2020: The year no one will forget

By Aaryan Bhalla

Dear friends, I am Aaryan Bhalla and through this article, I will take you back to the lockdown days and year 2020 and how I made the best use of all the time I had. Please read to this till the end. I am fond of nature, and the lockdown gave me the opportunity to enjoy the entire year — 2020.

It was last year’s lockdown that kindled my interest in birding. Developed a hobby of bird watching during corona times when many birds started flocking to trees nearby and came across the nests of different species. I spotted 27 species from my home over the extended period of various lockdowns from the backyard and park opposite my home. And then, it became apparent that with sightings of new birds; I needed to move out of my home. But it didn’t happen because of the curfew.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are staying and working from our homes to save ourselves and to contribute our part in keeping the country safe too. We are using this period to undertake different activities and make the best possible use of technology.

As we embark upon our journey in 2021 I wish and pray for the good health of everybody. 2020 was a topsy-turvy year for all of us. Many would feel that it took away our independence to roam and play around freely. Much has been taught about what this covid — 19 pandemics took from us. However, turning a new leaf as we move on, I want to discuss what we gain during these trying times.

No one is going to forget the year 2020. In the beginning, we were not very concerned. But, as the covid-19 cases started rising in our country we too started following certain precautions and anticipations and protocols like wearing a mask, social distancing, and so on.

In the last week of March lockdown was enforced to stay safe we were supposed to stay at home, streets were empty, markets lonely, and we felt as if imprisoned. Date March 22 can never be forgotten.

“Koi bhi road par na nikale”

It's been almost a year since we were in our homes taking online classes and exams, and it gets very depressing too. But all we had to say was that we should make the best of what we had. All of us are blessed to be residents of garden cities like Mohali, Chandigarh, and Panchkula.

The picture at the top is of the park opp. my house and the bottom one is Nisha ma’am’s Backyard.

We observed and enjoyed the park just opposite our homes and the backyard of our homes. I made the best use of that covid time to enjoy the flora and fauna of the park in front of my home.

The year 2020 will go down in the annals of history as one among the unique in modern human history. The year has not even ended, and we have already gone through the COVID-19 pandemic, storms, floods, forest fires, and blasts. But like every dark cloud, 2020 also had several silver linings as well.

But this year had a couple of surprises hidden under its sleeves. India remained under an extended lockdown throughout April, to check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country which was then finally opened in August.

They injured many Indian and Chinese soldiers in a cross-border clash at the Nathu La crossing. About one hundred and fifty soldiers were involved in the face-off, which included fistfights and stone-throwing.

Mr. Narendra Modi Ji at Ayodhya

Narendra Modi performed Bhoomi Pujan and laid the foundation stone of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

As the holy city was decked out in yellow to welcome homecoming for Lord Ram, the prime minister performed a series of rituals to lay the foundation stone for the infant deity’s new abode.

There were no demonstrations of private vehicles, public transport, taxis, or commercial vehicles during the lockdown. Hence, this had resulted in pleasant changes in air quality. The air pollution level had fallen.

Changes in air quality in New Delhi

Most of the industries have shut down and no chemicals are generating in their units. In those days the pollution level was at its lowest level.

The lockdown had also resulted in an improvement in the ozone layer. Due to this the hole of the artic region also had healed.

The schools, institutes, offices, universities, and colleges, etc. had closed and people were doing their work from home and schools were taking classes through the internet from their homes.

Because of this, so many volts of electricity had been saved. It also reduced global warming in the atmosphere. The air quality has been cleaned.

Nilgai roams in the city during Lockdown.

While everyone was staying indoors. Many animals might feel free in the lockdown. Animals like sambar deers, Nilgai’s, and a cheetah were spotted in the city of Chandigarh. They also must think about where people have gone??…….

We spotted 2 Sambar deer at Saketri during the lockdown.

