(Just testing if i can blog...will probably remove this sometime soon:P. The first chapter in "My secret journal'. Just a refresher:))
In my first year naïveté, I thought I could be a worthwhile chronicler of my life in field. Little did I know that no pen (or keyboard) could ever do justice to the cacophonous confusion of sights, sounds, smells and sentiments that field existence is. Henceforth unfurls the daily drama of life that is nothing less than explosively colourful.
Let me start with the stories of Mudumalai - erstwhile Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, now Tiger Reserve, and the extraordinary place we normally call ‘Mudumalai Field Station’ and occasionally (under the influence of too much emotion or alcohol), ‘home’. The building, as any decent legendary place would merit, is old, leaky and extremely unfriendly-looking. Add to it the jungle regulars: giant spiders, snakes, wild pigs, leopards and the occasional rogue elephant, throw in a few ghost stories (the main reception area was the local police station of the torture-and-suicide fame), and you have the perfect setting for a peaceful five years of doing your PhD in ecology alone. I am not really complaining (as it would seem to the more unimaginative individuals reading this). The wide angle view of the Nilgiris that you get from the doorstep is quite mesmerising when it is not covered in mist. And the nights...if you’ve been a city dweller like me all your life, you need to come to a place like this to actually know what a clear, star-filled sky looks like. Yes, the bathroom clogs every now and then...but we have a hot water boiler. AND a TV. Now that’s a luxury very few field stations can boast of. And a splendidly talented cook, who ensures that we gain weight in field instead of the other way round. Lilies, roses, hibiscuses and goodness knows how many more things grow completely wild in our small garden. Its air of comfortable, slow, lazy life is therapeutic. The perfect place to sit and write a field journal.
A guide to most often mentioned people, places and animals is essential for a first timer at this enchanting place:
Places to remember: Mudumalai Field Station, Masinigudi Town, Theppakadu Tiger Reserve Reception Centre, Kargudi Tribal Settlement, Kargudi Govt. Tribal School, Peacock Dormitory, Upper Kargudi BNHS Field Station, Ombetta, 50 ha Plot, Game Hut, Cross Cut Road, Theppekadu-Mudumalai Road(TMR), Kargudi Mudumalai Road (KMR), Moyar Road, Ooty, Bandipur. (other sundry, seldom visited places would keep coming up)
People : Boss
Colleagues: Soumya, Nandita, Smita, Karpagam, Ratna, Sumit, Sakthivel, Datta Sir, Suresh, Nimi, Pals, Manavalan
Trackers: Bomma, Chinna Bomma, Dumba, Pauli maaran, Krishna, Mohan, Ketha, Maadha
Staff: Mani (driver), Maara(cook ), Bharanaiah (caretaker), Selvam (Driver)
Vehicles (in order of functionality, as on 11.5.2008): Mahindra Bolero Invader, Mahindra Major , Maruti Gypsy, Mahindra Jeep.
Animals (mammalian and invertebrate; in order of abundance, non ecological personal experience estimates): TICKS, Cheetal, hanuman langurs, Peacocks, Elephants, wild boar, giant squirrels, mosquitoes, sambar, leopards, wild dogs, bears, leeches, tigers.