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Giorgos Sardelis

Echoes of Truth: A Journey through ‘Steps of Life’ by Giorgos Sardelis

“Steps of Life,” the latest poetry collection by Giorgos Sardelis, is a deeply introspective and confessional exploration of the search for truth in reality. With a strong focus on individual anxieties and the longing for a better world, Sardelis captures the essence of humanity and envisions a brighter future.

Throughout the collection, the poet delves into the complexities of life, offering profound reflections and illuminating situations with purity and tenderness. Sardelis ascends to a spiritual realm, revealing the simplicity that is attainable by all. With a deep self-awareness, the poet critiques life and society, shedding light on social hypocrisy and the diminished resistance to reality.

Sardelis’s words awaken a sense of urgency, urging readers to break free from the slumber of silence and embrace the potential for change. Optimism, faith, and strength of soul are the driving forces behind this transformative journey, as masks fall away to reveal the true smiles of life.

The collection is marked by vivid imagery, painting a visual universe of sky, stars, sun, mountains, and seas. In these evocative verses, secret joy arises from the beauties nature offers. Sardelis’s happy mood shines through as he explores the themes of love and romance, emphasizing the freedom and happiness that can be found within.

While moments of melancholy occasionally color the poems, the prevailing theme is one of optimism. Sardelis reminds readers to smile and believe that everything will go well, urging them to continue moving forward on their life’s path. The poems radiate immediacy, deep humanity, and social reflection, offering glimpses of altruism while avoiding the pitfalls of depression or negativity.

“A single ray of light is all it takes, to bring joy to a world that aches,” Sardelis writes. Through his visionary poetry, he envisions a better tomorrow where spiritual rebirth and balance reside within people’s souls. “Steps of Life” invites readers on a beautiful journey of self-reflection and self-awareness, leading to light, hope, love, truth, solidarity, justice, and ultimately, to the very essence of human existence – immortality.

Giorgos Sardelis’s collection is a testament to the power of poetry to inspire, uplift, and transform. With its profound themes and heartfelt expressions, “Steps of Life” resonates deeply and leaves a lasting impression on the reader’s soul.

Nature’s Timeless Palette: The Artistic Journey of Shyju Azhikode

Hailing from Azhikode, Kannur, Shyju Azhikode has emerged as a celebrated artist known for his captivating paintings that beautifully depict the ever-changing seasons and the profound beauty of nature. With his unique watercolor wash style and a portfolio of over 1300 recent paintings, Shyju’s artwork carries a sense of timelessness and an unwavering connection to the natural world.

Growing up in Azhikode, Shyju’s love for art was nurtured from a young age. He discovered his passion for capturing the beauty of nature on canvas, a fascination that would guide his artistic journey in the years to come. Inspired by the scenic landscapes and diverse elements of his surroundings, Shyju’s artwork began to reflect the deep connection he felt with the world around him.

Through the use of watercolors, pen, and pencil, Shyju skillfully brings his artistic vision to life, captivating viewers with his ability to evoke the essence of different seasons and landscapes. His paintings display a mastery of techniques, creating an interplay of colors and textures that make each piece come alive. From the vibrant hues of summer to the serene beauty of winter, Shyju’s artwork resonates with viewers, transporting them to a world where nature takes center stage.

Shyju’s artistic journey was shaped by the guidance and encouragement he received from renowned painters Saddu Aliyur and Lohitakshan. Their mentorship played a pivotal role in honing his skills and refining his unique watercolor wash style. Inspired by their teachings, Shyju embraced the medium of watercolors, allowing him to capture the delicate nuances and ephemeral qualities of nature.

With a strong educational foundation, Shyju studied at Azhikode Government High School before pursuing a diploma in textile technology. Seeking to further his artistic education, he enrolled at Geetanjali College of Fine Arts in Kannur, where he delved deeper into his passion for painting. After working as a painter in the Gulf for a decade, Shyju returned to his roots and currently serves as an art teacher at the Cochin Kalabhavan branch in Kannur. Through his role as an art educator, Shyju imparts his knowledge and passion for art to aspiring artists, nurturing the next generation of creative minds.

