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Winter, or, A Rambunctious Ramble

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These are three very disorderly, disjointed, disproportional thoughts that haunted me much before this year began – since the end of the last year to be exact. That year, I rambled away after coherently trying to make sense of the world as a flower-collector saw. While time has taken us a year ahead since, space has brought us back to where we think time ends and starts anew. Come to think of it, I was out of place and time, and over the hill and out of my mind. At this junction, I revisit that time and that mindset with little sense of what it was – or is – all about. Picture One Part One: What Makes Me Inept At an interview many years ago, I was lambasted by a probably well-meaning but perhaps ultra-inquisitive interviewer when I uttered ‘natural resource’ in some human context. The gullible me scampered to defend myself, but I’ve always wondered why is it wrong to call something a resource. If an ecologist can use the term ‘resource partitioning’ relating to species interaction,

Saunter, or, On the Art of Imagination and Perception

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A dried-up leaf. A rolled-up leaf. A blotchy leaf. A pooped-upon leaf. After seven months of no respite, I found myself looking at these enthusiastically. Everything moved. Everything was something. Something resembled something else. Sometimes, something tried to be something else. I may have been imagining things, who am I to blame? The soggy boughs, cloud-diffused skies, a slight mist, a faint song of the birds. Add to that the huddled trees, clustered canopies, a subtle breeze. I perceived things differently. Who am I to blame? A leaf tumbled up a tree in front of my eyes. Another flew off. One burst into ridiculous shades of colours. The extravagant - or ridiculously colourful - Orange Oak Leaf ( Kallima inachus ) butterfly of Kanha Tiger Reserve. Someone, somewhere, imagined that this butterfly looks like the leaf of an oak. Somewhere long before, something perceived a limbless leaf to be a safer bet than donning ridiculous colours. And then it decided, hey, why not have the best

Summer

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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 w

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 scientifi