Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reincarnation of Kenneth Anderson - Part 1

To the lovers of India's diverse wildlife two names will remain deeply etched in conservation history. That of Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson (any comparisons of the two would be improper). The former, perhaps, had a more universal following because if his international footprint but it is the latter who always remains close to my heart.

I first met Mr. Anderson sometime in the late 1970s. Well? His ghost, you may say, because he left the world and wild he loved so much in 1974. BPS, my school in the Nilgiris, boasted of what then was considered the 'best school library' in the Blue Mountains. Among the books and journals that adorned it's shelves were the National Geographic Journal, The Time Magazine, Newsweek and many others unseen in high school libraries. Between these prominent publications, nestled in a corner of the non-fiction section was a shelf full of books on shikar stories. Kenneth Anderson's books demanded my immediate attention because the events he described occurred close to where
I sat reading them.

Perhaps it was his ghost, that I have forever been haunted by his descriptions of the jungle. Descriptions so vivid, that they remained an enduring mystery I wanted to experience sometime in my life. Those wild jungles lived on in a recess in my mind during my undergrad and PG years but never really went away. Even as I chose my profession as an ophthalmologist I carried along the passion for India's jungles, dreaming that some day would come that I could contribute to preserving them.

For that, I thank Mr. Anderson. He kept the embers glowing with just enough light that it never distracted me from my education.

Now that I'm a professional, and reasonably well settled in life, I find that the time has come to retrace my steps to my school library. I need to pick up the threads and start "GHOOMING" in the jungles again!

(Picture courtesy: Black Panther of Sivanipalli, George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1959)

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