Shyju’s paintings have garnered recognition through their participation in art camps and film exhibitions. Additionally, his sketches have been featured in various magazines, capturing the intricate details of old buildings, temples, and Theiya. His commitment to preserving the beauty of heritage and architecture is evident in these meticulous sketches, which serve as a testament to his artistic versatility and attention to detail.

Beyond his artistic accomplishments, Shyju finds support and inspiration in his family. His wife, KV Sreeja, and their children, Sayashyju and Adishkrishna, are constant sources of encouragement, providing a strong foundation for his creative pursuits. Shyju’s brothers, Sujith and the late Ranjith, also share a deep connection and appreciation for his artistic journey, further reinforcing his dedication to his craft.

As we immerse ourselves in the enchanting world of Shyju Azhikode’s artwork, we are reminded of the profound beauty and interconnectedness of nature. Through his paintings, Shyju invites us to pause, appreciate, and celebrate the timeless wonders that surround us. His ability to capture the essence of seasons and landscapes serves as a reminder of the ever-present magic in the world, waiting to be discovered and cherished.

With his unwavering commitment to his craft, Shyju Azhikode continues to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts with his remarkable talent and artistic vision. His artwork serves as a testament to the transformative power of art and the enduring connection between humans and nature. As we explore his paintings, let us embark on a journey of discovery, connecting with the timeless beauty that unfolds on Shyju’s canvas.

Silla Maria Campanini: An Artist Illuminating the World with Creativity and Imagination

Born in 1954 in a charming village in the province of Bologna, Italy, Silla Campanini has been captivated by the beauty of the earth and the vibrant hues of colors from a young age. Her artistic journey has taken her on a path of exploration, where she has ventured from technical consultancy to teaching and has become a distinguished image educator, collaborating on pictorial and educational projects in both public and private institutes.

In 2016, Silla Campanini’s immense talent and contributions to the arts were recognized when she was honored as a member artist of the art and culture department of the Belgrade Academy of Sciences and Arts. Her numerous international relationships and collaborations exemplify her belief in the transformative power of art, promoting peace and brotherhood among people.

Silla Campanini’s artistic prowess has been celebrated through numerous personal and collective exhibitions held both nationally and internationally. Her unique and original works of art have found their place in art books, catalogs, and various publications. They grace the walls of modern art galleries, national and international museums, as well as public and private structures, enchanting audiences with their undeniable allure.

As an eclectic and multifaceted artist, Silla Campanini excels in various artistic disciplines. Her paintings are a testament to absolute originality, inviting viewers on a journey into a world of fantasy and dreamlike metaphysical abstraction. Her art transcends the confines of time and space, delving into the intricate depths of dramatized thought forms that reside within the collective unconscious. Through her imaginative means, she unveils the hidden aspects of the human dimension, evoking profound emotional engagement.

Silla Campanini’s art presents itself as a source of inspiration, memory, and a nascent dramatization where reality and symbol converge, transforming into symbolism, metaphor, and allegory. Her works resonate with the stormy peaks of an undulating soul, as eloquently described by Alfredo Pasolino.

Her art communicates through a non-verbal language, fluid and unobtrusive, permeating the observer with the ability to make discerning choices. The authenticity of her art is undisputed, free from oppressive features or excessive use of colors. Silla possesses an innate understanding of where to apply her touch, emphasizing certain aspects with precision or employing a light touch to skillfully blend elements together. Her artistic process is purposeful, with the brush coming to life, the arm and hand moving confidently, and her eyes, as if in a trance, choosing the hues and guiding the selection of colors to create suitable gradations for each work in progress. Symbols and visual effects emerge organically from her artwork, individually grasped and differing from one viewer to another.

