White-breasted Waterhen, Coorg -
Most of us have a hidden spark of musical genius, often experienced by select audiences who’re left mesmerised by our lyrical effusion. Let’s not dwell on the small issue of the audience count numbering just one. For, in the world of the bathroom singer, one doesn’t allow annoying things like reality to intrude. In the marshlands of Coorg, there exists a Shower Singer beyond compare. Come the first hint of a pregnant cloud, and you’ll be treated to the latest jungle hits by one of the coolest Chicas in coffee country. The White-breasted Waterhen’s solo concert begins with a husky roar and ends with a rhythmic krr kwaak kwaak, (click for video) with trademarked croaks thrown in for effect, and can often last all night. Just like in our case, exuberance lords it over excellence and the more off-key the voice, the better the effect! While she belts out some of the most raucous metal albums, her sartorial sense is incongruously formal and she’s always seen in an impeccable white-breasted suit. When she’s not singing, she’s foraging, and her laterally flattened body skims through the undergrowth hunting for beetles and small aquatic titbits. Surprisingly for a ‘Water’hen, she’s a poor swimmer, and can be spotted literally treading on water, stepping gingerly from one lotus leaf to the other, before it sinks. She’s also a very feeble flyer and much prefers using her long legs to scamper up a tree or scrub, especially when a shower threatens, and she needs a bird’s eye view of her concert hall. But once you hear the Monsoon Minstrel’s full throated croaking, you feel a warm flush; a sense of reassurance that one doesn’t need to be a nightingale to be a singing star. The only stage you need is a shower…and yourself for company.