Not all classrooms have 4 walls
Online webinar in my school

Template for webinar

Nisha Rajesh, my science teacher, gave me an opportunity and encouraged me and my classmate, Vanshita Sharma, to take part in a webinar based on the year 2020, nature, nests, and birds too. At first, we organized it for classes 6th and 7th students.

But then it was also prepared for junior classes the 4th and 5th who really enjoyed the webinar based on the Branches of nature.

Online webinar through Google Meet

The primary motive of the webinar was to encourage students through a beautiful presentation that I am fond of nature and lockdown allowed me to enjoy my park and how I made the best use of lockdown in the park in front of my house.

Our teachers also had ample time to sit back and enjoy their surroundings throughout the lockdown.

Neeru Mahajan madam saw a brown hawk owl on her terrace and her grandchildren also enjoyed the shining eyes of this nocturnal and night-loving bird.

Geeta Madan Madam always has this purple SunBird Male near the water bowl she keeps for birds. I made that putting a water bowl for birds is an amazing idea to attract birds.

Our computer science teacher, Sangeeta Kumari madam got to see the red-wattled lapwings on her terrace as one can see in the picture that lapwings do not make their nests on trees like other birds whereas in the bare ground for camouflage by making the depression using rocks. The fun fact is that Sangeeta madam saw these eggs while playing tombola with the neighborhoods during the lockdown.

Next, we have Nisha Rajesh ma’am’s visual treat. She saw a white wagtail, a laughing dove, the black redstart (Male), and a pest of the cotton crop. Red cotton stainer. I hope you all can see how the stainer is looking like an African tiki face mask black forehead, black eyes, and a triangular smallmouth. The red and white lines are as if painted by nature's magic paintbrush.

African tiki face masks

They say if you truly love nature, you’ll find it everywhere. This picture shows how happy I am with all the wonders of nature around me. Spiders, butterflies, HoneyBees, Dragon Flies, etc. all around me.

From clockwise: Talicada butterfly, Caterpillar, Brachythemis contaminata dragonfly, a damselfly, a syrphid fly, an Argiope keyerlingi spider, an Indian palm squirrel eating a mango, a common earthworm, a Striped lynx spider
Honeybees
on a poppy flower, Holly blue butterfly, and a Fall webworm moth on Aloe Vera Plant.

Nisha Rajesh Ma’am never made an effort to get close to ladybugs, Butterflies, or insects and they just came. Well, love nature and it follows you everywhere. If you are close to nature, it also tries to come near you. A girl named Simran gave these Palash Flowers to Madam and you should know that the Indian Gray Hornbill is the State bird of Chandigarh and however, Palash flowers are the state flower of Chandigarh. isn’t it unique??..

Vanshita was also enjoying her nature walk and learning too that the ferns reproduce through spores, and the grass is indeed a flowering plant. You can also see a big cobweb almost 1 foot wide, and you may know that it is made by the saliva of the spider which hardens when coming in contact with the atmosphere, also a terse sphinx moth looking like wood, and some bees on flowers.

Here’s our Geeta Madan Ma’am who is on a regular walk to Sukhna lake in the morning. She took all the precautions while she walks and during her walk as you can see it looks as if God has painted a new painting every day with the same sun, same place, same water, and the same camera.

Vanshita with her sister

Vanshita thanked me for sharing my beautiful experience. She has been so motivated by my way of enjoying the outdoors that now she regularly visits the park near her house with her younger sister.

We don’t need to travel long distances as nature and the environment are just at our doorsteps, maybe even knowing at our doors. So, let us all visit our nearest park or garden to enjoy the various offline courses it offers.

@Rose Garden Chandigarh

I hope that all my trysts with nature, which I did you love, can easily be read by clicking on the links given below. I would like to thank all my teachers, especially Akhila Ma’am (our school head) and Nisha Rajesh Ma’am (our science teacher) who gave me the chance and opportunity to present my learning beyond the 4 walls of classrooms in the webinar.

