Friday, April 10, 2009

Madras Crocodile Bank Trust - Heaven on Earth


Intro: Way to Heaven.
Home seemed far away as I started my journey to the ultimate destiny. A place where one can find the essence of beauty and the strength of peace. My Balance in the phone is nearly zero and still, the job of finding the way to my destination left unchecked.  Like always, my heart started to beat hard, as the train jolted down slowly to the Chennai Central station.
The pillion ride on the coastal roads of Chennai did bring me the old memories of the small and God blessed town, (…….). As the milestones passed us like light rays, Shafeeq began to count down the distance to the destiny – “Heaven on Earth” well known as Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT). Heaven is the right word for MCBT, according to a herper or to any wildlife enthusiastic. Finally, the Madras Crocodile Bank came into view as Shafeeq counted down to Zero. A long wish came true.
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About the trip:
The Trip was decided upon by all the members of Save Every Breed Community. Our First educational trip. As usual, none turned up. So, the count drastically fell down to 3 in front of our very own eyes.
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Day One:
We parked the vehicle and got into the park as neatly as possible, good thoughts budding inside our hearts. Ganesh was no where in view, so had to search for him. We, at-last, found him rushing through “The Hindu “newspaper, at the Mess Hall.
We then marched together to the Office. The office slowly came into view as we marched forward with high hopes. A small cottage like, when opened revealed ourselves to Smiling Faces. “Good Morning Guys” said she, as she swung herself from the Chair. We were dealt by Dr. Gowri, The Educational Officer. Another Smiling face was visible at the other end of the room; the lady whom I later came to know was Payal. As we were told about the Rules and Regulations, as usual with a cigarette in the hand and with roughly grown beard, the Guy smiled at us. Revealing himself slowly through the Office doors, it was Nik (Nikhil Whitaker: Curator of MCBT). The Office looked magnificent with all the framed photos of Snakes and other reptiles. Lots of Stickers of A.N.E.T and other organizations.
Mr. Soham (Asst. Curator) handed us 2 volunteer registration forms as we have to fill it up and get ourselves registered. After the usual formalities, we were asked to get into our tasks. Ms Gowri asked Ganesh to show us the area, so that we get used to the pens and enclosures. Soham described our first task as Shafeeq and I handed him the duly filled forms.
We were asked to complete the Enclosure of “Aldabra tortoise” with Red sand. The task as it seems was tough. A very physical job. Carrying the basket full of red mud on our shoulders was like building muscles. We were on our fifth round, when a blue TATA SUMO went past us. A very familiar face driving it. I shouted “Its Rom. Romulus Whitaker “. We walked till we reached him. Left our baskets aside, Rom approached us and introduced himself. He recognized us as volunteers and wished us the very best. The weight on our shoulder seemed to be shifted, with his wishes. The day ran away. The enclosure was half full when we decided to take rest. We spent some time at the “Young Reptiles” hut, educating the visitors about the Indian Python, The Indian Black Turtle and the Mugger Juvenile.
The lunch session was fun, when Ganesh introduced his friend “Mike“. An American biology student, who was preparing some paperwork at MCBT.
As the sun decided to cool down and so did we. We spent the evening at the beach. It was as usual, AWESOME. Heavy tides were crawling down the beach due to the rainfall it seemed. We acted insane. Ganesh was busy burring himself in the beach sand like a mole. Shafeeq the walrus, enjoying the waves hitting him. And Myself, Running around with my camera, taking macro shots of objects that fascinated me.
We were greeted back at the cottage, by the warm water waiting to let it roll down our body. We took a quick bath and sat at the mess hall. We then started discussing about Save Every Breed and its future. Everything seemed promising. We proposed our plans with Nik as he came to the mess hall to have his dinner. The day passed away with Fun and happiness.
Thoughts of our vehicle spending the night lonely on the highway; brushed by the chilly wind sounded insecure to us. So, we decided to take our vehicles into the MCBT. I drove Shafeeq’s vehicle, while Shafeeq made himself comfortable in Ganesh’s ride. The distant sound of the drums and singing drove our foot unknowingly to the source. We were surprised. A group of Irula Tribal people was enjoying their evening. They have been rehearsing, what we thought to be their tribal dance. A slim guy, dancing like a girl was accompanied by another who had a whip well hidden under his Clothing. The Latter was whipping the girlish guy in regular intervals. Shafeeq and I were asked to dance with them while Ganesh started clicking his camera. The thought of getting ourselves whipped, didn’t allow us to show our dancing skills.
