Wings and Chirps

Wanderings of an Itchy Feet

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#QuoteCafe #1 – Innocence

Picture clicked at Golden Creepers Farm Retreat on #Nikon #P900.

My love for words dates back to the 1980s when Dad left for the Mid-East for a decade long assignment. The letters soaked in bucketfuls of tears would reach him and the eternal wait for his response would continue. No amount of words could heal the wounded heart of that five-year-old or bridge the physical gap between us. But solace of some kind it provided. I was an avid reader back then. With life meddling with the daily affairs my reading has taken a backseat. However much I try I am unable to finish a book before weeks. Need to work hard on this. May be after the examinations are over.

I am mad about Quotes and Sayings. So much that most of my journal entries begin and end with quotes. The man and I fell in love not because of our looks but because of our shared love for words. I take pride in admitting that ours was a love affair that bloomed behind the curtains of emails (read Rediffmail) and exchanging books. We are both not very outgoing types and I guess that’s why we clicked after three years of acquaintance. If ever we happened to be in office at the same time, we would greet each other on WinPopUp (love finds its own way without announcing it to the world) with one beautiful quote. His first and the most beautiful gift to me till date is one such book, Wake-Up Calls: Making The Most Out Of Every Day (Regardless Of What Life Throws You) by Joan Lunden. 

Looking back at life, I am thankful for every single person, every single moment, every single happening in my life. Grateful from the depth of my heart. Life lessons.

#QuoteCafe is that one series which has been on my mind since a long time now. It will help me share my choicest clicks with a collection of the best quotes I read through the week. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed planning it.

“There’s nothing more contagious than the laughter of young children; it doesn’t even have to matter what they’re laughing about.”
Criss Jami, Killosophy

“And that’s what innocence is. It’s simple and trusting like a child, not judgmental and committed to one narrow point of view. If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the freshness and magic of the moment. Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades.”
Michael Jackson

“He stood at the window of the empty cafe and watched the activities in the square and he said that it was good that God kept the truths of life from the young as they were starting out or else they’d have no heart to start at all.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

“For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.”
G.K. Chesterton

So, which one is your favourite quote(s)? Do share for I can eat, drink and breathe quotes.

#MythicalMondays – Sampati

Most of us are aware of Jatayu and his role in Ramayana. This post is about his lesser known brother Sampati. Sampati turned out to be crucial in Sita’s search in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The great king Daksha Prajapati (father of Sati, Shiva’s consort) was one of the Manasa Putras of Lord Brahma, born from his right thumb. Daksha had two wives; Prasuti and Panchajani. Vinata was one of the daughters of Daksha and Panchajani. She, along with twelve other sisters, was married to sage Kashyapa.

Vinata had two sons with Kashyapa, Aruṇa and Garuda. She brought them out as eggs. She was promised that she will have two powerful sons when the eggs hatch. However, out of impatience and curiosity she broke one of them. Aruna, radiant and reddish as the morning sun, was born from the broken egg. Due to premature breaking of the egg, Aruṇa was not as bright as the noon sun as he was promised to be. Aruṇa’s brother, Garuda, was born at full term, and eventually became the main vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Aruṇa supposedly was the charioteer of Surya, the Sun God.

Sampati and Jatayu were the sons of Aruna. Sampati and Jatayu were giddha (vultures) of the Deva (demi-gods) dynasty. Sampati was the King of Vultures and he was an old friend of Dasharatha (Ram’s father). He was the elder brother of Jatayu.

As young children they used to compete with each other as to who could fly higher. They could fly higher and higher than any other bird in the sky. On one such occasion, Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get charred by the scorching sun rays. Sampati saved his younger brother by spreading his own wings over him, protecting him from the hot flames of sun. But in this attempt Sampati got injured and lost his wings forever. Wingless, he fell down on to the earth near the Vindhya Mountains by the Southern Sea. Jatayu also was no longer able to fly and fell near the banks of Godavari River. This way, the two brothers got separated from each other.

Sage Chandrama informed Sampati that he will have to wait there till Lord Vishnu’s incarnation reached the place and restored his wings.

Later on in Ramayana, when Sita was abducted by Ravana, Jambuvant and Hanuman led Sugriva’s army of monkeys and reached the seashore in search of Sita. Tired and exhausted, they had collapsed on the sand when an old and hungry Sampati came out of the cave and thanked the Lords for bringing him food.

