Wife to a Birder – II

My son hollered ‘Boridyem playmobilia’ which promptly got my husband’s attention.Translated from tree-latin it means – ‘I am dying of boredom and I am going to play on your mobile’. It’s our in-house language which we designed shortly after my husband suddenly developed a strange disease.

Whenever we went out, he developed this weird habit of looking around and muttering under his breath and no, he wasn’t looking at the birds.If you remember, we had narrowly escaped bankruptcy after I put my foot down in ‘Wife to a Birder‘.I tried to listen in ‘Caesalpinia pulcherima…Holoptelea integrifolia…Bombax malabaricum…Barringtonia acutangula…Ficus religiosa…Pongamia pinnata…”
This was serious.Finally my bird-brained husband was becoming hair-brained.Of course, that didn’t surprise me one bit.All that hankering behind Munias and Prinias was bound to take a toll.

He was still taking off to his early morning birding jaunts, but mornings soon stretched into afternoons. I would eye his uneaten breakfast balefully and attack it with gusto.Better not to waste tasty,wholesome,healthy grub ! Oh..okay..hold your horses,I will strike off the ‘tasty’.

Coming back to the topic at hand, when afternoons threatened to turn into evenings, I decided to take matters in hand.Finally he trudged in with the SACK. During his early days in birding, he would just carry along his camera or a pair of binocs..but lately, he had starting carting around this mammoth sack which he wouldn’t let go even for a minute.I grabbed an opportunity to sneak a glance inside,when my husband was busy ogling a pair of silver bills nesting in the verandah. Bird book…butterfly book..insect book..tree book…tree book..tree book..leaves..more leaves..sticky fruit…EEK ! what was that..dead butterflies ! I hurriedly stuffed them all in.

I decided to broach the subject without further ado. There’s no easy way to break this, is there ? Yoohoo ! Sorry old chap, I think you are finally turning into a fruit-cake and you ought to go see a shrink.He barely raised an eyebrow.He was still muttering and furiously checking his camera and one his books.’Dalbergia lanceolaria’, he shouted suddenly startling me out of my shrink reveries. That evening, I had a hurried and whispered consultation with a family doc..he had gone completely over the top after seeing this Dalbergia somebody (Gosh ! I didn’t even know if it was a man or a woman ?? I hoped for his sake it was a man). That night, I had a fitful sleep with my husband mumbling strange names in his sleep as well..”Terminalia …..Limonia acidissima….” He was going to terminate me with lime-acid ? and he was speaking in code.

And all of a sudden on a fine sunny day, on a leisurely drive, who should I meet ? Dalbergia ! Not Dalbergia lanceolaria but Dalbergia latifolia. My husband was giving a commentary..also known as the Indian rosewood..a large deciduous tree…

Finally the fog cleared and so it was,that our in-house tree-Latin came into existence destined to attract the attention of this special category of ‘tree-ers’.

And I never thought I would say this..but I missed BIRDS. The Brahminis aka. the Rukminis, the Wagtails and the Bee-eaters.Such cute twittering creatures who would eventually go their away and let sane people suffer birders better. But not trees, they were everywhere – more ‘everywhere’ than I ever thought birds would be. The only other ever-pervading, omni-present hobby these days can be based on garbage – The Garbagers ?
Sitting beside my husband while driving has become an extremely dangerous sport with my teeth rattling every 2-seconds as we jumped over a pothole while he loving admired the wayside Tabebuia argentea. Once when a friend invited us to a garden party, I had to endure eating endless Paneer-Tikkas by myself as I waited for my husband to join me for lunch,who was busy enjoying the gardeners company.
We were watching a murder thriller…as the murderer’s hand slowly emerges from behind a tree and in the pin drop silence ‘Cupressus torulosa’ booms and earns us a few well-earned glares.

On a particular family dinner, I turned to see my husband in deep conversation with his brother when suddenly they shouted in unison ‘Tabernaemontana alternifolia’ ! I assured some gaping onlookers that it was the new series of Hannah Montana.
Ah..heavens forbid..it was catching !

