Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Dear Homo Sapiens of Earth - Part 3C - The Child
* * * * *
March 17, 1999, Wednesday, sunny, 22-34C
[20:13 @ Rm.111, Kanha Tiger Lodge]
A day of great beauty, sadness and amazement.
The beauty is of Kanha National Park. It seems that the more I see it, the more beautiful it becomes. Today, it is the brilliant greenness, especially in the early morning and late afternoon light. Greens of various shades, tints and tones that dazzle the eyes. I have never seen sal – the most common tree species in Kanha - as I saw it today.
We (Jane, Kim, Julian and I) left KTL at 06:30 with me at the wheel. At Mukki Gate, I did the paper work and paid the fee – about Rs.600 for all, my personal treat for my friends. At the booth I was told by a guide name Guru that Tirath would be our guide, but Tirath, probably wanting to distance himself, declined. So Guru became our guide. Our destination of the day was Kisli, which is situated on the opposite side of the park from Mukki. Our intention was to visit Kipling Camp, owned and operated by Bob Wright, father of Belinda Wright. Back in the 1970s, Belinda lived on the periphery of Kanha for several years doing pioneering work on tiger poaching, and even today she is still a bit of a legend in these parts. Manohar somehow heard that she might be in the vicinity as we speak.
En route from Mukki to Kisli, we traversed many areas I have never seen before, all exquisite. We arrived at the Kisli gate around 10:00, and decided to gas up the vehicle first, since it was running on near empty, then return to the park till noon. Believe it or not, it took the people at the gas station more than half an hour to put in the fuel and fill out the paper work.
I have fallen deeply in love with Kanha, and yet, this could be the very last time I would ever see her in my life.
Something amazing occurred when we were exiting the Kisli gate shortly before noon. We came across a Gypsy driven by an elderly Caucasian gentleman. Our guide, Guru, pointed out that he was Bob Wright. I turned the Gypsy around and pulled up along-side Bob, driver-door to driver-door. I reminded him of my visit to his home in Calcutta in 1997, and inquired about Mrs. Wright. “She is in Delhi,” Bob informed me, and asked me what I was doing at Kanha. I briefly outlined our program, then asked about Belinda. Amazingly, he said, “Good timing on your part. She is arriving at Kipling Camp from Delhi right about now.” I asked if I could see her briefly some time in the early afternoon, after they've had their reunion. Bob consented, for some time at “midday.”
We went to a roadside thatched café for some lunch, where all the tables but one (about 6) were occupied by young Caucasian travelers, mostly back-packers, giving us a sense of security about food quality and hygiene, false or otherwise. I ordered chapatti with a certain bean filling. Some time after that, while we were chatting, I heard a strange noise behind me. I was sitting with my back to the bamboo-slat wall that one could see through. I turned, and saw, less than 15’ feet from us, a chicken in the process of being killed by a 14-15 year-old boy named Arjun. Its throat had just been slashed, though its head remained attached, and it was bleeding profusely on to the ground, still struggling and flapping. This reminded me of my childhood days, when my mother and aunts used to kill chickens this way. After about 5 minutes, the chicken was finally limp, and the boy began to pluck off its feathers. And then it was taken into the open kitchen and cut up. Finally, some 15 minutes later, chicken tandoori was served up to the table next to ours. I’m not quite sure what to say about eating meat for now, but I think this experience should have some subsequent effect.
Around 13:30, we arrived at Kipling Camp. It is about the same size land-wise as KTL – about ten acres - but unlike KJL, whose rooms are attached and arranged linearly in a square as in a motel, surrounding the central dining pavilion and the fire pit, Kipling Camp has its buildings detached and far apart, with its grounds having a more open feel. The rate is Rs.2700 daily (about CDN$100) – less than 2/3 that of KTL’s CDN$160. We were very pleasantly invited into the open dining room by two very pretty young women from the UK who have been here for several weeks, and seated at the sofa and chairs in the lounge area. They kept us chatting for awhile, telling us that Belinda would be there shortly. After some minutes, Bob Wright came in, sat down next to me on the sofa, and chatted further about our campaign and its difficulties in India. After a bit, he observed, not condescendingly, “Your first mistake was to pick the wrong partner.” After a few more minutes, one of the two young ladies came back into the dining hall to announce that Belinda was on her way to the dining pavilion.
When Belinda did come in, she was accompanied by a tall and salt-and-pepper gentleman in his 50s, who did not seem particularly friendly. Upon seeing her, I rose and crossed the conversation area to meet her. She looked as beautiful and radiant as Kanha, and younger than before, and more regal than ever. Bob got off his place in the sofa next to mine and gave it to Belinda. Through this process she did not introduce her companion to us, so I did not greet him. Besides, I was too engrossed in her to notice much else. I did introduce Jane, Kim and Julian. We sat back down. After a very brief exchange of pleasantries, I asked her, without mentioning names, whether WPSI (Wildlife Protection Society of India, of which she is a director) would be interested in being WCWC’s conservation partner some time in the future. She told me that WPSI is now at an all time high in conservation output. Although they now have 42 full time employees and some two dozen project all over India, they are spread so thin they could hardly take on a new project even with extra funding without having yet to enlarge the work force. They have also vastly expanded their scope from their previous undercover operations. They have gone broadly into the field and helped out many government wildlife protection projects. To my question as to whether corruption may have consumed a part of their donations, she said that all their donations are in kind and project specific. Their current largest project is to save the sea turtles, but tiger protection remains at the heart of their concern. At one point, she made a simple statement that left no room for doubt, which impressed Jane and Kim greatly. “We are fully dedicated to wildlife preservation.” This coming from Belinda, especially in contrast to Avtar, rang loud and true. At one point, while I mentioned our 6-month wait for the Indian government to grant us permission to infuse Canadian funds into India, she laughed and said, “We could have done it in 24 hours.” She showed no sign of fatigue after the long train ride, and I had no idea how much time had elapsed when her prince-consort-like companion suddenly re-entered the picture and almost physically hauled her out of her seat, saying, “You have talked enough. It’s time for some lunch, then rest,” without a word of courtesy to us. I asked quickly if we would have any time in the near future in Delhi for an unhurried meeting, preferably with Ashok also present, citing that I owed her a dinner. She said that she would be back in Delhi as of March 21st, but the 28th through 30th would not be good due to some friend’s wedding; the 31st onwards she’d be relatively free. She asked me to call her when I get back to Delhi.
The return drive was done by Julian. At some point along the way, Jane had tears in her eyes. I asked her if she was alright. She said, “We’re saying farewell to Kanha. That’s why I am sad.”
In the evening, after dinner back at KTL, a few things were discussed between us (Jane, Kim, Julian & I) and Faiyaz and Manohar. First, Manohar admonished us about eating at the roadside joint, for two reasons: hygiene, meaning that if we got sick, Manohar would get the blame for having one of KTL’s guests get sick; he was extra upset because he was just yelled at by Avtar today on the phone about Kim and Julian falling sick from eating the wrong things at Balaghat, thus reflecting poorly on KTL.
Second is that our guide would take the news back to the park guides circle that Anthony Marr et al. could not afford to eat in a proper eatery and had to eat on the cheap. “In a few days, everyone will know about it, and it would be bad for the reputation of KTL whose clients could not afford to eat at a more expensive place,” said Manohar. I thought only the Chinese people talk about saving face. This is outrageous, although I should be used to this kind of thing in India by now. I explained that it was the guide who suggested the place, and that I paid for the guide’s lunch and also Julian’s (Kim and Jane did not eat), and that by the end of the park drive at 18:00, I tipped the guide Rs.130, which doesn’t support the notion that I could not afford to eat at a good restaurant.
Faiyaz bought a whole bunch of newspapers, and found at least three articles in Hindi, concentrating on Mr. Anthony Marr and Dr. Anthony Marr. He predicted that there would be more in the evening edition of various other papers. “I would suggest that you not go with me to visit the panchayats tomorrow. I will give you the reason later.”
Later, he said that given the broad based newspaper coverage (almost all about me and little about him and Sarita), “you will be even higher profile than before, and Gopal will be even more irritated. If his informants spot you still working with the villagers, it would give them the excuse to do certain unpleasant things to you, including arrest you.”
“And that would be the end of your work here, and of Tiger Fund,” said Manohar.
I could not help but shoot back, “and that would be a great pity, wouldn’t it, given Tiger Fund’s critical role in saving tigers around here.”
Manohar broke into a grin. He had never thought much of Avtar’s conservation program. “Anthony, you have within a month done more than Tiger Fund has done in years, and, boom, brought Tiger Fund to such a high profile just like that – I mean, after years of silence since the death of Ravinder, suddenly, Tiger Fund is the talk of Kanha – I don’t want to see it suddenly snuffed out.”
Manohar is what I would call right wing, and if only because he is Avtar’s nephew I don’t trust him, but there is something primal in the man that makes me like him even if he tells on me to Avtar, which I know he does. For example, Avtar questioned me while he was here what I was doing with Jane and Faiyaz behind closed doors, because, he told me, Manohar had reported to him that there was a lot of closed door meetings going on.
After everyone had left, I told Faiyaz about Tirath declining to accompany us in the park today. Faiyaz did not seem at all surprised. He also explained to me that all the guides know me or at least know about me as “an internationally renowned wildlife conservationist”, and given that, any news about me is big news, and bad news is bigger than good news.
Triumph of the day. The newspaper articles did mention the cattle overpopulation problem, and in judicious terms. And I was quoted, not Sarita. So now, cattle overpopulation is news in Madhya Pradesh, since someone finally dares to openly talk about it. Hundreds of thousands of people are at this very moment reading about it, thinking about it, perhaps even talking about it. This in itself is a worthy accomplishment for this mission.
“Now, Tiger Uncle, you have finally achieved notorious status,” said Jane. “Now, the only way they can forgive you is to forget you.”
“I hope not. The idea is probably too unspeakable for them to easily forget it. I hope they would need a lobotomy to forget it.” I said.
“That’s a bit crude,” said Raminothna.
“If you mean rude, I apologize. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.”
“No. I did not mean rude. I meant crude.”
“I apologize for my manner.”
“It is not about manner. It is a matter of refinement in knowledge.”
“Knowledge in what?”
“The nature of memory.”
“Oh, I see. Lobotomy is too crude. You want super-precise microneurosurgery?”
“What do you mean by microneurosurgery?”
“I don’t know. Removal of a tiny but crucial piece of the brain?”
“Involving neuron deaths?”
“By the thousands, I should think.”
“Then no. Still not refined enough. Not a single neuron needs to die.”
“You can remove a piece of memory by rewiring the brain?”
“The circuitry is the memory. To run an electrical impulse through a subcircuit is to remember. To disconnect the subcircuit is to forget. To wire the brain is to learn. To wire someone else’s brain is to teach. To interrelate and interlink subcircuits is to think. To establish a new equilibrium in the brain after the day’s wiring, unwiring and rewiring during sleep is to dream.”
“So, as I absorb and accept what you’re saying, I’m actually rewiring my brain? As we speak?”
“Perhaps even wiring a brand new neuronal subcircuit?”
“Who does the rewiring for me? You?”
“Your own neurons themselves, of course.”
“No kidding. So, learning to ride a bicycle or to swim or to ski is to build a bike-riding or swimming or skiing neuronal subcircuit?”
“Your brain is full of them.”
”Conversely, to forget a thought would mean the dismantling of the subcircuit?”
“When did you quit smoking?”
“Do you still feel the urge?”
“Nope. Not for years.”
“Then consider your ex-smoking-subcircuit dismantled.”
I looked at the newspaper again.
“New neuronal subcircuits are right now being formed in the brains of millions of Indian newspaper readers who may not have spent one minute in their entire lives thinking about tiger conservation. And if they talk about it to their brethren, the new neuronal subcircuit configuration called ‘Tiger Conservation’ will be formed in other brains. Lamarckian evolution in a very physical sense - the evolution of neuronal circuitry configurations on the metabion level. Hopefully it will lead to a social change in India on the national level, such as reforming the park system,” said Raminothna.
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 18, 1999, Thursday, sunny, 22-34C
[07:48 @ Rm. 111, Kanha Tiger Lodge]
Only two weeks left before I come back to Vancouver. Then what? I’m craving it, but dreading it. I don’t know which sentiment is the stronger. If I craned my neck out my bedroom window in Vancouver’s West Point Grey and looked east, I would be able to see the mountains of Coquitlam looming above and behind the skyscrapers of downtown in the mid-distant. If I said “Screw it!” and started my car, I could be at your door in 45 minutes. Then what? For one thing, over the years, even when I was seeing you four times a week, I never just went to knock on your door; I would always phone first to make sure it was convenient for your mom. Now what? If I called first, she would just say no. If I skipped calling and just knocking on your door, it would just add fuel to fire. This way I might catch a glimpse of you at the door – you always come with your mom to the door - but after the door had slammed shut, with me on the outside, what would happen to you on the inside? It would be two months since February 3. Would you have settled back to a state of relative serenity, albeit in a desert rather than a lush meadow? Would my trying to see you accomplish anything but raise a chocking sand storm? But if I didn’t try, would you then think that I didn’t even care? Would you think that I did care, but was too cowardly to even try? This would really hurt. You know your Uncle Tony never shies away from a fight for a good cause. And what better cause in my personal life than you? Would you lose more respect for me with every passing day I didn’t come and see you or even call? Have you been waiting every day for the phone to ring? Are you slipping daily deeper into depression and despair? Would you even lose faith in love itself? How would this impact on your capacity to love? What would this do to the rest of your life? Would you then wilt in this Ar-Rub Al-Khali – the great Arabian Empty Quarters – into which you have been so brutally cast?
Manohar personally brought me a tray of biscuits and chai, a task usually performed by the lowest of lodge employees. I invited him to sit down and chat.
I tried an experiment on him. “If Person A would not dare to approach a house because the child in the house may be further harmed by Person B in the house, how would you assess the situation?”
“It is obviously a kidnap situation, where the child is being held hostage by Person B,” said Manohar promptly. “What is the demand?”
“Simply that Person A does not approach the house.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand the motive.”
“Let me try this. Have you heard the story of Solomon?”
“I’ve heard the name Solomon from somewhere. I saw the movie called King Solomon’s Mines – Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, if I recall correctly - when I was a kid.”
“One day when King Solomon was presiding over the court,” I explained, “two women came disputing custody of a baby. Solomon’s verdict: Cut the baby in two and give each woman one half.”
“Really? How barbaric.” The expression on his face reflected the image in his mind.
“Guess what happened after that?”
“The baby was cut in two?”
“The baby was given to one of the women.”
“Woman B accepted the verdict, but woman A asked Solomon to give the baby to woman B.”
“Aaah. I see,” said Manohar, a light dawning in his dark eyes. “My apologies, King Solomon. You were very wise. Am I right to assume that he awarded the baby to woman A?”
“You assume correctly. Now, do you think it matters who the biological mother is?”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Now, if I say that in the house situation, there is no Solomon. What do you predict would be the outcome?”
“I have my own analogy. Person A and Person B have a tug of war with the baby as the rope. The one letting go first loses the baby. Person B wins.”
“Unfortunately, you May be right.”
“So, where is the justice in this case?”
“There is none,” I said, sadly.
Solomon! Where are you???!!!
[22:55 @ Rm. 111, Kanha Tiger Lodge]
A day of rest.
Morning chat with Manohar and Sarita, mostly about the Indian caste system. At one point, Manohar went to the dining pavilion to get something. On his way back, he came across one of the chickens pecking round in his path and kicked at it.
“Hey!” I yelled.
When Manohar sat back down, he said, good-naturedly, “I may kick at chickens in my way, but you North Americans eat them.” He’s a vegetarian.
At Breakfast, we (Sarita, Manohar, Jane and I) had a big debate on conservation. Sarita said that foreign countries should not meddle in India’s affairs, that India can solve her own problems very well, thank you very much. This is classic Sarita. I was just about up to here with her. So I let loose something I’ve been holding back for days, “Then why did you work for Tiger Fund that accepts funding from CIDA? Your own salary comes from it.”
Sarita probably hadn’t thought things through before answering, “No, it’s not. It’s from Magnificent Tours.”
“Oh, really? So you are a Magnificent Tours employee, not a Tiger Fund employee?”
“Well, that’s what my pay cheque says.” She knew where I was going, but could not stop herself from letting me.
‘If you’re paid by Magnificent Tours, what are you doing here? Does Magnificent Tours have control over Tiger Fund? Why are you monitoring a Tiger Fund project? Are you aware that what you did over the last few days cost WCWC C$27,000?”
“Avtar tells me to do it. So I do it.”
“I’m sorry, you have no authority whatsoever over Faiyaz and certainly is no position to monitor whatever we do here.”
“And you have no authority to tell Tiger Fund what to do, or to do anything in the name of Tiger Fund,” She shot back vehemently.
“Why not? This is a joint WCWC/TF program, and TF is getting CIDA money from WCWC.”
“Not a single Canadian cent of it has yet to arrive.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Exactly as I said. Where is your much touted grant money?”
“Are you saying that Tiger Fund has not yet received any money from WCWC?” I said, genuinely surprised.
“In yesteryears, yes, but not this year. I might go as far as to say that your being here is funded by Tiger Fund, more like by Magnificent Tours.”
“WCWC wired C$15,000 to Tiger Fund on February 10, while I was in Delhi, as the first installment of Tiger Fund’s C$60,000 share of the C$100,000 grant. Avtar himself told me that he had received the money.”
“I wouldn’t know about that,” she said, uncertainly.
“Now you do. You do know that Tiger Fund’s share of the CIDA grant is C$60,000 per year, don’t you?”
“That I do.”
“And he paid for the new black Gypsy within two days of his receipt of the CIDA money, by the way. Quite a coincidence.”
She said nothing.
“Give me an honest answer, Sarita. You don’t really believe that Avtar is going to produce $60,000’s worth of tiger saving work, do you? What with the medicinal garden costing almost $10,000, and monitoring costing almost $30,000.”
“Ask Avtar, don’t ask me. I just do what I’m told, in the best way I can.” But there was doubt in her voice.
The debate continued. I asked Sarita whether the Amazon rainforest could be saved if managed by Brazil alone. She said, “It is not up to us to say. The Amazon belongs to Brazil and nobody but Brazil should have any power over it.” National pride above all else.
In another discussion with Jane, Sarita made it sound as if India was the most civilized country in the world at any point in history, and at one time the richest. But in my opinion, even if so, her saying so makes it less so. “That was why the British chose India to plunder,” she said. She also seemed to be of the opinion that everything good in the world today had originated from India at one time or another in the past, reminding me pointedly that Buddhism, a religion embraced by China, was of Indian origin, which prompted me to answer, “So, it is okay with you for an Indian religion to influence another culture?”
“Obviously, Sarita’s consciousness is stuck on the National level,” I whispered inwardly to Raminothna. “Thankfully, not all Indians share her Indo-centric and nationalistic view point. Faiyaz for one.”
“Not until all people on Earth have transcended the National level of Consciousness would the Earth be ready to integratively transcend,” said Raminothna.
“The more I see, the farther that day looks to be.”
“But it could be worse. Sarita’s consciousness could be stuck on the metabion level, which would make her extremely selfish and ego-centric, or on the cellular or molecular levels, where she would be entirely run by her bodily and hormonal desires.”
“Are you saying that, like matter, consciousness is multileveled?”
“Is it not?”
“So then, you’re also saying that this multi-leveled structure of consciousness is also a product of transcendent integration?”
“But surely, you can’t call whatever atoms and molecules have as ‘consciousness’.”
“As I said before, below the cellular level, it is called ‘proto-consciousness’.”
“So, an amoeba’s would be called cellular consciousness?”
“Yes. Cellular Consciousness is appropriate.”
“And higher up?”
“Metabion consciousness, citian consciousness, national consciousness, planetary consciousness...”
