsible and realize your duties on a specific day. On the rest of the 364 days of the year, act like a dud, and on that one day, show all possible chivalry!
This whole concept of World Environment Day.. - do we seriously NEED this?? Are we not old enough, mature enough rather, to understand that we do not do our duty on one particular day, but on each day possible? So we're people who need to be motivated on one special day. To go out there and spread the word. For the rest of the year, the word can got o hell. At this point in the article, I really wish to express extreme respect for all those naturalists, conservationists, environmentalists, who are working every single day of the year 24 x 7 only and only so that one species or several species may get to live a little longer, resultiing, obviously, in mankind getting a little extended life-line.
Coming back to the main point, I would really like to put it my way, which is that, I , personally, do not, have not, and will never need some "Day" to motivate me, or bring a thought in my mind etc. Does a Tiger think of one day to get caught in a poacher's trap? Does a poacher think of one day to kill a Tiger? Do we think of one day to eat food? Nonsense! These are things that happen everyday! We do this everyday! We breathe, we go to work, we think (though this i doubt a lot).. we do not have one alloted day to carry out all these things, then why one day for the Environment?? Do we think of one day when we cut dwn trees for wood? When we dump garbage in Rivers? When we use cars to travel around the corner? Do we think twice before doing any of this? No. Then why only ONE day to help Mother Nature when we take from her in heaps EVERY day!? A very genuine question!!
Also, I believe very strongly, that if you're dedicated to something with your entire heart and soul, you will never need to believe nonsense like Environment Day! When people die at the hands of poachers, when trees are felled for all the wrong reasons, when forests are treated like garbage dumps, and when we curse our own health and lungs by polluting every source of air and water that exists, ALL on a daily basis, then I think it is plain duty that we do our thing for Mother Nature every day. If we take, we give back too. It doesnt work one way. Coz sooner or later, all that will remain of Earth, is one large grey and brown sphere rotating, and revolving, lifelessly. All that the future generations will get is death. Because of us. Because we choose to allocate "days" for work that should , in fact, be carried out every on-going second! We have a serious problem. We need to admit it. It's too serious to ignore now. Way to serious to put on hold. We're changing everything on Earth. At a tragic rate. Yes, we proved we're all the unbeatable winner species (my foot!!) by destroying all sources of life.. slow poisoning.
The time, is to step up, realize what we have done, have the strength to admit it, and then correc it! Do something that does not have to reverse the damage done overnight, but control and prevent it on a large scale.Do whatever it takes. We have to stop being lazy. Walk onwards, whether anyone is backing us up or not. If not for the love of Earth and her children, then for the love and survival of our own species!! Do your duty for yourselves!! Be selfish! No problem. Coz at least that way, you'll be of some genuine use to the planet that created you instead of being a wasted burden. And believe me, you dont want to feel like a wasted burden. In case you do, try packing your bags, and go and watch how a Tiger is killed in China, in India, how Crocodiles are slaughtered for skin, how Dolphins are butchered for meat, and yet, if you still feel you would rather be wasted, you're most welcome to come meet me! I might have steered off the topic a little, but I thought it imperative to get the point across. One day concept, is purely utterly senseless! The sooner we realize this, trust me, it's better for us.
And if you're going to come and argue saying World Environment Day is a way of propagating and motivating people from other streams to join in the mass movements, Im gonna give you a kick ass reply saying that In that case- why dont we have this day everyday!!? I love the whole motivating concept... let's do it! :) So any argument would be ruthlessly proven futile. Kindly refrain from getting into one. It will only tell me ur truely jobless. Different opinions are always welcome. That is why this blog has something called- Post Comment. You can post a comment in decent and polite language. And you're sure to get a reply as long as you add your email id.
Also, those who truely understand the importance of consistancy, will surely be able to grasp the concept , rather fact, that if work for the environment, in any which way, is not done on a daily basis, the rate of depletion will only exceed the rate of production. Which again shows negative features. Collapse of our world sooner than ever. So people, unless you're ok with living underwater in a few years, time to pick yourself up from that rotten couch and do something substantial. Coz you'd be too lazy to swim about in the underwater world, so think of it from this point of view. Get up and move it. And Im genuinely NOT interested in underwater living.. there are Sharks you know! We may be an intelligent species, but we're nowhere close to most other species that co-exist with us.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
When a parent sitting beside me in a movie saw a Dragon leap up and help a young boy, she, however, did not believe! Which basically means, that a mind in which opinions are fixed and immovable, is more difficult a target than those fresh young ones who are only looking for a reason to be amazed! These are the "future" of our planet, if we intend to have one, that is. A lot of times we forget, that apart from our household worries, there are bigger and worse things happening to our home. Earth. Tell these kids that they might not have a playground left after a few years, might not have trees to climb on, might not have rivers to go jump in; and you'll see what I mean. They will give you the most innocently petrified look there could be!
