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…”
C&H
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 !

Nosey encounters

I waved a cheery goodbye to my son, after dropping him at school and slowly started taking the U-turn.A resounding clank and there were two people lying on the road and a two-wheeler alongside. Where in the world had those two come from. I was a careful driver and had checked in the rear-view mirror before starting the turn. But the sight of those two, who were now slowly beginning to get up, was an affirming fact that such a thing had indeed occurred and all accusing eyes were turned to poor ol’ me sitting comfortably ensconced in the car.

Considering that I had never needed to get out of my car while dropping my son to school, I had stopped bothering with dressing niceties and just ensured that the vision which appeared above the steering wheel was decent. Rather like those news readers who put on a tie and shirt over their boxers.But now, with so much of expectations hanging in the air, I felt obliged to step out in my shocking pink pajamas and bathroom slippers. I didn’t know what shocked the onlookers more, the fact that there had been an accident or my shocking pink vision.Anyway, I saw that they were unhurt and was just thanking my stars when I saw the Nose. The pillion rider’s nose was bleeding on the bridge and he was clutching it and making some wild gesticulations. I offered to take him to a hospital and asked him to hop on. The other feller didn’t want to hop on and decided to head to work.

Nose Gargoyle
Nose Gargoyle Image Courtsey: http://www.kaboodle.com

So, the two of us, me in the drivers seat and the feller and his nose on the backseat went looking for a hospital.I asked him conversationally about the status of his nose to which he made some grunting noises. I took a surreptitious look on the rear view mirror and although it did seem just a cut on the bridge,it did have a certain amount of strategic importance.A nursing home which looked more like a shack appeared to our right.Not exactly the kind of place I would have stopped at, but the feller at the back seemed okay with it so who was I to argue.So,we got out and explored the place which seemed abandoned at first glance. I bought him some water and biscuits and went in search of a doctor.Shortly afterwards, a doctor examined the Nose from all angles and told us that it was only a superficial injury and prescribed some painkillers. So I paid for all of that and was wondering on the best way to hand him some money and put him on a bus. When I finally suggested an amount, he shook his head and told he would take nothing less than 2K. Huh ! Well, well. I had to set the record straight. I was not the one to blame, it was they who had come at me like a bat out of hell and so I informed him in no uncertain terms that we would go to the police station and file an FIR. But before that, I had some urgent work at home.

At home, I quickly changed out of my pajamas and felt much more equipped to handle the police station. By the time, I returned to the car where I had left him with my FIL(Father-in- law), I found that situation had changed. My FIL and husband suggested that it was easier to hand him some money and get a signed letter that all dues were cleared and he had no further right to bother me, which seemed a good suggestion. So, I quickly came back in, crumpled two letters for bad handwriting and finished writing but by the time I got back to the car, the situation had again changed. My FIL who is a Malayalee had gleaned that the feller’s boss was a Malayalee and was on the phone talking like old chums (See my post on Mal-Connect to understand this phenomenon better) but then the Malayalee boss handed the phone to another super boss, who probably was not a Malayalee and who refused categorically that his ‘boy’ would sign any such document.

So, all the three headed for the police station and on the way, we decided to collect a letter from the doctor stating that there was no fracture. But, when we went back, the night doctor was away getting a hair cut. When he came back all spruced up and understood what he wanted, he had some hurried consultations with another doc and gave a letter which only said that it ‘looked like’ a superficial injury but required specialist consultation to rule out a fracture. In the meantime, our feller had been resourceful and had asked a few of his friends/ office colleagues to come by. So two of his friends came and advised him that if we can get a specialist consultation which said ‘no fracture’, then that was the end of the matter.

So, off we went to a specialist clinic where the specialist was not around and was summoned specially for this case. She came and told me, that it did look like there was no fracture but would be better to get an X-ray. Considering my gloomy luck that day it was no surprise that there was no X-ray facility there. We trudged into another hospital for an X-ray, where we were told that they could do an X-ray but since it was the Nose, then a special nasal imaging could be done in another hospital 8 kms away. Thankfully we settled for an X-ray and all of us peered into the X-ray when it was done,not that we could make out anything much.

So again, the 5 of us went back to the specialist’s private clinic with the X-ray report where the specialist did an endoscopy and the insides of the Nose was beamed on a flat screen TV.And finally, at long last, the verdict was the Nose was fine and doing well.

