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A naturalist behind “The Other Corner”

One of the things I love most about traveling is the fact that it brings you face to face with people you would, probably, never get the chance to meet otherwise. Dhilip is one of those people. We had the pleasure to meet him accidentally, on our last evening at The Other Corner hotel in Habarana.

He saw my husband caring his Nikon camera and, after a short conversation, he invited Tomas to his little atelier to show him some of his nature pictures.

“There’s a naturalist in the hotel. I go to see his photos!”

Not less curious than my husband I replied:

“ I am coming too.”

We went together and we spent a couple of hours with Dhilip, learning about Sri Lanka and its amazing nature.

In his tiny office Dhilip has a table and three chairs (for him and his guests). There’s a computer on it, to edit his pictures, and a bunch of books on Sri Lanka’s nature and its numerous bird species. By the way he talks about birds, I can see he’s a very passionate guy. He knows so much about every single bird, their names, their nests, behaviour, birds migration, how and where to spot these beautiful and yet speedy creatures.

We take our seats and Dhilip starts showing us his shots. With every shot, he tells a story. And we look at him amazed. Both my husband and I think the same: pity we haven’t met him one day earlier!

Bird photography is not easy. It requires a lot of patience, a lot of willingness and, more than anything else, a lot of passion.He laughs when he says that: “ It’s not easy to take these shots, you know…i wake up very early, sometimes I wait hours hidden behind a bush, I get bitten by mosquitos…” But, whith such rare and beautiful captures I assume his effort is recompensed.

Dhilip does that every day. For passion.

“ I love being in the nature. When I was a boy I used to spend days in the forest, watching the birds, the animals…”

I tell him that he could conduct outdoor activities or give lectures for students. He smiles at me.

“ My father wanted me to be an engineer, to work in UK. He pushed me to study engineering, but I never liked it. I never got the binominal calculus. I never had a good teacher to make me understand that.”

Therefor he abandoned his father’s dream and started a career in sports. He became a professional tennis coach.

“ I went to Australian Open” he says and I can see in his look that he misses those days. We exchange a few opinions on tennis players. I tell him I like Rafa Nadal. He likes Djokovic. And Simona Halep.

“ I like Easter European tennis these days, but my favorite ever is Andre Agassi. “

After this conversation, where my husband has very little to add, as he’s not a tennis aficionado, we go back to birds.

We tell him that we feel really sorry we do not have an extra day to go bird watching together.

“ Next time you come…”, he says.

For now, he gives us a CD with some of his most recent shots. We’re more than pleased to have it and I ask him if I could share his pictures on my blog.

His answer allows me to share with you some of his stunning shots. But if you ever have a chance to travel to Sri Lanka, go to Habarana and meet Dhilip and enjoy a full day in his company. This man has so many great stories to tell and so many beautiful birds to show you. We’ll definitely be back! Meanwhile, you can delight your eyes with some of Dhilip’s favorite “models”

BLACK HOODED ORIOLE
ASHY PRINIA
BLACK CAPPED BULBUL
BLACK WINGED KITE
BLUE TAILED BE EATER
BRAHMINY KITE
BRAHMINY KITE
BROWN CAPED PYGMY WOODPECKER
BROWN SHRIKE
COMMON IORA MALE
COMMON KING FISHER
COMMON TAILORBIRD
COPPERSMITH BARBET
CRESTED HAWK EAGLE
DRONGO CUCKOO
GREEN BEE EATER
GREY HEADED FISH EAGLE
GREEN BEE-EATER
INDIAN PITTA
JERDONS LEAFBIRD
LESSER GOLDENBACK WOODPECKER
LITTLE EGRET
LOTENS SUNBIRD
MALABAR PIED HORNBILL
PIED KINGFISHER
POND HERON

P.S. This encounter made me think, one more time, how important is for people to follow their dreams. Dhilip is the “unknown” photo-naturalist you can meet accidentally, or not, in Habarana. And yet, looking at his pictures and recalling our conversation I can’t stop wondering: What if Dhilip studied Natural Sciences instead of Engineering?

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