Permits and permissions…

March 22, 2018

Are required only by humans.
The scholars, the researchers,
Those who need to get
Their field work done, their business transacted…
To get the data
That their study requires.
Do the birds, the animals,
The butterflies and insects,
Our feathered and furred fellow-beings on this Earth…
Do they not slip from one region to another,
Across states, countries and continents,
Without a visa or permit?
It’s only humankind which trammels itself
With documents,stops, and gates:
We are allowed here,and not allowed there,
As we struggle for access
And find it increasingly difficult
To move around on our own planet.
We snake through serpentine queues,
Fill up forms in triplicate,
Just to enter the territory
Of other human beings
Amongst whom we seem to find ourselves restricted,
Barred, or even banned for life.


A special outing, for special children. Ragihalli, 160318

March 16, 2018

Today (16th Mar, ’18), I took the children of

Snehadhara Foundation

for an outdoor/nature trip to Ragihalli. Was the trip worth it? Emphatically, yes! The children smelt some fruit, felt the texture of some leaves, got distracted by the butterflies…and took care of each other in the most heartwarming way.

The children had visited Lalbagh and Cubbon Park and wanted to go to “actual forest” as one of the more articulate children put it. Certainly, Ragihalli, in the Bannerghatta National Park, fit the bill!

We started from Snehadhara, in J P Nagar, at about 8 am,


and though we navigated Bannerghatta Road quite well, the road deteriorated as we approached Ragihalli, and indeed, with road-laying work, the road was blocked at the village itself, about 3km short of Adavi Field Station.


Nagesh, Dhanu, Shivanaja, and Akshath took care of us while we were there. Dhanu,


whose father Manjunath runs the eatery in Ragihalli where we always stop for piping hot thatte iddli, is quite a keen birder himself, having Akshath as a senior in school, and being trained by him.The field station is willing to conduct bird walks in the area for those who are interested. I took the children from Pramiti School there last month, and so had no hesitation in taking the Snehadhara children there. (Though if I’d known about the road condition, I might have asked for two vans rather than a large bus.)

Our bus negotiated the drive-around with difficulty. It also happened that the area had no power since 5pm the previous day, so Nagesh, his brother Shivananja, and my other friend Akshath….all their phones were without charge, and unreachable.

However, we reached after a delay, and before Akshath took us for a walk, we had a little bit of loosening up and a game of “actions” under the large banyan tree.


Our walk led us through the mulberry plants, and under large trees, to a rock formation where we sat peacefully,


admiring the view over the hill ranges of the Bannerghatta National Park.



Though humid, the cloudy weather enabled us to sit outdoors without worrying about the heat of the sun. We walked back to the field station, where the children had their lunch,


and then slowly drove back from the scrub jungle of Ragihalli to the concrete jungle of Bangalore.

I showed some children and adults various wild flowers, put together in a tiny bouquet


cultivated ones like this Pomegranate,




plants, and some birds. The children definitely seemed to enjoy the outing. We got a few fresh mangoes,


and I feasted on fresh, sweet tamarind from the trees. My personal delight was sighting a rare tree (Firmiana colorata,also called Coloured Sterculia, the last two photos of the album) on the way home through a route that bypassed Ragihalli (the actual village).


Thank you to Snehadhara for providing me with this opportunity to interact with the children. Sunny temparaments like that of Aravind (always with a smile on his face, and so curious about my camera and binoculars!), and quiet personalities like Karthik’s were equally fascinating to watch. And…I found that Swetha was my neighbour! The teachers

were so patient and loving with the children, and there was so much happiness in the air!

The cloudy weather ensured that the children did not tire, and it was a very enjoyable trip indeed.

My photos are up on my FB album


No…I didn’t click the birds or the butterflies…I was concentrating on the children this time!

On Monday, all going well, I will be taking the wheelchair-bound children (who could not do the Ragihalli walk) to the IIMB campus, where very different kinds of minds will meet, as IIMB kindly allows me to bring special children into an academically high-performance campus for the first time.

Bannerghatta National Park, Monthly Bird Survey, 100318

March 13, 2018

Since I was not able to go for the inaugurual (Feb ’18) monthly bird survey, I went to participate in the March survey.

The survey is across four ranges, Anekal, Bannerghatta, Harohalli and Kodigere, and will be held on the second Saturday of every month for a year, to give a holistic picture of bird life in the Bannerghatt National Park over the annual period.

Birds of Karnataka, display board at Kalkere.

Volunteers gathering for the survey

I got the Kalkere State Forest transect, BTL (Bannerghatta Transect Line) 1. My team-mates were:

Forest Guard Michael
Albert Ranjith
Byomakesh Palai
Pervez Younus

Michael, Pervez,Byomakesh, Albert

We stopped every 10 minutes, took the GPS co-ordinates, and then moved on.


The Kalkere State Forest was much more productive in terms of birds than I thought it would be, because the city has actually spread beyond this forest patch now.


We passed some quarried rock, which gave a sad look to the landscape.


However, the good thing was that the depressions had formed rock pools:


Our trail was quite scenic, even if it was not heavy forest:


However, the scrub forest was very interesting, and we got several birds. Here are some I managed to click.

Greater or Southern Coucal, drinking water at the edge of the rock pool:


Oriental White-eye:



Green Bee-eater:


Jerdon’s Bushlark:


Black-winged Kite:


Oriental Honey Buzzard:


Indian Peafowl (this is a peacock in the glory of full breeding plumage):


Vipin was our organizer for the Bannerghatta range, and I found him very sincere and hard-working. Here he is, taking notes with a forest guard:


An excellent breakfast of iddli was provided midway through the transect:


I did not restrict myself to observing only the birds; here are some other interesting beings:


Peninsular Rock Agama:


Two unidentified but beautiful flowering plants:


This was a tiny plant growing in the path!


An un-id insect with huge eyes:


A dragonfly:


the Flame of the Forest, Butea monosperma, in full bloom:


Tired, but mentally refreshed by the morning, and the beauty of the scrub forest


I left for Mysore to take part in the Ranganathittu Bird Census the next morning.

The Flickr album of the survey is


and my FB album is


In defence of puns

March 7, 2018

It’s a generally accepted practice to groan when someone cracks a pun, and say, “That was awful”.

I wish to defend all punsters. To be able to think of that unexpected link between words quickly, and say it on the spur of the moment, risking being ridiculed for the pun, or not understood at all, takes a certain kind of facility with the language (or more, for multilingual puns).

So could we change this fashion of describing clever puns as “really bad” or “awful”? Yes, cleverness is not as good as kindness or knowledge, but punning is a unique ability which needs more appreciation and less scorn. This is for the many people who have contributed great puns across many fora on social media and in conversations I have had.

Eg. I’d posted a photo of someone using a lollipop to steady his camera; someone called it a lollipod, and another, a lolliprop.

I happen to enjoy puns very much and don’t like groaning when I hear one…I would rather say, “Oh, that’s a good one!”

Ragihalli with Pramiti School, 190218

February 19, 2018

I took 16 children from

Pramiti School


Adavi Field Station

AFS. Adavi Field Station, Onte Maren Doddi, Ragihalli (Post), Anekal(Taluk), Bengaluru, Karnataka 560083

Here’s the view of the beautiful rock formations of Bannerghatta National Park from the road:


Anand and Mahesh were very helpful. The farmer, Shivananja, showed us around his land, talking about how they use cowdung as manure since it is plentifully available (leaf litter is not specifically composted here).

Here is Sushma, discussing composting with Shivananja, Anand and Mahesh, with little Varsha, who had a slight fever and did not go to school, listening:




and Tarun


kept meticulous notes. We were also shown around, and we really did go around the mulberry bush!



We saw how the silkworms feed on the mulberry leaves


Mulberries when ripe are very sweet to eat, but it was not yet the season for them.


Shivananja showed us one local variety of mulberry, not favoured now as the leaves are smaller and the foliage less dense.


Here’s one worm, growing fat (the worms eat voraciously, growing many times in size, before pupating)


Here is the pupa of the silkworm; the pupae are boiled alive to extract the silk.


The farmers sell the live pupae, which are plucked from the palm-frond frames, directly. The boiling and reeling are done later. Here is a video I took long ago, of the stinking silk waste being picked up by Brahminy Kites:

The children settled down for the packed lunch that had been brought:


The stuffed parathas were tasty.


We returned back to the waiting van


You can see the rest of the album


The highlights, for me, were spotting an old friend, Ashwath (second from left)


a Black Eagle


and a sports-car-bus:


Periods and pads…

February 12, 2018

There is much adulation of the movie,

click here to watch the trailer


which is based on the achievements of


who has given a TED talk about what he did for his wife.

However, I also received, on my wellness egroup, the link to a blogpost with a different point of view, very interesting, read it

Ma href=””&gt; here

I am not for the fictionalization and/or glorification of anyone while that person is living. When some time has elapsed, one gets a better perspective about who the person was, and what that person achieved, or failed to. In this sense, I think making a commercial movie about something which has not yet been tried and tested enough was not a wise thing to do. However, this is only my opinion.

But I am not wriring about that topic; I just want to share my own experience with my periods.I hate to share this, but I think I should. (My way of dealing with it was to try and expunge it from my mind once I reached menopause…but as you can see, the memories have not left me).

I grew up (and “grew up” at the age of 12, in 1966) in a large city, but had to manage with cloth, and it was messy, smelly, uncomfotable-to-painful, and very embarassing. Sanitary napkins were available, but my mother, thinking they were not a good solution, did not buy them for me until a couple of years later. My cousins in Chennai, and in the smaller towns of Tamil Nadu, also managed with cloth; we had to use discarded cloth, too. The menstrual period was truly a curse, and yes, it was the lack of proper protection as much as cramps that made me detest going to school and then college on “those days”.Even sanitary napkins did not have plastic shields in those days, and were made of cotton which could lump together, especially in hot, humid weather.

Since we were “exiled” to the back of our (then) large houses and given food only after the rest of the household had eaten, and were not allowed to touch anyone or go out, I was told by my cousins in Chennai, Madurai and other towns, to use medications like Primolut-N. We were made to feel, and felt, unclean and impure. I have heard my uncles use the phrase “kasappu kadai” (butcher’s shop) to indicate that someone had her period. “Not at home” and “far away”, denoting the way we were made to stay at the back of the house or in villages, in the cowsheds outside the house, show the “reverence” that we got.

to delay the period for a few days. Every single cousin I knew who used this had her first pregnancy miscarry; I do not have enough data to know if this was just a coincidence. I cannot draw any inference from seven cases.

I attained menopause (with huge relief, and no other problems such as excessive bleeding or fibroids) at the age of 42, 21 years ago. (A fairly active lifestyle has, luckily, kept me in good health.)So I am not aware of what sanitary napkins are made of these days. When my grandchildren were born, we used cloth nappies as I was taking care of them 24/7; I didn’t like the idea of disposable nappies for many reasons, and I stitched pieces of soft, old dhotis for this purpose. We had to use the occasional disposable nappy, of course. But I was already reading about fires iin landfills in St.Louis, where my daughter lived (she used reusable pads) so we cut down on disposable nappies as much as we could.

The studies cited in the blogpost seem quite extensive and fact-based, but the point I am trying to make is, the use of cloth may not be related to health problems, but it is certainly related to a big factor of discomfort and embarassment…which, if the write-up is true, the “pad” does nothing to alleviate.

How comforable and secure is the cup? I have been doing a bit of reading about it, and I do feel there may be instances where it may not be suitable, or it may take a while to find the right one.

I’m sorry, but I disagree with the writer’s statement about traditional women showing us “how mensturation should be revered , how the first period should be celebrated”. We were treated as outcastes during our periods, and given no consideration in the matter of food. Mensturation was not revered, it was a matter of shame and withdrawal. Most mothers would not tell their daughters about it in advance…my mother did not mention it, and at first, I thought that I was badly hurt. (I have no sisters, and no cousin talked to me about this, either).I still cringe when I think of the child I was, and my ignorance about my own body. Ignorance is not innocence.

I have hated every period that I had, the very painful (epidurals were not given those days) process of childbirth, the mood swings,the awful cramping, and the bloating. My reproductive system shutting down was , to me, one of the best things that happened, especially because it was rather early.

I am not taking any stances here, simply saying that menstruation is a very tough process that most women handle by themselves, or at least, used to before they could look for information on the net in the privacy of their homes or phones.

Sorry for the sombre post. But most of you on this egroup are young, and I just wanted to depict how things were, a few decades ago, in metropolitan cities and towns (not villages).

Muthanallur Lake, 110218

February 11, 2018

Is it not an irony
That the fertilizer used in the field
(Where rose bushes are dotted with blooms)
Reeks of garlic?
And that the field of roses
Is right next to a pig farm
Where the snorting of the porcines
Drowns out any poetic thoughts
I may have about the flowers?
Or is this the way the world is,
The mundane existing with the rare,
The bad with the good, the lovely with the ugly?
I walk on, reflecting on the concepts
Of aesthetics, and what makes me think
Some things are appealing, and others, not.


February 8, 2018

What is “pure”?
When is Ganga pure?
When She emerges from Avani,
Or when She is made stronger
As other rivers join Her
To make the broad, deep ad mighty flow?
Is she pure when, at Gangotri, and all down Her course,
Pilgrims dump trash into her…
Plastic packets of camphor, incense sticks, and oil…
Or when She mixes with the Yamuna?
Is she pure when, sharing Herself,
She flows at many points and mingles with Sagara?
Should we just clone living beings
To ensure “purity”?
Because breeding, by its very nature,
Is mixing and evolving.
The very concept of purity
Confuses me, and I am unable to intuit it.

Nature Feature, Feb ’18: A wildlife art exhibition and competition, 280118 to 010218

February 2, 2018

I first met

Prasad Natarajan

in 2014, when we attended a wildlife volunteer training program together. Even then, in the beautiful environs of Kudremukh,Karnataka, I always found him with a sketchpad and a pencil in his hands.

Since then, his artwork, especially on the theme of wildlife, has become quite well known. He is not afraid of using the most difficult and unforgiving of art media, such as Indian ink (lampblack collected in a container and mixed with grease, and applied carefully to paper.) He is now an artist whose work finds homes across the world.

However, Prasad decided to step beyond displaying his own talent; in March 2017, he conceived the idea of mounting an exhibition and competion of wildlife art. In a city which has many wildlife events, including wildlife photography, this w the first such exhibition; indeed, it is probably the first such competition-cum-exhibition in the country. Artists from all over the country, and abroad, sent in their work to be exhibited. The event finally came to fruition and was held at the Venkatappa Art Gallery in Bangalore, from January 28th to February 2nd, 2018….almost a year of hard and unremitting work.

Mounting such an exhibition was not easy. Prasad first reached out to the fraternity of wildlife artists, asking if they would like to show their work. Several artists responded, and after he shortlisted the participants, sent him their pieces, which he stored in his own home, taking the utmost care of them. “The artists sent me their works in all kinds of frames and sizes,” he smiles reminiscently. “Transporting them to the gallery, and back, was one of the major logistics hurdles. We hired a mini truck for all non-glass-framed artwork, and a car for all pieces with frames. Most of the art works were taken back by the artists at the gallery, but the remaining pieces, which are from outside Bangalore, will be couriered back to the artists.”

Did he have anyone to help in all this? Prasad points gratefully to Sree Latha P., an artist whom he met at several art events. She volunteered to help, designing the brochure, and cheerfully working on the many details that cropped up. “Certainly,” he says, “Next year, I cannot increase her burden; I am going to need more volunteers to help me!”

23 artists participated, with Prasad curating the work to be displayed. In a show of solidarity, 18 of them were present at the show opening. Prasad named the event “Artists for Wildlife and Nature, Annual Wildlife Art Show” (AWN for short).

Here are the artists from Bangalore who participated:

artists group, 300118

He invited Hemlata Pradhan to judge the art and prizes were awarded as follows:

Artist of the Year Award Winner- Sweta Dilip Desai
Mammal Category Award Winner- Eric Ramanujam
Landscape Category Award Winner-Prabal Mallick
Avian Category Award Winner-Prahlad Hegde
Student Category Award Winner- Daksesh D Velu

The young students who participated were Daksesh D Velu, Neha Satish, Vidisha choudhary, Kuruganti Naga Priyanka and Gowri L Jadhav.

Here are some of the awardees:

prizewinners, Artists for Wildlife and Nature, 300118, Blr

Supporters included five-year-old artist Nisha!

nisha, 5 yrs, Art for Wildlife and Nature, 300118

The pictures displayed covered a remarkable variety of media used. A few sculptures by Eric Ramanujam were also part of the show.

Jainy Kuriakose, the Chief Guest (who is a superb photographer, and has travelled extensively to document the rarest of birds), gives away the prize to Sweta Desai:

jainy kuriakose and awardee sweta, art and wildlife for nature, 300118

Sweta, and her father, who are from Goa, as well as artists like Prahlad Hegde, wore delighted smiles at the exposure their art was getting, with over 600 people visiting the exhibition over the four days.

Prasad, having put together the show successfully, welcomed the gathering at the opening:

prasad natarajan, art and wildlife for nature, 300118

A large gathering of luminaries from both wildlife and art circles attended the event. Nearly Rs.55,000 was recorded in sales. For artists who are looking for their first commercial break, this was heartening indeed.

However, though the rates charged by Venkatappa Art Gallery are extremely reasonable, Prasad sounds a note of warning about the booking process. ” We officially booked the gallery two months before the show,”, he says. “But what I did not notice was that the dates need to be entered six months prior to the show in the gallery register. This was a pencil entry by the person in charge of the gallery. When I went to make the final arrangements, I found that the last date (2nd Feb) had been erased, and the gallery rented out to someone else.” Since even ink-entries might be erased by a whitener, it might be better to take a photo of the register entry on one’s mobile phone, and keep that as proof of the dates the gallery has been booked for.

To see images of and by the artists, and guests who visited the exhbition, you can see Prasad’s FaceBook album of the event,


Walk home, 310118

January 31, 2018

My walk home this morning.

Newspapers flying through the air to land in sometimes wet front driveways. Vegetable vendors offloading from autorickshaws. Sunlight slanting in motes of dust, through the branches of trees. The still-lingering nip in the air that makes me–almost– forget that I am still limping, 9 weeks after the knee surgery.

Steaming, tiny cups of chai and kaapi at various corners. Rangolis that are much smaller than they were last month. A little boy reluctant to get off his mother’s two-wheeler, at his school. Beans more tender than a child’s finger, and a cauliflower with a caterpillar smiling up at me…that makes me decide to buy them (no pesticides!) Smiling at several people whom I don’t know but see regularly.

I arrive home, feeling peaceful and happy. Surely, this is a perfect life.