Grays in my hair

Every year if you consider it as a number, you’re getting older. Every year if you consider it as a lesson, you’re getting stronger. And every year if you consider it as a journey, you’re getting wiser. I consider a year as a layer of all of this. People count years for you too, and they do it pretty well in my case by counting the grays in my hair. To those who’re worrying about salt-and-pepper, add a feather to it than cover it in fake colour!

I look back on this day at the journey I’ve been lead on. Fortunately I always had my camera with me on these occasions, but have also missed it on many other. Along the way I learnt a few great lessons, but today I’d like to focus on memories of the time I spent in Maharashtra’s untouched shorelines and the historic central Indian highlands. I learnt that photography is not always about your subject, it is about you envisioning your subject, it is about you presenting your vision of the subject to the viewers. Here’s my vision of the journey, some of which have not debuted on Sahyadrica before.

A quick glance back at 2013 without further ado.
January | Man and Wetland
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
This estuary, an amalgamation of mangroves, oyster-beds, fringed by villages, is one
of the most beautiful places to observe man and nature living together.
It is also one of the most underappreciated ecosystems in India.
January | A Built Wetland
Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary, Maharashtra
One of the largest dams in India on River Godavari, Jayakwadi offers sanctuary to migratory as well as resident birds
associated with wetlands, while at the same time meets the human needs for agriculture and industry.
February | Sunrise on the Konkan
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
Tondavali is a small village sandwiched between a creek and the sea to form a
tombolo, a beautiful but fragile strip of land along the coastline of Maharashtra.
Increasing surges of storms and the overall sea-level rise pose a serious treat to
this inhabited strip.
February | A Burst of the Sun
Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra
Light and shadows filter through Wild Grapes as they pass through the canopy of this exquisite forest, a declared
sanctuary which serves as a corridor for the arrested Sanjay Gandhi National Park to its south.
March | Trawlers of Sindhudurg
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
Sindhudurg has been witnessing strife between traditional fisher-folk and mechanized fishermen for quite a few decades.
The Malvan shore is riddled by trawling boats, which come along the shore to unload the catch and reload resources
for another expedition in the sea.
March | White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Crow
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
A soaring predator of the sea, the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is common along the coastline
of Maharashtra, preferring to nest on towering Casuarinas overlooking the seas. They hint for fish from the sea, but
are being increasingly troubled by crows whose populations has increased in even the remotest of coastal villages.
April | The Holy Fig
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
Fig trees, especially Ficus religiosa, are common in and around temples in India. Some of the largest and oldest ones are
preserved as sacred groves in the Konkan, serving as a sanctuary in itself for many animals.
April | Spotted Owlet
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
A common resident of rural India, the Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) nests in tree
cavities or manmade structures, living a simple life by feeding on insects and small
vertebrates, but like other owls, it is also considered a bad omen and given a chance,
some people would rather have it killed for their superstitious beliefs.
May | The Stages of Death
Mumbai, Maharashtra
A small Magnolia sapling in my balcony flowers once in a year or two, and shrinks
and dries in summer in an eventful display of the stages of its shutting-down for the
summer. But its death is only for the season until it sprouts fresh leaves in monsoon.
May | Ocypode
Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
A phantom of the Konkan shores, you will commonly see this crab flitting across the surface of the sand, leaving
behind a mark of its nimble feet. They live as a community, and are primarily filter-feeders and scavengers, keeping
the beaches clean of dead and rotting fishes.
June | Magic of First Monsoon Showers
Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra
The first showers are celebrated by plants with a rather colourful display of tender leaves and flowers.
Chlorophytum tuberosum is one of Konkan's ephemeral herbs that flowers with the first rains and dies off within weeks.
June | Brahminy Kite against Monsoon Clouds
Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra
If you're in India, the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) is a sign that you're near a wetland, mostly an estuary or the sea. Absence of these kites and presence of a large number of Black Kite (Milvus migrans), an opportunist bird of prey of India, is a sign of a degrading wetland ecosystem. It usually means that there is more garbage in the area.
July | The Union of Two Rivers
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Jamunia to the left and Banjar to the right unite as one as they ultimately join River Narmada further north. These two
rivers are one of the many unexploited blood-vessels of India's famed Kanha Tiger Reserve, as they feed farms, breed
fish, and quench the thirst of the wildlife and mankind alike.
July | Threat display of Buff-striped Keelback
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
One of the most common snakes of India, Amphiesma stolatum is also called saat-beheni (seven sisters) by the locals
because they are believed to live as a community. Although I've never observed it, this behaviour is quite similar
to that of Garter Snakes of the Americas, to which this snake superficially resembles. What we see here is the snake
trying to display its hood and raise its neck to appear threatening, a position mastered much profoundly by the cobra.
August | Tiger versus the Jungle
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
I've never craved to see a tiger, wild or tamed. It was while working in the villages that we were informed of a tigress
which got lost in the heavy downpour and got stuck on the village side of a fence separating the core of Kanha from
the settlement. It was clear that fencing is a boon as well as a curse for wildlife, but fortunately the Forest Department
rescued the tigress and she was back on her track, rather in her cage.
August | The Vegetarian Vampire
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
An Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus) perches patiently on a fruiting Fig tree, Ficus virens, with the moon shining
on its back. A lot of urbanites believe all bats to be carnivorous and dangerous, but that's just a superstition born out of
television shows. Bats are one of the most efficient dispersers of Figs, especially in urban areas where birds feeding on
fig are less in diversity.
September | Man-made Grasslands
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Several villages have been relocated from Protected Areas across the world. Some have voluntarily decided to relocate
because of the threat from wildlife to life and crops. In Kanha, villages relocated many years ago have transformed into
lush grasslands, attracting ungulates to feed on this newly-restored ecosystem.
September | A Tale of Many Tails
Banjar River, Madhya Pradesh
A scuffle between the alpha and another male made these Common Langur (Semnopithecus entellus) stand in rapt
attention. With tails wagging here and there, and a spat between the two males to an end, the troupe settled down as
one by one each started eating leaves and mud from the termite mound.
October | Kanha's Meadow
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Kanha is home to some of the finest meadows of the central Indian highlands. They form the dancing ground of the deer and the prancing field of a tiger.
October | The Hymenopteran Titans
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
When a Carpenter Ant approached this nest-building Spider Wasp, both sized up one another, the ant with her
mandibles, and the wasp with her sting. The ant decided to avoid a clash with the expecting mother by backing away.
November | Winter Sun through Ancient Wings
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Sun would be the only testimony for the wings that have changed very little over millions of years,
if man never found fossilized dragonflies.
November | Of Snakes and Frogs
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
A Buff-striped Keelback devouring a frog (Fejervarya sp.) from the opposite end. Snakes usually devour their prey
head-first, but thisyoung snake was probably just learning, but successfully gulped this frog within five minutes.
December | Scaly-breasted Munia in a Sea of Grass
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
The favourite food of this munia (Lonchura punctulata), is grass seeds. They are common in rural India and urban
periphery, where they make use of windows or bamboo groves to build a nest with long blades of grass. They are
also commonly bought as pets, which is illegal and should be shunned by citizens.
December | Emerald Spreadwings
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Emerald Spreadwing (Lestes sp.) are damselflies which emerge by the end of monsoon.
They live as a community and roost as one by hanging one below the other.
I wish you all a very happy new year and a great start for what’s to come!

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