My wildlife photography has taken me deep inside many forests, but it was in Sasan Gir, in western India, the only habitat of Asiatic lions, that I came to understand myself better after meeting an energetic young man called Farooq. He was from the Siddi tribe, people of African origin who settled in India centuries ago. Perfectly conversant with the local dialect and culture, Farooq’s enthusiasm and drive to understand and share his wildlife experience was contagious. Not only did I develop a deeper understanding of lions in the wild, but from my time with Farooq I also realized what it is to be away from home, yet be at home.
Farooq retained his athletic grace, performed with a local dance troupe with his inherent rhythm, but he worked hard to be certified wildlife guide. I realized that regardless of where you reside in the world, your core values will follow you. I have lived in three different countries and have attended school with peers of 45 different nationalities. This has helped me comprehend differences and appreciate diversity. With all the changes, around me, I have always been guided by the values I grew up with. I keep these values wherever I am in the world, whilst adapting to new cultures.
I may live away from my origins, yet I am at home, like Farooq.