Sunday, 1 November 2015

Life is like a Butterfly

"Good morning, what is new that you are writing after a game of golf ?"-- popped my mail box this Sunday morning from a school buddy of 50 years . He did not know that I am off golf for some time due a sprained back.

When a golfer, hiker and nature lover is confined indoors over a weekend, what does he do? He sits in the garden ruing his back injury. And then out of nowhere, butterflies arrive. Flitting from one leaf, branch and flower to the other. Endless flight, impressive aerobatics. Abundant energy. The golfer feels restless.

Out comes the camera, though the photographer has restricted movements. Can't bend his back, can't kneel down, can't swivel. Butterflies thus evade the camera. Difficult to get an action shot. However, patience pays. Few shots, reasonably sharp. 

Ghumakkad ponders 'Is life like a butterfly?' An anonymous quote comes to mind.



Some more butterflies arrive. Some more clicks of the shutter. But what are the names of the butterflies? 

Google search leads to one source-- Brig WH Evans who in 1932 compiled his collection 'The Butterflies of India'. Credit goes to Bombay Natural History Society for publication and spread of such knowledge.
We will not go into the scientific classification of the species. Suffice it to say that butterflies found in India are broadly classified into five families. Ghumakkad could 'capture' one butterfly each from three families/species. Pictures-- firstly a Common Mormon butterfly.



Sometimes, we confuse butterflies with moths. Although butterflies are generally more colourful, but there are also brightly coloured moths and drab-coloured butterflies. So, how to distinguish? One easy way is to observe the butterfly (or moth) as to how it folds its wings? The butterfly folds its wings vertically -- see the picture below of Common Mormon butterfly.


In contrast, a moth will fold its wings in a tent-like fashion which hides their abdomen. The other way to differentiate is by looking at their antennae. As per the US Library of Congress website, "A butterfly’s antennae are club-shaped with a long shaft and a bulb at the end. A moth’s antennae are feathery or saw-edged." See the picture of a Peacock Pansy butterfly with its antennae and tiny bulbs below.



Of course, we all know that butterflies are diurnal-- flying in the day time. Moths are generally nocturnal-- flying at night. So much for their differences.

Apart from resting on the leaves and flowers, butterflies also sit on the ground. See the next picture of a Peacock Pansy on one of our empty flower beds.



These two varieties were not all that colourful. See the next picture of another variety called Common Jezebel butterfly.


Before we end this short story, a point about 'faujis' फ़ौजी  - men in the military. Look at Brig WH Evans, what significant contribution he made to the world of knowledge? Similarly, there was Capt Arthur Cotton, the architect of canals, tanks and ponds in southern peninsula. His work in 1930s transformed the arid land into rice bowl of India. His statue dons many a village in that region even today. 
Who doesn't know Col Jim Corbett (1875-1955) who was a hunter and tracker-turned-conservationist. India's Corbett National Park is named after him. There are more military men who have discovered hill stations, mountain peaks ands so on.
This is what 'faujis' contribute to the society besides guarding the frontiers. Ghumakkad is humbled to be a 'fauji' himself.

Those readers who would like to look at an illustrated guide to butterflies, may browse Adrian Hoskins' brilliant on-line resource.

We sign off at the cost of repetition, of the earlier quote on 'Life is like a butterfly..'


Thanks for browsing.
Ghumakkad will soon be outdoors and bring you a story of a fort near Hyderabad. Stay connected.

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 1st Nov 2015

Postscript: This is what one of the readers of this story had to say "Reading the last part of your blog, it stuck me that life of a 'fauji' is exactly like a butterfly. They adorn many colors, they fly/move from one post to another. The seat in beautiful mountain tops and glaciers or fly the high sky or the deep blue sea, like the butterflies fly from one beautiful flower to the other. But like a butterfly does not have the time to appreciate the beauty as it is busy feeding, the faujis do not have time to enjoy the beauties as they are busy protecting us normal human beings. Hats off to them (including you)!"     - Swayam Mishra, USA (Ghumakkad's former student at IBS Hyderabad 2004-06). Inserted with permission.
Thanks Swayam.