Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Reflections on Krishna Jayanti (Janmashtami)

September 16, 2014

A friend on a mailing list had talked about Krishna, and said:

Surprisingly, the word Krishna means dark/ black color. However this had not affected his immense popularity.

One point occurs to me, visiting St.Louis at a time when division based on the colour of one’s skin is more pronounced than ever, in this deeply segregated city.

​I personally find the “dark/black colour” of Krishna has been sanitized in Indian folklore (like Rama’s skin colour, too!) to a purple-blue, from the actual dark grey that “megha varNam” is…the rain-bearing monsoon clouds certainly don’t have a hue other than that!

I have heard so many Indian people claim, with righteous pride, “We venerate dark gods.” It is precisely these people, for whom the colour of even a god seems important, who seem more intolerant of darkness of skin in humans.

I think it is the other qualities of Krishna…his romantic allure, his people skills, and indeed, his crafty statesmanship…that account for his popularity.That, and his association with music, and the allied “lalit kala” (fine arts.)

I can never help being impressed by the subtlety by which he ensured that the Pandavas’ representative, Arjuna, got the first choice of his guidance in the war. (He asked one Pandava and one Kaurava to come and sit next to him, and ask their boons when he awoke. Arjuna devotedly sat at his feet as he slept, and Duryodhana proudly sat at his head. This ensured that on waking, Krishna saw Arjuna first, and gave him the first choice. Arjuna chose Krishna, and the Kauravas got Krishna’s armies. It does intrigue me that Krishna, knowing in advance the outcome of the war, so easily sacrificed his loyal soldiers on the battlefield.)

In Anjana’s high school Hindi text book (probably Class 5 or 6, in the early nineties) there was a prose passage which dealt with Krishna, not as a god, but as an excellent statesman and leader of the various tribes which made up the kingdoms around Mathura.

I thought that Rahi Masoom Reza’s characterization of Krishna in the famous TV serial as a mischieviousm impish person, not above the occasional deviousness and political stratagem, is very human, and sticks close to the persona that most of our literature and music talk about.

God or man? The choice is ours to make, based on our faith, or lack of it.

A light breakfast, Forest Park, 140914

September 15, 2014

After I caught sight of the Osprey fishing in the Grand Basin in Forest Park, my friend Danny Brown pinged me, and we arranged to go to Forest Park again on Sunday to try our luck.

As he went to park the car near the Visitors Center, I caught sight of this

COOPER’S HAWK

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An unfortunate bird had become prey to the talons and beak of this raptor, and was being polished off on top of a light fixture!

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says, Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, is “A medium-sized hawk with the classic accipiter shape: broad, rounded wings and a very long tail. In Cooper’s Hawks, the head often appears large, the shoulders broad, and the tail rounded.”

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From the yellow eye, it was apparent that this was a sub-adult.

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This bird was named after the naturalist William Cooper, one of the founders of the New York Lyceum of Natural History.

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Their breeding range extends from southern Canada to northern Mexico.

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The sun was coming up behind the bird, and I experimented with taking the shots against it:

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The wiki says, “These birds capture prey from cover or while flying quickly through dense vegetation, relying almost totally on surprise. One study showed that this is a quite dangerous hunting style.” They even prey on other raptors if they can, or small mammals.

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During their flight displays the male will begin by diving toward the female. A slow speed-chase follows involving the male flying around the female exposing his expanded under tail coverts to her. The male raises his wings high above the back and flies in a wide arc with slow, rhythmic flapping. Courting usually occurs on bright, sunny days, in midmorning…not at all surprising weather for romance!

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Over a two-week period the pair builds the nest, and the female incubates the eggs between 30 to 36 days.

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Cooper’s hawks have been known to live as long as 12 years in the wild, and rarely fall prey to other raptors like Red-tailed Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, and Northern Goshawks.

The Cooper’s hawk, as a natural predator of almost any North American bird smaller than itself, can inadvertently deplete populations of rarer, conservation-dependent species. The American kestrel, whose populations have experienced considerable decrease, is one species in which the extensive predation by the recovered Cooper’s hawk population is a major concern. So this is one instance where conservation has had another side to it!

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We left this fascinating bird of prey to the remnants of its meal, and went on our way.

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The children….

September 15, 2014

I am an Unashamed Worshipper at my grandchildren’s feet. Here’s KTB’s rendition of a sunflower:

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And her “mehendi” drawing:

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She’s still drawing while her brother enjoys a home-made fruit-smoothie popsicle:

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She thinks in the box:

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And drinks in the box:

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Meanwhile, the Booda is part of the Three Bears:

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My winter hat was taken to dress them up and I just retrieved it from the trio.

