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If you are my Facebook friend, you probably guessed what this week’s Foto Friday will showcase. Yes, the Blue Mormon, scientific name for those so inclined, Papilio polymnestor,  a large swallowtail butterfly found in South India and Sri Lanka.

I have photographed India’s largest butterfly, the Sahyadri Birdwing the few times it has visited my backyard garden, but the Blue Mormon, NOT EVEN ONCE. It would make fleeting appearances at inopportune times, like when I am on the phone (frantically trying to end the call on sighting it) or when the camera battery is charging. Such bad luck, I tell you. And the rare times I was ready for it, it would fly over the treetops in such a hurry as if bent on catching the next flight to Timbuktu.

So imagine my surprise when one day the L&M comes upstairs and shows me about half a dozen pictures of the Blue Mormon that he had clicked WITH HIS CELL PHONE!

“Here, isn’t this the butterfly you keep talking about?” he asked me.

“Whaaa……?!!!!! But HOW? This butterfly ALWAYS flies way high up whenever I have seen it. I have NEVER been able to click it because it NEVER EVER stops for more than a split second, if it does at all. HOW did YOU manage to click it? And that too WITH YOUR CELL PHONE!!!!”

“It was sitting on the ixora over there for quite a while. I was outside doing some work and saw it and thought, ‘isn’t this the butterfly she has been going on about?’ So I went closer and clicked it.”

“And it didn’t fly away?!!!!”

“No!”

“WHY didn’t you call me as soon as you saw it!!!!!”

“I thought it would fly away by the time you came downstairs.”

Snooty whatchamacallits. I was mad at the Blue Mormon, the whole family of them. I brooded thinking dark thoughts. Pah. The hours I have spent waiting with the camera slung around my neck,  me with my bad back too. The way I have followed its flight from down below, trying to predict where it will alight, if at all.  Just the thought of it made me even madder, madder even than Vivek’s wet hen which was dunked in cold water.

All that changed on Wednesday last.

I saw a butterfly flying past. Blue Mormon! I didn’t even have to run for the camera, it was already in my hand. The butterfly disappeared into my neighbor’s garden. There were lots of dark red ixora flowers there. Unfazed, I trespassed, not that she would have minded. The butterfly was nowhere to be found. Disappointed I walked back to my house, and just on a hunch, went over to the ixora bush in my own backyard. And there it was, feasting on the ixora.  This time around it didn’t fly away. Probably it was bored of the frequent trips to Timbuktu. 😉

©Shail Mohan 2017

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