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Meeting in the Kerala forest
Anand Gopinath is the naturalist of Spice Village, an eco friendly hotel in Kerala, southern India. Among sweet fragrances of cardamom and other delicate spices, he answered our questions about nature in this part of India and his works and passion.
What is a typical day for a naturalist at Spice Village ?
As a naturalist, my time schedule extends beyond time frame work. A trek with a guest will get us started at day break or we may begin with an in-house property tour after breakfast time.
How many people work on your team?
My friends Mr. Gireesh and Mr. Prateesh complete our team of three.
What is your “signature”tour for tourists?
Spice Village, which is a flowing extension of the Periyar forest, guides the hills of cardamom to their natural glory by resetting spices in a forest landscape, reflecting the organic fluidity in nature and human dynamics.
Our initiatives are in deciphering this connecting link which offers an intellectual experience on holiday.
“Pepper Vines”is the in-house tour that acquaints the guest with the plant and bird wealth of the region along with initiatives on sustainability that aid in sustenance of a village. The guided day trek, Bullock Cart Discovery, is another signature tour for travellers.
What is the particularity of Spice Village fauna and flora?
The particularity of Spice Village fauna and flora lies in its ethnicity; a judicious preservation of the native fauna and flora, which minimises stress on natural resources bringing a totality to the nature’s biological dynamics.
How did your interest in nature grow?
Well, the answer to this question is opaque…it probably budded in my childhood memories of green paddy fields stretching to the limitless horizons in my mother`s ancestral homeland, matured with the heroism of Rakesh Sharma’s 1982 flight to space which guided my teen age academic research with microbes, and from there to a realisation that the dynamics of nature is beyond the quantified limits of human rationale.
My work with Spice Village since 2003 has matured me with hands on experience in recycling food waste and paper, which gives a different perception about nature’s dynamics aided by sustainability.
Have you ever been in danger because of animals or dangerous plants? How did you survive?
Yes. When I was 7 years old, one day playing in my garden early in the morning, I almost, by mistake, took a fully grown Russel’s Viper in my hand mistaking it for a rope! I realised (lucky me) that it was a snake and stepped back. Even though I escaped, it took a while to shake the fear.
Any projects, ambitions, books, trainings, travels?
A museum to interpret how trade in history influenced the migration of plants across continents and further expansion in agriculture.
One book that I would like to study is Sir Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species.
I plan to travel on a trip connecting Sri Lanka, the Islands of South East Asia, Papua New Guinea and the northern territories of Australia to discover the biological connections that were separated by plate tectonics. I would also like to see the Caucasian mountain markets renowned for their diversity of figs.