In April, a pair of red vented bulbuls made me lucky by making their nest on the curry leaves trees in my verandah. I observed them every day and soon there were 3 eggs in the nest and I was so happy. But, one day I saw an empty nest with broken eggshells. Maybe a cat had eaten them and we were heartbroken.

It is said that — “Nature is the biggest healer”. After losing bulbul eggs, it gave me the chance to enjoy a newborn three chicks. While trimming, a bush gardener of my park showed a nest to me with 3 chicks in them. But the trimmed bush couldn’t save one chick from the scorching heat of the sun in June, and one of them died. Thankfully, maybe the two of them survived to continue the journey of their life.

Friends, The Indian white-eye bird always fascinates and excites me as if it is wearing a pair of white spectacles. Walking in the park was the only physical exercise I could manage during the lockdown. One day this bird kept encircling a bush and when I went near the bush, there was a nest with 3 eggs in it. The joy of these sights has to be experienced. To read the entire story, click the link given above.

My 2nd encounter with this little bird with white spectacles. It's the same nest again. In this story, a beautiful tailorbird is also added which is very restless and always keeps jumping from one branch to another. I ended this story with the lapwings and their chicks.

You can see them near Sukhna Lake and as mentioned earlier they make a nest on the bare ground, not on trees like other birds. I did not see the eggs or nest but their babies trotting in the park were a beautiful sight as if models were doing a ramp walk.

I would like to add here As my interest was becoming more towards birds and Birdwatching. I was a birdwatcher until now. But, turning into a birder. I joined Chandigarh Bird Club Page on Facebook and their WhatsApp group too which is a unique group for city Bird watchers, Bird photographers, and Ornithologists. If possible I want to become a member too.

Chandigarh Birds Club
  • It shares information regarding birds in the city and nearby areas.
  • to promote birding-bird watching.
  • create awareness and knowledge in citizens about the importance of birds in the overall environment.

I have upgraded myself to a Nikon camera and a monocular Telescope for clicking much better photos and started posting all the photographs I clicked and soon I got the Rising star batch from them as I have created engaging posts within the first month of joining Chandigarh Bird Club.

They displayed the badge for at least one month. I was so happy.

Shloka

As the shloka says that May all of us be at peace, may no one suffer from any illness or badness, May all that we see is happy and no one suffers. Om peace…..

My mom also penned down many poems in her diary to preserve the history of the year 2020 into lovely and entrancing memories.

1.कौन कहता था वक्त कभी रुकता नहीं,

मुसाफिर कभी थकता नहीं, रस्ता कभी थमता नहीं,

कौन कहता था जिंदगी चलती का नाम ।

आजकल तो जिंदगी सांसो गाड़ी की मौताज है,
और सड़कों गाड़ियों की
कौन कहता है ‘गले मिलने से गले शिकवे दूर होते हैं’

आजकल तो गले मिलने से करोना मिलता है ।।

2. दुनिया में यह जो हाहाकार मचा है,
साहिब यह तो होना ही था, छलनी किया जो मां धरती का सीना ।
सजा तो तुमको होना था,

मैला किया मां का आंचल ।।

लात तो तुमको पढ़ना था,
वक्त है संभल जाओ ।

वरना कफन तो तैयार होना था ।।

3. वक्त यह जब गुजर जाएगा, इतिहास बन जाएगा।
दादा-दादी की कहानियों में, फलसफा नया जुड़ जाएगा ।।

बच्चे अपने ही बच्चों को, लॉकडाउन के किस्से सुनाएंगे।

ताली, थाली, और शंखनाद की गूंज सुनाएगा,
वक्त यह सारा BC और AC मैं बंट जाएगा ।

BC (Before Corona)

AC (After Corona)

The three golden rules which no one will forget.

This year has given us so much. Coronavirus and lockdown have given all of us a lesson on how we can live with nature and save the beautiful God-given environment which is very, very precious and That’s our responsibility too to take care of it.

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