Thursday, July 2, 2015

Save the Species- Before it is too late

We all know the magnificence wildlife has around the world. We all are aware of the important role they play in maintaining the balance required in our ecosystem. We all are not unknown to the absolute danger some species are in. But what do we choose to do about it? Nothing.

It was only when I was researching this topic that I came to an acute realization of how real this danger is. It is not just a snippet from the news that we read and see, 'tch-tch' on the conditions of state and forget. It is not just a fact or figure that slips out of our memory as per our convenience. It is something that every human on the face of this earth is responsible for.

You don't murder someone and let the fact slip your mind, do you? And in the context of wildlife on the brink of extinction, we are pretty much the murderers because it is us and only us who are responsible for what is known as the 'sixth greatest extinction wave'on our earth.

Though the selection of which specie should be protected is based upon various of factors like its economic value, its public perception and sometimes, pure chance, I strongly feel that each and every specie labeled as endangered should be conserved while there is still time.

Following is my top three list of animals which need to be saved immediately-

1. Asiatic Lioness-
This is a Lion specie found only and only in India now. History has it that they were formerly living in many countries like Persia, Arabia, Mesopotamia but heavy hunting eradicated their numbers in all of them. In India, before the colonial rule, Asiatic Lioness were found in many states like Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra but ruthless hunting reduced their population to dangerous levels. During the revolt of 1957 in India, a single British officer shot about 300 lions. 

And we claim that humans are the most intelligent beings on earth. What is the purpose of such intelligence that shows no humanity towards beings that are as much part of the planet as we are?

The unfortunate fact is that its number as dwindled so much that it exists as a single population in Gujarat. There are approximately 201 Lioness left now. Naturally, it is labelled as 'EN' or Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

2. Indian Wild Ass- 
The fate of Indian Wild Ass, also known as 'Khur' seems to be similar to that of Asiatic Lioness. Previously having a healthy population in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, the last remaining herd of this specie is found only in Gujarat and Rajasthan now.

Though the British officers and Indian Maharajas had spared this poor animal from hunting as they did not find it interesting enough', the Mughal Emperors took their place instead and hunted it till it was driven into near extinction. Accounts of History show that the Mughal emperors took great pleasure in hunting this animal and there is even a painting of Akbar surrounded by Wild Asses shot by him in the Akbarnama. 

With Gujarat as its only habitat now, Wild Asses is also categorized as Endangered by the IUCN. Though their population has been carefully increased in the recent times, ecologists fear that a massive death might take place due to the weather of their current habitat. Conservation therefore, is a major concern now.

3. Gharial-

Gharial is a crocodile specie native to India. It is characterized by its long body and a long, thin snout which it uses for catching fish. Its population met with a horrifically drastic decline in the past 70 years where its number fell from 10,000 to approximately 200 individuals. The main reasons of this were killings for skin and eggs, by fishermen etc. A large number of Gharials were killed in the recent times due to depletion of water bodies and the fishing nets used in them.

It is labelled as 'Critically Endangered' by the IUCN. Do we need any more reasons to save this animal? 

It is high time that we took our share of responsibility and started worrying about the plight of our planet. We won't be sitting so peacefully if there were 200-300 number of humans left on this earth, would we? Then why the negligence shown to the animals?

Despite the conservation efforts taken up by every country in the world, the endangered animals have their numbers dwindling. The major reason is the loss of their habitat and natural conditions required for them to live in. This is the extent of damage that we have done to our planet. And if we are under the illusion that we would survive in this epidemic, then we can't me more wrong. 

Steve Irwin has said, "If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.” 

Let us start loving wildlife now. Let us start saving wildlife now. 

I am participating in the Save the Species contest for the book “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India” in association with Saevus Wildlife India,  read the reviews for the book ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments in India’ here “

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Mom- My First Expert

Mothers have to be the most wonderful beings on this earth. And I know that everyone would agree with me.

What is even more wonderful is to have a mother who supports everything you do. My mother happens to fall in that category. It doesn't matter what I say I want to do; my mother will always encourage me to go for it. She has her full faith that I can be a writer, a professor, a Mars-reacher and a Fluid Mechanics expert all rolled into one. And nothing I say, no negative energy and doubt I effuse makes any difference to it.

My mother is also someone whom all my friends love. Keeping aside the amazing food she cooks, she somehow manages to com across as a friendly person and all my best friends, when they come home, ignore me completely and kick start a conversation with my mom!

Though I have thousands of happy memories with my mother, I would like to recount a fairly recent one which made me love my mother even more.

It all started with my sudden fascination with a typewriter.

I don't remember the exact point where it started; I just remember sitting in my class one day and pining for one.

A friend of mine (who happens to be pretty selfless and benevolent), looked up to me and instantly was like- you want a typewriter? I could get you one. Many are rotting in our factory at this moment.

Without thinking anything, I jumped at the chance. I completely ignored the look my best friend was giving me from the side which clearly questioned my sanity and practicality. To be honest, I never expected my friend to be really serious about the whole thing. I mean, who gets a type-writer for someone, right?

A few weeks later, he called me and asked me if I was really serious about the typewriter thing for he could get me one from his house (which is in Howrah). Me, busy on Facebook and not thinking much, mumbled a yes.

He warned me that the thing was really huge and really heavy but I think I failed to register all that in my fantasy driven thoughts.

