Watching lizards in India’s “wastelands”

Here is a piece I’ve written for The Hindu BLink about the people I meet while travelling in India for fieldwork on fan-throated lizards. The nice thing about having a blog is that I can still sort of publish the version of the article as I wrote it–I like my title better, and here’s the last paragraph, which didn’t make it to the print version:

Lattho and his favourite goatOf the six months I’ve spent watching Sitana, I’ve travelled alone for about half that time. I am often asked about this experience—have I felt safe?  Have people been helpful? And the answer is a resounding yes. Of course I was nervous when I began this fieldwork, but over time I’ve seen that an overwhelming majority of the people who approach me to find out what I’m doing are completely well-meaning and utterly respectful. I found that I didn’t need to waste energy in being constantly cautious, and that I am far happier when I focus on the positivity of the interactions I am having, and not on the negativity of interactions that might happen. Though I remain aware of my surroundings, I now make it a habit to smile at the people I pass, and wave at, talk to, and ask questions of the people who stop to watch me, an attitude that has led me to feel a much closer association with the places I visit. I am then grateful that the lizards I study are found in un-exotic locations, in places that form part of the daily lives of people I would never otherwise have had the chance to meet. Fan-throated lizards have paved an atypical path for me to learn more about this wonderful country we live in.

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