Photo Essay: In the Midst of Colours

Nishi Pulugurtha explored the campus of a famed university with her camera and added words to embellish what her camera clicked

Spring was all around, offering, as it were, some much needed solace. It is easy to miss the sights of spring in the concrete of the city – sights that bring in some colour with the trees in bloom. Yellow, red, violet and a little orange peeping here and there – one just needs to pause and seek them out. Most city folk prefer heading out of the city to catch up with the blooms of spring     

I was away too, in the town of Roorkee in Uttarakhand in northern India. I needed some rest, a breather. As I walked around the IIT campus in Roorkee in the evenings, I felt the greenery colour my soul. The tall trees reached high. Their branches were bare despite the red flowers hanging onto their skeletal limbs. A few flowers had fallen below. Parrots were engaged in animated exchanges on high leafy branches of other trees. There were colourful blooms almost everywhere I looked.

The small church with its beautiful lawns stretched out an invitation to the lazy dog asleep under a tree. The waters of the canal flowed fast. The yellow flower-laden tree, the weeping bottlebrush, the jackfruit tree with younger ones stuck to the trunk and fresh green leaves all around.

St. John’s Church within the IIT Roorkee campus.

An old lady was sitting on a bench. She smiled back as I walked around, soaking in the picturesque setting that is so rare in a big city of steel and concrete. The church would open only on Sunday’s at 8.30 am when the service was on, she said in response to my question. It was all locked up as the spring sun mellowed down.

My walks took me along the canal with its two huge lions on guard, the bridges spanning the two sides and the foliage lining the canal. The yellow gulmohar tree was in full bloom — some of its branches entwined in the electric wires were reflected in the rippling water.

The Ganga Canal

The Ganga Canal was built in the nineteenth century for irrigation purposes. It seemed to flow in peace, guarded by lions. This is a setting that has been featured in many Hindi films.

Nature proliferated all over the campus.

The Livingstone Daisy

The Livingstone daisy was commonplace. The magenta petals that emanated out were painted white within.

Sweet alyssum tufts held together amidst the green and the other blooms. And some magenta ones not only added colour but were curled into a ball.


This bi-coloured bloom also is a member of the daisy family. Its yellow adding brightness as I paused.  

Sweet William

Tufts of the beautiful sweet William caught flies huddled together. A lone plant that stood among many others.

Livingstone Daisy

Another Livingstone daisy had some action going on – summer was still some time away.


Some ziziphora were green, a few turned violet in the centre before the entire bunch matures to a shades of  the amethyst. All on one plant. 

Easter Lily Vine

Herald’s Trumpet or the Easter Lily Vine bent down and looked out. They seemed to offer a colour contrast to the parrots with loud their screeching calls.


There were cineraria blooms lining the lawns, defining with their vibrancy.

Weeping Bottle Brush

The weeping bottlebrush looked happy and bright despite the element of sadness in its name. These trees sometimes stood lone and sometimes, in the company of small shrubs and plants.

Jackfruit Tree

Small raw jackfruits hung on to the tall trees, reminding one of culinary delights that are part of summer menus.


Bunches of white periwinkle, gently swayed just by the kerb, unmoved by social distancing norms.


And amid all the concrete housing, an orange bougainvillea branched out.  


The Sacred Heart Church

The Sacred Heart Church was close by. Its morning bells pealed at about 5.45 am every morning. As I peeped out of a window in its direction, I could see the lighted cross in the darkness.

The charm of what I saw has now become a part of my being. The smell of the greenery pervades my senses, with nostalgia that remain — that linger on for a while as life moves on, at times bumpy, at times slow.


Nishi Pulugurtha’s works include a monograph Derozio, travel essays Out in the Open, edited volume of travel essays Across and Beyond, and The Real and the Unreal and Other Poems



Nature's Musings

Photo Essay: Birds & Us

Photo essay by Michael B Wilkes And Penny Wilkes: Text by Penny Wilkes

White Pelicans

We share a variety of words with bird activities and sounds.  

             Stop that squawking. Start feeling chipper. 

                      If a pelican . . . so can you. 

White Pelicans

Wake up and feel fine feathered.

White Headed Sparrow

Or, maybe you’re just winging it today?

Black Phoebe

Michael Wilkes, my husband and a retired architect, used to take photographs of the built environment. I asked him to take a photo of my favorite bird, a black phoebe. He did and won first place at the San Diego Fair. Ever since he has enjoyed taking bird photographs with his big lenses. 

Saying one is feather-brained is a compliment.

Lesser Golden Finch

Just keep your beak up. Don’t get in a twitter unless it turns into a trill of birdsong. Stay Tweet.

An Osprey

Spend time on the fly.

If you feel peckish, find your favorite snack.  Then keep your head down and work. 

A house sparrow

We had moved to an apartment while we remodelled our house. I spent free time at a park next door writing. A black bird kept flying by. When he flew upside down in  twirls, I noticed a heart on his chest. The next day I brought him seed and he paid no attention. He cocked his head at me as if I really had no clue. Which I didn’t.  That night I searched and discovered he was a flycatcher and ate bugs.

Black phoebe (flycatcher)

I watched him for days until he brought a friend and did a flying dance in the middle of the park. I got close but not too close. They led me to a nest with little heads popping up.

Peregrine season is about to begin where the pair romance, build an aerie, and take turns minding the nest. When the fledges toddle out, the parents teach flying and hunting lessons. I love to watch what I call, “flying fisticuffs” where the fledges  attack one another in mock battles as they learn self-defense. We have lots of photos of their activities.

A pair of romancing peregrines

Lady Jane was frustrated with her mate because he did not bring food as he just wanted to romance her.  Eggs are due soon. Then he will have to focus on the nest and feeding and all that . . . beyond the fun he enjoys.

A solo peregrine

I prefer to photograph with my cellphone. I want “moments in movement” so I do not have to set up a tripod or carry a huge camera around. As for the challenges of bird photography, one word: patience. Today I heard a woodpecker and chased him for two blocks. No photo. During my morning runs, a black phoebe flies and lands and flies away again. They hunt for insects and are called flycatchers. I enjoy photos I can take. The eyes enjoy what the camera cannot capture. Then when I least expect it, a fun opportunity arrives like the photo below.

This is an example of what I love to capture. A finch landed on a photograph of a bird. 

A finch perched on a bird picture

Sing beyond a peep. Get raven about your successes. 


Don’t duck opportunities and challenges. 

Ducks with ducklings

You don’t have to get all your ducks in a row to find success and have fun…

Penny Wilkes,  served as a science editor, travel and nature writer and columnist. An award-winning writer and poet, she has published a collection of short stories, Seven Smooth Stones. Her published poetry collections include: Whispers from the Land, In Spite of War, and Flying Lessons. Her Blog on The Write Life features life skills, creativity, and writing: and at My photoblog is @:

Michael B Wilkes is an award winning architect and  photographer who has collaborated on three books of poems with his wife Penny Wilkes. On two occasions he has received recognition among the 100 Most Influential peoples in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. Michael B Wilkes site: