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Wildbuzz: Of the ties of silence, diving champs, and the scorpion’s tale

opinion Updated: Dec 17, 2017 13:46 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Wildbuzz,Sanjana,Sanjana Nagpal

A brood of scorplings being transported on their mother’s back. (Milind Gogte)

Just after her birth, jaundice had seeped into Sanjana Nagpal’s brain and she suffered a permanent speech and hearing impairment. “Irrespective of the things going on around me, my silence gives me more creativity. In some way, I am able to connect with nature more deeply,” says Sanjana, a 22-year-old painter from the Delhi College of Art.

Her passion for painting originated in a childhood gone amiss and she turned a professional artist later. She has bagged 45 awards and certificates in her budding career. Her work of aqua mystique, ‘Life Under Water’, was on display as part of an exhibition ‘Celebrating the Transit’ at Punjab Kala Bhawan. The painting charms with rich and enigmatic colours seeping into water. Lily pads are rounded rainbows and light illuminates but half the pond. The artist is deft; a parallel grace and vigour of movement liberates fish stilled in paint.

The painting, ‘Life Under Water’. (VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

Sanjana’s silence is seamless, from her impairment to nature to fish to muteness of drying paint. “The silence of nature draws me... the way nature communicates with anyone without words... So, I try to paint different aspects of nature. The innocence of fish attracts me... they just run away with a little disturbance,” Sanjana told this writer.

Sanjana’s partial exclusion resonates in life under blue drops. “In water, there are lots of things going on, but still a fish is lonely. In the same way, there are many things going on around me, but sometimes I feel I am alone in a crowd.”

However, the sense of doom that defines humanity’s destructive engagement with nature does not impair this artist’s positivity: “There are a few people who have time to connect with nature and those who do, express it in different ways like planting trees, keeping surroundings clean or painting. But I feel, now, that humans have become aware of nature and everyone is doing their bit.”


Military history is incomplete without anecdotes and tales of battling humans, though these may not even find a footnote in academia’s tomes. UT administrator VP Singh Badnore, who conceived the Military Literature Festival, is a storehouse of military history and anecdotes with his Mertiya Rathore lineage tracing to the renowned warrior, Jaimal, brother of Meerabai, who led the battle against Akbar’s forces in the 1567 battle of Chittor.

A casual mention of scorpions and Badnore, who is also a pucca wildlifer, comes out with the sting from a soldiering tale. “In the old days, the army was mystified by the phenomenon of men sleeping in tents being bitten frequently by scorpions. They discovered that paraffin lamps were placed too close to the tents. The lamps and dripping oil attracted insects which lured scorpions. Some scorpions wandered into tents and bit the sleeping soldiers. After that, lamps were placed at a safe distance from the tents and bites abated,” Badnore told this writer.

Talk about Chandigarh’s green cover and Badnore’s mind leaps back to ‘soldiers who ate trees’! He recalled that during World War I, the princely states sent soldiers and cavalry to battle the Germans in Europe. “Jodhpur sent Sir Pratap Singh, who led his regiments at the grand old age of 70. The Jodhpur regiments took up their battle lines and broke tree branches in the morning for their daily ‘datun’ (teeth-cleaning twigs). They were, anyway, armed with fierce looks and bore a reputation of being excellent fighters. German soldiers glimpsed the ‘morning chewing’ through field-glasses and nervously reported back to their officers that it would be very difficult to fight soldiers who ate trees for breakfast!” quipped Badnore.


The region’s birding community has reason to cheer this winter courtesy those dainty divers, the grebes. On Thursday, six Slavonian or horned grebes were observed at the famous Dighal wetland in Jhajjar, Haryana, by Rakesh Ahlawat of the Nature Conservation Foundation. Authentic records from India of this migratory grebe are very rare and include two from Harike in February 2001 by Anand Prasad. Grebes are birds that dive, and then seem to disappear forever like the Loch Ness monster!

A vulnerable species, the Slavonian grebe is difficult to differentiate from its migratory cousin, the black-necked grebe, when both are in the non-breeding or winter plumage. A fair comparison in the field of the two very similar grebes is on offer this winter. As luck would have it, a single black-necked grebe landed at the Sukhna lake recently, the first record for the species in the inter-state capital region spanning a 50-km radius from Chandigarh.

Now please don’t ask what features differentiate the two grebes as it would consume most of my column space!

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 13:46 IST