A prayer from the plains for a river from the rains

By Nakul Mohan Heble Schooled in Singampatti! It was our last day at the Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre (ACCC), a beautiful field station at the feet of the giant peaks of southern Western Ghats. After several days of unbearable heat in the plains, the monsoon winds had finally hit the western coast of India. The…

Pawprints in Khandar Fort Pt. 3: Unexpected Treasures

By Priya Ranganathan I led the squabbling men down another path, towards our second camera trap, lost in thought. A leopard and a tigress coexisting in the fort was a rare scenario, given the size of Khandar Qila. Unlike Ranthambhore Qila, where tigresses were often spotted preening on the stone walls and suckling their cubs…

Pawprints at Khandar Fort Pt. 2: Leopards Hunt at Sunset

By Priya Ranganathan I jumped over a fallen pillar, taking care not to damage the valuable artefact, and approached his side. He was pointing at a faded print in the dust, barely noticeable but, once noticed, hard to miss. “Pugmark?” he asked. I squatted on my haunches to better survey the imprint. “Leopard,” was my…

Pawprints in Khandar Fort Pt. 1: Breaching the Fort

By Priya Ranganathan It was four in the morning and the scrubby landscape bounced in and out of my vision as our jeep made its way through the dark Rajasthan forest. The hardly powerful headlamps were our only chance at getting to the base of the steep hill going up to Khandar Qila. The Qila…

Return of the Stranded: A Journey towards Home under Question

By Nita Shashidharan   The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore inequality and appalling state of affairs in India. The buzz word is a “new normal”, a situation where “we have to learn to live with the virus” as proclaimed by the joint secretary of the Union Health Ministry, and a term that has…

We, the people of Jayanti

By Arunima Sikdar Jayanti, a quaint locality, situated near its namesake Jayanti River, is characterized by an amusing admixture of geography, ethnicity and history. Within an area of 759 square kilometres, it harbours a river, a mountain, an international border and people of at least four different ethnicities. One can easily sense the uniqueness of…

Early Indians: how migrations created the Indian melting pot

A review of the book, “Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From.” By Vikram Aditya Race, religion, culture, language – these ideas have been debated throughout history. Nationalist groups have used these constructs to emphasize their supposed uniqueness, antiquity and superiority over other groups. Similar claims have also been made…

What’s in a name?

By Arunima Sikder   The science of naming organisms is as old as science itself. Plant names can be repulsive as they resemble complicated Latin words (which they are). You can end up pronouncing Pseudelephantpous as Atlantis and I would understand!     Although Naturalists since the 1700’s had to meticulously observe each twig, each…

Gubbachi

By Apoorva. R “The little sparrows were freely hopping and flying here & there, Pecking on grains scattered on the floor. As I stood patiently watching them on that quiet afternoon Much like the many afternoons where time stands still…. The sparrows seemed to be least disturbed. Not even by the children running around And…

Desert Carnival: Experiencing Rajasthan’s Annual Pushkar Camel Fair

By Priya Ranganathan The landscape is a myriad of colours, pulsing with life, dazzling, radiant. A burst of chaos amidst a sea of sand and Prosopis. My nostrils flare to absorb the unfamiliar mixture of smells, from camel hide to tanned leather to sweetmeats to sweaty horse to cattle droppings that litter the sandy soil….