A serenade with the birds

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Something was different in today’s morning encounter with nature. Given that I could recognize no  bird other than a crow a week ago, I managed to spot a Blue Jay, Cardinal, Robin and of course a crow during my morning jog. All thanks to the bird walk along Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary trails guided by members of the Cayuga Bird Club which I went on last Sunday. 

Impressed by this video –, I always longed to visit Cornell lab of ornithology.  I checked their website and was glad to know that Cayuga Bird Club conducted free guided bird walks at 7.30 AM every Saturday and Sunday in the woods around the lab. We had rented a car previous day and along with 4 friends from Cornell I did a great job in getting up early and making it to woods on time. We waited patiently for club members to show up. We could see that people there had huge cameras and binoculars and I didn’t realize their importance until later. At around 7:30 AM, a club member named Becky Hansen joined us. We were more happy to have her company, for she came with a bunch of awesome binoculars which turned out to be extremely helpful during the bird walk. It was funny that we were there for bird watching and didn’t even know how to calibrate the binoculars.

Around 15 of us were there and everyone followed Becky with a fresh energy and morning smile.  We went to a small bridge overlooking a lake where Goose were in abundant. Like small kids we soon started enjoying seeing the geese and other birds around with our binoculars. I felt it best to view with my glasses on for better clarity.

We then took a trail and reached another lake where we spotted few more birds. Becky explained why exactly the birds serenade and it was interesting knowing few other facts too. Unlike in humans, male birds have an upper hand in beauty.  We continued along the trail and spotted a Sapsucker (A version of woodpecker) after which the surrounding woods is named. I had never seen wood-pecking in action and it was fun watching it live. Soon we spotted Cardinal, Blue Jay, Robins, Kingfisher, Red Crowned, Kingfisher, Red-headed woodpecker, etc. It was simply soothing to see the array of bright colors in these birds. Binoculars were great and we took in everything we could and had our sweet fun. Once the bird is spotted, letting others know about the exact position of the bird in the woods is also an art. Some people had funny ways of telling this.

A great Blue Heron was chilling at the lake near the viewing platform and everyone got an amazing view of it while it stood on one leg. Cardinal was actually easy to recognize given its bright red color and I could spot it without anybody’s help. I also became acquainted with its distinguishing chirp. Humorously, I was termed as Cardinal expert by Becky.

Along the way Becky told us to be aware of the Poison Ivy weed and we also could see the matrices of holes on the trees created by woodpeckers. We walked few more distance around and it was at the final bridge which was on a swampy area were we saw huge of number of birds, especially the Red-Winged Blackbird. I was taken aback with its beauty and I just wowed. Realizing how impressed I was Becky said, “You were attracted by the beauty, imagine how it could be for the female birds”. Soaking in all the beauty and sounds we completed the walk at around 9:30 AM and thanked Becky for the beautiful morning. Along with my morning jog I now can recognize more birds.

Nikhil Navali

Categories: Cornell, Ithaca, Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The day I stood on my legs again

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I don’t remember the first steps I put as a kid, but I surely do when I walked with just my legs today after 41 days. I went through plethora of emotions during this time which I will cherish for my entire life.

