Before lockdown, with our hectic long hours of travelling life, spending some quality time at home for the weekends used to be the norm. But after lockdown, nowadays moving out at least on weekends is on my wish list. Last week, my dearest friend decided to surprise me with a Nature-Walk to see some fireflies. A group walk was planned where all had to reach a certain meeting point in Panvel by late evening. Such Nature trips are organized every year by nature groups and planned around the fireflies mating season as that’s the time firefly males and females communicate by their bioluminescent patterns of light and are sighted together in big numbers. On location, our tour guide gave a quick introduction to the fireflies and advised us all to be silent and not disturb the plants around as we walked.
Frankly speaking, I am sure that it’s not that we all do not know anything about these glowing beetles, or we have never seen them or not viewed some informative pictures on the web or social media. Often I have seen random fireflies glisten by on Aarey roads or some gardens nearby. I am always happy to see them as they are a rare sight and literally vanish in a flash, so on this trip, I truly looked forward to seeing some more of them.
But friends, the reason I decided to write about them today is that in spite of my prior introduction, nothing prepared me for this moment of sheer awe and wonderment as I and my friends turned around a corner in the lane and suddenly sighted whole trees and shrubs full of their starry presence. Their incandescent glow filled the trees with shimmering soft glitter and it was truly a wonderful sight to behold. All surrounding fields, trees and bushes were their resting places where they all twinkled away to glory to fulfil their natural lifecycle. The whole space pulsated with their glowing energy and as we all were completely enchanted by the glittering trees we realized that the fireflies’ natural luminance could any day put an LED-lit Christmas tree to shame. As we explored the terrain ahead, the whole landscape was transformed into a shimmering fairyland and all of us were completely enamoured by the fascinating sight.
Nature is such an integral part of human existence and its influence on our lives is undeniable. But ironically, in our race for survival, we have become more distant from nature and have to make a conscious effort to connect with it. The present generation especially is more distant from most natural elements and more bonded to technology. Still, I feel that people living in villages at least are closer to animals and nature, but sadly for city dwellers, the cement tree-line is just increasing that disconnect as builders exploit every patch of free land for buildings. There is no importance given to tree plantation, parks or animals natural habitats preservation even by city planners.
Our government does not care about nature and has no desire to preserve natural reserves or the country’s rich biodiversity. Most ruling official authorities are insensitive and inconsiderate to environment conservation and sadly most politicians are out to consume open land to the last square foot. Therefore biological preservation will be the biggest challenge for future generations and as city boundaries ruthlessly expand, natural habitats are destroyed and species are further compromised till the point they reach extinction. Insects like these fireflies are a natural wonder and all these species need their environment of land, plants and trees to survive.
I often see photographs of Bombay landmarks like VT, Dadar and Ghatkopar stations in comparison to pictures from fifty years ago vs today and the extreme transformation of these locations is quite obvious. So one can imagine how most of these pristine habitats will be non-existent and vanish fifty years from now on or perhaps even earlier, thus depleting natural flora and fauna presence at a faster pace. Acknowledging the ground realities of the drastically changing geographical canvas can only suggest that all reach out for such natural occurrences and make the most of the unique moment at the earliest. I truly wish every family and friends groups would explore such rare opportunities of nature trips as they are a mix of tourism, education, pure air, fun and quality family time.
Calmly walking down a lane full of naturally glittering trees, glowing bushes amidst flying fireflies with people you love and care for is such a beautiful experience and fills your heart with gratitude. Such ethereal moments in life are precious. For me, this surprise trip will always be a fond memory as I truly enjoyed walking with my dearest star amongst some magically twinkling ‘Tare Zameen Par’.