Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Our Taj Mahal...

The little tin-roofed house stood forlorn in the middle of vast fields. Buffaloes wallowed in shallow pools in front of the house. Sis and I looked on in disbelief.

“Is this where we are going to live?”

We had never imagined shifting to Guwahati would be to a place like the one in front of us. Even though we were staying in a jungle previously, that was in a large wooden bungalow, while our vacations were spent in our grandmother’s sprawling mansion. 

“Don’t worry,” Ma seemed to sense our apprehension. “We will soon build a new house here.”

I still remember our excitement when Deta (my dad) returned home one evening with the blueprint of the house from the architect. We had fought over our bedrooms and debated over the wall shades. That night we slept with smiles on our faces, dreaming of our ‘castle’.

“Be prepared now, girls,” we were told by the daughters of our parents’ friends on the day of the bhoomi puja. “No more clothes, books or toys till the time the house is complete. They won’t entertain any of your demands.” They whispered sinisterly, pointing to our parents.

And so the construction began. It went on for years. The house was being built with the salary of an honest man, after all. In the interim, Deta got transferred twice to different places, faraway from Guwahati. At times, there were monetary crunches and work had to be stalled. We traced our fingers over the frayed blueprint, wondering if we will ever get to live in our dream house. Even Deta started jokingly referring to our house as the Taj Mahal. (Taj Mahal took 20 years to build.)

The house did get built sometime in the early 2000s. But by that time sis and I had moved out for higher studies and later on, our career. Technically, we had moved in to our new home when it was half completed. Deta had decided to get the completed part painted and we pored over the Asian Paints pamphlets, arguing over the shades and the types (distemper, washable and what not). I left for Delhi for my MBA before the painting started. It was a pink house that I returned to after 5 months. 

Wall hangings from Sikkim, bamboo painting by me! A perceptible North-Eastern theme...

Although Deta meant the time period when he said that our house was no less than Taj Mahal, I think the clich̩ attached to it fits our house more Рa labour of love. For, it was Deta who sat awake over nights with pen and paper and designed the doors, the grilles and the work on the walls. And it was Ma who without consulting any interior designer, magazines or the internet, lived out her dreams by decorating the house. Maybe today she could have taken help from Asian Paints Home Solutions

Our wooden furniture gets a new leash of life with fresh varnish; the mask is from Sikkim and the white birds on the walls are my dad's designs

Traditional Assamese Xorai (L) made of bell metal, handiwork on jute cloth used as wall hanging (made by my cousin)

Ma decided to retain our old wooden furniture, designed by Deta. Fresh coats of varnish were applied to them and soon their surfaces were gleaming with a golden sheen. She put up handcrafted pieces of work on the walls, including a bamboo painting that I had made. Ma would also scour the labyrinths of markets and exhibitions for little knick-knacks for the living room. She made us return home with quaint masks, bells and wall hangings from any place we visited. Her penchant for such things became so well known within the family that today her fridge is stacked high with magnets from all around the world, mementoes that my cousins and aunts had picked up on their sojourns. I could see the child in Ma clapping her hands in glee at the London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Swiss cuckoo clock, the Roman Colosseum, the yacht and the sun-kissed beach from Maldives…

Various hand crafted knick-knacks collected from all over the country

“How does it look?” she would ask us after every new addition, rearranging the cushions and the curtains. The house was her little world.

Today, we sisters are married and stay very far from our home in Guwahati - the ‘castle’ of our dreams. The one we could not live in forever. Ma and Deta shed a tear every time we visit them. 

“We built the house for you,” they would say ruefully. “And now you come as guests and stay just a few nights.” 

Their greatest regret remains that we could not spend more time together as a complete family in our new home. At the same time, I perceive a happy glint in their eyes when my nieces from space-crunched Mumbai romp abandoned around the house and announce that my parents have the loveliest house in the whole world and that they would like to have a similar one for themselves when they grow up. Another set of dreams, just as we had when we were their age.

“They just refused to leave our house,” Ma would relay to us happily over the phone. Sometime later she would tell us of offers received from production houses for filming TV serials at our home.

“No!” sis and I would object.

And yet, whenever I think of our home, my mind harks back to those days when it used to be filled with incessant chatter and full-throated laughter. A cheerful house, filled with cousins who would spend their vacations with us, along with our raucous horde of pets. We had a few guests living in the attic as well, a family of spotted owlets who had to be evicted eventually when they multiplied, leaving behind splatters of white droppings all over the front of our house. 

