Archive for December, 2008

Tiger At Kaziranga….Warning, Lousy Photographs

December 31, 2008

Since it looks as if we are returning home only next year :D, and I have got the computer for just a little while, I think I will also post my lousy tiger photographs from Kaziranga…

It was the 13th of December, and we had nearly finished the safari in the Eastern Range, and were photographing the Black-Capped Kingfisher using the last of the light available, when our guide, Polash Bora, suddenly pricked up his ears. So did I, and I heard what he did…a lot of alarm calls. We slowly moved forward down the bank of the canal, and there, in the gloaming sat a fully-grown male tiger….


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He did look a lot different from the other tigers I have seen in India (north India, mind you. The SIT does NOT exist until I sight one!)

What was fascinating was that when HE looked at the deer grazing off to his left, he assumed a skulking position. Here was a Crouching Tiger, and no, we did not see a Hidden Dragon:

He remained like that for a few minutes; I put down the camera and decided to just watch, as the light was very poor anyway. (Almost all my tiger sightings have been those of Dusky Tigers, no matter HOW orange they may have been!) We were hoping that we would be watching a hunt, and tried to contain our excitement.

But alas, our excitement contained itself quite quickly when, for some reason, he gave up the idea of a meal, and got up from his “let’s have a look at the menu” pose:

And he wheeled around and walked away, melting noiselessly into the bushes:

This post is dedicated to anirudhc, and I hope he gets to see his first big cat soon!

The rest of the mammals and the wonderful birds of Kaziranga once I get back home….

Here’s to all you LJ friends, who have been a great bunch, always; I have been very lucky in knowing many of you face to face, and here’s wishing you all good health, happiness, and peace of mind in the year that’s coming up!

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Good Wishes Go Out To You….

December 31, 2008

Mylapore Morning….

December 31, 2008

As I felt better in spite of a disturbed night, I decided to walk to, and in, Nageshwara Rao Park.

The park has been really beautified,and is a nice green place to walk, and is large enough that one can walk in a direction opposite to other walkers and not be “herded” along in one direction.

At several places there are posters of old photographs, depicting the Madras (it wasn’t Chennai then) of yesteryears, and there are some majestic old trees that cool one’s eyes and soul, too.

There was a yoga class in progress in the sandpit, and several people were walking briskly backwards (I don’t know if this will really help their health or just cause surprise, amusement, or amazement in the minds of regular walkers.) Several pretty girls had the fine sheen of sweat on their smooth skins, which looked more appealing than the same sheen on the necks of some young men, alas! Monkey-capped old mamas (hey, hey, I must watch this tendency, they are probably my age!) and head-covered-by-scarves old ladies toddled along, each content to keep up hes own pace.

It made a very happy beginning to the last day of 2008.

I have been waiting for KM to finish up some work and then leave for home…but it looks as if it’s not going to happen today. So I guess it’s going to be a year-long stay at Chennai this time 🙂 Came in 2008 and left in 2009!

2009 was also the registration number of the beloved Premier Padmini (Fiat) that my brother had…sitting and thinking about it.

Waiting, all packed and ready, means that I have been able to do nothing else. But I don’t mind being idle in comfort….!

I have internet access now as my sis in law has taken a break from working at home….so I will edit (if this connection permits it) one of my photos and put up a nice New Year message to all of you….if not, I wish each and every one who reads this a happy, healthy, peaceful new year.

But I hope to get my greeting card up…

Valley School Birding…end of year

December 29, 2008

Yes, when I get back from Chennai I promise to do my field trip reports on Kaziranga…but I cannot resist, meanwhile, doing my field trip report on Valley School last Saturday, when Vittal , Trupti, Adu, and Trupti’s niece Pallavi went off to one of my favourite places….

We met up with sharathm and his friends, and Garima Bhatia and Gayathri Naik, too.

Here are a few samplings:

That beautiful ASHY DRONGO sat on the fruit pod, delicately balanced, and opened the account along with several LARKS, BEE-EATERS, MAGPIE ROBINS and INDIAN ROBINS!

Almost immediately, afterwards, several WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL FLYCATCHERS (you can see how they got their name, at least, the fantail part!) danced around in the bushes, enthralling us:

On we went, to the Banyan tree, where several SMALL MINIVETS (what’s the idea of saying both “small” and “mini” to describe what are not very small birds?)

I pointed out the COPPERSMITH BARBET to Pallavi, and she enjoyed looking at the colours:

Pallavi certainly lived up to her reputation of being lucky for bird sightings; this BROWN SHRIKE was proof enough…

Then Vittal got a good shot of the PIED CUCKOO, and we were able to see this COMMON HAWK CUCKOO (which, because of its call, is called the “Brainfever Bird”)

This beautiful GOLDEN ORIOLE posed in the sunlight for all of us:

And as we decided to go home, the sight of these INDIAN GREY HORNBILLS flying in in their typical flight pattern was a great bonus:

We also saw two ORIENTAL HONEY BUZZARDS circling in the lower area to the right of the path, opposite the school property; alas, we could not get photographs, but it was a sight to see!

