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Auroville's natural beauty

Book Review: Footsteps through the salad, by Tim Wrey, Prisma, price: Rs 550

By Sanjay Sondhi
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

 Credit: SonphotoIn a materialistic and money-obsessed society, any attempt that make people re-connect with nature is to be welcomed (though quite a few folks will say there has been no connect at all, so where is the “re-connect”!). Hence Tim Wrey’s Footsteps though the salad is a welcome effort to introduce the world of nature to the layman.

Tim has an easy writing style that will appeal to many people. Despite having covered a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates, he has refrained from using scientific jargon, and this should enhance the appeal of the book. Tim’s tongue-in-cheek story telling ability adds to the charm of the book. I particularly loved his experiences during his first visit to Auroville: frogs in the letter box, owls walking across a salad plate, mice in motorcycles, the first experience of tick-bites. I have experienced these and more myself, in decades of nature watching, so I chuckled along with the author’s first experiences with nature in rural India.

As I read through the book, despite having been a nature lover all my life, I kept finding tidbits of new information. For example, I had not realized that insectivorous bats fly almost blind when they have large insects in their mouths, because their “echo location” is disabled for a few moments, while the insect is being gobbled up! Moreover, despite the author’s disclaimer that he is not an expert, and that the information has been largely compiled from many different sources, I found hardly any error, which is commendable, and shows the author’s grasp and interest in nature.

I liked that the fact Tim covered many different aspects of the creatures from their distribution, habits, their behavior, tidbits about their role in folklore and much more. The plates and sketches in the book helped bring many chapters to life.

If I have a complaint, it was that too much detail and information has been provided, and on occasion, there is an overload of information. On reading the book, in quite a few places, I could not finish reading the chapter, as I had already been bombarded with too much information. I am a nature lover, so if this could happen to me, a layman would probably switch off much earlier!

Notwithstanding the above, for nature lovers, and not just people living in and around Auroville (for whom this book is a must read),  Footsteps through the salad is a commendable effort to spread awareness about all things big and small in nature.

If you think you’ve got NDD (Nature Deficiency Disorder, numbskulls!), pick up this book. If not, still do pick it up-its got load of interesting stories for a bedtime read.

Sanjay Sondhi is with conservation organisation Titli Trust in Dehradun


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