Mother’s Love

A mother Bonnet Macaque (Macaca radiata) and her baby. She is alert and watching for an alpha male, who was bullying all the monkeys around @Bheemeshwari –April 01, 2007

A common and favourite theme for me in my photographs is that of Mother and children. Well, not of the human variety, but from the forests. I am fortunate to have a loving family and parents, and I guess that image is what is reflecting through my photographs.  I have been lucky enough to get a few opportunities in the wild to photograph these beautiful moments. I always say a silent prayer just before setting out on a trip, hoping I’ll get to photograph at least one mother and child. I haven’t been as lucky as I would have wanted, but I am not complaining either! The Maternal Instinct, in my opinion is one of the strongest forces in the world. The first story that comes to mind is the Story of  the brave Milk maid Hirakani and Shivaji Maharaj. (thanks to Amar Chirta Katha when I was growing up)

Hirakani was trapped inside the fortress, because the gates had been shut, and by the royal decree, would not be opened till sunrise. She had to get out to her baby in the village below. She scaled the walls, and climbed down to the foothills, going down a vertical drop of over 2700 meters, so that she could go home to her baby to feed him.

Quoting a Marathi poem
And as she strolled around inside the gigantic fort
Tired and desperate, found a last resort
She found the vertical drop of the hill lacking a fence
Without a slightest fear of death to sense
The mother in her drove away her helplessness
Hiding her milk pots there and she slid/ clung/ down the dizzy ravine
She plunged in through the unknown path and way
where bravest of the men would not travel in day
The thorny bushes scratched her clothes, limbs and face
As she struggled to reach home to feed her child in grace
No danger could have stopped her that night
A mother turned ferocious for a glimpse of her baby’s sight
She reached home and kissed her child passionately
Fed him, touched him and caressed him happily.

Shivaji strengthened that side of the fort, (the eastern side if memory serves me correct) and named it Hirakani Burj, and it still stands today, a long lasting testament to Mother’s love!

A young mother African elephant (Loxodonta africana) suckling her calf at the Samburu National Park, Kenya – Aug 2012

As someone who loves wildlife and spends a lot of time in the wild, I have had ample opportunities to see such instances, both in person and on video.  I have seen a video shot by a friend of a Sambar Mother with her fawn cornered in a pond by a pack of  about 10 Dholes (Wild Dogs). She stands facing these ferocious and hungry pack, thwarting any attack from any side from the pack and an hour later, exhausted, she emerged triumphant, with the pack beating a retreat. You can see an edited version of the video here, shot on location by a friend Jayanth Sharma. I have seen in person, a pair of Plum headed parakeets, chase away a mighty Black Kite on one of my trips to the jungles. They perceived the Black Kite sitting on an adjacent tree to be a threat to their nestlings and they didn’t hesitate for even a minute to attack the bigger bird. The Mother led the attack!

Many such instances can be recounted both from human and natural history. Part of what

The plains zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli), also known as the common zebra or Burchell’s zebra, with her young spindly legged colt. At the Lake Nakuru National Park, Nakuru, Kenya

we are, is because of that strong force – the maternal love that we have gotten from our Mothers.  Her offspring, are a part of her, she has carried them in her, nurtured them, undergone pain in delivering them, and she is definitely going to stand up to any force, however stronger or greater than her, to protect and nurture what she still considers a part of herself.

Which, on another note, is also reason why, Mothers never get over the death of an offspring, where as Siblings and Fathers in most cases manage at least to cope with it! Believe me, I know!

Cheerio!!!!

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EXIF Data For the pictures in the post:

  1. The Bonnet Macaque : Olympus E500 | Zuiko 40-140 @ 128 mm | f 4.3 | 1/500 Sec | ISO 125 | Sunset Mode | ev comp 0 | Handheld | White Balance – Auto | Metering – Pattern | Basic PP on LR3
  2. The African Elephant: Olympus E30 | Sigma 50-500 mm @84mm | f 16 | 1/125Sec | ISO 160 | Shutter Priority | ev comp -0.3 EV | Handheld | White Balance – Manual | Metering – Center Weighted Average | Basic PP & Conversion to Monotone in LR3
  3. The Plains Zebra: Olympus E30 | Sigma 50-500 mm @390mm | f 9.0 | 1/1250Sec | ISO 200 | Aperture Priority | ev comp -1.0 EV | Handheld | White Balance – Manual | Metering – Pattern | Basic PP , increased Black Levels in LR3

CARNIVORE, Nairobi – A ‘must visit’ place, so to speak.

