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.
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 !