I had inflicted my left leg with the chip fractures while attempting a jump from a peepal tree during a bike trip on march 30th. My left foot upto ankle had swollen to almost twice its size and I couldn’t afford to put any weight over it. My friends thought it was a ligament tear or a hair-line fracture since I wasn’t rolling on the street with pain. So I continued with the bike trip, traveled 300 more kms as a pillion on Enfeild and reached Bangalore. Even in that painful condition I dared to ride my YBX around 15 kms from a friend’s place to my home in the night. I was able to change the gears and stuck to 4th gear for almost 95% of the ride and never did I place my left foot on ground. I just wanted to consult a doctor and know what exactly it was but until then the incapability of movement and the questions raised a dark cloud in my head. Blood had started clotting at few places and I didn’t dare to place my foot on ground. The next day, my flatmate Vinod and his friend took me to Yashomati hospital and the first reaction from the doctor after seeing my leg was “This doesn’t look good at all man”. I prepared for the worst; he asked for an X-ray, got it done and then came few soothing words from the doctor. He mentioned that the fracture itself was not major but was at a crucial junction in the ankle. He also said that I just missed being in the jaws of operation and we need to hope the chips to join the main bone. Due to the swelling he put a hard blue plastic cast only in the back of the leg and covered the foot and lower leg with bandage. I wasted no time in deciding to go to my hometown Hubli, I left that night in sleeper bus and went home to rest for next 38 days.
Hubli hospital:
First week was fun as my brother was in Hubli for summer holidays and I made him help me for silliest of things. I always hopped for movement troubling my right leg and our tenants at the ground floor. For almost the whole week I didn’t step out of my home. Doctor had advised me to consult in Hubli after a week for which I went to Sushrutha hospital. It was at this hospital, I had the worst feeling in the last 41 days. Doctor saw the X-ray and he was unsure of the origin of the piece that was hanging below the left tibia. He asked to get a CT scan done and the wait till the doctor’s report at the casualty bed was crushing. I just hoped that I recover without getting operated. A fellow patient’s case at the ward made mine look small and I am ashamed of the fact that I was calmed looking at others worries. Finally my mom came and asked the ward boy to take me to mini operation theater. I still remember her asking if an operation was needed for which she said no for my relief. At the mini OT, the doctor with around 6 pairs of helping hands put a blue cast plaster around my foot and ankle and advised rest for 6 weeks. I was asked to walk but I couldn’t due to pain.
Stay at home:
During adolescence, I always loved to laze around at home and enjoyed only feasting, browsing, chatting and sleeping. I was supposed to do exactly that and somehow it seemed out of place now. With lots of travel and adventures in the past 3 years, I was groomed to be physically active. It was a different thing that even the chores were done with adventurous spirit and hopping for even small distances tired me. I broke the usual home wheel chair in the first day, tried moving by sitting on the skateboard, mom even bought a walking stick but I preferred hopping to every alternative. It was only a day after I came out of the Sushrutha hospital I guess, I tried walking with the cast on. Though it pained slightly I could walk; I was very ecstatic that I even messaged my friends about this latest achievement. In the coming days I gradually shifted from hopping to walking on the cast but avoided on rough/dirty ground outside. I even voted on April 17th at my constituency which made me feel proud.
I had opted for work from home and along with work, I kept myself occupied with making new friends, learning long forgotten data structures, browsing, cracking jokes with my family, etc. Actually I am in the middle of a preparation for one of the biggest academic step I intend to take soon. I started researching on the same, made few new connections and went few places to get some work done. My cousin Vikku never turned my request down and always supported me. Thankfully major part of the work had to be done online and I too enjoy managing my work virtually. Never did I stop believing about my recovery and with the harsh track record I have, I really took good care of my leg.
The last time I stayed at home for such a long length was after my 12th exams. This time with a mature mind, I had the opportunity to closely observe the sacrifices my parents make. My mom not only helped me with chores, she also took utmost care about my nutrition. Calcium is an important ingredient for bone strength and I consumed milk, curds, green leaves without fail. Dad not only helped me in transportation but kept the spirits high at home by cracking witty real time jokes. At the end of April, rains started in Hubli and I enjoyed every bit of the thunderstorm. I just sat near the window/door and admired the transparent rain drops painting the nature green. In the evening, Vikku and I used to sit on the terrace and chat random stuff. Slowly, the pain reduced and I could walk quite a distance with the cast which eventually tore a bit of the sole. Mangoes, now the mentioning of this would make my away-from-home-bachelor friends jealous; this being the mango season, I had them every day. I kept checking my weight every week and thanks to the home food and literally non exercise routine, I increased one kg/week. Now, I am at my heaviest and Chiranth, my colleague asks me to use this fat for the upcoming harsh winter.
Back to Bangalore:
It was almost 5 and half weeks since I went to office and I decided to come back to Bangalore to try to fit into routine. I covered my fancy looking blue cast with a shoe bag and went limping to office. It was a strange feeling in the first to attend office and I never moved from my cubicle to rest my legs. Currently totally 3 friends, Suhas, Chiranth and Hari help me get to office and back on their vehicles. Dad asked me to consult the doctor today and I agreed. I hoped to walk on just my legs by the end of the consultation. But I was doubtful as the doctors in big cities usually instruct strict procedures and it was only 6 weeks since the fracture (the same doc had estimated around 2 months of plaster). I visited the doc and got X-ray done. Doc saw my X-ray and nodded once for which I was unsure of what he wanted to convey and he nodded again which lighted a hope in me. Then the golden words came from his mouth “Cast can now be removed to reduce the stiffness”. I was happy and got ready for removal. A hand saw like machine is used to remove the cast and undergoing that procedure was experience in itself. I felt the vibrations so close that I just hoped that the next blade in motion wouldn’t slice my leg. The fact that my cast had already worn out at the bottom worried me more. But the nurse carefully removed my cast only for me to discover a burnt-like black foot covered with dead skin with slightly deformed shape. Without thinking much I placed my foot on ground and walked effortlessly. Though I was walking, I felt like flying, I was on clouds. Its so mesmerizing that body can heal by itself. I dream about many things and every organ is important to make them come true. Excited, I came back home and right now my left foot is in a hot-water bucket.
Made any observations about my feelings during this phase? I was hardly low even though I missed trips and even cancelled my Himalayan trek this July due to the injury. I believe that I have seen my emotional abyss during the doomsday period. Nothing takes me to that level of sadness, literally nothing at all. Frankly, being a neophiliac idiot, I enjoyed this unfortunate experience too. I witnessed the brightest part of my parents and friends love and I am ever grateful to them. I realized that I cant fool around like a kid anymore and maybe this was a warning for me to slow down. My next task is to train my leg back to its glory so that I come back with an adventurous post soon.