At 17:00, we (Faiyaz, Jane, Sarita and I) went to the free school to see the kids. Yesterday, for the first time in this third visit to Kanha of mine, Kiran came to the free school. She was the girl in my slideshow at a spinning wheel. She was also the one I took for an elephant ride once. Now she is noticeably taller, and just as pretty. Jane whispered to me at one point, “Gee, she's really watching you, what the hell is going on there.”
“What are you talking about?” I whispered back.
“She hasn’t taken her eyes off you since she came in. She also did not take her eyes off you when you were playing soccer.”
“She is only twelve or thirteen, for God’s sake.”
After school, Kiran beckoned me with a hand gesture and led me over to her village across the road. Her people brought out the Georgia Straight article with my picture on it and it was in pristine condition. She kept on trying to tell me something in Hindi, and made the hand gesture of her right and left hands alternatively holding her left and right wrists, which I could not decipher. She made another gesture that I could – to take photos of her and her friend Mena. But by then the sun had set, so, with the help of Punkesh, a smart kid of about 12, who said that he would like to be an engineer, I asked her to come to the school at 17:00 today, which she did.
When we got to the parking lot, the boys were playing soccer, so Faiyaz and I joined it on opposite sides, I on the side of Punkesh. This time, he chose me. I noticed that Kiran was there and, out of the corner of my eyes, that she was indeed looking at me. I asked Faiyaz what the hands on wrists gesture meant, and he also was mystified by it, but he cautioned me against getting close to Kiran, citing that her mother was a “loose woman” and Kiran had adopted a certain untoward code of conduct. Well, she is not for me to judge on hearsay, and I treat her just like any other kid. After the soccer game, we all went to the school courtyard to take photos, and I brought the Polaroid cam. A good photo session was had by all. After that, we all went into the school and I made the announcement to the kids, about 25 of them, of my impending departure. They looked sad, but they all knew that we weren’t there to stay forever. Only Punkesh said that I should stay for good, “at least for 5 more months”.
Then it was Jane’s turn, with tears in her eyes. She said, “You can be whatever you want to be. But first, you must stay in school with your very good teacher.”
The kids each sang us a little Hindi song, including the anthem of India. When our turn came, Jane and I sang the Canadian anthem back for them. So, the farewell has been said. I will not go back to the school tomorrow – the last school day. I will miss their innocent and eager little faces and big hearts. I hope they will not be corrupted like so many of their adults. I hope they will all dare to dream, and have their dreams all come true. If I ever come back to Kanha, to see them again would be one of my main reasons. I have tears in my eyes right now as I write about them.
This evening, when I emerged from my room to the dining pavilion for dinner, Sarita said, “Anthony, you’re now a superstar in Madhya Pradesh.” She showed me the new Hitavada article titled “Save tiger from extinction – Marr”, complete with photo of me standing beside Big Cub’s entrance letting kids in. A very respectable and respectful article by the reporter who asked me to keep him posted with the progress of my campaign. WCWC, for once, received its due share of mention. Tiger Fund, Fiayaz and Sarita got their mentions too, but only in the last paragraph. I hope Sarita is not too disappointed, because after all, all the honorable mention Jane received was “a white woman”.
“A very good white woman,” said Raminothna.
Good night, Christopher.
1999-03-18-4 The Hitavada ("The oldest and largest circulated English daily in Central India")
[Great Mission -
Anthony Marr educating children about protecting the majestic and beautiful tiger from extinction]
… Mr. Marr who is tirelessly working in India… said that the tiger is the greatest national treasure of India, but even more so, it is a global treasure that is revered the world over. “Though it belongs to no one, its loss would impoverish us all.”…
… Mr. Marr said that the Royal Bengal tiger might look the most secure of all remaining subspecies, but in truth, it is no more secure that the last carriage of a crashing train…
Currently, Mr. Marr, along with (Canadian volunteer Jane Kirkpatrick) and… (Indian conservationist) Faiyaz Khudsar are battling to educate the people living around the Kanha (Tiger Reserve)…
* * * * *
March 19, 1999, Friday, sunny, 23-35C
[11:34 @ Rm. 111, Kanha Tiger Lodge]
In the dining pavilion today I saw two framed poems by CJ, one titled “Tiger Song”, which I’ve already read, and the other is “Earth’s Hope”, which I have not.
If we are here then why don’t we help the Earth
Her water, her land and all her being
Recycle we know, waste not already learned
Who sleeps and destroys and isn’t terribly concerned
Is it the individual who really doesn’t care
That our children will suffer or others elsewhere
Not in our backyard who is so blind
To see all the trash produced by Mankind
We’ve already given poison to those who do not need
Those plastic and petrol products the worst disease
Is God so far away or has money won
This battle of love as important as our Sun
Blow the wind, burn fire and water breed
Create life, save nature, just follow me
My voice is one today yet not so alone
Others listen, know life and care for their own
How do I help, do good, is it too late
Aren’t the forces too great controlling fate
Brothers and sisters listen to me
We will control our destinies
For we are the seed and we will grow
We can make fire when it snows
Dive under water escaping heat
Laughing and crying as we need
Blow the wind, burn fire and water breed
Create life and give nature what she needs
Respect and love why don’t we
Don’t let money be your disease
Control we can should we be there
We are not weak, that’s if we care
Our small actions can save the mountains
Good deeds the sea
Picking up the land, help the sky and plant a tree
Guard a flower to remind you of all that is good
She’ll stay with you, need love and listen
As we should
[22:15] My being a “superstar” in Madhya Pradesh does have its drawbacks. Today, being medical clinic day, we picked up the doctor from Malanjkahn in the morning and drove him back after dinner. When Surinder was getting the Gypsy ready, Kim, who was going for the ride, asked me if I wanted to go with her. Faiyaz advised against it, saying that the better known I am, the more enemies I have and the less I should be seen, for my own safety. But what the hell, how many times do I get invited by Kim to go for a long moonlit ride? So I went. Manohar was heard to say to Faiyaz and Jane, “Sir Anthony is Lady Kim’s knight in shining armor tonight.” At Malanjkahn, as usual, we got stared at, but I couldn’t tell if it was due to the newspaper articles or just that I was in the company of a blonde. On the way back, it was a starry starry night.
This is my last full day at Kanha in this expedition, and, given my fall-out with Avtar, probably the last day at Kanha in my life. But perhaps one day, when my hair had turned white, and Punkesh and Kiran and Bishnu and Asha have all grown up, I’ll come back, if there is anything left of Kanha to come back to.
Sarita will be going back to Delhi, and she had a parting shot for me. She kindly offered to read my palm and methodically observed, “You have a small heart, a mediocre mind and a long life.” Well, one out of three ain’t bad. She also read Jane’s palm. Her verdict was, “Sorry to tell you this, Jane, but your life, including love life, will be very boring.” Her observation of me could be true, but she is dead wrong about Jane, who is having an exciting experience in India as Sarita speaks.
Sarita may not know it, but I am saddened that circumstances beyond my control placed her into an untenable position with me. Could I have made her feel welcome to the team? I’m sure I could, but she certainly didn’t make me want to try.
Her national consciousness was certainly an instant barrier, but it was not the main factor. The main factor I think is our ego – our metabion consciousness.
“Interesting. So if we invoke the ego, we should also invoke the other Freudian terms, like the Id and the Superego?”
“That would be appropriate.”
“So, what is the Id?”
“Cellular consciousness downwards, or inwards, which would manifest itself as intra-body sensations like hunger and thirst and pain and sexual pleasure and desire.”
“And the Superego would be Citian consciousness upwards, including Citian consciousness, national consciousness and planetary consciousness?”
“And further up as they arise, bearing in mind that two people, both with superegos, could still be diametrical opposites.”
“What do you mean?”
“Both you and Sarita have a superego, but while yours is planetary and beyond, hers tops up at the national level. Thus, a big part of your conflict. Still, it is higher than tribal consciousness.”
“How about the Jungian term Collective Unconscious and the concept of the Archtype?”
By definition: “The collective unconscious is a part of the psyche which can be negatively distinguished from a personal unconscious by the fact that it does not, like the latter, owe its existence to personal experience and consequently is not a personal acquisition. While the personal unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one time been conscious, but which have disappeared from consciousness through having been forgotten or repressed, the contents of the collective unconscious have never been in consciousness, and therefore have never been individually acquired but owe their existence exclusively to heredity. Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes.“
“I read elsewhere that the collective unconscious reveals aspects of universal human experience, as well as reflect innate tendencies.”
“It would seem that the collective unconscious corresponds to the genetic, and therefore molecular proto-consciousness, and in part cellular consciousness, whereas the personal consciousness would correspond to the cellular and especially metabion levels of consciousness, and involve ‘complexes’ of neuronal subcircuits.”
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 20, 1999, Saturday, sunny, 22-34C
[17:57 @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
Last night, I was awakened by a knock on my door at 02:00. Upon opening the door in my bath robe, with tussled hair, I found lodge employee Raji standing there with an unfamiliar young man who said, “Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh. Go now.” My first impression was that they caught wind that I was about to be arrested and wanted to spirit me out of there under the cover of darkness. So I quickly got dressed and went out to get set for loading my luggage, and found the whole lodge still asleep. I went to the roofed parking area, and indeed saw a white Tata Sumo there with the two Gypsies, but no driver. Then I heard a sound, turned, and saw Raji sitting there in a chair, wrapped in a poncho, apparently serving his night shift duty as if nothing unusual was happening. I went to him and asked about the driver and he just replied in Hindi. Finally, I went to knock on Faiyaz’s door, woke him up, and asked him what was going on. Upon questioning, Raji said that they thought I was the only person going to Bandhavgarh, and for some reason, the driver thought it was for a 02:00 or 02:30 departure. So I just got back to bed and hoped for some sleep. Talk about Indian time.
Second round. We were supposed to get going shortly after 06:00. Everyone got up at 05:30, was assembled by 06:00, ready to go, at which point Manohar recognized the driver as one who’d had a history of accidents. According to Manohar, several people had been killed, and one of the park guards he once hit was still paralyzed. So Manohar sent him back to Baihar for another driver, and the new driver did not come until about 08:30. So, finally, we (Manohar, Faiyaz, Jane, Sarita and I) got on the road after 09:00.
I would have loved to have Kim come with us to Bandhavgarh, but Avtar has put a stop to that, and Kim could not fight it. We had a long hug. “See you in Vancouver,” I said.
Sarita is supposed to take the Umaria train back to Delhi this evening. Faiyaz will go to Delhi to his sister’s on March 26th, and I will take a car to Khajuraho on March 28th, from where I will take a plane to Delhi. And Jane? I’m not sure, and I don’t think she is either.
When the Tata Sumo was pulling out of the parking lot, village kids lined the long driveway, holding out flowers and waving. I reached out my hand to touch as many of them as possible. I spotted Punkesh. On the spur of the moment, I took off my hat and gave it to him through the car window. I looked for Kiran, but did not see her, and felt a little bang. Finally, the car reached the end of the driveway, and turned left on to the highway, and then, from my left rear window seat, I saw her sitting at their Manjitola village booth across the road from the gate, with a baby in her lap. I have never seen her there before. She gazed at the vehicle, as if longingly, while it pulled away, but I doubt that she saw me, since the right rear window was closed and tinted. In front was Manohar at the left front window seat and Faiyaz in the middle, and they spared her not a glance, but Jane saw her from the rear right seat and waved, and after the Sumo had shifted on to high gear, I turned to look out the rear window. Kiran and I exchanged a moment of eye contact. I waved, but the road dust had already obscured her. Jane gave me a surreptitious yet knowing glance. I thought about Kiran off and on along the way, not sexually by any means, but was haunted by a sense of melancholy. If it was for her, it would only last an hour or two, but if it was for Kanha, which includes her, it would last the rest of my life. If I succeed in persuading WCWC to drop TF, I may never see Kanha ever again, and of course her. Good bye, Kiran. Good bye, Kanha. I will never forget you.
How ephemeral we are. Hello. Good bye. Birth. Death. How many atoms in my body actually belong to me? None. I am but a configuration maintained by the atoms and molecules amongst themselves during their temporary stay in their temporary totality I call my body. When I die, my atoms and molecules will disperse, and my configuration will dissolve, leaving nothing.
“Except the changes you’ve made to the world while you live, which, I hope, will continue far into the future, both within the species Homo Sapiens while it lives, and in the world even after Homo Sapiens itself has gone extinct.”
“Like the changes I hopefully have made to Kanha and India, even though the conference did not happen, and even if I never return.”
Have I been speaking aloud? Manohar and Faiyaz both turned around and looked at me. Manohar gave me a thumbs-up sign.
I reached forward and gave each of their shoulders a pat.
“I’ve been thinking too. The spiral of integrative transcendence, the I.T. Spiral, is in actuality like a DNA-like double helix, or a galaxy like twin spiral, whose yin-yang sides are consciousness and matter respectively.”
“The I.T. Twin Spiral and its O.S.E.S. Cycle. Finally, up to the Planetary level at least, the BIG PICTURE is complete. Congratulations.”
Raminothna and I exchanged a spiritual high five. A highly worthy thought with which to conclude my third sojourn at Kanha.
We rolled into the Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge parking lot around 15:30, just when three Gypsies were about to roll out of camp to the park, one driven by lodge manager Mohinder Sidhu and another with Tiger Trust officer Darshan Nagra in the passenger seat. Darshan and I had a good working relationship back in 1997 and 1998. I found him slight obsequious, but otherwise very likeable. He has always been very warm towards me. But when he shook hands with me this time, he did not smile and looked slightly apprehensive. In the Gypsies were about 10 middle-aged to older Caucasian tourists. Mohinder invited me to climb on board his Gypsy on the spot. Having had enough of vehicles for a day, I gracefully declined. “Tomorrow,” I said.
So tomorrow, Bandhavgarh, here I come!
And wishing you were here, as always. Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 21, 1999, Sunday, sunny, 14-35C
[03:57 @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
“And the intrigue continues,” observed Jane.
Yesterday, Jane and I shared dinner by ourselves, whereas Manohar, Faiyaz, Mohinder, Darshan and Sarita dined together a little later on the balcony of the main building. During our dinner, Darshan came to sit with us, and in his usual somewhat overly pleasing manner, placed his services entirely at our disposal throughout my one-week stay at Bandhavgarh. He added the caution that the problems at Bandhavgarh are largely “political”, and whatever information he may provide to us had to be kept confidential. He would be busy today, the last day for the group of the dozen or so tourists here at BTL, but as of tomorrow, he would be able to devote fulltime to assist me. I mentioned a rather innocuous “talking to villagers” and “giving slideshows to schools”, and he seemed to have no problem with these. But shortly after that, Sarita pulled him aside and had a long one-on-one with him, during which Jane made the above comment. Now, because of Sarita, my initial trust in Darshan evaporated.
While they were having their exclusive session in Hindi, Jane and I had our own in English. We came to the conclusion that, if possible, one of the most effective things we could do within a week would be to dig out the truth of the situation at Bandhavgarh, whatever it is, be it official corruption, privileged poaching, the heavy loss of at least four known tigers over the last 12 months (and how many unknown?) out of a supposed population of only 40, and publish it internationally. Of special interest is the fate of Sita (“SEE-ta”), the most famous tigress in the world, featured with her seventh and last litter of cubs in the cover article of National Geographic, December 1997. It seems to be general consensus (Faiyaz, Manohar, Belinda) that Bandhavgarh needs a lot more help than Kanha. In fact, I think Bandhavgarh is in big trouble.
Again, to accomplish this fact finding, I would need a lot of help, at least in terms of very exact translation, which I wonder if Darshan would be willing or able to provide.
Sarita is finally gone. All at once the tension evaporated, except a lingering sense of suspicion she left behind.
“You may not look at it this way, but she resents the hell out of you for being here to, in her view, monitor what Tiger Fund does or does not do with the CIDA money, and interfere with what Tiger Fund does or does not do to save tigers in India. And though they acknowledge that you do good work, they also feel that the better work you do, the worse they would look in comparison,” said Jane. “Knowing that the more you look, the more you’d see, and the longer you stay the more you would do, Avtar and Sarita are just counting the days till you leave, and the sooner, the better. As far as she’s concerned, and Avtar too, you have way overstayed your welcome.”
[11:57] We just returned from a wonderful wildlife viewing experience back in breath-taking Bandhavgarh. Off the bat, we (Faiyaz, Manohar, Jane and I) saw the most famous male tiger in the world, the 550 lb. Charger, thanks to Manohar, whose eagle eyes first spotted him from a great distance – all the way across a large meadow where the big cat was but a very slow moving speck of yellow against the brilliant green background of sal trees. The jeep (not a Gypsy, but a real Jeep this time), driven by an old man with a long white bread in a long white robe looking like a guru – a most incongruent picture - raced along a dirt path skirting the meadow until we got to the old boy (16). At one point, when Charger was crossing the road behind the jeep, the driver put it in reverse and almost ran him over. We yelled, “Roko! Roko!! ROKO!!!” The jeep came to a screeching halt, within inches of Charger’s muscular flank. I was at the tailgate. If I reached out, I could have touched him. Of course, it could go both ways, and his touch might not be quite as gentle. All our commotion caused him to look up directly at us (which tigers seldom do), and growled us a warning. Then he just calmly walked into the forest, patrolling his kingdom in the twilight of his reign, and of his life. This might be the last time I would see him, in his life or mine. Good luck, Charger. We shall all miss him; we certainly miss Sita. I do. I’ve seen her no fewer than a dozen times in yesteryears, and her cubs. Other than Charger, we also saw a jackal, a thick python who ate a Rhesus Macaque monkey yesterday and was lying motionless in a gulley digesting its meal, lots of birds, and of course some of Bandhavgarh’s exquisite scenery.
During the park drive, I came across many familiar faces, including the park guard who made a brief appearance in the Champions of the Wild documentary.
Most of all, we encountered Rajesh Kumar, the park guide who accompanied the Omni-Film-crew on the “Sermon on the Mound” shoot, and who wrote me a letter via Andrew Gardner and Michael Chechik last year. He recognized me first, stopped his jeep, and walked over to ours to greet me. With pain written on his face, he told me what several other people, included Darshan, had already done, “We lost at least four tigers here last year. 10% of the population. We need help.”
“I would like to talk to you,” I said to him. “I’ll be at the Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge over the next week.”
“I will come tomorrow evening, if convenient to you,” he said eagerly.
“Please do. I’ll be there,” I said, genuinely enthusiastic with the prospect.
“I like him,” said Jane. “He has heart. He is transparently sincere about the tiger, like our Anthony and Faiyaz and Manohar here.”
“And our Jane,” Manohar said. “I agree with you about Rajesh.”
“Thanks, Manohar,” said Jane. “Seems like we’ve found the very person in Bandhavgarh we’ve been looking for. Weren’t we wishing for just such a person to be here only yesterday evening?”
“Yes, he’s a great guy. If there is anybody here I trust, that’s him. But he’s only a park guide. What can he do?” said Faiyaz.
I’m staying in the same mud-hut as the one I stayed at during the Champions of the Wild film shoot back in November and December 1997, except now that it is March, when not a drop of rain has fallen for weeks, the hut is bone dry. Back in November 1997, the walls were so soaked with moisture they were about to crumble, and my shirts hang on racks like wet dishtowels.
Within a stone’s throw of the hut in the middle of a field is a platform, made of thin tree trunks tied together like a raft, on stilts fifteen feet high, accessible only by a vertical ladder built into the structure. During the growing season, the platform is used as a watchtower for crop-plundering chital and wild boar at night. Of late, a leopard has been making nocturnal rounds about the lodge grounds, and the platform has been used for that purpose.
Around 10 this evening, Darshan took me on a night walk along the park fence line for about a mile. We each brought an electric torch. It was not at all like my nightly starlight strolls at Kanha, but more like a sentry patrol. He shone his torch beam into every thicket and every shadow, and once every so often did a general 360o sweep with it.