Picture Courtesy – Good Kids

Jambuvant told Angad how ironical life was. He said how this vulture was waiting to feast on them while another blessed vulture named Jatayu tried to rescue Sita from Ravana when he was on his way to Lanka after kidnapping Sita. They also informed him that Jatayu had fought a fierce battle with Ravana before he was defeated and his wings were cut. When Rama and Lakshmana reached there searching for Sita, they found an injured Jatayu. A dying Jatayu informed Rama about his fight with Ravana and also informed them the direction in which Ravana had taken Sita.

The moment he heard of Jatayu’s death, Sampati wanted to perform his last rites. The monkey army helped him in this. Afterwards Sampati, who could see beyond what others could see, informed them of how Ravana had taken Sita across the sea to Lanka in his Pushpaka Vimana. He also told them that Sita was waiting for Rama in the Ashok Vatika underneath a tree. At this time Sampati’s wings were healed. After thanking Jambuvant, Hanuman and the monkey army, Sampati flew away.

The Crossing

The door bell rang just when I was about to step out. It was the courier guy. Scribbled my name in running script on the device and then on the list that he was carrying. The man’s credit card statement.

Locked the metal latch and rushed down the stairs. I was late by five minutes.

Underneath the banyan tree adjacent to the Hanuman temple, a rickshaw-puller was enjoying his afternoon siesta. On any other day I would have let him enjoy his nap, but not today. The girl will fire me from mommy-hood. Woke him up and he was more than happy to give me a ride.

Red light at the crossing. The incessant honking just puts me off and the best way I deal with it is by getting zoned out. While the ears were on ‘off’ mode, the eyes observed more sharply.

Sitting on the pavement was this bearded man in his early forties. Dressed in saffron. Fake rudrakshas around his neck. A wooden kamandal (water pot), a staff (a long walking stick) and a potli (cloth bundle) lay beside him. He was adjusting the sandalwood pulp on his forehead using a pocket mirror. The beard sweeping his hairy chest ran down till his potbelly. I wondered what would be the amount that leaves a healthy man with no choice but to bare his body in this cold winter afternoon.

She ran past the rickshaw. In a hurry. Her woollen shawl was trying to catch up to her feet while her torn handbag was sliding down her shoulders. Running for life? I thought. But that smile… The incomplete smile on her face meant something else. She was running non-stop. Not even bothered about the running traffic or the abuses hurled at her by the riders. The light turned green. As we crossed the roads I noticed that she had stopped running. The Metro Feeder bus on the bus stand on the opposite road had left by then. For some reason I looked back again at her. This time our eyes met and we smiled at each other.

A school bus overtook us from the right. Just before it left out of sight I saw her. A cute little girl with two ponytails waving at me. I waved back. Her twinkling eyes and toothless smile. Precious! May they stay forever. I prayed silently.

The school gate approached. As I kept the tenner and the five rupee coin on the palm of the rickshaw guy, he bowed and smiled. It was his rightful money. He had earned it. But grateful he was. Just as I was. For the day. For the ride. For the people. For the experiences. For the lessons.

So much in just ten minutes. And then I realized it. It was the ability to turn off what was not necessary, what was not worth my time, what was negatively impacting me. The honking.

Thankfully the daughter emerged only after two minutes. Her smile as she spotted me at the gate was another precious moment to add to the balance sheet of this life.

#DailyBites #1 – Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Female)

Picture clicked at India Gate, New Delhi, India with #Nikon #P900.

#TravelDiaries – Sultanpur National Park

“Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Northern Shoveler (Migratory)

Our interest in Wildlife, especially birds, started when the firstborn was about five years of age. Unlike other children who were hooked onto cartoon channels (courtesy the house-helps or us, parents), this girl used to watch wildlife documentaries on Animal Planet, Discovery and National Geographic. Her thoughtful father observed her interest in wildlife and encouraged her by gifting her various books/encyclopaedias on animals and birds. Our vacations also meant travelling to various forests within India.

And then a few years ago we watched this beautiful documentary together as a family. Do watch it. You can thank me later.