Art, in its purest form, does not require explanation; it speaks to the heart and captivates the eye of the beholder. Silla Campanini’s masterpieces are no exception, as they possess a unique quality that resonates deeply with each admirer. It is in those moments of connection that her works elevate themselves beautifully and gracefully to the realm of true artistic mastery.

Silla Maria Campanini’s artistic journey continues to inspire and enchant, leaving an indelible mark on the world of art. Her creativity and imagination serve as a beacon, illuminating the path for fellow artists and art enthusiasts alike.

Elham Hamedi

Beyond Borders: Elham Hamedi’s Artistic Masterpieces Conquer the World

Elham Hamedi, born in Shiraz, Iran in 1967, is an internationally acclaimed multimedia artist, poet, and curator. With a master’s degree in artistic research from the University of Yazd in Iran, she has established herself as a prominent figure in the world of visual arts and literature. Hamedi is a permanent member of the Scientific Association of Visual Arts of Iran, an executive member of the Writers Capital International Foundation, and an IFCH Ambassador, further solidifying her influence and contributions to the artistic community.

A prolific writer, Hamedi is the author of the book of poems titled “UN COLPO ALLA TESTA ERA UNO ZAQBOOR,” published by Terra d’ulivi Edizioni-Italia in Italy. Her poetic prowess has garnered international recognition, leading to numerous literary awards and accolades. Notably, she was selected to participate in the First Biennial of Contemporary Art Della Murgia in 2021, a prestigious platform that celebrates artistic innovation and expression.

Hamedi’s poetic talent shines through her involvement in the Iside International Prize (IX Edition) Literary Arts 2021 held in Procida, Italy. Her exceptional work earned her a place among the selected poets who showcased their artistic vision at the event. Additionally, her poems and artistic works have been featured in esteemed international anthologies, magazines, and websites, further amplifying her reach and impact.

As a multidimensional artist, Hamedi has showcased her works in personal and group art exhibitions across different countries. Her artistic expressions transcend boundaries, captivating audiences with her unique perspective and creative interpretations. Through her art, she delves into profound themes and explores the intricacies of the human experience, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.

Hamedi’s remarkable achievements have garnered recognition worldwide. She was awarded the prestigious 2022 International Literary Award titled “Women for Culture and Peace” in Mestre, Venice, Italy, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to culture and literature. Her poem “CESSATE IL FUOCO” was honored with the “Parole di Libertà” prize at the 2022 edition of the International Prize for Literary Art “Il Canto di Dafne” in Italy, showcasing her poetic prowess and ability to evoke powerful emotions through her words.

Continuing her winning streak, Hamedi was bestowed with the esteemed “Emozioni Poetiche 2023” (“Memorial Otmaro Maestrini”) International Award in Milan, Italy, for her poetry collection “I MIEI CAPELLI MORTI.” This recognition further solidifies her position as a poetic force, captivating readers with her poignant verses.

Hamedi’s impact extends beyond the literary realm. Her poem “Cessate il Fuoco” earned her the “Prize on Peace” at the “Il Concorso Festival Mondiale di Poesia e Narrativa” (“The World Poetry and Narrative Festival Competition”), emphasizing her ability to contribute meaningfully to conversations on peace and harmony.

The prestigious “Premio Intercontinentale di Arte Letteraria ‘Le Nove Muse'” recognized Hamedi’s exceptional artistic contributions in Naples in June 2023, awarding her the 2nd Prize Voices from the World – Foreign Authors for her poem “Paradiso nascosto.” This acknowledgement further cements her position as a global artist pushing boundaries and captivating audiences with her profound insights.

In addition, Hamedi received an honorable mention for her book “UN COLPO ALLA TESTA ERA UNO ZAQBOOR” at the “Premio Internazionale di Poesia – Letteratura – Arte Visuale ‘Isola d’Elba – Ascoltando i Silenzi del Mare'” (“Isola d’Elba – Listening to the Silences of the Sea”) in its sixth edition in 2023. This recognition showcases her ability to touch hearts and minds with her literary endeavors.

