Navrang aka The Indian Pitta!

It was 3.45 am and I couldn’t help but keep turning in bed, waiting for 4 am to tick over and time was just not moving. Eventually I gave in, got up, switched the alarm off and got into shower and was sitting ready on the swing on my verandah at 4.15 waiting for my friend who had promised to show up at 4.30am. This buddy of mine was sharp and punctual and he drove in at 4.30 and whilst he parked his car, I readied my car and we left at 4.35 am in a search that was now reaching desperate levels. Unlike most people who like to sleep in on weekends, I have a penchant to not let a minute of the weekend go to waste and to use the chance to go out in the field and be birding by day break.

Just the previous evening, another Instagram friend had messaged me that they saw the Indian Pitta, she thought she should inform me. I immediately responded and after talking for half an hour with her and her husband, both keen birders, I knew the location where the Pitta’s were visiting. I have been searching for them desperately since a while now. They do visit my district but somehow they have always eluded me. I have seen so many photos of it, read so much about it and although not having seen it I just knew that I was missing something really beautiful in life. How I could not have seen such a pretty bird, even after it visited my own town.

The car zoomed past the last village Gulvani on this route at 6.30 am and we parked our car on a rough road where we found it difficult to separate the road from a dry river. I was joined by my friend and his 12 year old son. We parked, ate a couple of thepla’s and took out our binoculars and were ready to go looking for the Indian Pitta.

Luckily this is not a silent bird, also this is the start of the breeding season, so I was instructing my friends son, that a lot of birding is done by the ears so to keep talking to a minimum and listening to a maximum. We had just walked about 5 mins and we were greeted by Chestnut Shouldered Petronia’s, Indian White Eye, a yellow-crowned woodpecker and the Black Drongo. We then heard the Pitta call, they were coming from a higher slope, but they were here for sure!

I do encourage small kids to join me on my birding trails, I kind of always want to show things to them, somehow I want to be able to maybe play a miniscule role in connecting them to nature and perhaps someday getting them interested the world around us and the wildlife and flora around us which desperately needs conservation. So whilst I had to show these common birds to the kid, today I felt a strange desperation, of wanting to see the Pitta. There was kind of an impatient urge in me to ignore all others and just look for the pitta. We had walked just 5 more minutes and a small Pitta sized bird flew and like the Indian pitta sat on the floor and I almost skipped a heartbeat that I found the Pitta so soon. However, that fellow was the Orange Headed Thrush and not the Indian Pitta, another not so common and a very brightly contrasting bird, this fellow wasn’t shy, he stuck around and showed us himself quite nicely, infact we let him be and moved on.

The Orange Headed Thrush that posed for us.

Again, a similar movement like that of the thrush, this time in the undergrowth the bird seemed all dark. We all had our eyes in the shadow, the colours not visible but the target acquired. This must be the pitta I thought to myself, then after a brief pause, the bird moved, hop hop hop… out it came into the direct sun to reveal itself. The spotlight suddenly was on the star! I finally had the Indian Pitta right in front of me! It would hop, stop, turn a leaf over, pick up something, eat it away, again hop, hop, checkout another leaf and so on. I was glued to my binoculars, following every movement. Although this was the first time I was seeing it, I almost knew how it would behave, owing to how much I had read about it and heard about it! It then called loudly and another Pitta zoomed over and there were two Pittas about 10 meters apart from each other in front of us!! This was a moment that I am not going to forget for the rest of my life! ❤

Finally! The first look of the fella who eluded me for so so long!

The Indian Pitta is not a very common sight also it is not a very rare bird at the same time, however, it is pretty famous. The fact that it has so many colours and is so pretty looking, it has been covered by lots of books and magazines so even though not all might not have seen a live Pitta, most of them are aware about this bird. It has various colours and that has led to its fabled status, its Hindi name is ‘Navrang’, in Gujarati it is called ‘Hariyo’. The origin of the name though is from Telugu, pitta bird, meaning a small bird.

The subtle shades that it has are absolutely a treat to watch through the binoculars!

