The book 'Quiet' by Susan Cain will actually converse with you ...


This book reveals that it's okay to be an introvert



Sometimes you need solitude more than anything and you would long for it through an overwhelming desire to take a break from everything routine based and everyone around. It may be difficult to realise it's worth for most while some would definitely know what I am talking about. It is much needed when perhaps you've been highly stimulated and you cave into the depths of your self-contained personality that finally demands a break. 

Corporations classify days off into categories such as sick, casual, annual but is there a leave of solitude and mental well-being being recognised? Well, there you go with your sick leave ...

Solitude and nature, together may heal you like perhaps nothing ever will (although one can't deny the much needed company of some close friends and family); the sound of birds chirping in a forest, the sound of crashing waves or simply a cool breeze blowing may help you rediscover yourself or better yet, help you make peace with the reality or practice gratitude in a way more profound than ever before.

I came across this book called 'Quiet: The Power of introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking' by Susan Cain and I must say that it is the best book I have read this year. It's about personality types, most importantly introverts and goes on to share in-depth, research based examples of introverts who have done something extraordinary in the world or studies conducted over decades to reveal that one doesn't necessarily have to be a party animal to do something worthwhile. 
  
You do not necessarily need to create noise for everything that you do but may often be mistaken as inert and someone who lacks energy or reluctance to take an initiative; unlike maybe a colleague who is highly extroverted and prefers delegating tasks while taking credit for work done by a smart introvert. It's a battle of using, let's say 'we' in work emails versus 'I' ... as in 'I did this' or 'I did that', it's often teamwork, someway or the other. It's also worth noticing that introverts though sometimes having done something entirely themselves avoid using 'I' and prefer using 'we' to indicate teamwork and give credit to the team of colleagues that works together towards achieving a certain goal or while working for a specific client for instance. 

Introverts may use 'I' when it is absolutely necessary, when they know they can't justify that something has been done by a group of people, yet such emails can later be overshadowed by their sense of guilt. And these people are perfectionists too, they may re-read something several times before sending it ahead while working out different scenarios in their heads of what may happen or what the other person may say. They tend to stay ahead in mind.

Also, with a growing need to excel at one's job, he/she is required to be well versed with multitasking, however, quite a few studies have revealed that although it sounds like the brilliant requirement of this era, it doesn't facilitate productivity but in fact hampers it, you need to focus on one thing at a time. 

Introverts are often mistaken to be anti-social which is definitely not true, they may not appear highly gregarious at once but are selectively social and prefer their circle of fellow humans whom they can be themselves with. Here's an excerpt from the book:

'Probably the most common - and damaging - misunderstanding about personality type is that introverts are anti-social and extroverts are pro-social. But as we've seen, neither formulation is correct; introverts and extroverts are differently social. They are more likely to be with someone with a select group of friends, who prefers sincere and meaningful conversations over wild parties.'  

Furthermore, one cannot entirely be an introvert or an extrovert, you could have a certain personality type that could be a mix of both but slightly skewed towards a certain trait; mostly, we are ambiverts which is a mix of the two. Yes 'ambivert' is also a term.

If introverts were of no good in this world, we wouldn't have had the likes of Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or even J.K. Rowling for that matter. Here's what Susan Cain has to say for some:

 

She further goes on to explain a situation in which an introvert is part of a dinner party:

' ... suddenly taking turns talking and listening; responding to what the other person said; assessing whether you're being understood; determining whether you're well received, and, if not, figuring out how to improve or remove yourself from the situation. Think of what it takes to juggle all this at once! And that's just a one-on-one conversation. Now imagine the multitasking required in a group setting like a dinner party. So when introverts assume the observer role, as when they write novels, or contemplate unified field theory - or fall quiet at dinner parties - they're not demonstrating a failure of will or a lack of energy. They're simply doing what they're constitutionally suited for.' 

The reference of Moonlight Sonata is simply apt when considering the topic being discussed and also the fact explained that introverts are highly sensitive:

"Many introverts are also 'highly sensitive', which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, then you are more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' or a well-tuned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence or ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience. When you were a child you were probably called 'shy' ..."

Highly sensitive people are probably the reason this world is still a better place to live in because of their acts of kindness and as a result of what they are willing to do to for humankind. They feel the need to do good because they have felt it so deeply and this is probably the schism that divides them from the rest.

In simple words, this book is a must read for not just people who are introverts but also those line managers who have introverted subordinates; these people who do not make excessive noise while completing a project but their final results have their own distinct voice to speak of their efforts. Mostly importantly, extroverts should read this book to understand introverts better and introverts should read it to understand themselves and know that it's okay to be the way they are.