Wife to a birder

My husband was behind the wheel when suddenly he shoved his head out of the window, exclaiming “What a beautiful Raptor!” But all I could see was the fast approaching pot-hole,the size of a small well, as all good pot holes worth their salt should be.”Aeeeee ! Forget the blasted raptor, look where you are headed!”
Somedays it would be “Look a brahminy kite !” Frankly I didn’t care if it was a Brahminy or a Rukmini, all I wanted him to do was to keep his eyes on the road. One reason for increase in road accidents is now clearly evident, if you ask me.

C&H with a birder twist !

That and many such experiences later, I prefer to drive while my husband admires the winged creatures and goes into voluble raptures.For someone like me, for whom, birds were, well er.. just birds.. suddenly had to get accustomed to a lot of Golden Orioles, Green Bee Eaters, Drongos, Prinias, Wagtails and Shrikes ! I learned that Bird races are not some archaic animal(read bird)-abuse game but actually is a bird spotting race. I wonder how they manage to spot so many, because every time I have squinted at somebody pointing out a bird, I have only been able to make out suspicious leaf formations. Initially I did attempt to ask ‘where’ but later realized, it was easier to just look in the general direction and gush “ooh! what a beauty!”

The problem with birding as a hobby is its all pervading nature.Of course, they can be spotted only at day time, so they are not as bad as social networking but still there is no hard stop. Now, if I were to have a hobby like writing or painting or even something more exotic like Hikaru Dorodango (Hah, bet you didn’t know about this one !!),I would eventually stop, raise my head, observe the world with a satiated smile,be my affable spirit, spread bonhomie all around ..but imagine a hobby like birding..they are always around, twittering and flapping their wings and all chances of a meaningful conversation with a birder comes to naught, the moment the species is spotted.

I launched into a detailed discussion on division of labor and just as I conclude and congratulate myself on being the ultimate negotiator in getting him to agree to take the car for servicing, I am suddenly startled by a vacant/distant look accompanied by a frantic sprint to find the camera to capture a new bird which is sitting right outside the balcony ! And alas all my carefully planned talks and negotiation strategies have been spoiled by a Purple Rumped Sunbird !

This was even more annoying over the phone when one doesn’t have a chance of spotting the absent minded look on the face and many deeply meaningful and philosophical conversations have been brought to an abrupt end by squeals of “Ah ! Its a Malabar Grey Hornbill”

On Sunday early mornings, when I am in deep slumber, he’s off on an unearthly hour with some equally bird brained people to some lake or trekking trail. He did invite me once to one of his birding haunts and I made the big mistake of accepting..where I had to endure him standing under a big tree looking up for almost 4 hours..I had a crick in the neck by the time we came back and a lot of unspoken and not so loving thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I , on my part , did do some spotting – pointing to birds with some pretty intelligent comments like ‘Big bird’! crow ! Parrot ! to which he disdainfully looked at me and told me it was a Plum headed parakeet ! Ah save me from the snobbery of the elitists ! I don’t care what color of head it has, that’s a parrot I was looking at, the same which we read about in our school books , what eats chillies, which will say ‘Honorificabilitudinitatibus’ if it hears someone saying that !

One day he told me – I saw a great tit in office today ! I changed colors and was just getting ready to bury my fangs when I realized belatedly that he was referring to some winged creature ! When we went for a vacation, he packed along his camera, Binocs, USB drives, laptops in case the camera memory ran out, so he could keep transferring photos and all this courtsey, of course and no points for guessing, the birds.In my husband’s absence, my son has taken it upon himself to be the in-house bird consultant. So he would nod at some white bird ‘Ah.. the White winged stork’ and I have learned to say with equal elan ‘no no its the Black Headed Egret’ ! Equality be damned, one has to stand up for oneself !

A lot of parcels from Flipkart get delivered from time to time and I realized that most of our retirement money is going into buying bird books.As if birds were not enough, recently many more books have started turning up on butterflies,spiders and snakes ! I don’t know how many more creatures will join the fray, but I vow to definitely draw the line if it comes to Sloths, Mole rats, Tarsiers and Aye-ayes, just so he knows who’s the boss !