Unfortunately, if not for Earth, at least for these little lives, we are indebted to Mother Earth for all that we have taken from her. And never given back. Mankind has only taken. Those few who want to give back something that might keep Earth alive for the next generation to enjoy, are impolitely and publicly pushed back and made to withdraw into hibernation mode. Our loan, is something that no amount of money or power is going to be able to repay. It is, by far, the biggest debt I have come across.
Forget the fact that the Constitution of India requires each citizen to do his/her duty for the biodiversity and the wilderness. But as a simple matter of ethics, can we not feel the need to repair the blindning damage we have done? If 5 Lakh people felt they need to do something for wildlife when they were kids, 50,000 probably actually retain that idea as they approach teenage. 5000 then think of pursuing a degree in the field. 500 get shortlisted for interviews and post graduate courses. 50 make it through successfully. and 5 actually come out with renewed zeal and the will to make a difference! So believe me, if you're addressing 5 Lakh children, you need to do a very good job knowing what the possibilities are. Every time I have addressed a bunch of young minds looking up inquisitively, I've done it knowing, none of them might end up actually entering the field. But gone and done it anyway, with the hope, that at least one of these will be among those 5! More people today, need to talk to children. Involve them. Conduct lectures or workshops for the under-privileged which might just make them think, and then once that initial feeling is instilled in them, it might make them walk towards the world they want to know. That, techincally, at least 20 times the present number of people need to be walking towards. Kids need to be taught. They need someone in front of them whom they can possibly look up to. Someone they can like as a friendly person who is happy doing what she/he is doing.
The emotions and questions that flash through the eyes of the children sitting and listening to you, can be very touching. Very interesting. They have the brightest of faces, with the most never ending questions. Some ask, others are shy. Communicating with kids can be the toughest thing sometimes. You never know when they might get an over-dose and refuse to listen further. You never know when they might yawn in your face, or talk among themselves and distract you or worse, ignore you! The best thing to do, is mix with them. I, personally, dont like the - "I'm an outsider" attitude. I love playing with them, talking to them, learning from them. They love company. But they love friendly company. That's why, rule number one of -Talking to Kids- is - Be informally yourself. Blend with the surroundings instead of being the outstanding one. Another very important aspect is, patience. For me, being impatient comes genetically. It is undoubtedly the hardest thing for me to do when around kids. Being patient, is a mountain of a task for me! But, with practise, and experience, even that comes! There's nothing you cannot learn! And well, for those of you who think someone younger than you can't possibly teach you anything, time to turn back to the year 2008 now. Welcome to the era of knowledge! Having an open mind and accepting that you do learn from even the children around you, is the catch. Putting those gigantic egos away is the main task. Those of you who have major ego problems- take to start gazing after 2:30am.. and once you realize how insignificant you are, then go talk to kids.
One more thing that must be avoided at all costs, is using abusive language. And insulting any of the people in front of you (or behind you!). Kids will not appreciate it, and worse, they might just pick it up from you.And then, for all you know, you will have achieved nothing apart from teaching them some slang. Using strong and effective language is totally different from throwing insults every now and then.
This wasn't supposed to be a handbook on handling kids, but as it turns out, I realized while writing, halfway through, that if the basics arent known, there's no point in writing about- why involving kids is so important. So now, the main topic of kids' importance as catalysts in a mission, shall be discussed the next time.
Something for thought - If you can't wait till the next article or if you're going to miss it or forget it, then- just use the main basic steps and start off anyway. Coz the Conservation message has justice done to it, only when it is spread successfully! Go make a kid WANT to help conserve our wildlife! Forcing him is going to be worthless, so you'd rather bake a cake. If you can make someone WANT to do something, you got it dude!! :)
Remember? - Nanha munna raahi hoon.. :)
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Not all of those are our "regulars", the Marshies (Marsh Crocodile or Mugger).. those particular long snouted ones you came across, are what are known as Gharials. They are, the longest living Crocodilians today. And they just got upgraded from "Endangered" , to "Critically Endangered" by the IUCN [International Union of Conservation of Nature] in its Red Data Book.
And unfortunately for them, and, eventually us, very very few of them remain. Out in those rivers which they called home since time immemorial, they are now confined to the scarce remaining clean blue patches of fresh water. Once their range extended over Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and India - basically, the Indian Sub-Continent excluding Sri Lanka. Today, they are chained to whatever remains of this habitat. They have already vanished from Pakistan, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, and are on the verge of disappearing from Nepal and India as well. India, however, is that silver lining that every cloud is supposed to have.
