Tag Archives: birds

The Bulbul’s message

We are at my mom’s, enjoying our summer vacation. We have just had a sumptuous lunch. The children and their cousins are playing a board game in one of the bedrooms.

All the adults are seated or stretched out in the living room, as the day curtains billow in the cool breeze. Each time the curtains billow, one can see the green leaves of the trees outside, glistening in the bright, afternoon sun.

Most of us are trying not to sleep after that heavy lunch. We chat on and off, the pauses and silences are comfortable ones – those that belong to family, to love and to familiarity.

A sudden sweet bird song cuts through this family web.  There is a pause, and the bird song plays again.

My sister says, ” Someone’s got a message.”

Hands and bodies reach out to their phones, like the arms of an octopus.

Most people in the room say that the ring tone is not theirs. The bird sound continues.

We quickly discover that there is a ‘real’ Bulbul bird sitting on our balcony, singing away merrily. We gently move the curtains to watch this beautiful bird.
             

                   Picture courtesy – Wikipedia

How musical it sounds! How could we even mistake it for a ringtone?

We laugh uneasily. The Bulbul gave us an important message today. 

Maybe we should take more time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, those that are not in any way connected to technology or smartphones.

Family bonds

I stand on my balcony, and watch the evening sky. The clouds and the sun seem to be playing hide and seek. Golden rays stream out one second, and are gone the next. Birds are getting back to their nests, after a long day, nearly twelve hours since they left home. I am sure they are glad to be back in the warmth of their nests, to snuggle amongst the twigs and leaves, have a chit chat with their neighbours and call it a day!

I smile, as I liken this to what we humans do, when we come back to the warmth and smells of our homes every evening, after a long day spent at work or school.

We are different creatures, when we step out every morning – well groomed, mentally poised and focused on getting work done, lists and priorities clearly structured in our heads.

But at the end of the day, when we set foot inside our homes, we transform into different creatures – for home is the place where we can let our guard down. 

I see this when my kids come home from school. They shed their ‘outside world’ personas as they take off their shoes and socks, drop bags, and lunch boxes, loudly asking about what there is to eat. They plonk on the sofa with a thud, and then sink into their new ‘home skins’, as they narrate what they did, and who said what and the tons of homework to be done.

Family dynamics kick-in. Familiar jokes get exchanged, patterns of behaviour repeat, squabbles break out, mom’s nagging continues, we try to finish school work, bond over dinner, watch some television, worry about things unknown, share space and time, share tears and laughter, share likes and dislikes, and rally around the person who is down in the dumps!

Courtesy – Crazy family Clipart – ClipartFest

We are individuals, who are held together by deep bonds of shared everything. We know each others’ quirks, and crazy routines, we sometimes yell for some ‘timeout’ and ‘space’ from the others. But it is just that..only a brief time out. For we would be lost without the family and all the craziness that goes into it.

I wonder if it is the same for all these tweeting birds. My brood is back, winding down. My chores beckon. I head back in.

The Wind

It is early evening, and the sun is still scorching away. As I work, I hear the kitchen door slam shut. I quickly rush to secure all the other doors, when I hear the tinkling music of my chimes. In all the three years that I have had these chimes, this is probably one of the few occasions when they have actually chimed. Yes, there is only a gentle breeze where I live, hardly any strong wind.

Today is obviously different. A strong wind seems to be blowing. With the sun shining bright, the leaves undulate and glisten as the wind rips through the trees. The bigger and older trees accept the wind’s force with a calm that befits their age and wisdom, while the smaller plants and young trees dance with abandon.

In the yard below, a few leaves are swirling in circles, rising up for a few moments, falling down again, and then rising up again, as the wind comes to play with them.

The tall buildings and construction site cranes are totally oblivious to the wind’s sudden enthusiasm. They watch in silence.

The birds seem more energized as they swoop from tree to tree. Crisp laundry on the neighbours’ clotheslines flutter in bursts. The wind whips my hair on my face. I enjoy this moment….and am reminded of a poem from my primary school days; a poem by Christina Rossetti.

Who has seen the wind?

Courtesy – http://www.pinterest.com

The Evening Gossip Brigade

The balcony of my mom’s living room overlooks a line of trees. Each time I visit my mom, I realize that the foliage has become thicker. The neighbourhood cricket training ground – that was once clearly visible – is now completely obscured from view.

But the trees provide their own entertainment.They host, what we call, the Evening Gossip Brigade.

My mom and I usually stand at the balcony at around 5.45 p.m. Hundreds of birds descend on these trees. Crows, mynas, sparrows and many more that we cannot see.  Squirrels also flit about from tree to tree, seemingly boneless.

By 6 pm, the cacophony starts. The Evening Gossip Brigade kicks into action. We wonder aloud about all the cawing and chirping. Maybe they gossip about their long day, the places they visited, the availability of food or the lack of it, general health issues, nest discussions, love, friendship, petty fights….!
Then again, if one observes closely, there are a few loners, who sit away from the Brigade, lost in thought. Is it age or loneliness? We wonder.

