Quotes n’ Notes # Ruskin Bond # Close to nature

“Live close to nature and you’ll never feel lonely. Don’t drive those sparrows out of your veranda; they won’t hack into your computer.”

# Ruskin Bond           

Notes:                                                      Here, Ruskin Bond, one of India’s greatest and most prolific writers, shares his art of living with his readers and offers a couple of tips. His wisdom emerges from his evergoing romance with nature. Born in Kasauli (Uttarakhand, India), Bond grew up in Jamnagar, Dehradun, Delhi and Shimla and finally found abode in Mussouri, his cherished land of dreams, amidst mountains, forests and their innumerable birds and animals. He stays there all by himself, except of course a couple of helping hands (families).

Must be a lonely soul? Nay! He picked wonderful company quite early in life, that has always been loyal to him. Bond has been in a long, never ending romance with nature. His works amply demonstrate that. There won’t be a single bird nor a stray, wild flower with whom he has not been in daily conversation. Can such a man ever complain of loneliness?

Coming back to sharing his wisdom, his art of living, with readers, Bond here advises his readers to ‘live close to nature.’ If they do that, he says, they would never feel lonely. But he also understands that that is not so easy to practice.There are too many obstacles put up by modern life-style. He names ‘computer’ as an example or symbol.

What he means to say is that one should not upset the natural life, its flora and fauna, all around and try instead to be a part of the larger family. Bond suggests not to ‘drive sparrows out of your verandah,’ like some stranger. He tells not to suspect that they would hack your computer and play havoc with your usual life. Welcoming them, allowing them the space and relishing their simple movements would certainly bring cheer to your day. That is what living close to nature can offer you – a loneliness-free, happy and long life!

# Ashok Misra

Watching the Birdie Theatre


Watching the Birdie Theatre 

Early risers usually don’t have to set a mobile alarm to wake them up. Nature especially provides them with its own morning alarm device – the birds. Yes, the cock has been man’s age-old wake-up caller. Today, if cocks are no longer heard in most urban areas, there are flocks of various other birds doing the job collectively, sparrows  being among the most regular callers. They punctually arrive with their chirpy ‘good morning’ message.

Waking up apart, birds are great fun, indeed a blessing, to have around in the early hours. If one is able to shake the sleep off soon after, and there is no binding schedule to rush for, sparing a small precious slot for birds could be a happy investment. It is indeed a treat to coolly watch sparrows, mynahs, bulbuls etc. performing their acts, through your open window amidst the morning breeze. I am saying this because I myself fell into their trap some time ago.

Last summer, touched by a Save Sparrow Campaign run by birds lovers and various NGO’s, my wife started placing a small wooden bowl of water for thirsty birds on our boundary wall. Our compound has a thick Jasmine vine in one corner and a large Harsingar in the other. So it happens to be quite a cool corner, especially for birds. Some even make their nests and lays eggs in the branches.

Soon, many birds, especially sparrows started visiting the mini pond all day long. One morning, having tea with biscuits in my room, I thought of sharing those with the feathered visitors, for a change. I crushed a couple of biscuits and served them on in an earthen plate (big diya).

With that, a new scene started. One sparrow came down, took a few dips of water at the tub, brushed its beak against the brim, then hopped up to the the biscuit plate. It took a couple of picks and flew away to devour at some distance. It was immediately followed by the next and the next and the next, and soon there was a queue of sorts chirping and waiting for their turn.

That day, I learnt that the birds too had a system of their own. They would come chirping merrily, sit for a while, go to the water tub and have a couple of dips/gulps, rub their beaks clean at the brim, and then proceed for the food. After gobbling some crumbs, they would once again rub the beak clean against some branch or wall edge and fly off. So much for hygiene, I suppose.

Sometimes, there are unusual scenes. Once, incessant chirping started quite early, in the darkness of thick jasmine vine. I was amazed what it could be. I waited for a while but when that didn’t stop, I took two biscuits, crushed them and put in the plate on the wall. Soon after, I saw four sparrows popping out from the jasmine and collecting at the plate. On closer look, I noticed they were two kids and their parents. The kids couldn’t hold their hunger and chirped desperately. They sat with their tiny beaks wide open and the parents took turns to put the crumbs into their hungry mouths.

In the meantime, some other visitors also started arriving, but the protective father would pounce at them and they would fly off. It became virtually a protected plate and nobody was allowed to approach it. That went on for more than a week, until the kids became fit enough to fend for themselves. However, squirrels happen to be the bully of the area who obey no birdie command. There are many of them and they would pounce at the plate the moment it is set. They would sit on the hind-legs, pick the food and start gobbling greedily. I feel bad for the birds. Then I started going out and driving them off to allow the birds have the stuff meant for them.

As of now, this birdie theatre has been going on uninterrupted for more than an year. Gradually, more and more feathered characters – kinds of birds, got attracted to the biscuit joint. Each announces its arrival in its unique melodious voice and the morning air is charged with their spirited, delightful notes. Early rising, I’d say, is not a bad idea, is it?                                                          * * * * *

# Ashok Misra

Your Earliest Friends

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Can you remember your earliest friend(s)?

Any happy recollections, down the memory lane?

Well, birds usually happen to be

one’s earliest, childhood…rather infanthood friends.

How about you?

I’m sure, while still in your mother’s lap,

you must have often gazed wonder-eyed, mesmerized,

at the strange, small toy-like winged creatures,

the chirpy sparrows, landing in your courtyard,

hopping all around, picking at the rice grains,

laid out for them by your Mom, alongwith a bowl of water.

Every morning, the ever hungry guests

would merrily arrive, gobble their meals,

take a few sips of water and fly away,

leaving you thoroughly entertained, cheerful.

Gradually, as time passed,

you grew up and naturally,

got preoccupied with lots of

other things and newer mates.

You stopped looking for your earliest friends.

You simply outgrew them, drowning yourself

into the busy, hectic life in the materialistic world.

There was hardly any time

for the chirpy friends and the simple

joys and pleasures they offered.

But friends are forever!

True mates are companions, rather soulmates,

but only, if you care to look for them, and

spend some quality time with them.

Birds are no exceptions.

As your grown up wisdom can perceive, 

they are part of the fauna of the nature.

Along with flora, they form

the entire creation of  Mother Nature, and

can well be your guide to the nature.

Hark! Just try to listen once again to what

that bird perched on the branch of

the tree outside your window

is chirping about.

Pay heed and turn towards the nature,

even if for a short while, to breathe free,

relax and rejuvenate…and discover

the joy of living, like you did

gazing at the birds, sitting as an infant

in your mother’s lap, ages ago!


Ashok Misra