Saturday, December 8, 2012

The bright side of things!

It was another grueling day of the dead week. I was bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustrated and when-will-this-semester-be-over desperate. I was searching for a distraction. A little something that could take my mind off the take home exam that I was working on till then. So as per ritual, I went on Wikipedia and started browsing through random things. The cool thing about Wikipedia and YouTube is you can never stop after reading one article/one video. There is always a link to something interesting or something that promises more knowledge about the topic you have been reading at that point of time.

I do not remember how, but I came to this page on Wikipedia where they talked about the “Conservation status” of the animals in the world. I clicked through to the list of “Endangered species in North America”. Well let’s say that the number of animals on that list shocked me. There were categories of animals and each category had a pretty long list of animals which were on the brink of extinction from this planet.

Seeing such a long list of animals, I started blaming our entire human race for all the hunting, poaching and all the other horrible things that we have done over the centuries that brought the existence of these creatures to such a critical point.

I kept browsing though articles about random animals and reading the major reasons for their endangered status. My random browsing ended with an article on the California condor which was listed as a “Critically Endangered” species. Here is a little background information about these wonderful birds before I move on with my article.

Condors are “New world vultures” and are the largest North American land birds. This California condor inhabits northern Arizona and southern Utah, coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California. Its huge 3.0 m (9.8 ft) wingspan is the largest of any North American bird, and its weight of up to 12 kg (26 lb) makes it nearly equal the Trumpeter Swan, the largest among native North American bird species. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. It is one of the world's longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.

The first part of the article explained how the numbers of these birds came down drastically during the past 100 years. The major reasons cited for the decline in their numbers in the 20th century were poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction. So my thought process went, “Here is another animal which used to live happily in its place of existence. In come the humans and destroy their homes to build their own and kill them for their own pleasure.”

But it was the second part of the article that really impressed me. At one point of time in 1987, there were only 22 surviving Condors in the wild. They were the only survivors of a mighty race of birds. It was then that the United States government started a massive 35 million dollar program called the “California condor recovery plan” to replenish the numbers of Condors. They began by capturing all the remaining surviving condors and started breeding them in captivity.

The program was so successful that by the end of May 2012, there were about 405 condors in existence. Part of them have been released into the wild since the beginning of the 1990’s and due to strict laws and designation of special protected areas for the condors their number started to grow in the wild as well. The program continues to grow with more success; they continue to release more condors into the wild.

This proved one point about ourselves that I have never realized in such significance before. While we are capable of great destruction, we are also capable of massive resurrection. While it was our mistake to kill condors in the first place, the conservation efforts deserve credit for their success. As we continue to evolve as a species I think we will learn to share our habitat better with our fellow animals. Balance to the planet will be restored and man will continue to peacefully co-exist with nature. This article blends perfectly with the title of my blog. “The wonderful place which we live in!” It is indeed wonderful.

As I continue to live in the happy place in my head, a quick look at the clock brings me back to reality and I am reminded that I have to start studying to survive a test. I don’t think there would be any resurrection opportunities for me if I don’t study!

Special thanks to all the people who work on Wikipedia to make knowledge available for free!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Somewhere I belong!

I really thought this Linkin' Park song might be a very apt title for my first blog post since I have landed in the US. Well, it’s been a little more than a year since I have set foot in the land of opportunities. There have been several great experiences and memories that are worth mentioning. There have also been several setbacks and mistakes made which I wish never happened again. But then, that’s life. You need to keep moving on.

The motivation for this post came from the everyday discussions people have at the place I work and in the University. They keep talking about the elections, which candidate is better, who has done more work for the country, which might do better in the future. It is all routine stuff really. I have had discussions of similar nature when I was in India.

The moment I was asked a question about my take on the topic, I realized I had very limited knowledge of the topic and the people being discussed. In fact, I knew only a little more their names to be honest. That was a painful reminder of a fact that I have been trying to avoid/ignore for a while now: “Do I really belong here?” So, after this happened, I got back home, opened a regional Indian newspaper to see what was happening in the place I lived for 21 years. Surprisingly, the same feeling returned. I have not been following the recent events for so long that I forgot all about current affairs, politics, which leader is doing what or who are the new ministers. In fact, I was a little relieved that the Chief Minister was still the same person.

That night, before I slept, I was contemplating about these weird experiences that I had. If I don’t belong here and if I am not well versed with the happenings in my place of birth, where do I belong? What does that make me? I am sure all the people who immigrate to foreign countries in pursuit or education or better opportunities experience these things at some point of time in their journey. It’s very unsettling really.

So, what do I do? I try to look at people who have settled in the US for a long time and made this place their second home. I find that they are extremely well informed about the current happenings of not only this country, but also have a good knowledge of what is going on back home. In fact, I have found out that in some cases, these people have a better perspective as they see things from a third persons point of view. When I see these people, I truly understand the concept of a ‘global citizen’. This is where I want to reach in a few years’ time from now.

Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments. I would be really interested to know if anyone else has experienced stuff like this. That’s it for now. Hope this will get me back to active writing.

Take care folks!