Last week I took part in a three days bird watching festival held at the Buxa Tiger reserve in North Bengal, India. The site was lit up with bright sunshine during the day and everlasting campfire in the night. The camps were raised all around this bonfire. It was an exhilarating arrangement and stay.
Every day the participants used to walk in the jungle for 4 to 5 hours in groups of 8 to 10. There were people from all walks of life and from all around the country. Some from Andaman and Nicobar island to others from Gujarat and many from various regions of Bengal. All these different people driven by one single passion of watching birds in their natural habitat and just letting them be. Truly birds of same feather were flocking together, both figuratively as well as literally.
Since it was my first one of a kind experience, I was thrilled to the core by everything happening around me. Every morning the silence of jungle was woken up by endless chirping of birds and that marked the advent of our day. We trekked inside the jungle for 6 to 8 km and meanwhile looked patiently for birds through our binoculars, identified them and marked their presence in the jungle. After the trek and having lunch, a short bird watching program would again be conducted. In the evening all the groups would assemble and count the birds that were seen by each. I never knew there were so many different birds with such remarkable distinct features and food habits. Forests reflect so many beautiful things. A reflection of the gifting attitude of nature as well as a reflection of a beautiful order in society.
I also observed that being in the beautiful jungle and nature has a contagious influence on humans too. This conclusion I drew after seeing particularly the forest officers. The officers who ranked from being highest ranked bureaucrats to top NGO workers, were all so approachable, humane and did not demonstrate even a cinch of arrogance and superiority of their position in their attitude. Their conversations and body language reflected the area they serve, i.e. the forests, demonstrating the fact that no individual is superior over another. In the end, each one of us serves equally to our office and a peon is as important as the officer. Big birds like raptors might fly at high altitude but eventually rests on the same ground and trees as does a warbler or a kingfisher or a drongo. I am grateful to God for these three days of intense forest bathing, which made me more grounded than I was before. Given a chance, I would strongly recommend you to attend such a program. You will then know what you have been missing for so long.