Earth Sublime

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A date with our feathered friends – Raja Purohit's
Exhibition in Pune.

It was a role reversal of sorts. Mom and Dad had
probably taken me to a zoo as a child. Now, I was
returning the favour. Of course, the major difference
being that in the case of the former, the creatures
were in captivity while here they were free, but yes
captured on film and the images frozen for eternity -
the painted stork and the great indian bustard in
flight, the hovering pied kingfisher, the Malabar grey
hornbill feasting on fruits or the exquisite Asian
Paradise flycatcher.

Yes, folks, I took my parents along to see your
compatriot, Raja Purohit's photo display of birds and
mammals in Pune.
For a newly emerging bird lover like
me, it was nothing short of a banquet. There were
raptors like
the long billed vulture, white rumped vulture, crested
serpent eagle, shikra and montagus harrier. Quack,
quack.... yes, the duck family was represented by the
spot billed duck, Brahminy duck and pintail duck.
There were other water birds too - darter, black
necked stork, great cormorant, little egret, pelican
and the bronze winged jacana.

So was there the elegant Asian Paradise flycatcher,
the fierce looking Eurasian Eagle Owl, the pied
kingfisher, grey shrike, white throated fantail, and
Indian robin to name a few. There were also pictures
of the emerald dove, spotted dove and laughing dove.
It was a melange of colours as if our Creator had
taken all the colours together and sprinkled them onto
birds, liberally on some and being parsimonious in
some cases. Some birds are rare to come by and what
can one say about a bird that was hovering on the
brink of extinction but has thankfully not gone the
way of the Dodo. Pictures of the great Indian bustard
graced the walls too. Noteworthy was the one in flight
and a female with her young one. According to Raja,
possessing even one picture of the great Indian
bustard was worth its weight in gold. How true! But I
am saving for last what I love the most - the Malabar
grey hornbill, which was there feasting on fruits.

Raja’s interest in birds began in 1993. The bird photo
exhibition is but a result of this continuing passion.
Even on the third day of the exhibition (was held over
a period of 4 days), there was a healthy crowd lapping
up the visual delights. Also, all Raja’s photos
contained the name of the bird/animal and the place
where it was shot at. A sort of education for us all,
enabling us to identify a particular bird should we be
lucky enough to spot it! Although birds can be found
in Pune, Raja opined that bird sighting opportunities
were any day better in Bangalore. Way to go,

The animal kingdom was well represented by Anant
Zanjale (Raja did exhibit some photos of mammals) .
Anant, incidentally has been appointed the official
photographer for the Karnataka Forest Department.
photographs of the tiger held center-stage.
William Blake's immortal piece on the tiger, "Tiger,
tiger burning bright..." comes to mind on seeing the
various images of the animal. It was as if he was
depicting the different moods of the predator -
snarling, contemplative, curious and sometimes so
adorable you feel like reaching out and patting it!
Sometimes, the tiger was alone, sometimes with its
cubs. There were also photos of the leopard, Indian
elephant, sloth bear, Indian Gaur, Indian wolf,
mongoose, zebra, lion, wild dogs and peacocks. But the
lasting memory was of a pair of hypnotic eyes, which
seared itself deep down into my heart. Long live the

As we returned home, I quipped, " Ma, you are so lucky
to have glimpsed so many birds and animals all under
one roof".

- Sunita Raghu


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