The Irula people had a drum which sounded like Dhol and many other instruments, whose names; you are not supposed to know. They sang different tribal songs at the same rhythm of the drums. It was a moment to cherish. 
Day Two:
The Thrill of cleaning the enclosure, woke us early the second day. We were supposed to report at 7:30 in the morning, but then realized that we were running late by 2 hours. We had our breakfast and left to help, clean the enclosures. We jumped into the “Spectacled Cayman” pen and started to clean it. We were later accompanied by other volunteers.
When the pit showed itself clean enough, I rushed to help Ganesh in the Mugger Enclosures. There I found myself cleaning the enclosure in middle of crawling crocs. The cleaning was satisfying enough. Then we continued our work completing the Enclosure for the Aldabra Tortoise. We completed it with minimum fuss at the break of noon.
We then, after having our delicious lunch prepared by  “ Akkas “, decided to attend the voice training session on the Alligators with Soham. It was a controversial hour for a normal person - A dog or a cat can make good pets. Do Crocodilians make good pets? Ally (the alligator), Mick(the Salty), Abu(the Nile guy), Thai(the Siamese) , Komodo, Ben and others are the answer. Soham showed his skills in petting these crocodilians. The training was mind-blowing for amateurs like me.
When the mosquitoes found our blood tasteful at the voice training, we were again forced to take the refuge at the “Young Reptiles” Hut. Sekhar (Asst. Educational officer) helped us a lot in increasing our range of knowledge, and was situations when I stood “Mouth Opened “seeing his interaction skills with the visitors. Ganga then asked us to feed the Muggers with Beef, to entertain the visitors.
The evening welcomed us with lots of Foreigners at the Young Reptiles Hut. It was complete fun to see their enthusiasm and interest on us holding the reptiles, rather than having it on the amazing reptiles.
Night came fast approaching when we were forced to get back to our cottage. The day was good, and the bathroom stayed neat to let us bath. “Guys, be there at the Entrance at 7:30” Said Soham, as we made ourselves look good enough for the Night Safari. Like the name suggest, Walking through the Heaven was indeed a special moment. Glittering eyes, like Fireflies of the Crocodiles. We walked back to the cottage and Nik hosted a late night movie “The Naked Weapon 33 1/4“. The Movie was hilarious and whiled away the time for good.
Day Three:
We woke up quiet early, without the roosters crowing. The realization of our final day at MCBT bought tears from my eyes. The day seemed a little gloomy. “We are going to feed the JAWS and the SNAKES “said Ganesh. A wave of excitement rushed the shore of my heart. We then had our breakfast. The tea and the “Uppma“looked very promising for our days work.
We then discussed about SEB to Dr Gowri and Payal.
Sampath, an experienced caretaker at MCBT, asked us to be at the “Snakes Haven”, for the feeding of serpentines. I and Shafeeq watched as Sampath and Ganesh started feeding the dead rats to the Indian Rock Python, and Reticulated Python.
A wave of Violence hit my heart, when I saw Sampath peeling of the skin and other parts of the rat, to feed the King Cobra. Disturbing, but a very truth. The King Cobra feeds mainly on Snakes. And Captive One at MCBT is fed with Rats, Which look like snake without its skin, ears and legs. For the feeding, we were accompanied by Mike.
Nik’s voice training session with Henry and Nichole (American Alligator) was one of the most captivating events at MCBT. Nik’s brave actions were witnessed by hundreds. A clip of the long training was caught on my camera. It was a great feeling to see an expert dealing with the beauties of nature.
They say “Marriage takes place in heaven”. It’s true. One example is of Henry and Nicole. 20 successful and happy years at MCBT. They are one of the most beautiful couples found.
We spent our rest of the time with Sekhar at “Young Reptiles” Hut. Ganga called us when he was about to feed the JAWS. It was a rare and captivating scene. The Asia’s Largest Captive Crocodile came charging towards Ganga, when he offered beef to him. Bulks of meat seemed a piece of cake for JAWS.
I then, moved in for a patrol to keep the visitors with enthusiasm within their line of control. Thinking of the new occupants at MCBT, bought eagerness to our minds. But an opportunity to feed them was more than satisfactory. Ganesh and I were feeding the Aldabra Tortoise with leaves, as suggested by Dr Priya. We ticked away the time feeding the Aldabra Tortoises which seemed to enjoy them.
The Evening approached with certainty that we have to leave the place at-last. Went on for a final round, biding “Good Bye” to all the people working at MCBT. The tears from my eyes were brushed away, when Shafeeq made me realize that I’m a volunteer now and I can come here anytime, any day.
Heaven on Earth: A Special Place on Earth, where one can find the Essence of Natural Beauty and the Strength of Peace. MCBT is surely one among them.
                                                                                                                                                                                    

