A Window In The Life Of A Physiotherapist Lost In The Woods

The best window ever!
The best window ever!

“Open the window of your mind. Allow the fresh air, new lights and new truths to enter.” -Amit Ray

The above quote popped into my mind as I opened this beautiful window in one of the best rooms I had ever lived in. I thought about my journey, a very difficult one, from being a professional physiotherapist to being in the wild, always! From rejections to depression, from working under a really terrible boss to standing up for it and quitting on my own terms, with only the last 500 bucks in my account to calling a friend and asking for some money to have a meal. At 26, it is rather difficult to call a friend or parents to ask for money. Lucky are those who haven’t faced this situation in their lives and those for whom this task is easy!

When I re-think of what life (which I once thought was a bitch) has done to me over years- my eyes hold tears and nothing else. The subtle difference being, now these tears aren’t just the tears of sadness. There’s a whole lot of happiness and sometimes a lot more emotions! Why in the first place had I, a doctor from a reputed university working at a renowned hospital ever quit her well paying job? I now know the answer!

Because life is all about the little joys, smiles and real happiness. 

The happiness that you discover within yourself. When I spent time at an Ashram of a renowned Saint Maharshi, I learnt that each human being has a whole big universe within. This encompasses our emotions, feelings, wants and needs. Within all this lies a piece of happiness and that genuine happiness, I have discovered envelopes me when I am lost in the woods. That enlightened mind full of thoughts, with the feelings that I need no-one when I am in the forests watching infinite little croaking frogs and colourful flying birds! They are indeed my best friends. Maybe they couldn’t give me money when I needed it the most. That’s when I realized “I love man no less, but nature more.”

When I get up in the morning, I feel extremely mesmerized by the forests with fresh, happy and peaceful thoughts every single day. How beautiful life gets with these thoughts, I thought, looking out of that window. A woodpecker comes and knocks at the panel by the side of this huge window. I talk to him, he tells me he’s confused. But I still continue talking. I smile at him and he’s still confused as to why he can’t make a hole in this bloody thing? He checks along the panel to make his nest, a place safe for his family. I tell him, we are human beings, the smartest species on earth, and no matter how hard he tries, he wouldn’t be able to make a hole there! Probably after some time he understood and left my window, leaving me again to lose myself in my own joyous thoughts of the forests and rains.

Many people ask me- do I ever feel lonely in the woods? The answer is an empathetic NO! And it will always be NO. I am merry within, my thoughts are pure and I have made friends with nature and creatures. How many of us today can think of making friends with and getting close to nature? For now I have known how to make money for myself or at least live a life with just the basics! The forests taught me something very important- it taught me to be less greedy, less needy and still be happy!

How many of us today are fighting for a job, a girlfriend or a companion, a lot of money, a house, a vacation, exotic food and some more luxury like new trendy clothes, smokey makeup and latest skincare? But I am just standing at my window and looking at the forest, lost within myself, being joyous!  🙂

Do I need more from life, no!

And you? What is that one thing that gives you happiness. Share in the comments below, I will be more than happy to read!  🙂 

PS: Any help to my travel fund will be highly appreciated.

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What’s Your Reason To Watch Birds? If You Don’t Have a Reason Find One Here

Bird-watching needs no introduction. Bird-watching (or Birding as we like to call it) is a wonderful way to step outdoors. Not only does it give you a chance to experience some of Earth’s greatest flying wonders but also to show compassion for nature. Just like any other happy drug, birding is super addictive! I have also observed that it is equally enjoyed by children, youth as well as the old. Did you know it is listed among the most pleasurable and well liked hobbies in the world?

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I have come up with a list of reasons why people get addicted to watching these bright, astonishing winged creatures:

Because You Are An Adventurer: You are among those crazy people who find excitement in danger. You love putting yourself in trouble and mostly use the ‘try it out’ way of learning. Yes, bird-watching involves a lot of adventure. It definitely isn’t for the fainthearted. Many times it involves trekking up and down through rocky terrains, climbing trees, walking miles through dark evergreen forests and open lands, experiencing ticks and leech bites and sometimes even walking through slush teeming with snakes and crabs!

But you enjoy it all, and that’s what makes you a successful bird-watcher.

Walk through the misty rainforest to watch some incredibly colorful birds!
Walk through the misty forest to watch some incredibly colorful birds!

