On Thursday my brother, Siddharth, knocked at my front door when I thought he was far away in Tamil Nadu. What a fantastic surprise! While I am anyway the sort of person who loves having family visit, this arrival brightened me because my brother is fun to spend time with and of course, I don’t have to make an effort to see that he is constantly entertained.
This morning Siddharth and I went for a walk to the Pashan hills at 6 am. It was indescribably beautiful. It felt as though we’d left the city behind, when really we were in the heart of it.
I took a few pictures. None, however, document the event as attentively as my senses and memory did. The silence was perfect. The kind that made us quiet our voices, focus on our steps and look around in amazement while we absorbed the things we never imagined to encounter just 30 minutes away from my apartment.
It reminded me of the time we went mushroom picking in the Swedish woods. The pine needles muffled our footsteps while simultaneously filling our senses with its heady perfume. So absorbing and personal was the experience of hunting mushrooms in this enchanting place that we’d have to call out to one another when we found we’d drifted somewhere alone. There was no visible path of any sort and every tree looked the same. It was gorgeous and amazingly frightening at the same time. There was the very real possibility of getting lost in these woods if we wandered too far away. There was an equal chance for the inopportune confrontation with Moose – an idea that brought feelings of wonder and fear.
Assuredly, Indian forests do not house Moose – at least not in the state of Maharashtra. Some forests here caution of tigers, leopards and elephants. But not this place. Today while whispering in the little forest of Vetal hill we saw a peacock! I wanted to take a picture of it but it walked away. Yes I know how absurd that sounds. But with its head bobbing it actually did a fast walk too far across the forest for me to keep up.
We saw 9 other peacocks in the course of our walk. Later over breakfast we made a list of the different birds we’d spotted. Not counting the birds we were unable to correctly identify, we saw 12 different kinds of birds!
•Great Indian Roller
•Green bee eater
•Red vented bulbul
We also saw the cutest weaver bird nest beneath an overhanging rock on the quarry. Oh! Did I not mention that at the top of the hill was a quarry?
It was so calm and quiet. And thrilling! It made me feel glad that I knew how to do yoga and that perhaps I could try doing some Surya Namaskars here. Or maybe meditating. Or better still, Praying. It was the perfect shot of joy to remind us how magnificent it is to be alive and have command of all our senses.
Another exciting feature of this morning’s adventure included geocaching. And I was the person (between my brother and me) who discovered the much hunted container under a rock wedged beneath boulder and tree. Oh the rush to be the one who finds a tiny container with many little notes from people who were here too! To think that we’re now part of a secret that cannot be shared with just any muggle! (By the way I was an ignorant too until recently initiated by my knowledgeable brother).
One other incident that made this morning memorable was our encounter with the Great Indian Roller. We were returning from the quarry towards the foot of the hill when we saw this huge boulder with an interesting looking bird perched on it. We also noticed a nearby photographer gingerly stepping around clicking pictures of the bird. Of course he was being careful because he didn’t want to frighten it away. But the funny thing was, was that the Great Indian Roller seemed perfectly aware of the photographer’s attentions and was quite pleased with it all! It even slow-hopped in a circle remindful of a twirl that gave us a lovely view of its pretty colours. You could even imagine it pouting and deliberately posing by the way it arched its neck. And waited. Turned. Looked back. Waited. What fun to watch a bird that flaunts itself. It makes one marvel at its individuality!
Today turned out to be one of the best adventures I’ve had in ages that I simply had to crawl out of hiding and write about it. It was incredible to discover such quiet beauty that brought back memories of time spent in Hosur, Tamil Nadu when my father used to wake us early in the mornings and take us on long walks across the country through similar terrain. On our way back we’d sometimes stop for breakfast in one of the tiny little shops that were just waking up. Such treasured memories! But the addition that makes today’s affair unforgettable was my facetious little brother, Siddharth. How we laughed this morning! – at ourselves, at the birds and their silly antics, and at the stories we made up on our charming walk.