Tree-lovers seem to believe that tree-chopping is preferred hobby of town planners. As we can’t hope for a tree-lover to take trouble to understand science behind carbon sequestration by a tree or carbon emissions due to traffic jams, I can safely predict that we are in for a “save Vastrapur banyan” campaign leading to a bottleneck causing daily traffic jams and pollution that we will have to suffer.
But, having grown wiser about futility of reasoning with nature lovers, I rather take a journey down a memory lane with another fig tree, not exactly the grand banyan, but its loutish country cousin, the umra.
Umra is a bulbous tree that appears to have taken its gym subscription rather seriously. But, we must not go by its stout looks as, in terms of conduct, it lacks criminal history typical to members of fig family. As it may hurt the sensitive tree lovers, I would not like to point out that the banyan they are saving belongs to the “strangler” group that actually murders the host tree it has grown on.
The umra that I met was fruiting, and when a fig tree fruits in Indian jungle, it is like a Gujarati wedding party. There is incessant chatter, a lot of sweet food and a general mayhem that is fun to watch.
The tree that I was watching was laden with fruits and a huge flock of rosy pastors sounding like a school just after the recess bell.
There were parakeets conversing softly, with intermittent screaming over some personal disagreement. A small group of white eyes was moving from branch to branch like shy middle-class girls whispering to each other while inspecting expensive purses in Gucci shop.
Green pigeons were testing their camouflage by remaining silent, but were failing miserably because of their bright yellow feet. A tree-pie and a drongo were settling their political differences through polite discussions, but it was clear that diplomatic channels were collapsing fast and violence was on the cards.
While I was enjoying this drama like Gerald Durrell watching an African bazaar, I realised that I had drawn a really lucky hand that day as the producer of the show had decided to add a show stopper in form of a paradise flycatcher that silently alighted on a low branch.
A paradise flycatcher is exactly like a Parisian fashion model flaunting summer collection, as its slander form is extenuated by a whimsically long tail. The only difference is, paradise flycatcher actually looks beautiful.
While I was struggling between admiring its beauty and intellectually musing over evolutionary justification of its absurd tail, suddenly the most dangerous animals now commonly found in Indian jungle attacked us.
A gypsy full of 600 mm lens totting camouflage wearing wildlife photographers struck the scene emitting exuberant comments about great quality of light. In no time, the bird chatter was replaced by the sound of burst mode clicking of at least 500 photos.
As the birds appear to share my view regarding these nature lovers, they broke the party and left, leaving me with empty umra and a thought.
Where have all the naturalists gone?
If I look around, nature is hijacked by maniacal lovers and wildlife photographers who think that them adding one more image to the millions that already exist is an act of nature conservation. I fail to see people interested in adding to the big picture that naturalists of past have worked hard to put together.
Unfortunately for us, near-extinction of naturalists in India could not have come at a worse time. We are a nation required to take a lot of informed decisions, and if they are taken based on opinions of nature lovers, we (and not the planet) are in for big trouble.
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