Bare necessities – a large, dense jungle of thoughts
On 30, Jul 2014 | In Internal wisdom | By adminrezonant
Shivanee Harshey / Visual Thinker / Intern 2014 / MIT Pune
Are you wondering whether it should be ‘bear’ necessities, since that’s how we heard it when they introduced us to The Jungle Book, when we were much younger?
I often wonder what it was about that book that got me, so early in my days. Was it the careless freedom it portrayed? Or was it the set of values that I was being taught at the time, that this book was re-inforcing- loyalty, friendship, family, love and the like. For most of us it probably ended there;another piece of writing that would probably become a part of some tea-time conversation, though this simple story about the concept of wildlife took a stark shape when I was introduced to the idea of National Parks.
I am not going to tell you how and why you need to save forests and tigers and all those 8.7 million species on earth, but if you’ve not really been to a forest or seen wildlife in their own space (not a zoo), you will find reasons here that might convince you to take a plunge into what the lungs of the world have to offer to you and your evolved, significant and comfortable life.
Forests are an inspiration
This statement sounds somewhat hollow because our whole agenda to save forests and wildlife is ultimately to save ourselves. So there. We cannot take over their space like a viral plague without destroying our own civilized world. This fact has been staring us in the face for a while now, and therefore I insist, even more so, to realise why forests are inspiring, wildlife is beautiful and their ecosystem something we must learn from.
I (like many others) am fortunate to be in the group of people who observe beyond the obvious. Reading between the lines is a part of our profession- I am a designer. When you look at the bark of a teak wood, you see moss. If you peer beneath the bits and pieces of the moss, you’ll see toads, small insects, a whole host of life that prospers in that miniature environment. A lumberman will look at a forest and see so many board feet of lumber. I see a living city.
Ironically, I was introduced first to Kanha National Park, which was the original setting for Rudyard Kipling’s classic. Kanha also happens to be one of the best national parks in the world. It is also a part of Project Tiger which was initiated to save the species of Bengal Tigers in India. I went there more times that I can remember; summer, winter and monsoon. So now you have the backdrop to visualize what I have been experiencing for so many years, and year after year, it just gets better.
Whenever I speak to someone, and I tell them about how I spotted a tiger in the jungle while I was on a safari, they ask me: “Don’t they attack you?”. Now this might be a nonchalant question, but it really reveals a lot about how we as a species think. I want to take the opportunity to narrate exactly how your journey will be if you ever visit a National Park. Firstly, you will feel secluded, small, and mysterious about where you are. You will be waking up at 4 am in the morning, to visit the home of another set of species, you will pay an atrocious amount to do that, and once you cross that barrier in your 4 wheel drive gypsy, a feeling of thrill, fear and fantasy will hit you. You will not know it if a tiger is lurking in the tall grasses next to the road you’re on. You will not know if a serpent-eagle is watching you. You won’t be able to tell which bird is chirping, unless you see it, because for all you know it’s a racket-tailed drongo, messing with your ears. Yet, there is a seamlessness about a jungle; you know how they say- good design is obvious, great design is transparent, a jungle is the best designed home, everything is visible, yet nothing is… You’ll feel one with that environment, and the little bit of silent peace it has to offer.
I don’t claim that a forest must inspire everyone, but it surely inspires me. That stillness and calm and perfect beauty is something that sticks; you start to crave for it once you’re away. You know- one of those products you tend to miss in the first shopping trip, which you buy the next time you get a chance, and that is all you use. The exceptional precision of communication, which just blends within the whole ecosystem; the monkey’s call when a predator is near doesn’t disturb anyone. The sound is so organic, that it doesn’t seem out of place. Just like, if one tree were to fall, it wouldn’t affect the whole forest. That is a brilliant side of being an individual in a forest. And mind you, that all this is by design.
Bio-mimicry, which is borrowed from nature, is a stunning science of adaptation that we as designers borrow for ‘inspiration’. Now it’s wonderful if we are equipped with Google to do the job for us, but I feel it’s more humanistic to go and witness nature in it’s golden form, with all it’s apparatuses and mechanisms in place. Try to see through the bark and visualize the xylem and phloem working it’s magic for the life of 150ft tall Sal trees, silently. See the big cats mark their territory, set a perimeter of their homeland, by scratching those barks. Witness perfect camouflage of the jackals, and believe me I can go on… But more than anything, the best part about Kanha, is the mesmerising jungle sounds, that will leave your mind in a void to think about all these little things, from which we have derived so much. If you’re not able to observe these small events with patience, you are off your human game, and you’re not exercising your senses.
Note: Please do not visit a jungle with the sole agenda of watching a tiger prowl. Have a greater reason, a sense of assimilation of everything the forests have to offer.
At Least in Kanha, if you are fortunate to land in an enthusiastic ranger’s gypsy you will realise the passion with which he will take you for a tour of this magical endangered space… I think we secretly like things that are rare, now the forests of the world, and we love to capitalise on them. Suddenly those things become ‘magical’ and ‘unbelievable’. We pay through our noses to find those quiet ‘natural’ habitats, and to be amongst those beautiful creatures.
Beauty is rare and rare is beautiful
There is so much you have to learn by how these creatures live and let live. Once there, you will enjoy every bit of raindrops, without fear of them, seeping through your concrete buildings or ruining your fancy cars. You will enjoy the cold with open arms and you will fall in love with the noise those peacocks make. I say, don’t learn water harvesting from books, visit a forest. Don’t learn architecture from just by enrolling yourself in a prestigious college, learn more from a weaver bird. Learn to co-exist. Learn to be symbiotic instead of parasitic. It’s all out there, for real.
Ever wondered why so many poets and artists were inspired by nature?
There is much design to learn from nature.
Thus, no matter how many times I’ve been to Kanha/ Bandhavgarh/ Pench or Bandipur, or whichever other national park you name, I never tire of it, because it always humbles me by proving just how independent it is. And no matter how much we pretend to be responsible for letting all these spaces exist, we are truly mistaken.
You cut down a forest… it doesn’t matter how many saw mills you have, if there are no trees.
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
If I wasn’t a designer, I would be a forest ranger.
I do believe in God, only I spell it nature.
– Frank Lloyd Wright