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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:10 pm 
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Hi folks,

Here's an article I read many years ago. It's a lovely story and i'm sure most of you will enjoy it.

The Old Man Of Parsi Ghat - by Ved Shenag
India
A part of my school days were spent at Kamptee, a small cantonment town on the Kanhan River near Nagpur, India. A kilometer-wide torrent in the monsoon months, the Kanhan shrank to a modest clear stream during the winter. On one of its bends, the river had gouged out a deep pool where the water swirled in slow lazy eddies. Overhanging boughs of Gulmohur (a lovely tree, profusely flowered with orange blooms, also called Flame of the Forest) and banks of rich green grass created a peaceful picture. Situated close to an old, disused bathing place ('ghat', in Hindi) this idyllic place was known as Parsi Ghat.

Some of my happiest boyhood hours were spent angling around Parsi Ghat, equipped with rod and knapsack. My favorite quarry was the murral (or "Sowl", as it is known in Punjab), a distant relative of the African lung fish, cousin to the North American Bowfin and prized in India for its medicinal properties. A predatory fish of aggressive temperament, the murral had long since captivated me with its graceful movements, as well as its fighting qualities when hooked. He is second to the famed Mahseer, and is well known among experienced anglers for his "tail walking", a spectacular feature from his repertoire of evasive tactics when hooked. On a sunny winter morning, it was not unusual to see murral gliding up from the depths to gulp in mouthfuls of air (for they belong to the family which have an auxiliary breathing 'lung', called a labyrinth organ) and cruise the surface while basking in the sunlight. During the late evenings, if one was lucky, one could sometimes see him cruising along the grassy banks, on the lookout for a hapless chick, rat, frog or insect to fall his way.

I was seldom alone on the river. There was the familiar group of local fishermen, a silent, taciturn fraternity. The eldest among them was a grizzled octogenarian whom everyone called Baba (meaning, "father", the term could also be used for a small boy). They knew me by sight and treated me with tolerant, almost patronizing kindness, as one would a child trying to emulate adults at their work.

I will never forget that sunny day in the winter of '67 when I first saw the Old Man. School was out then, and I had been at Parsi Ghat since six in the morning. By eight I had caught a fourteen-inch murral on a brass spinner (a bright, revolving lure, with hooks attached, which is pulled through the water so as to simulate a small fish). Baba and a couple of his cronies, sitting about twenty feet away and baiting their hooks with atta (a traditional paste made of flour) had caught three or four small carp. I had just decided to take a breakfast break and was unwrapping my packet of sandwiches, when, for no specific reason, I looked up… and froze.

On the sunlit surface of water barely twenty feet from the bank, a dark shadow was steadily growing in size, the sort of shadow which is typically caused by something beneath the surface of the water. As I looked, the blurred outlines of the shadow took form to outline a huge murral - such a murral I had never dreamed existed. Fully thirty eight to forty inches from nose to tip of tail, he was the granddaddy of all murral s! As his snout broke the surface of the water and his lips opened to take a deep gulp of air, I looked down his wide, pink maw and could actually see the serrated row of blood red gills set far back in that huge gullet.

The giant fish veered slightly to move right past me, now a scant six to seven feet away. Preceded by a small bow wave, he glided past me like a nuclear submarine, the very lack of visible effort proclaiming the power behind those fins. He passed close enough for me to notice a curious glint on his tail fin. Once he was about ten yards away, he returned to the depths with a casual flick of his great tail and was lost to sight.

I turned around and saw that Baba and the others had also been witnesses to the spectacle. "Did you see that?", I spluttered, barely coherent in my excitement, "Did you see that murral ?".

"We saw him, baba. We have been seeing him for many years now. He is the buddha (old man) of this place, and he can never be caught. He is not as greedy as the Mrigal and even craftier than the Rohu (both types of carp). Many have tried to catch him, but he is too clever. Come, forget about the buddha and be happy with the small fishes he sends your way".

I returned to my rod, but my heart just wasn't in it. I couldn't get the picture of the Old Man out of my mind, his awesome size, broad back and the way he moved through the water…. From that moment on, my sole aim in life was to catch the Old Man. I tried all types of baits, spinners, plugs and lures, drawn at different speeds and made to 'swim' in different ways through the water, at different times and at different depths at various places around Parsi Ghat, but with no success. My angling comrades viewed my efforts first with amusement, then, as the days turned to weeks, concern, with much shaking of heads and whispered consultations.