Nikhil Navali

Categories: Life | 4 Comments

24 things to do when not in a relationship. A straight edger guy’s response.

I saw 2 posts today 23 things to do instead of getting married and 24 things, a response to it making rounds in facebook. I couldn’t relate myself to those, cuz its not time for me to marry yet and I am not a girl. I had read the post Typical story of 20 something IT guy a few months earlier and I thought why not come up with a list especially for those who had a break up.

It’s a crucial stage when a guy is in 20’s. He is just in the inchoate stage of his career and his love would have left him for some reason. Without indulging into harmful activities, one can make use of the whale of time available to be a better person.

Without much ado, here is my list of 24 things to do instead of rushing into another relationship.

1. Do a high altitude trekking, especially in Himalayas.

2. Attend random Meetups.

3. Camp with friends on a beach or a hill top.

4. Be voracious. Feast on local food, try different restaurants.

5. Learn to cook. Cooking

6. Learn a form of dance or martial art. Martial Art

7. Take part in races like NEF Enduro(India), Spartan Race(USA),etc.

8. Give a surprise special gift to a friend in your group and enjoy his/her reaction.

9. Get someone out of depression. Cheer

10. Dance like crazy in a group (Corporate parties, public events) Dance

11. Regularly play the sport you excelled in school/college.

12. Do a road trip. Ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan, Rann of Kachchh, etc.

13. Spend the new year night at a beach in Goa.

14. Give something back to community/nature (Plant trees, teach kids, etc) Life partner

15. Take the exam which you always wanted to with extreme preparation. GRE, Civil Services, etc

16. Read novels.(Please not Ravinder or Nikita, try David Baldacci, Matthew Reilly) Reading

17. Do as many adventures as possible. Paragliding, Scuba diving, Rafting, etc

18. Plan and go for a self-sponsored family trip.

19. Code and release an app ( Play Store, App store, Marketplace)

20. Host or be a guest as a couchsurfer.

21. Experience hitchhiking. Hitchhiking

22. Travel, travel, travel, I cant stress enough. Travel

23. Share your experiences in a blog and read it later. Even better, write a viral post.

24. Once you are done with most of this, you will become more aware of life and have a clear idea about what you want in your life and don’t. Now go find a girl whose lifestyle matches yours.
Life partner

Then, sweep your girl off her feet by lifting her with your strong muscles or by feeding her that special dish you prepared or by taking her to a place which your friends haven’t yet posted in facebook or by teaching her the dance steps you learnt. The things you learn in 20 s are very important. Life is short and beautiful, so make it count. Rainbow

Let me know about your opinions in comments.

Nikhil Navali

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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