My Husband and Other Animals

Rom Whitaker

Rom felt that all the trappings of the human world interfered with his ability to find king cobras. So he discarded his watch and shoes, and stripped down to a loin cloth. Not the best attire for his first brush with the Devil Nettle!

What's it like being married to Rom Whitaker – herpetologist, wildlife conservationist, and founder of the Madras Snake Park and Madras Crocodile Bank? Janaki Lenin, his wife, tells us, "There's never a dull moment."

In this compilation of stories, Janaki – also an animal enthusiast – gives us a peek into the zany and unpredictable world that Rom and she have built together, deep in southern India. They battle tree-frogs that insist on colonising their house, travel to the wilds of the world pursuing venomous snakes and monster crocodiles, devote precious hours befriending Gila monsters, playing with porcupines, and taming opinionated shrews.

Entertaining, playful, and downright amusing, the essays shed light on the kingdoms of beasts and plants. They provide flashes of insight into animal disposition, relate human stories about the world and our place in it, and de-mystify nature's secret code. Most of all, they highlight Rom and Janaki's wide-eyed wonder at sharing this diverse planet with creatures, large and small.


"The legendary M. Krishnan set a near-impossible standard for nature and wild life columnists. Janaki Lenin has got there with effortless ease and the added appeal of a very feminine sensibility tromping both barefoot and in the most rugged footwear."
~ Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former administrator, diplomat, Governor and author


"A thoroughly entertaining set of essays on life in the wild! With nuggets of information on all creatures – from massive bears to invisible parasites – and countless anecdotes, each more uproarious than the next – My Husband and Other Animals is unputdownable!" Rahul Dravid, cricketer "I'm an ardent follower of the wild life encounters - some threatening, some hilarious, some heartbreaking - of Janaki and Rom in jungles in India and around the world and read her weekly column with some envy, wishing I was with them."
~ Timeri N. Murari, author of The Taliban Cricket Club


"With insight, verve, and deep feeling, Janaki Lenin writes about the creatures around her, from tree frogs and snakes to her dog and husband. Her essays are a delight to read."
~ George Schaller, wildlife biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York


"Janaki, like Gerald Durrell, my late husband, uses humour, story-telling and an easy, gentle style to remind us of the links between humans and the other species on the planet. It is upon these relationships that civilisation rests, although few admit it or even recognise it today." -
~ Lee Durrell, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey


"Janaki Lenin explores the familiar and unfamiliar aspects of nature with a knowledgeable sense of humour and a sharp eye for detail. Her columns in The Hindu follow the tradition of Gerald Durrell but also wander off the beaten track, blending personal and scientific observations on India's diverse ecology and natural heritage."
~ Stephen Alter, author of Elephas Maximus: A Portrait of the Indian Elephant


"Janaki Lenin has honed a rare talent to be both engagingly accessible and scientifically authoritative. She is fast becoming our homegrown David Quammen."
~ Pradip Krishen, author of Trees of Delhi


"What a delightful read – enlightening and entertaining as well!"
~ Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development



Lenin narrates wild stories of her love and other interests

The Financial World, Delhi. and Tehelka. 2 March 2013
Review by Jay Mazoomdaar


Living on Animal Planet

Harmony Magazine, March 2013
Review by Srirekha Pillai


Animal Farm – Version 2

Madras Musings Vol XXII No. 17, December 16-31 2012.
Review by Ranjita Ashok


A Wild Life

Outlook Traveller, Mumbai. November 2012
Review by Nilanjana S. Roy


Animal Planet

The Pioneer, Delhi. 11 November 2012
Review by Prerna Singh Bindra


My Husband and Other Animals

Saevus Novemeber-December 2012
Review by Ranjit Lal


Janaki Lenin's colourful world

Sakal Times, Pune. 11 November 2012
Review by Sonia Krishna Kurup


At home in the company of strangers

The Hindu, 23 October 2013
Review by Ramya Kannan


From frogs to crocs, author Janaki Lenin on all things wild

The Telegraph, Calcutta, March 14, 2013,REPTILE WRITER
Review by Sreyoshi Dey