There is a lot of movement between the trees and the various branches. And slowly, as if by magic, the decibel levels drop. Another bird day ends. One by one the chirping birds quieten down for the night.  Except for a few birds that are clearly outlined, the arrival of twilight casts many shadows and the birds merge with the foliage.
Now and then, a small chirp or caw can be heard, maybe little baby birds asking for their moms.

The night is upon us. We wish our little birds a good night and head indoors.

Mrs & Mr. Myna

It is about to rain. The skies are about to open up. Time seems to have slowed down. A cool breeze sweeps into the house giving us a heads-up about the rain that will soon follow.

The trees are swaying and whispering. I am sitting on the couch, between chores. The house is dark, with the sudden grey enveloping us. Outside, the green of the trees contrasts beautifully with the deep grey of the sky.

It is at this specific moment that two myna birds land on my balcony. They are quite vocal. Looks like they are husband and wife, and for sure, they seem to be arguing.

One of the mynas pecks at a wooden twig from my white orchid plant, and says something loudly to the other myna. They go back and forth, debating the merits of a certain twig, or a certain tree to build their nest in. They are oblivious to the breeze, and the grey, heavy clouds.

Their eyes and beaks flit constantly – possibly evaluating the strength of my orchid twigs. All through, they keep up their banter, now loud, now soft, now raucous.

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  Courtesy – http://www.wunderground.com

As the first heavy drops begin to plop down, the pair jump on to the balcony railings and swoop down into one of the trees. They are now beautifully camouflaged, probably continuing their conversation about where they can set up a stable and cozy home to welcome their little ones into the world.

Maybe, if the twig from my orchid plant passes muster, they will come back again.

The rain lashes on.

Tree-top Walk

We are on a tree top trail. It is late in the afternoon as we ascend the few steps that take us to the start of the trail.

The late afternoon Sun is quite strong, as we walk with a sense of purpose. As the trail snakes its way upwards, the sounds from the highway below gradually fade away and the delicious smell of crisp, fresh air fills our nostrils. The only sounds one can hear are the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds and the dull thud of one’s own footsteps.

There is a drop of bright blue on the branch of a tree. A kingfisher resting on a swaying branch. We stop to look at him. He is oblivious to all this attention.

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We climb higher. We are level with the tops of trees – in every shade of green possible, some shining metallic in the afternoon light. We see squirrels and orioles, playing inside the foliage. A rustle here and a flutter there.

Otherwise peace is the norm. We stop to drink water. The trail goes on and on. Beautiful, lush trees on both sides. Flora and fauna humming to their own rhythm.

Up here, the real world seems far away. We drop our cares and worries, soak in the peace into every pore of our bodies, and inhale the oxygen-rich air.

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We spot some shrikes and monkeys. As we reach the top of the trail, the wind whips past our faces, slapping our hair about, and carrying away the sweat from our faces.

We stretch and sit awhile, then head back. The downward walk is easy. When we near the end, the real world greets us – with bustling activity and vehicles. We flow into the main artery of everyday life, to be sucked into the mundane once more.

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At least till the next trek….!

My Little Peepal Tree

I have limited space on my balcony to have too many plants, but I make do with what space I have.  I have button roses, hibiscus, holy basil, orchids, curry leaves, some ferns and a silver oak, at least that’s what I thought till last week, when I saw a small Peepal Plant (also known as the Sacred Fig Tree), growing in one of the pots that used to have a small ornamental plant.  I was amazed that I hadn’t noticed this before.

Featured image

The Peepal is about half-a-foot tall, and its stem and branches are already strong and hard, signs of the beautiful tree it will grow into in a few years.  So which little bird brought the seeds of this tree to my balcony, allowing it to grow into a small plant ? Was it the myna or the pigeon or a small yellow-bird with black-edged feathers or another light green bird with a longish-beak, that flutters down the hibiscus plant everyday?

I am humbled by this miracle of nature.  In my excitement, I walk around the condominium looking for other Peepal Trees.  I am unable to see even one. I widen my search on my morning walking route.  I see neem, mango, and other trees, but not a single Peepal.

I imagine the myna or the pigeon, flying out for the day to a far off place and coming back with the seeds, to take a breather on my balcony, before they fly away to their homes.  Did they go to meet friends there? Did they go to look for food?

A whole big tree hidden in a small seed, carried by a little bird from a faraway place, the soil accepting this new baby, and nurturing it & caring for it, till it suddenly comes out of the soil in all its glory, waiting to take on the world.

My friends warn me that the Peepal Tree’s roots are very strong and hard, and can break through walls and cracks.  I know, I know. I will take it to the right home, maybe to a national park or a plant nursery.  But for the next few days, I will enjoy seeing it grow, after all it was born in my home, on my balcony…..so I will love it for a few more days.

With its beautifully shaped leaves, and woody stem, I can see how this plant will tower above the other plants in my balcony, outliving them, outliving even all of us, I imagine.

Maybe children will play under its shade, maybe a young couple will sit under its shade in the botanical gardens, maybe a jogger will stop under its cool shade to take a break and then maybe, many years from now, a little bird will carry its seeds to the balcony of one of my grand children!

I love you, my little Peepal Tree. Stay safe and grow well.