“What I’m checking for are two bright green reflective dots - the eyes of the leopard. It could be a tiger too, but unlikely,” he whispered. “If the leopard is here, it would most certainly be looking at us right this second.”
Occasionally there were sounds of animals going through thicket, but a leopard would be quieter than that.
When we got back to the lodge compound, I climbed up the “watch tower” to check it out. No one was there, but there was a thick grass mat. It makes a great star-gazing platform; gets me 20 feet closer to them.
Venus is bright to the west. I’m not sure if it’s Jupiter or Saturn overhead. Such vast space out there, even inside just one out of 300 billion solar systems in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is but one of 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
This is the brave new world of Planetary Organism Earth if and when it integratively transcends into being. And we Homo Sapiens will be in the driver’s seat when Earth starts reaching out to its interplanetary environs – if we pass this cosmic test standing in our path today.
“There is never a bad ending.”
“Are you saying that if our ICBMs fly, if chemical and biological weapons are about to be poured into the bowels of a nation, you are going to intervene?”
“No. That would be in violation of the interstellar protocol.”
“So, what kind of a good ending would that be?”
“As I may have said before, let the destructive self-destruct, and the transcendent self-transcend. Isn’t this good for all concerned? Isn’t this good for the Universe itself?”
“So, speaking optimistically, on the chance that we manage to transcend, how should we proceed after that?”
“Along the I.T. Twin Spiral, of course, through the four O.S.E.S. quadrants on the Planetary level of organization.”
“Yes, of course. So organismization will yield to speciation? How will this transition unfold?”
“Planetary Organism Earth will mature, and reproduce.”
“What do you mean by a planetary organism maturing?”
“The maturing of her reproductive system specifically.”
“How will she reproduce?”
“Once the Planetary Organism Earth has organismized into being, it will be the original organism on the Planetary level of organization within the Solar System. After a period of maturation, it will reproduce, begetting offspring planetary organisms on other planets within the Solar System and their satellites, or in interplanetary space. Earth’s ‘seeds’ will be space colonies - citian organisms in their own right, which will contain the genes and memes of Earth. Once landing on other planets and their satellites, or stabilized in orbit, these citian level ‘Earth seeds’ will quickly form national organisms, and eventually planetary organisms. Thus, yet a new O.S.E.S. Cycle, on the Planetary level of organization, will unfold. Like the lower-level organisms before them, these planetary organisms will speciate, form a multi-planetary ecosystem, and eventually inter-planetary society, which, if all go well, will become the Stellar Organism Sol - on the Stellar level of organization.”
“How will the Planetary organisms speciate?”
“Since they will all have their own unique environments, they will divergently evolve, into quite as many different Planetary species as there are Planetary organisms. These various Planetary organisms/species will have divergently evolved on all of the Molecular, Cellular, Metabion, Citian and National levels. On the Metabion level, for example, the humans on a high gravity planet, compared to those on a low gravity planet, will look quite different. So will be their social organization and cultural content. The Solar System is going to be a rich and diverse interplanetary ecosystem, albeit a crowded one.”
“How would interplanetary sociality develop?”
“Much like how international sociality on Earth has been developing, minus the wars. Different planets and satellites have different physical endowments. Jupiter, for example, has an outer atmosphere of hydrogen, so it could be an exporter of hydrogen to other Planetary organisms. Many of Jupiter’s satellites, such as Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, have vast quantities of water, and Io is rich in sulphur, etc., whereas those free-space National organisms living near the asteroid belt will have easy access to the heavier metals, especially iron. And, who knows, some of these Planetary and National organisms may become exporters of books or music, or super-high-tech, or even sports entertainment. Trading of these resources and commodities will eventually facilitate a Solar-System-wide network of specialization and cooperation for the common good, which will develop into a Solar-System-wide interplanetary society. In due course, the interplanetary society of the Solar System will integratively transcend into the Stellar Organism Sol. This should take care of the next little while.”
“How long is a little while?”
“How long is a period? How long is an era? How long is an eon?”
It has been much longer than an eon since I saw you last, or so it feels. We may have moved into new eras in our lives. But would they be the same one? Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 22, 1999, Monday, sunny 14-34C
[01:12 (1999-03-23-2) @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
Today is without a doubt the most amazing day since our landing in India on January 20.
The safari started slowly, in fits and starts, with lots of sitting and listening.
While waiting, I asked Raminothna, “If and when we go to the stars, what will be awaiting us out there? Would it be star wars, or heavenly peace?”
“This is a tough question to answer. If I told you, I’d ruin a major sector of science fiction.”
“For the sake of Christopher, for the sake of Earth, for the sake of all life in the Universe, I hope and pray for the latter. Would it not be a tragedy of biblical proportions if, after all her trials and tribulations, and learning and living the way of harmony, Earth finally organismizes itself and manages to venture out of her cradle, only to be killed in some interstellar crossfire, or worse, to kill? What is the point to achieve peace on Earth, just so we could go and fight wars among the stars?”
“For the sake of Christopher,” toasted Raminothna.
“But competition among species has always happened, so far, when the IT Spiral reaches the Ecosystemization quadrant of the OSES Cycle on any level. So shouldn’t it occur on the interstellar levels as well. Is warfare inevitable whenever different species of Stellar Organisms encounter each other for the first time in interstellar space?”
“War of the Worlds, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and even the highly positive Star Trek are often but the physical manifestation of Earth’s own immature paranoia. Just as evolution can translevel-progress from Darwinian to Lamarckian, so, cannot conflict translevel-progress to harmony, and war to peace?”
Towards the late morning, we came upon a 3-elephant “tiger show” centered on a dried river bed, but with about a dozen Gypsies in line ahead of us. With no other elephants to be had, we settled in the queue.
While we were waiting, several things happened. First, a tall Caucasian man of about 30 approached our jeep. I recognized him as among a group of people in another Gypsy who was staring at me intensely in a previous road encounter. Well, I thought, another recognition. And it was. He introduced himself as Andrew Guppy, from England, and said that one of his party, a young British woman, had recognized me from a TV wildlife documentary on “Channel 5”, and wanted to meet me in person. “Treat it as a blind date,” he said. As it turned out, he was a tour operator and the woman was one of his group. He then proceeded to talk about Ranthambhore where his group recently visited, and complained bitterly that Valmik Thapar had commandeered the lakes for a BBC film shoot and barred tourists from there. He thought that it was not just a temporary measure, but a permanent situation henceforth. Faiyaz and I exchanged glances. Tourism vs conservation again.
After he had left, another small group came forth. This time it was a big Ukrainian man of about 30 also, accompanied by his very pretty daughter of about 7 and a Russian-speaking Indian man of about 50. He began rattling rapidly in Russian, with his Indian friend translating. He was seriously concerned about the fate of the Siberian tiger and heard from his park guide, who happened to be Rajesh Kumar himself, that there was a “world renowned tiger conservationist in our midst” (me), and that he should speak to me. He very reverentially outlined who he was (a rich businessman headquartered in the Ukraine) and what his concerns were, and asked me more or less to help him create and direct (directly or indirectly) a Siberian tiger conservation program funded by himself. I was quite astounded. We made a tentative appointment for a meeting some time in the evening.
While still waiting, I said to Faiyaz, “While we wait, why don’t we go and talk to the guides about tonight’s video show. They’re all here. What better time to do it?”
We’re talking about the Champions of the Wild documentary, which was filmed at Bandhavgarh, tonight at 19:30 in the open-air amphitheatre, with video projector and large screen yet.
Faiyaz nodded yes and jumped off the Gypsy. First he went to grab Darshan who was in another Gypsy, and the two of them went and talked to all the other guides. Shortly, he came back and said that the guides all said they would attend, and that Rajesh requested a meeting some time this evening since he had to go to Kanha early tomorrow morning for four days. They also invited the British Group and the Russian businessman.
It’s going to be a jam-packed evening.
After about a half-hour wait, we (Faiyaz, Jane and I) finally mounted a big male elephant. At that point, my camera film number was about #17 out of 36. When we got to the tigers – the three big 28-month-old cubs of tigress Nurani, who had already detached from her, but were still hanging out together – it seemed that we were just a touch too late, for we saw while approaching from a distance that they were just walking off from the dry streambed, where they were sitting, into the thickets. We nonetheless maintained visual contact with them and when we arrived, we found they were walking parallel to us behind a scene of bamboo. Our mahout urged our elephant to go ahead of them to wait around a gentle bend and, lo and behold, they did one by one re-emerge from the undergrowth back onto the streambed. And there, they continued walking for a short distance, and then one settled down under a tree and the other two lay down side by side in the sand right in sight of us. Meanwhile, our mahout continued maneuvering our elephant for better angles, and our three cameras kept clicking away. Soon, I heard Faiyaz groan that he was out of film. I glanced at my camera and saw that I had advanced to #33. By then, fortunately, the three almost full grown cubs had settled down in their new positions and I snapped off the last four frames and felt my camera having turned into a box of gems. The cubs were absolutely perfect, in flawless condition, without a single blemish, radiating youthful majesty. Their images should move many hearts.
Being one of the last groups in line and the last load for this elephant, we had the luxury of not having to return to the waiting area at any set time. So we just stayed there until finally the cubs got up again and vanished into the tickets for good. I whispered to them a heartfelt “Good luck.”
I heard Jane whisper behind me, “Now I fully understand why you do what you are doing.” Yes, whisper, always, in the realm of the tiger.
“This is the love side of the impulse,” I whispered back. “We’ve got to save this exquisite beauty for our children.”
“If there is a love side, there is a hate side?”
“The users of tiger parts, the poachers, the smugglers, the traders, the trophy hunters. I just have this irresistible urge to crush them.”
“Too bad that of the billion people in India, hardly 1% are aware of the tiger’s plight,” whispered Faiyaz. “All they see, and at that rarely, are the painted images of tigers on walls for one commercial products or another, or as the mount of the Hindu goddess Durga. Unfortunately, few if any of these images manage to capture the essence of the tiger’s beauty and majesty in the least, and are therefore incapable of generating love and reverence for it. But I have seldom seen anyone who has seen live tigers in a forest who does not want to protect them.”
At noon, we returned to the lodge and had our lunch. There, while we (Jane, Faiyaz, Darshan and I) were seated around one of the smaller tables, I asked Darshan to call Latika (“La-TEE-ka”) on my behalf to arrange a meeting with me. Latica is a very beautiful Indian woman who is also a prominent Oxford educated tiger conservationist. In my previous visit to Bandhavgarh, she recognized me from her jeep and invited me to join her on a foot patrol. She had a project of using infrared-triggered cameras, about thirty pairs I believe, to study the Bandhavgarh tigers, and told me that many of the night shots were not of wild animals at all, but of humans who had no business being there, meaning poachers.
When Darshan called her residence, which was a tourist lodge called the Jungle Camp, to which the Omni Film Crew moved from the Tiger Lodge back in 1997, it was Latika herself who answered the phone. Darshan said that she seemed happy to hear from me and asked me if I had plans in the late afternoon. I said “no”. She said she was going into the park to do some work, and would call me when she returned to her lodge. I said “fine”. But after I had dropped the phone, Faiyaz reminded me of the video show, and I called her back, asking her to attend. She asked for the time and place and I passed the phone back to Darshan, and that ended the connection.
Shortly after that, I went for a nap, but was awakened by Faiyaz’s knock on the door, saying that we had to go and meet the park officials for permission to hold the video show (so what’s new? Bandhavgarh is not Kanha, but it is still in India) and to invite them to it. He said it was urgent and had to be done within minutes, but after I had struggled out of bed, we sat around for nearly half an hour for their lordships to call us back.
While waiting, we got the hierarchy of Bandhavgarh’s officialdom figured out, which by nomenclature is different from Kanha’s. In ascending order, it is: Forest Guard, Deputy Ranger, Range Officer, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Deputy Director, Chief Forest Conservator (CFC - Bandhavgarh’s equivalent of Kanha’s Field Director).
Finally, they did call and we did go, and it turned out to be actually quite a pleasant meeting. Present were the CFC, the Deputy Director (of the park, Bandhavgarh has no buffer zone), a couple of other VIP-looking men and an older Indian gentleman in white robes who was obviously respected by the officials, who introduced himself as from, surprise, Toronto, but who had maintained a once-a-year-visitation schedule over the last 20 years. They were very complimentary of what I do and gave their verbal condonation of whatever outreach we wished to do. The CFC even volunteered his personal assistant at our disposal on grounds that the aid was fluent in local dialect and would eliminate whatever alienation there might be due to Faiyaz’s outsider-dialect. This I interpret as a double-edged sword, partly as a help and partly as yet another “monitor”. I respectfully invited them to see the video and they said they would come. One major happy surprise: the old white-robed gentleman on his own accord talked about the wisdom of raising park fees and having part of the proceeds go to the park and the other part to the villagers, and the other VIPs agreed!
Back to the lodge, I had a cold water shower and shampoo. After that, Darshan took us (Jane, Faiyaz and me) out for a walk along the park boundary nearest the lodge. There we saw fencing of three different configurations. The first we encountered was a combination of a 3’-ditch, a 4’-loose-stone-wall on the park-side of the ditch, and a 5’-electric-fence behind it. We came upon breaches in the stone wall here and there, and eroded parts in the ditches. Darshan opined that this fence system may partly keep slow cattle from entering the park, but it was ineffective to keep fleet-footed deer from jumping out. Farther on, we came across a 4’-ditch / 5’-4-strand electric fence combination, some of whose wires had been cut, some hanging loose and some strands tied together to make passing room underneath. We touched the wires and found there was no current in them. Darshan said that the locals regularly cut the wires, and of course once cut in just one place, the whole fence goes down. While I previously favored electric fencing due to lower cost, this discovery changed my thinking in an instant. And then we came across a 6’-chain-link-fence / ditch combination and this seemed the most effective of all, but upon closer inspection, we also saw cut holes here and there big enough to admit people (wood-cutters), goats and perhaps cows. Looking at the landscape on both sides of the fence, we saw forest with a grazed fringe on the park side, and a devastated wasteland on the other, with a large herd of cattle still nibbling on whatever grass and root remnants still remaining, tended by a boy with an axe in his hand. So, all of the fences were ineffective to one extent or another, and without a fence on other parts of the park perimeter, the damage to the park can be imagined. It seems that a regular foot patrol of the fence line and park periphery is needed, which currently does not exist.
The next question then is: What to do with violators? Fine them? They can’t even look beyond their next meal, and their next bundle of firewood.
Back at the lodge, we (Faiyaz, Jane, Darshan and I) sat together and strategized on what most effect thing we could do while I’m still here. I openly told Darshan what I had in mind. Given just a week, an outreach program would be of limited scope, but a fact-finding mission could be immensely impactful if we could discover sensational material that can generate a high profile article for media in the West. And what more sensational material than what happened to the most famous tigress in the world – Sita? If we could find out how she died, we would automatically also have uncovered the flaws of the entire Bandhavgarh park system. Darshan seem instantly relieved, and I think I know why. Sarita had laid down the law about certain things she predicted I would want to do, which did not include what I just said I wanted to do. Not only did he support the idea, but told me that he had information to offer.
Soon, we had to break to change for the evening. We got to the amphitheatre by 07:10 and, with the help of the local technician, set up the video projector – under the stars! By the time most of the people had assembled, which included the park officials, the British group, the Russian businessman’s family, Latica and friends, the guides and a number of local villagers, it was past 07:30. At 07:40, Faiyaz and I gave our intro, pre-corrected the few factual errors in the video, and let Champions roll, at the end of which Darshan announced that I would give a slideshow presentation same time tomorrow night. After that, there was the usual hand-shaking and questions and comments, amongst which was the British groups’ invitation to the White Tiger Lodge for a drink around 21:30, and the Ukranian family’s invitation for a meeting at the same lodge at 20:30.
The meeting with the Ukrainian family took place in their room, attended by his family, Rajeen Saxena, MD (the Russian speaking Indian gentleman), Rajesh Kumar, our guide-of-the-day, and us – Faiyaz, Jane, Darshan and me. The Ukrainian gentleman, Mr. Valera Levchinovskiey, further introducing himself and what he wanted to accomplish, his anguish at not quite knowing what to do, and his need and desire to have me help save the Siberian tiger, mentioning the possibility of my going to Russia at some juncture. At one point, he was talking with great disdain about German hunters going to hunt the Russian Brown bear. I asked him a few questions and told him a little bit about my 1996 anti-bear-hunting campaign, and the amount of media I generated in two months. His eyes and those of his Indian translator lit up. Shortly after that, we exchanged contact info and wound up our one-hour meeting. We exchanged contact information and agreed to communicate further by phone and email.
Rajeen asked me to call him as soon as I get back to Delhi so that he could arrange a meeting between myself and (ready?) Sonia Gandhi (!) – the very high profile leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament - “since your video included footage of Indira Gandhi.”
The R&R with the British group followed at the lounge, and Jane was thrilled with her rum-and-coke. I talked to two people especially. One was Delia Jarman, the English woman who recognized me, who is a librarian and a self-professed read-aholic – my “blind date”. The other was a part-Chinese American woman named Karen Tan who is in the middle of a year-long round-the-world trip, including a motor-cycle segment, with business interest in Tara Handmade Paper & products, “the commercial wing of Development Alternatives, Paper from recycled cotton.”
In the same group was also Alan & Dorothy Gregson, an older couple from Dundas, Ontario, Canada (!), both retired from Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology. They wanted to maintain contact.
Whew! As if all these were not enough, we also arranged a 22:30 meeting back at the Tiger Lodge with Rajesh. While driving back to the lodge, with Mohinder at the wheel, we follow a motorcycle which happened to be carrying Rajesh and our tobacco-chewing guide-of-the-day. The meeting, attended by Faiyaz, Jane, Darshan, Rajesh, the other guide, Mohinder and me, had the making of a spy novel episode. I laid it down on the table what this meeting was for – info gathering for the international article – and secrecy guaranteed if requested. It lasted deep into the night (01:00).
The information that came to light is stunning. After breakfast tomorrow, Faiyaz, Jane and I will convene to transcribe the copious notes they had taken into my computer. It should blow the minds of anyone in the West even remotely interested in tiger conservation.
It is now 03:24. I can hardly keep my eyes open. Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 23, 1999, Monday, sunny 14-34C
[22:39 @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
The last 24 hours I’ve been clandestinely whisked from one place to another, to interview one person then another, gathering information from the death of Sita to other missing tigers, to compensation for cattle lifting by tigers, to villages still in the park and their impact on wildlife, to cooperation between forest department and local people or lack thereof, to anti-poaching work or lack thereof, to park protection measures or lack thereof, to corruption in officialdom, to possible solutions… I was alternatively surprised, amazed, dismayed, saddened, incredulous, disheartened, bewildered, horrified, infuriated, disgusted, outraged...
Incredible as it may seem, I’m being treated like some kind of hero. No, more like a savior. But it is not hard to deduce that their prime motive was nothing more than desperation verging on despair. They are clutching at straws and I just happened to float by. Well, a little more than that. I’ve been here twice before, once to know the place and the other to be the “star” of the Champions of the Wild film shoot. Champions has been shown in 20 countries around the globe. They see me as bringing the beauty and plight of Bandhavgarh to world attention. They hear tourists telling them it was because of their seeing Champions that they had heard of Bandhavgarh, and been impressed enough to have come to see it. In this morning’s park drive, our park guide and a park guard serenaded me with a song they made up last night after seeing the Champions video, sung with pride and gusto. “We are the Champions of Bandhavgarh!” And this “we” seems to include me. So I sang it along with them, as did Jane, Faiyaz and even Manohar.
To protect the privacy, security and safety of those who guided me and those whom I interviewed, their identities will not be revealed here. Suffice to say that every piece of the following information has come directly from the mouth of somebody in the know in Bandhavgarh.