Hamedi’s artistic excellence extends to the “Premio Eccellenza Mondiale Cesar Vallejo 2023,” where she was honored with the “César Vallejo Award for Artistic Excellence 2023” by the UEH, affirming her significant contributions to the arts.

In recognition of her Italian language proficiency, Hamedi was awarded the “Diploma of Merit” in Section B Italian Language at the 8th International Poetry and Narrative Competition “Città di Cefalù” in 2022-23, further highlighting her versatile talents.

Elham Hamedi’s journey as an artist and poet exemplifies unwavering dedication and a profound passion for artistic expression. Her works transcend borders and cultures, resonating with audiences worldwide. With each stroke of her brush and every word she pens, she leaves an indelible mark on the global art scene, enriching the lives of those who encounter her extraordinary creations.

Soothing the Mind, Liberating the Heart: Exploring ‘Conium’ Poetry Collection

Vassilis Pasipoularidis’s poetry collection, “Conium,” is a truly remarkable book that captivates readers from the very first glance. The cover and title alone intrigue and invite readers to delve into its pages. As one delves deeper, the simplicity and profound complexity of the poems become evident, showcasing the poet’s ability to convey deep emotions using everyday language straight from his heart. From the onset, the poet welcomes readers on a narrative journey, allowing them to become active participants in his unique worldview, deeply rooted in ancient philosophies.

With great finesse, Pasipoularidis simplifies the challenging and emotionally charged situations of everyday life, leading readers on an initiation journey filled with love and motivation. He encourages us to embrace the waters of Acheron, immersing ourselves in its immortality. The poet urges us to come to terms with death, accepting its presence as an integral part of our existence rather than attempting to exorcise it. In his poetry, death is intricately woven into the fabric of life itself.

“Conium” is a truly special book that simultaneously soothes the mind and liberates the heart. Its profound verses offer redemption to the reader, providing a transformative and introspective experience. Pasipoularidis’s poetic talent shines through each carefully crafted line, leaving a lasting impact on the reader’s soul.

The biography of the author, Vasilios Pasipoularidis, adds depth and context to the collection. Born in Drosia, Attica, Greece, in February 1987, Pasipoularidis pursued his studies at the National Polytechnical University. His passion lies in the realm of poetry, where he merges the inner arts, nature, initiation, and the interplay of light and darkness. Influenced by ancient Greek philosophy, particularly the concept of education through death, he infuses his poems with a profound admiration for ancient wisdom.

Pasipoularidis’s engagement with poetry began during his early years and has since become an integral part of his life. He sees poetry as a way of existence, a means to express his unique perspective and creative expression. With “Conium” being his third published collection, Pasipoularidis continues to inspire readers with his evocative verses, inviting them to explore the depths of their own emotions and contemplate the profound mysteries of life.

“Conium” is a poetic journey that invites readers to embrace their humanity, to reflect on life’s complexities, and to find solace in the beauty of poetic expression. Vassilis Pasipoularidis’s masterful craftsmanship and profound insights make this collection a must-read for poetry enthusiasts and anyone seeking a transformative experience through literature.

LA ISLA SIRENITA by

LA ISLA SIRENITA: A Captivating Journey into Enchantment and Redemption

In “La Isla Sirenita,” Marco Antonio Rodríguez Sequeiros presents a mesmerizing tale that transcends the boundaries of reality. The story unfolds with the narrator’s dream, acting as a portal to a world brimming with wonder and enchantment. Through evocative prose, the author brings to life an island that serves as a refuge in our polluted and chaotic world—a sanctuary where nature flourishes, and the extraordinary becomes the norm.

With masterful storytelling, Rodríguez Sequeiros invites readers to join the narrator in immersing themselves fully in the magic of this new realm. In this haven of serenity, the senses awaken to a profound connection with the surroundings. It is not a passive reading experience but a transformative journey that beckons readers to shed their preconceived notions and engage with the narrative on a visceral level. Through the protagonist’s odyssey, readers themselves undergo a metamorphosis, emerging as guardians of a fragile and imperiled planet.