Three weeks after I first saw the Old Man, I had noticeably lost weight and had become silent and preoccupied, obsessed with my only purpose in life, catching the great fish. My parents thought I had, at last, fallen in love, and welcomed it as a step in the right direction, preferable, at any rate, to "murdering harmless fish". I spent all my waking hours at the river, from dawn to well after dark. At night I used to lie awake thinking about the old man and what he would be doing at that time… cruising along the river bottom, perhaps, in a wild creature's never ending quest for food, guided by the primeval instincts based on the genetic memory of millions of ancestors before him, the same instincts that had, till now, kept him safe in a hostile universe…. I had an almost physical need of feeling the old man on my line, seeing my rod bend to his strength, and hearing my reel scream as he ripped off line… My father finally put his foot down when I announced my intention of spending a night by the river in my feverish attempts to get the old man.

The river now gave me a palpable ache in the belly, but, perversely, I couldn't stay away from it. As if to taunt me, on a few evenings by the water I heard the mighty "splat" of a giant tail slapping the water, and looked up to see the widening ripples that marked the spot where, I was certain, the Old Man had come up for a lungful of air. At such times I would grit my teeth, look down at the water and strain to contain my frustration without crying out loud.

Then one winter morning, like the earth opening up under my feet, the impossible happened. I was retrieving a brass spinner, and once it came to within eight to nine feet of the bank, was preparing to lift it out of the water, when I saw a familiar shadow rapidly growing in size just behind the lure. Paralyzed, the only thing I could think of was to continue what I was doing. The next thing I remember was my arm being violently wrenched almost, or so it seemed, from its socket, and the reel screaming in triumph. In what seemed like slow motion, I barely remembered the basic rule of keeping the rod up and stepping back, while a voice was screaming in my mind, "That's the Old Man on your line! That's the Old Man tearing your arm off and ripping line off your reel!"

During the next twenty five minutes or so, I ran almost a hundred yards along the bank to prevent the Old Man from breaking my line (light mono-filament, of which very little remained on my reel), before I was able to play out the great fish and bring him into shallow water. Catching sight of me at the last moment, he mustered energy for a last wild dash for freedom that tore fifty yards off my reel. It took me another five minutes to bring him in, wagging his head and almost upside down with fatigue. I was exhausted, my arm was numb and he could certainly have got away, had he but known that I was almost as far gone as he was, but I managed to put my arms under him and heave him onto the grassy bank where he lay, his great gill plates pumping empty air. Standing weak kneed with exultation and getting my breath back, my attention was drawn to the curious glint I had noticed on his tail the first day I saw him. Seen close up, it turned out to be a small metal tag stapled on the tail fin. Squinting in the reflected sunlight, I could just about make out the inscription, which went something like this:


Image



Looking down at the Old Man gasping his life away, I grappled with one of the most difficult decisions of my young life. Finally, I made up my mind and lifted him up in my arms, staggered down the water's edge and gently placed him back in his element. I wasn't too worried about him surviving the experience, as I knew that murral could live for a long time out of water. Straightening up, I watched as the big fish swam shakily off into the depths and felt more at peace with myself than I had been for months.

I turned around to see that I had been performing to a packed house. Baba puffed thoughtfully on his beedi and looked into the far distance for a moment. Then, looking down at me with a ghost of a smile, he said, "It is as I said, baba. The buddha can never be caught. Let us eat our food and forget about him".

I shared their frugal meal in silence, for nobody spoke. In fact, no one ever mentioned it again. But from that day they treated me as one of them, and not as a mere schoolboy with a fishing rod.


Last edited by IndianAngler on Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:16 am 
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What a beautiful story


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 1:27 pm 
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:cry: beautiful


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:46 pm 
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Nicely written, but they don't make Murral that way anymore ! :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:25 pm 
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Great story, Bops.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:56 pm 
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Thanks Ashok, the story isn't mine but it's one of my favourites!

Bops


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:45 pm 
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Great story, guess it was Babas' lucky day :D


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 6:19 pm 
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That is if Baba really existed :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:01 pm 
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Great reading Bops .....


