In Conversations With Birds, Priyanka Kumar embodies the ways that make us a part of nature

In Conversations With Birds, Priyanka Kumar embodies the ways that make us a part of nature

Novelist and documentary director Priyanka Kumar was born and raised in India till she moved to California as an adolescent. When she got here of age, she lived in main cities throughout the US, however Kumar at all times felt misplaced and disconnected in methods she could not outline. Pushed by a near-death expertise after encountering a western chicken, her deep love and connection to earth and nature started to resurface. So, in her new ebook of articles, Conversations with birdsKumar chronicles the intertwined and deeply fulfilling relationship she had with the mountains and bamboo forests of her childhood as forming her sense of self and place on this planet.

Conversations with birds Composed of Kumar’s notes, visions, and dealings with birds and the earth in prose looks as if a pleasant information for the reader to domesticate his relationship with nature, no matter its kind. Particularly as local weather change claims extra of what we all know and love about this planet, Kumar’s writing is considered one of many who reminds us of what we’ve got to lose, and what we should preserve.

Shondaland spoke with Kumar concerning the dialog as a guiding phrase, climatic disappointment, getting nearer to the pure world, and the Hindu thought of ​​rasa.


Sarah Nelson: The title of the ebook consists of the phrase talks. How was that phrase for you – the thought of ​​dialog and mutual sharing within the context of birds and the teachings you discovered from watching them?

Priyanka Kumar: For a few years now, I’ve been growing relationships with birds and different wildlife. To do that, I spend as a lot time as doable with them. As a result of I really feel that solely when you could have a relationship can you could have a dialog. For the previous few weeks, I have been watching these beautiful reddish hummingbirds who, as of yesterday, nonetheless cling round sage berries in my backyard despite the fact that we’re transferring into the tip of October. And I am pondering, “Why are you continue to right here? Do not it’s essential begin your journey south?” I am additionally pondering that subsequent spring I am going to must plant extra Penstemons And extra sensible to those hummingbirds. Farming makes me really feel alive, after which I see how the birds reply, and it is an ongoing dialog. When this occurs every day, I really feel like I am engaged in dialog with birds, with different wildlife, and with our planet. That is transformative.

Conversations with birds

Conversations with birds
Credit score: Milkweed Variations

SEKEMs Information: How do you cope with climatic grief in your work, and the way does this ebook cope with grief on a bigger scale?

PK: I believe we’re all residing with local weather disappointment proper now. [A recent study] Present that 64 % of People are involved about local weather change. I believe it is nice that so many people are conscious. However I additionally rule out that lots of these 64 % of People dwell in local weather misery. I do know these of us who take into consideration this extra deeply dwell with it day by day. For me, what soothes this disappointment is that I’ve a significant connection to the Earth, as a result of I consider that the macro and the micro can occur on the identical time. For me it’s actually essential – and this can be a very small factor – that I take advantage of my arms even when doing one thing as primary as fertilizing, after which use that compost to counterpoint the backyard in order that I can then develop extra chicken habitat, and in order that the migratory birds that go right here each fall ( And I’ve seen some superb birds these days, just like the Townsend warbler) they’ve an abundance of seeds, and that I’ve by no means used pesticides till there are bugs and there are grasshoppers for birds to eat. I believe every day, it is rather essential for me to maintain this energetic relationship with the earth and to get the soil in my nails. On this means, I really feel that as a traditional particular person, I’m doing my half. And I believe we are able to all try this. It does not actually matter the place we dwell, in a metropolis or a rural space. I believe all of us have the chance to work together with the land, whether or not it is in a group backyard and even simply planting pots of edible perennials. Not less than I discover this to be fairly therapeutic for me.

The opposite a part of that’s that I’m so concerned on this explicit dialog that I’m after all considering delving deeper into the tales of birds and wildlife that I encounter on an virtually day by day foundation. As an artist and storyteller, I really feel compelled, with virtually a deep ethical duty, to inform these tales in a means that can enchantment to individuals and hopefully encourage them to forge their very own relationship with the pure world. I actually consider that if we did not have this relationship, it will be very tough to be efficient advocates for the Earth and our planet. I believe this is step one to a relationship with the Earth. Even when the birds are in a parking zone, solely to seek out an entry level and develop a relationship. That offers us a stronger thought of ​​what is going on on – how fluctuations in temperature and precipitation have an effect on wildlife and what we are able to do about it.

Tweeter in Townend

Townsend tweeter

Alan C. / 500 pixels//Getty Photographs

SN: That jogs my memory of the phrase head introduced originally of the ebook. Are you able to describe the that means of the phrase rasa and the way it carries its that means by way of the ebook?