It is a local migrant and spends most of its time from October to March down in southern India and even Sri Lanka. However around April it starts its migration upwards to northern India. It goes as high up as Uttarakhand, Himachal and even Nepal to its breeding ground which range from lower Himalayas to central and western and eastern India, nesting from Gujarat to Bengal! Hence the fame and so many names in so many different languages.

The Indian Pitta can be seen foraging around and checking out all the dry leaves that have fallen during the current summer season!

It should make a globular structured nest now around below the 3 meter height on trees and should be ready to breed and lay eggs and rear its young. It being rather active during breeding time and vociferous too it should not be difficult to locate if you find its suitable habitat. However, do understand its breeding nesting time and so do keep appropriate distance and do not go near a nest too much as they could abandon the nest if they feel threatened.

The front of the Pitta is in start contrast to its back!

Around the globe there are over 40 species of pittas, however the India Pitta was the first to be scientifically described and published in scientific literature in 1713. Its present day scientific name is Pitta brachyura. Perhaps the most interesting name of the Indian Pitta is from Sri Lanka, in Sinhalese it is called ‘Avichchiya’. The Sinhalese interpretation of the call of the Pitta is that the bird is complaining about the theft of its dress by a peacock!! So now you know how the Peacock got its colours and beauty! Stealing for our small dear Indian Pitta!

Now if the beauty of this fella has intrigued you and you want to find it in the wild, grab your binoculars and set out looking for it in the forests of central India to Lower Himalayas! Happy Birding!!

A pleasant surprise!

So off late I have taken to cycling quite regularly, especially since its winter and its pleasant to be riding knowing the sun is mild and its not too hot. We tried last week to beat our previous best of 94km ride, so we went cycling on the interior routes of Bharuch avoiding all traffic.


I am not writing to boast that we actually did over a 100 kms on cycle, but actually about the experience we had whilst visiting a small village on our way. We had been cycling through smaller villages, which are not too cut off from the city way of life and yet they are in their own world. So whenever we stopped at any place for refreshments or tea in a village it was kind of natural to attract attention. Whilst most of these people ply on their cycles they do look at our fancied MTB’s with a little more intrigue. It always makes for interesting conversations. They are fascinated that we cycled so far from our city on our bikes and then the obvious questions about the gears in the bike and the price of the cycle and whether these geared cycles run too fast or run without any effort.


Usually to have around 5-7 people around us asking and talking is normal, we are quite used to it and we infact love the attention. We get water refilled promptly, people offering cold water from their jugs or anywhere etc.


This time round we reached one small village Malkinpura as we took a sudden turn just because we thought the road looked smooth. This was to be our return point and so we stopped at one small shop which actually looked like the only shop around to ask if we could get some tea. The guy said no tea shop here, we could get it a further 5 kms further where a slightly bigger village was. We kind of stalled there refilled our bottles and actually bought a packet of biscuit and chips to munch on and we got talking with the locals. One gentleman then suddenly offered us to go to his house for tea.


We refused politely but the guy said come on, its no big deal and that we must have tea and go since we had cycled so far from Bharuch to his village, around 50kms. We did want to drink tea and so we were not hard to tempt. He asked us to leave the cycles at the village centre and to walk with him to his house. We walked about 10 mins to his house and when we reached we were worried if it was a wise idea to leave the bikes so far away. Surely no one would take them away but people would surely fiddle around with them.


Anyways, once at his house the guy, probably in his 70’s asked someone inside his house to bring us tea as we settled on the verandah of his house, he insisted we come inside but we resisted saying it was cooler outside. When on the verandah when one of my friend kind of lied on the floor, immediately our host said why not sleep on the cot (charpai) which was inside his house, when we refused he brought a pillow for my friend. Slightly embarrassed yet mildly amused we kept looking at each other smiling and laughing and talking to our host. The simplicity of these village folks and their willingness to welcome a total stranger was amazing. When we got to talking, we learnt he was a Patel and when the tea came the guy also brought one Papdi (a kind of papad) that the Patel’s are famous for. When we did mention that Patel’s make awesome khichdi he asked us to hang around and rest for lunch whilst his wife would make khichdi! All without a moments hesitation and sort of overwhelming us all. We said we had to go back and that we couldnt eat a heavy lunch as we wanted to cycle back. Infact he took a promise from us that we would come back someday just to eat khichdi at his house!