Not bad for a less-than-one-hour jaunt, eh? Thank you Pallavi! 🙂

One of those days….

December 29, 2008

Ran a temperature through yesterday evening,which prevented me from leaving on time for Chennai this morning; lousy argument with spouse; on arrival, very bad decision by spouse to go to Grand Sweets to pick up stuff.

Grand Sweets has become an awful travesty of what it once was. It took us an hour and twenty minutes to get something. That, perhaps, we were prepared for. But in the meanwhile, I ordered an “adai avial” and asked that not too much of oil should be poured on. The lady making it pulled a face but didn’t say anything…until a meek thAthA (grandfatherly person) behind me heard me, and made the same request.

The adai lady then tore into him. “What do you mean?” she yelled. “If all of you ask for adai without oil how am I to make it? It won’t cook properly!” Having had a bad day myself, I glared right back at her. “We are not asking for anything ‘extra’,”I said, “only to leave out something. It is such crap to say it is difficult for you.” She kept quiet after that…but harassed the old man by delaying the cooking of his adai on the griddle. But even after I got my adai, I waited..and waited…until the old man finally got his adai. I was quite mad with the lady.

Meanwhile, a gentleman (I use this term advisedly, read on and you will know why) accidentally brushed against both me and another young lady as he went past. I *know*, having had the contact, that it was truly accidental. The guy immediately started apologizing…but the young lady went up in smoke. She hit the guy across the face, and said she knew all about the Lotharios in India. “In America, we don’t behave like this,” she yelled.

Someone stepped in and asked her to keep her voice down and was berated for his trouble. “Who are you to interfere?” she asked loudly. “I suppose even touching a woman by chance is a sin,” said the “guilty” gentleman sadly. “But more than the fact that she slapped me like that, the fact that so many people around me are giving me dirty looks now hurts very much.” It was obvious that he was very miserable; he tore up his order coupon and went off.

Ah, Grand Sweets….spreads cheer and happiness everywhere.

We drove to my brother’s apartment building; this is the second time I am visiting since he died six months ago. And…..there is, right now, a hearse standing outside, someone has died in the ground floor apartment…..Will go later to find out who. My sis in law has still not come home so she will not know the news either….these things happen!

What a visit, it can only get better from now on. I wanted to go to a nice concert, but….

Thoughts on Digital Photography, Different Kinds of Workshops/Consultancy and Technology…

December 26, 2008

A lot of my friends, and acquaintances, have been conducting workshops or consultation outfits (sales training, photography, management sciences, and so on) of various kinds , and one of the dicey problems they face, of course, is: how much to charge? The sad thing is that people who are just getting in, just at present, seem to be charging very high fees, not realizing that the economic scenario has undergone a sea change recently.

I think that six months ago, there was a lot of discretionary income, a lot of people were looking for guidance as they took up various interests. But today, there may not be the money to spare for this kind of learning, and wannabe learners may decide to go the LIYWALH (Learn It Yourself With A Little Help) way, that I took…

Let me take, for example, the way I learnt about digital photography. Yes, indeed I have attended workshops conducted by two of my friends, but in the main, I have been learning from experimentation. The primary aim in both those workshops, for me, was more, the location, the friends who conducted those workshops, the presence of another expert at the workshop, and some other factors, rather than just learning about cameras or photography.

I am so thankful that I have learnt most of the little I know, from essentially playing with both the camera and the photographs, a husband who is a good photographer (and willing to lend his camera and lenses, too!) and having a lot of “geek” friends,and a who have patiently taught me some stuff about posting my photos on the blog and the net (Thank you especially to sainath who must have thought that HE would die of old age before I learnt anything properly!) …and to the technology that allows me to process my photographs myself, IF required…and more importantly, to delete lousy photos without having stacks of them piling up in my cupboards! 🙂

And while on this topic, I want to say….I know all the “hardcores” will say, digital photography is not as great as film photography. But I have heard that argument SO often. “Cassettes/CD’s are not as good as the old spool tapes.” “Rubber wood is not as good as Burma teak.” It’s true…but those things aren’t available any more now, or the “hardware” to support them! (I sometimes just imagine people writing on palm leaves, “They have discovered something called paper. It will never be as good as the palm leaves, or have the permanency of stone inscriptions”! 🙂 If my then-boyfriend had tried to give me a love-stone-inscription, I would have dropped it on his foot! I would never have taken up photography if, apart from anything else, I had to wait “for the roll to finish”, and then got back, from the film laboratory, either a set of lousy, fuzzy pictures, or someone else’s holiday snaps….I went to Lalbagh yesterday, and can inflict share my photographs with everyone, and that, too, across the world! If the Asian Paradise Flycatcher struts his tail vainly about, my friend in Massachusetts can see it within hours….well, minutes, if I was truly gadget- and net-savvy and didn’t want to still have a i-Sauropod instead of an i-Pod.

