Common ground

We come from different background. So different, in fact, that we came to this marriage with very little in common. Our personalities, hobbies, food habits, approach to life situations, temperaments, communication styles…… were all very different. The only common thread in our dissimilar lives was our interest in amateur photography and the fact that we worked in the same organization.

Starting off on opposite sides, we were lucky to  find a common interest early on in the marriage. Birding. We discovered it quite by chance on a trip to Coorg. We enrolled for one of the early morning birding tours on the property we were staying at and took a liking to it. I struggled with the binoculars, preferring the camera instead. The camera we had was a DSLR, one that brought far off objects close by to a fair degree, but not one with the right lens for capturing birds. The lack of appropriate birding gear didn’t deter us from enjoying the morning excursion. A quiet activity, it introduced us to nature, giving us an opportunity to marvel at its beauty and diversity. It made us realise how dis-connected we are from nature and how much abundance and joy nature is willing to generously share with us.

A book on birds was purchased on the way back to Delhi and V spent a good deal of time browsing through its pages. Subsequent trips to the hills introduced us to more birds and our interest grew. The book is now our guide and we go back to refer to it frequently. A field trip would mean frantic photography session in the morning hours trying to capture each bird we spotted. It would be followed by a session of identifying the names of the birds and then another session of photography in the evening. With our basic birding gear our work was neatly divided. V would spot the bird either with the naked eye or the binocular, I would do my best to quickly capture it with the camera and then we’d go home to our faithful book and find out the names of the birds. It was a great outdoor activity.

Back in the city, we tried to keep the interest alive. I was sure we wouldn’t find anything beyond crows, pigeons and mynas. It was going to be a challenging activity in this polluted, concrete jungle of ours. But when we keep our eye peeled for the flighty, feathered little creatures, we found a whole lot of them! There were starlings, green pigeons, oriental eyes, barbets, bulbuls, robins, lapwings, ducks and even gulls! What a delightful surprise!

We’d like to present in this post, some of our best or most favourite pictures of birds. They are in two categories: Birds in and around Delhi and Birds in the hills (south and north both). Photo credit varies with each picture. Sometimes its me and sometimes V.

Birds in and around Delhi

109 - Copy

Silverbills

548 - Copy

Spot billed ducks and Stilts

603 - Copy

Red whiskered bulbul

152

Peacock

IMG_1255

Red muniya

057

Babbler

Tailor bird

Tailor bird

RTP1

Treepie

BS

Starling

IMG_1768

Yellow footed green pigeon

CR2

Robin

Birds in the Hills

095

Red billed blue magpie

Laughing thrush

Laughing thrush

Nuthatch

Nuthatch

Asian Barred Owlet

Asian Barred Owlet

099

Spotted dove

Great Barbet

Great Barbet

Brown fronted Woodpecker

Brown fronted Woodpecker

380

Grey hooded warbler

IMG_0641

Oriental white eye

IMG_0511

Green backed tit

One

This marriage turned one in November. An achievement that deserved a post. A post that was written and the promptly lost (irretrievably) somewhere in the new WordPress system. I wish to make a note of this milestone and thats the only reason I am back at my desk.

The past year was a roller coaster ride for me.  It involved moving in and moving out of homes (two to be precise),  coping with cultural and value-based  differences, meeting unexpected challenges at the work place, trying to develop new and unstable personal relations and what not. If I were to describe the year in short, I’d call it the Year of Settling In. I am not entirely sure I have settled in completely yet, but compared to November 2013, I can safely say  I am doing well.  🙂

The year was a mixed bag. It brought  with it moments of happiness and sorrow, frustrations and achievements.   It also taught me some important life lessons. Those are rather personal and I  would like to keep them off the blog.  The learning continues – as I see it, the path ahead is long.

Here are the highlights of the year:-

The good:

  • Setting up our own place. Rented but still. It a simple, no-frills accommodation that comes with a balcony where you can sit out and watch the tall trees. I have a line of potted plants that is my contribution to enhance the greenery around.  The house meets our needs perfectly and we have cooperative neighbours who regularly bring us special dishes to eat, keep our letters and tell us when the maid is not going to show up for work. We are fed-up of the recurrent seepage problems, but honestly that is the only major drawbacks of the place.
  • Finding common interests and pursuing them. We’ve discovered birding and we both enjoy it equally. The pictures we take aren’t outstanding that’s mainly because we can’t afford cameras that cost over two lakh rupees. I personally find bird watching exciting and educational and I am even willing to wake up early for it.
  • Travelling together. The more you travel, the better. Sharing this simple philosophy we’ve managed four trips ( one to the south and three to the north) in the year. Work travel was additional. We would have liked to get out more often, but we need to keep our jobs (to fund the travel).  New places, new people, new food, new experiences. All good.
  • Saving up! From distinctly independent people we gradually inched towards the “joint” lifestyles. We’ve (after a bit of a struggle) got the joint bit of the financials in order too. A good move, I think. Money multiplies faster when two people work at a goal.  It’s also one of the ways in which we build trust in each other.
  • Acquiring worldly objects, some big, some small, that has made our lives comfortable.
  • Rediscovering cooking. If you lived alone (as I did) or lived with a large family (as he did) there isn’t much reason to cook. In the first case you can survive with anda-toast/ sabzi-roti and in the later there will be enough people happy to cook for you. When you live together, you need to cook because after a point eating out is not an option. It gets expensive and only helps you pile on the kilos while being malnourished. Both are avoidable outcomes. Old cookbooks have been dusted and brought into use. My cooking continues to be simple (nothing beyond 5 steps) but the results are getting consistently better. He believes he can cook but that usually doesn’t go beyond tea, eggs and toast and pasta.

 The not-so-good:

  • Establishing relations hasn’t been easy. I am told is never is.  Its been a partly-bumpy ride, but its getting smoother.  Because it was extremely smooth with my parents, the benchmark is high, and I feel that’s a part of the problem.
  • Getting accustomed to different communication styles, religious beliefs, family traditions and accepting the differences and moving beyond them was a challenge. Some of the issues continue, but fortunately with reduced intensity.
  • From leading a quiet, single life to being amidst a large number of people with frequently socializing with friends and family was a big change.  The one I haven’t yet mastered.
  • Moving from a fit and energetic person to a borderline over-weight, the one thing I didn’t want marriage to bring me, it brought! Corrective action has been initiated in this area and I shall hopefully have something positive to report on that soon.

Fingers crossed, the next year shall make the list of  The Good longer and The not-so-good shall shrink to half.