Monday, September 28, 2009

An Unavoidable Disagreement
Just wanted to share a wild life documentary film by a very good friend of mine, Amit Mitra.
An Unavoidable Disagreement is a story of Snow Leopard’s relentless struggle - a struggle for existence in the face of human competition on one hand, and a struggle for its revival by the same human beings on the other. In a fortnight's journey to Ladakh, a cold desert in India, four members of Conservancy Efforts reveal some astonishing facts - of threats to these wild predators and also of efforts afoot to conserve the mystical snow leopards.Conservancy Efforts is a non-profit group of IT professionals from Bangalore, India, creating films to increase awareness for conservation of the wild.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On a Guerrilla Day :
Cockroach just got back from a 23 day video-shoot of Mahabharatham Festival at a village called Takolam in Vellore District, Tamil Nadu. On one of those tedious days a small shooting adventure took him back to some of those nostalgic days of his childhood. He was then a little boy with all the notorious monkey instincts. Memories of those days, hence, still remains as high as those trees at his ancestral house in the village, Avoli. There used to be 4 Nut-Mug (Jathi) trees which was our little cockroach's dream world. Except for the tall coconut trees, palm trees and two giant jack fruit trees there were hardly any tree in the place, he hasn't reached. Little cockroach used to look at the way 'Varky Chettan' (brother) climbed those coconut trees to pluck the coconuts for home. He used to take small breaks while climbing the coconut tree and then look down and smile at us. Little cockroach used to wonder how the world looked from such a height. He used to wonder how he would have felt when the tree swings as he climbs. “Huh I must be looking like an ant for Varky Chettan.”, smiled Cockroach.

Little cockroach also liked making bow and arrow. He used to make excellent bow with thin yet strong stems (his favourite was the stem of coffee plants) and the thread with the skin of plantain trees. After designing the weapons he would then act like the epic heros of Ramayana or Mahabharatha, realizing the bed-time stories of his grandpa. He also admired Tarzan for his jungle life on trees. Cockroach always tried to imitate tarzan climbing on all the four Nut-Mug trees with the bow and arrow hanging on his back and then shooting at his prey....the poor jack fruits, guava, or champa berrys used to be his target animals. Another game was to shoot arrows aiming at plantain leaves or even high at coconut leaves. Since the arrows used to get stuck on the leaf and hang down, cockroach could count their number and thus decide how good an archer he is. Nut-mug trees had another beauty. It was always been full of leaves that used to hide the 'Guerrilla' warrior from his beloved mother, who must be in search of him, with a long stick ready to paint his butt in black-blue colours.

Now you must be wondering why suddenly the big cockroach at Takolam village ended up thinking about little cockroach. On the last day of his project there, the big cockroach – after a long period of time - became the same Guerrilla worrier shooting from a tall tree.....the differences wasn't a Nut-Mug tree that time, but a temporary palm tree....He didn't have an arrow to shoot, but he did the same with a Panasonic NVGS Camera.

It was the last day of the Mahabharatham festival and there were 3 huge statues of the epic characters Duryodhana, Saliyar and Sakuni (in lying posture, made of sand) at the temple ground. Each of the statue were the size of a shuttle-court and there wasn't any camera angle on the ground or the nearby buildings that he could get a clear-full length frame for the final drama cum ritual. The ritual Therukoothu (folk drama) happens around these statues with the actor who play the role of Bhima finally hitting the thigh of Duryodhana statue, symbolizing the killing of the great villian of Mahabharatha. The total drama was supposed to happen for almost 2 hours and the whole area was been thickly crowded.

There was a temporary palm tree planted at the ground by the villagers for a similar Therukoothu play-ritual, Arjunan Davasu. The actor who played the role of Arjuna climbed on this tree and throw lemon from that height, symbolizing the incident of Mahabharatha where Arjuna does a penance to please Lord Siva and gain the divine arrow 'Paasupatha'. A look at the tree gave me the same instincts of Little Cockroach. But it was all covered with electric tubes, lights and wires. Thankfully there was an electrician boy Karthik who became a close friend. Cockroach quickly told him to cut all the wires and current connection to the plam tree. In no time Panasonic NVGS cam took the space of Bow and arrow on the back, and cockroach climbed the palm tree. It was tedious and a bit scary coz it was a temporary tree planted only for a day's drama. As he climbed the tree kept swinging in a 'melody'. Somehow cockroach reached the top and sat on the small platform made for Arjuna.

Finally, the little Cockroach saw what he wanted to see almost twenty years back. - Varky Chettan's 'world' from the Coconut tree. He finally experienced the same scary swing which Varky Chettan would have experienced sitting on top of the tree. Cockroach calmly stayed back for two hours on that cradle of palm tree doing his Guerrilla Shoot with his new age weapon. After two hours when he came down, Boss asked, "Where you been a toddy thief in Kerala?” :)