It was the first time I was entering Salim Ali cenre for ornithology and nature (SACON). I was invited by birds with various voices, new colors and I was lost in a trance. Even the summer sun failed to shatter my enthusiasm. Bee eaters were flying like common crows, carrying insects on their beak, moving from one branch to another. I tried to click them but in vain, they were too fast to catch up with. Nevertheless took one picture.
As I walked, I found yellow clusters on mud. A swarm of butterflies were playing in the mud and that sight enchanted me so much that I sat there for sometime watching these butterflies in action.
Dr. Pramod welcomed me and my friend Saranya, another avid bird watcher. The first question he asked us was this-Name five yellow flowers. Now for all those who are reading this, try thinking of five yellow flowers. We started thinking and fumbling. We came up with marigold, sunflower, yellow hibiscus (what???? he asked). I thoughtI said something wrong. I sensed it. You have to think so much to name yellow flowers, he asked us. And yellow hibiscus and yellow rose are not yellow flowers Sharada. I wanted to ask this question to know how well you are connected to nature. You have so many flowers in yellow and why do you take so much time. But not bad. He knew we were nature lovers. I think he was testing us which was fine. This was the question he posed to kids who came there for workshops.
He gave us a lot of information and he told us about what he did to educate people on nature. He gave students various activites of bird and nest watching. These kids prepared reports on their study and presented papers. It kind of took me aback. I went to him with an idea of bringing out a book to educate people on local ecology and to make them understand about the environment. He said, I am trying to do this from the last nine years and there is no clear answer or way. We need to just keep trying and educate as much as people as we can. Make efforts!
His innovative ways of education impressed me. Making children paint birds, making them name butterflies, involving them in understanding nature was one of its kind attempt that I ever witnessed. Yes, in this world where kids are more on computers and television, where do they get time to step out and see green trees, watch the lovely birds in flight, paint their imaginations on nature?
After spending a whole day at Sacon, my head cleared and I realised it was time for action, time for experimentation. It was always ingrained in my mind, right from childhood, I had this special love for nature and would do anything to conserve them. I remember once when I went to Mysore zoo, some boys were throwing stones at animals. I shouted at them, asking shall I throw this on you? You will know how it will hurt. I was irked -how humans treated animals.
Dr. Pramod told us that in our initiative, we would never be able to fathom or measure how many people we impact but the impact is happening somewhere for sure and it will change the way people look at nature. He also said a very interesting fact. Intrinsically, all humans are connected to nature in a way. Just that in today’s world, we are so caught with our lives, we fail to even see our surroundings and understand them. We need to re-establish the connection between nature and humans.
It was a day of awakening at Sacon with a great scientist, a change maker in the society. Thank you Dr. Pramod for inspiring us to be the change makers too! You are great!