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The Phantom Flautist of Coorg


Indian Golden Oriole, Coorg


Imagine you’re out on a leisurely walk in Coorg and suddenly you hear the melodious strain of a flute wafting out of the woods. You wonder if it is some local minstrel, wandering, like a wood sprite, in the trees, or a modern day Krishna invisibly serenading his Gopikas… or if there is some precocious musical talent lurking in the forest, waiting to become the next Galway or Chaurasia. Just as the idea grows deliciously in your mind, the music fades away, and you’re suddenly assailed by a loud, screechy voice that’s akin to the harsh call of reality intruding upon your very own symphonic eternity. With some irritation you wonder who this tuneless terrorist is that just pricked your blissful bubble. Your vexation may well change to bewilderment if we were to tell you that the culprit with the nasal screech and the artiste with the divine flute were one and the same. Chances are that you may look around for confirmation, and failing to spot him, think it a figment of our imagination. And, that’s how the Golden Indian Oriole is often perceived. He’s rarely seen, only heard. For, despite being a handsome dude with his golden coloured head and body accessorised with black shades and feathers, he’s a rather shy fellow and prefers to hide behind his mellifluous voice. One way to attract his attention, however, is to threaten the nest that he guards with his mate. And then the shy songster becomes an avenging angel who’ll attack you without a thought. Of course, being both the musician and the bouncer at the show isn’t easy, so he often outsources the security detail to the hyper-aggressive Black Drongo, by building his nest in the Drongo’s backyard. This allows him the mind-space to compose his next tune. And confound the next visitor to Coorg as the Phantom of the Opera, who can carry off any tune, without being seen.


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