The author’s skill lies not only in crafting an intricate plot but also in infusing the narrative with philosophical musings and introspection. As readers explore the pages of “La Isla Sirenita,” they are prompted to contemplate deeper existential questions and wrestle with the complexities of their own lives. The story serves as a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness with the natural world, urging us to reflect on our responsibilities as stewards of the Earth.

Within this captivating story, readers encounter a paradise that eludes our grasp in the physical realm. They revel in the sense of liberation and weightlessness that accompanies each turn of the page, akin to the freedom of a soaring swallow. Yet, amidst the enchantment, there is a profound resonance—an invitation to engage with the core of our being, to connect with our inner selves untouched by the flaws and imperfections of the world we inhabit. Through the eyes of the protagonists, readers glimpse their own alter ego, evoking a deep sense of empathy and self-discovery.

Marco Antonio Rodríguez has crafted a literary gem in “La Isla Sirenita.” This captivating tale enchants readers, inviting them to step into a world of unparalleled beauty and introspection. The author’s gift for storytelling and philosophical exploration shines through every chapter, leaving an indelible mark on the reader’s soul. “La Isla Sirenita” is a testament to the power of literature to transport, transform, and inspire—a must-read for those seeking a captivating and profound literary experience.

Buy La Isla Sirenita here: Amazon

Concerns Raised Over Potential Impact of Staffing Cuts on Renowned Creative Writing Course at UEA

Graduates of the esteemed creative writing course at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have voiced their hopes that the program will not be negatively affected by planned staffing cuts. The university is currently facing a substantial deficit and aims to reduce staff by 113 positions, in addition to voluntary departures.

Author Emma Healey expressed her worries about the potential impact on the course, stating that it is a “real worry” for the creative writing community. However, UEA has reassured that it expects “very few redundancies” in the creative writing department.

The University and College Union highlighted that 31 out of the 36 proposed job cuts at UEA would be in the Arts and Humanities faculties. The creative writing course at UEA, established in 1970, offers an MA qualification to its graduates and has produced renowned authors such as Ian McEwan, Tracy Chevalier, and Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Emma Healey emphasized the significance of the humanities in expanding ideas and imagination, stating that it is not only the course itself that is a concern but also the overall atmosphere of the university. The creative writing program has fostered a community of writers in Norwich and played a crucial role in the city being designated as a UNESCO City of Literature in 2012.

Author and editor Erica Wagner, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, highlighted the instrumental role that the creative writing course played in her development as a writer and the importance of finding a supportive community. While she believed it was unlikely for UEA to eliminate such a renowned and flagship program, she acknowledged the potential risks to humanities and arts courses due to the university’s budgetary constraints.

Wagner stressed the value of humanities, emphasizing the need for an understanding of human interactions and underscoring the economic contribution of the arts to the country.

UEA responded by assuring that all subject areas in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, including the creative writing course, would be maintained. The university spokesperson acknowledged the financial challenges UEA faces and the need for £30 million in savings by September to secure its future stability. They emphasized that compulsory redundancies would be a last resort.

As discussions continue regarding the staffing cuts, the UEA creative writing course remains a beacon of literary excellence, fostering emerging writers and contributing to the cultural landscape.

Michael Rosen Honored with PEN Pinter Prize for Outstanding Literary Merit

Author Michael Rosen expressed his deep appreciation for being awarded this year’s prestigious PEN Pinter Prize, stating that he feels “greatly honoured” to receive such recognition. The PEN Pinter Prize is bestowed upon writers who demonstrate “outstanding literary merit” and fearlessly confront the realities of the world through their work.

While Rosen is widely recognized for his beloved children’s books, such as the classic “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt,” he has also tackled important and sensitive subjects like migration and the Holocaust in his writing for young readers. Ruth Borthwick, Chair of English PEN, praised Rosen’s tenacity and fearlessness as a writer, emphasizing his significant contributions to contemporary poetry for children.

