Month: August 2015

Paw and order: The act of killing

Recently Kerala, a southern state in India, has ordered the mass slaughter of rabid stray dogs. This was after government officials made panicky and untrue statements about their menace. And for the past two months, stray dogs (not just the rabid ones) have been mercilessly hunted down.

The State government’s reaction has been an expected one. Some of the authorities are claiming ignorance. While others – fabricating the truth. A few are talking about vaccination drives and exporting dog meat as practical solutions.



10 commandments that are cash cows to Indian filmmakers

ChennaiWhenever we, as Indians, mourn the lack of good films, we are told that we have great expectations. That we should just appreciate the handful of Indian films that stay true to the art form and shut up about the rest. It is however difficult to forgive the industry for using copyright violations, crass sentiments and a bipolar stance on sexuality to bring Indian cinema to its knees.

And the producers for towering over its sullen figure, with their front-zippers down, sporting a dirty smile and holding a sign that says – No biting please. Sure, entertainment is subjective and what is good for the goose can taste like gunpowder to the gander.

Unfortunately though, Indian filmmakers can follow certain commandments to achieve moderate levels of success. Here are 10 of them.


A case for the commoners: Red-Wattled Lapwing

She’s not a canvas
for the weak to
paintbrush their dreams in,
she’s a coat of paint
for the weary
to re-imagine the world with

Many summers ago, I was at the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, minding my own business and that of a few passerine birds. Suddenly a shrill sound – tee-tee-tiri – started echoing in the air; as though a celestial object was trying to connect with my brain.


Beauty is three parts dead

I used to find myself drawn towards the ocean and her charms. The crackling of waves. The distant chatter of fishermen. And the frothing of her tides. The ocean often had me entranced.

I was fascinated with aquatic life-forms back then. It thrilled me to find them near ocean-beds. But most were dead by the time I stumbled upon them. Yet I have caught myself staring their corpses, feeling exhilarated about life.


To believe is to see: Indian Pitta

While in Thekkady earlier this year, I had spotted a stubby bird I had never seen before. I was taking an evening stroll behind the cottage. And there she was, like a doodle crayoned by a prodigiously-gifted child, about 100 meters away from me.

She looked incredibly familiar. But I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I took a few photographs of her, as the sun went down, and returned to the cottage. I pulled out my copy of “Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp to find out her name.


Love her wildly and leave her wild

A hill can be a babysitter,
rubbing eucalyptus oil
on our belly bruises as
the winter chill leaves her abloom.
A playful child, cupping
the rain off giant leaves,

Let us prey

Those with the
sharpest beaks
are taught to sniff
out the weak;
especially the ones
with the tiniest
mouths to feed.

In the wild, even the cruellest of circumstances doesn’t seem unfair. When a raptor swoops in to prey on an injured rodent, the scales of justice do not tip in favour of evil. If a flock of parakeets evict a new born woodpecker, it doesn’t constitute to a crime.


The road not forsaken: Ousteri Lake

There’s something intoxicating about new experiences. Good or bad, it leaves behind a sweet itching in our throats; a calamitous aching for more. Yet we remain obsessed about our precious routines too. We hold them close in fear of being asphyxiated otherwise.

Perhaps the truth is that we want some facets of our lives to turn into ticking bombs filled with confetti and love. And others, soggy and lukewarm, filled with predictability.

Birding at new locations is always a thrill. A rejuvenating experience irrespective of how many birds show up. Or whatever happens along the way.


Wake up and smell her paintings

It was a quiet morning in Kodaikanal.

The forest was still and its citizens – cuddling in the mist. The trees looked like silhouettes of ballerinas. And out came the sun with a mild splash to wash the darkness away. It held hostage our dreams in small proportions and our love for infinite space.


A long-legged zest for dawn

A lagoon yawns in
watercolour prints, as
spindly ghosts, bathed in
pink, like tall orders
of strawberry cream,
spread their wings
and sing their songs,
haunting sepia skies
at the break of dawn.

I had spent a good deal of time and energy with Greater Flamingos in 2014.  The first time I ever spotted them was during last summer. They had descended from the skies to the Annamalaicheri backwaters. A month or two later, I spotted them at the Pallikaranai Marsh. Again, towards the end of the year, during a satellite launch at the Pulicat Lake.