Showing posts from March, 2015

Growing Amidst Nature

by Adithi Muralidhar Mumbai is a city I look up to when I think of a forest in a city. I fancy its long but recent natural history, of tigers roaming the islands, sloth bears digging into termite mounds, and leopards that once lived in harmony with humans. Most, if not all, is now lost. As I read Dr Salim Ali’s autobiography The Fall of a Sparrow (ch. Special Providence, pp. 4–5) , I came to realise that Mumbai did not lose its charm until recently. What caught my attention was his recount of Chembur, a part of Mumbai Metropolis, and probably one of the busiest corners of the city today. In his own words, “[…] Chembur – now a noisy part of the metropolitan Bombay but in those days a delightfully quiet sylvan haven of secondary moist-deciduous jungle set among outlying hillocks of the Western Ghats [...] It was thickly wooded in parts till uniformly denuded into a veritable Rock of Gibraltar by the relentless fuel-hunters.” My association with Mumbai is mostly intact because of it

Barefoot Notes: Under a Palash Tree

A Stink Bug landed on my head and got entangled in my hair. Thinking that it was just a wayward fly, I brushed it off instantly – and out spurted a spray of the stingiest chemical that became stuck to my head and the hand I used to brush it off! Just above me, a murmuration of Chestnut-tailed Starlings fed merrily on the brilliant blossoms of a Palash ( Butea monosperma ) tree, now in its full splendor. I had been sitting here for the past hour observing birds that came to feed on it. It was my alternative to a nice afternoon siesta on the quietest time of the week – Sunday – when all the human voices retract to the recesses of civilization. To call it quiet in the real sense would be unfair – only someone oblivious to the sounds of the birds will interpret it so. It was my sixth day of sitting under this tree. I had decided to spend an hour every day, divided into morning and late afternoon hours, sitting under this tree and pretending to be a part of it. Initially, although the