I abhorred all such situations when a naive interviewer would ask, 'If you are an introvert how can you be into Marketing or PR for that matter?' or when someone who knew me in school, now has the audacity to say, 'Or she can't be in this field, she's not just meant for it.' This book is also for such fools who just assume they know a lot about someone and can pass on judgements behind their backs. Ambivert is the term, my dear and the need to be surrounded with quality people.

To conclude it, I highly recommend this book to people, especially working individuals. There is so much you would end up relating to ... which is why I ended up making so many markings and notes. Oh look! So read and enjoy!

  


 And here's something to relate with:


Hawks Bay's Star - The Oriental White-Eye



The beauty of Hawks Bay - Oriental White-Eye

Well, hello there! We found a gem at Hawks Bay and although I planned to write about it during the holiday of February 5, I was taken aback by quite a huge mishap; my beautiful sun conure took off, never to return. It may mean nothing to people but only a pet lover would understand the magnitude of my loss. Someone, asked me, 'Was the parrot expensive?' Well my answer to him was, 'All my parrots are expensive, it's actually the emotional bond that you develop over a period of time that matters ...'

So that day, as painful as it sounds, rendered all efforts of trying to find my bird, futile. What later followed was solitude and coffee ... and well some chocolate as well. I believe solitude is a great healer, though it takes its sweet time. And that wasn't just enough, I ended up working as well, my concentration level amidst sorrow was intense or perhaps I needed some outlet to think of something else. The shop keepers around my place, including Zaidi's Studio were kind enough to paste posters of my lost bird though to no avail, unfortunately. It really is the gesture that matters so I'm very grateful to everyone who tried to help regardless of the outcome. 

The next day was a working day which required going towards the waves yet again, and there's something very serene and calming about the waves as they approach the shore, eventually soothing wounds that are not physical yet quite palpable. And despite the work trip, I found myself looking around for birds at a point in time. Sandspit and Hawks Bay are blessed with nature's beauty yet polluted by us, humans ... you will still find some persevering birds that haven't lost hope in us, at least not yet.

The weekend after that was long too: I ended up spending both days at home ... more solitude and lots of reading! And I don't know why I had a feeling  that this gorgeous pet of mine will return! But let's be realistic, shall we? Still, I hope whoever finds it in our concrete jungle is kind enough to return my bird, provided it's still alive ... This is what it looks like:



Anyway let's cut my sob story short and talk about the new discovery - the oriental white-eye of Hawks Bay! We went last Sunday and explored the shrubs that housed these teeny tiny beauties. The trick of birding is that you go as early in the morning as possible because once it gets late, say afternoon, most of the birds disappear and go into their resting phase.

That Sunday, like most (some enthusiastic few wake up earlier), I woke up at 6 a.m., a few minutes before routine to get ready to leave. It was still dark, however, getting out of bed usually triggers a reflex action at the corner of my room, a voice echoed, 'ASSALAAM ALAIKUUUUM!' to which I replied ina very accustomed tone. After a while, the same voice kept repeatedly saying, 'good night!' perhaps because it was still dark and Coco still can't tell the difference as yet. I washed all water bowls of my parrots, gave them breakfast and headed out to meet the like-minded boys and girls of our wildlife photography group. And oh, forgot to water those plants ...

After gathering at the meet-up location, we headed towards Hawks Bay which we reached around 830ish and went straight to that patch of shrub of wild berries where the oriental white-eyes were having a buffet breakfast. Their call is so beautiful and camouflage so apt that you have to focus and remain still for a while until you notice some movement and your eyes dart across for that perfect shot. There were numerous oriental white-eyes singing away and devouring the wild berries. As inquisitive as some of us were, we tried a berry or two; trust me the fruit tasted of perfume yet was very sweet. Not everything is meant for human beings. Period.

Oriental white-eyes (Zosterops palpebrosus) a.k.a Indian white-eyes are small birds, about 3/4th the size of a house sparrow. They appear quite gregarious and forage in small groups while feeding on small insects and nectar, in this case these wild berries that were growing in shrubs spread out on the surface of sand. These birds have a distinctive white eye ring and spectacular brown eyes, to capture all of this you need ... let's say, a good lens. Don't let the images deceive you, these are very, very small birds, though not microscopic either. Oh but ... you will fall in love with nature a little more when you encounter these green beauties. 