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cold War in the BAR


Shafeeq is my big butted friend (Just like Maurice for King Julien). You won't find any one more lazy and funny than him. Well, this happened just between Shafeeq and Myself.

It was September. Shafeeq rang me up and said "Hey ass, I'm getting bored over here. I'm coming down to Ernakulam tomorrow ."  What the fuck? Thats Shafeeq for y'all. 

Like he said, he arrived. I had to go fetch him up from M.G.Road and my ride seemed too tiny for him. Like the old malayalam saying "Orumayundankil olakkayilum kidakkam (Translation : United we stand)", we managed to get back home, safe and in shape. Shafeeq was saying about his new Digital camera that he bought a few days ago. " My Nikon p80 has this.. that.. blah blah blah blah".  As if I've never seen one . Speaking of spending the time at my place ended up as a visit to my native the next morning. Speaking of the beauty of my native, Shafeeq said "Lets booze man".  We waited till the evening and started off to the bar. 

We could see the "Kottavaathikkal Bar"  from a distance and urged ourselves to walk faster. Suddenly he holded me back. " Hey Sandy, trouble man.. I think its your dad". He was right, my dad was at the medical store just near to the bar. I went and greeted my dad and urged him to get back home soon cos my sister was all alone there. He agreed and asked us whether we were out for an evening walk. Noding our head, we bought a pack of roasted ground nut and started moving lazily towards the Bar. Making sure that the coast was clear, we quickly disappeared into it. 

Mission accomplished. 

Inside the Bar : The bearer came and took the order from us and we settled in a cosy corner couch and started to blabber. The next thing I remember was Shafeeq covering his face with the MC quarter bottle . I looked up and it was my Dad, marching slowly towards us. I bent down and hid myself under the table till Dad walked majestically past us. Making ourself sure that we haven't spotted, we slowly moved to another safe place. 

The time moved really slow and i saw my dad moving out of the Bar at last. Making sure that he was away for good, we paid the bill and moved out as decently we could, out of the bar to the moon light. We were really high and we strategically placed ourselves under a tree (Strategically placed ourselves cos, else we would have fallen). We later took our time and reached home by foot. 

The door was open and we saw dad seeing TV (TV is a box where tiny people talk to each other, fight with each other etc.. very interesting device). We said nothing, walked slowly as if we were normal untill we reached my room. Got inside and locked it.

The next thing i remember was the alarm clock ringing and the birds outside singing.....

Yikes..!! My Dad is a Criminal.

To tell y'all the truth, the film industries(hollywood, bollywood, kollywood, mollywood, rosewood, teakwood... all kinds of woods) have inspired me to think differently. I've always wondered how it would be to have a dad who is a Criminal ^_^. 

These things on my brain urged me to observe my dad at every possible situation, and i did start to see that criminal expressions on his face when he did his daily routine (like chasing the mosquitoes waving the mosquito electrocuting device, squeezing the mirchi red chillies while having his dinner).He was a ruthless killer an ex-ruthless killer.

This obviously made me to do a little research and it took me directly to my Appuppan (Dad's dad). I shared my dad's behavioral mechanism with my appuppan and forced the old chap to vomit his experiences with my dad.

He started "Your dad, Sandu.. you were right. He was a ruthless killer. A ruthless killer who had a change of mind and took the road of peace and love. "  And i asked "How did he become a ruthless killer? A criminal minded person? and what all crimes have he done? " Grand dad said " Oh.. planned murderer he was. He murdered and then later made it look like a suicide. Poor onths (Garden Lizards and geckos are meant here for onths), they never had a chance against him. He used to wait behind trees and bushes for these creatures to come along and brutally killed them by throwing stones or smashing their ribs off with a stick and later hanging them on the tree branch with a knob on their neck and saying " They had these financial problems achan, thats why they suicided "". 

Whoa.. I was true. My Dad was a criminal. A ruthless criminal who never spared the Onths. The reason why he killed the onths was that, he believed that they spat blood to ones eyes if you stare at them. I can understand. He was just 12 and he just wanted to save the world.

I love my dad anyways....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Time-line : Malayalam News

Year 2000.

Thripunithura : Morning 5:30. The alarm goes out. With no intention to get up, i continue my journey through my dream world. The next thing i remember, me lying on the ground and my back aching. "Oops, Its wednesday and its my news day at school". I got up ran to the bathroom with the towel and brush in my hand. I could hear my mom urging me to be quick. I had my brush and bath in minutes, got out from my bathroom and was ready for school. " Mom, has the newspaper arrived ? " Mom : " Nope, Illa.. ". Lucky me, it was lying outside the door. I took it and started drawing the letters to a blank paper(i had a bad handwriting, but i drew well.. so i drew the letters to the blank paper to make them look tidy). I used my favorite ink pen(Parker fountain pen, which my grand dad gifted me for my b'day). I drew the whole news into the blank paper and was ready to vomit them in front of the whole school at the assembly.