But it is the way of the world that whenever someone wants to do something, there will be someone who will offer to teach that someone how to do that something…for a fee, not for free, and for as fat a fee as possible! 🙂 It’s the old defintion of a consultant: one who teaches you to tell the time on your watch, and charges you half the watch value as a fee!

On the subject of digital photography…this is what I got in the jungles of Kaziranga….

Update: That IS a Hoolock Gibbon, kalyan tells me that’s the only kind which is found in India….. but it’s not a Tamizh Brahmin ape, with a “pattai” of “vibhoothi” or sacred ash smeared on his forehead!

More info on the Hoolock Gibbon here

It’s surprising that there is no mention of Hoolock gibbons in India, but only in Bangladesh!

I am feeling, for some reason, very peaceful and lotus-floating-on the water today….I know I must finish a couple of articles, finish uploading those Assam photos before they move out of my mind, and make a few more posts about my travels, so that I can, later, enjoy my travels again…but I am tapping away happily, contentedly, and I suppose I will get down to actual work in a while, instead of thinking and pontificating about it.

Update: no, I am not thinking and pontificating about work…I am off to see a photo exhibition (I will be writing about the photographer and his work so that’s…er…work! *evil grin*.)

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Rhi Nose ( Eros)..and Eye…and Other Parts….

December 26, 2008

The Indian Rhinoceros is an animal armour-plated;
Though it eats just tons of grass, its hunger’s never sated;
But still the appearance of one is, by us, eagerly awaited,
As on elephant-back we sit with our breath bated!

No, that was not Ogden Nash or Edward Lear, that was just de Ponti!

Here’s the One-Horned Indian Rhinoceros (no, it doesn’t toot that horn.)

The wiki entry that you get if you click on the name of the animal above, says, “Mynahs and egrets both eat invertebrates from the rhino’s skin .” So I got a nice pic with mynah and an egret for my discerning viewers! 🙂

I posted this picture of a rhino that, indeed, looks as it it’s got all its makeup on….

So Here are the various part of a rhino

The Birth of a Sun or a Son, as the Case May Be

December 25, 2008

Went off to the flag off of the TFN cyclng event , and then to Lalbagh…

The light was just magical, and the sun through the foliage reminded me that today there was also a Son born into the world! The light also reminded me of the Star of Bethelehem….

The rest of the post is

here

We saw a Kestrel, a Spotted Owlet, and here’s another view of the spectacular Asian Paradise Flycatcher….

I did regret not having the 20D, but made do with the MLC, the S3. and indeed, it was better, because I took a video of the bird whisking itself about in the tree:

Merry Christmas, every one! I may not be, strictly, a “Christian”, but I love to think of a divine Child being born, who will save mankind…surely, our children are our immortality and our hope. With a granddaughter on her way into our lives, I feel more intensely the joy that a new birth brings….

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The Paining of Complaining….

December 23, 2008

As long as things go smoothly, our system works. But let there be a problem and one is up against the most people-unfriendly scenario possible.

Our mobile bill (my mobile phone is an add-on to KM’s) was vastly over what’s normal, and we have given complaints twice, and both complaints have been registered on the Airtel site.

Now every day, several times, honey-voiced “customer care executives” call up on either phone, asking why we have not paid the bill. Increasingly, we are irritated by having to repeat our complaint, which the Airtel people say is not showing up on their system, so “could you tell us the problem, please?”

Yesterday I finally told one operator that I had no intention of wasting my time repeating the details of how we have been overcharged, to every Tom, Dick, and Harini who calls. If our complaint, which is registered, is not showing up on their system, that’s their problem, too, not ours. I asked her to set right the overcharging and call me back.

Silence so far.

But…I don’t want our mobile phones to be cut off, so today I will probably have to go and stand in a loooong queue at the Airtel office and meet someone and reiterate my woes all over again….

😦

Elephants…

December 22, 2008

What beautiful creatures elephants are; we saw these two mothers with their calves, so delightful to see the young ones actually gambolling and playing with each other…

Here’s one of them enjoying a dust-bath:

Just LOOK at these cuties…

We didn’t enjoy the ones WE had to take every day, travelling over the terrain…we looked quite grey overall, by the time we got back home each day, and a hot bath was very much required!