Now, it was only the small matter of the signature on the letter. Suddenly, the chummy friends became very heavy handed saying what was the world without trust and that we were after all one family and what was this business of a silly signature and all. I did want to chip in that I hadn’t met my family before till that morning. Finally, my FIL decided to get out the Brahmastra and told them that we would go to the police station if that’s what they wanted , but then we would clearly say that two people came on a two wheeler dashed against the car and the driver ran off, leaving me to take care of the pillion rider. Now, where would that leave them ? Matters were settled pretty amicably after that, with a pen suddenly emerging out of the depths and the signing function taking place under a banyan tree on the bonnet of my car. Two crows also witnessed the ceremony.

Then, we all headed back home, where I dropped the Nose at the bus stop and the two friends at the place where they had parked the bike.

So, all was well that ended well but strangely, I did dream of a nose that night.

From Dumpster Woes to Million Dollars

As I chucked my garbage from the balcony trying to aim at the neighbor’s rose garden, some nosy fellow caught me in the act and yelled at me and I yelled right back ! I knew my rights. We are a democratic country, aren’t we ? which gives us freedom to do a variety of things including the freedom to spit, pee and dump wherever we want to. The only thing we aren’t allowed to do is to talk about some ‘bandhs’ on Facebook. Now that was okay, why would anybody talk about bandhs in the first place, they are free holidays after all, wherein the state/nation puts in a concerted effort towards establishing the right environment conducive to familial bonding. And if somebody who’s slightly not right in the head, does have something against free holidays, they are not supposed to talk about it on Facebook. And if somebody does it, then don’t be a blighted chap and go ‘like’ it. Coz’ if you do, old chap , you will be escorted at express speed to the state prison and would miss all chances of reading my wonderful post.

Trash House (c) themoonstone.wordpress.com
Trash House (c) themoonstone.wordpress.com

So coming back to the ‘freedom to dump’ topic , all of us in Namma Bengaluru were going about our daily business, dumping where we wanted and suddenly these village folks who don’t understand the democracy concept raised a big hue and cry.As one of the decent blokes put it, if we urban folks were not inconvenienced then we were okay.Some sacrifices had to be made for the greater good.Now we didn’t ask them to stay where we were dumping our stuff, did we ?
Anyways, those village folks stirred up a hornet’s nest, and then we poor folks had to resort to a lot of desperate means.
We dumped it on the roads ! There, now who could complain that we didn’t care.But no, again some folks had a problem with that, saying it was stinking and all. There were rats and mosquitoes they complained.Ho ! Mosquitoes ! Only weak kneed ninnies are bothered about them, you could always spray some of those mosquito killing stuff available in the market, couldn’t you ? But no, they created a big fuss about one foreign sounding one. And rats, how can they cause a problem, they are divine intervention. But anyway we let bygones be bygones and then one bright chap suggested that we use a heritage site where some of these arty types were planning to have some kind of cultural hub. They screamed blue murder.Okay then, we put forth a very reasonable suggestion which said, lets live in harmony, you have your cultural thing and we have our dumping yard right next door and while we guys dump, we could even look in to see how you guys were sculpting,looking arty or whatever it is that you do.But they would have none of it.

Now, we have decided to dump it under the flyovers. That was an awesome suggestion ! We can soon claim to drive over the worlds biggest trash dumps. That will surely get us on the Guinness Book with people flocking to know how we did it.I am sure it will just be a question of time and we will be able to build a whole city over rotten stinking garbage.Elections will be won or lost depending on who can think up the most innovating dumping sites ! Some brilliant ideas which depict untapped potential are unoccupied flats, balconies, terraces,gardens, football grounds,pavements, stadiums – we can play cricket on dump pitch ! Even bald people wont be safe, as somebody could ask – Err,if you don’t mind, can I dump this on your head ?
We, as human beings will of course, evolve just as we have evolved over so many years, as we will use our nose exclusively to breath and the olfactory receptors would soon become a vestigial organ.

Now I am going to let you in on this brilliant idea I had the other day, as most of my ideas invariably are, the ‘Eureka’ moment as we call it, which I foresee in all possibility to be the business idea of the century.
Once, all the dumping sites are exhausted and all balconies and terraces are filled up, all roads lead to dump yards and all rivers and seas have nice multicolored plastic bobbing in them, then what next ? And that is where my idea comes in. We will build a dump yard in the Moon ! Yes, the Moon , our very own moon which we see shining brightly ! Every country could mark out their dump yard spaces. There would be dedicated moon dumpsters which would take the trash to the moon.
Hopefully, that should last us for at least couple of years, and then we can expand to other planets as well.
Wow, even I am amazed that I could think up “the big picture”. So, I am off to patent my idea and to post an ad in the newspaper which would go something like this – If you wanted a dedicated space up there, this is your last chance to send in your dollar to me.

