Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

NCF: Excellent work in Valparai on resolution of elephant-human conflict

July 29, 2014

When we went to Valparai in April 2014, I was able to meet Ananda Kumar, and of course, I know Ganesh Raghunathan quite well (though I’ve never been able to meet him at his “workplace”!)

Many organizations that I belong to are addressing this knotty problem of elephant-human conflict; the problem is particularly bad in the Ragihalli/Shivanahalli area of the Bannerghatta National Park, and yes, there have been fatalities there, too.

So, when I saw this documentary on the work being done by Ganesh and Anand, under the aegis of Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), I was very heartened.

here

is one of my FB albums from our last visit. I suppose that in the limited time Anand had, he could hardly touch the tip of the subject, but he certainly held us spellbound in that time!

I’d gone with the others to document something of the behaviour of the Lion-tailed Macaques, as I did in

this post

But the ecology of an area is a holistic picture, and certainly all the mammals, birds, plant life and human beings form part of the whole; the co-existence and the conflict are two parts of the same coin.

Thank you, Evanescence Studios, for producing this wonderful feature. It’s 16 minutes long, but well worth the time.

The weather in Sweden

July 28, 2014

I was a bit worried about the weather when I was packing for Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. My friend, who lived in Sweden for many years, told me, “Sweden has two seasons: July/August, and winter.”

After all, I had this 23-kg limitation, and I couldn’t take too much warm clothing.So I packed one light jacket, a couple of shawls and scarves, and one ear-covering cap. I wore the heavier jacket on the flight.

But.

I didn’t realize egg-jackly what my friend said when she mentioned “July/August.”.

The temperature for the past several days has been 31 deg C (that’s 84 deg F) and a humidity varying between 75 ad 97 (I kid you not) per cent. I’ve been using a small, one-speed, folding bike with tiny tyres to get around, and believe me, one feels every degree of the heat and every per cent of the humidity when one is trying to crest the Himalayas (er, they feel like them) in the noonday heat.

Another fact I have learnt. These buildings (in one of which I am staying) have heaters, which are switched on in winter. But they have NO air-conditioning in summer, because probably they don’t HAVE summer. And forget fans.

Forget fans? When every muggy night, as I lie bathed in sweat, all I can think of is switching on the fan in my Bangalore bedroom and going peacefully to sleep? When I went to a couple of stores nearby, I did find pedestal and table fans for sale. But not wanting to put my friend to unnecessary expense, and adding to the junkola accumulation (I am here for aother week!) I didn’t feel like buying one.

I went to Denmark, and standing in the sun to watch the Changing of the Guard,in Copenhagen, I got blistered AND fried at the same time. Never has an ice-cream tasted as good as the one I got on the pier. I wanted to have another one to put down my perspiring back….Well, we got back to Sweden after some more travels which were, lucikly, not too bad. Once again, the temperature soared. cycled to and from work like a trooper.

But…by yesterday (Sunday) , both of us had had enough. “Let’s go fly a kite!” I yodelled. My friend looked at me in surprise. “Sorry! That’s a famous song from ‘Mary Poppins’,” I explained, I wanted to use the tune to sing, “Let’s go… buy a fan!” So off we went. Cycled off in the muggy heat, with Old Sol beating down on our helmeted heads as fiercely as he could, as if to make up for all the snowy, sleety, frosty, rainy mornings when he’d gone off to get some chai and left all the Scandinavians in the lurch.

We went to five stores. Why did we do that? Were we very choosy about the models of the fans and the colours we wanted (the fans we’d seen the previous week were all the reverse of Mr Ford and his model-T story…they were all white.) Oh, no! There was a simple reason why we went to store after store after store after store….there were NO fans!

Stores do change their layouts often, the better to trap the customer with more unplanned purchases, so initially, we thought they’d put the fans Somewhere Else. But when we finally located a store employee in Store no.1, we realized that the Else where they had put the Somewhere was…in Other Customers’ Homes! All the fans were sold out.

Having, ofkose, chosen the hottest part of the day (from 11am onwards) to do the FBE (Fan Buying Expedition), we went to Store no. 2. Then Store no. 3. Then Store no. 4. Puff-puff, pant-pant. Pedal-pedal-pedal. Puddle-puddle-puddle (of sweat.) Sweat trickling down along my ears, along my back, moistening the waistband of my trousers. I suggested to my friend in Store no. 4 that we just climb into one of the display camping tents and stay in the store for a couple of days. He wouldn’t listen, law-abiding nutcase that he is.

I made a Wise Prediction. Murphy’s Law mandated that we would find a fan, probably beat-up and not working, in Store no. 5. I was wrong, as usual. “Zere is a vairee few flaktar (fans),” the Pretty-Young-Thing-Who-Looked-Like-A-Nordic-Wax-Doll at the entrance told us. There WERE fans. They were NOT beat-up old ones, but new. There were actually three models. But…..