The following information has been organized into categories. It is a composite of several interviews. I have recorded every significant point during the interviews, and I have not omitted any point recorded. Here they are:
1. The death of Sita
It is not an overstatement to say that Sita was and still is revered by the locals. Even though her death was estimated to have occurred in August 1998, now in March 1999, it is still the talk of the place. Whenever I hear her name mentioned, I see a deep sadness in the speaker. Sita was 17 years old. Some of the guides themselves are that old. In other words, they have known her all their lives. They have seen her bring up seven litters of 18 cubs, out of which seven survived to adulthood to bring up cubs of their own. It also so happens that Sita’s territory was near the entrance of the park, and was therefore one of the most traversed, making her one of the most seen tigresses at Bandhavgarh, and since to me Bandhavgarh is the tiger-viewing capital of the world, then Sita was likely the most seen wild tigress in the world.
Basically everybody believes she has been poached. The guides knew where she was everyday, until August 11, 1998, after which no one had seen her nor found her despite trying and trying and trying. One forest guard found some blood and tiger meat. He reported this to the authorities. He was ordered to clean up the mess, and to shut up.
They even told me the name of a poacher and know where to find him, but said that it would do no good to report him, nor the person who bought her skin, because her real killer was higher up.
There seems to be agreement about how Sita died – caught in a leg-hold trap and beaten to death with sticks. One said that people around Jungle Camp heard a tiger screaming on August 10. Sita’s skin was moved from Tala (a village on the verge of Bandhavgarh) to Umaria around March 1.
Park officials do not seem to want the death of Sita to be known. Why? Because the park receives special funding in the name of Sita from some NGOs, including the World Bank. But evidence for Sita’s poaching is available, one told me, if we go after the Forest Conservator, the Assistant Forest Conservator and the Ranger of Tala, which means to the top.
“Mother is missing in the eyes of her cubs, born Sept. 96, about 2 years old when Sita died, about 2.5 years old now,” said one. “They sometimes scream and are sometimes found still together which is biologically unusual. We think it’s due to the lack of the ‘last training chapter’.” I wonder if these are the same as the cubs at the dry river bed we saw yesterday.
Another said that they are also slightly less competent in hunting than other tigers their age, attributing this to their lack of this last training phase.
Sita was one of the four or five ‘wives’ of Charger, another being Mohini. Because of his old age, he’s not as efficient a hunter as before. For some months, he’s been scavenging the kills of Mohini instead of Sita. Previously, Charger had never been seen eating the kills of Mohini’s, always Sita’s only. This indicates Sita’s absence.
Sita and Charger used to mate once every 2.5 years or so. This should be the year, around early March, but Sita has not appeared.
2. Other tiger disappearances
Some say at least six tigers have gone missing in 1998-1999. The bones of two tigers were seized from Dobha village. One very big male has not been seen since April 1998 from the Raj Bahera village area of the park. A five-year-old tiger was poisoned to death March 3, 1999 – just three weeks ago during the Holi festival - from Kalwah Range of the park. Bara Bacha, a son of Sita, the one described as “a very heavy tiger” in Champions, has disappeared since June 1998. No one knows what has happened to him, but everyone wonders why, if he’s still alive, he would leave the area.
3. Lack of anti-poaching measure
The general consensus is that at today’s rate of poaching, Bandhavgarh tigers will be extinct before 2010 - the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.
Park officials tell the guides and other personnel that if they leaked information regarding poaching, they would be sacked.
Shots have been heard from inside the park, mostly during the monsoon season when the park is closed, sometimes in other parts of the year, usually after dusk. One guide phoned the forest department about this and was told to mind his own business.
A forest guard was forced to make a false statement by some high official about a tiger poaching case. Later, when his statement was proved false after the release of the forensic report, he committed suicide by pouring kerosene on himself and setting himself on fire.
Poachers with guns come from nearby towns, e.g., Jabalpur, or from as far as Mumbai (previously Bombay). They receive help from local people regarding the tigers’ whereabouts.
A poacher from Dabha village from where the forest department has seized a lot of bone and skin is still poaching.
Jeeps can enter freely from the backside of the park. The barriers placed across many roads can be easily breached. There is no constant vigil at the barriers during the monsoon season, although there is supposed to be a foot patrol in the rest of the year.
Park officials (park rangers, not the Forest Conservator or the Deputy Conservator) are said to have received money from the black market.
One said, “I’m surprised to see the present position of Indian politicians. They are proud of the atom bomb, but not the tiger. I am proud of the tiger.”
Privileged poaching for influential people such as thakurs (landlords, martial caste) is said to be rampant. They are allowed to kill chital, sambar, jungle fowl and other birds, and animals for meat, often in large quantities, such as to feed a wedding party. One such privileged poacher is quoted as saying, “If I come all the way to Bandhavgarh, I’m not going to eat goat or chicken, I’m going to eat chital and Sambar. What is good enough for the tiger is good enough for me.”
Commercial middlemen seldom contact the thakurs because the thakurs would want the lion’s share of the profit. So they contact lowly villagers to do the bloody work, paying them perhaps $30 and a bottle of whisky for the trouble.
WWF (world Wildlife Fund) vehicles, donated for tiger conservation work only, are misused, for functions such as wedding parties.
An air-conditioned (considered a luxury) Mahindra Voyager van was purchased in the name of patrolling, but was in fact used as a personal residential vehicle by a high official.
Two other high officials live and work in Umaria, 32 km away from park. They take all four patrol vehicles for family use, time and fuel consumed, emergency use not available. They come to the park only when dignitaries (including supposedly me) and personal friends visit.
Other examples of corruption include the purchase of lamps at Rs1600 per unit, but billed at Rs4700 per unit by park officials, and video cameras were purchased at Rs35,000 per unit, but billed at Rs72,000 per unit. (Why does this sound so familiar?)
When big NGOs and World Bank (WB) come visiting, park officials don’t want people to talk to them, for fear of such information as what I am writing about coming to light, thus the clandestine ambiance of my interviews. They monitor everything said, and select the drivers and park guides who service the visitors. I’ve even been warned that being in possession of such information would put my safety in some jeopardy.
The attitude of high officialdom filters down the hierarchy.
It is opined that WB and WWF should not fund the Forest Department, but fund the local NGOs instead.
When asked, “Can NGOs prosecute offenders?” the answer was, “Yes, you can use PIL - Public Interest Litigation - to go after even the high level officials.”
Remains of 3 tigers, 2 leopards, some sambar and chital have been seized by forest officials (not park officials) from outside-of-park territorial forests over an unclear time period. Non-park officials are generally deemed more concerned and efficient than park officials.
5. Relationship between Forest Department and local people
“The relationship is bad,” one said. “There is little cooperation between them, but lots of suspicion. In a friendlier, more honest environment, if the forest department treats people with more respect, then village people would cooperate.”
6. Villages still in the park
There are 60 villages in the “Periphery” (Bandhavgarh’s equivalent to Kanha’s Buffer Zone, but disorganized), and 6 within the park.
The total human population of all 6 in-park villages 1400-1500; cattle population 3,000. Village by village:
Kalwah - forest village, under administrative control of director of park, human population 179, cattle population 204,
Magdhi - forest village - human population 254, cattle population 306,
Bagdari - forest village, human population 259, cattle population 252,
Milli - revenue village, under district collector, human population 255, cattle population 347,
Gadhpuri - revenue village, human population 516, cattle population 1030,
Mainwah – revenue village, human population 88, cattle population 259.
There is unofficially a lot of grazing inside the park
Tigers do occasionally prey on cattle. Bureaucratic compensation procedure for cattle lifting usually takes 2-3 months, faster with bribe, but even so, the end compensation is usually considered to be less than the cattle’s worth.
Village size is about 1-1.5 sq.km. each, totaling about 10 sq.km., not including the forest lands grazed by the cattle which are estimated to cover another 30 or so sq.km., totaling 40 sq.km. or 10% of the parks total area. Bandhavgarh is not a big park – at about 400 sq.km. it is less than half the size of Kanha. I’ll be sure to go and take a look at one or two of the in-park villages before I leave.
7. Possible solutions
Some advocate relocating the six in-park villages out of the park, while others advocate fencing them in. Still others advocate allowing irrigated agricultural land inside the park as long as they are fenced off from wildlife. Of course I would like to see the six villages moved out of the park to some place of equal or better agricultural value, and with adequate provisions and compensations.
There is general agreement that an anti-poaching force should be established. It should comprise 16 men and 2 Gypsies, which should be capable of patrolling half the park or about 200 sq. km daily, plus night patrol and foot patrol. Cost: Salaries - Rs.3000 per man per month, or CDN$24,000 (~US$16,000) per year for the force of 16. Vehicles – C$15,000 each initial purchase or C$30,000 for both, and fuel for about 30 litres for both vehicles per day at about C$0.70 per litre or C$21 per day or about C$7,000 per year.
8. Anti-corruption - no readily perceptible solution.
The slideshow I gave this evening at the amphitheatre, with Faiyaz translating line for line as usual, was well attended and well received. The audience was even larger, over 100, perhaps due to word-of-mouth. Tala is just a village, really, so people probably attend just about anything that goes on at the amphitheatre, if only out of boredom. But I did notice that almost all of those who came last night to the video show were back, including the officials and the guides and guards, and tour operators and hoteliers including Latica and Nanda, and a couple of dozen foreign tourists, and just plain villagers including children. The applause they gave was more than heart-warming; it was thunderous.
While unwinding back in BTL, I asked Raminothna about the OSES Cycle on the higher levels of integrative transcendence after the organismization of the Solar System. On the single assumption that light-speed can somehow be exceeded – perhaps by some space-time manipulation technology of the future - the general picture seems to be:
Once the integrative transcendence of the Solar System into a Stellar Organism has come to pass, humanity will transcend from interplanetary to interstellar affairs, from the Planetary Level of Organization to the Stellar Level of Organization. The question here is: How many levels are there from the Stellar to the Galactic Level of Organization, and how many from the Galactic to the Universal Level of Organization?
Between the Stellar and the Galactic, I would venture to guess 2 intermediate levels: The Segmental Level of Organization (segments of spiral galactic arms, each embracing on average about 300,000 stars) and the Sectoral Level of Organization (major sectors of the galaxy, each embracing on average 300,000,000 stars. This would give an average of 1000 Segmental organisms per Sectoral Organism. On the Galactic Level of Organization, the Milky Way Galaxy, comprising about 300 billion stars, will comprise about 1,000 Sectoral organisms. On the higher levels, the light-speed-barrier must have been broken, by whatever space-time-manipulating technology then prevalent, but now hardly even conceivable.
Since the number of galaxies in the Universe is in the order of one hundred billion, I would guess also 2 intermediate levels between the Galactic Organism and the eventual and ultimate Universal Organism.
Considering the sub-atomic as the first level of organization, we have the following 13 levels of organization pertaining to matter and consciousness in the Universe:
Level of Organization Units
14 the Universe
13 superclusters of superclusters
12 superclusters of galaxies
10 galactic sectors
9 galactic arm segments
8 solar systems
4 metabionts 3 cells
1 sub-atomic particles
Finally, the Universe Itself can be seen as the Ultimate Cosmic Egg, whose Universal Embryo, too, has since the Big Bang been developing, and will continue to develop, according to Its own 13-stage metamorphic schedule, which, too, may be subject to Its own success or failure.
It has been a point of much speculation whether the physical Universe will continue to expand to nothingness or collapse back upon itself. One way or the other, life in the Universe would likely not be able to survive, unless the Universal Organism succeeds to integratively transcend into being, enabling it to survive either scenario.
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 24, 1999, Wednesday, sunny, 17-37C
[19:29 @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
Where tiger-sighting is concerned, there is assuredly nowhere else on Earth that can best Bandhavgarh. So far this visit at Bandhavgarh, the sighting success rate has been 100%. Even Kanha, due to its denser vegetation, can boast a success rate of perhaps only 40%, even for a lucky guy like me. And today’s sighting is almost as magical as it gets.
We were just trundling along the park drive through a thin sal forest when we passed a small herd of about a half dozen sambar a stone’s throw away. We didn’t stop then, but about 150 feet later, we abruptly did. Mohinder was at the wheel. Even after the Gypsy had halted, I still didn’t know what we had stopped for, until, following his eyes, I then saw, only 20 feet away, partly concealed by the trunk of a tree, the tigress Mohini. Even after I had seen her, I still had a passing thought that she was a statue. She was frozen in a static-dynamic pose, like an arrow in a tightly drawn bow. She paid us not the least of attention, her eyes trained at the sambar like twin laser beams. In fact, I doubt that she could see them through the vegetation, but she could certainly hear them. On the other hand, I doubt that they could hear her. In the full minute since we had stopped, she moved only twice, and at that very slowly. When she put her paw down gingerly on the dried-leaves-carpeted forest floor, there was not a sound to be heard - except the clicking of my camera. Over the next several minutes, she inched forward no more than 15 or 20 feet. And then, over the next split second, she was gone in a flurry of flying forest debris. In her direction came a few honking alarm calls, which in a heartbeat was carried away by the wind. There were flashes of brown dashing through the black sal trunks. Mohinder put the Gypsy in reverse and backed it at forward speed to where the sambar were last seen, and found Mohini there instead, now in a state of dejected relaxation. As if already having shrugged her shoulders in resignation, she ambled stoically away. The sequence from beginning to end was long enough for me to click off a dozen excellent still shot and some video footage of the stalk and of the sambar dashing away. Did we distract her and cause her to fail? Did our camera sounds alert the sambar? Sorry about this, Mohini. Well, just chalk this down to one of the twenty or so times tigers fail before their next success. May be the next time will be the one for you.
This was not the first time I have witnessed tigers hunting. Once in 1997, I was on an elephant in thick forest with an even thicker undergrowth. At the elephant’s feet was a tiger. About 50 yards upwind of the elephant were three sambar doe. The elephants were making a lot of noise plowing through the under growth, obliquely towards the sambar, which are usually not alarmed by elephants. The tiger stayed with the elephant, using the noise made by the elephant as a cover. Its intensity was mesmerizing. When it deemed itself close enough, the tiger launched itself towards the sambar as if shot out of a cannon. The sambar gave three almost simultaneous alarm calls, and as a body dashed blindly away. There was a shaking of the undergrowth a football field away. The hunt was a success..
On our way back to camp, we encountered a white Gypsy behind the wheel of which happened to be none other than the Superwoman Latika herself in her Aussie hat and bush outfit. We did a quick verbal exchange when her vehicle pulled parallel mine, and rearranged my visit to 10:15.
Speaking of “Superwoman”, nickname-wise – put it down to cabin fever and terminal frustration - Sarita, once called “Tigress” by me before things came to a head, is now the “Monitor Lizard” (not my invention). One person we know is now the “GIB”. There is a little story behind this. One day last week, we came upon a bird which Julian identified as a Great Indian Bustard, but which the park guide in our Gypsy mispronounced slightly, if you know what I mean. We all roared with laughter and the nickname stuck. Faiyaz is “Wild Dog” or “Brain Fever Bird”. Manohar is “Asiatic Lion”. Jane chooses “Elephant” for herself, in terms of temperament only, because she looks more like a white swan to me. As for me, I’ve heard that the lodge staff at Kanha gave me a good one. It’s the name of an Indian movie star who specializes in villain roles, since they deemed it very funny that (they thought) I looked like him. Manohar even showed me a picture of this guy in one of Deepfee’s “Bollywood” movie magazines. In all honesty I didn’t think I looked the least bit like him, the definitive proof being that there is no way for him to pose as a Chinese tiger-bone buyer in an undercover sting operation in Calcutta, however villainous he might look. On the other hand, Jane gave me the very complimentary nickname of “Charger”, “in honour of your campaign style”, she said.
“And my age?” said I.
The visit to Latika was warm and casual, sitting in the dining pavilion of the Bandhavgarh Jungle Camp where she lives. Her very fortunate man Nanda, owner-operator of the Jungle Camp and world known wildlife videographer, was there as well and both treated me with courtesy and respect. Just superficial chatting, but Nanda said to me that he’s been managing the camp for 10 years and has had enough. He plans to switch over to full time conservation work as of next year (When is Avtar going to do that?). Also, his 3-year labor of love in terms of their video TV full-hour documentary is about ready for release.
Since I had an 11:00 appointment with the head of a prominent local NGO, I had to bid an early tata, but not before Nanda invited me for dinner on the 26th at 19:30, which I again gladly accepted.
The visit to the NGO was joined by Faiyaz, Darshan and Jane. We had a broad-based yet intense discussion session. Following are raw notes, which will take weeks to fully understand or years to implement:
- papaya as alternative crop as solution to crop raiding by deer and wild boar, which do not feed on papaya
- mushroom cultivation (mew agricultural technology for this area) as revenue source for villages
- biogas plants (producing methane gas from cattle dung) – 27 built at Bandhavgarh, only 6 of which successful
- art and craft training for villagers – 3 year program
- awareness program for forest villagers, making use of the amphitheatre
- school visits to do nature art, talent search, encourage student academic competition, with park-visit as prize
- tree planting movement - 5 plants each class, prizes for good plants.
- aim to produce young conservationists – educational outreach to schools, perhaps even using the Champions of the Wild video
- anti-poaching – there are currently 73 beat guards in the park, poorly equipped. 1 beat guard hurt by poachers due to the lack of defensive weaponry, equipment needed – wireless set, guns, 30 motor bikes @ Rs.8000 each
- anti-poaching force can also serve as an intelligence agency to gather relevant information
- some 50 volunteers are needed to keep their eyes on guests in villages – if suspicious, to inform Territorial Forest, NOT park personnel (who leak info); Territorial Forest and keeps track of and acts on the information. Poaching contacts are from the outside, and are treated as guests at some villages, where orders and transactions are made; when a tiger is poached, usually only villagers are caught, but the contacts usually get away
- even forest officials are afraid to act against these poaching agents because they are very powerful and influential
- main distribution centre is Katni
- Tiger Conservation Cell suggested to Superintendent of Police to launch plain-clothes investigation about 1.5 months ago, the SP said yes, but so far, there’s been no implementation
- The Bandhavgarh Foundation Trust (BFT) has 12 employees and about 45 volunteers; foreign volunteers are welcome for general awareness, school outreach, patrolling park periphery - circumference 150 km. The Chairman of BFT is a maharaja Pushpraj Singh - off. Fort, Rewa - has the right to go inside the park at will, other privileged people can too but only in the presence of the maharaja, 5 max, 1 Gypsy donated
- Park beat guards are easily corruptible, wage Rs.1500-2000/mo., senior personnel Rs.3500; free education for their children
- Life of beat guards should be insured – morality high, but unquantified
- More schools needed
- Corruption rampant; solution unclear.
This evening, I worked out a classification system for all planets in the Universe, however innumerable, and in whichever galaxy, they may be.
Take the planets in the Solar System alone for example. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, in other words, all planets in the Solar System except Earth, are Molecular level planets (Level 2). Earth four billion years ago, too, was a Molecular Level Planet only. But one billion years later, it had moved up to being a Cellular level planet (Level 3). 500 million years ago, it had become a Metabion level planet (Level 4), and 100 million years ago, since the rise of the social insects, a Citian level planet (Level 5), and so on. Today, Earth is a National level planet (Level 6). After the Earth has integratively transcended, it will have become a Planetary level planet (Level 7). Then the Stellar Level Planet (Level 8). Then the Segmental level planets (Level 9), and Sectoral level planets (Level 10), then Galactic Level Planets (Level 11), and so on up. Hopefully.
Through this exercise, one thing has become plain as daylight for me. The levels of organization are always the same – … Molecular, Cellular, Metabion, Citian, National, Planetary, Stellar… - no matter where in the Universe, on whichever planet of whichever galaxy. The metabionts of a certain planet in the Andromeda Galaxy may look very different from the metabionts of the planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy, but both are multi-cellular organisms.