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:46 pm 
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Takes a heart to do that Bops.Thanks for keeping the flag flying.
Axx


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 Post subject: great story
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:01 pm 
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wow that was amazing !! I am inspired ... ... outdoors ... for ever
Dean


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 4:02 pm 
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Thank you for sharing that beautiful story of the grandpa murrel. It was really big hearted of the young Baba to give it it's freedom.Perhaps it would have been coarse and dry to eat as most larger fish of a species are.But young Baba was rewarded with a far grander prize of being accepted and treated as a friend and equal -----He even got to share a meal, however meagre ,with the old man.
Cheers,
Glenn


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:55 pm 
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Awesome Story.Iam sure all of us anglers have our own interesting ones to share, some very special like the one above, each one nice in its own special way.

I hope everyone here has a great experience fishing.

Tight lines


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 1:59 am 
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what a story!!! where did you read that bops?


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 Post subject: Great Experience!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:15 am 
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That was a Great Experience with 'Old Man -Murrel'. It was a great gesture as well to release the old man back to his environment.

Congrats!

Arun


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:20 pm 
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Awesome story Bop :-) .....Keep it up...

Wish i could atleast see a Murrel of 40 odd inch :shock: .....Man !!.. would have been Wonderful :D :D :D


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:32 pm 
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Just read the story, fabulous...by the way was the inscription? I can't read it.
But amazing tale should be in a book.

Dev


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:01 pm 
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That image of the inscription is lost forever mate :-( Can't find it anywhere...


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:22 pm 
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IndianAngler wrote:
That image of the inscription is lost forever mate :-( Can't find it anywhere...


Image

Dont worry mate here it is.I've always loved that story
:D
Regards,
Yaj.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:27 pm 
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You a lifesaver Yaj! Where did you find it?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:50 pm 
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Hay Bops,
What a story man. Reminds me of my childhood when I was obsessed to bag a black partridge and after many days of fruitless effort, on an early bright morning, when I had one on my mercy and the sight of my .22 aligned and the distance between my much coveted bag only a slight pressure on the trigger, I could not do it. The beauty of that particular bird, ambling without fear on a dirt road in a still rising sun, leisurely calling its mate is still itched on my mind. It is a common perception that the humans are driven by a primitive lust to kill but on many occasion I have observed that when you are in complete harmony with nature it becomes impossible to take another life. The above story is a classical example of the same. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Hi Yaj, where are you. long time no contact,

Regards,

Ali..


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:59 pm 
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angler_ali wrote:
Reminds me of my childhood when I was obsessed to bag a black partridge and after many days of fruitless effort, on an early bright morning, when I had one on my mercy and the sight of my .22 aligned and the distance between my much coveted bag only a slight pressure on the trigger, I could not do it. The beauty of that particular bird, ambling without fear on a dirt road in a still rising sun, leisurely calling its mate is still itched on my mind.


Hi Yaj, where are you. long time no contact,

Regards,

Ali..

I have a memory of a similar (grey) encounter where I was not so charitable.The image still troubles me :oops:

Ali I'm still here man same place.You know whats kept me close to home :(
Planning a trip to Garhwal/Kumaon in Nov though.Lets meet up soon.
Regards,
Yaj.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:21 pm 
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angler_ali wrote:
Hay Bops,
Reminds me of my childhood when I was obsessed to bag a black partridge and after many days of fruitless effort, on an early bright morning, when I had one on my mercy and the sight of my .22 aligned and the distance between my much coveted bag only a slight pressure on the trigger, I could not do it. The beauty of that particular bird, ambling without fear on a dirt road in a still rising sun, leisurely calling its mate is still itched on my mind. It is a common perception that the humans are driven by a primitive lust to kill but on many occasion I have observed that when you are in complete harmony with nature it becomes impossible to take another life. Ali..


Heard this before.. :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:37 pm 
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Sometimes I think the scope should be replaced with a camera everything else remaining the same :-)

So when you pull the trigger you get an image of the crosshairs on your target and you go back home knowing that you could have if you wanted to......


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:50 pm 
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I know that feeling :-)
Yaj.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:06 pm 
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Very absorbing story Bops, i felt like being a part of the packed house that saw the young boy perform. Moving. Thanks for the story.
Cheers
Sualeh


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:55 pm 
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IndianAngler wrote:
Sometimes I think the scope should be replaced with a camera everything else remaining the same :-)

So when you pull the trigger you get an image of the crosshairs on your target and you go back home knowing that you could have if you wanted to......