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(It was hidden under the green pillow!)

Birding in Forest Park, 130914

September 14, 2014

I started in Kennedy Forest:

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Here’s where I was:

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Here’s the video of the Osprey:

and that of the adult Red-headed Woodpecker feeding its young one!

Ghastly Hindi jokes about celebs

September 14, 2014

Pankaj fell in love
Pankaj married
Pankaj divorced
Pankaj udaas

Sonia was walking
Sonia slipped
Sonia fell into the drain
Sonia gandhi

Sameera went to parlor
Sameera did her hair
Sameera did her makeup
Sameera reddy

Kangana hit the ball
Kangana took a single
Kangana did not reach the crease
Kangana ranaut

Hrithik buys bulb
Hrithik puts bulb in socket
Hrithik switches bulb on
Hrithik roshan

Coming home from the hospital

September 10, 2014

Derek felt unwell over Sunday and Monday, with fever, nausea and stomach-ache. On Monday evening, the doc told him to have a CAT scan the next day, and on Tuesday, the scan confirmed that he had appendicitis. An appendectomy was performed on Tuesday night, and though he had a lot of pain this morning, and afternoon, he was able to come home by 5pm or so. Here was his update just before leaving Barnes-Jewish Hospital:

“Here’s an update on me: I’m about to be discharged. The severe pain I encountered suddenly from late morning to early afternoon has subsided, so hopefully it stays that way (not even a morphine injection was able to reduce it). I’m actually in the wheelchair on the way down to the exit right now, where they will most likely dump me out onto the sidewalk. :-).”

He was duly so dumped, after a ride in the “Patient Family Shuttle”, in the parking lot. Anjana. having found an interesting-looking specimen lying on the sidewalk, brought it back home. The pain level has subsided considerably,but he’s still suffering from a significant amount and is resting now, at 5.15pm.

When he came into the house, there was a magic box waiting for him. When he said “Abracadabra” (at the box’s command) a piece of paper saying, “Appa, get well soon” suddenly came out. Here..you can see for yourselves:

The magic box, earlier, also produced straws and glasses:

Please note, there is nobody in the box! I wonder, if I say “Abracadabra” again, whether I will get some cash….

The complete Indian National Anthem

September 10, 2014

Though not greatly impressed by the self-conscious “I am a star singing” rendition of the singers…it’s still a very beautiful poem, and very rarely does one hear all the stanzas sung (just like many other national anthems, I suspect!)

The translation is very good, too.

Now, if we could translated the emotion of pride that we feel into less corruption, lesser litter, less unkindness towards our fellow citizens(and less apathetic acceptance of all these)….that would make for a better India.

Swinging (like a spider) through summer….

September 3, 2014

KTB explaining about the two Spidermen that she’s drawn:

I rigged up a swing with a lawn chair and some rope, and Derek helped with the knot.

What is summer in childhood without a swing on the tree?

Drawing, chatting, and playing house, STL, 270814

August 28, 2014

KTB’s drawing is improving apace; here she is, explaining who the people are (her friends, Ananya and Aditi, along with Teddy Naryanan, who was given to her mother by her mother’s uncle in 1988…and Pinky Bear, who was a gift from KTB’s great grandmother.)…and how they are sleeping:

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She drew a cat:

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And her parents

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While video-chatting to her Nana and Grandpa in Maine:

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I rig up a “house” for her (which she really loves to play at) after loud complaints that her brother was messing up the one she built for herself on the corner of the sofa:

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She enjoys being in it:

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She likes looking out, once in a while:

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She’s describing her pets in her house, and her purse:

Here’s the purse, held out for inspection:’

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Kalyan looks very innocent:

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But..off course Kallubhai has to get in on the act here too:

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He offsets the act of invasion with a charming smile:

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Here’s KTB in her “house”, with the Bad Dog Walker (who as usual makes a beeline for the camera):

Due to Kallubhai’s truly terrible habit of heading directly for the camera every time he sees it, most of my shots of him look like this:

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KTB finally comes out through what is apparently a side entrance:

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Walking into the sunset, 250814

August 27, 2014

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When, in stories, a person “walks into the sunset”, there are no pages left in the book (except, perhaps, of a listing of other books by the same author, or similar books.) But in real life…life goes on. There may not be any conclusion of the hopes–and fears– that the person carries along…and the next sunrise awaits.


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