School (8:15) : The school head girl announced " Next, Malayalam news by Sandeep Varma". Oh god damn it, i won't forget that day. I started to shiver. Took out the paper and i couldn't believe my eyes. The words were all spread. Oops, I forgot to wear the vest and the sweat made the ink spread. My nerves started to contract, vision blurring. With all my power, i started to read "Mono Rail pathathikku kerala sarkar uppu vachu".(Translation: The kerala govt. signed the contract for mono rail project) (Oppu means signature but i read it as uppu, which means salt).  Thats was the start of the laugh. Lost my conscience, was knocked out. Heard the laughter very faintly and later going far away. The next thing i remember was me lying on the bed at the sick room and principal staring. She said " Well done Sandeep, You suck at malayalam"  and i said " My malayalam teacher knew this and still she urged me to read them". 

I had to face my malayalam teacher that day and had to wipe of the spit from my face (which occured while she sweared at me). From that day onwards, I was never ever let to read malayalam in any of her classes. Happy me.. Happy her.. Happy school.. And they happily lived ever after.

PS : I've managed to read them properly these days.... ^_^

Another Turning Point

Three years have fled so fast. The sunrises, the sunsets.. all gone real fast. And now i stare at my own reflection, thoughts running through my brain thingy. I've wasted the whole college life... 

It was June 5th 2006, I still remember the silly looking (ofcourse short) me holding mom's hands n refusing it to go at the hostel front. It was a whole new world. Big 6 foot people (Monsters i say).. looking at the freshers like a piranha shoal looking at its tasty meal. Scary I say. But when i look back now, those were the most funniests. Where else on earth whould i have stood in my underpants and try to blow off the lighted bulb? Where else on earth whould i have made to blow the Nirod (Thats a condom.. fresh ones)

There aren't any long list of memories that i would like to share. But, the ones which stands in my mind are the most precious ones. 

It was December (after the christmas holidays) or lets say it as January first week. I met with a gang in my class (who call themselves as "Devilz partnerz".. but never did any devilisms..) bunking the class saying some reason called "CREDISE". I was surprised.

The class always saw me as a indecent personell who had a crush on his management teacher.. o_O.. They say..
  • 1) Santi speaks only in English
  • 2) Santi wears low hip genes..(Jeans)..
  • 3) Santi never wears shit..
  • 4) Santi is an outsider..

It was DS (Data structure) hour and i heard some BBM students asking me out from my class. They asked me to assist them for some fashon show. This was my first chance at Credise and i ended up anchoring the program. 

Oops.. almost forgot. There were 2 most embarrassing moments during my college life. I'll put them before you now

  •  It was our language period and i was expecting the same teacher (eeran mudiyil thulasi kathirum choodi varunna sundari) (translation: a person who comes so freash, with wet hair and tulsi leafs on her head... its a normal kerala talk).  Instead somebody else came in. A short sweet (Girl, i would rather say girl) teacher who caught my eyes with the first step. She was sooooooooo beautiful. Her eyes were like pearls. To be true, I was rather hypnotized by her looks. God damn it.. Have i got a crush on her??? I waited for the class to get over and ran towards her. Stared at her eyes for a minute and said " Ma'am, can i say something".. she said "Yes, feel free".. I said "Ma'am, your eyes... and you yourself is the most beautiful person I've ever seen". The next thing i remember was, she ran away blushing and saying "Thank you dear".  Whoa.. Thats somethnig special :p
  • It was my second year (4th semester) and like i always wished, she was my class teacher (Deepa ma'am.. on whom i had crush). We had this usual peeps and lame smiles b/w us and she was so sweet that she gave extra marks (even though i never appeared for the internals). So sweet she was; untill for this day. As usual, she came to the class and stared at me with the same old lame smile. (The whole class knew about my crush on her) She then asked me to come towards her. (booings and claps from classmates as back ground scores) I walked towards her. She caught my hand and we walked together outside, and then she handed me her wedding invitation. She said "Santi, your my close friend in this class, so i give you the invitation card first".  I was heart broken. 

The third year arrived. At-last i found the right company of boys. We were the last benchers and we called ourself "The Godzilla Gang". A gang of 5 (Sujith, Krishnadas, Mithun, Ashwin and Myself) ruled the class. We were the most wanted, the most feared, the most loved, the most cared. We ruled the class. Our jokes, our attitude, our ideology..everybody liked it. The students and the teachers. 

Well, how else do one have to part from the college? I'm happy that I found 5 perfect people in my class to keep in touch with and to cry when parting. The memories that i had during my college life is minimal (just like my dressing), but then they were real MEMORIES..!!

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