Best friends with deficits

Pond Herons are one of the easiest birds to spot. They can be found all over the city. But I have never written about them. I barely photograph them. Every day I see them, alongside the distressingly-polluted Cooum River. They saunter through shallow waters, like stoned tap dancers, and hunt for crustaceans and small fishes.

Profundity has been amiss; the mind – adrift. I have nothing special to tell you about them. Because I haven’t learned anything valuable from them.

Whereas spotting a notoriously shy bird is an incomparable thrill. It is better than sex on a wintry morning or a really good sneeze. There are hurdles in traveling to a new location in search of some rare bird. The urge to overcome them is addictive. Especially, when there are dangers involved. Then, it gets exciting.

Because I need to be challenged in a way that makes me feel vulnerable. As vast and beautiful as our planet is, I don’t want things to be hunky dory between us. Give me a round of Russian roulette instead. Either I get hurt. Or I unravel some brief mystery about human existence.

It feels more rewarding to take these chances and keep the faith while bird-watching. I can pressurize myself to rise above the challenge. To be diligent, patient and hopeful. Waiting for years to see the crowned ivory prince of Asian Paradise Flycatchers. Falling down a slope before spotting an Indian Eagle Owl. Standing, painstakingly, underneath a tree for hours to catch a glimpse of a Great Indian Hornbill. These were the moments that I will remember dearly.

In other matters, I exercise a little more caution. I know that things can work out if I push myself. Leave my job and settle in a hill station. Tell someone how much they mean to me. Go cave exploring. Buy a farm and adopt a hundred puppies. But, the pratfalls seem too intimidating.

Whenever I have gone through with them, by fluke or fruition, the results were varied. At times, I have beaten the odds as cool instrumental music played inside my head. In other scenarios, I have found myself angry disappointed and wounded; definitely, worse off than before.

Still, I can cope with life’s calamities better than I can deal with its sedative passages. It is also probably why my closest confidants are emotionally unstable people and difficult-to-spot birds.

I do wish, during moments of weakness, that I can tone it down a notch. Be the sort of person who does not need constant stimulation. Someone who could spend more time with Pond Herons. After all, they are such beautiful creatures. I bet that I will feel peaceful around them if I get better acquainted.

But, as a smart fellow once said, “Peace is not merely the absence of war”.

Be like a wild stream,
unbroken and free, unlike
the gravel and rock
that rumble underneath

(Photographs: Chennai, Ponneri, Valparai & Kumily

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13 comments

  1. This post was a delicious as a really good sneeze. I am an urban birdwatcher. I do not hunt the rare. I delight in the ordinary, the reassurance of the common feathered. They give me hope. When something rare flits in front of me it startles and throws me off balance, like the Eastern Bluebird I saw on a stroll by a local river. She stressed me out! I stopped enjoying my walk and had to rush home to Google! But to each their own. I love the rare birds you post (they are, of course, all rare to me since I live a gazillion miles away) and thank you for being the adventurer!

    Liked by 1 person

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