My visits to the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural history (sacon) has become very frequent in the last few years..I love being in the campus..right from the gate, entering into the main campus, the one km stretch is filled with birds, surrounded by mountains and mist..I walked across watching different birds..
Anyway, I went to the campus again to meet Dr. Pramod, who heads the nature education and outreach division. I work with him. He called me to the seminar room. I am giving a talk, he said. I went and sat with some college students, hearing his talk. His talk is so full for admiration for nature and completely gripping. I sat there listening to him, and then he put on a few slides and was telling the students about each bird. I could rattle off the name of the bird, slide after slide, and I was getting excited like a little kid, that I could identify most of these birds. I was happy for myself. Soon after the lecture, I met two girls who were working with Dr. Pramod. I went about chatting with them and I spoke to Dr. Pramod. Sir, you know, I was able to identify most of the birds. Of course, you had to, you are an author of bird book...but still..something about nature always excites..I get excited hearing about birds..
Soon, we went to the canteen to have lunch and got into a conversation. As we came back from the lunch, I met Shoms, after a month, she had just returned from UK. She is the only expert of small cats in India, and a great friend of mine. I went up and hugged her. She was there along with another prof from Scotland and they were standing there searching for a chameleon. I stood and wondered if we could see it. Soon, he spotted a beautifully camouflaged chameleon in green, sitting on the top of the tree. I pulled up the binocs and saw its splendid color. I was lost in admiration of the pretty creature. The way it walked, and suddenly pulled its tongue out to pull it prey was interesting to watch. We watched it for many minutes ...then I went for a discussion with Dr. Pramod. Shoms, said, hey we are staying back in the campus, why don't you stay with us? Sure, I jumped! I loved the campus, sitting on the steps outside canteen with my hot cuppa, watching the valleys and feeling the cold wind.
Later I met Dr. Balasubramanian who worked on hornbills and told him about what I do. We spent one long hour talking about various things, especially tree bird relationship. He said something about me..in one hour, sharada, I feel you are a very balanced person and your thinking is comprehensive. I thanked him for making my day!
I went to Shoms's room and we started chatting, soon Aarti joined (she worked on fishes). My friend Nikhil came along..he worked on biodiversity change in Bharatapuzha river area in the last 50 years..We all had a great time..soon Ramesh and Ramesh joined..one worked on Indian pythons and one worked on a project in Nagaland. Then there was my friend Sheeba, who worked on spot billed pelicans. There were three girls from Delhi who were doing there masters in biodiversity conservation who joined us as well. We all went and trekked a few places from behind the Sacon campus..we had hot tea and bajjis after the little tough trek..at night, we got eggs and other things to make dinner..We walked back on the main road to the campus..it was pitch dark, we could not see a thing, but we kept talking and walking in the mountain path..it was a beautiful night..soon, we went to the campus kitchen and started cooking...we wanted to make lemonade and realised we did not have lemons..hey wait, said Nikhil, we will go and pluck garden fresh lemons...great idea, I said..soon he came with half a dozen lemons..We were creating ruckus in the kitchen and after dinner, we went to the terrace..and wanted to sit down and sing and have fun..it started drizzling..so we went to another place..which actually looked like an auditorium..sat there and sang until 12..we had so much fun and we were all in the same interest group- all of us were nature lovers and were working on those issues..At 12.30, went off to sleep finally, after spending an awesome evening..we would have walked some 8 kms yesterday..at it was great to just crash on the bed..I woke up late in the morning and looked at the mountains and breathed deeply..It was time to get back home..I took my long walk on the winding road, watching robins and babblers flying all over..a beautiful day and a great break after long...