Apoorva Joshi

PhD student - Information and Media; Environmental Science and Policy @Michigan State University

Independent journalist -

Environment, Science, International

ReadyMade Knowledge

Someone just asked me something, and while answering, I happened to think over this weird aspect of human questions. This is entirely in connection to Indian wilderness and nothing else. So anyone reading this for a hope of something else, may discontinue reading or continue without expecting things.
Someone I know just asked me, "what do u find in _____ ?" (fill that blank with the name of any wildlife place u want). I started typing when I thought ," why?! why should I be telling him what he can find there?" I mean yes, fact that i do know means i can tell him. But why? Why go with a predefined idea of which animal can be found where? There are different takes on this. if you're going somewhere for a specific reason, like data collection or photography or filming, then yeah, you need to know what comes where. Lekin if you just want to go because you want a change and you want to go back to the wilds for some wildlife sightings, then you should be prepared to take in whatever the wilderness has to offer you. Whether it be a wasp or it be 12ft long Python! Why go with the ReadyMade Knowledge in the first place?
Dont u want the mystery to be alive when u go? The excitement? from personal experience, when I go someplace without expecting a particular species, every thing I see excites me. Even a caterpillar! Coz the fact is, it's there! Whether you see a Tiger or not, the moth is still there! Its still a wild creature. Except in size. So does size really matter? Truth is- yes it does. Why?! Because we care only about what our eyes perceive as "great". The mighty Tiger they say. Man I'd say a wasp that can kill ya, is worse off than that Tiger. So whether its a speck or a mammoth sized animal, point is, how you perceive it. And i use the word "perceive" purposely. Because we THINK that what we see is reality. However, the opening of eyes happens only once you've lived within the forest long enough to understand its functional details.
I use the term "ReadyMade Knowledge" because thats exactly how it is. People want readymade information on something. When they themselves can make an effort and answer their questions themselves, they still want to look dependent or worse, BE dependent. They wont once consider actually stepping out feeling vulnerable not knowing anything, and coming back with a sense of mini-triumph at having learned something on their own! Thats a terrific feeling. Gives you a certain high.
What is the point of going to Bandhavgarh knowing that Im going to see B2 and Chorbehra? What if i go and i DONT see them? Isnt that a let down? So then why "know"?? As it is, someone else has told you "what you will find there", so its easy to blame that soul if you dont find those animals, but its even easier to lose respect for a potentially LOADED place. Thats what happens to most people. They dont give their ambitions a chance! They dont give their choice a chance! They choose to go some place and when they find nothing, (firstly, they're not looking...they're expecting. thin line of difference), so when they find nothing, they came back disheartened and the next time they choose another place. Understandable if you really made a giant effort and then lost out. Even then, Indian wildlife doesnt come on a platter (unless you eat it!), So it pays to keep your mind, eyes, and ears open!
If I go to Tamhini and dont find that Bamboo Pit Viper, I wont be disappointed, because I'll know I tried. And even then, I know it's there! Somewhere. Unless the tragic road killed it.

Sometimes, giving youself that chance, to go explore, to go find out, to go experience the difference, realllllly helps! And sometimes still, making a choice also is a step forward. To being independent. Crediting your finds to yourself and not to someone else's handed down knowledge, is definitely worth a try!
Polish your wings, and fly for yourself. Dont ask for a nudge or a push. Confidence is the key!

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