“Indeed, integrative transcendence is a universal phenomenon,” said Raminothna.
In the afternoon, Faiyaz and Jane spent time on this computer translating Hindi documents into English for international publication purposes. Following is an example.
Article from “Detective Eye” weekly newspaper
4 January 1999
Destruction of Bandhavgarh National Park Accelerated Under Current Leadership
It is well known that Sita, the famous tigress of Bandhavgarh, went missing in 1998. But the forest officials, whose job it is to protect the forest, don’t seem to care. If urgent action is not taken, the days of Bandhavgarh National Park will be numbered.
Under the supervision of the officials, thousands of trees have been illegally cut down in recent days from the Raj Bahra and Mahaman ranges, in the heart of the park. Recently, when the officials came to know that a Minister in charge of the district would be visiting the park, they put their staff on a war footing to hide all the evidence, including the trees that had already been cut. Mr. Sharma himself supervised the operation, and the trees were eventually hidden at night with the help of tractors, or hauled out of the park by means of diesel vehicles.
The entry of vehicles in the park at night is an offence under law. The entry of especially diesel vehicles, is prohibited.
The labourers who cut down the trees did not get paid, so they complained to the local sarpanch Kallu Bhai Jan and showed him the trees. Mr. Bhai contacted the local M.L.A., Mr. Narendra Prasad Singh, who in turn contacted Collector Smt. Pillai. Finally, a team was put together to discover the truth. Kallu Bhai Jan has photographs of this illegally logged wood…
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 25, 1999, Thursday, sunny, 19-37C
[19:38 @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
Another safari, another tiger sighting. In spite of its ills, Bandhavgarh is holding true to its 100% tiger-sighting success rate in my book. It is not that Bandhavgarh has a higher tiger density than Kanha, but a lower vegetation density and therefore better visibility and more panoramic scenery. Bandhavgarh is pure magic and truly deserves to be called the tiger sighting capital of the world, for now. It would be a crime of monumental proportions if Bandhavgarh were ruined, let alone wiped out.
This time it is two of Mohini’s three large cubs crossing a grass field, then thickets, then the road. Of course, hoards of tourist vehicles followed them around, some taking side roads at high speed to try to intercept them. At one point, when the big male cub was trying to cross the road, the jeeps and Gypsies were so bumper-to-bumper thick that he physically couldn’t. Faiyaz was exasperated, in fact furious, at the slackness of the enforcement of park wildlife viewing policies. No wonder the tigers are so easy to poach here. They are just too habituated to human presence and in fact human interference.
But I’m even more concerned about what we encountered in the park this day - hundreds if not thousands of villagers pouring into the park on foot carrying baskets of food on some annual pilgrimage to the Vishnu shrine deep in the heart of the park. It is not like letting a bull into a china shop, but a whole herd. So once again, religion and traditions take precedence over wildlife conservation.
This reminds me of Jericho Park on the beach downhill from my residence in Vancouver. Year round it is a sensitive bird sanctuary, with small islands in large ponds for waterfowl nesting and signs everywhere saying “Do not disturb wildlife!” But once every July, for three consecutive days, thousands of people would pour into the park for the annual Folk Festival, where a dozen stages would be set up all over the park, all equipped with megawatt amplifiers and loud speakers. My residence is set back a dozen blocks uphill from the park, and during the festival, a cacophony of a dozen songs being performed simultaneously, though diminished by the distance, is still maddening. Right down on ground zero, the birds don’t stand a chance. And here in Bandhavgarh, on this day, though there are no thunderous acoustic assaults on wildlife, the invasion is even more massive, and the effect on wildlife more widespread, and this is a place where normally one automatically whispers, and when tourists are not allowed to leave their vehicles.
After brunch, at my request, we drove to check out one of the six in-park villages. It is in a part of the park I have never been to. We were dismayed, though not surprised, to see the grass largely grazed out in the fields surrounding the village, and cattle trooping through the surrounding forest, and fields dotted with tree stumps. In short, no different than any other village outside the park. The scenery did not remind me of the park at all, but more of Kanha’s Buffer Zone. Farther out, we found vast expanses of the forest floor burned to cinders. This was done perhaps to encourage new grass growth – for the cattle - but in doing so, it could decimate many other plant species, including tree saplings, and of course animals. None of these can be good for the tiger and its ecosystem-mates.
Other than this, nothing happened of great note today. At noon, we were invited by some park officials to visit the school where nature guides and park guards (“front line workers”) from various national parks are trained. It is equipped with an overhead projector, a TV/VCR and, wonders of wonders, a Pentium computer. We were given the grand tour by the school director who attended my slideshow day before yesterday, very respectfully I might add, and Mr. A.K. Nagar was there as well. We arranged to have the Champions of the Wild video shown there tomorrow at 18:00 to those park guards who missed it the first time.
This afternoon, Faiyaz and Jane worked to translate some more Hindi articles into English straight into my laptop. In them, Mr. Nagar featured quite prominently, but not in good light, as does the park Field Director Mr. S.C. Sharma.
[23:28] I asked Raminothna what she thought the Universal Organism, once integratively transcended, would be like.
“How powerful is an amoeba?”
“Very powerful, but only in the opinion of the bacterium it is about to devour,” I said. “From our point of view, of course it is not powerful at all.”
“How much more powerful is a human being than an amoeba?”
“Almost infinitely more powerful.”
“How many levels apart are they?”
“An amoeba belongs to the Cellular level of organization, and a human being belongs to the Metabion level. So they are just one level apart.”
“How much more powerful is the United States than a termite mound?”
“Almost infinitely more powerful.”
“How many levels apart are they?”
“The U.S. is a National organism and a termite mound is a Citian organism. So, they are also just one level apart.”
“How many levels above the United States is the Universal Organism?”
“According to our system, above the National level are, in ascending order, the Stellar level, the Segmental, the Sectoral, the Galactic, and three more levels to the Universal level or organization. So, all in all, the Universal Organism is eight levels above the United States, and ten levels above a human being.”
“So, how much more powerful would you think the Universal Organism is than the United States, not to mention a human being?”
“I would say that ‘almost infinitely’ is a the understatement of the eon. So let me say ‘infinitely’.”
“Where would this Universal Organism be?”
“Everywhere. Wherever we go, we would be within it.”
“And what would it know?”
“Its knowledge would comprise every word in every book in every library on every transcending planet of every galaxy. It can be said to know everything.”
“So now, how would you describe the Universal Organism?”
“All-present, all-knowing and all-powerful.”
“Are they the same as omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent?”
“Yes, they are… OH MY GOD!”
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 26, 1999, Friday, sunny, 19-38C
[05:24 (1999-03-27-6) @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
It’s becoming routine, or beginning to sound too good to be true – the “another day, another tiger-sighting”, but truth is truth. This time, it was a somewhat distant view of a tiger in the meadow strolling through the long grass in stately equanimity, at one point at the foot of an elephant loaded with tourists that had been dispatched to intercept it. Unfortunately, this would be my last tiger sighting in this millennium.
This evening, I presented myself at the Bandhavgarh Jungle Camp (“Superwoman’s Palace”) precisely at 19:30 as prearranged. She was still out in the field. Nanda gave me a warm welcome and introduced me to the tourists in his Jungle Camp. While we were waiting for the dinner, I chatted with a tourist family from Scotland, and another from Delhi whose 11-year-old boy was a student at Sri Ram School, who told his parents about my Big Cub presentation. The Deputy Director Mr. Singh, whom most people, including Faiyaz and Darshan, consider an honest man, was there as well, and we exchanged greetings and some ideas.
Soon, Nanda gave us all a slideshow of Bandhavgarh wildlife in the palatial and high-ceilinged entrance hall of the main building, in the center of which a beautifully mounted tiger from the Colonial period still stood in all its arrested majesty in a mahogany-and-glass display case, surrounded by other wildlife trophies on the walls. This kind of interior décor is something I scold and scorn in North America, but here, in the heart of Tigerland, especially in the faded light of old colonialism, it seems somehow fitting, as a reminder of how things used to be. After Nanda’s slideshow, which featured the more obscure life forms of Bandhavgarh, many of which I have never seen, it was dinner in the equally palatial dining room – a far cry from BTL’s and even KTL’s open-air dining pavilions. Latika made her grand entrance in a flowing peach-colored sari, with her hair loose and looking stunning in all her feminine glory (previously, it was no-nonsense pony-tail, safari khakis and Aussie hat). I sat between the Scottish lady and her 30ish daughter, and had a pleasant though low intensity conversation, while Superwoman sat at the far end of the table, holding court with her most ardent admirers. Does this kind of formal and scrumptious banquet happen here every day?
After the dinner, Latika and I had a one-on-one chat in the lobby in the shadow of the stuffed tiger, and under the watchful gaze of the two tiger heads and two leopard heads mounted on the four walls. She lamented to me that her new set of camera traps (infra-red-triggered night cameras) were all malfunctioning, giving nothing but blank photos, which caused great frustration in her work of late. Reminiscent of Belinda Wright, Latika told me that she does not go tiger-viewing any more, that over the last month, she had seen tigers only three times, saying, “The day I stopped seeing tigers was the day I began working.” But through the course of her work she did see numerous tiger pug marks which she could identify as “Long Toes”, “Splay Foot”, etc.. “But thanks to the cameras malfunctioning, I cannot correlate them with their strip patterns and facial markings. I don’t even know what they look like!” she cried. There is no doubt about her passion for her subjects and the sincerity of her heart.
Later, we talked trilaterally with the Deputy Director. I asked them what is the best thing a foreign NGO can do to help protect the park. They both opined that the most important task at hand to protect the park and its inhabitants is to relocate the six in-park villages out of the park. One of the villages has already agreed to move given mutually agreeable terms. They have already decided on a location on the north side of the main river on the way to Khajuraho. “The beauty of this is that we can design from scratch a model village outfitted with all kinds of alternative technologies, cattle husbandry systems, even a new way of life,” enthused her ladyship. She is truly a remarkable woman. I could easily fall in love with her, if I haven’t yet.
The Deputy Director surprised me by saying that he himself is using a solar cooker. When presented with the difficulty about cooking time, they both shrugged it off by confirming my thus far unsubstantiated theory. Early in the morning, the villagers set up the cooker with rice and lentil and sauces, etc. and orient the unit directly due south, that is, with the reflectors preset for the oncoming noonday sun, and just leave it for the rest of the day. Come dinnertime, everything will have been cooked, be still hot or at least warm, ready to be served. Chapatti or roti are no problem, since they are not even on their native menu. “Once accepted, they won’t let go of it. It is better than biogas to them,” said the DD. This is about the best news I’ve heard on solar cooking technology up to this point.
I called BTL and ask Darshan to get a driver to fetch me around 22:00 and bring Faiyaz and Jane as prearranged to introduce to Latika. They arrived on time, but were in a desperate rush to leave to meet the train which would take Faiyaz to Delhi, which apparently again moved its arrival time forward to 22:30. We did the introduction, and they dashed off. So, later still, I called Darshan again, and he came on foot to fetch me. The DD generously offered his Gypsy for Darshan to drive to fetch his driver who will drive the Gypsy back from BTL.
While saying goodbye to Faiyaz, he seized my hand and said, “Anthony, I will never forget this spring.”
Back at BTL, Darshan told me that he had done his own thinking on village relocation and showed me the plan on paper in his note book. I didn’t need any convincing, but my inclination was further confirmed. The question is: Would Avtar take it on? In fact, upon my direct questioning, Darshan himself doubted it, and asked me what I would do if Avtar would not touch it. I said plainly, “I’d just have to get WCWC to find another partner who would, then hire you.” Again, this could be reach Avtar’s ears, but do I care? It might even do him some good.
Faiyaz still has several important meetings here to build a solid case for my proposed “What happened to Sita?” international article. He will be in Delhi till April 3rd, then come back to Bandhavgarh to do the interviews, including the self-professed killer/poacher of Sita, whom others don’t seem to be taking seriously. Yesterday, Faiyaz confided to Jane and me that Mohinder said to him that Raman said a flat “No” to Faiyaz coming back to Bandhavgarh, and something about a “new itinerary”, which Faiyaz interpreted as a sign of his oncoming dismissal from Tiger Fund. But earlier today, Mohinder told him that when he asked Avtar about Faiyaz’s desire to come back to Bandhavgarh to do some more work, Avtar said no problem. Earlier today, Faiyaz called his friends in Delhi about my coming talk at the Habitat House March 29th, 19:30, and not only did his friend say he would bring other friends, but that he had seen this long-haired Canadian conservationist on TV before.
During the meeting, the DD invited me with genuine sincerity and some eagerness to join in a day-long conference with about three dozen village elders tomorrow (27th, my last day at Bandhavgarh) starting at 12:30. I asked for his permission for me to bring Jane and Darshan with me, Darshan as my translator, and of course as TF operative, and received it. What we worked so hard for and got aborted in sedate Kanha, we are invited to as honoured guests here in troubled Bandhavgarh without even trying.
The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed.
Last night for me was truly a religious experience of the highest order. And tonight, while lying on the observation platform under the stars, I said to Raminothna, “OMNI-SCIENCE shows the order of things in all its purity, simplicity and majesty. It shows us the Way of the Cosmos – the Tao - and thus the optimal Way of Man – Integrative Transcendence. It shows the path for us to achieve world peace, planetary health and beyond – Integrative Transcendence. It even allows us to achieve total intellectual freedom by not only proving that the Inconceivable can be conceived and the Unspeakable can be spoken, but actually conceives the Inconceivable and speaks the Unspeakable – Integrative Transcendence. But it was not until yesterday night when I finally saw how ultimately profound OMNI-SCIENCE really is - philosophically, spiritually, religiously.
Instead of the traditional teaching of God creating us, OMNI-SCIENCE shows us that we create ourselves, and, in conjunction with other sentient beings throughout the Universe, are part and parcel of a Universe-wide cosmic egg in the self-creation of a new infant universal deity.
What you have shown us should make us feel incredibly small and insignificant, but I don’t feel this way. On the contrary, I feel incredibly elated and empowered. Though I am ephemeral and infinitesimal, yet I am part of an orderly, universal whole. Though the few decades of my life are but a split-second in universal time, yet I feel part and parcel of an eternity. And though the course of my life may seem mundane, and yet, it is a part of the Universal Masterplan. I will never look at life the same way as I have done before.
Raminothna, I don’t think that my gratitude is what you want, and no gratitude can possibly equal the benefit I have reaped over the last two months, in addition to the tiger conservation work that we have done together. And the pain you have suffered in empathy with mine is mine in empathy with Christopher’s. I just want you to know that what you have to teach has made a huge and fundamental change in me, and hopefully, through me, in others, up to and including Homo Sapiens in its entirety. It will have a huge impact in the manifestation of the human destiny. I, and Homo Sapiens, owe you something I doubt that we can ever repay”
“Dearest Homo Sapiens, your happiness enhances universal happiness, your transcendence contributes to universal transcendence, for though you are human, often all too human, and yet, you are divine.”
Good night, Christopher. Good night Christopher.
* * * * *
March 27, 1999, Saturday, sunny, 15-38C
[19:38 @ Rm.12, Bandhavgarh Tiger Lodge]
My last full day at Bandhavgarh.
No safari this morning, but it doesn’t matter, because the single hour of 12:30-13:30 made the whole day. As invited by Deputy Director R.P. (Ramesh Prasad) Singh, we (Jane, Darshan and I) went to the training school to attend the Forest/Park Department and villagers meeting. Originally, I thought we’d just be there as observers, but upon arrival there, I was put front and center on the official panel table facing the 150 or so village representatives of some 30 villages, and I was expected to address the assembly, with no mental preparation whatsoever.
Well, not exactly true. I’ve thought about what speech I would make at the aborted Kanha conference. So I just slightly modified it to suit Bandhavgarh, and let it out. I suppose I did it, because whatever I said, as translated by Darshan, was received with keen interest, full attention, open respect, with positive feedback galore. The raising of park fee and the sharing of revenue were received with many nods from both panel and audience. My promise to go back to Canada and propagate the name of Bandhavgarh as the tiger-viewing capital of the world was received with pride and gratitude, and the solar cooker idea was received with enthusiasm. When I asked how many villages would like to have one solar cooker to try out, 23 villages signed up, and five local people expressed interest in learning how to make solar cookers.
Jane and I exchanged glances to say that this is almost exactly what we had in mind for the Kanha All-Panchyats Conference. In Bandhavgarh, with all its bad reputation, it is a breeze, but in Kanha, an abortion.
So, what we now have taken on is to supply one solar cooker to each of 23 villages free of charge, and train 5 villagers to make solar cookers, and make arrangements for more cookers if the initial ones succeed, this time at a cost. I will let Faiyaz, Darshan and Jane work the logistics out. My job is to commit Avtar to the task.
This late evening, I climbed the “watch tower” one last time.
“Raminothna, if you know, please let me know. Are we going to make it or not?”
“If I told you yes, you would be happy, and stop striving; if I told you no, you would be sad, and stop striving. So, why should I tell either? But I can tell you this. It depends on where the transcendence limit of the key species is, which in Earth’s case is of course the species Homo Sapiens.”
“What is ‘transcendence limit’?”
“Tell me. If you put a thousand termite mounds of the species Macrotermes Bandhavgarhansis in a plain, do you think they would specialize and cooperate to form a society of mounds?”
“No, they would not. They will stay identical and continue to mutually compete as they have done for millions of years.”
“Thus the transcendence limit of the species Macrotermes Bandhavgarhansis is on the Citian level, and no higher.”
“Yes, I see. They just cannot transcend any higher than they already have, no matter what.”
“Now, if you put a thousand human cities on a plain, would they integratively transcend on to higher levels?”
“Evidently, since we have cities and nations.”
“So, again, the question is: Where is the transcendence limit of Homo Sapiens? If it is on the National level and no higher, then your species is a dead-end, and the Earth is doomed.”
“I hope not.”
“On the other hand, if you could transcend nationalism, Homo Sapiens, then you may one day fulfill Earth’s Shining Destiny – among the stars.”
Good night, Christopher. Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 28, 1999, Sunday, sunny, 16-34C
[18:39 @ Rm.507, Habitat World Hotel, Habitat Centre, Delhi]
Back in Delhi again. In another 5 days, I’ll be back home in Vancouver. Then what?
We (Jane, Mohinder and I) left Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge for Khajuraho early in the morning (05:00) in a diesel Mahindra jeep driven by its own driver. Darshan couldn’t come because of arriving tourists, but he insisted on getting up at 04:15 along with us, just to say good-bye. When walking me to the jeep, he said in his trademark way, “Please feel free to write to me. If you find yourself in Agra, I would be honoured if you would come to our home to stay. Please treat me like a young brother.” Yesterday night, I asked him to submit to me a proposal of what could be done at Bandhavgarh for about C$30,000. I will look it over, then form a plan for next year.
By 11:30, we arrived at Khajuraho. The procedure to get the plane ticket reserved took half an hour at the agent’s. After that, Jane had the option to go to the erotic temple for a long visit or come with me to the airport first, then go to the temple for a short visit. She elected to come to the airport first to say goodbye.
I said to her, “That’s mushy.” Then added, “Mushy first, erotic later?”
We shared a last laugh. At the airport, Mohinder asked respectfully to have a picture taken with me. Jane and I hugged goodbye, and off I went to go through security.
The near new Boeing 737 of Jet Airways landed in Delhi around 16:00. First thing that happened was that I got swindled by the prepaid taxi at the airport terminal. When I asked how much to the Habitat Centre, the woman at the counter said, with a sly smile (I should have known right there and then), that it would cost Rs.550 (C$22). When I got to the hotel and asked the people there how much it should have cost, they said Rs.150, no more. I was furious, not as much for the money, but for my being taken for a fool, yet again.
