Across the universe - Sheer brilliance!

I've watched the musical "Across the universe" a few times over now and it keeps getting better each time. The artistic exploration that the director goes on is just brilliant. If you are a Beatles fan and love experimentation, then you must watch it. Its also very revolutionary in the way the original music has been played around with. A well directed movie and very theatre like.

The lead actors sing most songs in the movie themselves and how about 80% of the songs in the musical being sung and recorded live on the shoot with ambient noise! A very new approach to un-can traditional studio recording and add elements of reality. Try and catch the director's commentary on the DVD, where she talks about how each song renders more character and meaning to the movie.

What’s their future?

Its been a lucky season. I’ve been fortunate in seeing and photographing young ones of a few key species found in India. The Joy of seeing a new generation of these animals in times which are hard for their survival has been an overwhelmingly emotional experience.


After a really long wait, I finally managed to be there at the right place at the right time to photograph the Baby King Cobras which had just hatched in a nest close to Agumbe.


I also made a short trip to Nagarhole where 2 leopard cubs abandoned in a sugarcane field close to the Nagarhole forest by the mother and have been rescued by the forest department.


The one question that came across my mind each time I saw them was “What’s their future?”




King Cobra babies are about 30cms when born and do have venom glands from birth. They are usually born during the monsoon months of august/september in the wild western ghats. The forests of Agumbe are one among the last habitats left for them.



The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station headed by Gowrishankar has been key in protecting and safeguarding the nests of the King Cobra. Gowri’s team has been monitoring nests and making sure no human activity disturbs them. In this photograph you can see the barricade they’ve built to make sure the nest is safe. You can see Gowri removing the hatchlings from the nest so that they are safely released. The King Cobra is the only snake in the world to build a nest and she abandons the nest before the eggs hatch.


Gowri removing the hatchlings


Survival rate of the hatchlings is quite low given factors such as natural predators and availability of food, adding an element of human disturbance and intrusion will only make their survival so much more difficult.


The leopard cubs which were rescued from the sugarcane field have another story to tell. The villagers say the mother leopard had 4 cubs and while escaping on seeing the villagers, it abandoned 2 cubs in the field (probably in a state of confusion). Animals don’t like to get out of the forest, but we are not leaving them much of a choice by encroaching what little forests they have. The mother of the cubs might have wandered into the fields in search of food or in search of space and territory. The mother and the cubs are lucky to have escaped unharmed, but that’s not the case always. You can read Kalyan‘s blog about other incidences involving leopard-human conflict here and here



The Leopard cubs have been fortunately saved, but the question that poses a bigger problem is whether to release them in the wild or raise them in captivity. The answer is not simple. Since the cubs haven’t learnt the way of the wild from their mother and survival on their own might be difficult, releasing them in the wild might not be a feasible option and raising them in captivity might be the only option.


While as uncertain as their futures might look, there are still green warriors protecting them, be it Gowri’s team or the forest department. While its not possible for everyone to go out into the field and save them, being aware of the situation and making others around aware is certainly a big step.




Leopard tales

Not many times in life does one come across opportunities like this. Wildlife is full of surprises, and one rewarded and when least expected. Having spent almost 2 weeks in the summer in Kabini and having had no luck with photographing any cats though sighted a few, I didn’t expect I’d get to shoot much in the monsoons. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. I was to see two leopards!




It was the morning safari and after a good session with a pack of 12 wild dogs marching along the safari jeeps for a good 3kms on the main road, we entered the forest track. We stopped when we heard loud alarm calls, we knew we were really close to the cat. We went ahead a little more and took a left cut on the track. When we were all looking into the thicket, Jeevan the naturalist pointed at the leopard running in front of us on the track and only few of us saw it. Then we went further and then we saw the guy hiding in the bushes on the left, given the undergrowth is high after the rains, it was hard to spot anything.


leopard first look


Then the driver said “another leopard!” and I didn’t see it then because I was busy shooting. But when I came and saw the pictures, yes there was another leopard lurking in the back!


2leopards


After that we did see the second leopard trailing the first one through out but in the thicket. We also figured that the one in the front was male and the other female. Then the male decided to dash on to the road



Then he waited on the road for a while, hoping that the female would join


leopard_ontrack


When she didn’t turn up, he gave up and sat posing on the slight open patch next to the road and that’s when I got the portrait shots



Then we saw the female walk behind him and ofcourse he faithfully followed and we lost track of both


Two leopards


Light was low because the sun wasn’t around and photography was hard, but I enjoyed every bit of it! Also this time I got very close shots of wild dogs, will post soon…




A new journal

So I did try be lazy and pushed the unavoidable but anyway here it is my new journal amoghavarsha.com/journal


I will still cross post to LJ until it works.


Also I haven’t put up any images lately though I’ve shot a ton. Here’s one for starters


In the summers, elephants spend a lot of time close to water. When we came to a waterhole expecting a tiger, we saw this guy playing without a care in the world. He was no farther than 200ft.




The Band theory

It was a cold august night in 2006 at the army base in Leh, and after biking for more than 4 days I was spending that time resting in my room. I was sharing my room with an army officer and every evening we would discuss quite a few things and he'd tell me quite a few tales. And this is one of the most important things he told me that night:
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Welcome Maximus

My new ride, a 4X4 Safari dicor EX - mountain green. Been wanting this for a longtime for all my jungle travels, with 4 wheel drive and green color its just perfect for the forests. With 140bhp under the hood and a refined 2.2 ltr engine, its powerful and more fuel efficient. And ofcourse I'm not selling the zen :)

Decisions easily made...

Yesterday we were at a protest to save lalbagh, whose walls have been illegally demolished and trees illegally cut.

The only election candidate to make a presence there was Capt. Gopinath, where were the others? Busy in coffee day?

Some decisions are easily made. Capt Gopinath atleast has served the country, has had a vision to make air travel affordable and showed up for a cause which south bangalore is fighting for. For me having a "cool image" + "foreign education" + "cool dressing" doesn't just cut, ofcourse lets not even talk about BJP