Archive for September, 2012

My first article for The Alternative

September 28, 2012


is The Alternative.


is my first article for them. Hope it’s the first of many!

Daroji beckons…and children

September 28, 2012

Off for 4 days to Daroji/Hampi, let’s see what we see! We are 8 of us (6 NTP members) and we’ll be meeting

Santosh Martin

Rajashekar Malisetty , and Dr S K Arun (all NTP members)

Dr. Nagraj


Samad Kottur

The Bellary contingent is doing a lot for the preservation and running of the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, and various other animals and birds in the area. Here is the plus and minus of their efforts over a decade, described in Santosh’s words:

“10 years back, I, Samad and Anand started our search for the 3 critically endangered species, The Great Indian Bustards, Long Billed Vultures and the Jerdon’s Coursers. Of the three, we were successful in rediscovering, documenting and moni
toring two of them, The Great Indian Bustard and The Long Billed Vultures and Search for Jerdon’s Courser is still on. Bellary district’s landscape is similar to Lanka malleswara wildlife sanctuary near Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh. We started this project as Karthik always felt that there was possibility of finding these birds here in Bellary. Ever since we have not given up and are hopeful that one day we would find them. Mr Bharat Bhushan of BNHS rediscovered the Jerdon’s Courser in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh in 1986, almost 100 years after it was presumed to be extinct. Chavan from BNHS team who is currently working on the conservation of these birds, told me that there have been no sightings since August, 2010. This is bad news indeed.”

here is my post from September 17, 2010, almost exactly 2 years ago,


here is one from January 22, 2009.

here are the Three Bears:

three bears 160109

But we couldn’t find Goldilocks!

Will see you lot on Wednesday…be good, but not TOO good! Meanwhile, let me share another favourite pic that I took in Masinagudi, the day after my famous “stag paati” event:


Looking back

September 28, 2012

The memories locked in each heart
Could bring so many joys..
It could take us back to golden times
When we could be happy, and rejoice.

But if the past that’s in my brain
Is likely to cause me pain…
It’s not surprising if I lack
The ability to often look back.

I’ll not turn and look at the past
When each present day is better than the last.
My heart for peaceful serenity strives:
Not to remember pain in my, and others’, lives.


September 27, 2012

I posted on Facebook just now, “With so many interesting YouTube clips today, I am that ancient Chinese lady, Wat Ching.”

Here’s one of the nicest I watched:

How would one tune that…and could one program that instrument to produce music that was fed into it in the right format?

Intrigues me!

“Retiring Rooms” of Indian Railways…and key words

September 27, 2012

I was looking for the amenities available to passenger in various Indian railway stations, and just could not find anything that told me what was available, especially in the way of staying at the station itself. I posted on FB, and promptly got a lot of excellent links from friends.

I had overlooked the key words….in India, stations have “Retiring Rooms” (where one can get tired all over again? On the contrary, many of them are well-maintained…and hardly used!)

So…I am giving here the link that I got from helpful friends…thanks, Sharbari Lahiri (from Canada!), Sridhar Parthasarathy, and Rama Warrier.

this one

and I hope it comes in handy for me one day soon!

1946 Wedding….88, Royapettah High Road…

September 26, 2012

Thanks to my cousin, Ganapathi Vibhu, I got this amazing treasure…the invitation to my parents’ wedding!

Both my mother, and her younger sister, were married on the same day…and the marriage was held at my grandparents’ home (I do wonder what Mylapore looked like in 1947!)

Here’s the English invitation:

ammappa's wding invite 260912

And here’s the Tamizh invitation:

2 mmappa's wding invite 260912

The invitation asks guests to “send their rations in advance”!

The invitation is also shaped this way, so it could be folded and mailed as it was, without another envelope:

3 mmappa's wding invite 260912

….but this is more about 88, Royapettah High Road now!

The house where my parents got married still stands, and is part of Vidya Mandir School today. From the first floor, one could see the gopuram of the Kapaleeshwarar temple, and the frontage received the cool evening sea breeze in such profusion that one could actually sleep without a fan…and I don’t remember mosquitoes (isn’t that incredible, in hot, humid Chennai?)

The aunt who got married in this house, lived there with her husband for many, many years. It was a social hub, with relatives and friends visiting (it’ in Luz, in the heart of Mylapore)….there was a large garden, with mango trees that yielded delicious fruit…a style of life that’s gone for ever now. We, as children, used to play in the garden all afternoon, never minding the heat, and we’d be called inside to have “thayir shaatham”…we’d sit around in a circle, and whoever the female relative was in charge, would tell us a story and drop the curd rice into our hands, while banana leaves or banana flower “petals” held vegetables or sambar in front of each child..simple, filling food.

