One summer afternoon, 2014
The light on the floor is a light green. It twinkles as it bounces off thick leaves. Dainty stems of bamboo intertwine on either side of the track, arching gracefully in fitting fashion for a Royal Bengal tiger to walk through. Somewhere in the distance a bird sings melodiously, the whispering wind its orchestra and the creatures its audience.
I know I’m being watched. I turn around quietly to look at the long, golden and silver dry grass. A blade moves gently. The bird’s stopped singing. It’s quiet. I walk on.
Another day, summer afternoon, 2014
Through dry blades of grass we walk. The sun scorches down, burning the earth a deep brown. The sky blazes blue. Under a bare tree, amidst the tall vanes of yellow grass something sits. We step cautiously, trying not to crunch too many pebbles or twigs under our cumbersome feet. Too late. Swifter than rushing breeze, a peahen takes flight leaving behind four eggs she was incubating. We see her watching us from atop a tree, far in the distance.
Later that day, summer afternoon, 2014
The surface of the water sparkles like crystal. Trees, rocks and sky reflect deep into the heart of the pond. The temperature drops by at least 10 degrees here. Tranquility.
Another track, another day, summer, 2014
It had rained the night before. The air is thick. Puddles of water besiege almost every track. Refreshed by the night’s rain, birds try to out sing crickets. Mosquitoes and insects buzz with vigor. In the middle of the track floats a butterfly. One more. Another. A few more. A kaleidoscope of yellow and black butterflies. They descend on the brims of puddles, their wings fluttering softly.
I sit by the puddle and watch. After several minutes, as I rise so do they. I’d seen it in pictures. And now, it is happening to me… I am walking through a kaleidoscope of butterflies. I laugh. I twirl. They flutter around me… I close my eyes for a few minutes and feel the gentle beating of their wings…
Same day, different track, summer 2014
It is right there. It lifts itself a few feet off the ground. The unmistakable head of the cobra. The forked tongue darts. It turns on a dime and slithers away through thorny shrubs and tall trees.
Another afternoon, summer 2014
We’ve been trekking for half a day. This is supposed to be a part of the forest that is relatively untouched by humans. We walk, looking for tiger pugmarks. We see one, an old pugmark. We walk further. The black, clayey soil is dotted with red. VELVET MITES. They go by many names – velvet buchis, birbabotis, scarlet fly, lady fly… I pick one up and put it in the palm of my hand. It curls into a ball. I grin like a kid who’s been given free candy. I look at the others. These arachnids are cute. And fluffy. A throwback from my childhood. I remember kids bringing these to school in matchboxes. I had always wanted to play with them. But there were so many other girls wanting to hold them … I used to consider myself lucky if I could simply stroke the little creatures. Now, here are about a few hundred of them. I put the little thing back on the ground carefully and watch every step so as not to squish them.
Between the kaleidoscope of butterflies I walked through and the velvet mites I held in my palm, I did almost everything I wanted to do as a kid. I guess I’m just a late bloomer.
These are some of the things I think about as I snuggle into my sleeping bag in this cold, damp basement.