by Ashutosh Jogalekar

An emerald green scarab beetle of the kind I used to collect (Image: Arizona Public Media)

From the age of eleven to the age of fifteen or so, my consummate interest in life was collecting insects and studying their behavior. In the single-minded pursuit of this activity I chose to ignore every ignominy, ranging from being chased by stray dogs and irate neighbors to enduring taunts hurled by my peers and disciplinary action meted out by teachers. Suffice it to say that I would have been the last boy to be asked on a date. The best thing was that none of this mattered in the least.

I don’t remember how it began, but I do know how it progressed. I vaguely recall a book, one of those craft books that taught kids how to build terrariums and enclosures. What I do remember well is that once the hobby took hold of my mind, it changed the way I saw the world. A new universe opened up. What might look ordinary to others – a patch of dusty brush by the side of a busy highway, the outskirts of a field where everyone else except me was playing soccer, and most notably, the hill close to our house which was a venue for vigorous workouts and hikes by seniors trying to stay fit – now teemed with insect life for me. That is what science does to your mind; it hijacks it, making you see things which everyone sees but notice things that very few do. Read more »