Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Life in an Urban Sprawl

Recently I visited Calcutta- I point-blank REFUSE to call it Kolkata. For those who don't know why I'm fussing about the names, there's a story behind that. So, originally this highly urban city was no more than a village in the swamps called Kolkiata. Or something like that. Then the Britishers came and their huge tongues couldn't get around such a complicated name and so they vulgarized it (that's an actual linguistic term) to Calcutta. As in: Caalcuttaaa. Or Caalcuhtaa. Well, now, 66 years after Indian independence the government had a look at these British names and decided to go back to our Indian roots. And so Calcutta is now Kolkata, Mumbai is now Chennai (or the other way around, can't remember) and so on. But I've grown up calling this city Calcutta (I pronounce it Caalcuttuh, which is how all Indians pronounce it) and I'm sure as sure that I'm not going to change now. Anyway. Off topic. When I came here, despite my belief that wildlife exists everywhere if you only look I wasn't so sure about here. You'll know what I mean if you visit. Essentially, it's an urban dump. My mother was recently celebrating that the trash heap down the road has been moved to a much more convenient location: under the bridge. The pavements have dressed themselves, over the years, in fine garments of plastic bags and betel juice from paans and sweet wrappers and crisp packets- sure you want me to go on? The streets are choked with pollution; you can literally see it floating through the air. You are serenaded pretty much all the time by the sound of roadside vendors, crows cawing, and cars honking. I'm pretty sure that in India, a car honks at the very least 100 times- a second. Only wildlife that can survive here are flies, crows, mynahs (there's an upside here: the mynahs are a different species from those in Singapore), and tiny sparrows. Sure, if you looked I'm sure you could find some tiny... overgrown.... polluted patches of green. The nearest park, a tiny little thing called Triangular Park barely half a kilometer square is choked with people in the mornings who are desperate for some green.  Enough doom and gloom? Good. Let's move on to happier subjects. Because I, the Glasswing Butterfly, can personally guarantee that even within such an urban area, life can survive, indeed, thrive. There's a tree outside where I'm staying, a big sprawling thing that, as a little girl, I picked leaves from as tea for my tea-set. Usually it's chock-a-block with crows and sparrows tweeting their tiny hearts out. But one day, as I was looking, just looking, I saw a bird! Such a cute little crested thing with red cheeks and a red spot on its tail and otherwise black but for a white throat. Oh, I was so excited. I dashed for the camera, pictures follow. If you don't think it's cute..... I'M GOING TO KILL YOU. On a happier note. I kept an eye out for butterflies, too, and I saw them. Don't think that where I'm staying is full of flowers and leaves and plants to attract a lot of wildlife. There's a terrace lined with dejected, dusty potted plants, a few overgrown bonsais, and some vegetable plants, really not a garden. Completely not a garden. The least garden like structure you'll ever see. Yet, a Common Hedge Blue deigned to visit this non-garden as did a Lime Butterfly, and so did a bunch of others that refused to have a picture taken of them and so be identified. Huh! These butterflies, I ask you. They're SO finicky sometimes.
Taken with an iPad.

Cute bird!

1 comment:

Hello, commenter.
Nice to know you're showing interest in what we're doing. The Glasswing Butterfly and the Blobfish urge you to be nice while commenting and will hunt you down and find you if you aren't. You don't want to see a near-invisible butterfly and a gloppy slimy blob outside your front door. Trust me.