PK: Rasa means “juice” in Sanskrit, each actually and figuratively. It’s an historical idea, and it was first utilized in a 2nd century textual content and is a commentary on efficiency and dance. I believe it is attention-grabbing that it was used within the context of storytelling. I weave this idea by way of the ebook as a result of I finished experiencing rasa in my life within the West. I believed it was cool to dwell in such well-known cities as Los Angeles and New York, but I used to be a lot happier as a child in India. I questioned what was lacking. Now, I do not know any of us can actually categorical what’s lacking in our lives, however I do know that after I stepped into the realm of nature once more, I discovered that I used to be nearer to this sense of vitality, connection, and in awe. What extra can we ask?

SN: Talking of childhood, are you able to discuss concerning the ways in which childhood and nature are linked to you, the significance of place and the way that seems within the ebook?

PK: As a really younger youngster, even after I was about 5 years outdated, I used to be [had] This residing reminiscence of going to high school each morning. We lived within the foothills of the Himalayas, and alongside the way in which, I’d see these snowy summit mountains. I used to be positively a perpetrator as a child in personifying mountains – it appeared like they’d eyebrows fabricated from snow, looking at me, winking at me, or simply watching me. It just about felt like I used to be strolling to high school underneath the shadows of those monumental mountains. They appeared virtually from one other world to my infantile eyes. I’ve by no means forgotten the connection I had with these mountains. Two years later, we moved far east, and there weren’t so many snow-capped mountains, however huge stretches of bamboo. Once I was seven, I’d take a 40-minute stroll to go go to a pal by way of these bamboo forests. I misplaced all sense of time, it was simply that magical feeling.

I am so grateful I had that – as a child, I developed these deep connections with the pure world. And that was primarily as a result of I used to be in an space that was very stunning and really wild. That is an space that scientists now acknowledge as one of the vital biodiverse locations on the planet. If we have in mind the truth that I used to be a delicate youngster with an inclination to artwork, it was simply love at first sight. And I by no means fell in love till I used to be finally pushed right into a metropolis. I felt unhappy, and didn’t perceive why I used to be unhappy. And a part of the rationale I write about a few of these experiences is to assist us all bear in mind how essential it’s for youngsters to develop up in shut contact with nature. That is my largest want for youngsters who’re rising up immediately.

I select to stroll away from this device-filled existence, I select to get as near the pure world as I can in my day by day life and lose myself…

SEKEMs Information: Are you able to discuss concerning the parallel between your relationship with nature and your relationship with your self? What have birds and this relationship with nature taught us concerning the act of trying and observing not solely what is going on externally but in addition internally?

PK: The attention-grabbing factor is that we dwell in a really completely different time than we did 20 years in the past. We’re immersed on this life filled with units. Expertise will be a superb device. However for many people, our lives have actually been taken over. It should take loads of thought to know how we’re altering on this very transformative time. I believe it’s extra essential immediately than ever to develop a way of internal silence. I’m not speaking about silence within the sense of loneliness, as a result of we additionally undergo from a disaster of loneliness on this nation, however how can we develop in ourselves the flexibility to immerse ourselves in time? We could not have bamboo forests to roam in, however do we’ve got areas in our day by day lives the place we get misplaced and now not notice time? For me, coping with birds can be a radical enterprise.

I select to stroll away from this device-laden existence, I select to get as near the pure world as I can in my day by day life and lose myself—whether or not it’s the music of a tit, the meow of a flash, or the piercing gaze of a wolf. I do know I am simply an observer, however I am very curious to deepen my information of those animals and their lives, which leads me day after today again once more and see what I can see, after which lastly these tales to the world, which I hope to do on this ebook.

CN: You write that considered one of your writing academics requested you in case your narrator might “take the stage,” which you took as a metaphor for the thought of ​​performing for a specific viewers. What are a few of the methods you nurture your artistic and inventive self alongside these strains of communication with nature?

PK: What bothered me was the concept artwork is simply leisure, and as a efficiency for an elite viewers. For me, actual artwork is about life. And in that second of connection, there’s a feeling of magnification, recognition and pleasure on the identical time. Then again, capitalism is overly centered on the person, and we encounter one another in many alternative and brutal methods. I do not actually understand how anybody could make artwork on this setting. And the writing trainer you are speaking about, his lack of information, his lack of generosity, and albeit, the crusty gaze is one thing I’ve come throughout time and time once more. Being in nature and spending time with birds stored me away from that poisonous tradition. Experiments with patriarchy, sexism and racism appear to be fading away. I am again in an setting that felt timeless and that spoke to me from the beginning, and that I by no means needed to half with once more.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.


Sarah Nelson is a contract author. May be discovered on Twitter Tweet embed.

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