One looked like the head of a Storm Trooper from Star Wars. Another one was so small I had to close one eye to be able to see it inside its small metal cage. The third one had no wire or metal mesh at all. In each case, when I put my face about 3 inches from the revolving blades, I felt a faint stirring of a gentle zephyr. The beads of perspiration on my face laughed nastily, and rolled down a bit more victoriously. No wonder the third fan had no grille…it didn’t need one! All I needed to do was to put my pinky finger gently on one of the teensy-weensy plastic blades, and the fan stopped, timorous and worried, and eager to stop.

I had just finished a blistering summer in Bangalore, and come to Sweden. I knew that from here I would be going to St.Louis in August…triple-H…Hot, Humid, and Horrible. So I was very happy to be going to Sweden and Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, where the nip in the air would be very welcome.

Nip? Even the BUSES are not air-conditioned in the summer, they are only heated in the winter!…and remember..there are no water fountains…one has to BUY water, expensive Swedish Kroner water, everywhere!

Nip? The only nip I want to do is to NIP the rest of this trip and fly off to St.Louis, where at least everyone knows what summer is, and there is blessed air-conditioning, and my poor daughter bought me a table fan last year….

One thing you can say is very true…I am NOT a fan of the Swedish summer!

When I’m gone…

July 27, 2014

When I’m gone…when my time is done..
Let me rest my weary head.

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In the softest of flowers,
Upon a petal bed.

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When the blooms wither,
When the colours turn to lead…

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We’ll both return in the spring.
Neither of us…is dead.

The Nordic Cosplay Championships, 24 and 250714, Linkoping, Sweden

July 26, 2014

I did not know, until now, about

Cosplay

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until yesterday, when we decided to go to the event at

Campushallen

area of Linkoping University. I thought, on seeing the made-up people, that it was a kind of college event; only on googling about it did I realize that since 1990 or so, it’s become an international event. What we saw yesterday (and the parade today, in the totally unusual 31 deg C heat and humidity) was the

Nordic Cosplay Championships

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Here’s the

Facebook page

Here are people celebrating the Japanese influence in Cosplay:

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The wiki says:

“Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure?), short for costume play, is a performance art in which participants, called cosplayers, wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name.”

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“Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.”

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“Favorite sources include manga, anime, comic books, video games, and films.”

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“Any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject.”

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“Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms”

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“… and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa. There is also a subset of cosplay culture centered on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness or revealing costumes.”

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“There are social networks and websites centered on cosplay activities, while Internet forums allow cosplayers to share stories, photographs, news, and general information.”

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“The rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since 1990 has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture. This is particularly the case in Asia, where cosplay influences Japanese street fashion.”

I was thinking of on both the visits, I somehow felt she would have enjoyed this far more than I did, knowing more about anime and manga than I do!

But there was a lot of colour and vibrant positive energy in the air.

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It was unfortunate that the heat and humidity…very unusual for Sweden; 31 deg C!….completely sapped my energy and enervated me…and brought the paint sweating out of this player!

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Yesterday we cycled up to it, and I was half-dead by the time I returned…today I took a bus, but still had to walk quite a bit to get to the venue.

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No..heat and humidity are NOT for me! However, I did take a lot of pics:

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Here

is my album on Facebook

and

here

are PC’s excellent photographs! I was inhibited about asking people to pose, but he was not! I did not realize that in contrast with everyday situations, here, people were quite proud to pose in their costumes.

Creatures, and verse….

July 24, 2014

I got a well-meaning email saying that my photography was getting "worse and worse" and explaining all my faults. Now, I am a HCP..Hopelessly Content Photographer, who posts SMS (Shamelessly Mediocre Shots). So…I thought, what if my photography was verse instead of worse? Here goes…I saw all these in Scandinavia.

Tired of flitting.
A little lazy.
Stop a minute.
Upon a Daisy.

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“Scratch” the race!
This young hare cries.
Hidden in the high grass
Is the tortoise, slow but wise!

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The flower has food in plenty.
The bee, therefore, is rolling.
As he drinks the nectar up
He gathers up the pollen.

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This cat was keen upon its hunt.
And did not like being snapped.
Its agenda was very clear:
A mouse, eaten, after getting trapped!

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Big Chief One-Feather
Sat upon a pole.
Hoping for a juicy chick,
A shrew, or a vole!

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This moth lay on the leaf-litter.
Amongst the drops of rain.
Will it die where it lies now?
Or will it fly again?

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Can you see my horns? He asks
While running in the wheat.
He slants a wary eye at us:
Vanishes on graceful feet.

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Curling into a fetal ball
Is this hedgehog’s best defense.
I didn’t touch him or trouble him..
But caught him with my lens.

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Glorying in the sunlight
At the prime of his young life.
Grassy paddocks and well-cared ease:
What does he know of strife?