To Show Your Love for Mother Earth: You get to go closer to mother nature and enjoy every season. Your love for nature can only be expressed through bird-watching. You often feel like hugging a tree or living in a tree house.  You love the mixed fragrance of poisonous herbs, jungle berries, various other trees and plantations found in the forests. And all of this complements your love to watch these colourful beauties take to the air.

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I often hug a tree and thank her for being so good to birds!

Because You Love Your Camera: Photography is a fancy hobby. When clubbed with exciting adventure, amusing nature and unmanned beautiful green surroundings, many jump in the field with their cameras and choose birds as their subjects. Although they are super difficult subjects, the satisfaction of capturing a great “bird photograph” is boundless. Tagging along with an experienced bird photographer is a great option for starters. Else just read about birding ethics and you are good to get out to explore the avian world with your lens!

Photo Credits: Reshma Bhat

To Make New Friends: Bird-watching is a social activity and is best enjoyed with people of similar interests. By means of different online bird-watching groups and forums you tend to meet several exciting people who possess vast knowledge about birds and nature. Each new person you meet, might amaze you. Considering similar interests and likes, the bond of friendship grows forever.

Photo Credits: Reshma Bhat

To Get a Little Famous: Bird watching makes you famous among your friends, extended families, work-groups etc. Mostly birding is combined with great photographs. These days when social media is all pervasive, the photographs go straight on your Facebook timeline. Birds, natural habitats, your travel joys and places fetch you too many LIKES (Y). Whichever platform you choose, your bird photographs help you stand out from the boring study crowd.

Oh yes!
Oh yes!

To Fight Boredom: On a Sunday Morning you are dragged by a bird-watcher friend into a new world.  You always wanted to know the “twee twee” in your garden so you’re out on a birding excursion. Once you experience the birds up close, it wouldn’t take you long to get addicted.

And when you are addicted, you’ve taken care of your boredom!  😉

To Get Into Serious Research: You are the next bird-man/woman of India. You’re not only familiar with names of different birds but also with climate change, different habitats, behavior, songs, various species, etc. You know it all! Mostly associated with some wildlife NGO or other organisation, you are this generation’s Dr Salim Ali in making!

Did you know- we can all get a little scientific by helping this brilliant Citizen Science Project called Bird Count India!

Just upload all your records on EBird and participate in their monthly contests! This is also a great way to keep all your bird sightings organised and in one place.  🙂

More research, anyone?
More research, anyone?

For The Unbeatable Surprise Element: With birding you start exploring more and more forests. The forest in itself is the greatest unsolved mystery. It becomes routine to come across unrecognized birds but sometimes there’s more than just that. Leopards, scorpions, deadly snakes and other small creatures share their territory with birds. WOW!

I clicked the following photo of Soldier Crabs (Dotilla mycteroids) when I went out to an undisturbed beach on the coasts of Karnataka in search of waders. Aren’t they gorgeous?

My favorite army of soldier crabs!

And how about something more interesting and creepy?

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This Green Vine Snake swallows down a whole Calotes; while the birds chirped behind!

To Travel on Budget: Bird-watching involves a lot of traveling. It becomes an obsession for you to want to spend more and more time with birds. You might also like to travel to different destinations to watch different birds. In your unique bird watcher gang, there is always a little space for you in someone’s SUV!

Take the road less traveled in your best birding friend's SUV
Take the road less traveled in your best birding friend’s SUV

Because Birding Is Healthy: Believe it or not, being close to nature has several health benefits. Walking on natural non-cemented paths is great for your joints and muscles. It reduces the ground reaction force exerted on your joints (the physiotherapist me is talking here). Also trekking/walking in itself can help you fight several diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and depression. Talking more about depression and stress – Birding is a great stress buster. Not only does it allow you to go to faraway places but also helps you spent some time with yourself. For me it is equivalent to meditation. We all are aware about the benefits of meditation, if not, read more here!

Photo Credits: Rishi Gupta
Start walking while you’re birding!

Just for Fun Folks: You smile ear to ear when you see a bird. You feel relaxed in the lap of nature and in the company of chirping creatures. You follow many Facebook groups about birds and wildlife. You go out for bird-watching trips and travel to different bird sanctuaries. You just enjoy this outdoor activity and believe me, there is no greater reason than this one!

No matter whatever be the reason for you to be close to nature or watch birds. It is the duty of every individual to prioritize the environment and its well being. Developing a feeling of compassion and love for species other than man is beautiful and enlightening. It isn’t late to protect the only habitable planet. Start today and appreciate the wonders of Mother Nature, she is the biggest and the strongest. You do your bit and she will protect you!