We were amused and happy and also overwhelmed at how welcoming the guy was, wondering if we city folks would ever be like this. We even get pissed off when people we know come to our house unannounced and here this guy who didnt know us was so welcoming. Over all it was a humbling experience.



That is our gracious host with my friend Jay.


The simplicity of the life in villages is still so much more better than how we city breds live isn’t it? Can you think of finding a random stranger in the city, bring him home and feed them tea?!


Weekends in Bharuch! :)

Warning : A post that includes only showing off. Please wear your glares before you read! 😛 :mrgreen:


The best part of living in a town where you grew up is that you have so many people who know you are connected living around you, not just that, it also means that all your friends are either put up here or are visiting your town on weekends or festivals even if they are working elsewhere. So in many ways I live in a town that is sort of a head quarter for most of the people in my circle! Hence, weekends are always fun, sometimes almost hectic! Saturday nights are gathered around some wonderful food and spent regaling each other with stories or pulling each others legs, late nights and then early mornings we have to leave for the Narmada Valley to find some or the other waterfall for a bath.


Yea that way we are pretty rich, we drive about an hour to find a pristine waterfall for a bath on Sundays! Blessed with wonderful countryside we Bharuchi’s may not be proud of our city and its cleanliness but are certainly snooting about to everyone about the countryside we have! So many mountains, valleys, waterfalls that you can spend the entire months of July to November bathing in a different waterfall every Sunday!!!!! Now doesn’t that sound amazing!??!?!


One friend of ours Nitinbhai actually is a treasure trove in that regard, he has explored the surrounding area’s so much that he knows of all such small streams and nooks and corners of our town and we use our connections to the hilt! Always pinging him up on saturday nights about directions to our next bath on a sunday! 😀 😀 😀


Pehchaan hai apni Boss!! :mrgreen:


Anyways so this weekend was one such hectic and fun affair! Around 12 I decided it was time for me to cook, so I called home and told all the ladies to take it easy and relax, I will cook, I then got all the stuff around 4 pm and got into cooking, some garlic bread, salad, one type of Crostini and a cucumber crush as suggested by my blogger buddies Rakesh and Monika. It all turned out pretty swell!


Forgot to take pictures! But thankfully one friend had made a Snap Story of a couple of things and hence I can now show off!


The Garlic Bread with mayonnaise, corn, capsicum, tomato and chilli flakes! Do take note, this is home made Mayonnaise! 😎



The Crostini before it was sent int he oven to melt! 😉

Unfortunately the drinks and salad were not photographed however the salad was scraped off the huge bowl and the drink was finished too with me getting three glasses of it :mrgreen:


Then after having slept at around 12 in the night, some of the earnest few even went to Garba that night, we had to wake up at 5 am and one friend was kind enough or well insane enough to call me and wake me up at 4.30! :-/ at 5 am we were on the road! Half of us did catch up some sleep in the car whilst the rest fought on what music to play! The biggest draw back of technology that ways, everyone is carrying their play list and wants to make others listen to music he loves! 😐



Once you leave the city, Bharuch regales you with greenery and green slopes especially in the monsoon


Yes… I belong to these parts! 😀 😀 😀 😀



Into the wilderness we go, searching for a waterfall through Jowar Fields!


Yeh mera gaon …..


Seems like we are going to have a bumper Ponk harvest this year… thanks to the wonderful monsoon we have had this year! Its October and its still not exhausted! 😀 😀


Spotted these two who absolutely were loving the weather and the surroundings! 😉


and then there are angry dad’s at their kids for not running away from bad company, it screamed at the little one for not running far from us and letting us get so close!


Now last but certainly not the least, Namaskar from Bharuch! 😀 😀 😀







Sundays in Bharuch

On sundays you get up lazily, sometimes you are kicked out of your sleep for its time to head for a bath, a bath that is a short drive away, on the way you have to have some breakfast and then onto the bath, here is a short photo story! 😀


Hit the road on a glorious Indian monsoon day! 😛



Stop and climb a random green hill!



