The light has gone out: Mrudul Godbole

The light has gone out: 

 

With immense sadness, I want to inform that Mrudul Godbole, Wildlife Photographer, Filmmaker, Conservationist, Business Analyst, Cofounder of IndiaWilds, social worker, my partner and soulmate has suddenly passed away to eternity.

Black Panther

Our passions led us to drive through the length and breadth of the country in many adventures. Whether barely escaping the 2013 Uttarakhand landslides, being chased by a bull elephant in pitch darkness in the misty winding ghat roads, remaining silent for extended ties in the Rann of Kutch for many nights for never seen before shots, or staying alone in the night to keep a watch on the leopard movement while I was in a hide at a distance, she didn’t fear at all. The only time she told me that her heart perhaps skipped a beat was on seeing the sheer drop of thousands of meters of the massive mountain as I was driving very close to the edge of the road on the narrow ghat road on our way up to Badrinath. She later told me that she was confident that I will handle it and that’s how she had calmed herself.

On seeing only two of us in remote corners in a Tata Safari, people used to suspect that I carry a gun. I have been asked how else can such a gentle woman be so confident? She always stepped in sync with me without an iota of fear. In fact while the first landslides started when we were in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in 2013, I was wondering how we will get out but she was urging me to film it. Fortunately we cut short our trip and drove back to Delhi and within hardly 3 days everything was wiped out in the massive landslides. In some of these moments, I felt that perhaps her spirit for adventure and mental strength was better than me. Without her many of the lovely shots in my nature documentaries would not have been possible.

Wild Ass in Little Rann of Kutch

Wild Ass in Little Rann of Kutch

She effortlessly handled the B camera while shooting documentaries, corporate films and other promotion films. She had very well refined aesthetic sensibilities, so I trusted her suggestions during the editing stage. If the length of a particular shot is a few seconds long, I knew she would point it out and invariably she would. I would put my foot down only if I was trying to make some deeper philosophical point. Nevertheless, I would take care to refine it further.

Irrawaddy Dolphin in Sundarbans

She had trained for commercial pilot license, but they failed her in the medical examination demanding money. She went back to regular bachelors education, then completed Masters in computer (MCM) and later joined the IT world. However, you never forget your learnings. She was great at flying the drones. Being a woman, she had a very gentle touch and that extended to the controls of the drone. She used to fly smoothly even in windy conditions over oceans, creeks and mountains. While shooting for the documentary Jewels of Thane Creek, ( https://youtu.be/qHLXDXF3KgU ) she was able to fly parallel to flamingos walking in the mud flats without disturbing them. She was so much better in flying that I used to simply direct her, and she used to do the rest.

She was well liked in her role of Senior Business Analyst in the IT world while working with CGI for Shell. In the last few years she used to tell me that she liked the leadership style and empowerment given by her UK based manager Matt (Matthew ). So many glowing letters of appreciation from the client Shell year after year. You certainly were special to deserve it. The below video shows Mrudul participating in a corporate cricket tournament several years ago.

 

She was a problem solver and had a tremendous capacity to find creative solutions to issues. Her tech skills came in handy running the IndiaWilds forums and creating the newsletter (https://indiawilds.com/diary/category/newsletter ) in time even when I used to give her the content at the last minute. She had a tremendous capacity to learn and that always helped her.

Blue bearded bee eaters

 

I have taught photography to many people, however she was the one who picked up fast, combined it with her innate aesthetic abilities, listened to all my advice and soon I started becoming proud of her images. She would also make do with whatever she has as while shooting I would simply grab the first available lens and she had to run and open the bags to find another lens for her. In one instance we were in Kaziranga. I was filming with an 800mm long telephoto lens and she was shooting with her smaller 400mm lens. There were couple of rhinos in the scene and she created this shot. I simply didn’t see this beautiful composition else I would have filmed it as I really loved this serene moment.

Her problem solving capacities were always in full display during our trips. She used to always tell me not to give up and some solution used to come out. In fact she had pasted a poster in the door which says never ever give up. I will miss that Spirit and that calmness that she displayed under pressure.

Her gentle nature made her heart beat for the lesser privileged folks, regularly donating to the needy, teaching about environment and conservation in schools etc. She was also working pro bono as a director in Ishwarpurm, an NGO in Pune (www.ishwarpuram.org) which brings underprivileged kids from North East and giving them shelter, education and life lessons to bridge the gulf between our North East folks and the rest of India. If the heart of every common man and woman beats like this, then our world would be a better place indeed.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

She was a deeply spiritual and gentle soul, who never liked to brag about her spirituality. Many of our journeys to various shakti peethas and other high energy places would always remain etched in my memory not just because of the adventure but because of the amazing spiritual experiences we had. Mahakala, Maa Tara Tarini, Jagannatha Mahaprabhu, Lingaraja Mahaprabhu, Maa Kundalini Devi, Maa Kamakshya, Maa Meenakshi, and so many other deities we had visited, perhaps contributed to her humbleness. And her sheer presence is lifesaver as well. After filming near a sleepy hamlet I was once meditating in the Bhoodevi temple, and the locals looking at the big lenses, and SUV thought I was a spy as there was a naval base nearby. Police later told me that the locals would have lynched me first and called police later. Her presence made them little bit unsure and instead of lynching they called the police. Alas, many such future visits, adventures as well as our dreams have come to a crushing halt.

King cobra swimming in Sundarbans

She was always nimble in her feet. Once when I had fainted and was rolling down a hill, she had jumped down the slope to save me. On another occasion while trying to place a hydrophone in the swamp to record sounds of flamingos she had sunk waist deep. She had sternly shouted to me not to jump down as my heavier weight would have sunk me deeper. She was calm and slowly inch by inch she moved and extricated herself. She was always the surefooted one. However, life can take cruel turns as despite being the surefooted one in the wild she slipped and fell in the bathroom. Wish we have some kind of foolproof tech solution available to be fitted in the washrooms so that information can immediately be transmitted for rescue operations and no light is extinguished too soon.

The Smile has gone out. The Music has gone out. The light has gone out of our lives. Perhaps, the ones who burn brighter to shower love, kindness and light on others, go away too soon.

Mrudul! We thought this life’s journey is a marathon. You ran it like a sprint. In this life’s journey you are faster to the finish line. Sooner rather than later, we all will catchup with you. May all the deities we have visited shower their energies to power your soul’s onward journey. Love. Light and Peace. Om Shanti!

 

Sabyasachi

On behalf of IndiaWilds, all your loved ones and all your grieving friends, colleagues and acquaintances who had walked a few paces with you in this life’s journey

PS: You can see more of her images here: https://www.indiawilds.com/forums/tags.php?tag=mrudul%20godbole&pp=

PS1: one of her articles https://www.indiawilds.com/diary/a-visit-to-eravikulam-neelakurinji-landscape/

PS2: Another article on Rann of Kutch https://www.indiawilds.com/diary/exploring-rann-of-kutch/

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