Item Code: IDI732
by Salim AliPaperback (Edition: 2007)
Oxford University Press
Size: 9.8" X 7.2
Pages: 128 (Illustrated Throughout In Black & White)
Discounted: $16.88 Shipping Free
The Fall of a Sparrow tells the real life story of adventure and self-discovery of Salim Ali, India's original bird man. Chronicling an era gone by and vividly describing forgotten landscapes, this engaging tale describes how a childhood curiosity for nature and an intrepid adventuring spirit led to an unusual career choice.
Born into a Muslim family of Bombay, Salim Ali was orphaned at the age of ten, and brought up by his maternal uncle and aunt. The then secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) introduced him to the serious study of birds as the result of Ali's chance encounter with an unusually coloured sparrow. This episode and the subsequent ours of BNHS's stuffed birds collection sparked off the twelve-year-old's life-long passion for birds.
Eighty-seven at the time of writing and an internationally renowned figure, Ali vividly describes his childhood forays in the wild and subsequent expeditions to almost every part of the Indian subcontinent. The bird-watching stories are interspersed with lively details of his family life and youthful adventuring. The more than 100 visuals-comprising, photographs, drawings, and paintings of birds by past masters like G. M. Henry, J. P. Irani, D. V. Cowen, and C. J. F. Coombs-are an unusual feature of this edition. These paintings were originally prepared for the ten-volume Handbook of the Bird of India and Pakistan (OUP, 1971) which continues to be in print even today. The colour section, featuring some of the paintings in heir original avatar, will delight both young readers and collections.
Salim Ali (1896-1987), the Grand Old Man of Indian Ornithology, was among the first Indians to conduct systematic bird surveys in the country. His books have contributed enormously to the development of professional and amateur ornithology in India.
Salim Ali's story continues to engage us today because of his pioneering efforts in the scientific study of bird-watching or ornithology, his continued involvement with wildlife conservation, and his vision to bring both closer to the layman. Over the years The Fall of a Sparrow has been a source of unadulterated reading delight for nature addicts as well as all who enjoy good reading. This illustrated edition, a part of the Oxford India Illustrated Collection which brings together writings of enduring value, combines the engaging narrative with the original drawings done for Ali's monumental ten-volume Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (OUP, 1971). These rare drawings, authentic in every detail, dome by masters like G. M. Henry, J. P. Irani, D. V. Cowen, and C. J. F. Coombs in the mid-1960s under Ali's scrutiny, add an unusual visual dimension to his story.
The chapters included in this special edition show different facets of Salim Ali's life and personality. The first two chapters, 'Special Providence' and 'Schooldays', convey a sense of childhood innocence and pristine beauty, while revealing the seed from which the pioneering ornithologist was to later sprout. 'Burma 1914-17', 'Interlude at Bombay and Marriage', 'Bombay 1924-9', 'Jobs 1923-9 and Germany 1929-30' evoke the dense jungles and teeming wildlife of the India of his youth, while expressing his growing concern at the mindless destruction of natural habitat. They also portray a young adult's gradual coming to terms with the world.
In 'Hyderabad State Ornithological Survey', Dehra Dun and Bahawalpur 1934-9', 'Afghanistan', 'Ornithological Pilgrimage to Kailas Manasarovar 1945', 'Flamingo City', 'Bharatpur', and 'Bastar 1949' we enter the domain of the ornithologist and conservationist as we join him in exploring the dense forests of central India, the foothills of the Himalayas, the salt marshes of the Rann of Kutch, the sheer heights of Afghanistan, and the splendid vistas of western Tibet, the sheer heights of Afghanistan, and the splendid vistas of western Tibet. Full of anecdotes, both funny and not-so-sunny, they reveal the author's peculiar sense of homour and his keen eye for foibles including his own.
In 'Motorcycling in Europe' we accompany him on his tour of the Continent where he visits friends and associates on his motorcycle, a distinctive feat. Finally, the classic piece of the collection, 'The Thrills of Bird-watching', describes some of Ali's misadventures and his many pleasures from bird-watching which he describes as 'one of the most peaceable pursuits of the out-of-doors'
The Fall of a Sparrow is much more than one man's recounting of his past. It reveals a way of life and values, which are dying out like the Indian cheetah whose sad plight is movingly portrayed in the book. But as he himself says, 'Bird-watching provided the excuse for removing myself to where every prospect pleases-up in the mountains or deep in the jungles-away from the noisy rough and tumble of the dubious civilization of this mechanical high-speed age. A form of escapism, maybe, but one that hardly needs justification.' Likewise we hope readers, especially the younger ones for whom this volume has been designed, will not need any justification to enjoy this new addition to OUP's illustrated corpus.
|Interlude at Bombay and Marriage||26|
|Jobs 1923-9 and Germany 1929-30||39|
|Hyderabad State Ornithological Survey||48|
|Dehra Dun and Bahawalpur 1934-9||60|
|Ornithological Pilgrimage to Kailas Manasarovar 1945||76|
|Motorcycling in Europe||110|
|The Thrills of Bird-watching||120|