Find this view atop a random hill! 😀 😀



Get lost into capturing it all in your camera… this could be a mini valley of flowers from Bharuch 😛



Getting friendly with the locals of the place! They are kinda poised to take off I say!



Eventually stop digressing and head for the bath!



The spot!



Finally time to wash!



Then some time for a siesta in the shade watching over rich contrasting shades of nature!



Every few minutes the cloud scene kept changing and it was amazing to just gaze about.



Hamara Bharuch!



As it invariably happens, after you have washed and dried and dressed you suddenly come across another waterfall, this one a natural shower of sorts…. sigh…. what do you do!????



Well I say walk straight in!


Not to miss out on the wonderful hogging that happened through this arduous day 😛 A few dhokla’s here a sev ussal there, bajri ka rotla or makke di roti, locha and well ice cream to top it off!



Enough for a day I say!



Pic credits have to be shared within the four of us, Jay, Supas, Rishabh and me!

A foggy morning

Usually the moment my sleep breaks in the morning the first thing I do is wake up my son and send him to the bathroom to get ready for school, after that its a routine to go to Watsapp and check if my partners, both who are doctors and have emergency surgeries very often, are coming to play tennis or have they been in a late night surgery. Today as luck would have it there was a message at 3 am saying we are in an emergency surgery and wont be coming for tennis. Sigh, I say to myself and get on with the morning routine of dropping wifey and son to the school bus, but as I open the doors I am greeted to a wonderfully foggy morning, the fog is coming in strongly from the river which is about 2-3 kms from my house. Its enveloping the whole city and is getting stronger by the minute.


It would really be a crime to sit in the house and not go out there when the weather is so so beautiful, misty mornings for us are not usual and such foggy days are such a delight. Folks like us who live in plains marred by industries all around can be enthused by such fog, Bharuch has become like Nainital is what we suddenly start saying! 🙂


So I took out my bike and put my camera in back pack and decided to ride a bit and also click some pictures of the weather. The tall nilgiri trees were busy condensing the fog to water and it was most amazing feeling to be riding below them and water droplets falling on you as if a very very light drizzle had started! Monsoon before spring! 😀


Here are a few clicks from today morning’s ride!


It would be a crime to stay indoors when the weather is like this outside!



Even the main roads looked nice, this fellow was actually jogging with his push cart, the morning energised him as well! 🙂


The lawns at gnfc where people go jogging early morning looked ethereal



My bike loves to pose!


A post card from some hill station?!


The tree’s dropped water drops whilst you rode below them! 🙂


Our cricket ground, must say these chaps didn’t have any light issues! 😀 good sports they are I guess! 😀


Cat on the prowl! The Warning calls galore!


Constant tweeting made me open my hall window and check out and amidst the foliage of the peacock flower stood this little imp making a racket of sorts, it had actually spotted a little cat in the bushes below tending to its three little ones and this one had decided they were all threats and kept on calling all and sundry!


Jumping up and down, screaming for attention!


Which it got plenty from me, thankfully hid behind the curtain of my window it didn’t see me and allowed me to get a few close up shots!


Handsome na???


Once all others were called, the babblers, mynah’s and bulbul’s he then quietly stood displaying the fact that he had poise too, he then just looked about as the bigger birds got to the job of warning all others about the cat and the kitten! He spotted them and relayed the message to the others. Job well done I say!

Indomitable – Faces of India!


Yes that is the only way to describe the spirit of this lady. Like her smile tells you, she lives life to the fullest. At 94, she is a managing trustee of two schools, drives with precision, climbs two storey building without panting, all this amidst thinking of such wonderful events like our school’s reunion. The event was not just a grand success but like many ex-students will tell you a memory that will remain with us like our school life. She not just thought of the idea but also ensured that everything was being done and organised in perfect order. That truly is the way to live a life, with an indomitable spirit like her’s! In her words, her age is only 39! No wonder they say age is only a number, in your mind you can live any age you want to be. This lady is living proof of that!

Hats off to Pushpa Madam! 🙂