Witnessing a Cyclone-3

The last segment of the storm was that with rain. Though the gusty winds had shaken up almost everything by now, the rain added its own touch to the experience. I certainly feel that on a normal day I have witnessed much more rainfall. But today, even the slightest rain came down very hard on us.

The rain drops gathered massive velocity, thanks to being aided by the wind. They came down with such intensity that they managed to break past the beading seals in the window, flooding a small area of room.

After a few minutes of continuous rainfall and periodical winds howling past, the situation dialed down quickly. As a matter of fact, the skies cleared up and one could see the sun set. We went around the house to take stock of the situation. Though we didn’t sustain much damage, the foliage in our garden and a few houses in the vicinity did.

Our encounter with Cyclone Nisarga wasn’t as catastrophic as we thought it would be, thanks to last minute change in trajectory. But it sure imprinted in our hearts and minds that nature has reached its breaking point and the pay back for our sins were long overdue.

Witnessing a Cyclone-2

The storm started getting stronger by the minute. It came in brief pockets that carried much of its might. One such pocket had passed by few minutes ago, blowing away the solar water setup and the roof of a nearby house sending them crashing to the ground.

Then came this one which played its game with the mango tree we had planted right in front of the house. The earlier pockets had been rocking the small plantation for quite some time now. By watching the ferocity of the wind that rocked the trees like possessed people, we knew that one of the trees had their fates sealed. We assumed it would be the coconut as it was the ‘black sheep’ of the lot- never giving a proper produce in the last 15 odd years. It also had a lot of erosion at the base and its leaves broke off prematurely. But it was the mango tree, the star of our garden that was on the books.

As one such pocket of gusty wind came along, one of the bigger branches of the canopy, the one that used to give us a large number of mangoes, spanned from the main trunk and crashed to the ground. The power to the wind was so hard that it broke the branch into two segments, one of them crashing on to the road.

As we were still shaken by the solar panel fiasco, we didn’t focus on this very episode. But it was later when I skimmed through the footage and realized that I did capture that very moment on film. Though we were a little heartbroken that a good portion of the tree we nurtured and cared for about 2 decades snapped of in a matter of few seconds, we counted our blessings as there was no damage to anyone. And after the storm had passed, we realized that the condition of the foliage down the road was much worse- a trail of destruction till the very end.

Witnessing a Cyclone-1

As if 2020 wasn’t enough of a bummer in itself, Mumbai witnessed its first cyclone which went by the name ‘Nisarga’ in over 100 years. Though the maximum city was mostly spared by the cyclone due to its last-minute change of path, the region Navi Mumbai got to witness some of the power and glory of Mother Nature.

The Konkan region being on the west coast of the country isn’t as susceptible to cyclonic storms as compared to its eastern counter parts. Cyclones do form in the Arabian Sea but they rarely make landfall in the region, especially in the city of Mumbai. Even though there is debate on the previous cyclone of 1882, this one wasn’t missed by any chance, thanks to the internet and the fresh memory of the havoc caused by the Cyclone Amphan a few days prior.

Though the city and I have witnessed different types rains and floods, this one was new. As a matter of fact, there was hardly much rain compared to a normal rainy day in the city. But the wind was what turned the tables-literally and figuratively.

First was the big sense of calm. It was as if time had stopped in its track. Though there weren’t dark clouds, the sky was dull and there was an eerie silence all around, amplified by the lockdown. And that’s when the cyclone made its entrance.

One doesn’t see the wind, but feels its presence. Trees rocked so hard and wild that they could snap any moment. Even the few raindrops in the air crashed down hard, gaining immense velocity by the wind. The howling of the wind from the gaps of closed windows seemed as if death was whispering it was time to go. One might have been in the security and comfort of their home but in a scenario this apocalyptic, no ever was truly safe.

Wonders from the Wetlands-5

A sequence of images showcasing the landing pattern of a flock of Lesser Flamingos at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.

Watching a flock of flamingos land is vivid display of coordination, discipline and skill. Being the large birds they are, Flamingos deploy a different strategy compared to their smaller feathered counterparts. As they approach their landing zone, the flock often takes multiple trips in the air in a circular fashion, slowly descending into the area cutting down their momentum with each drop in height. When they reach an ideal combination of lowered height and momentum, they land into the holding pond to join their counterparts. They even deploy their wings to glide and often flap them, possibly to cut down and counter even more momentum.

