In Finland, says an article today’s FT Weekend, 14 percent of the population are avid bird-watchers. “Armed with binoculars and a mobile phone”, they venture out to explore “an oasis of birdlife on the Gulf of Finland”. If someone spots a rare bird, they use text-messaging to inform others of the find, and those who are interested in the species converge on the area where it was spotted.
The article reminded me of my walk last Sunday. The weather forecast for the weekend promised clear skies and moderate temparatures, so I planned on Saturday evening to walk through the nearby fields next morning and capture moments of life at that early hour we mostly miss during work-days.
Dawn was breaking out when I left home next morning, armed with my camera and zoom lens (no mobile phone – whom could I SMS to describe the beautiful sunrise I was about to see?). The sky was clear, there was moisture in the air due to overnight rain, and the sleepy streets were slowly showing signs of waking up – I must wake up this early and walk more regularly, I told myself. And immediately I was reminded of the protagonist in R.K.Narayan’s The English Teacher, who wakes up early one fine morning to walk along the riverside.
“I stepped out of the hostel gates….As I walked down the lane a couple of municipal lamps were still burning, already showing signs of paling before the coming dawn.”
I soon crossed the edge of town and walked into the fields adjoining it. The eastern sky was lit up in orange.
“The eastern skyline was reddening and I felt triumphant. I could not understand how people could remain in bed when there was such a glory awaiting them outside.”
I knelt down to click a few photos.
The dew on the grass, so fresh and pure, struck me as something I hadn’t observed in a long time. All through the walk this feeling kept coming back. How beautiful – I must do this more often.
“Nature, nature, all our poets repeat till they are hoarse. There are subtle, invisible emanations in nature’s surroundings: with them the deepest in us merges and harmonizes. I think it is the highest form of joy and peace we can ever comprehend. I decided to rush back to my table and write a poem on nature.”
The stillness in the surroundings was broken from time to time by the click of the shutter. Such an experience was so uncommon that I began to romanticize it – me, my camera, and the sunrise, all merged into one …..
I got back home refreshed, and spent a few minutes telling my wife what she had missed. Then it was time to write.
“I returned to my room before seven. I felt very satisfied indeed with my performance. I told myself: ‘ I am alright. I am quite sound if I can do this every day. I shall be able to write a hundred lines of poetry, read everything I want to read, in addition to classwork…’ This gave place to a distinct memory of half a dozen similar resolves in the past and the lapses….I checked this defeatism! ‘Don’t you see this is entirely different? I am different today…”
I couldn’t think of a single topic to write on, so I jotted down some random pieces about different things. And felt very satisfied. Just as I am feeling now, after having written one more.