Bangalore to MM Hills - Travel through less traversed jungles and country-side (Part 1 of 3)

The rest house of Karnataka forest department at MM Hills.  Summary: I drove with a couple of non-wildlife friends from Bangalore to the forests around MM Hills that were until a few years ago the safe haven of a fascinating character named Veerappan. Along with his accomplices Veerapan was accused of killing dozens of law enforcement staff, from policemen to forest officers, chiefly in these forests. He had made these forests his home for much of his life. According to my interactions with sources- villagers, local forest staff, policemen posted to capture him, forest staff kidnapped by him etc across this vast forest belt, since mid-1990s, Veerappan knew the forest like the back of his hand. He combined this knowledge with his extremely well connected network of informers as well as support/ fear by his fellow caste members to survive in this hostile terrain. He lived amidst wildlife like royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, king cobra as he dodged the law for over a decade. T

Tatte idli (ತಟ್ಟೆ ಇಡ್ಲಿ) - Tumakuru's special breakfast for you

Tumakuru city has pleasant climate almost like Bangalore but minus the mad traffic as well as the air and noise pollution. Above is the park inside Tumkur Amanikere wetland.  Tumakuru (previously Tumkur) is known for its pleasant climate, almost the same as Bangalore but without the noise and toxic smoke. The town has gone through much change of late, for good. The roads have widened, the streets are well lit, yet there is still minimal traffic. The idyllic Tumkur Amanikere wetland has been fenced off with a beautiful new park developed inside it that overlooks the famous Kote Anjeneya statue and its temple dedicated to Hindu God Hanuman. There are new, beautiful mosques that dot the picturesque outskirts of the town. The old churches of the city have retained their old colonial charm and the faithful reach them early on Sundays to attend the masses while the rest of the town wakes up late. The crowd in the city is a melting pot of immigrant students and welcoming locals. Ne

Tumkur - Shivanasamudra route: Winds of change are a little late in arriving here (2013 'Baasi Eid' drive - Part 1 of 2)

Driving on the Karnataka's roads has not been the same since the fruits of economic liberalisation turned into a windfall in early 2000s, from a trickle that they were in early 1990s. As the common man's disposable income increased, chiefly due to the IT, ITES, BPO & Bio-tech boom,  touching many middle-class homes particularly in the Capital Bangalore and major towns, foreign brands that one had to visit abroad to experience were now at one's door steps. The same was true to foreign brand cars that one had to visit abroad to drive but could now be bought in any major town. As successive Governments made it a point to continue investing in roads big time, suddenly your favourite, remote wilderness in the western ghats which took 8 hours of tortuous drive could be reached in half the time which included a couple of stops at good restaurants having clean wash-rooms, a rare luxury in 1990s. As we race towards the end of 2013 we see greater affluence in the people around

Padmashri Zafar Futehally - Doyen of Indian birding

When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men  ~ Rumi Padmashri Zafar Rashid Futehally (19 March 1920 – 11 August 2013) (left), the last time I ever met him I first met Zafar Futehally sab at an ornithology meet in Bangalore in November 1993. The first thing that impressed me about him was his keen interest to know the status of birds and their conservation in the hinterlands of Karnataka. Not many people are aware of his affection and concern for the birdlife as well as people of lesser known wilderness areas of our country, which don’t enjoy the same spotlight as the well known national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. During the meet, I subscribed to Newsletter for Birdwatchers (NLBW), of which he was the Editor. In NLBW's issue no: 1 of the year 1995, Zafar sab published my note on the breeding site of longbilled vultures at Devarayanadurga hill near Tumkur town, which was my first ever article. In fact in my eagerness to write for

Opportunity for a graphic designer to gain international exposure/ audience

(PLEASE SHARE THIS) Friends, My e-book on story writing ‘ How To Say Your Story. A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories ’ has received good response from a worldwide audience. I released this e-book on a few platforms including facebook and Linkedin in late July this year. Almost all the recipients of the e-book have wrote back saying they have benefited from its content. There have been requests for this e-book from NGO communication people from around the world – Botswana, China, Belgium, Indonesia and US to name a few, apart from requests from within India. I am glad; my purpose of spending time on this is being served. I now plan to network with my contacts, individual NGOs, CSR teams of companies as well as civil service officials across the Indian subcontinent – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, to help it reach bigger and needy audiences. I originally de

My Decades' Old Journey in Nature Conservation, Travel & Writing

Earlier this week I got a set of questions from Vyas Sivanand, a Bangalore based senior journo of The New Indian Express , a leading national daily. This was for a feature story on my journey in the field of conservation and travel. It made me walk down my thought lane and pen down the beautiful memories I have lived over the decades with family, friends and fellow conservationists from our Tumkur-based nature club, Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) as well as other NGOs. I’m sharing the unedited answers with you. For the published feature story, please see the link towards the end of this post. 1) How and when did your passion towards nature begin? I grew up in Tumkur in late 70s and early 80s, when it was a very small town with the expansive Tumkur Amanikere lying in its heart. Our ancestral home is located a couple of minutes from this lake. After-school hours and weekends, particularly in monsoons, meant sprinting to this wetland and its surroundings. This beautiful lake

Free E-book on How To Write Stories (for Non-Profits/ NGOs, CSR & Government Agencies)

How to say your story - Story writing for South Asia's NGOs, CSR teams and Government agencies Friends, I am fortunate to have over two decades’ experience working with NGOs and Government agencies to communicate the various challenges staring at India today, ranging from environmental degradation to women’s rights. Among the organisations where I have worked paid, full time are WWF and Greenpeace. Over the years I have interacted with many professionals,  particularly from international agencies,  working in the non-profit sector in south Asia. This has helped me take a close look at the region’s problems and proposed solutions. Using my experience, I have authored an e-book ‘ How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories ’. This book, probably the first of its kind in South Asia, aims to help the region’s development sector create and use stories. Anyone interested in educa