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Thread: Failure in my artistic life and a White-eye's chick

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    New arrow1 Failure in my artistic life and a White-eye's chick

    We all look for some works which ignites our passion and I’m no exception in that. One big problem in our poor country is that most people do not find joy in their own professions. There may be many reasons for that, such as social, economical, psychological etc. But that is the subject of the sociologists. What ultimately we want is to remain engaged in some profession where we get some sort of mental satisfaction and some joy in it. For me, my passion is to roam around our village, its open grounds, to roam around the country sides, the hills and the forests, its rivers. My passion is to meet various people, to watch different birds and various wild animals. I also love to take photographs of these birds and the wild animals and to read books on them and to draw their pictures and also to write about them.

    But my passion does not earn my bread and butter. I have to pursue some other means to earn some money; which is not at all in line with my passion. Like others, I also have some responsibilities and liabilities and am answerable to my employer in my profession. There is always an anxiety regarding my job security. But my passion is free from all these things. I sometimes feel that there is an artistic entity, my alter-ego, in me which always lurks behind my mind and it comes to the surface when I go out in the nature. That is when I meet him and he also meets me. Both of us then have lots of joyful moments together. When he is happy I become happy and when he is unhappy I also become unhappy. All his joy and sorrow bear a direct impression on my photographs, on my literary articles and on all my artistic efforts. But he never asks me any questions and let me remain free on my choices. While in solitude he sometimes wants to know something but never demands an answer from me. I don’t have an answer to his every question either. Those unanswered questions are the liabilities of my artistic entity. An artist’s mission is to find out a suitable answer to this question, and that brings some guilty conscience in me. That is my failure in my artistic life and is my remorsefulness for not getting a profession of my choice.

    The success from a passionate work depends on the choice of its executioner. And that choice is a giant killer. It may kill in a single bang or may let free very easily. But it is always better not to depend on choices every moment; it is rather more judicious to carry on with ones work and dip into it, whether fruitful or fruitless. At the end of rainy seasons along the roadside deep trenches large bundles of green jute plants are kept submerged to get them decomposed. The farmer will take them out at an appropriate time. Those green jute plants will turn into golden and shining jute threads. No one can guess what activities was going on furtively inside those jute plants while they were under water. That is when they should be judged which plants are better and which are not.

    Since the last four years I have been busy with observing the “Gulu” which we call in English term as the Barred Button-quail. My observation on it was relating to the preparation of its life history. The works relating to these observations weighed down heavily on my other household and official works. The other day I went out in search of them and stopped somewhere near the last house of our village from where the agricultural land have started as I heard some high pitched chirping of two ‘Oriental White-eye’s. The Bengali name of these birds is Babunai. Generally these birds are not shy and are very restless. Without damn caring my presence they came so close to me that I had to backtrack some distance to take some pictures
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    Last edited by Mrudul Godbole; 04-11-2019 at 01:52 PM.

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    I was very happy with my shots but became very curious as to why these birds were coming so close to me and were not fleeing away considering my presence as their danger? They were hoppinig in betwwen the stems of e very low china rose plat and a small papaya plant with their attention towards the ground.
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    In the meantime they were emitting shrill sound frequently. They were two of them, one was holding a white spider in its mouth and attention towards the ground.
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    I had to look down towards the ground. By the time at 8 am the concrete terrace was quite hot. There was a cane basket kept upside down, some small broken pieces of bricks strewn here and there. I generally move ahead towards the open field leaving behind these houses and when I return the inmates want to see the pictures. As I show them the pictures they become curious and ask questions; have you got anything new? As I was standing there for an unusually long time the housewife came outside. She lifted the cane basket to show me a very small chick of an Oriental White-eye under it. It’ll not be more than 10 days that the chick has come out of the egg. Even feathers have not grown properly on its body. To save the chick from cat, the housewife has kindly made this arrangement. She declared that the chick was under the basket for about 20 minutes. Generally, chicks of this age has to be fed at an interval of not than three to four minutes. Moreover, the concrete terrace was already quite hot and the air circulation inside the basket was very much insufficient. In situations you can easily guess what could happen to this poor fellow. It bent its knees and was drowsing with its beaks touching the ground.
    The moment the basket was removed one of its parent with a white spider in its mouth came towards it and mildly poked it on its back. When my boy was of a very tender age the elderly members of our house used to say that it is not wise to feed a sleeping baby. The baby should be awaken first and then should be fed. Here also I did not see any difference. At that time I was not much more than a minimum focusing distance from the chick and the housewife was more close to them than me. The bird was fearless and was ready to risk its life to save the life of its chick which was in great danger.

