People who go on safaris in Karnataka are well aware of Jungle Lodges and Resorts(JLR), but not many would know about the Naturalist Training Program (NTP) that it conducts in the Bannerghatta National Park campus. While booking the Kabini JLR, I happened to read a blog where somebody had mentioned about the training program. I did drop an email to Karthik (firstname.lastname@example.org) , as the blog suggested and was promptly told that I was in their database and will be informed of the upcoming batch. Later, googled and read great things about Srinivasan Karthikeyan, the Chief Naturalist at Jungle Lodges and Resorts, who would be educating us.
I am a software engineer, needless to say, I spend a good deal of time in front of the screen, with umpteen chrome tabs. For my luck, I was away from the computer and saw the registrations open and registrations closed emails! I would have never ever thought in my wildest dreams that it would get filled so quickly. In a way, was happy to see that there were so many people interested. Anyway, I sent an email to Karthik and told him that he should consider me if there were any cancellations. For some reason, I was very hopeful.
We do get lucky sometimes! Just 2 days before the program, there was a dropout and Karthik asked me if I wanted to join! Yay!
All of us were sent a group email and I did carpool with a Pediatrician. Even though he lived just 2 roads away (and I have 2 kids) I’d never met him. He kind of briefed me about the program and also told me about the participants (present and past) on the way. We were put up in tents on a twin sharing basis; I had a 20-year old as a roomie! I love the fact that people came with diverse backgrounds and a young thing found it cool to do this NTP! India is definitely changing and I am lovin’ it!
I come from Malnad region. Have seen lots of birds (don’t think can name them even after this NTP class but am curious enough to look up now), green snakes, cobras, and bats in my backyard. If you read other blogs on the NTP (BTW, the only way to get information), it tells you about bird watching. I am not into birds. Probably ‘Life of Birds’ is the only series of Attenborough that I had not watched fully (I own or have watched almost all of Attenborough’s documentaries; Great fan!). Whether you are into bird watching or not, I will promise you, you will still love this program, provided you love nature. Karthik is such a passionate teacher that you may fall in love with the birds and want to be in the wilderness, watching them, sketching them (he will force you!) and photographing them.
The 2 and 1/2 days of program got done in no time. I am not going to give you the details of what happened and take away the fun. You have to attend it and experience it! I am now connected to all the NTPians on Facebook and Y! group. It is always nice to learn, share and listen to the views of other like minded people. All in all, it was a great experience! Besides Karthik’s passion for wildlife, the hospitality of the folks in JLR Bannerghatta, chital’s visit to our tent at 2am, axis axis’ way of taking notes, hatching of praying mantis, the lush green Bannerghatta forests, the instant camaraderie of the fellow NTPians are some of the highlights that I’ll always cherish!
There is a Level 2 of this program which I want to attend, before we move from BLR. Hopefully, Karthik will conduct one and now the odds are one against 250. Hey, I may get lucky again!
If you are convinced that this NTP is for you, do drop an email to email@example.com today and have a wonderful experience!