By Saskia Chitrak
Saturday, June 6th, 2015, 5.00am.
I don’t believe that my alarm is ringing at this time of the “night” on a Saturday morning. Who would get up? Some people go to bed at this time….
Anyway, my husband and I had decided earlier to participate in the nature walk in the Aravali Biodiversity Park on the outskirts of Gurgaon, and so we forced ourselves out of bed.
And the moment (5.30am!!!) we reached the park, we knew we made the right decision. It was still cool when we were happily greeted by Arghya, a member of IAMGURGAON. We met Swanzal, one of the co-founders of this NGO, and we also met Vijay, the naturalist and consultant for the BDP. Soon we were a group of about 15 people, and started walking on one of the paths in the park. Our luck was, that we were accompanied not only by Vijay, who knows the flora and fauna of the area and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the group, explaining native flowers, bushes, trees, grasses etc., but also by some birdwatchers, one of them being Saurojit, who directed our attention to so many different kinds of birds, sharing their respective knowledge with us. It is amazing not only how many birds there are in the BDP, but even more so how many different species of birds.
I was a bit worried, that it is like going to school, you know. I am the student, and the teacher is telling me what to look at and explaining what it is. But that feeling did not come up at all. In fact it became very entertaining, if not thrilling, when Vijay, after a couple of hundred meters, guided us off-track and we entered a different world. What immediately caught my eyes were big patches of high grass (taller than humans) which transport you onto a different planet. Everywhere, you see young trees growing, which give you such a sense of hope. The noise of the city and MG Road seemed to disappear, and instead we listened to the sounds of the birds. Even though I can’t remember all their names, we saw some birds attacking a cobra (no worries, we kept a safe distance), we saw and listened to beautiful kingfishers, to the sound of peacocks (my god, how beautiful they are-and so many of them). Then my husband pointed in one direction to show me a pair of jackals (those I have only seen in movies before), then a hare (which seems so much larger than a rabbit).
This place is so much better than a zoo, where you see captive, sad animals behind bars. Here instead we saw them in the wild. You might need a little patience and a bit of luck, but once you see a wild animal in the wild it becomes utterly exciting. You feel a sense of achievement, like you earned the privilege of watching nature and wildlife as it is.
After about 2 hrs we ambled towards the exit where ice cold nimbu paani and some snacks were waiting for us. A beautiful beginning to a new day.
By Saskia Chitrak