Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 02/5/21 5:54 AM


Photo Feature: My Tree of Life

This is a pictorial ode to my copper pod tree.

All photos by Sheila Kumar and subject to copyright.

Actually, they are  two trees, inches away from each other`s roots. Twins, perhaps. They grow leaning  into each other and after a length of bare trunk, become one lush green canopy, providing shade, shelter, succour, and sustenance  to the various creatures who live in the top branches.

The branches glow in the dappled sunlight of the morning.

Every March and September, the tree bursts into bloom, dropping gorgeous yellow flowers onto both my balconies.

On a full moon night, the branches sway gently in the breeze, and the flower bracts stand silhouetted against  the moonlit sky.


When not in bloom,  chocolate-brown copper pods dots the green branches.


When in bloom, the tree takes on the hue of golden possibilities, of promise, of  much joy.

Just once, a large cheel (kite) came to sit awhile on a branch. Sensing I was stealthily moving across  the balcony to take a picture, she turned and threw me a haughty glance but did not immediately fly away. I`ve seen her since high up in the sky but never on my tree again.


I`ve named this koel Benedict, Ben for short, and he`s quite the bane of my life. During the monsoons, he comes to sit on the tree`s branches at around 3 am and calls loudly  and insistently till daybreak.


This is his cousin, a hawk-cuckoo I have yet to name. Though she is a brainfever bird, it`s Ben who arouses in me the feverish longing to take aim at him with a slingshot.


Both the parrots featured above are a regular pair who come sit nestling against each other, shriek loudly at mynahs and crows, sleep for hours with their heads tucked into their wings, and sometimes conduct very animated conversations. Since these conversations are usually held at midday, I don`t mind.


This pair of crows rate a piece of their own and I have already written about them. Link below. However, sometime after I wrote about them, it became clear they were a courting pair. They set up a nest and one of them, the female presumably, sat in the nest for almost a month. It was too far  for me to ascertain whether she was sitting on eggs. However, one day, the nest looked trashed and the crows flew away. Now they come to sit together like always but no more setting up home for them, it would seem.

Feature: Crows, a love story


This little bird with vivid green wings (barbet? warbler?) comes often but is too restless to sit still for long. She hops from branch to branch, peers at the other denizens of the tree,  and abruptly flies away.


The pics feature the same white-throated kingfisher, back and front views. A pair of them arrive, and perch on their designated branch on the east wing of the tree. For such a small bird, its calls are almost as clamorous as Ben`s.

During lockdown, the pair used to serenade me and their birdsong was startling loud in a world hushed by the virus.


Another very excitable and raucous species. There`s a whole clutch of mynahs who live in the topmost branches and make their boisterous presence felt all through the day. Once in a while, one of the birds catches my eye and throws me a beady glare. 


Don`t be fooled by these pics. At last count, the tree had about fourteen pigeon regulars. They coo, they click their beaks, they moan, they flutter their wings, they fight for space and yes, they mess up my balconies. I`m trying to be stoic about them. And failing.


This is Ziggy. He runs up and down the tree chasing his kith and kin, all day long. A times, he cries out continuously in a somewhat hysterical manner. There is something about the tree that brings out the inner singer in all the critters who inhabit it. Either that, or the denizens keep having meltdowns on the tree!

My copper-pod tree in full glorious bloom.

Related Links:

Photo Feature: Eden and its serpent!

Photo Feature: Paths in the Kumaon foothills

Photo Feature: The Lake District

Photo Feature: Scotland

Photo Feature: Bewitching Budapest


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Sheila Kumar • February 5, 2021

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  1. keerti ramachandra February 5, 2021 - 9:47 am Reply

    Sheila,this is one of the most evocative informative pieces you have written … i miss the trill of the kingfisher who used to come and perch himself on he highest point in our neighbourhood at exactly 8 am… and stay there for about fifteen minutes. … alas, he has abandoned us…. i believe i am blessed to have trees around … though the tangle of bamboo has been cleared by our neighbour after almost 30 years of neglect so lots of birds butterflies insects gone too… enjoy your friends Sheila… till you make new friends in Basant!

    • Sheila Kumar February 5, 2021 - 10:26 am Reply

      So glad it resonated with you, Keerti. Thank you. 🙂

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