My mother’s elder sister (Ganapathi’s parents) moved from Mayilaaduthurai (Mayavaram) and also lived on the first floor for many years. Everyone was very accomplished at academics and music….Vibhu Periappa’s family produced many musicians.

There was a large pooja room, and a ‘dressing’ room…two rooms were sectioned off to give some privacy, but it was mostly communal sleeping arrangements…all of us would spread “paay” (rush mats) on the floor, or “jamakkaalam” (dhurries) and sleep.

The servants used to live with my aunt and uncle for over 40 years…Govindan, Annamma (his sister) and their families formed part of the group, too. A feudal system, which worked. My uncle’s office (Amar Dye Chem) driver was Krishnan, and he too was with them for decades.. driving the trusty Ambassador car that they had.

Foodgrains used to come in from the village of Nagaipattinam, to which my uncle belonged…it never occurred to me then that my uncle’s salary could not possibly provide enough for all the people who ate there!

My uncle’s family had a business, providing various articles to the Railways, but it was concluded after a while.

I remember the ancient, beautiful “easy chair” that my uncle would relax in…the green trees through the big windows…the stately beauty of the high-ceilinged house, where sparrow would make nests in the “cups” above the ceiling fans.

The telephone was in a nook under the stairs, and the wall was scribbled over with numbers. We could talk to relatives in other cities only by booking a “Trunk Call” (in three categories, Ordinary, Urgent and Lightning!) and it could take a few days for the call to come through!

Women having their periods were segregated to a little, ill-lit, ill-ventilated passage in the back of the house, and they had to use the rustic toilet at the bottom of the garden.They could have their meals only when the others had finished. I can’t say it was a very pleasant arrangement! I know a lot of hypocrisy went on, too, with some women concealing the fact that they were having their periods…or taking “Primolut-C” to delay it during their visit to the house…I wonder how many miscarriages could be attributed to taking estrogen pills indiscriminately.

Such random memories occur to me as I gaze at my parents’ wedding invitation…I never knew it was called “Madhava Vilas” (Residence of Krishna)..I remember the beautiful profusion of scarlet Bougainvillea over the front gate, as well as Oleander bushes.

Oh well, that was a short peek into the past…rare for me to indulge in nostalgia.

Listen to the train’s rhythm…

September 26, 2012

is making a long railway journey (Mumbai to Delhi) and suddenly remembered one line of what I googled up…and found a lovely poem:


Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Robert Louis Stevenson

I love poems like this which follow the rhythm of their subject..I remember, vaguely, another such poem where the stanzas start with a small, brisk rhythm of words..and then, the words and the rhythm lengthen, as the train pulls tiredly into the station…I wish I could get this poem.

Junglescapes Amphibian/Reptiles Excursion, Tambdi Surla, Goa, 12-16 Sept,, 2012

September 25, 2012

Girish, Parimala, Santosh and I visited the Canopy Goa resort for
their Amphibian/Reptilan excursions package. Everything was organized
by Ramesh, who, however, had to drop out at the last minute. It was a
memorable trip. I have put up photos on my Facebook albums, and here
is the creatures list that we have compiled.

I strongly recommend Ramesh Zermakar and Omkar Dharwadkar…their
knowledge is very impressive, and they are very helpful. Ramesh and
Pankaj Lad (along with his brother Gowreesh Lad) run the resort
extremely well. Even our Innova driver, Ali, was very helpful showing
us Monitor Lizards on the side of the road as he was driving, and
showing us pictures of a python that had eaten a macaque and later
regurgitated it.

Er, no, we did not have any Feni. We were drunk on the beauty of the
monsoon, and the wonderful beings that we could see and observe.



Amboli bush (id yet to be confirmed)
Common Indian Bullfrog
Dobson’s Burrowing
Malabar Gliding
Ornate Narrow-mouthed
Reddish Burrowing
Waynad or Marten’s bush frog (id yet to be confirmed)

Fejervarya, Indirana, and Nyctibatrachus species…I do not know the others.

Common Indian


Babbler, Dark-fronted
Babbler, Jungle
Barbet, Brown-headed
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, Yellow-browed
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Eagle, Crested Serpent
Flameback, Common
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Fulvetta, Brown-cheeked
Hawk-Cuckoo, Common
Hornbill, Malabar Grey
Hornbill, Malabar Pied
Iora, Common
Kite, Brahminy
Kite, Common
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Leafbird, Blue-winged
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Minivet, Small
Nightjar, Jerdon’s
Oriole, Black-hooded
Oriole,Eurasian Golden
Parakeet, Malabar
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Parrot, Vernal Hanging
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Grey-breasted
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Spiderhunter, Little
Sunbird, Crimson-backed
Sunbird, Loten’s
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Tailorbird, Common
Treepie, Indian
Treepie, Rufous
White-eye, Oriental
Woodshrike, Common
Woopecker, Heart-spotted
Woodpecker, White-naped