Hangin upside down, what a way to make a living! *Dolly Parton's working 9 to 5 style*

As we explored the surrounding areas in search of more and more of these oriental white-eyes, we were awestruck by the vast land and its resident birds while quite disgusted by the pollution around. 

We saw one such oriental bird hopping around, almost diving into a trough of drying water to quench its thirst. That's when we realised the need to fill the nearby clay bowl with water. Hina, one of our brilliant wildlife photographers eagerly turned on the tap to fill it with enough water for the birds. However there was barely any water left but those few millilitres were sufficient for our tiny friends. They came one by one, gathering around the newly discovered water body and it was a sight not to miss but to capture.

One little bird in search of water

Water ... are you there?

Thank you. Hina. This should do!

Later, we followed the road leading to Aqua Beach, God knows wherever that was or whether it even existed. When the senior boys got to know that two of us including me have never been to Mubarak Village before, they suggested we go a bit further to explore this gem of a place. It indeed is amazing but the plastic peril has taken over all of our beaches and there was litter all around, irresponsibly scattered by tourists.  

Below is one breathtaking sight of Mubarak Village.



On our way back, there were some more bird species that we came across, one which would have been a lifer (a bird photographed for the first time) for most of us was not allowed to be captured by a gentleman in uniform, it just wasn't our jurisdiction, we toll tax paying crazy citizens. :)

And yes, the one and only bird greatly despised by our senior boys was there, waiting and smiling ... and had a pose ready. Waqar Mursalin is the guilty person who introduced me to this green bee-eater below, that was anticipating some cool photography. The bird sent its warmest regards to its best friend, Saeed Jamal Tariq who earlier did not let me take a picture of this gorgeous fluff ball ... well not exactly a ball, a bat perhaps.

Looking for me, darling???

"Whatever you do, wherever you go ... I'll be right here waiting for you!" - Green bee-eater


We had lunch at a local restaurant, next to which was a government owned fire control authority with two groups of employees playing cards. Well, these poor guys were on duty on Sunday and it was around 2 p.m. and they could just be availing some time off, not that they would have extinguished any fire with their grounded, rusty vehicle. Don't judge, okay?!?!? Please extinguish your own fire, yourself. Thank you very much!

And this is where I got another lifer, the mighty Brahminy Kite! I likened it with Tiramisu ... oh just look at this coffee coloured bird, layers of coffee and cream, gliding away in the sky!

Brahminy Kite at Hawks Bay

And another lifer, just as we were returning ...

Isabelline Shrike

At the opposite end of Sandspit was this beautiful mosque and the most disgusting vast patch of untreated effluent dump. It's ironic that 500 MDGs (Million Gallons per Day) of untreated effluent from Karachi is dumped into our seas each day and no one is answerable for this crime! Who cares? Will anyone ever will?



Below are some more pictures from our trip ... and folks, this is all until the next birding gathering.

Asian Koel

One more oriental white-eye

Beware! These people go after birds and shoot them with their CAMERAS! Picture Credit: Mirza Naim Beg

Did you even know that all such birds existed around the vicinity of Sandspit and Hawks Bay? Well, it's time to observe and reflect, my friends ...

A Tale of Sindh's Lungh Lake & Some Bird Lovers - Part 2


There is more to a photograph than meets the eye ...

 

Selfie by Yasir Pechuho

Well, well, well ... after getting a good response on part 1 of the story, I felt compelled to write down a follow-up piece, also knowing that some of the wildlife group friends are anxiously waiting. So, on the first day of the trip and after having a combination of lunch and dinner around 6 p.m., we headed towards the hotel. As tired as we were, some were still in the mood to explore the surrounding areas. We got our rooms assigned and I got to share mine with a wonderful lady from Islamabad, Pharanaz Naveed Ashraf (who thankfully came equipped with a hair dryer ... to be explained in a while). Most of us were tired but I felt dead, a special kind of dead with a sore throat and a pulsating disco head so I decided to crash the bed that had an extremely hard pillow. This is when the realisation dawned upon me that I needed to be in a moving vehicle to be able to sleep as opposed to a stationary, useless bed - inertia is the new lullaby. There was a reason why we went beyond our comfort zones ... the reason was birds as we all know - bird watching and capturing these all in the company of like-minded individuals.  

There were a lot of 'lifers' to be captured especially in my case who was meeting these folks after quite a while based on which even these humans appeared lifers. This is a term used to describe your first shot of a specific bird.

Plans were being made not to be deviated from during this trip but to implement these ahead of our schedule. Some of us had decided to leave just before sunrise and reach the lake to take our positions and shoot the birds ... with our cameras of course! Why do you always think about guns and violence? That's not good at all. 

