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Barefoot Notes: Beeing in the Shivalik

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A view of the outer Himalaya - the Shivalik, upwards from the city of Ramnagar in Nainital. As fate would have it, I would wound around the same road across groves of jamun in the marshes and stands of sal in the lower hills, by the same shop I fondly remember meeting a lovely she-dog with light-brown eyes who immediately liked me in return, and up the mountain roads like I did seven years ago, mesmerised by the endlessness of the forests of the Himalayan foothills, across wide riverbanks of the Kosi – the same river that many have, in another age, journeyed afoot, from the trading Shauka families covering many miles across the Transhimalaya to the terai plains, to Harrer and Aufschnaiter, two mountaineers who escaped from the Dehradun Internment Camp when the World War II started, following the Kosi at first, all the way to Lhasa. It was sheer coincidence that I read Harrer’s account Seven Years in Tibet as I crossed Kosi every day. I was in the Shivalik Range of the North-western O

What's Left of the Jungle by Nitin Sekar: a review

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What's Left of the Jungle - A Conservation Story, by Nitin Sekar, published by BLOOMSBURY, 2022 Having visited the Himalayan foothill forests only as a tourist, and having only experienced its wildlife research and conservation aspects through research publications, What’s Left of the Jungle is a welcoming read on a protected area of West Bengal, where the author who studied seed-dispersal potential of wild Asiatic Elephants narrates his experiences and those of his resident associates of working and living in the region. This is a longish review of the book. This book adopts a pace that is perfect if one is to absorb the nuances of wildlife research and conservation in India. It's real lesson I feel, is in patience - whether through the US-based writer's journey as he circumnavigates the socioeconomic and ecological aspects of life in a wildlife refuge or the locally-born Akshu whose perspectives are engaging as the reader learns through his experiences right from his fo

Summertime in the Satpuda

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The Satpuda. Long ago, someone told me – or I read somewhere – I cannot remember which as my memory now fails, but I remember what was said or written: Himalaya is always the Himalaya, not Himalayas, and by extension, Satpuda – the seven hills of Mahadeo – are the Satpuda, not Satpudas. The mountains, it said, are individual entities, the name should be identified as proper noun, not common noun. As someone who boasts of belonging to the mountains, it ticks me off when technical reports miss out on such nuances creative writers take to heart. Sahyadrica has been on the longest hiatus ever, the whole of five months, but I promise this has not been for nothing – I worked on some bigger things in this period which I hope see the light of the day sometime in the coming year. Coming back to Sahyadrica is made possible because of a short summertime respite in the mountains of the Satpuda (also spelled Satpura), the Satpuda Tiger Reserve to be specific: where bright shines the sun, gentle b

Barefoot Notes: The Fly on the Wall vs. Our Simulated Universe

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  OR The fabulous, fantastic, fascinating fly and our ridiculous, plain fascination for a sickly computer-simulated life Allegory on Life and Death (~1598), Joris and Jaccob Hoefnagel. Jacob Hoefnagel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. There is no escape from reality means the same as there is no world without insects. This uncharacteristic piece that started as an idea that disrupted my planned course of thought that had me announce of my hiatus last year presents itself as I get attracted to this preposterous idea of living in a bubble orchestrated, for all I know, by a child. Here, and since it has been resurrected, I go back to 1999 when I watched the movie The Matrix: my eyes squinting at the grainy green filter of the sixth simulated world, my mind screaming at the lack of non-human substance that drained life out of the movie’s substance. The movie itself amazed me, save for the, spoiler alert, use of humans, the most prolific consumer of all animals – as batteries; the