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 !

The Soaked Rebellion

Note to Readers: Well, my first attempt at fiction for Surf Excel Matic Indiblogger Contest. So read at your own peril.

The Soaked

It was soak time again in Apparel-land.
Mr. Stripes wrinkled his nose in disgust as Smelly Socks landed on him. Lady Black, submerged a short distance away, sighed. She absolutely abhorred the ordeal of lying around senselessly in the water, for hours on end. Her fine luster was fading. Lady Black looked up in disdain as Flowery skirt billowed by and nestled against Captain Vest. Flowery skirt was a typical riff-raff from the street vendor, just the sort she sniggered at.She suddenly fell back in fright as something black swished past. Silken Scarf booed at her.
There were strange undercurrents today, thought Captain Vest. In fact, of late, they had all been so much more spiteful and intolerant. His thoughts turned to his sister, Purple Pants. Over-soaks, she had lost all her color and become wimpy. It had been painful to see her deteriorate. Water did strange things to you. It was rumored that Miss Woolly had got so swollen up, that she had never regained her shape.

After a couple of hours, when they were all spread out and drying nicely, a sudden gust of wind brought Pinky Hanky flying from the neighbor’s yard. They were amazed by her loveliness. No colors had run out. Why! She looked as good as new.They peeped through the fence. All the clothes there looked so fresh and cheerful. Flowery Skirt looked for Pinky Hanky, but she was nowhere in sight.

That night, when they were all tucked in their cupboards, Flowery Skirt turned to the others “I think they have some secret behind their youth. How else could they look so young?” Lady Black rasped “Now don’t go airing some hair brained notions. There is no such thing as ever-lasting youth”. Every night, they would have the same arguments which would lead nowhere. Strange accidents had happened and the clothes were ruffled.
Finally, everything came to a head the day Lady Black had a stroke. She had been soaked as usual but her buttons were pulled on too tight. Mr. Stripes had been the first to note that she didn’t seem her usual biting self and all of a sudden, she was changing color. They had all helped to hold her head out of the water. Even Smelly Socks pitched in. In fact, it was the twins who had the brilliant idea of letting her have a full blast of their scent to bring her back.

That night, a dull chant started deep within the clothes-gang. As they strained to listen, it slowly grew louder and louder ‘soaknomore.. SoakNoMore…. SOAKNOMORE…”

The Meeting

An urgent closet meeting was held to find a solution. Lacy Stocking reported the existence of strange magic crystals which could cleanse without soaking. Captain Vest along with Silken Scarf was chosen to embark on the journey of discovery and bring back the magic crystals if they existed. As they departed, a shadowy figure followed them.

They planned to use a human transport and soon enough, their human wore them for a long trip. They met many clothes along the way but nobody had heard of the magic crystals. One day they met fragrant and fresh looking Daisy Ribbon in a clothes-line. She was a blabber-mouth who soon divulged where the magic crystals were made. It was deep inside human territory where giant cauldrons and tetra headed monster machines resided.

When Silken Scarf was hanging on a peg, he met Hardy Jacket whose human was a detergent factory worker. They befriended him and entered the place in his pocket. An unusual world of gigantic monsters opened out and at the end of it all, there were millions of those wondrous crystals. As Silken Scarf bowed low to have a better look, a sudden gust of air blew him away. Captain Vest followed in hot pursuit and he spotted Silken Scarf hanging on for dear life over a giant cauldron. He tried his best to extend his torso but couldn’t reach. Suddenly a familiar figure appeared by his side and Mr. Stripes with his long sleeves easily reached Silken Scarf. When they got over their disbelief of seeing Mr. Stripes, they stuffed their pockets full of the crystals.
As they were returning home with their human, suddenly some people attacked their human carrier. Captain Vest became stained with blood. Mr. Stripes even tore at one place. Their human managed to escape from his attackers and used Silken Scarf to staunch the blood over his wounds.

The Heroes

At long last they returned home and their human had his wounds tended. They found their friends waiting for them who were horrified to see the blood stains. Silken Scarf, the most stained of all, moaned “Will all the water in the ocean wash away this blood”. “Worry not” said their friends who found the magic crystals in their pockets. Lady Black quickly sprinkled some on each of them with a little water and a white haze descended. And when it cleared, they glowed like never before.
They were the heroes. As Captain Vest announced “Friends, now we have the power of these magic crystals to clean us like never before and we need to Soak No More”, the whole gathering broke out in applause.

One squeaky voice asked “Captain, can we also use it to wash the dirt in the human minds?”