Bulbul, Grey-headed
Francolin, Grey
Frogmouth, Ceylon
Eagle, Changeable Hawk
Junglefowl, Grey
Myna, Hill
Thrush, Malabar Whistling

Birds sighted from train:

Bee-eater, Small Green
Bushchat, Pied
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed
Egret, Little
Ibis, Black-headed
Kingfisher, Pied
Kingfisher, White-breasted
Kite Black
Mynah, Common
Robin, Indian


Blue. Grass
Blue, Pea
Castor, Angled
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-banded
Demon, Grass (cat)
Eggfly, Great (Cat also)
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull. Common
Jezebel, Common
Lime, Common
Mormon, Blue (also cat and eggs)
Mormon. Common (also cat)
Oakblue, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Psyche, Common
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass


Dart, Malabar Torrent
Glider, Crimson Marsh
Glory, Clear-winged Forest
Skimmer, Ground

Insects and Others

Spiders: Crab, Giant Wood, Jumping, Lynx, Orb-Weaver, Wolf.

Tarantula, Indian

Assassin Bug, Centipede, Grasshoppers, plain and painted, Mayfly,
Millipede, Bark Mantis, Praying Mantis, Robberfly Stick Insect,
and other assorted Moths, Beetles and Insects. One Web Scorpion,
Several crabs of all sizes.



Green Vine
Keelback, Beddome’s
Viper, Hump-nosed Pit
Viper, Saw-scaled
Wolf, Travancore

Calotes, Forest
Gecko, Banded
Lizard, Garden (Calotes versicolor)
Skink, Brahminy
Skink, un id

I would like help with the id of the Skink, I am sending the pic herewith

Cheers, Deepa.

I’ve put up the photograph on FB:

The Green Vine Snake taking the frog up into the tree canopy:

1st day:

2nd day:

3rd day:

4th day:

I have put up videos:

Saw-scaled Viper showing why it is so named:


Ramesh Zermakar handling a Beddome’s Keelback:

A Hump-nosed Pit Viper:

Two videos of the Green Vine Snake taking a captured frog up into the canopy:


We missed Ramesh and Shalini very much, as they had to drop out…Ramesh, literally, on the last day.

Fecal Output of Bos Indicus

September 25, 2012

While I realize that the scientific names of creatures are a kind of Unique Identification, and very necessary, I feel that often referring to creatures ONLY by their scientific names, and not the common ones, is a form of elitism….I-know-this-scientific-term-you- don’t-so-look-it-up…..if all and Sundari start doing this, it can be a lot of Bos indicus.

I can understand scientists wanting to use scientific names…but why do perfectly normal laymen suddenly go into “jargon gear” and start using the most esoteric terms possible? I have a neighbour who suddenly told me her son had “Coryza”. I was very concerned until I realized that the little boy had the symptoms of a common cold.

The English language may have roots in many other languages, and some of those terms may still be used for technical terminology. But to me, my relative who talks of a “myocardial infarct” instead of a heart attack, is sort of lording-it-over-me, hoping to impress me with his knowledge.

I may write indifferent verse but if I then mention that I wrote it in iambic pentameter, that makes me SOUND more learned. I may daub a painting but I can talk about my chiaroscuro techniques.

I suppose that is it…to use technical jargon as if it were everyday language makes the user feel that s/he can impress the hearer about the superior level of knowledge about the subject.

This kind of jargon extends towards prolix (there I go!) language, too. Insted of “now”, I say, “at this point in time”. My favourite sentence is, “At the end of the day, at this point in time, the need of the hour is to address the burning issue and put back the clock.” A whole lot of FOBi (see subject title) that is “sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

This works towards my general (yes, like all generalizations, this is not totally true!) theory that very often, an increase of knowledge seems to be accompanied by a proportional increase in ego. When Knowledge walks in, sometimes Humility walks out.

A wonderful daughter…

September 24, 2012

My daughter works, very hard, for Asha For Education….and she trains a fresh batch of runners each time, for the half-marathons. Once in a while, she gets an email like this:

“I didnt have a chance to say this before but we owe you big time. Usually during the weekend runs before the run we are just trying to wake up and prepare for the run and after the run we are way too tired and start wining but if not for you I am not sure if we would have come so far. I am pretty sure we gave you hard time. Showing up late, not downloading the route, getting lost, wining and what not. We must have effortlessly pissed you off but you were there not willing to give up on us. I dont know about others but that resilient quality of yours left a really lasting impression on me. Whenever my body starts complaining about the run I keep thinking the lady is pregnant and doing this and what am I complaining about? You are a real inspiration.
“You kept your promise and we will keep ours. We will not let you down.

“Looking forward for the run,

I am so lucky to have such an amazing daughter! :))))))))