Family bonding around the bonfire on Magh Bihu

Even though we are not there with our parents today, the house continues to serve its purpose. It is where relatives drop in when they are in the city for a few days, where my aunts gather in the evenings and share their day’s stories over cups of tea, where Bihu feasts take place and happy tidings celebrated. Our home has seen three weddings in the family, my sister’s, mine and our cousin’s, and has been witness to all the madness that had transpired.

Today, there are no buffaloes wallowing in muddy puddles in front of our house. The area is choc-a-block with houses, crammed against each other. In the midst of all that, remains our oasis. My parents’ labour of love – our Taj Mahal…

Our Taj Mahal

(I took the opportunity to write about my home as part of the Beautiful Home blogger contest held by Asian Paints and Ripple Links. Do take a look at the Asian Paints Home Solutions page.)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Village of Storytellers

(I wrote this on a whim while waiting for my husband to pick me up from office, for womensweb.in. OF COURSE, the girls at womensweb.in were too sensible to publish it for their Muse of the Month section. My work of fiction is too amateur and lacks depth. But since I wrote it, I thought maybe I can put it up here. Kindly bear my figments of imagination.)

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

He sighed as he spoke, rolling the tobacco leaves between his palms.

I looked at him, a wizened figure, deep lines criss-crossing his face. His rickety hut reeked of the strong tobacco that he smoked continuously. A buffalo skull with huge curved horns adorned the front of his door. He was the village headman, after all. 

We had stumbled upon this small conglomeration of tribal people deep in the jungles of the sprawling Okawi Wildlife Sanctuary, on our quest to map the presence and movement of the rare Pinata, a small passerine bird of Himalayan origin. Theirs was a world forgotten, untouched by the vagaries of time. The men hunted for food while the women tended to the children. The forest department deliberately turned a blind eye to these sporadic activities, the villagers being staunch worshippers and keepers of the forests, hunting only for necessity. Besides, poaching was not rampant those days, back in 1980, and there was enough ecological balance even with this little village in the middle of the forest. 

I saw no perceptible sign of livestock or agriculture, barring a few patches of potatoes and the seemingly innocuous tobacco plants. There was no electricity, no radio. I had wondered aloud how they kept each other engaged. It was then that the village headman had uttered the words about stories keeping them alive. Stories that each one had inherited from their fathers and grandfathers as legacies. They added their own twists as they sat around the fire, telling their stories, while keeping a look-out for the lurking predators. I sat listening to them in rapt silence, while my fellow researchers slept, and realized that it was a night I would never forget.


It was on a sunny October afternoon in 2013 that I was rudely awakened from my siesta by the shrill tone of my mobile phone.  “Auntie!” my niece Anshita exclaimed excitedly on the phone. “You won’t believe how much fun we had in Okawi!” I sat up as dormant memories suddenly came rushing to my mind. 


I listened to her constant chatter, seeking a chance to ask the question gnawing in my mind.

“Did you chance upon a little tribal village in the middle of Okawi?” I blurted out in the middle of a sentence.

“A village?” Anshita seemed confused. “There are no villages in Okawi, auntie. Okawi is too small a forest to hold any kind of village with so many towns surrounding it. Why did you ask, but?”

Had the world changed so much then, I thought.

“I once knew some story-tellers there,” I answered in a low voice.

“Oh, now I understand what you meant, auntie,” Anshita perked up. “You meant the Chokhi Dhani type of village resort, didn’t you? Yes, there is one near Okawi. They have a story-telling session in their itinerary, held in the evenings around a bonfire. Some guys were there to tell stories, but most of us were busy getting mehendi drawn on our hands. Only a few children were listening to them. The parents were quite thankful to get the kids out of their hair, I guess. I saw one of them pay a good tip to a story-teller. Auntie, are you listening?”

My mind had drifted off to that evening 33 years back, and the words of the village headman resonated hauntingly.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….”

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Morning in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Guwahati

I have spent most of my life in Guwahati, and yet I never ventured towards Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. I think we still had that nobody-can-come-close-to-Manas hangover and could not imagine any wildlife flourishing near such a busy city as Guwahati. “Pobitora is for city slickers who have never seen real wildlife,” we would scoff and offer Pobitora as a sight-seeing option to anyone who asked what was there to see in Guwahati. And so it continued, our feigned attitude towards Pobitora, till the time we became city slickers ourselves, a breed we had looked upon with contempt. You see, what goes around comes around.

