Showing posts from 2020


For the first time I felt it, being stuck in space, coming unstuck in time.Summers are always eerily quiet; I think to myself this exceptionally silent summer of 2020. As I lie in my bed, stuck in a room dimly lit, staring at the blank ceiling, everything is still. The summer loo creeps in from invisible gaps, and I imagine it propelling downward from the ceiling fan, heating up the bottled water enough to make it distasteful. I am paralyzed in space. How many summers has it been for this summer to arrive? I close my eyes only to feel a sudden rush of a steel breeze.I’m over 3,000 meters above sea level, on a shoulder of the Gharwal Himalaya that leads to the Bandarpoonch Peak. I’ve just awoken from a sweet afternoon siesta after a hearty post-eight-hour-walk meal. My friend is poised on a tree stump admiring the setting sun over the Gharwal Himalaya. It is May of the year 2006. After four days of clouds and rain and snow, it has opened up. Soon the darkness grips us and the cold wind…

On Creative Nature Writing

It started out as a feeling Which then grew into a hope Which then turned into a quiet thought Which then turned into a quiet word And then that word grew louder and louder 'Til it was a battle cry - The call by Regina Spektor
Nature writing is a cycle. You discover, write, rediscover, rewrite. You finish a piece, but you never really finish writing. Ten years into blogging (twelve, today), I hinted at my writing process in a letter to my younger self. Since then this thought has been taking root in my mind: what have I learnt from punching keys and scribbling on notepads?When I say you never really finish writing, I mean it particularly for writing about nature. Nature writers don’t lose track of a story once it unfolds and is published. It is the piece that concludes, not the story itself. The story goes on and on till you pick it up again or pass on the baton. This is the beauty of nature writing – whether scientific or general, and one form of writing that engages and binds …

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and ladders: the race to curb snakebite mortalities in Central India
This longform article covers roughly 150 years of research into snakebite mortalities, snake envenomation, and the reasons of snakebite-related deaths in central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – known to have among the highest death rate in India, majorly because of lack of effective medical care/availability of antivenom, treatment of resulting complications, time taken to reach healthcare centres, and beliefs in traditional antidotes. It also discusses the large gap in monitoring the mortalities and how researchers are innovating medical, ecological, and taxonomic studies of snakes and snakebite envenomation, tied in with my experiences of snake rescue and snake awareness in and around Kanha Tiger Reserve. This is a part of a larger piece tracing the ecological history of central India being presented here for its relevance. With monsoon around the corner, and predictions of new and old land…