Happy Dasara / Dussehra and may good win over all the evil in this world.
Leading upto Dasara is Navratri, where people worship different forms of Goddess Durga over 9 nights (hence “Nav ratri”). At the start of Navratri, everyone looks out for the colour that signifies each day of the 9 days.
World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated twice a year, on the second weekend of May and October, to raise awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. So today, 9th October, is the day. Migratory birds are a clear example of how the world is so closely connected and how everyone plays a role in conserving our ecosystems. Something happening in the harsh cold of Europe can affect us here in India, through the passage of these resilient creatures. We currently haven’t encountered any of the migratory birds in our limited urban space in Kandivali East, but realise that our local resident birds are very important too, and we must ensure that we do not destroy their habitats.
When you think purple, which birds come to mind? Having lived near a lake in Bangalore, the Purple Heron and Purple Swamphen are the ones I immediately used to think of. These days, it’s the Purple-rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeyonica), found only in the Indian sub-continent, and a resident of our park.
Tiny at just about 10 cm, and very light, weighing about 10 grams, the sunbirds are delight to watch – if you can keep track of them.
[This post was updated with new sightings till December 2021. A total of 38 species were identified.]
All of us have surely encountered butterflies at some point in time (apart from the butterflies in our stomachs!). We learn about them in primary school. Sometimes they fly into us and make us jump. Often we see them just flutter by, so quick that we can’t even give them a second glance.
Ever since lockdown, we haven’t really been anywhere in Mumbai. No restaurants, no malls, no parks – except for the park in our Whispering Palms Complex, that is usually quite empty. Over the last few months during our daily walks, we looked forward to seeing the different birds in our backyard. More recently though, we noticed the many different butterflies – not surprising, given the sprawling gardens with abundance of trees and flowers, some wild and some nurtured.
One of my earlier posts was about some of the purple and pink flowers currently seen in our Whispering Palms Complex. Where there are trees and flowers, there will be birds and other living creatures!
Over the last few weeks we’ve been trying to catch some afternoon sun between the rains, and in the process, we’ve become more aware of the presence of the birds in the campus. The silence during lockdown has made the bird sounds more audible and we try to search them out in the direction of their calls. Many of the birds have their favourite trees and branches, so these days, we look out for them at the same spots, and usually they’re somewhere around there. [Now we know how the guides on jungle safaris know exactly where to stop to show you certain animals.]
Some of the birds sit still for extended periods of time, and even if they fly off, they return to the same place. Like the Coppersmith Barbet that allowed me to go all the way back home to pick up my camera.
During our daily afternoon walks, we can’t but notice the hundreds of types of flowers just within our campus. Some have been specifically planted and are lovingly nurtured, but there are many that don’t need any special attention. Just the rain and sun.
The basic construct of a flower is pretty standard, but flowers are found in a variety of sizes, shapes, scents and shades. The range of colours is quite amazing, and this, along with the fragrance, is what attracts birds and insects (and humans as well) to flowers. While the green in flowers comes from chlorophyll, the other colours come from two classes of pigments – anthocyanins and carotenoids. The purples and pinks are a result of anthocyanins.
Here are some of the purples and pinks in varying shades in our campus.
We could hear sirens. These days we hear sirens multiple times a day, every day. With the increase in corona virus cases in Mumbai, they’re usually ambulances. A few days ago, it was a bit different. The sirens were sounding with a regularity that was disturbing. From the window, we could see people running out of the building across the road. There was panic all around. There were a couple of fire engines.
The view from our 9th floor road-facing balcony is refreshing even in the sweltering afternoon. With quite a bit of vehicular movement, it’s not as quiet as a couple of weeks ago, but one can still hear the birds. Quiet compared to the pre-lockdown “normal”.
As I looked down at the road, it didn’t take long to realise that most of those below were out to do deliveries. Very purposeful in their movements. No dilly-dallying. While the motorised bikes were zipping, for the bicycle riders it was muscle power. Some were finding it easier to just walk with their loads. The emptiness on the road must definitely have been a relief. Road freedom of sorts.
(Note that the loiterers enjoy the same freedom. They come out at dusk, once the sun retreats.)
It’s 10 in morning and there are these 40-odd ladies (possibly some gentlemen helping too) from Whispering Palms Xxclusives in Lokhandwala Township, Kandivali East, Mumbai, busy in their kitchens. Breakfast done, they’re all rolling out rotis. Some of these will feed their families for lunch while the rest will be packed for The Roti Project.
“I’ve always thought of myself as someone who cares about the environment. I’ve recycled for as long as I can remember, I’m on my way to having a plastic-free kitchen and I always try to take public transport instead of driving. But until last year I was guilty of unknowingly contributing to 1m tonnes of waste a year, more carbon emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined, and microplastics ending up in the ocean – just by buying new clothes.” – Radhika Sanghani, writer (Read the article here.)
Clothes. We get, we use, and then we give or throw away.
Give or throw away could happen for many reasons such as…
– the article no longer fits (we have grown)
– the article is not fit to be worn by us anymore (faded, stained, worn-out, torn, broken buckle, etc.)
– we do not use it (it was bought on impulse or an undesired gift)
– we do not have space to keep it (we have more than we need)
– we are just bored with it (we’ve worn it a few times already).
Our society receives a variety of personal clothes on a daily basis. Some are deposited in the collection bins kept for the purpose, some are left by residents outside their doors along with the dry waste, and some are picked up from miscellaneous locations (most likely left by helpers who took the things given by their bosses but actually did not want them).
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