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“Life’s a bubble”..so it seems
When I watch this foraging duck.
He’ll migrate soon, for the winter months
And survive, if he has good luck!

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“I have so many back home!” I cried
As we kept seeing European Black Kites.
Then, suddenly an Osprey appeared:
A dream come true in browns and whites!

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I just looked at the backyard.
No announcement. No knock.
He arrived…and left..so silently,
This European Peacock.

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Birding and bubble algae, 210714

July 24, 2014

I took this pic of a Northern Shoveller in a pond:

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And of two thorougly “ducking” into their food:

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I was very intrigued by those algae bubbles, which added quite a surreal touch to the photograph. So I googled, and ofkose, there was quite a lot of info…

here

I realized that algae bubbles seem to be classified as “pests” for reef tank enthusiasts.

“When we hear of ‘bubble algae’, one reflex is to think of the infamous “Valonia ventricosa”, without even considering the many other algae that form bubble-like structures. Premature judgment can be regrettable, but there is this added twist: the much-cited ‘Valonia’ of our nightmares is no longer Valonia, but, thanks to Olsen & West (1988) now has its own Genus, Ventricaria. “

Suggestions were given for controlling the algae:

“e can try to manually reduce said presence to provide relief, and include in the affected tank a set of agencies that exert pressure against the problem alga. Since availability of usable nutrients fuels the alga’s aggressive growth and reproduction, we attempt to restrict such availability. That is pretty much the standard threefold approach to most algal outbreaks:

1. Manual removal of the problem alga
2. Suppression via appropriate herbivores
3. Denial of resources

Normally, there would be a fourth aspect, of fiddling with temperature, pH, or some other physical-environmental parameter to suppress the problem alga. However, the environmental tolerances of most bubble algae exceed those of most ornamentals put into reef tanks.”

I can’t find much about naturally-occurring bubble algae, though, I get only reefkeeping fora!

Therefore, I decided that for this particular (public) pond, near the Campushallen (University) where I photographed the ducks, algae bubbles, far from being a “problem”, actually food for the birds.

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So…I don’t care about the unhappy reef tank lovers, I am very happy indeed that the Northern Shovellers were happily feeding on these bubbles and enjoying themselves!

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Ducklings, water and green bubbles…is there anything else required for sheer enjoyment of the childish kind?

Microbes are insults…

July 23, 2014

My friend Pallavi Singh wrote on FB:

“Aahna, upset with me over something, said with intense emotion – Mamma, you are a GERM!!!!
I suppose our paranoia over children catching infection is sooooo great, they believe these micro-organisms are truly abhorrent! I had a tough time stifling a chuckle!”

To this, a friend of hers. Avi Pratap Singh, responded with some verse from Ogden Nash:

“A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.”

So ofkose I decided to do my own Nashery:

“When for angry denouncement
She looks for a suitable term,
Yet feels it too rude
To call you, outright, a worm…
She’s understood now, that
She can say,”Oh,you GERM!”

The sadness of peace

July 21, 2014

In the middle of the whirlwind.
There is, too, the peace
That is the aftermath of war
And toil, and struggle:
This peace is not always happy.
This may be the peace of death, of regrets
Of waste, of what might have been.
Is this sad peace, the deteritus of destruction,
Always welcome? Is peace always better than war?
Peace…without serenity, without prosperity
Is just the cessation of foul acts
Without the hope of its continuance.
Peace can often be
Tears in a widow’s eye
A maimed limb,
The passing of what was good and happy
In a life lived just a while ago.
Peace can the quietness
Of the broken body of a girl,
Mauled bestially, and left to bleed.
Peace can be the loneliness
In a home when one partner has walked out.
Peace can be the quite of a crash site
Where people are looking for bodies.
Peace…not welcome when it’s just a piece
Of conflict, pain and sorrow.

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And, in St.Louis…..200714

July 20, 2014

I had a lovely video chat with my daughter, and the added bonus (bonii!) were:

the boods 2 200714

It got even more delightful….

theboods200714 one

One Booda fully festooned with oatmeal…reminds me of the abhishEkam we do for our stone idols!

My heart is already in St.Louis!

It’s a pity the picture quality is so poor…

The wildflower bouquet, 080714

July 18, 2014

took me for a wonderful morning of nature and birding trails…​Klingansvalsan (Vomb) Lake, and Silvakra. We had lovely sightings of birds, insects, mammals, took in some beautiful scenery….but I was also thinking of Fran, a very indoor person, whom we’d left behind. So I picked these wildflowers for her!

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I asked N to hold it, too…

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I came home and gave it to Fran, who said she’d not got a bouquet of flowers for goodness knows how long!

It looked so very beautiful, sitting on the table in the central courtyard at N’s home:

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Here’s Fran, with N, as they work on some details of their trip to Berlin:

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Friends…are worth their weight in wildflowers!


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