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Janaki Lenin

It’s a king’s world

She was the first king cobra I’d met.It was August 1993. The female king cobra had arrived for a newly initiated breeding programm...»

The ironies of fame

Rom’s recognisability factor shoots up soon after one of his documentaries airs on television. Walking on the streets, we overhear loud w...»

The rape issue - Part 4

(This is the concluding part of the four part series) If viewed through the prism of evolutionary biology, the need to d...»

The rape issue - Part 3

(This is part three of a four-part series) »

The rape issue - Part 2

Among orangutans, it was commonly thought females prefer the large studs to the less-endowed males. So the small-built guys have only one...»

The rape issue

Animals kill their own babies, gore rivals to death, and routinely commit incest. The difference between humans and animals is just a matter »

The name of the snake

Rom has long said the dog-faced water snake is known by the same name, bockadam, in Telugu and an Australian aborigine language. »

Desperate neighbours

As with every conflict, the man-elephant face-off has two sides. The catastrophic toll on elephants, however, often goes unreported… »

A partridge by any other name

Recently, I was showing a visitor around our farm when a Ring Dove flew up from the bamboo. The friend corrected me that it was an &ldquo...»

My husband and other animals: A leopard comes calling

In June 2006, Karadi, our gorgeous 45-kg German Shepherd went missing. We assumed he had been stolen and began an extensive search of the...»

My Husband and other animals- The curse of the Tree Frog

If I thought the two-storey house we built on our farm in the shelter of a magnificent banyan tree was for us humans, I was sadly mistake...»

Danger in Paradise

White sands, turquoise blue seas, lush greenery — it is everyone's dream destination, even if some don't know it yet. And it isn't...»

The Smokey Cat – My husband and other animals

If the story had been related by someone else, we would have dismissed it right away. But Rom has known Santosh Mani, a tea estate manage...»

My Husband and Other Animals - Feckless farmers

When we first moved to our farm, we planted paddy, ragi, lady's finger, and peanuts in turn. No matter what we planted, the short story w...»

My husband and other animals - Croc Whisperer

Many years ago, I pointed to the pictures of Thai crocodile and American alligator wrestlers with their heads inside gaping toothy jaws a...»

My husband and other animals - Case of the missing goats

Let's imagine a remote, pristine island in Indian waters, with thick forests, hilly terrain (flat sandy beach islands are so passé), lots...»

Escape to exurbia

A small group of people have chosen to move out of Chennai — beyond the suburbs — in search of a better quality of life. »

My Husband and Other Animals — The Drug Runner (Part I)

In the early days, the Madras Snake Park was the regular hangout for a variety of Western hippies, engineering students from nearby i...»

The Drug Runner (part II)

Besides the art world, photographer Nat was also closely associated with the Black Panthers, going to the extent of procuring arms for th...»

My Husband and Other Animals: The Drug Runner (part III)

I turned to Nina, Rom's sister who had helped him start the Snake Park way back then. Did she remember anything more of Nat's animal trad...»

My Husband and Other Animals: Croc Bank ants

Actually, we ought to call them Guindy ants because that's where they really came from. Rom remembered that in the mid 1980s, he had move...»

My Husband and Other Animals - Off the deep end

About two decades ago, Rom and I went to Agumbe to look for king cobras. Instead of staying at the perfectly liveable Inspection Bungalow...»

My Husband and Other Animals — Victims of the serial strangler

When we moved to the farm a decade-and-a-half ago, the palmyra tree was already an adult competing for sunlight with the larger, gree...»

My husband and other animals — Creature comforts

When I was growing up, I was very clear that I wanted a dog for a pet. Unfortunately, my parents were equally sure we weren't going t...»

The great brain robbery

Toxoplasma is a science non-fiction nightmare. Closely related to the malaria-causing parasite, the plasmodium's eggs find their way into...»

My Husband and Other Animals — Close encounters

What should people be wary about while walking in the jungles of India? No, not tigers and leopards, or even leeches and ticks. Watch out...»

My husband and other animals — Take me home

Rom's mother always said that a toad or two under the kitchen sink was all one needed to keep the house clean of cockroaches. Guess what,...»

Take me home (Part II)

You need two things to find your way to a place: a map and a compass (Or one of those GPS navigation systems, such as a RoadPilot that co...»

My husband and other animals — The endangered scrub jungle

I often wonder what the forests around Chengalpet looked like before they were cut down to make way for agriculture centuries ago. When w...»

Whitaker and boas

Rom often grumbled, "What a snake to have named after me! It looks like dog sh*t." »

Atomic forest

If Rom hears a riff of rock music, he can tell you who played it, when, and the names of the band members. His memory includes musicals o...»

Falling in love

A few years after Rom and I got married, one of Rom’s colleagues asked me when we had met. Without thinking, I replied, “When I was 15.”...»

Falling in love

Rom said if I wanted to do a sociological study of people’s reactions, I ought to meet Harry Miller, a Welsh journalist who lived in Mad...»

Tribals with microscopes

For 13 years, Erika Cuellar has empowered indigenous communities to do research and monetise their skills. Janaki Lenin met her in New Delh »

Marriages are made on earth

When Rom and I first became an item, many friends, his and mine, predicted our relationship was going to be short-lived. They made such a...»

Trapped on camera

In India’s countryside we find ourselves unwittingly living in the presence of big cats. A tree-planting fanatic and his wife offer ample pr »

Marriages are made on earth

Even my father’s cat seemed to drive home the age difference between us. The first time Rom came home, it jumped up on a half-wall behind...»

Out of India

One of the few songs I remember from my childhood is –My mother said I never shouldPlay with the gypsies in the woods.<...»

A poop puzzle

The scat was crammed with ant exoskeletons. We found it under a rocky overhang on top of a nearby hill. We assumed it was pangolin poop....»

The house on the cliff

Rom seemed lost; he couldn’t tell me where the old cottage had been. After all, more than 40 years had passed and the entire area had bee...»

To culture an oystercatcher

I was looking for evidence of culture in animals. Longtime friend and sea turtle biologist, Jack Frazier, suggested I look into oystercat...»

To culture an oystercatcher (Part 2)

The extraordinary bivalve-opening specialisations that »

Social lives of solitary cats

Leopards are solitary animals. All cats are, except lions. The reclusive ones become social only when they court and have cubs. Occasiona...»

A cuckoo in the nest

Birds see colours better than we can, so why don’t they shove the intruder’s eggs out of nest? Perhaps it is not in their psyche. »

Pests of another kind

Adventures and anecdotes from the life of Rom Whitaker »

Power Shutdown

Power supply will be suspended in the following areas on Saturday From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.Alawarthirunagar: Rajaji St, Indira St, Vanchinathan St, Chidambaranar St, C.V. Koil St,... »

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Craving French baguettes and fresh loaves of focaccia? Head to Old Madras Baking Company »






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Power Shutdown

Power supply will be suspended in the following areas on Saturday From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.Alawarthirunagar: Rajaji St,... »