The boat safari started on an exciting note with a muscular guide at the front of a 22 seater boat. He was about 50 years old, with a thick salt and pepper moustache and a hat that looked more like a helmet or an inverted Coracle. He resembled Shikari Shambhu that I had read long ago in Tinkle Comics. Memories of those days brought a smile and triggered the boy inside me to come alive. The sun, however, kept looking down at us mercilessly and stayed indifferent to our discomfort. The bright sunshine reflected off the waters making it more difficult to keep our eyes open. But the beautiful sight of the forests around made us forget everything else. Thankfully, after a few minutes the sun began to relent a bit and we adjusted to its continued mellowing down status. Shikhari Shambhu was animated as if he was there for the first time, when he spoke of the different birds and animals that we saw along the way. Black billed ducks, king fishers, ospreys, eagles and many more migratory or domestic birds of various sizes whose names I somehow never recollect. The birds were beautiful and their rich colors were coated with a layer of royal pride provided by the Sun. The animals on both sides of the river lazed around uncaringly. Be it the elephant herd or Indian Gaur or monkeys, they were in a state of stupor and once in a while they would look at the boats with humans with an air of utter boredom. There were 3 male elephants about 50-60 feet apart and a herd of 14-15 female elephants stood together. Our guide blushed while explaining that it was that time of the year the female elephants needed a male elephant to cool their ‘heat’ down. The ratio was unfair and I began to wonder about my IIT days or the Boys school I studied in where the reverse ratio prevailed. Life had been unfair in elephantine proportions, I thought! The deer, however, seemed to be in a tearing hurry and immersed in a perpetual state of inquisitiveness. If the deer were literate and computer savvy, I wondered if they would have wanted to pore through the entire Internet in a Day. Barking deer, Sambhar deer, Google Deer? Silly thoughts, but certainly nice thoughts that only come to you when you are in a relaxed vacation mood.
Shambhu kept raising the enthusiasm levels and an elderly gentleman was asked to sit in one place so the balance of the boat was maintained. I was a bit disappointed when Shambhu didn’t point at a large black ant that was ambling across an unused life jacket in front of him. Maybe it belonged to a Class ABC Ant category that was unique to this land. We kept going, and by then the sun joined us wholeheartedly in the fun. It was bright enough but the water either began to reflect or absorb (I wasn’t sure) shades of violet and purple rays. We began to witness a beautiful game that the birds put on a show for us. Shikhari called these birds Ospreys. I think that the attention seeking fish must have noticed that we were only admiring the birds or the various animals that were at a distance. So they began to chase our boats and surrounded us while Shambhu accelerated a little. Maybe due to my love for Finding Nemo, I could see the fish dancing and admired the way they were having so much fun. This is how wonderfully they lived everyday. Wow! I was sure then, but in retrospect, maybe I had only imagined their laughter. Every now and then, they would jump out of the water and dive back in, making a pleasant sound and as big a splash as their sizes allowed them to. The Ospreys had other plans and flew with an amazing speed and accuracy to pluck the unsuspecting fish out of water. Then it would start to fly upwards at an angle, a reflection of its attack. It would try to gulp the fish down. Sometimes, a lucky fish would escape and drop into the water to ‘Die Another Day’. Other times, even if a bird lost a fish and it fell off, it would get picked up by another eager and hungry bird before it hit the water. All this happened within seconds. I noticed that the Ospreys were an opportunistic and competitive bunch. We kept cheering and praying for the fish but Nature has its own ways of dealing with food related demand and supply chains.
The sight got embedded in my brain and keeps coming back. Not that I am disturbed by any sort of gore but the fact that Life can end just like that got reinforced further.
- Therefore I am convinced that Positive Conversations are extremely important. It is not easy but the more you try the better you get.
- Most matters are unimportant in a larger context. Focus on fewer things and there is greater concentration.
- Create a List of Things to Do and start putting a tick against those line items.
Maybe an Osprey (Pandion Haleaitus) is waiting to pluck you out of your waters, your playground and before you know it, all you will have is the deep dark intestines of the bird before Life gets sucked out of you. What matters is that you are alive NOW and it is important to understand ‘Why’ and begin to live more meaningfully.
Good luck to us!