The next morning we woke up EARLY, as early as around 530ish, however ended up having breakfast an hour after that. Yasir Pechuho a jovial, local wildlife photographer from Larkana emerged as not just a good company but an excellent tour guide as well, exclaiming after every few seconds when we sat to snap pictures, 'WIGEON HAI! WIGEON HAI!' (It's a wigeon!). He is a localised version of yet another bird encyclopedia who knows his birds by their names and has a vision of the birds of prey.

Early morning breakfast with some fuel - COFFAYYY! :-D

So off we went to say hello to our feathered relatives! The 7 of us as can be seen in the selfie above emerged as somewhat 'earlier pretty birds' while the rest got off the nests later in the morning. If you are a coffee person, don't try to be fancy at local hotels thinking you would get coffee served for breakfast, instead take your own instant sachets along and that was something worth celebrating for me at least. 

We reached the lake a little after sunrise and were able to get hold of some good light for photography; thankfully it wasn't foggy or very cold unlike how the weather forecast had bluffed. This crazy group of ours continued capturing and identifying birds until the lunch break when food was all we could think of. What's really fascinating is the fact that everyone here is eager to help each other in terms of spotting birds, capturing and identifying these, and of course helping with potential camera malfunction. It is of utmost importance that you carry a spare battery when constantly clicking because some might still be present in Sindh in spirit but this town hardly has a constant supply of electricity. However, much to our delight, it was brought into our knowledge that they have ample WATER!!!

It's not easy capturing birds which is why one should see the amount of effort put in by these highly charged up and passionate individuals who aren't even getting anything in return but  just satisfaction and sheer delight. This reminds me of a thought provoking dialogue from Oscar Wilde's short story called 'Model Millionaire': "Millionaire models are rare enough but model millionaires are rarer still." I'm not implying that anyone of us is a millionaire. DO NOT kidnap us please! Thank you.

Now let's try and talk about each one of these legally sourced diamonds who have this super power of freezing those birds in flight and also exhibiting their catch in various group shows.

Mirza Naeem Beg:

A retired banker and young at heart birdaholic who knows his birds too well despite properly having started wildlife photography about four years ago. This shows decades worth of interest for birding. He's cool! I want to retire as well.

Some of his pictures from the trip:

Metacognition overload

Common Teal

Common kingfisher caught stuffing it's face eating shaadi ka khaana

Saad Aleem:

Saad Aleem is a mechanical engineer by profession, during moments of Monday blues he thinks of all the beautiful birds that he has captured which are yet to be transferred into the laptop. The irony is that all are usually snapped in RAW form and each has to be edited and converted into a JPEG file but who cares when passion outweighs all such painstaking processes. What I really liked about him was that he liked my music playlist as discussed in the previous post and all of us have something in common with each other. He also dislikes cigarettes!

Saad in Action by Saeed Jamal Tariq

Some of his pictures from the trip:

Common Teal

Northern Shoveler



Waqar Mursalin:

Waqar is a chartered accountant, when he gets bored of all the number crunching and balancing those oh-so-frustrating balance sheets, he day dreams of the next birding trip! He's a silent killer with a camera.

In search of that pwetty, pwetty birdie!
Some of his pictures from the trip: 

Common Teals

Blue throat

Northern Pintail


Yasir Pechuho:

Words may not be able to do justice to describe Yasir's dedication for his hobby. He would go out as early as 3 a.m. in the morning to establish grounds for a good bird photography session. Yasir is cool, if you have a camera and like to capture birds, be like Yasir. Period! 

Also, he would go an extra mile to help you capture the birds you might not be able to see instantly.

Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

Some of his pictures from Lungh Lake: 

This one is a picture of a Eurasian Wigeon, when he saw this duck he was confident about the species name and couldn't hold back his excitement. He exclaimed, 'Wigeon hai! Wigeon hai!' (it's a wigeon) and now the Wigeon itself seems to be saying, "Haan mein wigeon hoon! Bhai mein he wigeon hoon!" (Yes I am a Wigeon! Brother, it's me who is the wigeon).
Eurasian Wigeon

Gadwall

Little Grebe

 

Celesta Von Chamier:

Celesta is a German lady who joined us all the way from Islamabad. She is a selfless person who is always eager to create awareness about and do something for the wildlife of Pakistan. Celesta is also very cool! Be like Celesta.