Rosen’s unique approach to writing for children, which reflects their everyday lives and encourages imagination through humor and wordplay, has made a profound impact. His interventions have shed light on the shortcomings of current literacy education in schools, advocating for a more engaging and empowering approach to teaching.

In 2021, Rosen published a poignant account of his experience battling Covid-19, during which he was left in a coma. Remarkably, hospital staff pinned one of his poems, written for the NHS’s 60th anniversary in 2008, above his bed. Borthwick commended Rosen’s resilience, stating that “even Covid couldn’t silence him!”

Established in 2009 by English PEN, the PEN Pinter Prize pays tribute to the memory of Nobel laureate playwright Harold Pinter. The award is presented by the charity organization English PEN, which advocates for freedom of expression and celebrates literature.

Rosen, currently a professor of children’s literature at Goldsmiths, University of London, previously served as the Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009. In accepting the PEN Pinter Prize, Rosen expressed his thoughts on the countless individuals worldwide who face imprisonment, torture, or execution for bravely writing about perceived injustices.

The award ceremony, co-hosted by the British Library, will take place on 11 October. During the event, Rosen will announce the recipient of the international “writer of courage” award, which he has chosen to share his honor with.

Previous winners of the PEN Pinter Prize include esteemed figures such as Malorie Blackman, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lemn Sissay, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, and Carol Ann Duffy.

Exploring the Untamed Beauty: A Journey through Parambikulam Tiger Reserve: Article by Austin Ajit

It was a nice sunny day when we went to the Parambikulam tiger reserve. It’s a protected safe haven for animals and is a part of the vast expanse of forests that is the Western Ghats.Parambikulam was founded by Narayanan Nair in 2009. It is located in Palakkad, in Chittoor Taluk. It was originally a teak plantation because teak furniture and wood were very popular and used widely. It was actually planted by the British! But it soon became a protected area, due to the huge amount of biodiversity and wildlife in that area.

We came through the Anamalai forest side, in Tamil Nadu. When we first arrived, we had to go up a seemingly infinite road of steep curves, hairpin turns, etc. It was a mixture of mesmerizing and terrifying, as every turn threatened to throw us off-road! The view was spectacular! Hilly mountains arose in the distance like giant round boulders and there were trees and grass as far as the eye could see! As we had come in the dry season, most of it was dry and barren. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see anything at the moment. I saw only saw Malabar hornbill (only a glimpse, as it flew fast) and an oriental dwarf kingfisher.

But, when we crossed the Tamil Nadu area and entered into Kerala, there was an abrupt change from a dry forest to a lush green wonderland! There were bamboo clumps (when bamboos grow close to each other and get tangled together, creating a clump) and teak trees (the main kind of tree in the area). There were these trees that had bright orange-red flame-like flowers. Once the flowers bloom the tree sheds all the leaves. It is known as “Flame of the Forest” to the locals and its scientific name (like all other scientific names) was pretty unpronounceable. It’s called ‘Butea monosperma. I know it’s super weird.

There were seemingly endless black langurs. They seemed docile enough. I saw a couple of baby ones too! When we arrived at the camp, we stopped temporarily at the main area, because we had to get a forest guard to come with us. Soon forest guard uncle came, and we went on into the jungle! We saw loads of wild boars. Fun (and ironic) fact: A group of boars is called a singular even though there are multiple wild boars!!! We stopped for a second in front of the forest Guard uncle’s home. Nearby was a lake, in which Appa, Amma, and I splashed around in. We saw small needle-like fish. Apparently, there were 40 species of fish there and some crocodiles! There was also a bamboo boat set on the bank. After thoroughly making sure my slippers and shorts were soaking wet we continued into the forest.

When we finally got to the place where we were staying, it was afternoon. It was a treehouse, built on many small trees! It seemed to be made of bamboo (obviously painted bright green). There was only one treehouse, with one more being constructed. It was a bit scary, because since it was built on trees, if an elephant walked under us and even slightly touched the house, it would come crashing down! Plus, elephants did regularly come this way!

