The Indian summer is a killer...year after year we swear that it has never been as hot is this...that it is unbelievably warm, that it is unbearable and that this particular one is the worst but the truth is... Most summers are the same and the temperatures do soar high as all Indian summers do. The heat dulls our senses and we do tend to become lethargic as the weather saps our energy with the season extending from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox. The hot winds and the scorching sun provide no relief at all.

But in all this sultry and extreme weather where the barometer stands high and there is little or no breeze, this season brings bright and longer days, which slowly but deftly exposes the beauty of nature... the grass is still green – turning slightly brown in patches but still visibly green, the summer flowers are in bloom while the brightly coloured butterflies dance gaily around them with the bees humming their own tunes and once in a blue moon, giving us the ‘sting of love’ as well. In the jungle where I live currently, the myriad birds and wildlife around add their own charm. If one is lucky, then one can easily spot blue bulls, deer, fox and hyenas just a few metres away. One has to watch stealthily for even the smallest of noise scares them away. Nothing more beautiful than to watch animals romp free in the blossoming fields.

My favourite time is early the dawn breaks and the skies clear and open up...a new day...a new beginning beckons. There is a slight nip in the air which doesn’t last long but it does tend to make you forget about what is in store and the heat that will follow in just a few hours into the day. While I sip my tea, and breathe in the fresh morning air, it is natural to give thanks for the simple pleasures of life. Tashi, my loyal shadow sits guard at my feet and in the bargain gets fed a fair share of biscuits as well. The huge neem tree with its branches hanging across the terrace resembles an aviary. The raucous sounds of fowl... the screeching sounds of the peacock, the chirping of birds and the chattering of squirrels are but a welcome sight.

Now over the past couple of weeks I know the routine... the peacock prefers my neighbour’s water tanks and proudly boasts of his iridescent blue and green plumage. The agitated peahens flit around him with their dull grey, brown, and green plumages. Every few days Mr. Kingfisher swoops down on the criss-crossing wires streaking the skies with his bright blue and green colours. He is shy and doesn’t like to be clicked by my camera. The parrots on the other hand, are all game and even strike a pose methinks showing off their red beaks and vivid colours while munching on the neem berries. The jungle babblers are in abundance and can’t be missed due to their harsh nasal calls but indeed very interesting to see how gregarious and social they are.

But in all this, what makes my day is my interaction with my new found friends... The ‘Squirrel Family’... Yes, we are friends now and I am amazed by their graceful scampering and leaping from branch to branch with such ease. So there is ‘Motte, Chotte and Patle’ who are the three musketeers or rather ‘’chipmunkeers’’ that scamper around the parapet all morning waiting to be fed by me. They watch from afar as I leave biscuit crumbs at designated places for them and once I sit back on my recliner, they scamper down and start gnawing within seconds.

For the first few days, Tashi did not realise that it was his biscuits that were being given away rather lavishly but now that he has caught on, he has become so much wiser and suddenly has this urge to keep chomping on the biscuits continuously hoping that I don’t share them with the ‘furry ones’. He also indulges in playing a game with them where he stalks them and then tries his best to chase them away. But my ‘squirrely’ friends are smart and play along with him...not scared at all, in fact their whistling calls sounding more animated than frantic!

Of course, the larger one ‘Motte’ bullies the other two and there is a constant battle between them each trying to scare the other away. I never tire of watching their shenanigans. A pair of red-vented bulbuls have also caught on to the ‘free crumbs’ scenario and try their best to gobble up as much of the scraps as they can but the merry chase between squirrel, dog and bird just gets funnier.

A couple of days ago, I realised that I was being watched over my head and found another pair of eyes observing me fervently and that is when I spotted a few baby squirrels popping their heads back and forth over the ledge keeping an eye on their Mother as well as me. They were still shaky and under-confident as they teetered unsteadily while sliding down and doing their utmost to balance themselves on terra firma. The eyes that watched twinkled continuously with whiskers that twitched by the second!

I left the wild jungle yesterday and with a heavy heart made my way to the concrete jungle... Unfortunately, we are ruled by ‘exigencies of work and life’ so are bound by certain demands. I have been told that my furry friends missed me this morning and kept looking for me. But nonetheless, while I am away, they are being fed and looked after and were last seen scurrying up the neem tree with full bellies!