Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Big Five Oh!

Turning 50 (The Big Five Oh!) was supposed to be a momentous occasion – a milestone of sorts. My parents called in to advice a visit to the family deity (for an Ayushomam, which was supposed to ensure a smooth passage for the next 50), Wifey and daughter had planned a secret party rounding up quite a few of my close friends and relatives for an eventful evening and dinner.  

Honestly, for me, 50 was just another number.  Agreed, fifty may be too late to embark on a career as a F1 driver or aspire to win the Wimbledon, but it’s quite a good age to think about establishing a new business, spending more time in the wilderness with my photo gear, a great age to pursue flying, writing more for blogs & magazines.

Incidentally there are some great perks that come with that age . . . secrets are safe with my friends (unless I post them on FB or whatsaap) because they can’t remember them either. Kidnappers are not very interested in people of my age, for all you know, they may be asked to keep me themselves. In a hijack or a hostage situation I am likely to be released first.

Actually, I am perhaps more me than at any time in my life. I am playing tennis, badminton and golf, for example, because I love the game, not to be fit and sexy, and if I feel like stopping, I can. Likewise with my apparel, I wear what I want and feel comfortable in, rather than aspiring to make a fashion statement – and nobody minds it.

Lastly, there’s this spiritual or religion thing that I’ve never ever attempted to take a deeper look at and am being told its time I did. Presumably there's a happy heavenly eternal afterlife where you get to be reunited with our loved ones – if true, I don’t have a huge problem with the whole limited-time-on-earth concept.

Then there’s the other school of thought on reincarnation – no problem with this one either – great if I can start all over again. But for now, there are a few more decades, before its time to think of an afterlife and find the awareness of impending mortality – enough inspiration to enjoy every moment of the next few decades!

So, Just half a century under my belt. Wonder what will happen in the next fifty. At the speed the world works now, we'll all be living out Star Wars for real . . . can’t wait to get my hands on those groovy Jet Packs !!!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bear Truth

The jungles have always been my second home and we were at Masinagudi that summer of 2006. On a late afternoon early March, my friend and fellow photographer Ravi, our local guide Mari and I set off towards the Moyar River at Masinagudi.

A family of Malabar hornbills greeted us as we parked near the Electricity Board guest house and began our short trek overlooking the magnificent mountains. A mongrel from the guest house accompanied us for a few Kms. He was friendly, walking ahead of us as though taking on himself to lead us. Nearing a clearing, he stopped abruptly, started sniffing the air and began growling. Baring his teeth, he looked closely towards the bushes and suddenly turned tail and bolted the way we had come.

“I hope it is not an elephant”, I remember telling Ravi as I raised my Camera mounted with a Tele Zoom to my eyes carefully scanning the bushes. Finding nothing I was about to move forward, when a movement to my right on the far side caught my eye. There, about 150 yards away, in a small clearing by the bushes, was this sloth bear. The animal had clearly seen us and was assessing the situation.

We were in no danger, for this was quite a small built bear, we were three and moreover, the distance between us was quite a large one and even in the event of a charge we were armed with pepper sprays, fire pencils and strong walking poles which when swung around could cause serious damage.

However, the nervous bear was looking back into the bushes and staring at us – a clear sign that she was protecting something (maybe cubs or her kill). Suddenly, she made a dash towards us stopped short and got back to the clearing. She did this thrice, and it was clear that she was nervous and the situation could reach a flaring point if we continued to stay around.

So, we slowly started back tracking till she retreated into the bushes. We were sure that we had seen her off and decided to go forward, circumventing and side stepping her direction.

We were wrong, the bear was waiting in the bushes and as we stepped forward, made yet another charge at us without a warning and was coming straight at us. The quick thinking Mari started banging a tin can which he was carrying causing a huge cacophony in the otherwise silent jungle atmosphere. This metallic noise caught her off guard and she hastily turned tail and got back to the bushes.

It was foolish to even consider going forward and we turned back constantly checking if any more surprise attack was in store – hands on the pepper sprays – just in case . . . . 

It puzzles me even today on why she chose to attack, when there was so much distance between us, she could see she was outnumbered one to three and we were not even heading towards her direction.