All The Little Things, Bright And Beautiful

All it took was a walk in the campus of the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for my sense of awe to awake. Set up by my favourite walking group, Been There Doon That (BTDT), a winding trail took us through a forest of green canopies, dangling vines, bushes and a carpet of brown leaves strewn on the ground. Oh! There was a small green lake too.

Not just physical but it was also an exercise in noticing all the little things around us using not just our eyes but our other senses as well. Believe me, it was a heady feeling.

For instance, when was the last time you touched a tree? Felt the rough edges and cracks on a sal. Then walked over to a jamun tree and rubbed your fingers across its trunk. Smooth like silk.

What about the leaves? Shape, colour and size are easy but ever felt its network of ridges? Is the leaf waxy or perhaps velvety soft with fine hair that poke when stroked in the opposite direction? Paper thin between your fingers or fleshy and engorged? So many questions that needed to be answered.

How about crushing it completely between your fingers. Go ahead and take a whiff.

Smell again. Was it sharp, something familiar? Fruity perhaps?

As I said it was a day to be awestruck. To jump out of the routine way of seeing everyone and every thing.

Sal tree, tall tree.

On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day


Last Sunday was the day when I walked with a group that was different. Some familiar faces like the petite dynamic leader of BTDT and the regulars. The unusual part was having a few visually challenged youngsters from the NIVH (National Institute of Visually Handicapped) along with a group of hearing impaired students from the Bajaj Institute of Learning (BIL) as our companions.

One set was primarily guided through descriptive words and sounds. The latter through their eyes; they would constantly seek their sign language interpreter to be a part of the conversation. In this extraordinary situation, I simply took my cues from both and their teachers to understand the what and the how. It definitely made me more aware of my surroundings.

Two scientists and a researcher of the institute doubled as our walk leaders. We were in for a treat- a morning stroll with lessons in appreciating the living organisms we share our planet with.

For instance, the unmissable gigantic termite mounds scattered along the trail were one of the most fascinating of all show and tell. Towering brown peaks almost as tall as I, resembled a citadel from the Lord of the Rings. We all touched it, of course.

A walk leader broke a small piece from the side to show us how it looked from within. I’m sure, I must have gasped the loudest to see the intricate hole riddled chambers (for regulating air flow and temperature). The scientists also assured us that the termite repair-maintenance brigade was top notch. The gap would be plugged sooner than later.

Incidentally, every mound has a termite queen defended aggressively by her people, similar to bees. Unlike a queen bee, this queen was defined by her size- approximately as long as an index finger. Hard to believe when one saw how tiny the actual termites were.

Long live the Queen.

With that our motley group wandered further into a mixed forest of tangled vines, shrubbery and tall trees. My mind buzzed with excitement.

“Watch out for this tree that has no business to be here”, one walk leader said.

A berry sunny day!

Honestly, it looked like any other tree except it had small, inviting cluster of green fruits. I noticed a splash of red too which was pretty eye catching. We were told the monkeys snack on it. Humans, not so much. Anyway, it was the Chinese tallow, an invasive species totally at home here.

Talking about snacks, next on the menu were the Rohini trees. Again, a very nondescript tree, the original source of sindoor (red powder). This ordinary tree turned out to be a delicacy for the elephants of northern India. Weirdly, elephants of southern India ignore it. Talk about the north- south palate divide in the animal kingdom.

With so much trivia being tossed around, it was a day for stories and discovering our latent superpowers. Spidey senses activated.

Stopped to pay attention to all the trilling, the whistling, the cawing, the chirping, the shrieks of invisible beings that came from somewhere beyond. The walk leaders came armed with blue tooth speakers to relay some calls so that we were not entirely at the mercy of our under developed hearing abilities.

Little things that one does, makes a difference.

A summer trail

As I walked on the fallen leaves, mindful of my companions, I couldn’t help but feel happy. Perhaps it was the rustling and crunching sound my feet made on the dried leaves.

Even the sun beating down mercilessly was not a bother. As we took a short break under a shady tree, a stray breeze ruffled my hair and tugged my damp T-shirt.

Green sky!

I looked upwards to see the branches swaying in rhythmic motion. I closed my eyes for a few seconds. The human voices receded in the background and I am sure I heard the distant quacks of the ducks swimming in the shimmering lake.

