H is for Happy Birthday to You
June 2013, Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri, Coorg, Karnataka, India
Day 2, 5:30 IST: In the wee hours of a misty, rain drenched morning in stunning Coorg (where we were on a holiday), my lucid dreams were broken by somebody whistling. A shrill, happy whistle, the pattern of notes going up and down the scale, a whistle that stood out amidst the pitter-patter of the rain. One that sounded like a melodious, “Happy Birthday to you.” I assumed it was one of the locals, or a visitor at the resort, on a morning walk. I pulled myself out of the cosy comforts of my soft, warm blanket, wrapped myself with a light shawl, and peered out of the massive window in our suite that overlooked the hills and the thicket of green. It was mostly misty and all I could see was the silhouettes of the huge rain kissed tress and the lush hills. The whistling continued. It did stop for a few minutes, to re-start agin. “Happy Birthday to You.” “Happy Birthday to You”. I pictured a cheery person; on his morning walk, as the light drizzle continued to fall upon his umbrella and brush against him, whistling a melodious tune. A tune that portended the start of a fresh new day. Listening to him was soothing to say the least, and I felt wisps of happiness falling upon my being; like confetti in slo-mo.
I decided to walk outside and see if I could spot the whistler. After all it would be nice to say Bonjour to him and appreciate him for his whistling skills. I grabbed one of the huge umbrella’s and walked out of the door, as a gust of fresh morning breeze, interspersed with the rain droplets blew into my face. I stood there, scanning as far as my eyes could take me, but not a soul in sight. The whistling had stopped suddenly. I assumed “Happy Whistler” had walked away. Suddenly the whistling started all over again, though this time from afar. I was pretty mesmerised, I must say with the fine precision of his whistles.
The DH and the girls were still fast asleep. I went back in, put the water in the electric kettle to boil for our morning cuppa. I prodded and kissed the DH out of his slumber and ardently narrated my little morning tryst. As we sat sipping our cuppa he listened to me for a while and then smiled and said, “What makes you think that was a person. It could have been a bird.” My jaws dropped, and it seemed my bubble had just burst. Or had it? Well, without sounding too disappointed I said, “No worries, we shall find out when we meet Col. Muttana, who managed the Heritage and Observatory at Vivanta.
The DH was right; as usual! 😐 It was a bird yes! “Well, I shouldn’t be complaining”, I thought to myself. I had discovered another wondrous facet of nature. A bird that sounded like a human. And that too without being taught to sing like one. Well, this guy is called the Whistling Thrush or Whistling School Boy and locally the Romeo of Malabar. It’s his way to telling his male species to stay out of his turf, away from his sweetheart. They usually whistle during day break. and at other times of the day they utter sharp single or two note whistles. And I thought he was wooing me. Sigh!
Our Whistling School Boy by Shrikant Kelkar, Source: YouTube
I found out that the Whistling Thrush are omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, frogs, earthworms and berries. They are usually seen single or in pairs. This is a bold species and is often found close to human habitation. They were also tamed and kept as cage birds in the past.
Day 3 from my Notes: Woken up once again, by my new-found alarm clock. Well, who else but the Romeo of Malabar. I scrambled out of bed, wore my parka, grabbed my phone and stepped outside, into the crisp new morning. I put my phone on voice record and saved the “Romeo’s” mellifluous song. (Unfortunately I lost the data on my phone recently, so don’t have the original recordings. But, after some diligent research on the world-wide web, I found a video which still is exactly not what I was besotted by. The “Romeo” does not really sing Happy Birthday to You in this video, but it still gives you a good idea of how he sounds)
Hear him Woo you, Credits: Harsha Koda. Source: Youtube
The epiphany this “Romeo” lent was, “Start each day by singing “Happy Birthday to You” – to yourself and for others too if you can. It’s a brand new beginning after all. Celebrate and cherish each day as though it was your birthday. The age-old tradition of waking up to the chirping of birds at dawn or the rooster telling the farm folks to rise and shine with it’s cacophonous cock-a-doodle-doo, is unique in itself, versus the alarm clocks, or rather the phone alarms these days that go on snooze mode. There’s a certain charm in waking up to the sounds of nature. After all they come foisted with lot of love from Mother Earth and keep us attuned and in synch with her.
Foot Note: On a trip to Bombay, last year I had the pleasure of being woken up by another winged wonder, that too in busy Bandra. That’s another tale I’ll leave now for posterity.
My theme for this year’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is Travel Epiphanies that are my very own tales of adventure and revelation. I will be writing 26 posts throughout the month of April. You can read my theme here.