Monsoonal blues: Fly away home

No year has ever gone by without its share of obstacles. Except when I was 8 years old. Yeah, that was a good year. It must be the same with you, right? I hear people talk about their ups and downs. Isn’t that how things work? At least, I hope so. I will feel a little better knowing that your life, consistently, has shitty moments in it too.

It’s like we are hugging without touching each other. It’s the stuff that peculiar songs about friendship are made up of, dear reader.

Come closer, won’t you? This may be a special moment in our beautifully screwed-up and symbiotic relationship.

Red-Whiskered Bulbul

It has been a bittersweet summer for me. Given the weather, I haven’t had a satisfying birding trail since late April. I am also a few days away from a minor eye surgery. Once again, it just had to be one of my favorite body parts. Things hurt in the wrong places, don’t they?

These doctors are going to be harassing my right eyeball with syringes. Carving its skin with a tiny knife. But I will be back to normal in a couple of days. I bet it will be right after I develop a fondness for the eye patch. I may even have a name for it, by then.

I am sure to miss the little darling. The nerve of fate to take sweet Princess Iris away from me. It’s a cruel world… ladies and germs.

To add to the misfortune, monsoonal rains will soon intensify wherever I ache to travel to. Until mid-November, it is unlikely that I will spend a lot of time with birds. Definitely, not as much I want to. And I will feel a little sedated.

It isn’t all gloom and doom, though.

As heavy as the rains may be, I will continue to wake up to the achingly-sweet call of Asian Koels. I will watch Darters and Grey Pelicans grace the skies from the office window. And every now and then, I will come to my senses and visit nearby hill stations. To spend time with good friends- the rarest sub-species in the animal kingdom – and the birds of southern India.

I found the time to visit Kodaikanal last week. I have been housing its shola forests in my heart since 2013. I managed to spend two days by myself. And then, two more with a bunch of people. I was lucky enough to spot many feathered friends of mine too. From Long-Tailed Shrikes, Pied Bushchats, Malabar Whistling Thrushes to Scimitar Babblers, Nilgiri Flycatchers, Black-And-Orange Flycatchers, Velvet-Fronted Nuthatches and Vernal Hanging Parrots. There were Southern Hill Mynahs, Serpent Eagles, Sparrowhawks, and Sunbirds.

I hope they didn’t miss me as much as I did them. I thought about it a lot while I was there. Not about the possibility of birds being emotionally attached to a human stalker. Don’t be silly. I only meant how much I miss being around them.

On day 3, during a vacant staring contest with the rising mist at dusk, a disquieting yet calming epiphany came afloat towards me. I saw it perched upon the wings of a bird. Swaddled under a butterfly’s wing. I felt it wriggling in the earnest crawl of a beetle. I heard it splish-splash in the song of rain at night.

That pain and confusion may be constant. But they are based on superfluous expectations and irrational compromises.

Because suffering is a choice.

Because for every promise delivered, there will be one less pursuit I can look forward to.

Because life is about how I deal with myself, and those around me when it lends itself to messiness. The rest is easy.

Because I don’t need to be a digital nomad or achieve complete financial security to spend a meaningful amount of time with birds.

Those doors will open someday. Maybe, not tomorrow. Okay, definitely not tomorrow. I have a doctor’s appointment. Well, it may not even next year. But I don’t need to obsess over how great it will be to eventually open them. Or feel discouraged about seeing each year go by, without knowing what lays there in the great beyond. And whether I can survive being locked out.

Instead, I can look at the world through its windows.

I already know what colors exist out there. The playlists of songs that await me. The volume and velocity of love in store.

I guess, I should be glad that it’s only just begun.

Gaze at the world
through wooden
frames that bear
endless promises

Kodaikanal

(Photographs: Kodaikanal)

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20 comments

  1. People are so afraid to touch each other in public spaces, worried of the stigma it might cause (gay, cheating, public displays, etc.). How I wish that we didn’t care about such trivialities!! The video/song was a perfect weaving into your experience and post. As always, I enjoy them so much

    When I am away from birding (as now), I rely on the non-feathered two-legged species to keep me occupied. Best to be in direct company, so that hugging can be done by TOUCHING. Some things should not be done virtually. And on expectations, I find it best to remove them entirely and take every little thing with delight and appreciation. It is difficult to suffer pain and confusion while in awe of some wonderful happenstance entirely unexpected.

    I hope everything works out with your eye surgery. Mine (last year) was right up there with the best thing I’ve ever done. Birds are best enjoyed with a perfectly functional pair of eyes and — even better — with a bestie by your side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hugging by touching eh yeah the body warmth feels quenching, otherwise – I am not so sure Shannonroo hehehe

      I tend to forget about happenstances, thank you for saying that, and everything else before and after, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am waiting for the year. In terms of learning, every year teaches me something new. This year’s lesson has been “Letting go is the hardest thing in the world”. Lessons are taught every year, but whether I learn is another matter altogether.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “Lessons are taught every year, but whether I learn is another matter altogether” – brilliant! Thank you for the honesty. Such a rare commodity these days.

        And I wish upon a birdie’s plumage that your year comes soon. And hangs around to drink tea and talk about books with you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope your eye surgery goes well. Sometime in the distant future I shall have to have cataract surgery, but not yet. Do the monsoons interrupt internet at all (I should imagine they would) or can you use the time to learn more about the birds you don’t know, online and reading, and on other birders’ blogs?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Val, I hope that yours goes smoothly as well.

      And that’s a splendid suggestion, I ought to use this time more constructively indeed! What better way than getting back to read other birding blogs.

      The monsoon affects connectivity sporadically, comrade. It isn’t much to worry about.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thank you, Sirius. That’s humbling to hear, and it means a lot to me.

      I used to work for a newspaper in India called the New Indian Express, wrote a music column for them. But it didn’t work out, and I haven’t tried applying for publications after that.

      I’ve tried rationalizing it, saying that I am not interested in such. But the truth is that I suck at networking and I am lazy (sheepish smile).

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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