A spider pretending to be an ant to avoid being eaten by other spiders.
A gross ball of spit that nobody wants to get close to, but is actually a clever insect hiding itself from lurking enemies in frothy plant sap.
A cheeky little insect-eating bird—a black drongo—mimicking the call of a bird of prey to scare away mynas and steal their food.
These are just a few of the non-humans we meet while we’re trying to submit a proposal in time, diving our spoons into some rasam rice at the cafeteria, or rushing home from work to watch Stranger Things—all very much in this beautiful city of Bangalore!
It’s so easy to forget they’re right around us, going about their busy lives as we go about ours. But every once in a while, when our paths cross, it’s nice to know that they’ve been up to some terrifically interesting things.
We’d like to share some of our chance meetings with these creatures with you.
A female potter wasp making a matki-shaped nest for her kids. She was hovering around the house with a caterpillar in her mouth, which she imprisoned in her nest—for her little ones to feed on when they hatch.
One fine October afternoon, as we sat by the small pond at the cafeteria near our office, we heard a shriek. Looking up from our overflowing plates, we saw a shikra holding something in its talons on a branch above us. We saw flashes of turquoise and ruby as it struggled to escape from the bird’s grip, shrieking all along.
And then we heard a splash. The shikra had let go of it. There it was, motionless in the middle of the pond in its gorgeous technicolor finery—an Indian pitta. Was it in shock? Was it hurt? Wait a minute… was it even alive?
We watched on, completely forgetting about our food. Some of us even ran closer to have a better look. The water goaded the still bird towards the shore, and it hopped on to it as it drew near. It stood still by the water’s edge for a while and then took flight rather clumsily, visibly confused and unsure. Landing just a few meters ahead, it disappeared into the grass. We never saw it again, eventually forcing ourselves to get over with our lunch—our appetites gone along with the pitta.
Some encounters, although not nearly as action-packed as others, are fun too—like this praying mantis sneaking away from a curious photographer. There are mantises that even pretend to be a twig or a leaf in the breeze by swaying back and forth, making a fool of their predators and us humans too!
This orb-weaver spider was busy building its web right in the middle of an apartment complex. Just the thought of being around and sharing our urban homes with thousands of spiders, building fabulously intricate webs, waiting patiently for moths, flies and wasps to glide into their trap is hair-raising.
Butterflies gently fluttering their wings as they hop from flower to flower quaffing nectar, butterflies being chased by children in gardens, butterflies having little get-togethers in the mud—but butterflies sipping on the corpse of a snail for nutrients? They certainly live far more complex lives than we can imagine!
We’re infinitely intrigued by the natural world around us—especially these guys who live right under our noses in the midst of our bloating metropolises. City life is packed with adventure and drama—often of the strangest kinds and in the strangest places, if we just keep a lookout for it. And on the lookout we’ll always be!
Cover photo: TR Shankar Raman