For the Love of a Place

Though almost a month has passed upon returning to the U.S., India has been on my mind each day. Over the course of the year, I came to deeply appreciate each of the little quirks of my workplace and the beauty of Tamil Nadu.  This poem attempts to encapsulate the essence of my daily life while living and working at the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.

For the Love of a Place

Her night is silent.

Except for the howl of distant dogs,

The shrill chirp of crickets,

And the neem leaves rustling

In the breeze that carries the roar of the ocean over the treetops,

Before percolating through the canopy and settling softly on the sand.

Abruptly, the fierce jaws of a crocodile clap down to cause a thundering splash that shakes the still air.

And once again, it is quiet.

I hear my heartbeat, in the silence of the night.

Or, is it simply her cloak of darkness that billows over me,

Tricking my ears as much as my eyes?


Her day is filled with as much sound as her night lacks.

Children squealing, parents shouting,

Ooohs and Aaahs and Awws

Chirping birds, humming insects, and crunching leaves.

Disparate remarks in unidentified tongues

Weave together into a mesh with notable linguistic flair.


The ebb and flow of her days and nights

Eventually shake hands,

And pull each other into a gentle tango

Before they engulf each other and become one.

She lends a certain comfort to those in her embrace,

The way her ocean gently cradles the foam that forms on the shore.


She is greater than the sum of her parts.

A latitude and longitude on a map

Inanimate edifices, crowded roads,

Come alive if you know how to appreciate them.

Her warmth is more stifling than any mortal passion

As it mercilessly submerges you

And there is no choice to submit.

But once you learn to float,

When you come to understand her weather pattern and predict its anomalies,

When you lose yourself within the heavy folds of her history,

That’s what it means to love a place.


All the paintings (including this one) in the Croc Bank are done by our local artists! Aren’t they insanely talented?!


An enchanting abandoned fort, just a few kilometers from my home.


The gate to the beach. Toffee eagerly awaits to frolic on the sand!

Avan will have the fantastic opportunity to work among over 2,000 beautiful reptiles and amphibians. Her placement lies at the intersection of her love for science and education, deep interest in development work, and lifelong love for animals. She aims to learn from the experts and be able to form a practical waste management strategy, supported by experimental results. Avan is excited to finally visit South India, meeting new people, tasting the cuisines, and indulging in the culture of the community where she will be staying. Prior to AIF, Avan has served as co-president of a student organization called SHARE, which sends unused, surplus medical supplies from local hospitals to under-supplied clinics abroad. She has also participated in the Critical Language Scholarship program to learn Hindi.

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