hope

Spotted Owls, Pulicat Road

In pursuit of indebtedness to the sky

I am not fond of routines. Inelegantly, they wrap themselves around me, like dirty parasites. And I am left – nonplussed and numb. It’s why I cling on to weekends. I get to break my routines by watching birds go through theirs.

Some people talk about wanting to live the way the wild creatures do. Carefree, and unhinged. Driven by pure instincts. It’s a strange inference to make, though. Because birds, mammals, reptiles, fishes, and insects follow routines like we do.

What sets them apart, besides the nakedness, is that they don’t emotionally invest in actualities. They don’t pursue happiness and tumble down from the sky in the process.

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Eurasian Spoonbill, Chennai

Because I am not happy: Migratory birds

There are still a few months left for birding season to begin. And I can’t wait for the rains to go away. So that migratory birds will visit me from all over the world. Because they will make me happy. I may even tap the shoulders of strangers to tell them about it. If they ignore me, I may grab one by the collar and repeat myself in a creepier voice.

While being dragged into a police van, charged for public nuisance, I will clasp the hands of officers and proclaim, “But sir, I am happy”. They won’t understand, though. There is a good chance that I will be beaten up first, and prosecuted later. But that’s fine. Happiness works in mysterious ways. One moment I feel good, and the next – I am a bloody mess.

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Malabar Trogon, Anaimalai Hills

With wings like these, who needs gravity?

I develop a gag reflex for certain things I am passionate about. Whether a new style of writing I want to try out, the type of people I socialize with or the kind of music I listen to. After shifting the paradigm, I just throw my hands in the air and walk away. A simple explanation is that I am easily distracted. I may be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. Another may be that “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”.

It doesn’t really matter why. Popeye taught me that a long time ago.

Somehow, my love for birds survived the onslaught. Four years later, I am as lovestruck. Every time I see a bird of prey – my heart doesn’t just skip a beat, it leapfrogs over a bunch of them stacked on top of each other. Like the flap of some Malabar Trogon’s wing – it takes to the sky.

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Nilgiri Flycatcher, Kodaikanal

To believe is to see: Nilgiri Flycatcher

Love dwells
in our hearts
as eagerly as
it does in our eyes;
no man, woman or child
is an island, much
a bird sanctuary
in paradise.

I have seen the Nilgiri Flycatcher only in pairs; several times in different parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Never though has the male or the female shown up solo to enthrall me.

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