My world came crashing when he really did turn up with a typewriter that weekend to our college (Which is in Haldia).
When I finally registered the gravity of a 30 kg typewriter being brought by a friend who was no older than me from a place that was 200 km away from the place we studied all because of my sudden whim, my head spinned with the realization of the stupidity I did.

My best friend continued a tirade of disbelief of what I did seeing that I had come to my senses but the harm was already done.

The biggest question now was, how do I take the monstrous thing home? And what the hell do I tell my parents!

I suffered in misery for about a month with my friend getting irritated on one side for not showing any enthusiasm about taking the typewriter home and my fear on my parents' reaction.

Finally, I mustered up the courage to tell my mother. She was silent over the phone as I told her the story, tears spilling out of my eyes for some inane reason. She said only one thing as she kept the phone- I will tell your father to pick you up from the station.


Such a short conversation with mother was no good. Fearing my fate even more, I boarded the train, shouting down my friend's insistence of coming till Kharagpur (where I live) to deliver the typewriter.

Trust my luck for the train to be late by 5 hours that day. I normally reach home within two hours, that day it took me 7 hours. I could not even leave the train and board a bus home because I couldn't possibly drag the typewriter on a break journey all by myself.

Trying to ignore the stares I got from my fellow passengers, I wallowed in self-pity and misery for the entire trip.

Finally, Kgp came.

I expected a very angry father waiting for me at the station, but he was uncharacteristically cool. I did get a minor scolding on the way for being so foolhardy and bothering people with my silly fancies but it was milder than I was expecting. The only thing on my mind was my mother's reaction.

She was uncharacteristically silent when I got home and surveyed the typewriter quietly and after what seemed like a long, long time, she said- It has been a long time since I typed on one. I nearly jumped with happiness then, trust my mother to be such a sport!

She turned smiling towards me then and said- I hope your father wasn't too hard on you. I told him not to be since you had already repented over your whimsical decision without our scolding.

I hugged her, hard, and the happiness of owning a typewriter, finally kicked in.

Next day, we both cleaned the dirty old typewriter for about 3 hours and then, she even taught me how to type with proper fingers and all!
The typewriter after a good bout of cleaning :P

Trust a mother to be an expert in everything! Love you Mom! :)

Prose cannot explain what she means to me, I will try a poem instead-

She is the one who inspires me
the verse of my heart; my soul's melody.
the lullaby in my darkest nights
the battle song of all my fights
the symphony of the words I rhyme,
my personal conch in the sands of time.

She loves me with no demands
through all my tears, she holds my hand.
never a word that would sting me bad
a smile-generator when I am sad.
she is person I wouldn't replace for another,
she is the person I love-my Mother

This post is written for Godrej Expert.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Look-Up story- Humans of New York

I won't lie. It has been a hell of time lately for me. There have been too many things going on with me, around me that I was on the edge the entire time. In a bad way. 

I don't know at which point this actually started, I only remember it building up and up till I was overwhelmed. The past few weeks had days when I had a constant lump in my throat, the smallest of things making it grow larger by the minute. There were days when I felt powerful urges to cry, to scream, to relapse into isolation and just shut away from people. 

I wish I could say I was just PMSing :P 

I wish I could tell for real what actually bothered me so much to drive me off my usual cheerful demeanour this way but there are certain dark holes inside your heart that you are too ashamed to give voice to because they simply throw away all that you believe in, all that you strive for in a single, shattering moment. 

A had a few moments of realisation lately and some of them broke me. 

I came home for the much needed weekend break (which got extended to a week-long break :P) and started healing myself, one book at a time. 

Every book I read, or re-read, acted as a band-aid on my heart. Some newly acquired Enid Blytons helped. Some favourite Agatha Christies helped. Scout and Atticus Finch helped. The Book Thief (that wonderful, amazing tale!) helped. John Dryden helped. Even Shakespeare helped :D

I won't say the healing was smooth and went without a hitch. I wonder if any process goes without a hitch after all, except in the overly optimistic movies. There were hitches because the realisations I came to about my current position in my life and in others' could not be magically glorified after a few peaceful days; they never do. 

But I was dealing with it, in my own way, through books and scribbled words and plugged in earphones.

What actually filled me with positivity was this book that arrived today-

I cannot begin to explain what a beautiful, beautiful book this is. 

I started following the FB page of HONY quite some time ago and was touched by many portraits Brandon Stanton did under his project of capturing the NY city and many more places. I was ecstatic when he came to India and I saw some amazing portraits of our people through his camera lens. 

But holding this book in my hand and flipping through its pages, though 400 portraits that took my breath away. I was overcome with so many emotions and ended up laughing and crying over it. There it was, humanity in all its essence, humans in all their glory, feelings, situations posing for one man's camera and sharing their stories with him. I was overwhelmed by the thoughts people have and how, in essence they matched with what goes in our minds, in the minds of the people around it. 

It was a book that made me connect to something bigger than all that we bother ourselves with, a book that assured me that hoping was all right, it is all that takes us through some days at times. 

Through 400 portraits, Humans of New York filled me with a strange optimism. Through 400 stories shared in this book, sometimes through a few words, sometimes through the eyes of the people in it, sometimes though their smiles made me hopeful about the future again. 

It made my naive take on things seem okay, seem human enough. And it taught me a few important lessons as well. 

I loved many so many stories from the book, but this one was one of my absolute favourites

Yes, it is a treasure and I am so glad I own it!

This post is written for