There is something refreshing about the morning. Even in the city. The comfortable chill after the balmy summer night. The calling of the koel harshly wakes me up from my bed. And then I hear the crows- the garbage men of the world. They are up early too. And the white throated fantail’s melodious notes always ring out welcoming the beginning of a new day. Slowly, even the magpie robins awake. Summer is breeding time-the best males get their girls and being a songster on an exposed perch helps.
Weekend mornings are even better. I actually witness this drama around me…now I can hear the high pitched scream of the black kite that’s nesting on the coconut palms. There is no sluggishness to the early morning of the weekend- coupled it is with the promise of experiencing the wilderness of the urban jungle. The promise of sighting a rare bird, a mongoose, a hare, a jackal, maybe even a leopard in the city we all call home. Day breaks out early so waking up is earlier- reaching before daybreak is of prime importance. You notice that there’s hardly anybody on the street- doodhwalas and random rickshawallahs being an exception. Few people bother not sleeping in on a holiday.
The kite is calling incessantly now. The purple rumped sunbirds are up too, chirping their way around to nectar filled flowers. Only the crows seem to be in a hurry though, darting here and there- ever the mumbaiites. The deep throated call of the Coucal is now heard through the crisp morning air. It is waiting for the sun to come out, so that it may display its glistening chestnut wings to whoever has the time to watch it- the herald of good luck often leaves its observer awestruck. Rose-ringed parakeets are now making their way across the skies, screeching out so that the group may stay together. I often wonder where they roost…is it within the much threatened, but relatively safe refuge within the limits of the city? Do they make long journeys back and forth between their green haven and their feeding grounds? I would like to imagine it, even though it’s probably not true.
Day has broken now. The sky has completely lost its dark blanket. It is white now, tinged with a drop of blue. It is summer and the copperpod tree is filled with yellow blossoms. While walking a Mumbai street in the summer, you will come across these flowers strewn across like a magnificent golden yellow carpet laid out for the traveller who doesn't have the time to soak in it's beauty. I can hear the sparrows now- the much debated, tiny seed eaters whose tiny holes of a home have been encroached upon by tall glass buildings. The mango trees are bearing fruit too, the raw, green ‘kairi’ will be soon relished by children and adults alike.
Oh and how could I forget the bulbuls- one is sitting right across me on a branch flapping its wings and calling out, its pointed head jutting out like a sailor’s cap. A flash of its red vent and its gone. The family of kites is flying around- the parents have begun to teach the juvenile to hunt. The white breasted waterhen makes an occasional appearance on the lower branches of the siam cassia tree- finding it in the dense overgrown weeds is usually an uphill task! More bulbuls are here now…they are filling the morning with their earthy-metallic calls.
The bonfire tree sets the forest aflame with its colours this time of the year. So does the palash. The golden flowers of the Indian Laburnum tree appear- stunning the viewer with their sheer beauty on the now leafless tree. The state tree- the blue jacaranda is also in full bloom, filled with clusters of purplish blue flowers. The pink Tabebuia is not so common, but when the pale pink flowers high up on the tree descend to the ground and form a soft pink mattress to sleep on, I can’t help missing the childhood I never had.
A childhood spent running around with bare feet. Climbing trees. Stealing mangoes. Plundering the tamarind tree. The teak tree‘s henna colouring my unpolished hands.Bringing home flowers for my grandmother’s puja. Sitting on the river bank with my feet dipped in the running waters. Without a care in the water. Diving into the icy cold stream in the heat of the summer. Sleeping out in the gobar spattered porch. Smelling the gobar. Chasing squirrels. Learning to use the slingshot. The slingshot becoming my best friend. Watching the clouds pass by. Guessing their shapes. Lying out on the soft fragrant grass, sun beating down on me, friends alongside, relishing a stolen kairi... shut from the ruthless, greedy world...with just nature to protect me. And mother me.
Ramblings on wildlife sharing spaces with non-wild humans