[19:32] I called Faiyaz this afternoon at his sister’s place. He was not in. I left a message. He called me back from the university. It took him two hours to come by public bus. He got here about half an hour ago. I told him about yesterday’s government-panchayat meeting at Bandhavgarh, complete with solar cooker orders and five people wanting to learn how to make the device. We exchanged mutual congratulations. He asked me about Latika. I suggested that he and Jane go and visit her one day. I also talked about village relocation, which in my mind, along with anti-corruption and anti-poaching, has become the first major item on the agenda to preserve Bandhavgarh National Park and the Bandhavgarh tigers. I also suggested that he work with Darshan on a field proposal for Bandhavgarh and Kanha commensurate with the CIDA grant. I don’t want Tiger Fund, but I want Faiyaz and Darshan.
[01:34 (1999-03-29) @ Rm.507, Habitat World Hotel, Habitat Centre, Delhi] I went to sleep early for once, but was awakened about an hour ago by a swaying motion of the bed. In the stupor of semi-sleep, I moved to the other bed and it too was swaying, and thought that the building was being buffeted by high winds. Or was it an earthquake?
Now, again, I can’t sleep. Another room, another ceiling to stare at. Excruciating psychic pain of Christopher suffering. Seething impotent rage. Next to the Devil himself, Christine is everywhere.
“Dearest Homo Sapiens, has the ‘inconceivable’ been conceived?”
“Oh, Raminothna. You are as good as the cavalry. What did you say?”
“I asked you whether the ‘Inconceivable’ had been conceived.”
“Yes, I believe that it has.”
“And has the ‘unspeakable’ yet been spoken?”
“No, not yet, not publicly.”
“Is it ready to be spoken?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Then, Homo Sapiens, speak. What is this ‘Inconceivable’ ‘Way of the Cosmos’, this ‘Unspeakable’ Tao?”
“The yin-yang of: Transcendent Integration and Integrative Transcendence.”
“What then is the optimal ‘Way of Man’?”
“The Tao Teh Ching says, ‘… Man accords his way to that of the Earth, the Earth to the Sky, the Sky to the Tao…’ Therefore, the optimal Way of Man is also the yin-yang of Transcendent Integration and Integrative Transcendence.”
“Dearest Homo Sapiens. My work on Earth is now done. Other transcending planets beckon and I now must go to them, as I heeded your beckoning and came to you. The time has come to bestow upon you the gift I bring, a gift of hope, of joy, of love and of peace. And now, I want you, Anthony Marr of Homo Sapiens, to receive it, on behalf of the transcending planet Earth.”
“I am ready to receive it, in the name of Homo Sapiens, on behalf of the Earth, for the sake of Christopher.”
“When you invoke the name of Christopher, there is more solemnity than when you invoke the name of God. So in this I can trust. This gift is in the form of a book. A universal book. The Earth Edition of this universal book. Titled: Omni-Science and the Human Destiny.”
“I am ready to receive it,” I said, solemnly, holding out both of my palms.
“They will be filled as soon as the book is written.”
“When will it be written?”
“As soon as you have written it.”
Good night, Christopher. Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 29, 1999, Monday, sunny, 19-35C
[09:33 @ Rm.507, Habitat World Hotel, Delhi]
The frontpage article of the Times of India this morning was titled “100 feared killed as quake hits Garhwal”. The epicenter was not far NE of Delhi. The quake registered 6.8 on the Richter scale. If it struck Delhi, how many would have perished? Hundreds of thousands I should think. Would this very building I’m in be able to withstand a 6.8 quake?
[23:28 @ Rm.507, Habitat World Hotel, Delhi]
I called on Raminothna many times through the day, but there was no answer.
This afternoon, I went to the Tiger Fund Delhi office to check and send email. Nothing from Christine. Nothing from Christine’s friends. Nothing from even my friends – that contains any good news about Christopher.
My last performance in India this time round. Habitat House introduced Avtar, Avtar introduced me, again with much praise. In the end, it was “the best presentation on conservation I’ve ever witnessed”, said Sarita’s husband Raheed. Faiyaz, who has translated the show many times, said that he has never imagined that my unilingual presentation could be so “different and powerful”. A young man came to me and said that the presentation “changed his life”. Several journalists wanted to interview me, one will call me at the hotel tomorrow and set an appointment. Not bad for a last hurrah.
I just called Raminothna’s name again. Still no answer.
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 30, 1999, Tuesday, sunny, 18-35C
[23:26 @ Rm.507, Habitat World, Delhi]
I called on Raminothna through the day. Still nothing.
The significant events today are two.
The first is the hour-long interview by Rohit Nair, Press Trust of India, who came to my hotel room at 08:30, instead of 10:30 as earlier agreed, at my request. I have something to do out of town. He wanted a good photo of the campaign at Kanha or Bandhavgarh, which I promised to send to him within 10 days.
I also spoke with Ashok Kumar and Belinda Wright by phone and arranged to have lunch with them tomorrow 13:15 at the restaurant at the India International Centre.
Avtar issued me an invoice containing every single rupee spent on my behalf during my stay. He has the gall. I wonder if it is also inflated.
As soon as I was free, I went to the train station and took the earliest train to Ranthambhore. I arrived in the late afternoon. There, I hired a jeep to take me back to the dam in that desertified valley behind the park. My heart was pumping hard when I topped the rim of the depression on top of the hill, only partly due to the physical exertion. My first sight of the inside of the depression made my blood boil and my tears flow. The Raminothna tree was indeed gone. Its stump was still weeping. But not a branch remained. I collapsed on to the carpet of its discarded leaves, which were still green. I stroked the leaves, mourning their passing, and then, my fingers felt a clump of something. I looked. It was a cluster of berries. I had an inspiration. I fished out a plastic bag from my knapsack, and filled it with the few berries that I could find. I will take them back to Vancouver and plant them in my garden. If the climates are too different, I’ll grow them indoors.
I called on Raminothna again just now, and of course there was no answer. I was sorely tempted to eat the berries, but I resisted. Instead, I began to think about writing the book, which I will dedicate to Christopher.
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
March 31, 1999, Wednesday, sunny, 18-35C
[18:19 @ Rm.507, Habitat World, Delhi]
Last day here in India this time. Leaving with no regrets, but much to miss and remember and work out. Flight at 23:25.
High point today is our 13:45-15:15 luncheon meeting with Belinda Wright and Ashok Kumar. I invited Faiyaz along. Good time shared and vague plans made.
Avtar finally agreed to pay my hotel bills. Probable rationale: “Anything to get Anthony out of here.”
Good night, Christopher.
* * * * *
May 4, 1999
[22:27, @ home, Vancouver] Christopher’s fourth birthday, itself a minor miracle. But there is another. I spent close to three hours with him. The fact that Christine watched our every move did not even bother me, if that’s what it takes to see Christopher just one more time.
Where Christopher is concerned, I basically did nothing when I came back from India. I went to see Tasha and Wilhelmina and Donna, but their receptions were less than warm. I did not call Christine. If she does not want to talk to me, it does no good to call. If she wants to talk to me, she would call me herself. I did send Christopher a few cards with tigers and other animals on them. At least they were not returned. In the whole month of April, all I could think of was May – Christopher’s birthday. Meanwhile, I immersed myself into writing the book, or at least working on writing it.
Yesterday, purely on faith, I bought a child’s bicycle. This morning, I put it in my car and drove to work. Mid-morning I knocked on the office door of my colleague and friend, the darkly beautiful Roxanne Stillwell. She is close enough of a friend to me to be aware in some detail of the situation.
“Rox, I need to ask you a favor. Please feel free to decline if you don’t feel comfortable with it.”
“What is it?”
“I need someone to make a phone call on my behalf.”
“To Christine, I presume?”
“Sure. No problem. What would you like me to say?”
“Well, today is Christopher’s birthday. I have a present for him. I would like to give it to him in person. Failing that, I’ll get a taxi to deliver it.”
This afternoon I had to go for a jury selection session. When I returned to the office, Roxanne gave me a big smile and an all-systems-go sign. “She said yes, but just for this once. They’re having a birthday party for Christopher in the afternoon. Be there at 6:30, after the party.”
“Thanks, Rox, I owe you one.”
“Good luck. And enjoy.”
Now, about our beloved Christopher. When the door opened, he was standing there next to Christine, looking up at me, like almost every time previously when I went visiting. Usually, he would cry out excitedly, “Uncle Tony! Uncle Tony!”, bouncing on his feet a little and raise his arms up inviting me to pick him up and hold him. This recurrent scene has haunted me on many a night when I could not sleep. This was the moment. I could not believe my eyes even when I was looking at him. But it also did not escape my notice that he was much more subdued and hesitant. His eyes said volumes, although what they were saying I could not quite read. I took the liberty and risk to pick him up. He let me, but seemed unsure. “Christopher, I missed you very much.”
“I missed you too, Uncle Tony,” he suddenly burst out in tears.
He is noticeably taller, his face a little less baby-like, his vocabulary has increased, his pronunciations more precise, and distinctly more mature in a mental sense – or is it his innocence lost?
Then, I made the mistake of hugging Christine. It was like hugging a tree trunk. No, more like a rock.
The place was in a bit of a disarray, with the aftermath of the birthday party after everyone had left. I offered to help Christine clean up.
At one point, when Christine went down to the basement to attend to laundry – a total of 10 seconds – I said to Christopher quietly, “Christopher, I missed you very much.”
He whispered back to me, “Uncle Tony, why are you a bad man?”
I meant to say, “Christopher, I want you to listen very carefully. Your Uncle Tony is not a bad man. When you grow up, you will understand.” But we heard Christine’s footsteps coming up the stairs. He glanced over his shoulder, then looked back at me, put his index finger to his lips and said, “Shhh.” I have never seen him do this before. Three months ago, he wouldn’t have done this. In those brief 10 seconds, we were 100% with each other.
After some formalities in the kitchen, we went down to the basement playroom – memory lane big time. All his old toys still there – his castles and dinosaurs and ogres. We had to reinvent the games. And like before, he got right into it, as if it were only yesterday we had last played together. Christine just sat there and watched, expressionless, or should I say monitored. She did not encourage conversation. On my part, I was so focused on Christopher that her presence or absence seemed beyond the event horizon. But in the back of my mind, I fleetingly wondered: What is she afraid of? That I might kidnap Christopher? That I might do him harm? Of course not. But what Christopher and I might say to one another? Definitely.
The doorbell rang. Christine went up to answer it, and called Christopher after her. He went up and I stayed behind. A moment later, I heard him exclaiming excitedly to whomever was at the door, “Uncle Tony is here! Uncle Tony is here!” When they came down, it was Wilhelmina. She tried to sound cheerful, but her eyes were sad. We had played dozens of games of chess over pots and pots of tea, but now she felt almost like a stranger, and presumably me to her too. We knew that we too would never again meet.
Soon after that, the thought began to intrude, that I shouldn’t overstay my welcome. I asked Christine if I could present the gift to Christopher. She asked me what it was.
“A child’s bicycle, with training wheels.”
She nodded her approval. I excused myself and went to my car to get the bike. When I brought it down to the playroom, Christopher’s eyes lit up. It was shining green and purple, reminiscent of the woman at the river. Christine liked it too and thanked me more than once for it, saying what a lovely gift it was.
I got Christopher to stand astride the bike and adjusted the seat height for him. “You have to do as mommy says about where and when you can ride, okay, Christopher? This is very important. Otherwise you might get hurt, okay Christopher?” I said while dropping some 10-40 on the chain.
“Okay, Uncle Tony. Thank you, Uncle Tony.”
Christopher was allowed to overstay his bedtime by 1.5 hours, perhaps for my sake. Time to do a graceful exit. We all walked out to my car, Christopher holding hands with both Christine and me. At my car, I picked him up and hugged him close, and he reciprocated. We did not mention further visits. But I promised to write him and send him cards. I told him about the cards I had bought for him – the one with the ram, and the one with the otter, and parrot… He listened with bright eyes, then asked me something I couldn’t catch. I looked at Christine.
“He was asking you if you had a card with an owl on it,” said Christine.
“Tomorrow, I will go looking for a card with an owl for you,” I told him, and drove away.
On the way home, I stopped at Oscar’s Books on Broadway near Granville, and lo and behold, on the rotary rack, staring me in the face, was a great horned owl on the cover of a leftover 1999 calendar, with each month featuring a different owl. I’ll mail it to Christopher tomorrow first thing.
* * * * *
1999-05-10-1 The Vancouver Sun by Alex Strachan
[Discovery show wins early Leos]
… In television awards, Andrew Gardner won best writing in an informational series for a segment of Champions of the Wild featuring conservationist Anthony Marr and his efforts to draw attention to the plight of India’s Bengal tiger. Champion’s cinematographer Rudolf Kovanic was also cited for a segment about elephants…
1999-05-16-7 The Province, Vancouver by Jason Proctor
[Whale escapes after shrugging off harpoon]
Makah whalers in Washington’s Neah Bay struck their prey yesterday, but the whale escaped, (hurt, but alive).
“The Makah harpooner threw the harpoon at the whale from about 10 feet away,” said Anthony Marr… who was watching from about 600 meters. “The harpoon entered the left flank of the whale, who did a nose dive, carrying the harpoon and the attached float with it. But the harpoon soon got duslodged and the whale disappeared.”
Activists opposed to the hunt earlier scared away several whales. Some protesters were arrested and the rest were prevented by authorities from nearing the whales (on grounds of harassing them)…
“The whale is a warrior, just like our Makah men are warriors,” said Joddie Johnson, a member of the Makah band. “He wants to die in honour.”
1999-05-18-2 The Vancouver Sun by Craig McInnes
[Native leaders condemn Clark for ‘colonial’ position]
… Anthony Marr… said that the anti-whaling campaign is not aimed at aboriginal rights. “We’re not pointing fingers at the native people. We are just against whaling.”
Marr said it was “ludicrous” to describe Monday’s whale killing as a revival of tradition. “First they towed their ceremonial canoe out to the whale with a power boat. Then, after ceremonially harpooning the whale, they used a .50 calibre gun to finish it off.”
Marr said the Makah’s whale hunt has little to do with the band’s food needs. “It’s something they’ve chosen as a vehicle to assert themselves as a self-determined people. If they want to stand up and be counted, fine, but not on the back a whale that they kill.”…
1999-05-22-6 Times Colonist, Victoria, BC by Anthony Marr
[Tradition should end like slavery]
… On May 17, the day the whale died - sacrificed in a vain and vainglorious attempt to revive an obsolete tradition… To many in the environmental movement, it is a day that will go down in infamy…
Should native cultures with whaling traditions have special rights to whale? In my opinion, no, just as I say no to the Chinese culture having special rights to use bear gall bladders, tiger bone and rhino horn in traditional medicine, nor European cultures having special rights to practice their bloody trophy hunting tradition. To integrate myself into the Canadian society during the last three decade since I became a Canadian, I’ve had to retrain myself many times in just about everything in life; I can’t see why ex-whalers can’t do the same…
1999-06-02-3 The Daily New, Nanaimo, BC by Valerie Wilson
[Students learn plight of the tiger]
… Anthony Marr… warns tigers are disappearing at an alarming rate. He is in Nanaimo this week to ask area school children to save the tiger from extinction. “Your voice is important and you must speak out,” Marr told students of Uplands Park Elementary Tuesday. “You are very powerful if you want to make some changes in the world.”
Marr has been back in BC for about a month, after a 10 week working stint at tiger reserves in India. He brought home with him a breathtaking slideshow of the country’s landscape, tree and plant life, birds and animal life, and of course, photographs of the tiger he viewed at India’s Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Ranthambhore tiger reserves.
“A question I am asked often by adults is there are no tigers in Canada, so why should we be bothered.,” Marr told student. “Somehow, children never ask that.”
“Very simply, the tiger is one of most beautiful animals in the world. If it becomes extinct, our world would be a much less beautiful place. We all lose.”…
1999-06-07-1 Nanaimo News Bulletin by Erin Fletcher
[A tale of 4,000 tigers]
Children hold the key to the survival of the endangered tiger, says tiger conservationist Anthony Marr…
To spread the word about the plight of tigers, Marr was visiting Nanaimo schools last week with a slideshow presentation, video, and a discussion in the hopes to stimulate an interest in tiger preservation among local youth.
Marr has been involved with tiger conservation since 1994. His passion takes him into the depths of India where he works to educate and promote the preservation of tigers…
* * * * *
Most unfortunately, the birthday visit proved to be only a momentary reprieve. In the ensuing weeks, I sent Christopher several cards, in which I wrote him messages, which would have to be read to him, presumably by Christine. This was like trying to send a letter to some loved one in Communist China from the free world. You have to watch every word you write. I may have let my heart rule my head and gone a little over the line once or twice too often, with phrases like “Do not lose hope, Christopher, we will one day meet again.” After five or six cards, the ensuing ones began being returned-to-sender, unopened. Four or five more of these, and I stopped. By then, it was mid-June, and I turned to my last resort. I looked into the Yellow Pages for a family lawyer.
The agony took on a new twist. Did Christine tell Christopher about my cards being returned, or did she not? Both alternatives have their agonizing aspects, and so have their sub-alternatives. If she did tell Christopher that he would not be receiving any more cards from me, did she tell him that it was her or it was me? In all cases, it would kill his last lingering hope, and he would finally fall into despair. But if she did not tell him anything, it could be even worse. Christopher would be waiting, day after day, until his heart wilts. And, as always, every time, my agony turns to rage.
In regards to a lawyer, all I was thinking about at first was to have a lawyer mediate between Christine and me, beginning with writing a letter to her asking her to lift the ban in the best interest of the child. In June, I interviewed four lawyers, all women, in hopes that Christine would read the letter more kindly. Of the four, I found three to be so jaded and money oriented that Christopher’s suffering and emotional damage seemed not a factor in their equations. The fourth, an energetic woman in her early thirties, named Margo E. Bryant, made me think, “She has heart.” So we talked further, in the course of which we explored the option of launching a civil suit for access to Christopher. A custody case would be different of course, but Ms. Bryant was of the opinion that I had a good chance of winning an access case, even though I was not the biological father of the child. She suggested that I should accumulate a few character references from my friends, and to put together a photo album featuring Christopher, Christine and me.
On June 27, I wrote the following letter to several of my friends:
Your names are included in this letter because you are the ones with whom I have shared my personal plight in regards to Christopher (which I have not told even my parents). I want first of all to thank you for your emotional support over the last four very difficult months. I have no idea where my sanity would be today without your understanding and sympathy.
As you know, I have been driven to contemplate taking legal action for access to Christopher, or, closer to the truth, for Christopher and I to have access to each other. I have already retained a family law lawyer for this action. Her name is Margo Bryant. It is her opinion that not only do I have a legal leg to stand on, but that my grounds are solid enough to promise a high probability of success.
As far as I can follow Ms. Bryant’s legal jargon, it would be a four-stage process, as follows:
She will write a letter to Ms. Mason (Christopher’s mother) informing her of our intent;
In the event where Ms. Mason fails to respond or responds negatively, Ms. Bryant would start the legal application towards an enforceable “interim Order of Access”;
Should Ms. Mason contend this Interim order, Ms. Bryant would apply for a “Final Order”;
Should Ms. Mason still contend this, the case would go to trial.
In order to initiate this process, Ms. Bryant requested that I ask my friends to each write her a letter essentially addressing the question “Why should Christopher be allowed to see his Uncle Tony again?” These letters will serve as basis for the judge’s Court Orders in stages 2 and 3, which in itself would cost in the region of $6,000. Of course, the fewer the stages needed to bring forth a decisive outcome, the better for all concerned, especially for a four year old child for whom each day of waiting would seem an eternity.
Since this legal action is a “one shot deal”, it would have to be conducted as strongly and solidly as possible from Square One. I am sure you know that my decision to take this course of action was due to the exhaustion of all other options. If there ever is once in my life I have to ask for concerted support from my friends, this is it. It is understood that this support, if given, will be given voluntarily and I will not hold it against anyone for not extending the help requested. On the other hand, I would be forever grateful to anyone whose signature will appear on his/her version of such a letter. Ms. Bryant asks that the letters be written within the next ten days or so, since in her opinion I have already waited too long…
In closing, I would like to emphasize that this action is taken primarily in the best interest of the child.
