Sunday, May 3, 2015


Sometimes, at social dos, people ask me what I do, or if they know me a bit, what I have been up to. I am often at a loss to answer. Yesterday, when someone queried again, it set me thinking. You see, I am on a perennial sabbatical. Most mornings, I sit on the patio—ostensibly with the newspapers—and meditate to the bay-view. I deep breathe the bay breeze and let it fan my daydreams. I hear the carolling of the magpie robin and watch bulbuls weave in and out of the scrub awakening the day with their boundless energy.

As the day wears on, I eavesdrop on the yakking mynahs and tune in to the intermittent call of a shikra and the aria of an oriole. I attend to the ‘Mother Tree’ banyan in the backyard where a resident pair of spotted owlets plays house and treepies or coucals come visiting. I let the call of the koel—two-note cadences or a longer melody—wash over me with its soothing effect. At times I am party to a shrill dialogue, or should I say, a slanging match, between two male koels; often, a third joins in for a strident trio.
I watch the neighbourhood duo of stray dogs with their individual personalities frolic like children. On somnolent afternoons, they wander about listlessly doing their little job on the car tyres marking their territory.  With the whole day at their disposal, between play, they look at each other with an expression that seems to say: “What we gonna do now", "I don’t know, what you wanna do now", like the mangy vultures in 'The Jungle Book' movie!

On a bright day, I study the 5 p.m. sunlight trapped in leaves in a tender portrait.

On a wind-racked day, I listen to the heaving trees and whispering leaves. I trace the pattern of a falling leaf and follow its journey to the ground.

The child in me chases butterflies (not with a net or to catch them in my palm) to arrest the flight of a Crimson Rose or a Common Mormon mid-air and imprison it in my PowerShot. More often than not, I find myself searching the horizon or the neighbourhood for ‘wild’ stories to capture on camera or on paper.
On some days, I go hunting for eagle owls with the desire to shoot them! Such spontaneous sojourns in the neglected neck of woods have been rewarded by sightings of a female rock thrush, grey francolins, nightjars and even a stray peafowl. These serendipitous and special instances only lure me further into the alternate world.

I drive down the Dolphin Hill road taking in the bio-blitz—the rocky ridge, the vegetation, the wildflowers and brahminy kites or white-bellied sea eagles encircling the harbour with nary a worry in the world. It lifts my spirits to see a bird of prey soar into the sky gliding on the thermal. That flight encapsulates a moment and an eternity at the same time. I often gaze up at the rocky outcrop flanking the road to look for signs of life. When once my eyes locked on to a monitor lizard lazily surveying low life below, in that instant, I became her.

Yesterday, errant winds brought in unseasonal rains... with it the aroma of wet earth. When the downpour stilled I stood witness to the interplay of sun-shine and cloudy skies. On my evening walk, I soaked in the cool vapours suffused with the hint of eucalyptus by the rain-drenched hillsides; the best aromatherapy I have known. I witnessed termites take wings shooting out like subsurface to air missiles only to drop dead littering the path. Within minutes the ground beneath the feet was flushed with black ants that emerged out of nowhere to scavenge the critters clean.

At dusk, today, standing on the verandah, I could barely make out a blob—the size of a cricket ball—on a lamp pole. A spotted owlet unfurled its wings and when it caught the glare of the sodium vapour lamp it seemed to flare up; a magical moment, indeed. A parliament of owlets—six of them—was shaking off sleep, flexing its wings, and getting into action in the valley across, for the night. It was their time and their territory.

I stand and stare.

I halt and hear. In the pristine silence around me, I hear myself, loud and clear.

I smell the air, breathe the greens, hug the trees, talk to plants and feel the hum and throb of life.

I commune with the Earth.

I do not know if these idyllic snatches add up to anything or even whether they add years to my life or subtract years from my age. What I do know is that each such moment seems fulfilling, an end in itself.

In between all this living, I watch people go about their work and routine; I grapple with ills that ail the society; I try to make sense of Indian politics; do a bit of writing; run errands; do household chores; cook; look after my family; engage with friends; and keep up with social obligations…  

Purple fountain grass catching first light of the day

Indian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo bengalensis

All Photographs in this blog and website are the Author's Original work/Copyright.