Adukkam: Home is where the unwashed feet are

Utopia is where
odd fellows rest,
bench-pressing inkblots
with blank stares
and babysit blue orchids,
bearing stars for seeds,
that come in pairs.

I have lost interest in keeping count of the number of birds I have spotted. I let it go around the 300-mark. But I still obsess over spotting new birds during every trail. If I don’t, it’s not as though my heart loses purpose. It just sports a stubble and drunkenly fumbles.

Orange Minivet
Orange Minivet

I realized how much it meant to me during a trail on the road to Addukam three months ago. Adukkam is a tiny village along a very bumpy and bird-friendly route from Kodaikanal to Theni. I have had plenty of luck there before.

The first morning had me spotting the usual suspects – Spotted Doves, Drongos, Hill Mynahs, Pied Bushchats, White-Cheeked Barbets, Orange Minivets and Chestnut Headed Bee-Eaters. A Crested Serpent Eagle showed up in the afternoon. I had started birding later than usual that morning. I made my peace with it.

The next day wasn’t any better due to a sudden downpour in the morning. Besides a familiar flock of Vernal Hanging Parrots, a pair of Black-Lored Tits and a darling of a Jerdon’s Leafbird, I couldn’t spot any other bird.

Black-Lored Tit
Black-Lored Tit

The final day had me feeling nervous. I was restless that I hadn’t made a new feathered friend yet during the trip. The early morning hours quickly passed by. A Hoopoe was nice enough to say hello. But still no luck. By afternoon, I was chewing on my fingernails.

The weather was still a cool shade of yellow, so I sat down to stare the water-coloured terrain. I told myself to quit having these vague expectations in birding; that the experience is more important than the ecstasy of seeing a new plumage, hearing a new call or watching a new kind of love unfold.

I felt a little better. And I continued along the trail. During the early evening hours, these amazing birds I had never seen before just started showing up.

I saw a Streak-Breasted Woodpecker battering the bark of a tree. A Bar-Winged Flycatcher Shrike that looked like a dart with an attitude. A gorgeous Painted Bush Quail couple crossing the road, looking like circus bunnies set free for the first time. A Blue-Throated Blue Flycatcher (I think). And the highlight – a Asian Fairy-Bluebird couple. The male, with his brushstrokes for blue on his plumage, singing to the wild and the female, with a metallic teal skirt, carrying parts of her home in her beak.

Asian Fairy Bluebird
Asian Fairy Bluebird

One could think there were life’s lessons during this trip.  That somehow it all adds up into an inspiring equation about how I should never give up on my dreams. That no matter how ambitious they might be, I should keep trying. But I didn’t do anything different during the final hours of the trip.

Maybe the lesson is about breaking down my dreams into little puzzle pieces. Then maybe these pieces will find me as long as I stay focused on the bigger picture, and things will just work out.


Come to think of it, there is just one lesson for me. Maybe for you too.  Our brains are wired in such a way that familiarity, even in its least venomous form, breeds indifference. Commit to change every now and then. Surprise yourself, or else you just might lose sight of who you are.

54 thoughts on “Adukkam: Home is where the unwashed feet are

Add yours

  1. I is back after having gone through 6 crisp pages of the dictionary…and I says hurrah …we have a beautiful sensitive piece…I once babysat a leetle owl who was more terrified than I 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Watermelon helps! 🙂 I’m working towards wonderful and hopefully wonderful writing! Thanks for the welcome! It’s words and pictures all the way from here! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘I told myself to quit being a rascal. To possibly drop these great expectations of mine.’ -maybe feathers have in-built expectation detectors?

    ‘They looked like circus bunnies set free for the first time, still wearing the make-up and colourful clothes.’- just gorgeous, little circ de sole quails

    We should never give up on our dreams, just the expectations of them, I think 😛

    p.b.s (post-bird-script) the video made me want to hug a sweaty wrestler

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your entire last paragraph is just fantastic. I completely agree with you on familiarity breeding indifference. Mixing things up on a regular basis keeps us from getting complacent and bored. Change — even a little bit — is always good! As for achieving your dream, NOT getting it can lead you through many wonderful twists and turns along the way, even though your eye never left the prize. In the engineering world, we call that a ‘state function.’ There are many paths to take you to the same result, but some paths are just better when they’re longer and full of surprises. For nature and birding, it’s the journey that counts the most for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Shannon, the journey counts the most as far as our pastoral inclinations are concerned.

      You’ve elucidated perfect on why “change” should matter in our little worlds.

      Thank you Shannon!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh the Asian Fairy Bluebird is so gorgeous!! Beautiful pictures as always. I have to say I’m so amazed by the number of birds you have spotted in Tamil Nadu..I’ve really underestimated the wildlife in my own country! I have to take your advice for where to go next time I visit 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beauty! But it is your marvelously descriptive writing that is the standout for me today: “…it’s not as though my heart loses purpose. It just sports a stubble and drunkenly fumbles.” Beautiful!! 🙂

    PS: If you are in Kodi, you escaped the worst of the Chennai torridity. Seems like I was too quick to term this summer mild! Hope the rains help.


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