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Book Review : Capturing Wildlife Moments In India

Published May 15, 2015 by vishalvkale

“Capturing Wildlife Moments In India” : The title, for this once, doesn’t say it all; in fact, it doesn’t suit the book. Reading just the title, one would think that the book is a set of photographs, a set of images to be leaved through…nothing could be farther from the truth, for in your hands is an experience, a lifestyle and a trigger for your desires and your imagination… welcome to one of the most captivating and invigoratingly refreshing reads I have encountered in a long time; welcome to the lanes of my memory, my unfulfilled desires and my views on this one of a kind book!
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THE AUTHOR {From the book}
Ashok Mahindra is a Chartered Accountant who qualified from England and Wales and from India. He retired as Co-Chairman of Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, and as Senior Partner of A.F. Ferguson & Co. in 2008, after a career of 39 years. Ashok Mahindra is now a wildlife photographer. Through his 120 photographs in this book he has shown the rich heritage and range of wildlife and its habitats in India. In addition, the book indicates the continuing threat to wildlife in India and sets out how it could be more effectively preserved.
The book sets out to, in the words of the author in the preface, create a greater awareness of the danger to the wildlife in India, and to promote the preservation of that wildlife. Its highlights are, as the marketing of the book claims very aptly, the images, which are a treat; but there is more, much, much more – from the practical to the experiential and from the mundane to the esoteric;  “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India” contains 120 photographs of animals and birds of India, photographed from visits to over 30 parks,sanctuaries and other locations…

The book acts as a quick guide and a quick chronicle on places to visit in India – places where you can relax, and enjoy being one with nature, places where you can experience the full beauty of nature; places which are both famous, and not quite so famous. It isn’t a guide on what you can find in each place – this is not a tourist guide; it is more of a travelogue, an experiential and highly engaging travelogue on the wildlife circuit of India.
This is a book you can get lost in, and forget about everything; this is a book which you can just dissolve into; this is a book you can read again and again and then again; and each reading is bound to transport you into a differing reality, an engaging memory, an unfulfilled desire or a raging ambition. This is a book to make you pause in wonder at Mother Nature, and sigh in deep and heartfelt melancholy regret at the ugliness of the modern concrete jungle!
It states as an objective the conservation of wildlife, which it achieves in  a very different and indirect fashion; it kindles in you a desire to experience these sights yourselves, and a keenly felt regret at the meaninglessness of our metro lives and concrete jungles; that, to my mind, is a far better way of going about Wildlife Conservation – getting people interested in the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer us! It also acts as a to-visit list of the top wildlife  hotspots in India, places to visit, and introduces you to an aspect of India you would not have thought too much about
This is a book that hits you hard in the gut, and makes you face the futility of modern life, the meaninglessness of the corporate race and the pull of Mother Nature… as I said, this is an experience to be lived, so that your inner dormant desires are kindled, and a new joy can be experienced. This is a book that, given its wandering travelogue style and lack of focus on one area or theme,  takes you back to Mother Nature, and introduces you to its myriad wonders from Animals to Insects to Birds to Scenery, and from colours to joy all in one short sharp read! The fabulous interleaving of themes, with a Tiger on one page, then a Neelgai, or a mound of termites, or a mangrove picture, achieves the objective of keeping your attention riveted, making for a unputdownable book…

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This is the frontispiece, the piece-de-resistance, as it were : the images are simply mind-blowing; they will take your breath away. The clarity, detail and framing of the pictures is one thing, which everyone will note; my request to everyone is try and merge & blend into the image and the captured moment, and experience it to understand… the patience, effort and planning that went into each image taken, the beauty of the moment and the sheer power of Mother Nature!
Here you will find the entire life cycle of the Large Cats, here you will find the life of the Tigers – how they live, their territorial habits in short and sharp comments on the images; you will find, for the first time, these large cats in their old age, as well as their resplendent youth; you get to understand the meaning of the immortal line by Kavi Neeraj : Umra Ke Chadhaav Kaa Utaar Dekhte Rahe in the lives of the tigers covered!
Here you will find the lovely and unbelievably scenic images that you will want to savour, and wish you had a copy for your desktop, laptop or mobile screensavers – a veritable cacophony of colours blending to create stunning beauty; like the Cormorants on Page 54, or the House Sparrow on Page 61, or especially the Blue Jay on Page 104, or the Red Junglefowl on Page 111…
But most of all, the stunning beauty of two mind-blowing images has the power to transport you into the book, into the location – one at the start, and one at the end : a stunning set of images of the Jungle… images of transcendental beauty, that kindle the joys and memories of your own visits {Pench, in my case} to the Jungle, and the memories of of the location of that wonderful number in Kabhi Kabhi – Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein, Khayaal Aataa Hai, such is the power of these images! The captivating beauty of these two images takes you into the forest, enables you to forget the world and blend into the magic of these images caught by this extremely talented photographer!

Just one request : the book is priced at Rs. 1450/-, which is a tag towards the higher side, and is targeted at a different segment; there is a market at lower price-points as well, people like me who love Books, who love the beauty of nature, and would buy these books at a more affordable price point. If the publisher or the Author is reading this, please make a note of this feedback…

It is being published by Oxford University Press(OUP) & Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS).The book will be available at most of the major retail outlets across India and also through online retail sites like Amazon, Flipkart etc.It will also be available for sale through the BNHS website and is priced at Rs.1450. 

This post is a part of the book review program of at Saevus Wildlife India in association with The Hemchand Mahindra Wildlife Foundation for the book Capturing Wildlife Moments in India