This time, when I went home to Guwahati in December 2013, I gulped down all my previous proclamations and made way for Pobitora with my parents on a cold, misty, pre-dawn morning. The changes in the city brought over a ponderous mood but thankfully, the gloomy clouds of my mind lifted with the appearance of the sun. A sumptuous hot breakfast in a resort just at the entrance of the sanctuary further recharged me and I was ready to take up what Pobitora had to offer. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Pobitora was so close to Guwahati, just around 35 kms. Practically my backyard! Another interesting point that I picked up was that Pobitora is located in Mayong, better known as the ‘Land of Black Magic ’. In fact, it is said that in ancient times, Mayong used to be the tantric epicenter of the country. People still talk about not daring to cross words with a native from Mayong as ‘bad things’ have been known to happen later. I somehow could not digest this as I looked upon the innocuous looking village settlements. 

We parked the car near the forest office and Deta (my father) went off to book our jungle safari. Elephant safari was out of the question since my son was too young for that. I put Ma in charge of the little brat and walked up to the hanging bridge over a water stretch.  The bridge was a beautiful sight to behold, flanked on both sides by amazing renditions of the Great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, made out of bamboo strips.

I spied a lot of activity between the thick canopies of a large peepul tree near the bridge.  Several species of birds were busy feasting on the fruit of the tree. I could make out a few Asian Koels as well as three species of barbets – lineated, coppersmith and blue-throated. Unfortunately, that day was the first time I had unpacked my new camera. I had not got accustomed to it and just could not locate the birds camouflaged amidst the green leaves. So, all the pictures here (and in Manas WLS later) have been clicked either in wrong settings or the subject has been out of focus. Although I did manage to get record shots of the lineated barbet and coppersmith barbet, the beautiful blue-throated barbet eluded me. 

Coppersmith Barbet

Lineated Barbet

Meanwhile, Ma and Deta were waiting impatiently for me near the vehicle scheduled to take us on the safari. Pobitora is a relatively small sanctuary, encompassing 38.8 sq. km. of which only 16 sq.km. is effective rhino habitat, thus anointed with the epithet ‘highest density of rhinos’. There are around 110-115 rhinos in the area, who share their space with cows, goats and buffalos belonging to 33 villages surrounding the reserve. We were the only ones for the safari at that time and I was thankful for that. No sooner had we started out that I caught sight of an osprey and common kestrel hovering above a small water body. The osprey swooped down one instant and flew away with a fish glistening in its talons. Too bad I could not capture these in my camera from the rocking vehicle. 


Lesser Adjutant Stork

Elephants (domestic)

Our first rhino came to sight within 5 minutes of the safari. The lone creature was standing forlornly near a clump of bushes. I felt terrible thinking about the fate of these animals who were poached mercilessly for their horn. I had been told about a thriving market for rhino horns in South-east Asia, primarily Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. The Middle-East and American markets were not far behind either. Is there no end to a person’s greed? Are these so-called developed nations filled with so many uneducated, superstitious morons? But then they would be filthy rich with degrees from the best universities in the world. And yet are they so ignorant of the fact that rhino horn is largely made up of the protein keratin, the chief component in hair, fingernails, and animal hooves? Isn’t there something called medical science to cure us of ailments than relying on rhino horns?

Great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros

“There is no future for rhinos in Assam,” Deta shook his head sadly. “They will be wiped out of the forests in the next 15 years.”

The forest guard accompanying us turned around from his front seat and assented.

“True, sir” he said. “We won’t be able to save this animal.”

Thus, we proceeded with the assurance that my son would not be able to witness this magnificent wildlife when he grew up.

Just as I was beginning to despair, Pobitora decided to lighten my mood. With the sound of swishing wings. Birds ahoy!! I had no idea that Pobitora held within it such an amazing variety and number of waders, ducks, geese and storks, most of them migratory. It was with uncontrolled joy that I surveyed the carpet of birds on the marshy lands. There they were, some of them flying around in flocks, some scouring for food underwater with upturned bottoms while some just sat bored (can they be called that?). Lesser adjutant storks and a few raptors circled around overhead. A multi-coloured group descended on the scene, revealing themselves to be the gorgeous northern lapwings. A few black-necked storks stood as if on vigil, dwarfing the ducks.

