Sexual (Un)selection

Text: Vera E. Congruent~ Another day, another occurrence of sexual harassment. I am forced now to think about hard truths. I am an individual (true) who is part of a society (true) and the organization at which I work (true). I am an individual working within and benefitting from an existing system (true). By not being removed from said system I am complicit in its wrongdoings (false) and the only way to prove my disapproval of many aspects of this vast Rube Goldberg machine is to openly challenge it and anyone else who is part of the waking nightmare (false?). … Continue reading Sexual (Un)selection

The Sahib of Saraidadar (Part 2 of 2)

Text: Venkat Ramanujam Sketch: Sandeep Sen It was Diwali soon, and the paddy started to ripen. Before I knew, the harvest season was in full swing. No sooner was the crop harvested than farmers went about preparing the khaniyaar, or threshing circle.  A circular patch of ground was cleared, plastered with cow dung, and a threshing pole driven down the centre. A team of bullocks circumambulated the threshing pole patiently, stamping on the harvested crop spread out on the ground. Threshing took a couple of days, sometimes three or even four. Then followed winnowing, the threshed grain was scooped up … Continue reading The Sahib of Saraidadar (Part 2 of 2)

The Sahib of Saraidadar (Part 1 of 2)

Text: R. Venkat Ramanujam Sketch: Sandeep Sen R. Venkat Ramanujam is a human geographer, who likes story-telling, and Sandeep Sen is a molecular evolutionary biologist and biogeographer, who sketches as a hobby. “Jai Ram, Sahib,” said the man walking up the dirt road as he arrived within greeting distance, deferentially drooping his shoulders and folding his hands into a loose namaste. Aghanlal was elder to me, broad-chested and well-built, a quiet and hard-working Gond adivasi farmer in Saraidadar, the village which had started out as the site of ethnographic fieldwork but which, after several months of living in, I had … Continue reading The Sahib of Saraidadar (Part 1 of 2)

Forests and Birds: Ruminations from five days in Sri Lanka’s Evergreen Forests (Part 2)

–Text and Images by Anand Krishnan; paintings by J.G. Keulemans from Legge (1880), sourced from Wikimedia Commons. As the day wears on, the calls of the endemic Purple-faced Leaf-Monkey are audible throughout Sinharaja, and the traveller may pause to listen to them at his or her own peril, for the ever-present leeches await everywhere. A multitude of butterflies, giant millipedes and beautiful lantern bugs may be found on or beside the forest trails, as may several beautiful reptiles such as the Green Garden Lizard and the Sri Lanka Kangaroo Lizard. Hiding unobtrusively in the foliage by the side of trails, … Continue reading Forests and Birds: Ruminations from five days in Sri Lanka’s Evergreen Forests (Part 2)

Forests and Birds: Ruminations from five days in Sri Lanka’s Evergreen Forests (Part 1)

–Text and Images by Anand Krishnan; paintings by J.G. Keulemans from Legge (1880), sourced from Wikimedia Commons. The island of Sri Lanka is located very close to the Southern tip of India, separated only by the narrow Palk Strait. The two landmasses have been connected and disconnected at various points in the geological history of the Subcontinent, resulting in both significant interchange of flora and fauna, and a marked degree of endemism, particularly in the evergreen forests of India’s Western Ghats and the rainforests of Sri Lanka’s wet zone. Rainfall is an important feature of Sri Lanka’s biogeography, demarcating as … Continue reading Forests and Birds: Ruminations from five days in Sri Lanka’s Evergreen Forests (Part 1)

Survival of the Quietest

By Vera E. Congruent (pseudonym) What is it about being outdoors that inspires adventure? I’ve always loved the idea of being amongst the wild elements and learning about the world: a real-life Discovery Channel show. I joined a reputed research institute to be pushed out of my child-of-the-city tendencies. I did so also to make a living by adopting a way of life (i.e. research) that at the very least does not result in direct harm to our good world. I was, and am, interested in finding out what delectable truths are hidden away beneath nature’s folds. The fact that … Continue reading Survival of the Quietest

Travels with birds in Cambodia’s wild landscapes (Part 2/2)

–Text by Anand Krishnan; Images by Chaitanya Deshpande (CD) and Vaibhhav Sinha (VS)  (This is the second of the two-part story on birds and natural history of Cambodia. Take it away Anand!) Cambodia’s Northern Plains harbor one of the largest remaining expanses of dry deciduous dipterocarp forest in Southeast Asia, and this habitat has been identified as crucial to the conservation and survival of a number of species. A two-day visit to this forest (under the auspices of the Sam Veasna Centre) was the highlight of our trip to Cambodia. The village of Tmatboey in Preah Vihear province is one of … Continue reading Travels with birds in Cambodia’s wild landscapes (Part 2/2)

Travels with birds in Cambodia’s wild landscapes (Part 1/2)

–Text by Anand Krishnan; Images by Chaitanya Deshpande (CD) and Vaibhhav Sinha (VS) (This is the first of a two-part story on birds and natural history of Cambodia. Take it away Anand!) Bordered on its north, east and west by Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, respectively, and with a short coastline along its Southern border, the Kingdom of Cambodia is a country of unique geographic and cultural history. The basin of the Mekong river, and in particular the closely associated Tonle Sap (Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater body), with its seasonally inundated floodplain, served as the ‘rice bowl’ of the Angkorian civilization … Continue reading Travels with birds in Cambodia’s wild landscapes (Part 1/2)

Science and family: performing a balancing act

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. — Dylan Thomas We continue our conversations with women researchers and ecologists in India in this third post in Science People. I am grateful to them for taking time out to chat with me and then answer questions. In this post, I (PT) talk to a Navya (N), a field researcher, who also happens to be a dear friend. Navya is an enthusiastic field researcher that I had the opportunity to work alongside for … Continue reading Science and family: performing a balancing act

Overcoming unexpected challenges is sometimes what a PhD is about

I (PT) talk to Jayabharathy (JB) about her journey in science and the hurdles she faced during her PhD. She is now writing up her thesis. Talking to her highlighted to me the important roles that the adviser, friends and family play in helping cope with difficulties. Thanks JB for an inspiring chat and post! PT: What got you interested in science? And why did you decide to pursue your PhD? JB: As a kid I remember being surrounded by books. At one point my house resembled a library, thanks to my father. Also, my brother was constantly reading and quizzing. So I … Continue reading Overcoming unexpected challenges is sometimes what a PhD is about