There was a beautiful lakeside view, and I saw a small brown heron hunting for fish on the banks! I watched as it used its long, slender legs to navigate the banks. Apparently, the river was called’ Sholayar‘. Soon the little heron flew away. I sat on a chair and read a bit of my books, before gazing at the scenery. Egrets and kingfishers darted at the water in the distance hoping to catch a fish. The shrill sound of peacocks filled the air. I even saw my first ever wild gaur who was lying under a tree on the opposite bank! The gaur was followed by 3 more, and soon an entire herd was there! I saw huge splashes in the water but didn’t see who was making them. Most likely a big fish. I even saw a Brahminy kite for the first time ever (I had only seen black kites)! Inside of the tree house was nice and cozy, but the sounds of the construction of the nearby treehouse kinda disturbed the serenity.

After a while, it was lunchtime! We went to a house-like area, (painted with bamboo, which is a recurring theme!). Since we were still in a forest, trees dotted the area. Amma and I saw a Malabar giant squirrel, a colourful squirrel that is HUGE! Soon we entered and sat at the table, and ate nice yummy food there. It was chicken curry, chapatti, rice, vegetables, different vegetable curries, and papad. It was delicious. There was also a bunch of chickens behind the house, and also lots of monkeys, trying to grab a morsel of food. They were driven away There were monkeys on bushes, on cars, and trees, some even managed to (temporarily ) get inside!

Then we went on a safari on a big bus. The first stop was at the Parambikulam dam, which was pretty close to our treehouse ( a walkable distance!). Did you know there are three dams in Parambikulam ?! And, there are also three main rivers called ‘Parambikulam, Sholayar, and Thekkady ‘!

Then we went deeper into the forest, and the first animal we saw was: A wild gaur! Followed by more wild gaurs. Trust me, these fellas were everywhere and were the most common animal I saw. Then the bus stuttered to a start, and we continued on. It was soon a dense forest. A beautiful lake was on one side; a steep cliff on another. We saw MORE wild gaurs, who seemed to be everywhere at every time.

Soon we came to stop No.2, which was ‘THE BIGGEST TEAK TREE IN THE WORLD: The Kannimara. It’s the biggest teak tree ever, and is 450-500 years old! It was one old fella! The tribal myth says when someone tried to cut it down, it bled! It’s called a ‘virgin tree’, because it has never been cut down! After taking a ton of photos, we went back to the bus and continued the safari.

We also saw another Malabar giant squirrel, who was enjoying himself, nibbling on fruit. This time the squirrel was pitch black! The Malabar giant squirrel has multiple forms when it comes to coloration, from a blue and purple design to a creamy brown, maroon, whitish, and black! We saw a couple of peacocks, birds and a lot of other creatures! Then we went to a view spot high up a mountain. It was a steep incline, but it was worth it! I accidentally spilled some water while going up. When we reached the top we could see miles away! We saw faraway mountain peaks, which were super tall! It reminded me of Smaug’s mountain from THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (the prequel to LORD OF THE RINGS ). It was outstanding! I saw a flock of birds flying near the distance. The trip downwards was more bumpy than the one up and I was bouncing on the seat! After that, we did some more jungle exploring ( or jungling, as I call it ), before arriving at a beach-like area. We soon boarded these wooden boats powered by 4 MEN ! That’s how many people were on the boat. One person said he saw a tusker ( a male elephant) on the shore. Everyone else craned their neck to try and see the elephant, and some people saw it. Sadly I didn’t. I saw more needlefish, but that’s all.

Then, the final stop was a small village area. I drank some tea and some sweets, before going into a small building. There was a small stage, where actors were getting ready. There were elegant paintings of wildlife on the walls, like peacocks, squirrels, etc. Soon, some people began to bang drums, and they performed a folk Dance . of the local tribal people! Parambikulam has 4 major tribes (Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar, and Mala), all of which are pretty cool! In fact, most of the guards here come from these tribes!

