There are two kinds of people in this world – the night owl and the lark. Surprisingly, though I had always been rebuked in my childhood for being a late riser, I belong to the latter group in recent years. The sounds and sights of early mornings are different in different locations. The only constant is the chirping of birds, tucked safely away among the leaves of nearby trees. They are the ones who welcome the dawn first. That is why the early morning is the best time for birding. Early mornings are when birds go about foraging for worms and insects, offering the best shots for bird watchers and photographers. The morning light ensures the best photographs as well. In the spring season, the call of the ‘koel’ or the Indian Cuckoo is the sweetest of morning melodies that assails human ears in our part of the subcontinent.
Sights and Sounds
As the morning slowly progresses, innumerable sounds emanate from different corners. As the golden glow of the sun’s rays spread its vista all around, we hear the city gradually waking up. The splash of water on concrete followed by scraping of broomsticks made of dried coconut leaves. Tinkling bells of newspaper boys on bicycles, as they deliver their wares at our doorsteps and balconies. As the eastern horizon gradually lightens up, we hear the clanking of cups and saucers as people gear up to enjoy their morning cup of tea. Many decades ago, when television, and more importantly cable television, had yet to make an entry into our lives, it was the All India Radio which heralded the mornings. Songs and vedic chants could be heard from almost every household in the hours of the morning. Music, sadly, is slowly petering out of our lives, post-pandemic.
The Morning Ragas
The early morning riyaz or the ‘Kharaj Riyaz’ is a highly recommended practice tip for Hindustani Classical Music vocalists. This riyaz mainly consists of a recital of the lower notes and is a mandatory practice to warm up one’s voice and improve blood circulation in the vocal cords. There are a lot of ‘ragas’ in Indian classical music which can be labelled as ‘morning ragas’. Bhairavi, Ashavari and Todi, are among them. However, there are exceptions. Not all vocalists benefit from the morning riyaz. The character Gupi from Satyajit Ray’s ‘Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen’ is ceremoniously thrown out of his village for disturbing the king with his morning riyaz. He was of course a bit out of tune to put it mildly.
Toning it up
Tonings of a different kind are also practiced during mornings. Exercises at home or at the neighbourhood park are what people follow diligently today. Brisk walking, jogging in the adjacent park, swimming (during summers) are the various and time-tested exercise regimens. Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. Laughing clubs are a regular feature in public parks in recent years. People go ‘Ha Ha!” and throw up their hands. A good laugh is a cure for all. Though according to a 2019 survey conducted by market intelligence agency Mintel, 64% Indians do not exercise, the situation is slowly getting better. Awareness on health and fitness is on the rise especially among the younger lot.
A Patch of Green:
As per horticulture enthusiasts and experts, mornings are ideal for watering plants. Watering plants, digging up the soil to make it more suitable for plant growth as well as picking up the freshly-bloomed flowers are parts of the morning regimen for many. Gardening relieves stress levels and provides the requisite energy for the day ahead. But sadly, not everyone is blessed with ‘green fingers’! Frankly, though I am a great lover of Nature, of plants and especially flowers, they (the plants) do not seem to survive for long under my supervision. Either I tend to water them excessively or not to the desired amount. Any which way, these plants at my home have wilted away randomly.
Mornings vary from season to season. During summers, the dawn breaks early and the cool breeze blowing soothes the morning walkers. During winters, these early hours of the day remain bleak and dreary until the sun comes out. People are wrapped in woolens and continue to shiver, holding a warm broth in the clasp of their palms. Usually mornings are the hours of activity when we shed off the slumber of the night before and gear up to face a fresh new day. Mid mornings differ from early mornings in mood and tempo. People wake up and get going and the day progresses onward. Mornings, be they in any season, are moments of enjoyment with near and dear ones.
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