Birds of Migration

It is almost time for the stunning Siberian Cranes, the exotic Greater Flamingos, the beautiful Harriers and Ruffs to return to their native land. These migratory birds had arrived in our country at the onset of winter season. They travailed long distances to escape the harsh cold winters of their native land. They had come in search of more favourable feeding grounds. The migratory birds usually suffer high risks in mortality and also become susceptible to human hunting. They reach their final destinations after battling stormy weather conditions and starvation. This phenomenon of bird migration never ceases to amaze me. It is no less than a miracle, that a pair of wings and sheer grit is capable of taking one across continents.

It is also time to bid goodbye to another kind of ‘migratory breed’ – the Non-Resident Indians. As soon as the winters in the West become severe, the NRIs catch the first flight home, and thus begins their annual sojourn to the motherland. They arrive just in time for the much awaited dose of ‘Sarson da Saag’ (Mustard Leaves) and ‘Makki di Roti’ (Corn Bread). The ‘Malaai maarka Lassi’ (Cream laden buttermilk) completes the feast. A group of NRIs can be spotted from a distance, each carrying a Bisleri water bottle and sporting a pair of trendy eyewear from sunrise till the sun sets. If nothing else, their loud and gregarious babbling in heavily-accented Punjabi is a sure giveaway of their NRI status.

The highlight of their trip, besides reuniting with long lost friends and family, is shopping. The NRIs play a major role in contributing towards the economy by shopping for everything under the sun. Be it a sewing needle, a griddle pan for making Rotis or branded clothes, traditional wear and even jewellery – it all seems cheaper when the mighty dollar gets exchanged for the humble rupee.
No matter how much they complain about lack of forceful implementation of rules and regulations, potholed roads and corrupt cops, they secretly find it liberating to break a traffic signal or two, without having to pay a hefty ticket for it later. A passing incident of bribery becomes a worthwhile tale to tell, and future generations are cautioned about the finer nuances of fraudulence.
For gastronomic delights, the NRIs play safe by sticking mostly to home cooked food. But a few adventurous ones indulge in savoury and spicy street food delicacies like Golgappas, Chaat and Tikki at the risk of falling prey to a serious bout of tummy troubles.
It’s a win-win scenario at wedding parties, where NRIs add a dash of glitz and glamour to the event, while they enjoy finger licking food, endless rounds of wine and foot tapping Bhangra, all under one roof.

After hosting the Flamingos and the Foreign Family for the winter, we gear up to bid them a tearful goodbye. The nip in the air gets replaced with soft, balmy breeze. Layers of clothes get shed. There is spring in the air, and Geraniums are in full bloom. It’s now time for the Northern Pintails and the Non-Resident Indians to go back to their native lands, until next year.
Isn’t it truly fascinating how the migratory breed of both birds and beings have managed to spread the fragrance of their presence and perseverance world over – all with a pair of wings and sheer will?