One hundred days of parakeets

Between a post-travel quarantine and the lockdown, I’ve not left the gates of our housing complex for a hundred days today. Sitting at home, I think I’ve got more tuned to the natural world. I’ve noticed the seasons passing: vasant and grishma are over, and now we are in varsha (think of it as spring, hot season, and monsoon). On the 99th day I leaned out the window in the evening to catch the watery golden light of sunset filtering through monsoon clouds.

The air was full of the chattering and scolding of rose ringed parakeets. I looked at the canopy of trees just below me: such a variety of greens there. The parakeets seem to avoid the gul mohar tree for some reason. They would have been spectacular otherwise; imagine their green against the red of those flowers.

Why was this parakeet rubbing its beak along the bare branch it was sitting on? Was it cleaning its beak? I looked for other parakeets sitting down. There were many. Yes, and many of them seemed to be rubbing their beaks along bare branches, quite vigorously.

Could this be a search for food? Unlikely, I thought. There was enough other food available for them to be wasting the last minutes of daylight looking for insects under the bark of trees. It turns out that their beaks grow all through life, and have to be rubbed down constantly to prevent them from becoming too large. I hadn’t noticed this behaviour before,

I had to go and pare down my ever-growing stomach. But before that I tried to take a few photos of the birds launching off from their perches. It turned out not to be so easy. They seem to have planned out a route through branches and leaves before letting go of the perch: they twist and turn very fast, before coming to horizontal flight. The light was fading, and I’ll leave this exercise for the next hundred days.

The six seasons: 1

Living my days out in an air conditioned office in Mumbai, I’d concluded that Mumbai has only two seasons: uncomfortable and wet. Now that I’m forced to live at home, and I spend more time in the balcony, and open up the living room to the outside, I realize that was wrong. Even in this coastal city, there are seasons, although strongly moderated by the warm tropical sea. The many different Indian calendars roughly agree about the seasons. So across the northern end of the peninsula, closer to the mountains, and away from the sea, there is are climatic changes which can be recognized from east to west. It is different along the coast, of course, and down in the southern part of the peninsula there are very different climates and seasons. Mumbai lies roughly in between, so one can feel most of these variations if one is sensitive to it.

Looking out of the window, listening to the birds, I saw signs of vasant slowly passing. The bees which hummed between trees and bushes, are slowly less visible now that spring has passed. The last flowers of the season can still be seen (the featured photo). The sky was as mild as the morning’s cool breeze. The beautiful light blue, which I used to paint as a child, flecked with fluffy clouds are typical of this season which just passed.