It is a year, today, since he passed on from this world, almost unnoticed, unappreciated even. Not that he looked for appreciation. For as long and as far as I knew him, he looked for other things in his long and self-made life. Till the end, there were things that could light up his eye—a reminiscence of hours spent in the wilderness in years past, his younger biking days and his Calcutta, tinkering with binoculars and radio equipment, a good book or a new stock of interesting tobacco for his pipe, getting together with friends for a chat, and, of course, a good joke, the dirtier the better.

The name given him was R. K. G. Menon, but that was not how he was known. He had a nickname of long standing—60 years, no less—emerging from the hallowed corridors of the Madras Christian College: Cutlet. He was always, to all of us who knew him, just Cutlet.

… This post first appeared in the NCF blog, EcoLogic, on 26 December 2009. Read more in The Wild Heart of India: Nature and Conservation in the City, the Country, and the Wild.