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Being natural!

Thought that sharing some pleasant memories from the weekend gone by would help to put everyone in a happy mood as they start another busy week!

A pair of Crested Serpent Eagles were making lazy circles in the sky a few 100 feet above the forest floor – we gazed intently through our binoculars and note the characteristic markings on the under wings and tail as the birds called out to each other, it was a fluted two note cry, almost plaintive – I have often wondered why these dangerous and majestic birds had such shrill calls.

From a tree nearby an Indian Grey Hornbill peered at us, craning his neck to get a better look and flicking his tail angrily for dramatic effect– his mate made a cackling call from another tree further away, as if to say – “These city slickers having nothing better to do than to come and pry on us. We need to find a better neighbourhood – no privacy in these parts!” I could understand what she said.

A pair of Ruby Throated Bullbuls made a noisy entry …. chirping away to glory and their loud colors in sharp contrast to the green of the foliage.

On a petrified tree in the distance Hill Mynas settled to sing their mellifluous songs before taking off for places unknown!

We didn’t sight much during the outing –  just around 20 species of birds;  it was 9.30 a.m. by the time we got there and the birds already done with the morning action (they are Early Birds, you see!) had decided to find shelter from the midday sun, which was beating down on the forest.

Three young-at-heart middle-agers drove up to Braemore Estates in the hills outside Trivandrum – a 4 km trek up a steep path from the estate’s main gate would take us to Ponmudi, the popular tourist spot for folks in the city; but we did not go there.

After taking permission to enter the property we stopped at the old Tea Factory made by the British in the 19th Century – the old machinery that were busy for close to a 100 years now stood silent – we wondered at the ingenuity of the Brits who lugged all this stuff up the dense forest trails over 130 years ago.

After that stop we moved on to a secluded spot for a bit of birding. Although there weren’t many birds for us to observe the view was magnificent and the breeze a balm – it lifted our spirits. We took it slow and easy – the idea was to get all the stress out of the system.

We friends started visiting the forests of South India in the 80s- the trips were frequent in the early years, when we were still bachelors and life was less complicated. Marriage, children and progress in our careers added a number of factors added into the equation – it was difficult for us to meet as often as we wished to. Some friends moved away and took residence at faraway places. But the four of us who are still here try to make at least 2-3 trips, shorter ones these days, to the Western Ghats to do a bit of birding and walking.

Speaking about walking reminds me … the years flew by and the youngsters who  started a lifelong love affair with nature have now entered the 50s – lazier and less inclined to rush off on a long trek. So during yesterday’s outing Santhosh, the automobiles man, comes up with a bright idea – “I am working on a vehicle with a retractable roof and seats that can be hoisted around 10 feet above the ground so that all of us can observe the birds without ever leaving the vehicle.” Interesting, eh?! 🙂

A bit earlier Rakesh had remarked – “I wish we could inform the birds in advance so that they would sit on the trees lining the road to be counted; reduces the amount of walking we have to do.”

When we started, way back in the 80s, it was motorcycles, backpacks and sleeping bags – we would get permission from the Forest Department and spend 2 or 3 nights inside the jungle – sleeping in the open or a natural cave in the middle of nowhere, later it was forest dormitories or inspection Bungalows and the nature enthusiasts went for rides on Jeeps to check what the jungles had to show us; now we are busy searching for ways to avoid walking – a few leeches on our shoes, as we tested the over-grown paths, had the three of us scurrying back. We laughed at ourselves.

No, don’t be fooled by these comments – we are older, somewhat lazier and finickier than before but the enthusiasm and eagerness still remain unabated – as we drove back to Trivandrum a trip to the North East of India was hatched.

This trip was a short one but it gave us time to relax, observe some birds, indulge in some idle banter, forget the regular stuff that usually clouded our minds …. we were our natural selves, at least for that 1/2 day!

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  1. May 14, 2012 at 7:20 am

    truly refreshing….i started my day with your article…:)

    • JayadevM
      May 14, 2012 at 7:27 am

      Glad to be of help, Catherine! Thanks for reading.

  2. May 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Dear Jayadev,

    Ever thought of taking up writing as a profession ??

    • JayadevM
      May 14, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Hi Santhosh

      Glad you could read the article; the option you’ve indicated is very much on my mind! With such support it’s won’t be long before I take it up.

      Cheers!

  3. May 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Oh how I loved this one J! As always your enthusiasm, passion and spirit uplifts and inspires:) Coach not only teaches about work but about unwinding too!

    • JayadevM
      May 14, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Raji,

      Thanks a lot.

      Yes, rest and relaxation are essential for professionals working in today’s high pressure business environment. taking mini breaks like these can help to get them energised and eager.

  4. Raaj Aravind
    May 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Jayan…. You had me doubled over laughing a few times there… yes I do remember those bottom-numbing long motorcycle trips – one in particular where Zulfi and me (that day trip was just the two of us) had to push the motorcyle a few kilometers (not fun at the end of a long birding day) cause we had a flat….

    …What happened to us once we got home is a story for another day, but boy was I glad when we graduated into 4 wheels… and cell phones arrived (this would bring a smile on Zulfi’s face if he reads this for sure).

    Also laughed on your bit about the leeches… we never let the leeches bother us those days… I wonder if I would feel just as qeasy now if I saw them trying to feed off me.

    It also brought to mind one very painfully long trek (from Vellimalai to Tannikudi, was it) where there was leech galore for most of the trip not to metion the physical pain on my knees that were ready to give up on me on day two (my body ached for about 10 days following that trip)…

    I could go on and on and on…

    Thanks for refreshing so many old memories.

    • JayadevM
      May 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Raaj

      We go back a long way on this, don’t we? Amazing adventures that would last us many a lifetime.

      We must do another one when you visit India next.

      Thank you for sharing those memories.

  5. Jamy
    May 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Great anecdotes Jay! Thanks for sharing!

    • JayadevM
      May 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you, Jamy!

  6. May 19, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Very nice Jayadev, next time I’m there I want to go with you, sounds so facinating.

    • JayadevM
      May 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

      Dear Paul,

      Just fix the date and we can go. Glad that you liked my article.

  7. May 19, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Paul :
    Very nice Jayadev, next time when I’m there I want to go with you, sounds so facinating.

    • JayadevM
      May 19, 2012 at 3:46 am

      Dear Paul,

      Thank you! We can go for a Nature Walk any time.

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