Look up! There’s a lease on life!

This Birdwatcher absorbs! Read his book to absorb the wisdom that birds have for you. Don’t fall for the fallacy of tuning in with rare bird snobs, by-heart observation freaks, and checklist fanatics.
Image for representational purpose only.  | Express
Image for representational purpose only. | Express

HYDERABAD: Aasheesh Pittie, editor of 'Indian Birds' and South Asian ornithology pioneer, amassed 15,75,000+ words in Latin and cryptic DOIs for 40 years. He gave away his life's work in open-source and authored bibliographies that nest in Harvard University's Ernst Mayr Library, dubs himself an amateur ornithologist!  

Don’t mistake his modesty as blasphemy though, especially those aspiring birdwatchers who perhaps only wish to learn, to experience the avian world in its essence — not to possess (a list of rare sightings, tick checklists or click photographs), but at heart, to resemble, to be touched by its beauty — to conjoint with that of their own, unlocking wisdom.

"This is the writing of heart and not by heart," says Aasheesh, whose first literary natural history book: 'The Living Air', was released by Juggernaut and Indian Pitta (the Country's first dedicated book imprint for bird lovers, policymakers, and conservationists), today is promising a paradigm shift, in Indian avian literature, for it hints the discovery of therapy of new kind, promising kind.

He writes, "Birdwatching, in its essence, is the fine art of becoming invisible - of merging into the surroundings in such a way that the breath which nature has held back upon your entry into its parlour is joyfully exhaled and normal respiration restored; in such a way that the frozen statues of animate wildlife, interrupted by your brashness, are coaxed into resuming their activities; in such a way that your aural and visual senses are drenched with the buoyancy of life; in such a way that you find a way outside yourself and become a part of the pageant around you."

The whole book encourages absorption through senses, makes ordinary bird sightings extraordinary moments of revelation and orchestrates a transcendental experience of birdwatching, allowing the observer to intimately connect with avian life.

When the author is painting certain of his encounters, with birds in words, reading becomes a physical experience of true serenity and intense vitality combined, evoking introspection, a sense of connection, anticipation and meaning, solidified with the regular metrics (checklists and facts). A transformative journey indeed.

He adds, "There are also those who collect bird notes and lists of birds seen in various places. Bird notes, when compiled properly, can shed light on the life histories of our avian friends and on the dramas and little intrigues which unfold in their lives each day. Bird lists help us fathom the ecological viability of an area, a habitat or a geographical feature. Despite their many uses, the only problem with listers is that they seldom assemble their notes into one comprehensive list for an area - so much so that ornithologists often despair that the world with listers!"

While this methodical approach may yield valuable data, it inadvertently stifles the magic of nature's communion. By embracing patience and fostering sensorial absorption, one can unearth a profound connection with the natural world and rediscover the essence of birdwatching as a meditative and transformative experience, says he.

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The New Indian Express