Saturday, 6 July 2019

Unwavering Waves

Waves, unwavering waves... They come into existence out of nowhere and disappear equally suddenly. If you see, they are all so same but are actually different, some strong and some a bit weaker. But all of them equally determined to reach the shore, even at the cost of their own existence.

I still play this game of guessing the lifespan of each wave that I see, and even though it may be a few seconds, I still tell the wave, that you mattered, you made me smile.

Friday, 5 July 2019

A Colony of Ants

When I was studying, everyone asked me, what do you want to be. Doctor or engineer? Nobody asked me 'do you want to be a conservationist'? May be it didn't make the cut of being a 'cool' profession with lots of money. But I wish someone showed me earlier in my life, how much we can learn from nature. However hard we try, nature has already created better doctors, engineers, manufacturing and management professionals way before us. Don't agree with me? Just see a cobweb or a colony of ants!!!

A colony of leaf-cutter ants in amazon rainforest can run into millions. The collective function of the colony is to cut leaves and carry them back to their underground nests. These ants harvest as much as one fifth of all new plant growth around their colonies. They produce high frequency vibrations that stiffens the leaves when they slice through them with specialized mandibles. This makes it easier to cut the leaves. Acting like a mega herbivore, a colony of these tiny ants can work together to strip a tree bare within 24 hours. They follow scent trails back to their nest, avoiding all unintended obstacles. Their nest can be upto 8 meters deep and can have thousands of interconnected chambers. The ant workers' job is to carry the freshly harvested leaves to specific chamber for processing. The leaves are then used to create gardens of fungus as food for their larvae. As if this wasn't awe-inspiring enough, the colonies collaborate with bacteria to help control pathogens that could destroy their fungi.

There are many more such examples in the nature. The way birds build their nests, the way animals tend to their wounds with their saliva, spiders and insects build traps for their prey, fishes prepare colorful patterns on the seabed to attract mates....all these are nothing short of miracles. If there is anything meaningful I wish to do with my life, I hope I can contribute, however small, towards saving this miracle nature.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Mountain God

I traveled to a mountain for the first time when I was 9 years old. The vast expanse, the beauty and the complexity was too much for my young mind to reckon with. After that I have visited mountains many times, every experience bringing new realizations. I have watched with awe how the mountains nested with each other, how the roads winded up and disappeared, how the cars and houses looked like tiny toys on the other end of the mountain giant. Every blind turn gave me chills. I shivered to see the depth of the gorges.

So many years later, and I am still in awe. I still keep trying to build a mental map of how the roads circle up. Every corner looks like the end, but new road always pop up. I still get thrilled to see the roads far up in the mountain that I am going to reach in no time. But now I realize, every height that my car achieves, there are many others which it couldn't conquer. Now I know, not just other cars, my car also looks like a tiny toy in the hand of this great giant. As long as I am in this territory, I am tiny, insignificant, living at the mercy of this mountain God. I go up, across, reach my destination and come back home safely, because the mountain wants me to be safe. And I should be forever grateful to the mountain for letting me get lost in its intense beauty. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019


A few years back, I had the privilege of visiting Taman Negara in Malaysia. Taman Negara is the oldest rainforest in the world, nearly 130 million years old. Amazon, the biggest rainforest in the world, is also millions of years old. These rainforests are home to incredible biodiversity. Even if they occupy less than 7% of the earth's land surface, they are home to 50% of earth's terrestrial plants and animals. Millions of years of evolution has led to incredibly complex, diverse and interconnected ecosystem. This interrelations enrich human life as well through food, medicine, nutrients, oxygen, etc. Rainforests are our second biggest source of oxygen in the atmosphere.
And yet, these rainforests are under terrible threat due to human activities. Out of the 15 million sqkm of tropical rainforest that once existed worldwide, only 6 million sq km remain, and only 50 percent, or 75 million square acres, of temperate rainforests still exists, according to The Nature Conservancy. Uncontrolled agriculture, mining, ranching, logging and commercial palm oil plantations in addition to global climate change are the main reasons for forest loss. Between 2000 and 2012, more than 2 million sq km of forests were cut down around the world.
The contribution of rainforest ecosystem is critical to our survival. Other than oxygen production, forests regulate rain patterns, reduce harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, provides food and medicine. And yet we are destroying them. This is a classic example of 'what is lost is lost forever'. These forests took millions of years to grow into the lifeline that they are today. Once they are destroyed, can we wait for another hundred million years for them to grow back?

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Footprint Everywhere

From the bottoms of the sea to the tops of the mountains, everywhere we can see human footprints. We actually have footprints even on the moon. There are many places where human may not actually have set foot but our presence on this earth has made an impact even on those places.

You see a turtle choking on that plastic, that could be the one I threw away. That bird feeding worms and that small chip of plastic to its chick, that could be from the bottle I used. The cow, considered sacred in our culture is dying because of how much plastic she is ingesting from our garbage.

I know all of us feel sad about these animals and hate that plastic heap, at the street corner, garbage being dumped at the ocean and landfills. But do we realize that it is each one of us who is contributing to it? For what, just for the sake of simple convenience. Imagine how our small actions can lead to a big change. If we can create this menace, we can stop it too. Each of us can make a difference, make sure we save the lives of these animals and don't choke our earth with plastic.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Animal Lover Without a Pet

Many people ask me, how can I be an animal lover but not own a pet. Somehow that question has always baffled me, with the direct correlation being applied to these concepts. What is the guarantee that all pet owners love all animals? And those who love animals should set them free, keep them in their natural habitat instead of domesticating them.

Also, for me, loving and caring about animals doesn't seem like an option but more a necessity, a pre-requisite to ensure our own survival.

If we, as a human race on the planet earth, have to survive, it is integral to become vocal and to make our voices heard. I refuse to stay silent and see humanity's downfall. If not for any love for the animals then at least for our own survival, we have to start making a change and living a more responsible life.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Ignorance is Not a Bliss

Chennai is facing severe water shortage. Bangalore was once the 'city of lakes' and yet it is said that the city will become uninhabitable due to acute water crisis within a few years. Delhi struggles with water even if Yamuna, one of the longest river in India, flows through it.

So what went wrong? Historically human civilizations grow primarily near water due to all the benefits the water offers. Human population grew next to large bodies of fresh water. As human population grew in these cities, we needed more space, more food, more jobs. So we either polluted the existing water with agriculture or industries or diverted rivers to build infrastructure. At the same time our growing demand destroyed forests, which made rain patterns unpredictable. So not only we destroyed existing water supply but we disrupted the natural replenishment cycle also.

We have a finite water supply. Instead of protecting it, we drastically reduced supply when the demand grew exponentially. How did we think we can sustain? Or did we think at all? Perhaps ignorance is not always bliss!!