I was out on my weekend trip to the river with my dogs and I saw quail after quail ,two partridges and a few ringed doves.Brought to mind your above statement.Just being there watching them was amazing.
Regards,
Yaj.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:41 pm 
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Yaj, I've just returned from a trip to malvalli over the weekend. Spent an hour in the morning watching the birds around the estate house, it's incredible how much there is to see. I was able to spot and watch for a long time the Indian Hanging Lorikeet, a very beautiful bird. I also spotted a pair of Grey Indian Hornbills as well as the usual gang of bul buls, jungle mynahs, barbets etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:17 pm 
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malvalli!!! Got to get there.

Yup! this thread has got even me looking at the world around me with a bit more awe. I walk my dogs every morning (got three so I don't need a gym). Somedays my little 4 1/2 year old daughter also comes along. Once we were counting birds and we saw 14 different kinds. They great thing is that because of this my little one now always asks the name of any bird that she sees. They are not just birds for her any more, she realizes each is different.

Just waiting foe winter to set in and the birds to arrive. already we have seen spotbills, white ibis and a few other exotics.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:39 pm 
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IndianAngler wrote:
Yaj, I've just returned from a trip to malvalli over the weekend. Spent an hour in the morning watching the birds around the estate house, it's incredible how much there is to see. I was able to spot and watch for a long time the Indian Hanging Lorikeet, a very beautiful bird. I also spotted a pair of Grey Indian Hornbills as well as the usual gang of bul buls, jungle mynahs, barbets etc.

Sounds great Bops! Heard so much about malvalli but I never have been able to make it there :cry:



Quote:
Yup! this thread has got even me looking at the world around me with a bit more awe. I walk my dogs every morning (got three so I don't need a gym). Somedays my little 4 1/2 year old daughter also comes along. Once we were counting birds and we saw 14 different kinds. They great thing is that because of this my little one now always asks the name of any bird that she sees. They are not just birds for her any more, she realizes each is different.

Ken I think i better brush up on our local birds before my son starts asking me their names :wink:

Regards,
Yaj.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:51 am 
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Yup! get their names and you'll start looking at them differently. I just started on trees. earlier they were all just trees, now each is a bit more special.

A good bird book is the Salim Ali guide. it is small enough to carry and informative like hell. Great illustrations too. There is another by A person called Woodcock, can't remember the name but I will get that soon.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:12 pm 
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I think the Salim ali guide should be good.Will do, thanks,
Yaj.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:34 pm 
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Yaj,
For the Mumbai region the best pocket guide would be "Birds of Mumbai" by Sunjoy Monga. Its "pocketable" and very user friendly, covering all the species in Mumbai and its surroundings.
Salim Ali's guide covers the common species of India and is a great "starter" book. More serious birders however use the guide by Grimmet & Inskipp.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:01 pm 
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Thanks for the suggestion Hawkeye.I will lookaround for "The birds of Mumbai" too.
Regards,
Yaj.


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 Post subject: hi
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:13 pm 
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just wondering from the time i have read that story. when will i narrate a similar type of story to everyone. wondering when will my wish come true. the best part of the story is that i started imagining myself in the role of the small boy. believe me the feeling was great. what a great story.
regards,
spoonangler.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:27 pm 
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Bops,
Maney of us might be having similer stories to share. Why not start one story section here.
Regards,

Ali..


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:30 pm 
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Great idea Ali. That will make some might fine reading.


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hawkeye wrote:
Yaj,
More serious birders however use the guide by Grimmet & Inskipp.



The book by grimmet & inskipp is good, unfortunately it has not been updated in a while and contains factual errors at places!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:05 pm 
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Good to see you back, IG. How have things been with you?


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nice story


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:54 am 
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Beautiful story! i wonder how i landed on this thread unintionally!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:33 pm 
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Best of the BEST......

Happy Fishing...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:07 pm 
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revive this thread please... Its one of those ancient tales... Who was the young schoolboy ? is this just a tale or did this really happen ?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:35 pm 
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Great one- "Daku Ratnakar turned into Rishi Valmiki" :D


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Nice read Bops! thanks for sharing!

Regards,
Omesh


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