Of Lions and Human Beings, Countries and Differences

I went to Bhubaneswar last winter to take my daughter to the open zoo at Nandan Kanan. Bhubaneswar is a city where I had previously worked, made a lot of friends for life and had some wonderful experiences. So it feels like a second home to me and everytime I am on a train that passes by Bhubaneswar I make sure to get down from the train and step on the railway platform even if for a minute, it sends me on a happy trail down the memory lane.

I do not have such emotional bonding with the zoo though. Most of the time I was in Bhubaneswar, I was outside the zoo. But still it amazed me when we visited it this time. A full-blown white Royal Bengal tiger is a beauty to watch if you are sure that it cannot reach you. One strong growl from it and even the most lion-hearted amongst us will immediately start calculating the distance and analysing whether there is any chance that it can jump over the wall and come over to this side to personally meet and greet the spectators. Talking about lions, the Asiatic Lion next door was no match at all and looked more like a dog compared to its neighbour. A few weeks back I had seen a movie filmed in Uganda and the African Lion shown there was a different beast all together. Yes, captivity does make a difference but then it should have been true for the Bengal tiger as well.

That prompted me to have a look at the periodic table of animals. I learnt that apart from the Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica), there are almost about 6 to 7 variations of the African Lion itself (Panthera leo leo, Panthera leo nubica, Panthera leo krugeri etc. etc.) and the main differences between them are just their sizes and mane appearances. But still they are considered to be different sub-species with different scientific names. Okay, so then what about a human being from Africa and another one from Asia? Don’t we have several marked differences in size, shape, colour, hair, physical ability and overall appearance? What is the reason behind these all? Genes of course ! Plus there are loads of other behavioural differences as well. And not only continents, that’s also true for many of the countries across the world. For example, it will almost become a book if I try to list down the differences between an average Britisher and an average Indian – in addition to the stark physical difference the other things like perceived purpose of life, the approach towards it in general, the thought process, the actions and reactions, the hindsight analysis etc. all are very very different, not good or bad or better or worse, just “different”. Yet, we are all still just Homo sapiens, the universal “wise man”, and so there is no serious endeavour to officially accept our differences as they are and hence we try to forcefully fit ourselves into the globally accepted norms of thought processes and actions thus marginalizing the recessive ones.

So why will the lions be more privileged than us? Should humanity remain only as a monolithic virtue? Can we also have Homo sapiens indiana and Homo sapiens britannia some day?

Food for a chuckle .. 🙂