Celesta  (Walking upfront) - Picture Credit: Mirza Naeem Beg

 

Khurram Asim Kalimi:

Always high on excitement and entrepreneurial instincts, Khurram is actually a tech entrepreneur whose company will make waves at an international level one day. His enthusiasm for birding is endless and excitement level insurmountable whenever he gets to photograph a new bird which he later shows off. And why shouldn't he for his catch is always quite unique in one way or the other?

Check below: Bird-Mammal found on Planet Earth ... species to be identified. This is him!


Some of his pictures from Lungh Lake: 

The Gorgeous Indian Roller

Northern Shoveler: I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky!!!

Caption by Nusrat Ali: A Spotted Owlet who spotted Khurram 

Almas Bana:

We had a gentleman amongst us who was not just brimming with knowledge but seemed to be a true advocate of women empowerment, his intellectual conversation throughout the journey enriched my brain cells. He thoroughly enjoyed the trip, perhaps more than us, for he was soaking himself in the mesmerizing environment and observing the scenic beauty with his binoculars, unlike us who were chasing birds with the camera and wanted to snap a picture of any flying, visible being or one that was perched for the matter ... with a frog or fish trapped in its beak ... or a green bee-eater teasing people! :P

Meet Almas Bana, he reads 3 local newspapers, 3 Indian newspapers, and 3 international ones besides watching BBC and Al Jazeera to grasp various perspectives and acquaint himself with different sides of the same news. In a world where companies need PR agencies with well informed people for their reputation management, be like Almas Bana! He is very well informed indeed! 

Almas Bana, second from right/next to the bird-mammal - Photo Credit: Mirza Naim Beg

Pharahnaz Naveed Ashraf:

Pharanaz heads grade 1 to 5 at a private school in Rawalpindi, once she discovered herself further, she realised wildlife photography to be her true calling.

I got to share the room with her and during such trips you should be prepared to eke out two days at a stretch without a shower because of cold water in winter. But neither of us was prepared for this and when she offered me her hair dryer I shamelessly accepted the generous offer without a second thought. 

Pharanaz, second from right - Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

You can read about Nusrat Ali, Saeed Jamal Tariq, and Ellen in my previous post here.

And now some 'behind the scenes' images:

Young men & the Lake
"Come on, young man. Let me show you some pretty birds."
"Aye aye, captain!"

Picture Credit: Mirza Naim Beg

Nusrat Ali - Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

And here he was, a determined farmer, earning by the sweat of his brow, tired and yet not defeated! 



Huma Beg and the little Umama: "Baita, yeh zamana bohat kharaab hai, yahan parindoun ko maar daitay haen." - Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

And a little about my last few attempts at bird photography; after our lunch break we headed towards the lake again where Yasir spotted a long tailed shrike around the spread out reeds and encouraged me to click away. Trying my best to stay firm on the ground, I drew myself closer to the target while snapping countless pictures after every few inches rambled and Yasir's guiding commentary continued. And there it was, the bird gave several poses and stayed there until the sound of the motor cycle scared it off. But I was one happy bird after clicking over a dozen pictures of the bird that was nothing less than a poser.

This is one of the first few pictures:


And now the closest shot from the most appropriate angle:


I didn't realise that Yasir thought I was a bird too and documented this moment:

Picture Credit: Yasir Pechuho

There is sometimes a downside to your interests as well, for example my experience from the same morning:


I had to be pulled out, then my shoe had to be pulled out. Thankfully I wasn't alone otherwise it would have become messier. And it was a bad choice of shoes, just because I was lazy enough not to tie laces, I opted for this pair. 

It was finally time to say goodbye the next morning, we got ready to leave and return to our own jungle, Karachi ... concrete jungle - home sweet home and the wheat, pepper, and mustard fields on the way back added a sense of relaxation. Much to the disappointment of some who wanted to snap my picture while I slept, I did not sleep at all on my way back! Ha! 

Learning from the trip:

1. Keep an extra camera battery because you will be taking pictures from morning till evening and no battery lasts that long. This is especially important for places like Larkana where electricity supply is scanty despite 'Zinda hai! Zinda hai!'

2. Wear boots because of wet and swampy areas. 

3. If you are a coffee person, bring along your own coffee, however, it's advisable to cut down on tea and coffee while travelling. Nobody's cause of death has ever been a lack of coffee ... this is what I tell myself.

4. Keep your single use plastics with yourself only and dispose all such bits and pieces when you find a dustbin. You should realise that these are not biodegradable. We were all environmentally conscious people but still thought of reiterating this essential bit.

Some relevant local Facebook groups that focus on bird photography: