Chandra, and hope

December 11, 2019

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It seems but a few days ago, O Moon,
That I saw you wasting away to nothing.
Yet here you are, sailing serenely in the clouds,
Smiling at the earth, and at those who see you.
When I am troubled, I should think of you:
After waning, you will wax again to fullness,
Bringing the shining light of eternal hope
To us mortals on Earth.

K2: His age

December 3, 2019

K2: Has it been 20 years since I was born?
Mother: No. How old are you?
K2: 7.
Mother: Then…. How many years since you were born?
K2:… One hundred?

“Mami”…Mrs M V A Sastry, 031119

December 3, 2019

She passed away on 3rd Nov 2019.

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Photo from Prakash Sastry’s FB page

At first, when Usha called up to say that her mother was sinking, I felt very bad…I was leaving that evening for Madhya Pradesh, and was returning only after a week. Sure enough, when I returned from the forests, to a place where my mobile worked, I got the news that she had passed away.

I went down with viral fever, which recurred; this prevented me from attending the Vaikuntha Samaradhana, too. I felt really miserable. I wanted to hold my friends’ hands at this moment…to take comfort from them as much as to comfort them in their hour of loss.

But now…I feel better about it. I remember Mami, not in the sad state of her health…but as a very strong pillar of her family and circle of friends. Let me reminisce…

At the beginning, of course, Mami was, to me, only “Prakash’s mother” and “Usha’s mother”. It took me many years to realize what an excellent homemaker she was, and what a great “sahadharmini” for Mama. Their flat was always neat and spotless; there was always something that she would offer visitors She herself, was the same. A spick-and-span saree, hair tied neatly back in a plait, with perhaps a few flowers in her hair; face bright with sindhoor…and always, always, always, that welcoming smile on her face. Such unstinting affection. My heart overflows through my eyes, and I hear once again, her calm “Enna Deepa! Eppidi irukkai?”

What a great homemaker she was. She sent Usha for veena lessons, Prakash for violin; she watched with very quiet apride as they both became proficient. (In fact, I still feel that I rarely have heard the kind of “naadam” on the violin that I heard from Prakash.). She was patient and loving to Bhaskar, too, and his being “special”, though it must have been quite tough for her, never saw her complaining or wishing that things were otherwise.

She supported Mama through his career; they never changed their simple living and high thinking. At every gathering, you could see her, well-turned out….and that affectionate smile.

I never thought to ask her about her life before marriage, or how she managed, coming to a very strange city all those years ago. For me, she was like a mother or an aunt…a wise, mature person, who always managed.

When they moved to Bangalore, they had intense difficulty with the flat they had booked, and she silently supported Mama through the years of struggle before they could move into their own apartment. I have never heard her complain. “That’s the way it is!” would be her pragmatic comment.

She was an excellent cook. One of my great favourites was her “gasagasa” payasa…I used to joke about the ganja in it, and she would smile. She was never one to talk a lot, or laugh uproariously…but she always enjoyed the company of others. Did she sing herself? Did she learn any instrument in the time before she got married? Who were her parents? Oh…I never found out all this…I regret that now.

I got to know her more as a person (rather than “Usha-Prakash’s mother” after they moved to Malleswaram. Even then, when arthritis gave her a lot of knee/leg pain, she tried to bear it stoically. She took care of Prakash’s children while the parents went to work.

All through the time that Usha and Prasad went through severe health travails, she kept up her courage and hope. I remember telling Usha just before her major heart surgery at Vellore…”You will be out for the count, and fast asleep! I have come here more to be with your mother!” Which, of course, elicited another laugh from both of them. Usha’s daughters were a source of delight to her, too. She would smilingly share some small anecdote of their mischief.

Bhaskar’s passing away, and the manner of it, was the kind of tragedy that only she could have handled. What it must have cost her in terms of worry and emotional trauma..I can only guess. But she took that blow, too, that Fate dealt her. Dearest Mami, what a load you have carried in your heart…

When Mama died, something inside her seemed to crumble. That cheerful countenance was less so. But the affection never varied. I count myself so very lucky to have had that kind of unstinting affection and love, most of my life, from her.

Mami, I miss you more often than I would have thought possible. You taught me so many values in life, without a single sermon…you were the living example. Simplicity, competence, and wisdom…you were the epitome of these qualities.

So I am glad that I remember you as I last saw you…in full possession of your faculties, offering me some sweet which you had made.

I know that your suffering has ended, and that you are in a much better place now, looking down on us and blessing us. Why, then, are my eyes filling with tears?Why do I feel bereft?

Life has made me wary of rituals, so I am not unhappy that I could not attend the samaradhana or the homa that your children carried out in your memory. But your memory, and the memory of those happy, halcyon days in Calcutta…that is where you will live forever, smiling, your love reaching out to me, making me a carefree child once again.

“pAni poori dOsA”, Solapur, 301119

December 2, 2019

Dosas (dOsA) have become a popular item all over India, and in line with the constant evolution of food, this dish, too, is evolving, with several push carts advertising “100 varieties”!

On a visit to Solapur, we were having chai, when I looked at the shop next door, intriguingly called “Nani’s Dosa”.

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I was watching this young man make a new variety (he told me later, his name is Kumar, and this “pAni poori” dosa was his invention!)

Here he is, making the dosas on the tAvA:

He then adds ginger/chilli paste and a “Madras podi” (that’s what he called it):

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Then a dollop of butter:

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Then cheese is grated on to it:

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The whole thing is thoroughly mixed, with the cheese and butter melting in:

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And the mixture is spread (in an aesthetically pleasing way!) on top of the entire dosa:

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Kumar then cuts the dosas into strips:

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He then rolls up the strips:

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His young helper stands the little rolls on the plate:

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Cream (malAi) is then drizzled on the rolls. Here’s the dosa as it is served:

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And finally, here is the picture of Kumar’s sister in law, and the extended family, all about to enjoy the finished item!

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Knee trouble..

November 21, 2019

There was a time, my life was a song
The patella, femur and tibia, they all got along
I ran, I jogged, I danced with such poise
But soon they began to make some noise
Crack, pop, grate, what’s all this fuss
The doc saw my knee, said crepitus
They rubbed each other the wrong way
Good ol’ cartilage couldn’t keep them at bay
Femur told the patella you are always in my face
Why don’t you realize I need some space?
The quadriceps tried to mediate but soon got worn
The ligaments would have tried but they were already torn
The big burly synovium now laughed in glee
My knee swelled up in this unusual melee
I tried many things but all in vain
Oh say hello to chronic pain
Some Chinese healer stuck needles into me
My neighbor told me try physiotherapy
I even got a bee-sting, if you get the gist
Then someone suggested “rheumatologist”
Did he do better it’s really hard to say
Let’s leave doctor-bashing for another day
Maybe it’s time to slow down in life
How I dread the thought of going under the knife
Symptomatic treatment isn’t it just a lure
C’mon science buck up, where is the cure?
————–
*The knee Pop*

Dr. Benzeeta Pinto,
Asst. Prof. Clin immunology and Rheumatology,
St. John’s Med College, Bengaluru

On our own…

November 17, 2019

We are supported, buoyed up
By friends, family…
But for many, many things,
We are on our own,
Though we may not be alone.
No one can bear the pain of my body
Except me;
No one can help me walk, limping, once again,
Determined to get back my ability to walk everywhere.
No one can take away the sorrow in my heart
That the random events of life fill it with;
I can express some of it to others,
But in the dead of night,
In the small hours when the body and mind
Are at their lowest ebb,
It is I who must bear it.
My sorrow at an insult I have suffered;
My sadness at some hurt I have caused:
Recollections of things I could have done better:
Many are the burdens, often secret
That I must carry myself.
Learning to set them down,
And laugh in spite of them,
Is growing up as a human being:
This, too, I must do on my own.
You may hold my hand, you may even hold my heart..
.But in the secret, innermost chambers of my being,
I am in solitude, and on my own…
And this is true of everyone.

K2 and PDA (Public Display of Affection)

October 12, 2019

I’ve been noticing an increasing (and quite understandable) resistance on K2’s part, to give me an “Uggandakiss”.

Today, when I asked, he said, “I can’t kiss you, my nose is too big.”

My response to Photobucket’s “Pay or we will delete your photos” (rude) warnings

September 30, 2019

Dear Whoever-is-reading-this-at-Photobucket.

I joined Photobucket which was a free photo-hosting (and 3rd party hosting) site many years ago, and over a period of time, used many accounts and when the storage was increased, I made use of that. So now I am not even sure on which of my accounts I am over the limit.

I am a retired person, living in India, where a dollar still goes a very long way (it’s nearly 70 rupees.) My income is such that I have to watch every expense like a hawk, while still trying to indulge my passion for photography. When I realized that I could save in hi-resolution on Flickr, I started saving to that site, and stopped using Photobucket. But my storage continued, as I have made many blogposts using those photos, over the years.

Had there been either a polite announcement or a reasonable sum mentioned, I might have, with difficulty, paid up. But the announcement was as rude and peremptory as could be, basically preventing any third party hosting and threatening me with various bad outcomes if I did not pay. I just could not afford the amounts mentioned on my several accounts, and so I didn’t pay…I couldn’t pay. I decided that if my photograph would vanish from my blogposts, so it had to be. You can see my blog on LiveJournal at
https://deponti.livejournal.com/
(from 2006)
and I back up on WP at

https://deponti.livejournal.com/.

My financial situation has not changed; indeed, inflation in my country (India) has made such payments even less affordable for me. Perhaps you at Photobucket think all “free” users are there to take advantage…I can assure you, it is not so. There must be many people like me, who are grateful for the free hosting provided, because it allows us to store on the cloud without paying large amounts. On Flickr, I am careful to keep under the free limit for this very reason. I am not “cheap”…I am not affluent, and have to watch my expenses, that is all.

So, all I can say at the age of 65 is, if you want to delete all my photographs, and make nonsense of my blogpost, I simply cannot afford to do anything about it. I have found your attitude very brusque indeed, and that, too, has disposed me towards accepting that my photos are going to be wiped out. Well,right now they are not clearly visible, so I guess I am already nearly at the ultimate point.

I will be interested to know if my email is read…and will be pleasantly surprised if there is a response. Yes, when Flickr became SmugMug and went “pro”, I did email them and, apart from the fact that the announcements themselves were far more polite, I got an excellent series of responses from them. Since I cannot afford any more, keep my photos within the 200-image limit. .

Part of the reluctance to pay also stems from my worry that if today I pay Rs (or $ ) X, what prevents any of the photo sites from further shrinking my storage, or demanding even more? At that point, I will anyway lose my stored photos, so I feel I might as well save my precious funds and have the wipeout happen earlier.

With a sad wish that you would not assume a tone that implies that your users are tech-savvy peopel out to take advantage of you,

Deepa Mohan, Bangalore, India.

Hoskote kere, 220919

September 25, 2019

Email to Bngbirds:

The very first time I have changed the venue for a 4th Sunday walk! After getting the reports of Greater Flamingoes having landed at Hoskote lake, I felt it would be great if everyone were able to see this unusual sight. So I changed from the original venue (Bhutanahalli Pond and Suvarnamukhi temple in Bannerghatta NP) to Hoskote. But by Friday, we knew that “the birds had flown”…and all those who only wanted to come to see the Flamingoes, dropped out! But there was still a turn out of 50+ people on Sunday, disproving accusations of our being “twitchers”.

I usually find weather.com very accurate…but the morning of the 4th Sunday outing was one occasion when the forecast went completely wrong! As several of us gathered and drove to Hoskote, drops began dotting, and then streaming from, the windscreen. At the lake, we did try walking down the path…but the heavy rain had made a morass of it, and we found ourselves with clumps of mud on our shoes. So we decided that instead of the usual breakfast-after-birdng, we would reverse the order, and see if the birding got better a little later.
Here is my video of a few birders having breakfast…thanks to the rain, I could not get a group photo!

Off we went to Nandi Grand, and fortifying ourselves with hot food, we returned to the lake; The rain had certainly let up a little…and the lake truly lived up to its reputation of never disappointing. On the shore side, Munias and Swallows kept us clicking, and on the water, a Pied Kingfisher delighted us with its hovering, and vertical swoops into the water in search of a meal.

Egrets (all three kinds), Cormorants (again, all three), Grebes, Coots, Herons, and Painted Storks were active on the water, though the Spot-billed Pelicans still did not think it time enough to venture out from their “sitting room” on the far shore. A few hardy (and muddy!) souls did go down to the bamboo area and beyond, but most of us were able to sight quite a few birds from the bund. From under umbrellas and raincoat hoods, we looked at various drenched birds: Rose-ringed Parakeets, Sunbirds (which did not like being Rainbirds!) and Ashy Prinias (which wanted to be Dry Prinias).

But then, we also got some bonuses for having gone to the lake in spite of knowing that the Flamingos were Flamingone! A Grey Francolin sat, waiting out the rain, on a dry twig in the clutter; since we usually sight this bird scuttling away into the undergrowth, everyone had a good time, observing and clicking to their hearts’ content.
We then decided to try our luck on the field side, but only two cars had the courage to brave the muddy path down. We were rewarded by the sight of just one solitary Red Avadavat, and several Scaly-breasted and Tricoloured Munias, a Long-tailed Shrike and the sight of flocks of Glossy Ibis floating on to the lake.

The two cars were driven by (sounds like one of those Hindi Santa-Banta jokes!) Arun and Varun. Varun’s jeep, with its 4-wheel drive, made it safely back to the main road, and we were well on the way home when Sreyoshi called and told us that Arun’s car was stuck in the mud! We werel aas, too far away to return and help. But with the help of four local men, and with Chandu and Manpreet pitching in, the “Push”paka Vimana finally got free of the clutches of mud. They got a sighting of the Pied Cuckoo, as a reward!

