Friday, December 17, 2004

Ever heard of Kenneth Anderson?

For all his invaluable contributions to literature, to local heritage and to wildlife conservation in this part of India, there's no more than a cursory mention of Kenneth Anderson in the literary circles.After several painstaking search-criterion-filtering and googling, I managed to retrieve some articles that write atleast a paragraph about him:

1)History Today: Jungle Book memories - wildlife preservation in India "Curiously, when wild animals existed in large numbers in India, some British hunters established reputations as conservationists. They included Kenneth Anderson, born near Hyderabad in 1910, the descendant of Scots who had lived in India for six generations. The jungle and its creatures were his lifelong obsession. As a big game hunter he became famous in south India as the saviour of villagers preyed upon by man-eating tigers and other beasts. Before his death from cancer in 1974, Anderson wrote books about his exploits which revealed his concern for the environment. In Man-eaters and Jungle Killers he wrote: 'I know localities where until 1930 the moaning sough of a tiger or the guttural sawing of the panther were normal sounds in the night - now the night passes without a sound'. And in The Tiger Roars, he noted that in the Mysore and Salem districts tigers and panthers have been almost wiped out by villagers who used a poison supplied to them almost free by the local government as an insecticide to protect their crops'."

2)"Jungle Tales"(The Hindu, Sunday, September 17, 2000)
"KENNETH ANDERSON (1910-1974) has often been described as South India's answer to Jim Corbett, though I would imagine that he himself - and his fans - would rather call Corbett the North- Indian equivalent of Kenneth Anderson ... Well, not quite perhaps, but near enough.

When I collected these two chunky volumes for review, I blanched. There was close to 1,500 pages of reading material here, and largely my own fault as I had never read any of Anderson's books before. Here, in volume 1, were Tales From the Indian Jungle; Man Eaters And Jungle Killers and The Call Of The Man Eater. Volume 2 contained The Black Panther of Sivanipalli; The Tiger Roars and Jungles Long Ago.

So, like a city slicker stepping into the forests for the first time, I started reading with some trepidation. And was hooked within minutes, and just three weeks later, was breathlessly done. One thing was apparent right from the start. There was a sense of technicolour 70mm. Hollywood melodrama in most of the hunting stories and encounters that Anderson described. And occasionally you found yourself stepping from incredulous belief to sceptical disbelief .... Could man-eating tigers and leopards, and rogue elephants, really be such evil geniuses as to plot and counter-plot their strategy and attacks in such a superhuman cunning manner, as Anderson has described? Well, maybe that privilege is not a prerogative of our species after all, but it does chill the marrow a bit, to realise that a man-eating tiger seems to know exactly what is going on in your head and is counter-plotting on that basis .... Also, some of the encounters and hunts seemed so implausible that, conversely, they must have been absolutely true - that old thing about truth being stranger than fiction. To pep them up further, Anderson probably just added piquancy to the way he unravelled his yarns.

And, by God, the man knows how to tell a story all right. He has an inherent sense of plot, the skill to clearly describe a locale (though maps would have been nice), and the knack of gradually building up the tension to give you a heart-thumping audio-visual feel of the situation, before exploding with a suitably blood- curdling roar. Occasionally, he does digress, and while this does slow down the pace a bit, some of the digressions are interesting in their own right. And then there are the hare-brained, dare- devil counter schemes that he comes up with in order to outwit his devilish, crafty quarry. Like waiting for a man-eater's return in its own den. Or setting up himself as bait. But, inspite of these seemingly gung-ho actions, there is always fear, and a great deal of it. Anderson knew full well the danger he was putting himself in and makes no effort to hide the fact that, often, he was petrified.

Not all the stories or anecdotes in these books are about hunting down man-eating tigers and panthers, or rogue elephants. There are accounts of ghooming (roaming) in the beautiful forests of South India, character sketches of various jungle denizens (wild boar beat all the big boys for courage), accounts of the wild animals he and his wife kept as pets (and a hyena was a sweetie), encounters with ghosts, and dabblings with the occult, and of course, his relationship with his "aborigine" friends and trackers.

Anderson, who was a Bangalore based planter, obviously loved the forests and their denizens and lamented the wholesale destruction of both. The accounts and anecdotes are infused with his own feelings and fears. What comes through clearly is his great love for the simple outdoor life and the spiritual upliftment it provided, the wonderful timelessness of India which again, he loved, his affection and respect for the "aborigines" of the forests, and his loathing of the bureaucracy, who often drove him up the wall. He comes across himself, as a colourful, rough-hewn personality, always ready to give as good as he got. "

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A fundu quote (from RD)quoted by Vij on his page...

Quoted from RD: "'Everything you do, everything you experience, everything you think affects who you are.You have an incredible amount of input into the creation of yourself.'"

Monday, December 13, 2004

A grand finale to the Bengaluru Habba

Had a fantastic evening at Palace Grounds with the curtains coming down on the habba in glorious fashion. Only a week ago, mbk, his sister deepa, his mother and I had visited the stalls on the boulevard on M.G.Road on the inaugural day on the habba. And we had to bid a heavy-hearted adieu to this magnificent festival. Last evening at Palace grounds, the concerts that truly deserved a mention were the folk percussion ensemble (led by a flautist) arranged by Anoor Anantahkrishna Sharma and the breath taking performance (though below par) by Ganesh-Kumaresh. The latter duo have SOME talent. Probably the most talented musicians i've ever watched/ listened to. Beyond words. It was as if the violin was an extension of their very beings. Brilliant.What coordination they had ! It was worth weathering the bone chilling icy winds (on an empty stomach) at palace grounds. I almost had a frost bite. mbk & his sister found my plight very funny, though X-( Sadists!!!
Yes, mbk, his sister and I had been there.A fantastic time, all in all. Of course, it took some effort to ignore the mischief mongers and the philistines at the venue and concentrate on the music. Worth all the troubles in the end. You know why. ;-)

Deccan herald's article follows...

Spirited performances draw Habba to close - Deccan Herald


If Prince Edward, standing on his lonely vigil in Cubbon Park, was seen looking wistfully in the direction of the Palace Grounds on Sunday night, he really couldn’t be blamed. The rock shows that had been held at his feet till a few days ago weren’t too bad (he had even headbanged a bit on the last of the shows), but they hardly came close in spirit to what was seen on the last day of the Bangalore Habba.

And spirit, Kathak danseuse Nirupama explained to Deccan Herald, is one of the four pillars of classical Indian dance. (Body movements, sound and costumes are the other three). Nirupama, her partner Rajendra and their team put up an enthralling show that aimed to bridge the gap between the classical an d the modern, the Indian, European, Caribbean and African. Spirit, however, wasn’t confined to dance alone. It was evident in the show put up by Anoor Anantha Krishna Sharma and his team.

Percussion instruments of almost every kind were on stage, as were artists who knew what exactly they were for. They just jammed up on stage, with the dozen instruments or so that came alive singly and together, to the near constant accompaniment of a flute. There was a breathtaking array of instruments of all shapes and sizes, of which the tablas and mrudangams were only a part.
These musicians, sadly, were somewhat disappointed at the lack of spirit in the response from the audience. Violin duo Kumaresh and Ganesh also performed, as did Shankar Mahadevan, who played with ‘Silk’. (Their show, it might be mentioned, recieved a more spirited applause.)

Then there were the other, rather more alarming, sort of spirits all over the venue. The only obvious traces they left were sweaters, handkerchiefs and jackets left on apparently empty seats.

These apparitions were real enough for those in adjacent seats too, with the latter presenting convincing arguments as to why those chairs should not be occupied by the passing onlooker, desperately looking for a place to park himself.