Monday, November 28, 2011

A visit to Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Migratory birds from Australia, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Canada, etc

I visited Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary last Saturday after attending one training at CMC Vellore. If you want to know about the bird sanctuary, search in Google and you’ll get more information than the ‘Vedanthangalites’. There are photos in Google Image and videos in Youtube too. But nothing can compare to the experience of actually visiting the place. 

Info. Click to enlarge and read
So, why I write here is not to give information about the place. As I tried to write this piece yesterday, I kept going to Wikipedia to see what the distance from Chennai is, when it was declared a sanctuary, and so on. But I thought again. If people need such information, they can use Google. So, while I may make use of such background information which may enhance the experience, I will write my story. That’s the beauty of writing. Whatever you write, you need not worry if someone has already written a book on it. No one will write it like you do. 

The bird droppings mixed with the lake water is believed to act as fertilizer
Three days before my visit, I didn’t know that a place called Vedanthangal exists. During the training at CMC, one guy recommended me to visit it since the training was finishing on Friday and my flight was on Sunday. So, I left Vellore on Friday evening and stayed at a hotel in Pallavaram. Early the next morning, I caught a bus for Chingelput, where I had breakfast. The bus ride was easy. It was an AC bus with less than 5 passengers. But I had a tough time looking for the bus to Vedanthangal. The sign boards were all in Tamil and it was such a filthy place.
Kancheepuram district. 75 km from Chennai
Surely we Indians have a lot to improve in hygiene and sanitation. The crowded bus I boarded was smelly I wondered what it would be like in summer with all the humidity. I wished I had taken a taxi from Chennai although that could have cost me dearly. The idea that I had about Vedanthangal as I looked from the map was that it was a fast and happening town with lots of tourists, good shops and hotels. I planned to have lunch there and try to take a taxi for my return journey. But as we took the diversion from the main road, the road was heading deeper into the jungle with no sight of human habitation. And to my surprise, there are just a couple of small shops and no hotels. 'No lunch today' I told myself. There was hardly any vehicle; forget taxi, 'how do I go back?' Have I been misled. Did the guy who recommended Vedanthangal actually visited it himself or he simply heard about it?

   Since 18th Century..declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1972
 I asked where the bird Sanctuary is; by then doubting if there is even a sanctuary. There was a counter to book tickets. 'Hmmm. So at least there is something to see'. As I entered the gate, there were sign boards of birds but still no sight of any real bird. 'Will I ever see one?' I don’t have a binocular and I don’t have trained eyes to spot and name any bird. 'Have I wasted my time coming here?' There was no human being in sight and I felt like a fool. Then I spotted one white one. After a few seconds ahead, some more. Then, my God, lo and behold, there were so many birds and my heart jumped!! Oh my goodness, there were so many of them. 'I have not been fooled. I’m blessed'.

I rushed up the watch tower and there it was, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, spread out for me. For me. I was clicking and clicking. That was when I realized that a 5 optical zoom camera isn’t good enough even if it boasts of having 16 megapixels in a low budget camera. I decided, 'No pictures for a moment. Let it sink in'. 'Internalize the beauty that is there before you', I told myself. It was a spiritual experience.

Ornithologists' Paradise. Area of about 30 hectares
There were a few people at the watch tower. One was a professional photographer. I asked to see the pictures he took and used his binocular. I could zoom in to one bird at a time. I wished I could identify the species. That could have meant so much more.

One visitor asked me to stay till evening because that is when much more will come home to sleep. Another asked me to come in December because that is the best time to visit. But I didn’t miss much I believe as the season to visit is said to be from November to March.

Most importantly, I got what I went there for: 
I saw and felt Beauty
Remarkable: the villagers' concern for the birds

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Write, write, and write if you want to be a writer

OK. I have been keeping aside writing for a while. Good or bad, I now plan to keep this blog running. I say I love writing and think about it constantly; even read about it. But to become a writer, there’s no way to become one but to write.

What has been keeping me from writing? First and not the most important, is work. Due to the Scrub Typhus outbreak in Nagaland, I have been very busy: travelling, reading about it, compiling data and analyzing it, and so on. Right now also I’m busy attending a training course in Vellore. But that is not to say that I don’t get time to write.

Another reason and a more important one is laziness mixed with restlessness. To write requires a calm mind and a lazy mind strangely is seldom calm.

Also why I put off writing is because I always try to write masterpieces, not that I have ever written one. I want my writings to be very good which many times keep me from starting. I think this shouldn’t be. 

To keep a writing project on hold in the middle can be quite de-motivating as well. I have two writing projects which aren’t going anywhere. Sometimes it may be unavoidable, but as far as possible, finish up, then go start a new one.

Ah, and another reason that I am reluctant to admit but have to is, Internet. Particularly, facebook. Once the laptop is on, I can’t control my hands from connecting the internet. There are hundreds of precious reading materials that I have stored in my laptop over the years, but the internet keeps me from reading those. So, not just writing, my reading has been severely affected by the internet. The internet has also cut my book reading time tremendously. And why am I in facebook that long when there isn’t anything to do there anymore? Even as I am writing this, I have logged in to facebook. So, here I go…..I have logged out of facebook. I hope that is a good starter.

You see. I had nothing in my mind to write about as I started (I was only surfing the internet and checking facebook as usual) and in just a few minutes, now I have an article which is worth posting in my blog. Just a little discipline can do wonders. Oh that I have it more often. Please let this be a fresh start. You too, whoever is reading this…

God bless