I could stay there forever.

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

Winnie the Pooh

Lens-Artists Challenge : Every little thing reminds me how easy it is to be joyful. Counting my blessings.

Jo’s Monday walk


25 thoughts on “All The Little Things, Bright And Beautiful

  1. A wonderful tour of your walk, Sheetal. I, too, enjoy a walk in our local park and listen to bird singing. Peaceful, indeed. Thank you for sharing the info. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy, you are very kind. Your challenge was an opportunity to remember the little pleasure in life. My hamster wheel lifestyle rarely allows me to do so. Therefore I had to blog about this memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel the joy in your walk, Sheetal – a lovely place with interesting discoveries. Looking up in the trees is a always a rtreat, but termite homes too are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it Ann- Christine. This was a forest bathing experience for me and the termite tales were the highlight of this walk. I find it still unbelievable that a number of termite colonies actually indicate a jungle’s good health.

      We live and learn. 😊


  3. Since you appreciate quotes, sharing an overly used, but a perfect one, for your post:)
    The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
    What a wonderful way to whet your senses! Thanks for all the asides about 🌳 🌳,we humans seem to be so diminutive in comparison!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that’s a quote to live by, Manjari.

      Adding to it ….
      “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

      Roald Dahl
      Have an amazing summer break and create fabulous memories!πŸ₯³πŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How often do we use all our senses, Sheetal? An immersive experience like this, shared with others less fortunate, must have been wonderful. There is so much joy in life, and sharing our experiences spreads it still wider. Thanks so much for including me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, you summarized my post, beautifully. Thank you.
      Also your comments are like a shot in the arm for my writing. 😊
      Have an amazing weekend. I look forward to reading about your next walk.


  5. What a magical post Sheetal – you never disappoint! A truly wonderful idea for your group to share the experience with both hearing and sight-challenged. It must have been truly eye-opening (no pun intended) to share these wonders with those less-blessed. I’ve often thought what life must be like for the blind (which to me would be the worst possible affliction) or the deaf (never to know what music sounds like). How wonderful this must have been for them too. Thank you for such a thoughtful and beautiful few moments this morning – your post is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tina, I’m touched. Thank you for your effusive praise.

      This walk was unusual because of my companions. As I said, we all including the guides, took cues from them to make this inclusive. It turned out to be an incredible experience. We take so much for granted- our senses to understand and perceive our world, nature’s bounty. After this, I know better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful experience and so beautifully described! Sharing your walk with those students who need to use their senses somewhat differently to the rest of us (more of one, less of another) must have really impacted on your appreciation of your surroundings. I loved seeing inside the termite mound, and that quote from Winnie the Pooh is just perfect for this theme – I wish I’d thought to include it πŸ˜†

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sarah. It was a wonderful experience indeed. Lucky for us that our guides were none other than the scientists at the Wildlife Institute. They could add details to stuff we’d probably just give a cursory glance. Came back brimming with trivia and appreciation. Also Winnie the Pooh summed it the best.😊
      Happy you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fascinating walk and talk. Thanks for sharing what you learned. I’ve never been a fan of termites, but your explanation of their scientific building knowledge made the walk even so much more interesting. You inspire me to take part in some of the scheduled walks in Prescott.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marsha, I’ve been away from WordPress for a while so you can imagine my pleasure to see your comments here. You always have such wonderful things to say.

      As for the termites, learnt of their importance in the eco system, specifically in jungles (they get rid of all the dead wood). In our homes, still a horrifying prospect. The termites are stuck with a bad rep. πŸ™‚
      Anyway, the walk was an eye opening experience. I’m happy you enjoyed it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “All things green, brown & beautiful, all creatures vibrant yet small…” Sheetal your trek is quite a reveal & rejuvenation for the senses unexplored. Who else better than those who have tapped these innately, to navigate you, to inspire you to draw from your own . As always, I stepped along with you, felt those textures amongst fingers & palms & crinkled my nares at the rhinal encounters too!
    And as you have rightly opined, the childhood has kept these innocent perspicacity to itself, denying it’s adult a re-visit, unless formulated . Thanks dear, trudge on!

    Liked by 1 person

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