Yours very sincerely,
* * * * *
June 28, 1993
I had lunch with my friend James Taft. We had the following conversation:
JT: “I’m concerned about your reputation.”
AM: “My reputation versus Christopher’s emotional and psychological integrity? No contest.”
JT: “In that case, you’d better be prepared to fight dirty, because I’m sure she’s going to.”
AM: “She will, but I won’t.”
JT: “Oh, come on, Tony, drop this Victorian honor crap.”
AM: “It’s not honor, it’s Christopher. I don’t want to use dirty tactics on his mother.”
JT: “Don’t you want to make her suffer just a little, for what she’s done to you?”
AM: “No. I don’t want to make her suffer at all. All I want is for Christopher and I to be able to see each other again. Making her suffer will just act against this objective.”
JT: “I don’t understand you. I’ve seen you turning your cheek week after week. Are you going to do it till your head falls off?”
AM: “It’s all for Christopher. She is holding him hostage. So don’t call me a saint. And she doesn’t have to thank me. And, oh, one more thing. I pride myself to be Christopher’s male role model. What kind of a model would I be if I used dirty tactics on anyone?”
JT: “What about, say, fighting fire with fire then?”
AM: “What do you mean by that?”
JT: “Holding something of hers hostage. Maybe blackmail her with some secret in her life. Threaten her with damaging something important to her if she doesn’t stop what she is doing.”
AM: “Strange as it may seem, even though she has deliberately put Christopher through hell, the most important thing in her life is him. So, tactically, I should threaten to harm Christopher if she doesn’t comply. Is this what you mean?”
JT: “I didn’t say that.”
AM: “No. I know you didn’t. But if I want to fight dirty, this is what I would have to do.”
JT: “She’s fighting dirty, whatever you do.”
AH: “Yes. But I don’t have to stoop down to her level. Offer me a million dollars to harm Christopher, a billion, and see what I would say.”
JT: “I know. I know. Okay, I’ll write a letter for you, but you’re gonna lose, my friend.”
AM: “So be it.”
JT: “Good luck, old man.”
* * * * *
I received four letters of support from my friend, including one from Roxanne, one from James, one from my housemate Imogen, and one from my long time friend Diana. Following is Diana’s, as a sample.
July 16, 1999.
To whom it may concern:
I first met Anthony Marr in 1977. Since that time, I have always found him to be scrupulously honest and dedicated to making positive changes in the world. He is a principled man who really lives what he believes. He is an exceptional human being.
Although Anthony often mentioned Ms. Christine Mason in conversion, I do not recall anything derogatory or disrespectful said about her. I did not meet Ms. Mason until 1986 or thereabouts. I first met Christopher when Anthony first brought him to our house. This was when Christopher was less than one year old. Since then, Christopher and Anthony have visited our family on a regular basis. Frequently, they joined my family (myself, husband and two children, 6 & 9 years) on outings. My children always looked forward to seeing Christopher. Anthony regularly spent one day each weekend, plus weekdays, with Christopher.
I remember Anthony giving Christopher his bottle and changing his diapers. A child’s car seat became a permanent fixture in his car. He showed tremendous dedication to Christopher and on occasions when he visited our home on his own, he would use our phone to call and say goodnight to Christopher.
Anthony is also a special friend of my children Crystal and Dylan. His visits to our home are always filled with laughter and fun. My children are always excited to see Anthony and there are few people I would trust so totally with them.
On several occasions Ms. Mason also joined Anthony and Christopher on outings with my family. On one occasion, we went to the Game Farm in Aldergrove and all returned to my home afterwards for dinner. We also met one day at Playland. Ms. Mason and Christopher joined Anthony on a working holiday last summer and my family met them at Cranbrook. We traveled together to Banff where we spent the weekend together. During this time, Anthony and Ms. Mason jointly cared for Christopher.
Anthony has always been concerned for Christopher’s safety and on a number of occasions checked to see if I had also put sunscreen on my children. He also convinced me of the importance of having my children wear sunglasses with the proper UV protection when going outdoors. Of course Christopher would always arrive at our home fully attired in sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.
In addition to physical care and supervision, Anthony also spent a lot of time playing with Christopher, exploring with him, and teaching him how to do things. On our outings he would hold Christopher’s hand and carry him if he became tired. He always set clearly explained consistent limits fro Christopher with very positive results. On one occasion Christopher had a frustration tantrum which Anthony handled calmly, sticking to his limits and not giving into Christopher’s tears. Afterwards, he expressed respect for Christopher and empathy for his feelings. During all my times with Anthony, I have never seen him become impatient with Christopher. Christopher always followed Anthony wherever he went and always came to him when needing anything. On a number of occasions Anthony stated that he believed a male role model was particularly important to Christopher since Christopher’s father is an alcoholic and has been estranged from him by Ms. Mason. Anthony said that he saw his role as filling that void in Christopher’s life. He felt his input would significantly enhance Christopher’s development. He began this relationship with Christopher’s needs in mind, but the results are much more precious as Anthony and Christopher are very bonded and share a special and pure love with each other. “Uncle Tony” has always been there cheering Christopher’s first steps, his first words, and joining in the discovery of his world.
Christopher’s world has always included “Uncle Tony”. Anthony has been one of Christopher’s prime caregivers since birth. Christopher has been accustomed to virtually daily contact with Anthony. Anthony is not Christopher’s father, but is a strong role model and a “father figure” in Christopher’s life. Although we may see a clear distinction between father and “father figure”, the distinction would not be so clear to Christopher, and the effect of unilaterally terminating this relationship will be virtually the same.
I believe severing Anthony and Christopher’s relationship must have been a shocking and painful loss to Christopher as it was for Anthony.
* Ms. McNeil-Buckingham is an elementary school counselor in the Greater Vancouver Area.
* * * * *
July 29, 1999.
Dear Ms. Mason:
We have been consulted by Mr. Marr, who advised us that until recently, he has spent a great deal of time with your son Christopher who we understand was born on May 4th, 1995.
Mr. Marr advised us that, since Christopher’s birth, he has visited with your son 2 to 3 nights a week after work and usually one day per weekend. We understand that Mr. Marr has taken Christopher to a number of places, such as the Science World, the Game Farm and Playland, and that you and he have taken several trips with Christopher. In other words, Mr. Marr has acted as a surrogate father to Christopher since your son’s birth.
We are further advised that, unhappily, Mr. Marr has been barred from seeing Christopher since February 3, 1999, save and except for a few hours on Christopher’s birthday in May, with your permission. It is not clear to Mr. Marr why you made this decision as apparently you have never expressed any concerns about Mr. Marr’s relationship with your son or his care for him.
Mr. Marr is, understandably, most distressed that this relationship has been severed, and wishes to resume his visits with Christopher as soon as possible. He would prefer to settle this matter as amicably as possible, but, if we have not heard from you or a lawyer on your behalf on or before August 13, 1999, we will be seeking instructions to commence Court proceedings in this regard. Hopefully that will not be necessary.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Yours very truly,
Margo E. Bryant
Attorney at Law
* * * * *
[August 10, 1999.
Dear Ms. Bryant:
Re.: Mr. Anthony Marr’s access to Christopher Mason
Please be advised that I have been retained by Ms. Christine Mason, mother of Christopher, in the above matter. I have received your letter to Ms. Mason dated August 3, 1999.
In a nutshell, Ms. Mason does not wish Mr. Marr (or Mr. Ma, as his real name may be) to have any access to Christopher. Further, Ms. Mason wishes Mr. Marr to have no contact with her or with the day care centre to which she sends Christopher which Mr. Marr has telephoned.
Mr. Marr is a long time family friend of the Mason family. Many years ago, Ms. Mason supported him financially when they lived together. However, Christopher does not regard Mr. Marr as a father of any kind. Christopher knows who his father is, namely Mr. Charles Gordon. Christopher calls Mr. Gordon “dad” and calls Mr. Marr “Uncle Tony”, the term “uncle” being used for adult male friends of the family. Mr. Marr is at best a friend (although no longer wanted) and, at worst, a pest; he is definitely not a surrogate father.
Mr. Marr is middle-aged, unmarried and lives among people half his age. Until February, Mr. Marr tried to insinuate himself into Ms. Mason’s life. She often gave in, because it was difficult to resist his persistent efforts, including long distance phone calls. By now, she has an unlisted phone number. If Mr. Marr had spent money on Christopher, this money only reciprocated for meals that Ms. Mason provided for Mr. Marr when he showed up for dinner.
Mr. Marr seems to seek the pleasures of (surrogate?) fatherhood without the daily responsibilities. His obsession borders on the unhealthy. If he persists in contacting Ms. Mason, I have instructions to seek a restraining order.
Attorney at Law
* * * * *
1999-08-02-1 Associated Press, New York City by Katherine Roth
[Despite tougher laws, tiger bone still widely available in Chinatown]
… As of Monday, the products were still prominently displayed on the shelves of some pharmacies and grocery stores (in New York City's Chinatown)…
“It’s very popular and is good for people with bad backs,” a smiling clerk at Kam Man Food Products on Canal Street told shoppers on Monday. “I don’t take it, because I don’t have a bad back, but a lot of people do,” said the man, who declined to give his name or comment further…
(Tiger preservationist) Anthony Marr… said that of the 37 traditional Chinese pharmacies visited in Chinatown recently, nine were openly selling products listing tiger bone as an ingredient. He is calling for stiffer penalties for sellers and importers who break the law…
But the US Fish and Wildlife Service… says it doesn’t have enough resources to stop the brisk trade…
“We have 93 inspectors and 230 special agents for the entire country. They’re stretched pretty thin,” said Patricia Fischer, a spokeswoman for the agency. “The sheer volume of wildlife products coming into this country present a monumental task…”
More than 50,000 over-the-counter tradition Chinese medicines containing, or purporting to contain, tiger bone and parts from other critically endangered species are sold in the United States each year to people of all ages and ethnic groups…
1999-08-03-2 Daily News, New York City by Laura Seigel
[Tiger bone Rx selling in the city despite ban]
At a cramped grocery in Chinatown yesterday, a casually dressed man plunked down $3.95 and was handed an alleged arthritis cure - tiger bone bills.
Anthony Marr, the Chinese-Canadian tiger campaign director of WCWC in Vancouver, said the purchase proved a grim fact that he had traveled to New York to demonstrate:
The law against selling medicine made from the bones of tigers, an endangered species, is not being enforced.
“I’m here in New York to persuade the government to enforce the law,” said Marr. “Tigers will be extinct within 10 years unless things change.”
A spokeswoman for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for monitoring the sale of tiger bone medicine, conceded the agency could do a better job. “But we don’t have the staff,” Patricia Fisher said. “We only have 230 special agents for the entire country.”
She said the agency has tried to control the sale of tiger bone by teaching Asian communities about endangered species, rather than by enforcing the law without explaining it. “This is a tradition in Oriental medicine that goes back centuries,” Fisher said…
1999-08-03-2 World Journal (Chinese, global)
[The ‘Long March’ of a Chinese-Canadian conservationist]
… Marr arrived in New York City last Friday. On Saturday, he conducted a reconnaissance of Manhattan’s Chinatown district with some local help. In one sizzling afternoon he investigated 37 medicinal stores, and found at least nine that still openly displayed tiger bone medicines for sale…
Yesterday, after a brief media conference in which Marr gave a slideshow on tiger conservation, he led the media present to three of the nine stores to perform demonstration live-purchases…
Shop keepers interviewed seemed aware of the illicit nature of the product, but said since most tigers in China have been killed off, the tiger bone medicines they sell probably contain no real tiger ingredient…
The new Rhino and Tiger Product Labeling Act of 1998, however, ban any product claiming to contain tiger or rhino parts, whether or not they actually do…
1998-08-12-4 Reuters News Agency by Manuela Badawy
[Import of tiger bones a problem in U.S.]
…”At today’s rate of poaching tigers will be extinct in a decade. Tigers don’t have the time to wait for the Chinese community to change its habit,” said Marr, who is of Chinese descent and has taken heat from other Asians for his campaign.
On a recent day, he led journalists to New York’s Chinatown, which has one of the largest concentrations of people with Chinese background in the United State, to buy supposedly banned tiger elixirs.
At the Golden Spring pharmacy on Bowery in Lower Manhattan, Marr walked right in and bought a vial of Tiem Ma tiger bone pills for $3.95. Tiem Ma pills, made by Guiyang Chinese medicine factory in China, listed 6.8 percent ground tiger bone as one of its ingredients and claimed to treat rheumatic neuralgia, lassitude of tendon and back pain.
When journalists and photographers went into the store after Marr purchased the pills, clerks became visibly anxious, removing the pills from the counter and shoved them into a box. They refused to answer journalists’ questions…
1999-08-21-6 The Toronto Star by Manuela Badawy, Reuters
[A helluva town for tigers]
… Under the 1998 Rhino and Tiger Products Labeling Act …people caught with these products face a fine of $5,000. Business owners pay $10,000 and/or get six months in jail. In comparison, fines for seal penises are $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 and/or one year in jail for business owners.
Marr says the fines for tiger violations should at least equal that for seal violations, if only because the tiger is critically endangered…
[Wetlands and Western Canada Wilderness Committee Expose Illegal Chinatown Trade in Tiger, Jaguar, Seal, Endangered Species Parts]
by Wetland Preserve
“At today's rate of poaching to supply the traditional Chinese medicinal market with body-parts of tiger, rhino and bear, among others, the tiger will be extinct within a decade, and the rhino and bear species thereafter.” - Anthony Marr
In response to a report in the tiger conservation publication TIGERLINK that a survey of 47 Chinese pharmacies in New York's Chinatown, 63% (30 shops) still offer tiger parts or products containing, or claiming to contain, tiger parts, Anthony Marr, Biodiversity Campaign Director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), conducted a reconnaissance of Chinatown in conjunction with Wetlands and Animal Defense League activists during the first weekend in August.
What they found shocked them. Not only were pills claiming to contain ground tiger bone openly on display, but leopard bone, seal penis, and pangolin (an African endangered animal species), were also available! Upon making these discoveries Wetlands issued a press release announcing a press conference to be held the following Monday morning to present the findings.
After the media conference, which was held in Wetlands downstairs lounge, Marr led journalists into Chinatown for a sting operation. While photographers and videographers positioned themselves out of sight, Marr went to purchase endangered species products. However, as he was about to make the purchase, the store clerk saw the journalists and began clearing all endangered species parts from the shelves. But it was too late: the journalists had the proof they needed.
What resulted was huge media splash, as the first wave of journalists, including the Associated Press, Daily News, Reuters, World Journal (the New York area's largest Chinese-language paper), ran their stories, resulting in a second wave of coverage from journalists who saw the initial coverage, including a French-based world news agency, Fox News Channel, Radio Free Asia, and others.
In 1996/97, Marr conducted a similar investigation into the Chinatowns of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, which made national news resulting in quick government response and a near-total elimination of these medicines from Chinatowns country-wide. As a person of Chinese descent, Anthony is able to investigate the sale of endangered species parts in Chinese herb shops and traditional pharmacies without raising suspicion. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that consuming the parts of an animal acclaimed for its strength will pass that strength on to the consumer.
Wetlands and WCWC are currently pursuing this campaign to the next stage, working with the NY State Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division to prosecute business selling endangered species parts.
One month ago, due to disagreements between Anthony Marr and WCWC regarding Tiger Fund, Anthony Marr and WCWC parted company.
Today is the day of birth of HOPE-GEO - Heal Our Planet Earth Global Environmental Organization. Founder – Anthony Marr.
Open letter to the President of the United States of America
Dear President of the United States of America:
On February 11, 1997, you wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress citing Canada as having “conducted whaling activities that diminish the effectiveness of a conservation program of the International Whaling Commission”, regarding the granting of whaling licenses to the Canadian Inuits without IWC approval. We as Canadians take your point well, and pledge to pursue the matter with our government. This letter, however, concerns the killing of a Grey whale by your own Makah tribe.
In the same letter to Congress, you also wrote: "I understand the importance of maintaining traditional native cultures, and I support aboriginal whaling that is managed through the IWC." On this, we beg to differ, and hope that you will reevaluate the basic philosophy behind this statement.
First, we question the word “traditional”. Obviously this is a key word distinguishing aboriginal whaling from non-aboriginal whaling, and must itself therefore be clearly defined. In particular, should traditional whaling employ definitely non-traditional equipment such as motorized watercraft and armor-piercing firearms? We believe that the vast majority of Americans and Canadians would say a resounding “NO!”
More basically, and especially applicable to the Makah, is the question of traditional need, namely food, clothing and fuel. The Makah have done without whale-derived food, clothing and fuel for over seven decades. High on their list of reasons is to use the killing of whales to solve their people's alcohol and drug abuse problems. Kindly show us the traditionality of this reason.
Even more basic than this is whether all elements of traditional aboriginal culture are to be held sacrosanct. If so, then even slavery should be revived. If not, then why should killing whales be so unquestionably honoured?
Ultimately, we believe that as civilization advances on to a new millennium, killing sentient, intelligent, peaceful and trusting creatures like whales and dolphins can no longer be justified, for any reason, by anyone, be they Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, American (Makah), or, yes, Canadian (Inuit). This means that within or beyond IWC parameters, whaling must end.
We ask you to please re-examine the basis of your thinking, which the vast majority of your citizens, judging by their overwhelming opposition to the hunt, obviously have done.
1999-11-18 Hornby-Denman Island Grapevine by Fireweed
[Marr to Speak on OMNI-SCIENCE]
Vancouver-based conservationist Anthony Marr will be making an intriguing new presentation in Courtenay and on Denman Mon., Nov. 22nd & Tues. the 23rd respectively.
Many islanders will remember the engaging speaker as the driving force behind Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s high-profiled Bear Referendum Campaign a number of years ago. Others will recall his fabulous slideshow presentation here in ’97 on the plight of the world’s dwindling tiger population. Millions of Discovery Channel, PBS and the Knowledge Network viewers have since applauded his efforts as celebrated in the award winning television documentary series Champions of the Wild.
Marr is currently on a cross-country tour under the banner of HOPE (Heal Our Planet Earth) with a thought provoking talk titled [Earth’s Shining Destiny]. This original millennium vision, based upon Marr’s own “Omniscientific Cosmology”, has won the accolades from professors in a diverse range of scientific disciplines.
“Omni-Science,” explains Marr, “is a new model of the Universe built not on the physical sciences alone, but the life and social sciences as well. It is a cosmology that can answer the great philosophical questions such as the purpose of humanity, the meaning of life, the destiny of Earth, the Way of the Cosmos, the Masterplan of the Universe, even the nature of ‘God’.”
Dissuading quick dismissal of such a grandiose claim, Marr’s impressive list of supporters (including dozens of distinguished academics), encourages thoughtful attention to the writer’s concepts. For example, Stanford University Professor of Geology W.R. Evitt’s comments read, “sincerity, imagination, intellectualism, scholarship… meticulously thought out… majestic in scope but intrinsically simply, satisfying and optimistic… broad appeal… important ideas with great potential for lessening the conflicts in a troubled world.” Adds Dr. William Kimbel, President, Institute of Human Origins, Berkeley, “… no amateur populariser… a dedicated scholar whose theory makes a profound contribution to the fundamental definition of humankind in relation to the broader universe… too important to be ignored.”
While no stranger to controversy as an activist, the praxis of Marr’s ideology is bound to enjoy broad appeal. His current HOPE initiative is primarily concerned with collecting signatures on a bold worldwide petition destined for the United Nations. It requests the redirection of ten percent of international military expenditures into a UN administered global ecology/environmental fund.