On the way back, we stopped to observe the active nesting colonies of the Baya Weavers, and got a ringside seat to a domestic quarrel between Mr and Mrs Asian Koel. Well satisfied with our day, we went back, laughing at our damp but productive morning.

Though it was not a morning to watch butterflies, we still got some Grass Yellows, Common Mormons, Common and Crimson Roses, Emigrants, and a beautiful Common Lime in the field area. We also observed some handsome six-footers…wasps, ladybirds, jewel bugs, mating flies…and some eight-footers too, in the form of Orb Weavers and Crab Spiders. Several lovely wildflowers, nodding in the rain, were also beautiful…so there was enough to see and enjoy.
So…it was a very productive morning, in spite of the “Flamingone” and the rain!b

The eBird list, compiled by Chandu, is at
https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S60021164
(55 species)

My FB album is at
https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156909705193878&type=3
and the Flickr album at

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Looking forward to the next outing,
Deepa.

How I applied to renew my driving licence, 23 and 240919

September 24, 2019

My driving licence expires on 22 Oct ’19 (My 65th birthday falls on 23 Oct ’19).

I found that I have to apply for a renewal within 30 days prior to its expiry, or do it later with a fine.

Only part of the process can be done online, and I did it.

I went to Parivahan Sewa at
https://parivahan.gov.in/parivahan/

and under “Online Services”, clicked on “Driving Licence Related Services”.

I got this page:

https://sarathi.parivahan.gov.in/sarathiservice9/stateSelection.do

I selected my state (Karnataka).

Under “Driving Licence” on the left hand side, I clicked on

“Services on Driving Licence (Renewal/Duplicate/Aedl/Others)”

I found the following 5 steps listed:. Fill Applicant/Request Details
2. Upload Documents (if required)
3. Upload Photo and Signature if required (applicable only in certain states)
4. Driving Licence Test Slot Booking -required only for Additional Endorsement of Driving Licence(AEDL)
5. Payment of Fee

There was some confusing stuff about NOC, which I ignored.
Since I have not changed nt address, and took my licence last time from the same RTO, I clicked on “Continue”.

I then entered all the details about my driving licence, and clicked on “Proceed”.

I was asked several confusing things about “village” and “taluka” in the succeeding forms, but filled them out as best as I could, and my form was accepted. I got an SMS giving the reference no. of the application.

I then had to go to a Govt Hospital to get a medical fitness certificate (it cannot be given by any practising physician, but has to be obtained this way.) I went to Jayadeva Hospital and after a long delay, paid Rs. 300 to get this.

I then went back to the RTO where I was told that the doctor’s certificate also had to be uploaded. Rather than go back home, I went downstairs to one of the photocopy shops on the ground floor, and paid to have this done. The charge for this was Rs.150. The guy also told me that I would need a stamped cover, and sold me an envelope with Rs.15 stamps, for Rs.30. He pinned together all the papers and a small plastic cover containing my original driving licence.

Pinning it all together, I went to Counter no. 11 and got a signature and a rubber stamp (oh how fond we are of rubber stamps.) Then I went to Counter 15 and stood in a looooong queue to pay the fees. It took 45 min, with several people jumping the queue. Finally I paid Rs. 380, and got a receipt which I also pinned to the sheaf of papers.

I then went to Counter no. 13, where after another delay and my protesting at the security lady letting in others who had joined the queue after me, I posed for the camera, paid Rs. 60, and came out, not believing that it was over.

The new driving licence will be despatched to the address I wrote on the stamped cover, after 30 days. We are not given the option of collecting it from the RTO. Thankfully, I still have the colour photocopy, laminated, of the old driving licence, which I will carry around for this interim period (no one told me to do this…I never carry my original licence, only this copy.)

I am waiting to see what I look like on my driving licence photo….when I get it.

Time taken: On 23 Sept ’19: 3 hours at the RTO on the first day. 2.5 hours at Jayadeva Hospital (I had to go with the filled-up form). On 24 Sept ’19: 5 hours, including going to the various counters to get the work done.

Costs: Rs.180 at the photocopy shop for the uploading of the doctor’s certificate and the stamped envelope.
Rs.320 for the fees (I paid in cash, I do not know if cards are accepted, I felt it might cause further delay)
Rs. 60 for the biometrics process.

Total: Rs. 560

I would advise anyone to have a colour photocopy of their licence taken and laminated and to carry this about with them. I will now be depending on this until my new licence card arrives. Getting a duplicate licence is also a painful affair.