iGlow | A date with the fireflies

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
'Cause they'd fill the open air
And leave tear drops everywhere
You'd think me rude
But I would just stand and stare

When Owl City sang Fireflies (and I crooned alongside) way back in 2009, I hardly knew what one firefly looked like; let alone ten million of them!

Cut the chase to 2011, when I decided to change things a bit and headed out to this little rural community about 200 kms away ensconced by the Sahayadris that’s been the abode of these winged creatures. And boy it was magic! Some people go star gazing but such had been the effect of standing in the middle of nowhere and experiencing the magic of fireflies that I decided to relive it for a second time this year again earlier this month.

A social enterprise - Grasssroutes - facilitates the entire experience right from getting to the village to organizing activities that make you realise how futile and mind numbing your desk-job is, to providing you with a very comfortable homestay experience. Once at the village you drop your bags, freshen up for a really hot piping meal at your homestay host’s place – straight off the chulha; the meal though simple is tastier because it’s not cooked on a gas stove.

(from left to right) Home-stay host's front door; sun setting on the Sahyadris and groundnut kernels

As for me, after lunch I found myself a spot under a big tree right next to the village school for an afternoon siesta (and to also get some respite from the heat). Later when it was time, we assembled for some tea, roasted groundnuts (fresh from the fields) and a lot of mangoes. Replenished, some of us decided to go for a little walk to the dam. The slow paced yet long walk to the dam took us through the village, the fields and beyond along with their changing colours – the hues of green, brown and red. And when the air couldn’t have been any fresher or crisper with a light drizzle grazing your cheeks, there’s little more to ask for.

Siesta time under the tree

The walk back was filled with conversations on what we could really hope to expect with the sun setting soon. Another round of replenishments and it wasn’t too long until the first firefly shone its radiant bum! And then there was another. Not before long everyone was pointing in every direction because each one of us could see them all over the place.

So why so many at this village? Well, somewhere towards the end of May and into June as the rain gods make their way into the country, fireflies too make their appearance in regions where the climate is warm (but not too hot). And this is so that they can mate. Hence the whole shake yer booty with ‘em shining like a disco ball shenanigans happens.

Camera shy fireflies wont "light" up for the camera. Rare pic (read: too much patience)

But the fireflies’ lifespan is no longer than 15 days (or thereabout). Which means that right from hatching to doing some in between stuff (like I don’t know what) to then working their bioluminescence induced charm on each other and then laying eggs, they do it all in 15 days. Now the eggs take about 10 odd months to fertilise and are laid around the trunk of the trees (such that they are safe). These were snippets of information I gleaned from the locals in the village as we went on our night trail to spot them fireflies at a closer range.

This night walk by far is the best thing I’ve ever experienced. EVER. Because with them lighting up the horizen, something within also lights up!

Spoils from the weekend that was

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