India's birds

Diplomacy at Dawn: My notes from watching birds, nature’s winged envoys – Amit Narang

(Amit Narang, IFS, is India’s Ambassador-designate to the Sultanate of Oman. This column first appeared in Times of India on October 2, 2021)

  • The sound was unmistakable. That resonant voice, the rising crescendo, those incessant three notes. Though groggy at 5:30 AM, I knew the guest I’d waited for over a year had finally arrived. While I dashed out impetuously, camera in hand, the common hawk cuckoo, perched gracefully on a gulmohar tree, gave me a calm and patient viewing. Known more famously as the papeeha, this is the quintessential Indian monsoon bird, its call, a paean to the rains. The papeeha thus anointed itself 78th in my list of birds called ‘Winged Envoys of Chanakyapuri’. This is a catalogue I’ve curated for over a year, tabulating birds in the heart of Delhi’s diplomatic enclave. The project has taught me a great deal about birds, of course. But it’s also given me some insights about human beings which I’d like to share with you…

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