After a long day in the jungle, the bus comes back to our treehouse. We went and freshened up (the water was freezing, but in a good way. It actually came from the river.)had dinner enjoyed the night sky and in the calm and quiet forest, I enjoyed my reading.

The next day, we went on a small trip with the forest guard uncle in our car. And we see (more gaurs) and tons of peacocks! We even saw two dancing on the road with a female nearby! It blocked the path but we didn’t mind. We watched them as they spread their tail feathers and DANCED! We also saw many deer including one with the biggest antlers I’ve ever seen! The weird thing is, normally when I go to a forest the first and most common animals I see are deer but here, I didn’t see them until the last second!

We went back to our tree house and then had YUMMY breakfast, Soon our trip was over and we sadly had to go home. Before going we got a bamboo – stick and a book showing all the butterflies of Parambikulam! Then we went back down the road, and drive back home.

About the author

Austin Ajit, a ten-year-old from Bangalore, India, defies expectations with his extraordinary interests and talents. He is a young naturalist, author, avid reader, storyteller, and child artist. Austin actively engages in wildlife conservation forums, draws inspiration from renowned naturalists, and passionately advocates for nature. With a knack for drawing and painting, he brings his love for nature to life through captivating artwork. Austin has already published three books, including “Grandma and Austin’s Plant Kingdom” and “Austin’s Dino World.” His works enchant readers with imaginative storytelling and vivid illustrations. At such a young age, Austin is a shining example of how passion and talent can make a positive impact.

The Healing Hands and Creative Mind: Dr. Sreekar Balasundaram’s Journey as an Artist-Surgeon

Dr. Sreekar Balasundaram is a renowned figure in both the medical field and the world of art. Currently serving as the Professor and Head of Department in Cardiothoracic Surgery at St. John’s Medical College Hospital in Bangalore, Dr. Balasundaram has also established himself as a talented artist with a deep passion for painting.

In 1987, Dr. Balasundaram completed a Diploma in Fine Arts from Santhanams Chitra Vidyalayam in Chennai, India. Since then, he has held numerous solo painting exhibitions in both India and Australia, showcasing his unique artistic style and capturing the attention of art enthusiasts.

Dr. Balasundaram’s paintings exhibit bold strokes and predominantly earthy colors, layered with rich textures. His subjects range from religious icons to human forms, often carrying philosophical undertones. Among his most beloved works are those centered around Lord Ganesha, the deity known for removing obstacles. Dr. Balasundaram’s portrayals of Lord Ganesha vary from surreal and modern interpretations to abstract expressions, reflecting his creativity and versatility as an artist.

When asked about his passion for painting, Dr. Balasundaram shared, “I have been painting much before I became a doctor, or more specifically, a specialized surgeon. Painting Lord Ganesha is special to me as He challenges and satisfies my creative aspirations.” Despite his demanding schedule as a surgeon, Dr. Balasundaram finds solace in his creative pursuits, viewing painting as a form of stress relief that nourishes the mind and soul.

Dr. Balasundaram’s artistic talents have garnered attention from the media and art community. His exhibitions have been featured in esteemed publications such as Pune’s Sakaal Times in 2014 and Bangalore’s Deccan Herald in 2019, highlighting his remarkable journey as a heart doctor with a diploma in fine arts.

Some notable exhibitions where Dr. Balasundaram’s artworks have been showcased include Vangmai Charcha Mandal in Belgaum (2003), Venkatappa Art Gallery in Bangalore (2004, 2017), Ethos Art Gallery in Bangalore (2007), St. Victoria’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia (2009), Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall in Bangalore (2012), Achalam Art Gallery in Chennai (2014), and Darpan Art Gallery in Pune (2014), among others.

Dr. Sreekar Balasundaram’s remarkable ability to excel in both the medical field and the arts serves as an inspiration to many. His dedication to both his patients and his creative pursuits demonstrates the harmonious relationship between medicine and art, and how each can enrich the other in profound ways.