Northern Lapwings

There were a few wild boars amongst the birds, looking for food along the water, digging up soft mud. We also saw a number of buffalos but there was no way we could tell if they were the real deal or just domestic ones who had turned feral. 

 Wild Boars

Water Buffalo 

We passed the grasslands and entered a heavily wooded area where we could see the mark of water on the trees (signs of dried water hyacinths) during the floods. Pobitora is located in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra and every year the wildlife of the area struggle to survive against the forces of nature. A lovely strain caught our ears and we looked up to see a crested serpent eagle perched atop a tree. I almost broke my neck trying to capture the fellow. We had come across another raptor, a changeable hawk eagle just a few minutes back and had also seen a greater spotted eagle. Not a bad day for raptor sighting.

Crested Serpent Eagle

 Changeable Hawk Eagle

There were a number of small birds flitting in and out of trees and bushes but I could not identify them. I guess I only knew the birds from southern India. The birds from my hometown were aliens to me. Finally, the safari came to an end and we left the unpaved, rumbly jungle roads to return to the forest office via the concrete main road. But not before we sighted a few more rhinos, grazing amongst cattle, and witnessing a beautiful copper cover (or muga, the colour of the golden silk of Assam) lent by hundreds of fulvous whistling ducks over a marshy field. A small group of openbill storks, whom Ma likened to a group of hunch-backed old men, bid us adieu. 

Asian Openbill Stork

As I turned back to look at the rhino, peacefully grazing alongside the cattle, unmindful of scheming human beings, it hurt me to think that maybe it would not be there the next time I visited Pobitora. How I wish Deta’s words are proved wrong and these meek creatures live a long, long life. I hope my wish comes true.

White-breasted Kingfisher

Getting there: There are regular flights and trains to Guwahati. You can drive down from Guwahati, a distance of around 35 kms. 

Best time to visit: November to March, before the floods take over.

Stay: You could opt to stay in any of the hotels in Guwahati or in one of the resorts in Pobitora itself. I visited the recently-opened Zizina Wild View Resort there and it seemed to be a lovely place, a tad expensive though. Phone number of Zizina Wild View Resort - +919854020651/9854030506. 

Zizina Wild View Resort

Another place to stay in Pobitora is Maibong. There are two cottages on stilts. Phone number – +919845612196

Maibong Resort

List of birds sighted in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (could not identify many):

Osprey, Common Kestrel, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Common Mynah, Asian Pied Starling, Grey-backed Shrike, Small Egret, Intermediate Egret, Grey Heron, Small Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Bronze-winged Jacana, Indian Darter, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Black-necked Stork, Asian Openbill Stork, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Greylag Geese, Bar-headed Geese, Eurasian Widgeon, Northern Lapwing, Grey-headed Lapwing, Coppersmith Barbet, Lineated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Asian Koel, Great Tit, Large Woodshrike, White-breasted Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Rufus Treepie, Greater Spotted Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Spotted Dove.

Animals sighted in Pobitora:

Great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo (?).

Monday, 13 January 2014

Magh Bihu reminisces...

It is that time of the year again – feasting and making merry! My favourite festival, no wonder. Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, is close to every Assamese’s heart and I am sure everyone has his/her own fond memories to tell. And I have loads! Let me take a deep breath, now…

Magh Bihu to me has always been about my maternal grandmother or Aita. Since Aita lived with her two sons, whom we called dangor mama (elder uncle) and xoru mama (younger uncle), her four daughters who had been married off to distant corners of Assam would troop in for Bihu, their families in tow. I can still hear the multitude of chatter and laughter resounding through the large mansion with every new arrival. 

There would be elaborate preparations for Uruka, the feast on the eve of Bihu. Huge mounds of straw would be brought over to make the bhela ghor, a temporary hut where communal feasting takes place and then lit at dawn. Our gang of younger cousins would revel among the straw mounds and make our own world of make-believe. We would build nests out of the straw and imitate hens, of all things in the world, and cluck away to glory! Later, there would be painful yelps when we washed our arms and legs in the evening, as the straw would inflict secret cuts of which we were unmindful of in our fervent attempt to lay eggs.

Finally, the bhela ghor would be built and so would be the meji, a pyramid type structure made out of bamboo sticks, both to be kindled at dawn. There would be a mini-market of vegetables, fish and meat laid out near the kitchen to appease the hordes at midnight. We would make our own groups and indulge in various games (carom, ludo, badminton) and story-telling, taking turns at sitting near the bonfire. The food would be cooking away while our parents and uncles had their own sessions of gossiping. Someone from that group would suddenly appear to admonish us and warn us not to ‘run here and there in the dark’.