    The other bird kept on shouting continuously. It was perhaps telling the world that their baby has fallen down from their nest, has not been fed for quite a long time and was in danger.
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    Default Part 5

    And the one in the ground was still making a desperate attempt to save their offspring. At that moment it was not possible to identify which one was the mother and which one the father. After some time the chick raised its head and opened its mouth.
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    Default Part 6

    The bird then put the dead spider in the mouth of the chick with care.
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    Default Part 7

    I was dumbfounded to see their sense of responsibility, to see their intelligence and fearlessness at the time of genuine crisis. They could feel that the chick could in no way be brought back to their nest. So, to save its life the first and foremost job was to feed it properly in that situation. And to do that they did not hesitate to risk their own lives. Among every other thoughts doing the rounds in my mind the expression of love for their offspring displayed by the pair of birds touched the depth of my heart. I stopped taking photographs and minutely tried to find out their nest. But could not find it anywhere in the mango tree, jack-fruit tree nor in any other trees there. I wasted no time, put down my camera close to a wall and fled towards the field in search of some dry blades of grass with which I could make an attempt to prepare a nest for them.

    As I returned I saw neither of them budged an inch from their places. One of them standing close to the chick continuously and the chick is asking for some food from his father.
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    My job then was to build a nest as soon as possible. I cannot climb large trees. So I built a nest on the branches of a China rose plant at about one and half metre above ground and carefully placed the chick on the nest. As I did that I had some doubt whether they would accept the nest or not.

    Just about one minute passed by. Both the parents started inspecting the nest very meticulously and performed some final works on the nest. Then all my anxiety came to an end. Both the parents started feeding the chick. As I saw the scene my eyes moistened and forgot to click my shutter. I did not want to click my shutter either at that moment of time. I discovered that some interesting jobs and passionate works also cannot always go beyond some boundary lines. At that moment watching them became more rewarding to me than photographing them.…. I moved towards the field in search of Barred Button-quail.

    That day I was very much favoured by ‘Barred Button-quail’. I observed some incidence which helped me to make some headway with my works. The alter-ego sitting inside me was enraptured and was happy with my achievements that day. I cannot express with words how well I felt that day. There was no anxiety nor any tension in my mind for anything. As I was about to return home I almost forgot about the chick of the Oriental White-eye. That place will come along my way towards my home at the end of the field. I saw the branches of the papaya tree where the bird was sitting. I went close to the place where I built the nest for the chick and where its parents were feeding it. I was very anxious as to what happened to it.

    As I was taking out my camera from my shoulder I could see the China rose plant but the nest was not there anymore! Only thin dry blade of grass was hanging from three slender branches. There was no trace of any remaining part of the nest. There was only a small gap of two hours in between my visits there. I could neither find the nest nor the chick. The housewife came hurriedly towards me and told me that a few minutes after I left the place the chick could not be seen in the nest. She claimed that a cat has ate it up. That was why she has thrown the nest away.

    A heavy gloom engrossed all my mind. That alter-ego sitting inside me became very remorseful then. Some simple question cropped in my mind at that moment. Should I have remained guard for the birds? Then how could I guard them during the night? Did I make any mistake by building the nest for them, was the arrangement made by the housewife with the cane basket more appropriate for the chick in that situation? …. The basket would have been lifted from time to time and the chick fed at those intervals? The chick then would have survived? All these questions remained unanswered to me. A feeling of melancholy oozed out of my work of passion. The feeling of joy out of the work of my passion weighed down heavily by a feeling of sadness at that moment. I looked upwards and saw the pair of parent birds in between the mango and jack-fruit leaves, still then collecting insects from here and there…Not eating those insects. Frequently coming down to the China rose plant and not finding their chick there again going back … All the time calling their offspring in a high pitched voice.

    Written in Bengali by Samrat Sarkar
    English translation - Bishwajit Debnath
    Shot with Canon EOS 7D + Canon 500mm f4 + Monopod

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samrat Sarkar View Post
    We all look for some works which ignites our passion and I’m no exception in that. One big problem in our poor country is that most people do not find joy in their own professions. There may be many reasons for that, such as social, economical, psychological etc. But that is the subject of the sociologists. What ultimately we want is to remain engaged in some profession where we get some sort of mental satisfaction and some joy in it. For me, my passion is to roam around our village, its open grounds, to roam around the country sides, the hills and the forests, its rivers. My passion is to meet various people, to watch different birds and various wild animals. I also love to take photographs of these birds and the wild animals and to read books on them and to draw their pictures and also to write about them.

