An Atlas of the Clouds.

An illustration for IQ magazine, on a story by Janice Pariat called An Atlas of the Clouds.

iqpm

Excerpt: 

… it might well be that the only way to belong, to heed the call of becoming, is to “unbelong”, to forget where you came from.

 

A Trail of Breadcrumbs.

Witch in dystopia, fairy tale in disarray, kids on sugar and possible lurking leopard-induced deaths, in A Trail of Breadcrumbs, a two-page story for ELLE magazine, Nov 2014 issue.

witch1_pm witch2_pm

The Alphabet of Animals and Birds.

The Alphabet of Animals and Birds, a book of illustrated collective nouns that I wrote and illustrated (yay!!!) – has just been published by Red Turtle. Its oozing with murders of crows, rafts of otters, scoops of pelicans and many other pagefuls of animals and birds – useful group names to know for the next time you meet some of these creatures!

Here’s where you can buy the book:
Flipkart | Amazon 

A few pages from the book:

tabc_pm_3 tabc_pm_4 tabc_pm_5 tabc_pm_6 tabc_pm_7 tabc_pm_8

tabc_pm_2

Things We Found During The Autopsy.

Kuzhali Manickavel‘s new collection of short stories, Things We Found During The Autopsy (published by Blaft) is out in the world finally! It’s accompanied by this video featuring glorious alien kolams, buffalo backs, razor blades and EYE Cola.

Here is the cover I made for the book; with story titles lettered by Reagan Chandramohan on the back.

tk1 tk2

The Constant Gardener.

My illustration for The Constant Gardener, an article on dugong feeding behaviour written by Elrika D’Souza and Vardhan Patankar, for Current Conservation magazine’s issue 8.2.

bl_dg

The article describes how dugongs feed in seagrass meadows (their principal food source) by completely grazing them down; and leaving these fields for other areas for a time long enough to allow the depleted areas to regenerate. Thus the dugongs tend to these meadows like gardeners, ensuring for themselves a supply of desirable, high-nutrition seagrass species — while keeping the growth of low-nutrition high-fibre species down through their grazing cycles.

The illustration shows a pair of dugongs working through some seagrass fields, leaving “trails” which eventually grow over again.

Read the article here.

MORE: On Vardhan’s blog, more details on the ongoing dugong study in the Andaman & Nicobar archipelago; on how dugong conservation efforts involve caring for its habitat and involving the local communities in protecting this species.

Found Lepard.

00_flep

I have been thinking on leopards for a long time now.

They weave in and out at the fringes of our cities, pass quietly through our villages. A leopard may well be your neighbour next door, him of the night-shifts, whom you never see except for the chance encounter when you see a (his?!) paw pull in the milk packets left on his doorstep. You might possibly never ever see the modern urban leopard, oh, but he sees you.

As the forests dwindle into spotty fragments, leopards and other beings of the forest are brought into awkward and sometimes unfortunate encounters with humans. Some leopards end up being spotted by some especially social humans who muster a crowd of more humans within bewildering seconds. It’s well-known that leopards are no good at parties and social situations, and would much rather get out of it and do what they’re good at instead – stalking real prey they can eat and climbing trees Like A Boss.

Still, we seem bent on forcing leopards to join us in the great City Life. These cats of secrets and shadows now already live amongst us, seeing from high places the Truth and the future. They hear the word of the street, the calls from the dark places where people and animals live – where so many prefer not to look in case they find them.

Found Lepard began as a series of notices and flyers mobilising all the cats in the vicinity at short notice, to make a stand against the Powers That Be which refuse to explain themselves.

Here is a Found Lepard in Kulture Shop‘s newest themed collection, Urban Jungle.

lprint

He’s on art tees and art prints – currently in the Kulture Shop showroom in Bandra; soon to be found online.

tee

Here are some of the other leopards in the series.

01_frof
04_nbol

05_bbl

We are Leopard.

We are Leopard.
Even the oldest Leopard can only barely remember a time when she didn’t have to cross a six-lane highway to reach the watering hole.

Like the others of her kind, she is a solitary beast. She knows other Leopards – even her own cubs come and gone long ago – the way a chess player evaluates her opponents for subtlety, strategy and surprise. These are necessary tools to preserving life and limb, and to get some foodmeat to carry on for another day.

The highway screams and glares red in the distance. The oldest Leopard pads deftly from shadow to shadow.The night is the last true ally of the Wild. The humans keep trying to push back the darkness with their fires and electric lights. But they must sleep, eventually – and the night is long and patient. When darkness covers the shrinking forest, the lines between human habitation and the trees soften, blur and disappear.

The oldest Leopard pauses in an alley, choosing her next move among waves of overpowering scents and sounds. In the forest, sensory signposts are easier to read — precise and unmasked by noise. The strength of human numbers and a certain proclivity to carelessness makes for a tumbling, tangled tumult of trails which nearly mask what really matters to the oldest Leopard. There it is again… the faintest cluck of a chicken in a cage, several streets away.

As the oldest Leopard tracks down her prey, the memory of the sound guides her over the rooftops and between the shabby, thin buildings. Occasionally she passes laconic, unmistakable signs left by other invisible Leopards. She moves quietly past humans sleeping on the pavement, so close to the ground they are usually invisible even to other humans.

The chicken shop is just around the corner. The scent of stale droppings and fallen feathers is strong, making the oldest Leopard’s scarred nose quiver with expectation.

The oldest Human sits muttering in a doorway which opens out into a narrow street. His fading eyes catch the brief glint of the oldest Leopard’s gaze as she steps out of the shadows and leaps past the square of flickering yellow light towards the chicken shop. The stacked cages outside are all empty except for one with a diseased bird left to die, who clucked faintly in the night and will be swiftly dispatched by the jaws of the oldest Leopard. Having taken what she needs, she melts back into the night as quietly as she arrived.

The oldest Human witnesses the hunt, mumbles incoherently and continues to dream. He lives in the Past, in a tiny village on the edge of the Wild.

Later, licking the last of the blood off her whiskers, the oldest Leopard wonders idly about the Black Panthers of the lost Wild… mythical beasts made of shadow with eyes like the brightest of stars, seeing all — and spotted by none. She thinks on the other Leopards who hunt silently in these human cities, planning and setting into motion slow but sure changes. The signs are up. The invisible Ones shall rise out of the shadows. The revolution will happen, the Wild will come to reclaim all that was taken from it.

The oldest Leopard hopes she will live to see it.

We are Leopard, say the signs. Expect us.