My friend Pravin Shekar invited me to a talk on wildlife photography by Dr Srinivasan Periathiruvadi. Dr Srini is a renowned physician, an accomplished entrepreneur of healthcare-related companies and co-founder of Jeevan Blood bank (now Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation).
As many in the hall at Odyssey bookstore in Adyar were wondering what is a Doctor doing with Wildlife photography, Dr Srini started to tell the story of how in 2005, following a series of surgeries he underwent, he decided to take time from his busy schedule – to live a life on his own terms – he dusting off and giving life to his “old” hobby of photography and combining it with travel. One led to another, and he was soon visiting African savannas frequently, armed with his Nikon gears and boat-load of patience. There, employing his self-invented technique of mongoose photography (which involves you to be lying down and keeping your lens at the height of say 1.5 feet from ground, to get the view of what a typical mongoose will be seeing) he has shot several hundreds of photographs of wildlife including dangerous predators – one photo was a cheetah starring directly at his lens, other was of the world’s most dangerous animal Rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park chasing at him dangerously, and so on. The man had so many interesting stories to share – one was when he noticed a family of lions sitting behind a bush that he was about to use for nature’s call and another was about the hospitality of an old man (seen below) living in a small brick-house in The Himalaya region.
After giving us a visual treat with his pictures, Dr Srini switched gears to talk about the work he is doing with Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, that he had co-founded. At JSC, they are working hard to catalogue and type thousands of human stem cells (HLA) so that patients suffering from Blood Cancer, can find a matching donor – a noble cause he is pioneering. Jeevan operates ‘Be The Cure Registry’ comprising of South Asia’s largest Public Cord Blood Bank and an Adult Stem Cell registry (a.k.a. Bone Marrow Donor Registry). You can donate Rs 5000 which will go towards HLA typing, and will also fetch you a print of your choice from the collections of his photographs at NatureImages.
For me, an evening well spent where I learned a lot about photography, african wildlife and about stem cells!