Aita would be making sunga pitha, sticky rice stuffed in bamboo hollows and cooked in fire. She would sit on a low stool, huddled up in a thick shawl, and stir in handfuls of straw to keep up the low fire for the pitha to get cooked. We would sit near her and try to do the same till she shooed us away. Aromas wafting in from the open kitchen would entice us to no end and finally one of us would volunteer to sneak in and get a ‘tasting plate’. We were allowed to have starters of freshly made til pithas, roasted potatoes and small fried fish, though.

Finally, at around midnight, we would be called for dinner and we would eagerly sit cross-legged on the floor of the bhela ghor. There would be another ruckus as we called out for our favourite dishes to be served. I wonder if we even managed to discern one dish from the other in that entire hubbub. We would then call it a night at around 3 am and sleep at our designated places – the parents in beds and most of us kids on thick mattresses laid out on the floor. By 6 am, we would wake up to the hollering of dangor mama who would claim ‘everyone has put fire to their mejis, only ours is left and it is already noon!’ We would tumble out, sleepy eyed and with crow’s nest hair, to light the bhela ghor and the meji. All except xoru mama’s three sons, who would be dutifully bathed and clad in thin gamochas, all ready to do the rituals. I still don’t know how they managed to wake up so early and take bath on those cold mornings. The bhela ghor and meji would be lit and eggs and potatoes thrown in, the eggs making a popping sound as the flames licked them. We would then pray standing at the edge of the fire for a great year and seek blessing from our elders. Finally, a round of ‘happy Bihu’ to everyone (and ‘happy birthday’ to Mainoo Ba) and Magh Bihu would start off!

But I have not mentioned one amazing aspect – the part where one is supposed to steal fences (bordering houses those days, like a wall), vegetables, even chicken, under the cover of the night for the feast and the bonfire! All in good spirit, of course.I somehow doubt the ‘stealing expertise’ of our guys although they would leave all gung-ho and professional types for the expedition. Let me finish this never-ending piece with an incident that I will never forget.

Rony, the youngest kid in the family, had always wanted to return home with an armload of fences on Uruka for the bonfire. Unfortunately, he was always the first to be spotted by the owner of the fences and shooed off with warnings. One Uruka, he was returning from the market with a domestic help Ramu, a simpleton who did not know about this thieving custom. Rony was explaining it to him when he suddenly noticed a fence by the side of the road.

“See the fence over there?” Rony told Ramu “We can get that for our bonfire.”

No sooner had he uttered those words that Ramu ambled off in the direction of the fence and yanked out one portion with a mighty heave. Then, to Rony’s horror, there arose the spectre of the owner of the fence.  

“Who dares to steal my fences under my nose?” he demanded and followed Rony and Ramu, who was still holding on to his bounty.

The party of indignant owner and ‘un-resentful thieves’ reached Aita’s house where dangor mama was sitting beside the bonfire. Ramu strode purposefully towards the fire and threw down his burden of fences over it, the flames engulfing them instantly. Rony scooted towards the shadows as the owner approached dangor mama

“Dada, this..hic…fence….hic hic..” he started to lodge his complaint. Clearly, he had enjoyed a little drink or two.   

“They stole my fence..hic...and put my fence…hic hic…in the fire.” He finally had it out.

Dangor mama coolly shoved a stool for him to sit down. 

“Come now, sit here,” he said to the owner. “How is your family?”

“Oh, don’t ask dada,” the owner slid further towards the fire for warmth. “My son has been..…”

And thus, conversation began around the Uruka fire.

Happy Magh Bihu all, and have a great Uruka!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Some ruminations enroute Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

Where have the hills disappeared?

This was my thought as I looked around me in disbelief, on our way to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. I knew Guwahati had changed. It had always been a congested city, given its importance among the 6 north-eastern states. A gateway to NE India, that’s how Guwahati is described. As I wiped down the misty car window glasses on a cold December morning, all I could see around me were looming apartment towers. The hills had been ‘cut down’. Or strangled by a burgeoning population that had taken over entire hill-sides. Who are these people? I winced as the car moved along, the dust and the fog intertwined. And then, just as despair was about to set in, there came into view this beautiful stretch of teak forest. I opened the windows and let the air in. And as if on cue, faint rays of sunlight streamed in through the canopy of trees. The world was alright, again. 