Courtesy of Denman’s Community School, the captivating Marr will be speaking Tuesday evening at 7 pm in the School library.
* * * * *
From the journal of Margo E. Bryant on
Marr vs Mason
… In the ensuing months, motions and counter-motions went back and forth, with Anthony stating benignly that he and Christopher had a strong bond and that severing this bond would cause Christopher serious psychological harm, and thus, letting them see each other again would be in the best interest of the child. On the other hand, Christine’s is a campaign of character assassination against Anthony, which progressively escalated.
Christine’s onslaught culminated in early December in a voluminous package comprising a thick affidavit from her and several one-page affidavits from her several women friends and relatives. Christine affidavit contained one hundred points, no more, no less, against Anthony’s character, most of which being petty, and many being demonstrably false. There was also a letter of support from Christopher’s father Charles Gordon whom Christine temporarily recalled from his intoxicated exile for the purpose.
“He is not even Christopher’s father,” wrote more than one of Christine’s friends in their affidavits. Charles’ letter of support basically said that Christopher did not need a father figure, since he already had a father.
One example of the hundred points in Christine’s affidavit that was both petty and untrue had to do with Anthony’s refusal to go through with a church ceremony to become Christopher’s godfather. This was proof, so concluded Christine, that Anthony lacks conviction in fulfilling the responsibilities of being Christopher’s spiritual guide.
Anthony responded, “‘Godfather’ is just a word, and one with a dubious connotation at that. Our love for each other is the reality, pure and simple. Christopher and I have already made a covenant with each other, and with God if you wish, that cannot be surpassed. The ceremony is not only meaningless to me, but a little demeaning – that I would need some institution to commit me to my own words and my own heart. I also did not go to my own convocation ceremony when I graduated from university. The love in my heart and knowledge in my mind were what counted, not a ceremony or a ritual. For the same reason, I do not celebrate my own birthdays.”
Christine also stated that the motive for Anthony to offer to be Christopher’s guardian in the event of her death was that Anthony was after Christopher’s money. Anthony’s reaction to this was a bitter laugh.
Christine also stated that Anthony “free loads” on her, dropping by her place for dinner, and this is in spite of Anthony paying for every weekly outing without exception.
Another point against Anthony’s character in Christine’s affidavit was his buying high quality toys for Christopher, such as an upholstered rocking horse when Christopher was one year old, and more expensive dinosaur models than those she bought of Christopher. Christine’s accusation was that Anthony bought Christopher expensive things for the prime purpose of showing her up, since she could not afford to buy them. Anthony said, “All I want is for Christopher to have the best that I could afford.”
An example of an accusation which may seem petty, but is not, is Christine saying that Anthony found pregnant women “repugnant”. Anthony’s response: “I love children and admire the courage of those women who would dare to go through the birthing process, including Christine herself. If I were a woman, I would be scared shitless.”
Yet another accusation is that Anthony told Christopher that Christine had wanted a girl and not a boy. Anthony said, “I have never once touched upon gender comparison in any context with Christopher.”
“How can you be so sure? Sometimes people say things they later forget.”
“I’m very conscientious of this, because I have been annoyed for years by Christine’s anti-male bias. I doubt even her friends could deny this bias in Christine. If Christopher got the idea, it would be from Christine, not from me.”
“How does Christine express this bias? Overtly? Subtly?”
“I’d say both,” said Anthony, pondering. “ In fact, I would be surprised if Christopher did not get that notion somewhere along the line. Through the years, at every opportunity, such as, for example, when a report comes out comparing the performance of schoolboys and schoolgirls, Christine would enthuse about how much smarter and superior girls are than boys. She has a basic dislike and disrespect for men. All her close friends are women. With her women friends, she is sweetness and light. Not so with men. Three years ago, she had two close male friends – Charles and myself. Up to February this year, she had one – me. Now, she has none.”
An example of an accusation which was decidedly not petty is a quotation from the psychiatrist that Christopher had been seeing, that Christopher told her that Anthony threatened to shoot him with a “blue gun” if Christopher told Christine a certain “secret”.
“I threatened to shoot Christopher?!” cried Anthony, almost in tears. “What kind of mental twisting would make him think that of me and say something like that about me?!”
Other accusations open doors for attacks against Christine’s credibility. One was that on Christopher’s fourth birthday, Anthony crashed Christopher’s party in the afternoon, without permission, behaved rudely and upset everyone. Anthony suggested that we could call Roxanne Stillwell to verify that Christine did give me permission, and also Wilhelmina to verify that he was there at Christine’s place in the mid-evening when she arrived. And that further, we could also call those who went to Christopher’s party to asked them if what Christine wrote did happen.
One accusation that Christine repeatedly made in her various affidavits over the months was that Anthony on numerous occasions parked his car outside of her condo, spying on her.
“Did you?” I asked him.
“I know one thing without a shadow of a doubt.”
“I can tell you right now that she has never once called her friends, or the police for that matter, telling them that I was right there and then in the process of spying on her, and if she did, and if they did come to investigate, they had never once found me there.”
“The absence of proof is not the proof of absence,” I quoted, just to test him.
He just plowed on, “Further, I also know without a shadow of a doubt that she has never taken a single photo or a single second of video of me and my car sitting outside her window.”
“How do you know all these? Have you spoken with Christine’s friends or the police about it? You certainly haven’t spoken with Christine about any photos or video.”
“The point here is that I don’t have to, simply because I have never once been there to be videoed or reported on.”
Ah, now, this is good. He’s got even me convinced.
There were other false accusations that could be easily disproven by legal documentation. After Anthony graduated from university, he worked in real estate. After a few years, he left the industry, mostly out of sheer boredom and a sense of meaninglessness, he told me. In Christine’s affidavit she stated that Anthony was barred from the Real Estate Board for unethical conduct.
“So, what did you do that was unethical?”
“Why don’t you ask the Real Estate Board?” he answered, almost defiantly.
“Tell me and I’ll verify,” I played back.
“Have you already checked?”
“No, I haven’t. There is nothing to check.”
I did. There was indeed no such record.
Christine grossly overplaed her hand. Her blalantly false accusations are all on record. She’s too smart for her own good. She would be a vulnerable and not-too-credible witness. Cross examination would be fun.
Shortly before Christmas, nearing the court date, Anthony received a phone call from Diana McNeil-Buckingham, Anthony’s prime character witness. Diana told Anthony that she received a telephone call from Christine. Christine was charming and friendly, and apparently very caring. At one point during their conversation, Christine said to Diana, “If you value your children, NEVER, EVER, let them be alone with Tony.“
“What are you implying?” Diana asked Christine. “That he is a pedophile?! A child molester?!”
“Just be very careful with what he does with your children, for their own good. That’s all I want to say,”
Since then Diana has shown hesitancy in her previously wholehearted support. I no longer consider her a prime witness. Not only has Christine successfully manipulated her own friends, she is succeeding to manipulate Anthony’s friends as well.
As an opponent, overextended as she is, this woman is not to be underestimated, inside or outside the courtroom, during and after this conflict.
All in all, however, with or without Diana’s support, I feel that we have a strong case. Although the law would favor Christine on account of her being Christopher’s biological mother, this is not a custody case but an access case. Anthony has the fighting spirit. He will see Christopher yet.
* * * * *
1999-12-23 Special to The Capitol Times, U.S.A.
Omniscientific Cosmology: A new millennium vision
by Anthony Marr
A cosmology is a model of the Universe. It is essentially a tool for our self-understanding. Why? Because the part cannot be fully understood without an understanding of the whole and its part in this whole. Throughout human history, many cosmologies have been advanced, most being in the form of mythologies (incl. Creationism), and all, unless viewed as metaphors or allegories, are far from the truth - except one. The only cosmology that stays true to fact when taken literally is scientific cosmology. Unfortunately, as so far developed, involving only the astro-chemo-physical sciences, it is incomplete. Omniscientific Cosmology completes it by incorporating the bio-socio-ecological sciences, the reason being that the biosphere is a part of the Earth, which is a part of the Cosmos. And since Homo sapiens is a part of Earth’s biosphere, the omniscientific cosmology is needed for human self-understanding, which therefore makes it also a system of omniscientific cosmological philosophy.
The omniscientific cosmology builds upon the physical structure and processes of the Cosmos as per conventional scientific cosmology by adding the following as integral parts: the original inorganic molecules of the primordial Earth gave rise to the cells ~3.5 billion years ago, which gave rise to the metabionts (multicellular organisms) ~600 million years ago, which gave rise to animal societies (initially the insect societies) ~100 million years ago, which gave rise to the human-based nations ~about 10,000 years ago.
The cell, the metabiont, the “city” (including all animal societies), and the nation are all demonstrably bona fide organisms, or “living systems”, each on its own level of organization. Today, the physical matter of planet Earth is organized in five levels of organization: the Molecular, the Cellular, the Metabion, the Citian (derived from “city”) and the National. In contrast, all other Solar System planets have only one level of organization – the Molecular.
The phenomenon by which a lower level gave rise to its adjacent higher level is Integrative Transcendence (I.T.). The process by which I.T. is achieved is Transcendent Integration (T.I.), which essentially involves differentiation and cooperation. By means of T.I., the social organisms of level (X) formed societies; and by means of I.T., the advanced societies of Level (X) became the original organisms of level (X+1). Thus, a cell is a “society” of its own “social molecules”, a metabiont is a society of its own social cells, a city is a society of its own social metabionts, and a nation is a society of its own social cities.
Interlevel Parallelisms exist, and are of predictive value, e.g.: 1. On every level of organization, there are non-social and social units. 2. For every living system, on any level, there are 20 “subsystems” (see the book for details). 3. Evolution occurs on all levels simultaneously, although, by Translevel Progression, the lower levels are dominated by Darwinian evolution, and the higher levels by Lamarckian evolution. There are many other interlevel parallelisms.
By far the most monumental of all interlevel parallelisms is the O.S.E.S. Cycle. O.S.E.S. represents the four quadrants of a cycle of the T.I./I.T. Spiral, namely: Organismization, Speciation, Ecosystemization and Socialization. And, by the resultant societies organismizing into the first organisms of the level above, they start a new and next higher O.S.E.S. Cycle on the ever-ascending T.I./I.T. Spiral.
Consciousness is matter-based, and is therefore a physical phenomenon. It, too, is a result of T.I./I.T., by which the proto-consciousness or consciousness of the units of a certain level gives rise to that of the level above. Thus, the T.I./I.T. spiral is in fact a matter/consciousness T.I./I.T. Twin-Spiral.
The planet Earth is an egg, literally. First, a universal definition of “egg” – a physical entity containing an embryo destined to develop into a full organism. A bird egg, for example, is a specific case of a universal egg, as is a planetary egg like the Earth. The planetary egg Earth does contain a planetary embryo, namely, the biosphere. The main difference between a bird egg and a planetary egg is that a bird embryo is on the inside of the egg, whereas a planetary embryo is on the outside of the egg, which nonetheless is enclosed by the atmosphere. The development of a planetary egg does follow a definite planetary gestation period. Specifically, Earth’s planetary embryo has hitherto undergone four stages of planetary metamorphosis – from molecules to cells to metabionts to cities to nations. In other words, it has successfully progressed through four O.S.E.S. Cycles of Earth’s T.I./I.T. Twin-Spiral; and the T.I./I.T. Twin-Spiral itself has ascended through four levels of organization pertaining to life on Earth. The development of Earth’s planetary embryo follows a preset metamorphic schedule as predetermined by the planet’s original physical and chemical properties, which follows an accelerating exponential timeframe. This timeframe appears to accord to the Fibonacci numbers series applicable to the many spiraling forms found in nature.
The metamorphosis of Earth’s planetary embryo has currently progressed on to the Socialization quadrant of the O.S.E.S. Cycle of Earth’s T.I./I.T. Twin-Spiral on the National level of organization. If the T.I./I.T. Twin-Spiral would continue to unfold as it has over the last 4.6 billion years of Earth’s history, the next step would be planetary organismization. This would involve the nations transcendently integrating into a harmonized international society involving differentiation and cooperation, and to integratively transcend from the geo-embryo to the full-fledged Planetary Organism Earth. Of course, it could also fail and, at the crucial juncture, Earth’s biosphere might spontaneously regress back down to the lower levels, with the National, Citian or even Metabion levels terminated.
Once the Planetary Organism Earth has organismized into being, it will be the original organism on the Planetary level of organization within the Solar System. After a period of maturation, it will reproduce, begetting offspring planetary organisms on other Solar System planets and their satellites, or in interplanetary space. Earth’s “seeds” will be space colonies - citian organisms in their own right, which will contain the genes and memes of Earth. Once landing on other planets and their satellites, or stabilized in orbit, these citian level “Earth seeds” will quickly form national organisms, and eventually planetary organisms. Thus, yet a new O.S.E.S. Cycle, on the Planetary level of organization, will unfold. Like the lower-level organisms before them, these planetary organisms will speciate, form a multi-planetary ecosystem, and eventually inter-planetary society, which, if all go well, will become the Stellar Organism Sol - on the Stellar level of organization.
A further extrapolation of the Earth’s T.I./I.T. Spiral beyond the Solar System may find it joining the T.I./I.T. twin-spirals of other integratively transcended planetary systems in the interstellar realm. Especially if light-speed could be exceeded by some yet unknown technology, there will likely be three levels of organization from the stellar organism to the Galactic Organism, and another three levels from the galactic organism to the ultimate and singular Universal Organism.
What would this Universal Organism be like? Comparing the physical and mental powers of a human being (a metabion organism) against those of an amoeba (a cellular organism), the difference is of course immense. And yet, they are but one level of organization apart. By the above reckoning, the Universal Organism is ten levels above the human being, and eight levels above the United States (a national organism). Within the Cosmos, the Universal Organism will be everywhere. Its knowledge will encompass that in every library on every planet endowed with civilization. Its physical and mental powers will be virtually infinite. A traditional theologian would have no choice but to describe it as being virtually “omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent”.
But two things he would have to concede: 1. There is nothing supernatural about this Universal Organism; it is entirely natural. And 2. It certainly did not create us; on the contrary, we will have participated, in however miniscule a capacity, in creating it.
The above assumes that we can survive our current planetary crisis. According to the Omniscientific Cosmology as conceived by the author, the key to success is T.I./I.T..
* * * * *
From the journal of Anthony Marr:
Snow is falling heavily outside the mountain cabin. Millennium fever is sweeping the globe, but up here in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, surrounded by rock and ice, this could be the Pliocene era for all I know. Even my friends the bears have withdrawn into their wintry refuges, enjoying their annual oblivion from human evils and follies. If Apocalypse were now, if Armageddon were here, if the End-of-the-World descended, I’d be the last to know.
I just had the most excruciating Christmas of my life. One without Christopher. One in which I could not even send a Christmas card to Christopher. One where I could not even share my joy with him for my discovery of the Tao. One when my very best gift to Christopher would be rejected, and was.
The fact that I did not fight tooth and nail to see him he might consider cowardice. This is a painful concept to contemplate.
So now, do I fight tooth and nail to win this court case? Would anyone understand if I say that I am more afraid of winning than of losing? Does anyone even care?
“My dearly beloved, I do understand, and I do care.”
“Raminothna! Is that you?!”
“Yes, it is I.”
“Where’ve you been?”
“Among the stars.”
“So what are you doing here?”
“I feel your distress, and your need for counsel. Besides, my seeds in your sun room have germinated.”
“Oh, have they? I will take good care of them. Don’t you worry. So, you said you understood. What do you understand?”
“Why you are more afraid of winning than of losing.”
“If you lose, you lose nothing other than what you have already lost. But if you win, Christine would wage a campaign to turn Christopher himself against you, until he himself hates you and despises you.”
“Oh, please, don’t! I can stand the thought! That would screw him up for good!”
“Or perhaps she won’t, in the best interest of the child.”
“Upon a very lucky star, I know.”
“What should I do, Raminothna? What should I do?!”
“I could invoke the Cosmic Hand of Destiny, if you like.”
“Whatever, if you think it would help.”
“It could. Just one thing. The Cosmic Hand of Destiny can be effectively invoked only once in a lifetime. You have to choose your subject matter with all due care.”
“Sure. I’ll try anything once. And I cannot think of a better thing to use it on, whatever it is.”
“Very well, then. Go outside and bring in five boulders, each one about the size of a bowling ball, and arrange them in the form of a pyramid - in your fireplace.”
“Done,” I said after a few minutes, a little breathless, my hands wet and gritty and my shirt soaked with melting snow.
“Write on a piece of paper the following: ’I will fight to the bitter end.’”
“Crunch the piece of paper into a ball and insert the ball into the pyramid.”
“Now listen carefully. If you are destined to fight and win, nothing will happen to the paper ball. But if you are meant to lose or surrender, a cosmic hand of destiny will reach into the pyramid, and reduce the paper ball to ashes – before the stroke of midnight tonight.”
To make a long evening short, just before midnight, a cosmic hand of destiny did reach into the pyramid, and reduced the paper ball to ashes. The means was a simple match. The hand was mine.
* * * * *
Dear Homo Sapiens:
On January 1, 2000, Anthony faxed the following letter to Margo Bryant’s office: “… Where this case is concerned, I am more afraid of winning than of losing. If I lost, or surrendered, Christine may hopefully halt her campaign of hate against me and of devastation against Christopher. But if I won, she would assuredly make Christopher himself hate me and despise me and abhor me to the extent where he himself would refuse to see me. This would result in the final breaking of Christopher’s heart and the total devastation of his emotional integrity. I cannot allow this to happen, nor even bear the thought... So, in the name of my love for Christopher, I capitulate and agree never to see him again…”
On January 12, 2000, Anthony received a visit from a sheriff, who delivered to him a court restraining order against him seeking contact with Christopher ever again. Anthony did not contest it.
In March 2000, while driving to visit his parents, Anthony saw half a block away a woman walking with a child. He thought they were Christine and Christopher. Upon circulating the block, he saw that he was not mistaken. He drove to within 100 feet of Christopher, but he did not stop.
Not only would Anthony find it harder and harder to recognize Christopher’s physical appearance as time goes by, he would likewise find it harder and harder to recognize Christopher’s mind. That Christopher would say that Anthony threatened to shoot him with a gun tells volumes of how his mind had been altered. If mere months of leading questions and manipulations through incompetence or malice had turned Christopher into thinking of his devoted friend and guardian angel as a threatening and evil villain, who knows what years of such influences would do. Here then is another test for Anthony’s love.
I ask him, “What if Christopher one day turns against you, would you still love him?”
“I will never stop loving him, no matter what.”
“How much will you love him?”
“Wholeheartedly, unconditionally, as always.”
“Even if he accuses you of the vilest of crimes?”
“Whatever Christine manipulates him to believe.”
“Whatever. ‘Wholeheartedly and unconditionally’ is what I said.”
“What if he becomes even more of a villain than Christine herself?”
“If he becomes a villain, it would not be due to him, but to whomever made him that way. He would be the victim, as he already is. Nothing is a factor in the equation of my love for Christopher exeept love itself. You be my witness.”
“What about her?”
“Will you ever forgive her?”
He said nothing.
I have just one last question for him. “Now that you can no longer do anything for Christopher personally, how will you use this miraculous power of yours?”
He did not think long before answering, “I will devote myself to working for all the children of the world, of whom Christopher is one. If I benefit children in general, I benefit him. Nobody, not even Christine, can keep me from doing that.”
At this moment of his reverie of tragedy and determination, Tears In Heaven flow out of his car radio. Eric Clapton wrote it to commemorate his small son who fell out of an 18th floor window and died. It was a poignant and gentle song, but it hit Anthony like a sledgehammer in his solar plexus. He had to pull his car off the road, to cry his heart out.
Homo Sapiens of Earth, sometimes, I cannot help but abhor you, but always, I cannot help but adore you.
the Fortunate and the Called Upon
at your service
* * * * *