For the Gharial, India is the last remaining stronghold of their wild population. As for the captive populations and the breeding programmes, there is an on-going machine in the form of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and its fore-runner - Romulus Whitaker; who, with his team is putting every effort possible into keeping this Croc safe. Unfortunately, a certain crisis seems to have hit the already dangerously low population of the Gharials. This crisis, is a medical one which has given the species a death toll of 103 which, for this particular species, is a very tragic story.
As the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), India, along with veterinarians and Herpetologists from across the globe tries to figure out solutions and comes down hard on those taking the issue lightly, the common people, who have no less important a role to play in protecting the specie are being approached by students and volunteers who have worked on and understood this concern, and its immediate need for help.
"The Chambal Expedition - January 2008", was an expedition to the Chambal river to survey the density sites of the Gharials. The river is a 450km long stretch of India's cleanest waters. North India's fastest flowing river, the Chambal holds all the hope. It alone, is home to approximately 68% of the world's wild Gharials, giving it the status of an open treasure chest. Whether to safeguard that treasure or to let it be looted, is now in the hands of those who work for the Gharial's survival. This expedition was done by a team of 7 students who surveyed a 100km stretch of the river which is the initial part of the river. They walked for 10 days, covering around 10km a day, along the river, recording whatever sightings of Gharials they had, and plotting on digital maps their data. In this way, the team came up with 3 High Density Areas where groups with 9 or more than 9 Gharials were found. This expedition was a first of its kind and Tiger Watch, an NGO working un-compromisingly for the Tiger and the Moghiya community, very generously and encouragingly initiated as well as made it possible! The members of this team are - Pritish Panke , Sohini Vanjari, Digvijay Sabne, Sanket Deshpande, Neeraj Gade, Ruchik Pande, and myself- Apoorva Joshi. The pillar behind the sole existance of this team- Dr.Dharmendra Khandal, is a man of great will and even greater passion and zeal. He's the best any team can have. The absolute best! Fateh Singh Rathore, our present Tiger Man, also had another inexplicable role to play. It is a great feeling to see such support for the Gharial.
What we really need now, is a strong and well focussed group of people who will pledge themselves to the very survival of this specie. Who will work, survey, write, photograph, collect data and information, document it, everything! We need to monitor these few remaining animals so as to ensure their safety and get a clear record of the habitat, and any bad signs if seen. WWF's effort is commendable to the extent that they even have a daily update of the deaths recorded or peculiarities encountered, on their website.
The Gharial really does need your help today. With only a 182 surviving, and fighting, it becomes a priority concern with an animal which is 20 times more endangered than a Tiger! So if you want your next generation to see a Gharial instead of having to refer to a history text book to show it to them, then, come on! Take that effort, and move ahead. Contribute. Because every little bit DOES matter!
Next article on the Gharials- Coming Soon... :)
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Sadly, our people are accustomed to being outspoken. No, thats not the sad part. The thing is, they are outspoken about everything. One should realize when to keep shut and when to blurt out stuff. We are all very good at making statements. But hardly any of us are capable of giving them any justice. When Project Tiger and Project Crocodile were launched, the enthusiasm and dedication were in volumes! With time, they died down in most people's hearts and multiplied in others'. But with time, the graphs showed drastic changes. Both projects reached a peak at one point of time, and today, both stand at a miserable edge, with the fear of losing the very species they were initiated for!
There are, today, countable people who are working endlessly, day in day out, so that the Tiger may get one more day to live. every day. Even fewer people who are working for the mythical creature, the Gharial and sadly even fewer (if that's possible!) who know what a Gharial is! We teach our kids everything. We teach them that if they do bad things, God will punish them. This very fear of "God" leads them to grow up into being ardent worshippers. But then again. We only say- don't do bad things. We usually forget to add- but that doesnt mean dont go and do good things! A child needs to be taught from the very beginning, that plants, animals and the child himself are all inter-related. That respect needs to be inculcated. Tell a kid- that money is best spent if you donate it to a charity or a church or temple or whatever! And the kid never knows that had he donated his first savings to an NGO serving Mother Nature, maybe the kid himself, will see a new day, every day. Otherwise, as the Tiger keeps going, so will our kids... so will we. We will end up with a shameful reputation if we leave our future generation a world without glaciers, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, trees to give them oxygen and protection, and forests and animals to keep them save and healthy. And believe me, i really dont think we will have a chance to anything then! The dead dont get second chances!