Dr Jane Goodall rightly said- “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference”

Take a step! Start appreciating nature today.

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10 Most Astonishing Birds In The Indian Subcontinent! How many have you seen?


The
Himalayan Griffon Vulture

Catch a glimpse- At Spiti Valley
When- All year round on the mountains of Himalayas

Seen mainly at an elevation of 4000 meters and above.

 

Malabar Whistling Thrush
Catch a glimpse- Tea/coffee plantations of Valparai

When- Winters are usually a good time

Otherwise called as the whistling school boy! The bird’s song will terrify you and please you at the same time.


European Roller
Catch a Glimpse- Belgaum (Yellur Fort)

When- A winter migrant in India, can be seen on open farms and sparse woody habitats

The rare migratory bird for the Indian subcontinent!

 

The White Wagtail
Catch a glimpse- in your garden

When- Winters, from October to February

This bird’s constant tail bobbing gait will make you forget the first walk of Ms Philippines as Miss Universe 😉


Ceylon Frog mouth
Get a glimpse- At Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

When- All year around

This elusive and bizarre nocturnal bird rests in the darkest woods within the western ghats of India!

 

Spot billed Pelican
Get a glimpse- At Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

When- Winters, December to January

The near threatened Pelecanus carries live fish in it’s the huge gular pouch!

 

The Small Pratincole
Get a glimpse- Any water bodies, Malyadi bird Sanctuary

When- Winters

This wadding bird is so small that it can be compared to a swift when seen in flight! 🙂


Grey headed Bulbul

Get a glimpse- At Silent Valley National Park
When- December to January

Yet another near threatened bird of the western ghats!
 

Lesser Flamingos
Get a Glimpse- At Mumbai (Bhandup Pumping Station)

When- February to March

The brackish sea looks gorgeous with a flock of flirting ping flamingos!


Malabar Pied Hornbill

Catch a glimpse- At Belgaum, Gokarna and Dandeli forest range
When- Winters, from October to February

It helps disperse seeds and grow new trees in the most natural way. Everything about this bird is just spectacular!
 
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The Eagle Says It All


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I look down to see the world so tiny

I see buildings, dams and trees cut bluntly.

Every little move I make, my vision blurred

Am I seeing so many humans absurd?

 

I go ahead searching with my tawny eyes

To pick some careless mice,

My little ones are waiting for me

I hope the food I provide make them healthy.

 

Oh these humans crowd us out

Are we important, I doubt?

Every tree you destroy for your selfish need

I curse you, you will never succeed.

 

Although there are a few watching us

With their cameras, traps and compass

I think there is still hope, to be honest

Thanks to this little group of nature activist!

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10 Unforgettable Moments From My Trip To The Himalayas

Two weeks ago, I returned from Spiti valley situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. Past the treacherous winding pass through Rohtang, down beyond the barrenness of Chhatru- lies the most beautiful valley of wonders!

I couldn’t stop feeling blessed to have gotten a chance to experience the pristine beauty of the Himalayas. I have truly, madly loved travelling in India despite it being regarded as unsafe for women. There is something that cannot stop me from exploring the land of so many languages, motley crowd, endless diverse cultures, varied habitats, disparate climates which you might experience the moment you step out of your home or office.

Here are my top 10 moments from the trip that never fail to fill me with nostalgia about the Himalayas.

1. The thrilling 24-hour off roading drive on snowy perilous roads – driving past an actual live landslide

2. Crossing a flimsy wooden bridge with broken steps over a clean blue fast-flowing river

3. Spending time with Griffon Vultures, Ravens, Magpies, a Snow Leopard, Yaks in the wild dry land

4. The precious 30-minute nap after a strenuous 4-hour trek to reach the peak

5. Camp night with friends, fire and the infinite stars. Nothing beats camaraderie in the lap of nature and wilderness

6. Meditating to trigger self-realization in one of the highest Monasteries in India

7. The simple soulful breakfast in our home stay at Manali – cooked with more love than the best restaurant in any city

8. Cold, steep, exhausting and slippery 14 km trek to bask in the glory of a pristine Himalayan lake – one of the highest in India

9. The glimpse of real, lush green amidst vast coniferous forests

10. Pins and needles flashing through my body when I dived into chilling sub-zero water at Chandra Tal lake 4,300 meters above sea level

PS: This article was first published on boredpanda.com

PSS: Show love in the comments, by sharing this with your friends and by helping me fund my travel.

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