Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Brown-headed Barbet of Sunder Nursery, Delhi

 About a decade back Sunder Nursery next to the Humayun tomb near Nizamuddin Dargah was a nondescript place. Ideal for birding, acres of land right in the bustling city was probably the best kept secret.  Now though there is frantic ‘beautification’ going on. Keeping building and surrounding in clean and aesthetic condition probably is needed but unkempt gardens and spaces always has its charm and surprises. I am for loosing oneself in wild gardens! Sunder Nursery is now closed for ‘renovation’, I managed to sneak in, and spend about half a day of undisturbed birding. Cheers to that!  Having spent last few years in and near Western Ghats, I was constantly listening to White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis). My last sighting of Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica) was at Chinar bird survey, this one I think is louder, or is it the Delhi affect! What really was surprising was this bird wasn’t really troubled by my presence.  Though I was dressed in my surreptitious best and covert in movement, I was sure the bird was aware of my clumsy attempts. It chose to play ball. It came quite near me to peak into the hole in the tree, after few seconds looked into my camera and said cheese. How crazy can it get? This was my closest ever Barbet encounter.

Brown-headed Barbet is one of the commonest birds in and around Delhi that is rarely seen but heard very often. Kutr kutr kutr …it goes

Akiko Yosano (1878-1942)

A bird comes
delicately as a little girl
to bathe
in the shade of my tree
in an autumn puddle.

Akiko Yosano is a name I haven’t heard about until few days back when I saw the invitation from Japan Foundation for half a day talk by Maiku Matsudaira.  A prominent Japanese poet in the beginning of 20th century, she was controversial for her open views on freedom, love and feminine assertion in a society predominantly conservative. She also wrote extensively on needs for female education, a prolific poet, also a social reformer active in the late Meiji period. Her commentaries tended to criticize Japan's growing militarism, and promoted feminist viewpoints. In the meanwhile she also wrote stories for children the focus being on nature. Her poems were mostly in Tangka form (a much older and longer than Haiku). She is also known for her translation of Japanese classics into modern Japanese, a feat that was considered extremely difficult. Akiko Yosano’s real name was Sho Ho and she came from a family of sweet makers.   
Some of her poems…(a point of order, since this blog is meant for all age group, I am avoiding poems that are overtly sexual in nature. Also this blog is biased towards Nature)

River of Stars

Left on the beach
Full of water
A worn out boat
Reflects the white sky --
Of early autumn.

Swifter than hail
Lighter than a feather,
A vague sorrow
Crossed my mind.

Feeling you nearby,
how could I not come
to walk beneath
this evening moon rising
over flowering fields.

It was only
the thin thread of a cloud,
almost transparent,
leading me along the way
like an ancient sacred song.

I say his poem,
propped against this frozen wall,
in the late evening,
as bitter autumn rain
continues to fall.
What I count on
is a white birch
that stands
where no human language
is ever heard.

A bird comes
delicately as a little girl
to bathe
in the shade of my tree
in an autumn puddle.

Even at nineteen,
I had come to realize
that violets fade,
spring waters soon run dry,
this life too is transient

He stood by the door,
calling through the evening
the name of my
sister who died last year
and how I pitied him!

O My Brother, You Must Not Die

And dying in the way of wild beasts,
Calling such death the path to glory?
If His Grace possess noble heart
What must be the thoughts that linger there?

In contrast to Indian subcontinent where month of May is atrocious, in japan it is quite different.. 

In Praise Of May

Some tanka from “Disheveled Hair
Droplets fall from a young girl’s hair
Congealing on grass
Giving birth to a butterfly
In the country 
Of spring

My skin is so soft
Fresh from my bath
It pains me to see it touched
Covered by the fabric
Of an everyday world

How beautiful they are
The people brushing past me
As I stroll through Gion
To the Temple of Kiyomizu
On this cherry blossom moonlit night!

Scribble from my note pad…

The city ignites every night
Sometimes on its own
It isn’t the same
It doesn’t feel the same
This surely should have subtitles 
People prowl the street
Bartering sights and sensation
Occasional deals of desire
Add on benefits
It depletes every thought