    But my passion does not earn my bread and butter. I have to pursue some other means to earn some money; which is not at all in line with my passion. Like others, I also have some responsibilities and liabilities and am answerable to my employer in my profession. There is always an anxiety regarding my job security. But my passion is free from all these things. I sometimes feel that there is an artistic entity, my alter-ego, in me which always lurks behind my mind and it comes to the surface when I go out in the nature. That is when I meet him and he also meets me. Both of us then have lots of joyful moments together. When he is happy I become happy and when he is unhappy I also become unhappy. All his joy and sorrow bear a direct impression on my photographs, on my literary articles and on all my artistic efforts. But he never asks me any questions and let me remain free on my choices. While in solitude he sometimes wants to know something but never demands an answer from me. I don’t have an answer to his every question either. Those unanswered questions are the liabilities of my artistic entity. An artist’s mission is to find out a suitable answer to this question, and that brings some guilty conscience in me. That is my failure in my artistic life and is my remorsefulness for not getting a profession of my choice.

    The success from a passionate work depends on the choice of its executioner. And that choice is a giant killer. It may kill in a single bang or may let free very easily. But it is always better not to depend on choices every moment; it is rather more judicious to carry on with ones work and dip into it, whether fruitful or fruitless. At the end of rainy seasons along the roadside deep trenches large bundles of green jute plants are kept submerged to get them decomposed. The farmer will take them out at an appropriate time. Those green jute plants will turn into golden and shining jute threads. No one can guess what activities was going on furtively inside those jute plants while they were under water. That is when they should be judged which plants are better and which are not.
    I agree a very few fortunate people can pursue their passion which also provides their livelihood. I too have to work and can only pursue my passion of wildlife photography during carefully planned vacations. Sometimes the gap becomes too long. But there is always a hope that someday I will be able to do it fulltime. Till then I feel I am at least lucky to have a passion which gives me happiness.

    I will say you are very fortunate that you are staying close to nature and you get an opportunity to photograph/observe wildlife on a regular basis. Things would have been worse if you had been staying in a big city surrounded with traffic and pollution . So keep at it, there will be a time when you will be able to do it fulltime .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samrat Sarkar View Post
    A heavy gloom engrossed all my mind. That alter-ego sitting inside me became very remorseful then. Some simple question cropped in my mind at that moment. Should I have remained guard for the birds? Then how could I guard them during the night? Did I make any mistake by building the nest for them, was the arrangement made by the housewife with the cane basket more appropriate for the chick in that situation? …. The basket would have been lifted from time to time and the chick fed at those intervals? The chick then would have survived? All these questions remained unanswered to me. A feeling of melancholy oozed out of my work of passion. The feeling of joy out of the work of my passion weighed down heavily by a feeling of sadness at that moment. I looked upwards and saw the pair of parent birds in between the mango and jack-fruit leaves, still then collecting insects from here and there…Not eating those insects. Frequently coming down to the China rose plant and not finding their chick there again going back … All the time calling their offspring in a high pitched voice.
    Lucky you could observe this touching behavior of the birds towards the chick. Its sad that the cat found the nest. Maybe on hind sight one can say that keeping the chick closer to humans might have saved it. I feel you did what you thought would be best for the chick. The photographs depict the behavior nicely. Especially I liked the one, where the chick can be seen asking for food and the parent is waiting patiently by its side to guard it. Thanks for sharing the detailed account. Look forward to more.

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    Since this section is focused on natural history, it is better to keep it tight and focused on natural history observations else people will lose the message. These days the attention span of people is less. So mixing up two different aspects doesn't help.

    History is replete with instances where artists have struggled to do their art. Only a few were court appointed artists who got regular salary. Rest all did it side by side with their regular jobs. I do wildlife filming as well as corporate films, documentaries etc to earn my living. And the money I get, I put it to run this forum and newsletter and all other such stuff. It is always a challenge. However, as they say "where there is a will, there is a way". It takes years of efforts to reach a level where you get paid enough for your passion.

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    I'm sure, going through your article, would get all of us looking into our own lives. May be we didn't have too many choices when we started & future holds better opportunities for next generation. Till then , we are happy pursuing our passion as a hobby & contributing in best possible manner.

    Lovely narration of entire incidence & really felt the emotions you have gone through. Reminds me of Dr. Salim Ali's story with "Chestnut-shouldered Petronia" which was a defining moment in his journey towards contributions to ornithology.

    Thanks for sharing & keep writing..

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