A look back at 2022 🐍
Reflecting on the happenings of the year...
Greetings from Bangalore, India!
2022 finally draws to a close. As I welcome the new year, I wish to reflect on my performance this year, and see what I chart out for myself in the next one.
Here are some of the highlights of my year:
I launched my newsletter (you’re reading it now!). Went through some ups and downs, switching services and so on. I am quite happy with Substack for now. Don’t seem to be shifting anytime soon.
I landed on a format that I liked. It comprises of a write up, a set of curated links, a photo-story and a favourite quote. Just take a look at it here!
I learnt about Camera Trapping at Agumbe, Karnataka with HNF and KCRE! This lead to me volunteering with HNF’s research on leopards in MM hills wildlife sanctuary, something that I have been dreaming about doing for many years.
I had the chance to work in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which is a forest very close to my heart. I documented the Lantana removal that is happening there. (Lantana is an invasive plant that has taken over the forest. Junglescapes, a local NGO is working to combat its spread. Read about it here!)
I created a dedicated page on my website to talk about all the projects I’ve been working on. That’s because, this year, apart from my articles, I began work on several side projects on topics that interested me. Some of them were:-
I wrote up a series of essays on some of the animals that have played a special role in my life as I dabbled in the world of wildlife. Here, I try to poetically try to describe how these animals have moved me.
I also compiled several of my images into a series of laptop backgrounds. The idea here is that anyone, should they desire, can take a screenshot of my work and use it as their laptop background. (Check them out if you haven’t already!)
I’m currently at 115 newsletter subscribers, 74 articles and 19 newsletter issues! I might just double these numbers next year :) But regardless of these numbers, I am happy to see all my work adding onto itself. Slowly but surely, I’m building my body of work, establishing my name on the internet.
I dipped my toe into the world of poetry this year! I even wrote one poem that I am pretty proud of! Here it is:
Legend says there were birds so big that their wing beats birthed hurricanes
But in time, they soared into the skies and vanished into the stars,
Leaving behind only stories for us to remember them by
When the sky splits open, it is these legendary animals letting us know that we are just tiny creatures in this big, wide world.
Maybe a time will come when humans and wildlife live in peace.
Maybe then, they will return.
As far as college life goes, I’ve been able to explore various parts of Delhi, which is still a relatively new city for me. I’ve been to several monuments and iconic places of this historic place, which has been enormously enriching for me. Academically everything looks good.
In 2023, there are several projects I look forward to doing. I wish to formally declare them so I have added motivation to see them through. But regardless of whether I succeed or fail at them, I am glad that I am trying. Ultimately, that is all that matters.
I wish to write a series of essays on my experiences in the wild, and how they have shaped me. It will be an anthology of sorts, where I want to reflect on how these episodes have made me who I am.
I am also compiling my best portraits into a series called “Heroes in a 100 Faces”. I hope to make the case that these ordinary people who I have photographed are also heroes, for persevering in a world where they are overlooked. Here is an excerpt:
The people featured here are the common folk, the unseen men and women in the background whose individual threads form the tapestry of our society. They have no special qualities; they are neither exceptionally strong nor are they unusually astute. Yet, in my eyes, they are brave, because they persevere in a society that overlooks them. They have a story to share but no one to share it with. They remain unseen. Their stories go unheard.
That is all I have for now. Maybe next week’s issue (or the one after that) will outline my plan for the new year.
Until then, happy new year to you in advance :)
This Week’s Links
There are several links to my work this year in the write-up above. Furthermore, here are some interesting finds of the year from across the internet:
How do you Live?: This Japanese classic by Genzaburo Yoshino was one of the best books I read this year. I can’t stress enough how vital it is that everyone reads this. It has moved me in the deepest, warmest cockles of my heart. Please, please, please, please, please, please read it!
Tim Ferris and David Yarrow Podcast: This was my best podcast of the year. I admire both these people, and so hearing them talk to each other was incredibly engaging. Here I’ve linked to the youtube version.
Kung Fu Panda Analysis: You might think of Kung Fu Panda as a children’s movie, but it discusses some deep serious themes that even adults find harrowing (like genocide!). This analysis does a good job of deconstructing the story.
Last week in Munnar, I came across this orange Malabar Pit Viper. He was quietly sleeping under these leaves and would have been easy to miss if not for his brilliant orange hue.
Malabar Pit Vipers, as we know it, are not active during the day. At night however, they slither down to a particular spot, waiting in ambush for an unsuspecting frog or lizard to pass by. Once it gets close enough, it strikes with lightning speed, injecting a hemotoxic venom that kills its prey in a matter of minutes. Then they swallow it whole.
I spent the entire day sitting next to this reptile, waiting to see if it would do anything. In the course of 9 hours, it made a grand total of 4 movements, shifting its head 1 cm from where it was when I found it. But regardless, it was magical to share the same space as this wild animal.
I can’t explain why, but my connection with snakes is unlike what I have with other animals. Something about them captivates me beyond measure. I simply love them.
What a lovely way to end the year!
Down the street an ambulance has come to rescue an old man who is slowly losing his life. Not many can see that he is already becoming the backyard tree he has tended for years.. . .—joy harjo, How We Become Humans
Have a great week!
If you’re new, welcome to The Owlet! My name is Ishan Shanavas, and here I talk about my work, along with curating the most interesting ideas on the internet. I confine them to topics like Nature, Culture, Photography, and Art but often fall prey to other genres.
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