This little girl of ours could identify almost 60% of the birds that are discussed here. That was the turning point in my life as well. I did have an interest in nature photography, but my interest in birds is all thanks to this daughter. An early riser I am and hence my rendezvous with these winged creatures dates back to my school days. But I never bothered to find out what their names were, what they fed on, how they differ from each other and why some of them were visible only during certain seasons. These I started noticing only now.

Purple Moorhen or Western Swamphen (Resident)

Common Moorhen or Common Gallinule (Resident)

Bird watching is indeed a beautiful hobby for people like me who prefer solitude than company. I can gaze at them swimming in the lake or flying in the vast sky for hours and hours.

Spot-billed Duck

It is indeed the most refreshing thing to do in case you’re feeling down. Walk along the lake and watch these winged friends fly without inhibitions. No borders, no fences, no characterization can make them stop. They are just themselves. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, water birds or field birds, residents or migratory, they coexist and share the resources provided by nature.

Purple Heron (Resident)

Painted Stork (Resident)

We, humans, have a lot to learn from them. Most importantly symbiosis and coexistence. Nature has provided us with enough to survive if only we learn to respect and value it.  These creatures in the wildlife teach us how to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both parties.

Painted Stork

Painted Stork

Sultanpur Lake Bird Sanctuary is located about 15 km away from Gurgaon, Haryana. Established in 1972 as the Sultanpur Bird Reserve, this place was upgraded to a National Park in 1989. Spread over an area of 1.43 sq km, this bird sanctuary is inhabited by over 250 species of birds.

Little Grebe

Spoonbill

After our first visit to Sultanpur National Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise, on day two of our stay at Golden Creepers Farm Retreat, I was not very happy because the foggy day spoiled almost all my photographs. The birds were all very close yet the pictures were far from good. And in between the husband injured his ankle while playing with the children. He said it was just a sprain and so we continued our stay. The next day I visited the sanctuary again with the sun still playing hide and seek. The daughter, my got-to-person for wildlife information, gladly joined me ‘for my protection’. Such fun this date was!

Spoonbill

Darter or Snakebird (Resident)

With Li’l Love, my younger one, a visit to any place is fun yet crazy. She’s still too young to enjoy such places. She’s fine for some time but starts acting cranky almost at the same time when I start clicking. So this trip with just me and A was not only fun but absolutely perfect for my photography craze. She kept guiding me by spotting birds and identifying them while I clicked them. One of the few things we have in common is our love for photography.

Northern Pintail (Migratory)

Bar-headed Geese

Hand in hand, we kept walking around the lake, climbing on top of the watch tower and spotting various birds. This kind of individual time is very important with each child as it brings us closer in indescribable ways and also is a reassurance for the child that he/she can count on us for anything at all times.

Black-headed Ibis (Resident)

Blackwinged Stilt (Resident)

The park is right now abundant with lots of resident as well as migratory birds. Breeding has been extremely good this season and hence you have a good chance of witnessing a fairly good number of species.

Intermediate Egret (Resident)

Greylag Goose (Migratory)

I’m sure these pictures and my extempore around the trip has made you envious. And that’s why I need to share this incident. Wildlife is beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating. But wildlife is also full of dangers from unexpected corners. The daughter and I were almost lost in the wilderness clicking non-stop when we saw a pair of Nilgais and started clicking.

 

She started recording them when she saw another pair a little farther. As I turned to click the other pair I saw about five more running from behind an island in the lake. It looked like once in a lifetime shot. But within seconds we realized that almost seven-eight of them were running fast towards us. The daughter was almost in tears as we were standing just a foot or two away from where they crossed us. It was not their fault at all. Some miscreants in the park were pelting stones at them. Trust me when I say that ‘we humans are the most disgusting species on planet earth‘.

Nilgai or Blue Bull

Not just the animals, these anti-social elements were passing lewd remarks on almost all of us and it took some of the professional photographers to warn them and get them out of the park with the help of the authorities. A forest is not a place for picnic. Unfortunately most of our people are not aware of it. It is a protected area. It is the home of these birds and animals. We are only visitors who must graciously exit after visiting them.

I have tried my best to leave you with the best shots possible. Yet I can vouch for the fact that what my eyes witnessed can never be caught on camera. Such is the grandeur of nature.

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