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THE WILDLIFE WHISPERER (PART 4 – Conservation)
In my jungle forays I started witnessing that jungles and jungle safaris were managed differently. The rules of entry and exit, the training of naturalists, the involvement / buy-in of local communities, and the comfort of tourists had tremendous variations. Some forests were thriving with species and tourists, while others were thriving with species but had few tourists. My first idea, two years ago, was of floating a naturalist exchange programme, from different forests, for cross-learning purposes. I felt privileged that I get to visit multiple parks, but so many of the excellent naturalist did not have similar kind of opportunity, when they would benefit so much more from these visits. Couple of conversations later I realised that the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) did have a similar programme, challenge as always was in its execution.
Two further ideas that I deliberated upon was the provision of basic benefits to the botto…

The Winged Whisperers

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Winged Whisperer:
(Part 3 - The Growth) 
A large part of my fascination with forests has centred around the big cats, especially the tiger. With subsequent visits to forests I developed a fondness for leopards, one of the most agile and resilient cats, and the Himalayan Black Bear – a royal and elegant species. Unknown to the wider world, tiger stripes are like fingerprints and no two stripes are same. Same is the case of spots on a leopard. Every leopard has different spots called rosettes, and a black panther is nothing but a regular melanistic leopard whose dark or black coloration hides the spots. The stripes and rosettes on cats’ act as a camouflage and serve a dual purpose, as a defence mechanism and / or as a stalking tool. In my jungle safaris, I met fellow wild-lifers who were fascinated by different species, like birds, macro animals, etc. though I had been content being a cat person. I occasionally clicked birds, but only in action, and only while waiting for a cat to appear,…

Wildlife Whisperer – The Learnings

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Wildlife Whisperer:(Part 2 - The Learnings)
Before entering the world of actual jungles, the synonym that I associated with jungles was ‘jungle raaj’, essentially meaning chaos and anarchy. Where might is right. An adage used to describe much of the chaos that humankind is associated with. Now, having visited jungles multiple times, across the length and breadth of the country, I can guarantee that whoever has coined the word, or uses it regularly, has never ever entered a real jungle. Because a jungle is about absolute order, respect, balance and sustainability - as long as humans do not interfere. There was a time when humans were awed by nature, and responsive to it. Now, with a sense of entitlement creeping in, we think we have ownership and rite of passage everywhere, including the jungles and wilderness.
Some of my basic learnings from the jungles are: 1. In jungles there is no hoarding. Animals hunt / eat ONLY when hungry. No random killing. No killing to eat later. No killing t…

THE JOURNEY OF WILDLIFE WHISPERER (PART 1 – The Beginning)

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THE JOURNEY OF WILDLIFE WHISPERER (PART 1 – The Beginning)
My tryst with wildlife started in March 2008, when I accidentally wandered off to Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh – central India), as a part of an itinerary curated for a friend who was visiting India for the first time. We went to Agra, Khajuraho and Bandhavgarh – logic of the itinerary being to introduce him to different beautiful aspects of India – one of the wonders of the world, an ancient heritage site and a jungle. In our 1st safari itself, before I saw the tiger, I heard it roar, a happy roar of a full tummy as it descended a hill. We were 3 people in the gypsy, one felt super scared, one entertained and one ecstatic. No prizes for guessing which one of these was me.

Back then I did not have a DSLR. I was still shooting with a point and shoot, and the 1st picture that I clicked of the tiger was a blur, as it was moving while we exited the gate. The thrill stayed with me and inspired me to buy my 1st DSLR cam…

My Peacemaking Story

THE JOURNEY OF CHANGE FOR CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION
My Peacemaking Story: The Search of Peace
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. How did this journey start? Well, where we have reached now has not been where we intended to reach, but it is definitely a good place. The journey is very well connected to the expansion of my own personal understandings of what peace is and what peace work should be.
I was first consciously introduced to the Peace movement in 1993-94, during my undergraduate days. In April 1994 I attended a training workshop organized by a Gandhian group Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal in Mumbai where I interacted with a whole new set of like-minded people who had devoted their life to social work. Just a year before this training I had been witness to one of the most horrifying communal conflagrations in my city, and the rest of the country had been burning too in the name of religion. These communal riots had devastated the lives of thousands …
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A DIFFERENT KIND OF A MORNING WALKNot long ago I was a totally night person – most creative, lively and awake after 8 pm. I could work the entire night but post 8 am I had to sleep. So although I have always loved sunrises, I never had to wake up for one. I would usually stay awake for the sun to rise, and then promptly go to sleep.Life changed one fine November morning in 2008. In the middle of a workshop that I was facilitating, the venue of which was next to a beautiful beach, for two days in a row I woke up around dawn and went for a walk on the beach. Since then I have been addicted to morning walks and feel a special tinge is seeing the world wake up. Mornings are indeed special!The walk that I went for on Sunday though was a different one. Having moved to Delhi a month ago, I have been constantly comparing my current karam bhoomi Delhi to my beloved janam bhoomi Mumbai and in 9 cases out of 10 Mumbai wins all comparison’s hands down. On Sunday I discovered that it is not diffic…

Mumbai Meri Jaan

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I saw this picture first time in 2005 when Mumbai faced a kind of flooding due to torrential rains, a nightmare that caught the city totally unawares. Like lakhs of Mumbaikars I was caught in the rain too, but safe and sound, and well cared for in the Police Training School where I was in the middle of a training. Because the school was at a height, and because there was no TV in the School, we did not realize the enormity of the situation (an enormity which strikes only once you ‘see’ some things or ‘experience’ things first hand), despite the various wireless messages which went on throughout the night. Early next morning when we did venture out to gauge the damage the sight that beheld us is etched in memory. Deserted cars, dead bodies, washed out roads. It was only late that day that I had reached back home. And everyone everywhere had a story to tell – either horror ones of how some people sat in cars, with windows rolled up, waiting for the waters to reside and dying of suffocat…