The yellow fields of Punjab

That’s what I was reminded of as I looked at the golden yellow fields of mustard on both sides of the road. I have always remembered the fields of Assam to be a luminescent shade of green. Where were the lush paddy fields? At this time of the year, the paddy fields are supposed to be straw coloured, the rice having been harvested, leaving only the dry stalks. Have the agriculture habits of the Assamese people changed then? Apparently, the root lay in politics and I shall not venture there. 

The one that got away

My one regret was that I did not stop along the way and click a picture of the mighty Brahmaputra. There it lay, its milky white sandy banks flanked by the golden mustard fields. A beautiful sight to behold. Yet, come monsoon, and the river turns into a monster frothing at its mouth. Who would have believed that this calm river, basking in the morning light as would a languid python, is responsible for such terrible floods in the region?

The pink pond

That’s how it seemed from afar. A pink-hued pond. A closer look and it turned out to be a water body filled to the brim with lotus blooms. (Or were they water lily?) They glitterred with quiet dignity as the morning mist began to fade away against the emboldening sun rays. A pretty picture to gladden the heart and yet quick to miss by in our hurry to reach the destination.

The tree of life

We had almost reached Pobitora when something caught my eye. A few green leaved trees. Aren’t most of the trees supposed to be barren and bald at this time of the year? Had I not seen so many of such trees on the way? Then why do the same trees have leaves here? Fluttering, brightly coloured leaves… Oh, I see. The mystery cleared as a loud screech rent the air. The green leaves were rose-ringed parakeets, after all. Now, aren’t they quite a naughty bunch, to confuse people like that? 

Fresh, hot and steamy

The dew was still glittering on the lawn when we stopped at a newly open resort at the entrance of Pobitora for breakfast. As we waited for our grubs I pottered around the property, clicking at all and sundry. The rickety old bullock-cart, the narrow canoe-like boat, the sun-drowsy dog, everybody got their due share of attention till I was enticed by the aroma of golden, fluffy lusi/puris and hot chole. The table-mat was an interesting one and I spent some time reading about the various fishing equipment of Assam before tucking into my plate of deliciousness. A few sips of delicately flavoured Assam tea later, we were ready to explore what Pobitora had to offer us. 

Let’s start our adventure then, shall we? Coming soon.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

While I was away...

…..the husband was at play! With birds. Birds with wings, I mean. He had come to drop us at the airport and pulled a sad face, saying how much he will miss the baby and me and how empty the house will seem. It is another thing that I never received a phone call from him after I reached Guwahati, my maternal home. Instead, whenever I called him, he would be out somewhere busy clicking birds. I would further get rattled when he reported spotting birds that I was dying to catch a glimpse of. 

So, in other words, the husband had a gala time while I was busy working at home for office and looking after a cranky kid. He had gallivanted all around our favourite birding spots in Bangalore and driven as far as Maidenahalli/ Jayamangali Blackbuck Sanctuary as well. Around Bangalore, he visited: Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Galibore, Mavathur lake, Valley School, Hoskote lake, Hessarghatta, Ragihalli, Hulimangala, Rampura lake and TG Halli. He had also gone to Manchanbele Dam and Thattekere but the areas were closed to public for reasons unknown.

Let’s make this a ‘While I was away’ series. Starting with Galibore. Enjoy the show!

While I was away: Galibore, a photo blog post

Water body near Harohalli 

Asian Openbill Stork 

A flock of Rosy Starlings 

 Rosy Starlings on their perch

Rosy Starling 

Common Hoopoe 

A pretty picture! 

Green Bee-eaters 


 Common Woodshrike

Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

Black Eagle 

Black Eagle 

Small Pratincole 

Pied Kingfisher 

Short-toed Snake Eagle 

Small Pratincole 

Golden Oriole 

Brahminy Starling 

 Ashy Woodswallow

Asian Paradise Flycatcher 

Yellow-crowned Woodpecker 

Lesser Goldenback 

Spotted Deer 

Bonneli's Eagle 

The coveted Jungle Owlet 

 Grey-headed Fish Eagle

Booted Eagle

There are more photographs clicked at the water body on the way to Galibore from Kanakapura. I think I shall keep them for a separate post.

My previous posts on Galibore:

Looking for birds around Galibore fishing camp

Galibore revisited