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A 6 years old carrying 5 ltrs; early morning, everyday and yet another trip waits for her. She might not know what she is missing at the school today. They said everything will be sorted with salt water; tears, sweat or ocean. Well, they should have visited the low hills of Himalayas to see non smiling faces of little girls and sweat marks on their forehead just to get a bucket full of drinking water every day. The early morning of any hamlet in Devprayag starts with children lining up in water queue either at a Hand-pump, Stand-post or at spring which could be 500 meters downhill. When you cover that distance with 15 ltrs of water can every day from such tender ages, you don’t need gym trainer to develop your muscles in your teen-age, but you may need a teacher who will have to help you cope with whatever you have missed out in those early classes, while trying to hunt water.



- Tanmay Pisolkar
Picture courtesy : Prateek Sengupta

 


  

unnamed‘One swallow does not the summer make’. This famous line attributed to Aristotle evokes the gregarious barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), a familiar species in the countryside. In the Indian subcontinent, the barn swallow is a partially migratory species that breeds in the Himalayas in the summer, also crossing over to northern climes of Asia. In the difficult winter months, it makes the subcontinent its home. Recognised by its streamlined slender build, shiny dark-blue back, prominent white belly and a deep forked tail, it makes its mud nest under bridges, under the eaves of old buildings and even in the verandahs of occupied houses. It is a largely aerial species, mostly seen when it is expertly catching insects on the wing, as it flies low above fields, villages and ponds. In Kumaon, this bird is loved by the local shopkeepers and eatery-owners who allow these birds to nest and roost inside their shops. The shopkeepers do not mind the noisy squabbling of the chicks as they are fed and finally fledge and even keep their shop shutters ajar to allow the bird to fly in and out. Perhaps the bird provides the service of controlling agricultural pests which has been recognised by the people. The barn swallow provides an example of the traditional people-nature interactions in Kumaon that are responsible for much biodiversity even in the midst of human settlements.


- Dr. Ghazala Sahabuddin
Picture courtesy :
 Rajkamal Goswami.