So while we have the time, make good use of it. Tell climate change, that our brains have woken up finally. And we choose not to bow down!
Any organisation which is slaving to pull these animals out of death's dungeons, should be patted on the back and goaded on till those dungeons close for millenia to come. Whether the organisation is small or large, doesnt matter. The work it is doing matters. Whether one stands up and raises his/her voice against the poaching of animals, or steps out and gets hands on experience of studying some spectacular species, or simply sees to it that the rampant corruption in the administrative departments of the country is reduced and eventually done away with, it is ALL credible work!
We stand today, get up and go to work, sleep peacefully, eat well, while one tiny group of people is out there. Fighting. If not for the ethical reason that we ought to conserve our biodiversity, then for the selfish reason that we , ourselves, get to live. Those of us who sit on a couch, watch TV and criticise the Forest Department, should one day, take a hike and go see what it is to patrol Kaziranga National Park on foot and have gun fights with poachers who are far better armed than any of the Forest Officials. These people should try spending an evening in an evergreen forest just listening to the forest and its inhabitants communicate. These people should remember, that while they sit and grow fatter by the second, these guys, work their asses off to see to it that the country retains at least some of its respect. Yes. There is corruption. But, there are also these gems that out their lives on line for that one golden cat or that one Crocodilian, who, if not helped today, will never be around, to help.
So if you are a couch potato, get up. Go out, smell the air. And if it smells pathetic... clearly, you know how the future looks. Dream. Of waking up and going out and smelling fresh, clean air and looking over clear, blue water.. but remember. Dont let the dream remain a dream. Do something. Put your foot forward. Join the revolution. Turn the specks, into stars. Every Conservationist deserves applause and needs to know that he or she IS making a difference, for the better...
For, if we stay still today... Tomorrow is a decade away..
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Today, all the money that a place of worship gathers as donations, is much more than the amount that an NGO gathers as funds for a good cause. So and so temple in so and so place meausres the highest donations in its history so it gets a gold throne made for the idol it houses. But so and so animal faces extinction in so and so place, so it is allowed to fade away and become another tiny speck in Indian history to be showed to generations to come.
If the Tiger is in urgent need of help, or the Gharial is in even more urgent need, the minimal funds that do get produced for efforts that go into saving them, are roped in from abroad. From countries that do have an outlook to such things; that do keep funds for causes like these. Any wonder then, that we are indebted to more countries than we know today!?
What if the Tiger goes extinct tomorrow? For the Indian Parliament, the concern is- "oh god! we'll have to sit and look for a new National animal!" And if we dont already know why we really need that cat around, then i suggest we stop being so outspoken bout our general knowledge, which in fact, unfortunately, happens to be only that- General!
What if the Gharial konks off too? People, lets get out of the "what if" phase, and get down to reality. If we do keep going, then that 'if' , isnt going to be necessary! When NGOs that work for Wildlife, or Nature, and their conservation, ask for funds, and corporates turn them down saying that funding such activities "drains their funds", it shows nothing but absolute negligence and stupidity. When these NGOs release news that shatters human faith in a system, then the world comes running, but what about the time when these NGOs are in their initial stages? You dont really expect them to come up with secret bank accounts do you? Thing is, if at this point, when Planet Earth is in a terribly fragile situation, we dont start taking the lead and trying out things that are good for Mother Nature, I presume we are never going to get the "second chance".
In our country, we take the liberty to divert all the possible money for election procedures, rallies, religious festivals, riots, their management, corruption, and more spiritual stuff. Maybe there are a lot of things about the West that we dont like. But if you can see the bad points, you better be able to accept the good ones too. Those guys there, as nutty as they may be, are still smart when it comes to- how to use money. Have u heard of them falling short of funds? If yes, then they make sure they get them from somewhere. They dont scrap projects for the "lack of funds". Here, we hardly have any money left after all those above "requirements" have been tended to. So no question of funds for the good here. And those little that do come in from somewhere, go into big projects.. leaving the little ones bone dry and mega-dependent.
We have to learn. The wise use of money. Call it what you want. But, we really have to understand that there is no use spending on something that cannot give you anything in return. Think. Evrything u spend on, gives u smthing in return. Not necessarily material satisfaction. But it does give u smthing!
So when you can donate to a cause or an organisation that is working for the betterment of the Environment, and eventually, mankind, why hesitate?? If you are looking for something you'll get out of it, then its good. Think. The answer is atrociously simple. And if you still dont find it, come back here in a while. The next article will give you a lot more on that.
For now - Lets do our part. Be the difference you're looking for elsewhere.