No wonder humans deployed this brilliant technique in the aviation world where aircrafts use a similar strategy while landing on an airstrip, a manoeuvre very much favourable in a crowded city like Mumbai.

Wonders from the Wetlands-4

A flock of lesser flamingos fly overhead, making their way to the holding ponds at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai. To witness these birds fly right over your head, maintaining such coordination and precision has been one of my favorite moments ever.

Right from their approach to the subsequent fly past, these birds generate a wild buzzing sound possibly due to the flapping of wings in such large numbers. A sound so wild and terrifying that it mimicked that of a Luftwaffe Squadron heading towards war. And coupled with the beautiful spectacle of the plane blue sky being painted by hundreds of figures in vibrant red and pink colors- one was surely in for a sensory overload. I was so overwhelmed by the first sighting that it left my mouth hanging and ears buzzing for a while and was able to make a few pictures only when the next batch came in.

This surely is nature at its finest and a memory of a lifetime!

Wonders from the Wetlands-2

A flock of flamingos make their way around the holding pond in unison like that of a marching parade, as seen at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.

Sights like these are a regular during the birding season. Though there are hundreds of birds that are either resident species or migratory visitors, nothing beats the spectacular show put up by the flamingos. Be it their ‘larger than life’ figures, the vibrant coloured feathers or the precision they maintain while flying past or landing, watching them in this region has been a favourite of mine.

Having seen many birds during my time, being able to witness these magnificent beings descends from the skies often seems like a dream, too good to be true. But what is more captivating is the fact that these birds and sightings are so accessible to witness, this close to home- something that is one of the true boons of this land.

Wonders from the Wetlands-1

The Covid-19 saga and the lockdown has been one of the toughest times that people had to face lately. As the battle with the invisible enemy continues, one positive effect has been the increasing in the number of wildlife in areas they originally used to thrive in.
The wetlands of Navi Mumbai have been fortunate enough to be the bearer of such a positive phenomenon. There has been a steady increase in the number of migratory birds in the region, especially those of flamingos during the lockdown.
Flamingos (Lesser & Greater) have been one the numerous migratory visitors to the wetlands in Navi Mumbai for quite sometime. I myself have documented them for half a decade. Inspite of having a late arrival this season, they were found visiting the region in scores during the months of April and May, right after the lockdown was implemented. As the lockdown put the country into a standstill, the drop in pollution levels, lack of movement and disturbances in the land might have prompted these magnificent creatures to take advantage and flock in numbers that never have been witnessed in a long time. Though I couldn’t visit the site to document this wonderful phenomenon, my heart is content. All I wish for is that when the world is back on track, people learn to be more responsible towards nature, nurturing and caring for such beautiful gifts for all of time to come.

Note- This image was made during the 2015-2016 period, a duration when I was documenting the region.

Silhouettes from the Sunset Past-III

The sun makes past the last set of cloudline before setting into the Arabian Sea, as seen from Navi Mumbai, India.

The sky is a canvas that often paints the wildest of pictures. Sometimes from looking like ‘The Eye of Ra’ (in this picture) to a full-blown monster ready to devour the land (when a storm approaches), the sun and clouds are elements that paint this canvas into a memory of a lifetime!

Silhouettes from Sunset Past-I

The sun sets amidst a pallet of colorful skies, beautiful clouds and towering buildings, as seen from Navi Mumbai, India.
The month of May has always been my personal favorite for shooting the sun during the golden hour. Not only is the sun at its best, there has always been some kind of interesting cloudscape or colors in the sky making for a much interesting and dramatic scene. A scene so soothing to the eye that one will forgive and forget the scorching heat endured during the day!
Any even though this image was made 8 years ago, May is the Way (still) to witness the best of what the sun has to offer, especially at the golden hour.

Circa-12th May, 2012

Sparrow Spotting

A male sparrow perches on the branch of a tree with a blade of glass in its beak before heading back to its nest during sunset.

I love the fact that we are able to spot sparrows much more often like we would in the past. There was a brief period when these little ones had become sparse in sight, maybe be due to the change in radio waves and pollution levels in the air. Though they can be mischievous at times, stealing fruits and vegetables being grow in the garden, I am more than happy to see them grow in numbers along with other flora and fauna in the region.