Madhav Gadgil was born in Pune in 1942, just as Salim Ali's superbly illustrated Book of Indian Birds was published. Influenced by his birdwatcher father, he learnt to recognize birds from their pictures even before he could read. He is an unusual combination of a person fascinated by the diversity of the natural world, of the landscapes and the life they support, as well as the diversity of cultures and lifestyles of the people firmly rooted to India's soil. He has dedicated himself to intellectual pursuits ranging over mathematics, natural and social sciences, history and public policy.
This book is an account of his life walking up and down the country's hills and dales, watching peacocks dance and elephants prance, living among fisherfolk on the west coast, horticulturists on Western Ghats, and the tribals of Manipur and Maharashtra, all the while being a part of a vibrant scientific community.