Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
is a great way to identify artists, for all of us Philistines who can’t tell a Michaelangelo from a mudpack! I laughed all the way through.
In Sundghatta, we stopped the car to watch a few birds, and as usual, these beautiful little
caught our attention as they flitted to and fro on the Calatropis bushes.
Here’s the lady…
and the gentleman….
The Purple-rumped Sunbird(Leptocoma zeylonica) are endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. They usually feed on nectar from flowers, but can sometimes eat insects. Purple-rumped Sunbirds are tiny at less than 10 cm long. they have medium-length thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding.I don’t know how they can eat insects with that!When the flowers are too deep to probe, they sometimes pierce the base of the flower and rob the nectar.
Their hanging pouch nests are made up of cobwebs, lichens and plant material. Imagine, collecting cobwebs and making nests out of that!
Male sunbirds can be very aggressive towards what they perceive to be rivalry.
is my post (July 23, 2010) about the way a male Sunbird attacked his own reflection, at JLR Bandipur, believing it to be a rival!
Methods of Teaching
In the CAGE method of teaching
The guru sees you as strong but wild
He cracks the whip, shows you your place
You learn by dint of focus and discipline
As a team of lions learns from one
Truly in command
In the CASE method of teaching
The guru engages with you questions
Challenging, she channels your thinking
You learn by tentative and cautious chance taking
By participative experimentation
Your learning grows
In the CARE method of teaching
The guru expresses his love for you
He makes your mental maturation his sole mission
(His soul mission too)
You learn from his love for what and whom he teaches
And you come to love learning
P.S.: Each method is appropriate for a different stage in the student’s – not to mention the teacher’s – development. In school, we got a good bit of the CAGE method, then at college we got a taste of the CASE method. I have used a combination of the first two in my own teaching, and am now trending more and more toward the third because a good teacher once told me, “They may or may not remember what you taught them but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Under the preceptors’ eyes….I found this scene intriguing on several levels. The Shankaracharyas look on at life today. The younger of the two men has the outward appearance of the traditional Tamil Brahmin…the “kudumi”, the sacred ash and sandalwood smeared on the forehead, the “anga vastram” on the chest…the older has his hair cut the modern way, and is wearing a shirt. But the age-old oral tradition goes on…the “karna parampara” of “you speak, I listen, and information is communicated”. It’s less charitably referred to as gossip! Chennai, 260214.
Here’s The Booda, all dressed even when there was nowhere to go…
About this sketch, KTB said, “This is me sitting criss-cross applesauce, and Kalyan is sitting on my lap”.
One has to look carefully at this dark photograph to see KTB rapt in her very first visit to a theatre…
Here’s the grandmother, doing some “down-to-earth” photography:
And here’s a cartoon of what I think my grandson *really* looks like:
Pic and cartoon: DM
As I wandered around the kalyANa mantapam (festivity venue) at Chromepet, it struck me that there are so many trees that are inextricably entwined with Hindu rituals and customs…and I was lucky to be able to photograph some of them, right there. I am giving the Tamizh names and the link to the Wikipaedia entries about them, too.
One is the
pArijAtha or “pavazha malli” (literally, “coral jasmine” maram (maram is tree is Tamizh).
The flowers of the tree are very beautiful:
They fall like stars to the ground, where they are gathered up for worship by devout Hindus in the morning.
Though the wiki entry mentions the mythology of the tree being the focus of a tussle between Rukmani and Sathyabhama, two of Krishna’s beloved, there is a story about Hanuman having his abode amongst the roots of this tree:
“AnjanEyam athi pAtalAnanam/ kAnchanAdri kamanIya vigraham/ pArijAtha tharu mUla vAsinam/ bhAvayAmi bhava mAna nandanam”.
My parents had a huge tree in the garden, and I would gather the flowers, distribute them amongst our neighbours, and take some to the nearby “vyAyAm ghar” (exercise place) where there was an image of Hanuman, and offer them there. My practice of reciting the Anjaneya Ashtothram (108 names of Hanuman) dates from the time I was 14 or 15…and in spite of my agnosticism, it’s something I never fail to do, till date!
Another tree that was common in gardens of temples is the
The fruit of the tree is used for both food and medicine, even today. In folklore, the tri-foliate form of leaves symbolize the trident that Shiva holds in his right hand.
The third tree, that is used everywhere in Hindu rites and rituals, is the
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana" Banana or Plantain tree, called vAzhai maram
Every part of the tree is useful; the stem is used as a vegetable (yes, I cook it, too, and it’s one of my daughter’s favourite vegetables!) as is the raw fruit; the flowers are also cooked; the “petals” of the banana flower were often used as informal containers during meals; the leaves are an essential part of the south Indian feast…an “elai shAppAdu” (leaf meal) is a must, where the food is served on plantain leaves, with the “nuNi” (tip of the leaf) intact. (The leaf-tip must face to the left, I don’t know why that rule!)
The banana stems are chopped, and the mantapam entrance is decorated with the leaves and the banana flower forming a graceful arch of welcome for the guests.
Many of our dishes are also cooked or steamed in banana leaves, which form a great traditional lining. Even today, I enjoy unwrapping the spiral of banana leaf which encloses the “kadubu”, a Kannada dish somewhat like an iddli. Kerala dishes made with jackfruit and rice flour are also steamed in plantain leaves.
I photographed a very huge variety of this plant at Lalbagh, on 080211:
The plant was mis-labelled as “Crown of Thorns”, though. I also clicked the stamens, which are cooked after the pistils are carefully removed:
In Coorg tradition, the bridegroom chops down several banana stems in symbolism for wild animals, to show his manly prowess. In Tamil Nadu, we sometimes had young women married to symbolic banana stems when the grooms could not be physically present. No, I refuse to go further with the banana symbolism!
Another tree that is always associated with Hindu rites is the
The mango is considered the king of fruits in India, and the wood is used for cheap furniture; the leaves are an essential part of the “thOraNam” decorating doorways to homes, and the fruit, in its baby (mAvadu) and raw (mAngAi) forms are used in making delicious pickles.
In this photograph, taken before the varalakshmi pUjA, you can see both banana trees and mango leaves for sale, to decorate the goddess’ mantapams in people’s homes.
I won’t write much about the
You can see how palm fronds are used for decoration:
In this pic you can see coconuts rolled up in dhotis, to be gifted to the priests:
We cannot do without coconuts for any puja!
It’s a great pity that our strong links to trees seem to be getting diluted these days…and we seem to think of them not as living beings, complementing our lives, but hindrances to “development”, especially to the faster flow of motorized traffic!
Homosexuality has been around for as long as humanity has. Hominids and other primates exhibit it, too. As a naturalist, I find it prevalent in many other species as well. It’s only human beings who see the need to attribute moral values to certain forms of behaviour.
Heterosexual behaviour shades from rape,abuse, and casual sex on one side of the spectrum to committed, loving, long-standing relationships on the other. In my experience…so, too, does homosexual behaviour.
I feel that any behaviour (of any kind) that harms others is morally and ethically repugnant. But any expression of love between two consenting adults (of any kind) cannot be bad. Love is so difficult to find, why abominate any form of its expression?
And if we think that gays or lesbians do not exist in India, we are putting our heads in the sand.
I feel that life would be simpler if we accepted people as they are, without worrying about who they are sleeping with, or judging them for it. It’s always comforting to adopt a moral high ground upon which we stand and condemn others…but life would be simpler if we accepted our fellow human-beings as they are…and condemn only behaviour that harms others.
Well, that’s my opinion, and I understand that there will be many people whose views differ diametrically…or to different degrees.
Thank you for making me think about this, and articulating my thoughts!