Carnivore Restaurant – off Langata Rd, Langata.
Phone : +254 20 605 933

Before I left on my trip to the Wilderness of Kenya, many colleagues insisted that I MUST go to “The Carnivore.” Well, perhaps the profusion of recommendations shouldn’t have been surprising, given that my love for meat is pretty well known among my friends and acquaintances.

I had heard of The Carnivore long ago from photographer friends, who had raved about the variety of meats served there, including game meat, a menu comprising Zebra, Giraffe and so on. Though deep down I am curious as to how they would’ve tasted, I am really happy that they aren’t serving game meat anymore.

I didn’t have to worry about finding the place or planning a visit, because our tour operator – African Safari Destinations Limited had included a welcome dinner at The Carnivore on Day one. Since we didn’t have anything else to do, we headed out early to the restaurant, and were seated in about 10 minutes at a table facing the pit. The huge barbeque pit is what strikes you first on entering the restaurant. And soon enough you have Charles, with a tray, making the local cocktail, Dawa. Similar to the Mojito or caipirinha, the Dawa is a stiff Vodka poured over ice, lemon halves, honey and sugar. In Swahili, the word means medicine or magic potion, and it is stiff and potent enough to be a “cure-all”! My friend and I had 5 of these cocktails between us, and it cost us about 2800 Shillings (35$).

Here’s where its all done! Rare, Medium, Well done and what not!

The staff was very welcoming and helpful. They took the time to explain everything, and advised us on which sauces and accompaniments to use with which meats. These condiments were placed conveniently on the table on a Lazy Susan.. The staff were able to spend so much time guiding us because the restaurant wasn’t full. I noticed that they didn’t spend even a fourth of this time at other tables once the restaurant started to fill up.

The Sauces for the variety of meats that are going to be PILED onto my plate.

There was a variety of meats served, of which I loved the Pork Spare Ribs and the Chicken Legs: they were cooked perfectly and were succulent. The other meats – beef & pork in its other forms were a tad dry or overcooked. The turkey was not so great, and among the exotic meats, I was served Crocodile meat, Ostrich meat (which again was dry and chewy), Ostrich meat balls (all of which you will get in other places as well) and Ox Balls Testicles.

Savouring the Ox Balls!
Photo Courtesy: http://www.beontheroad.com/

This is how they serve you the meat. This one was Ostrich meat, and it was carved out using a Masai sword.
Photo Courtesy: http://www.beontheroad.com/

As for the quality of the food and the accompaniments, I’d rate the place a 3/5, but I do recommend a one-time visit for the experience. For the ambience I’d rate it a 4/5, especially because of the live serving – where the food is carved off the skewers using Masai Swords at your table. But please be forewarned that this has NOTHING to do with local Kenyan Cuisine, which is best had at one of the local restaurants. Ask your driver to help you. I recommend a G&R restaurant in the Business District where you get good grilled meat or curried meat with the local staples like Iriyo or Ugali or Githeri and so on. At the Carnivore, the non-vegetarian meal – which is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet, costs about 2500 Shillings (30$) and it was about 2000 for the vegetarian meal – which was nothing to write home about (but then if you’re going to be vegetarian at the Carnivore…). My friend is an ovo-lacto vegetarian and chose (in his words) ‘an almost tasteless vegetable bake’. The desserts were also not great shakes, but merely passable.

The Carnivore Nairobi Menu.

Bottom line: Go for a one-time experience for bragging rights and to be able to claim and that you’ve eaten Ox Balls. My rating is a firm 3 out of 5!

Originally posted on Lonely Planet by TheLazyPhotographer
Cheerio!
Disclaimer: No harm has been done to the Reviewer during the sampling process!