Archive for November, 2012

Day 2, Bhutan, Paro-Dochu La-Thimphu-Punakha

November 30, 2012

This was a day when we left Paro, and travelled through Dochu La (La is a pass) to Thimphu, got some permits (which also allowed us to explore the main street of the little capital at leisure while we waited for the paperwork…Geetanjali got us special permission to go to Phobjikha, which is no longer allowed, to see the critically-endangered Black-necked Cranes)…..and on to Punakha.

I am leaving for Pune today (the train is at 4pm) so I will just post some photos….

The Dzong and the National Museum (damaged in the earthquake, so no longer open to tourists) at Paro:

Punakha Dzong 211112 Bhutan

The stream flowing near it….

river akha Dzong 211112 Bhutan

A huge flock of Red-billed Choughs that we saw on our way:

Red bld chghs 211112 Bhutan

A

TRI-COLOURED SHRIKE:

Tri clr shrike 211112 Bhutan

An unknown, beautiful blue wildflower:

Blue wldflwr 211112 Bhutan

Signposts:

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The Royal Couple (they didn’t come to meet me, alas)

Royal Cpl 211112 Bhutan

A

BLUE PANSY

Blue Pansy 211112 Bhutan

Geetanjali working on our special permits at the Thimphu Immigration Office:

Thimphu immigrtn 211112 Bhutan

Parimala, Savitha and I went off to explore the handicrafts stalls….here are some masks and someone is trying one on….

Mask 211112 Bhutan Thimphu

The phallus is a symbol of strength and prosperity, and is painted on many house walls. Women who have no children also make votive offerings of masks and realistically-painted phalluses, which are on sale:

mask and phls thimphu 211112 Bhutan

mask and phls himphu 211112 Bhuta

The bamboo baskets behind this girl are for packing lunch, and Savitha and Parimala bought some…one fits tightly into the second:

shop thimphu 211112 Bhutan

Ladies are the stall owners, and ladies sell ladles:

ladles thimphu 211112 Bhutan

I popped into the Textile Museum very briefly:

textile museum himphu 211112 Bhuta

In Bhutan everything…water, the air, the movement of a car, a human hand, can produce a prayer. Here, a mountain stream turns a prayer wheel constantly:

river prayer wheel 211112 Bhuta

When in difficulties or bad health, families consult astrologers who tell them how many (hundreds or thousands) of these Tsa-tsas or “stupa cakes” made of wood or lime, to put at what locations:

stupa cakes 211112 Bhuta

I do love “zero” signposts!

Dochu La 211112 Bhuta

At Dochu La, dusk was falling as we explored the 108 stupas put up there:

Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

The Stupas and the arches made great silhouettes against the darkening sky:

silhouette Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

slhoutet Dochu La 211112 Bhutan, s

108 stupas Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

The pass faces a range of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya:

2 snw cps Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

snw cap Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

snw cp Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

Here’s a detail from one of the 108 Stupas:

108 stps Dochu La 211112 Bhutan

I close with this view of the main Stupa at Dochu La, with all the others behind it…pink and mauve in the gathering dusk….

Dochu La stupa 108 211112 Bhuta

I am now getting JAPANESE as well as Russian spam on LJ, and I am sure there are words that would never use in polite circles! I am rarely able to post comments, and it’s only a sense of cussedness that keeps me posting here. I will be putting up more photos on Facebook…do see them!

Day 1 of Bhutan visit, 201112

November 21, 2012

Have just a few minutes of wifi at the hotel in Paro, but I’ve put up a few photographs of our flight into Paro from Kolkata,

click here

The connection is iffy, so I haven’t been able to upload many photos to Photobucket…but here are some:

The four of us…

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taken by Karma, our nature guide.

Mount Everest from the flight (I carefully took a window seat on the left side of the aircraft for this!)

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Himalayan rivers and streams:

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Our aircraft, with the dragon logo of Druk Air, after it landed in Paro:

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I clicked myself:

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Frozen wayside streams from Paro to Chele La:

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Icicles glinting in the sun!

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A Yak:

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Chomo Lha Ri, a peak visible on the road to Chele La:

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A lovely mandala…on the roof of the Customs and Immigration hall!

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Hope you enjoy these as much as I did…

Shelters….

November 15, 2012

Nature seems to provide such a variety of housing options for Her children! We have all seen the twiggy nests of Crows and Kites in our cities, but let’s look at some other creatures’ homes, too…

Here are two Paper Wasps, beginning the construction of their nest (yes, it is a kind of papery material, hence their name).

wsps bgn nest 201012

When they finish, the wasps’ nest looks like this…so beautiful, with its crescent-shaped patterns. However, do not approach too close, for fear of being stung!

wsps nest 171012  cbn pk

Several birds do much more than stack twigs together; one of the most famous is the Baya Weaver. They make beautifully engineered nests.

wvrbdnst bgkglpr 190912

Here is a male Baya Weaver (it’s the males who build the nest…the females inspect them, and if they are not good enough, they don’t accept!) weaving the nest expertly:

wvrbd on nst 190912 bgkglpra

Another very common bird is the Tailorbird. When you see the nest of a Tailorbird, it’s obvious why it’s called that. Can you see the neat “stitching” of the leaf and the nest material, in this photograph?

tlrbd nst 190912 bgkglpra

Here are two Grey Tits (I often see them in the Bannerghatta zoo area)…these two are actually checking out an old “junction box” left by humans, to see if it is fit to nest in! So what we leave behind is sometimes useful to birds, too.

grt tits 211012 3rd Sun indluwadi

Even the most “fearsome” of creatures need the protection of a nest, sometimes. Here is the nest of an Indian Tarantula….females which have just-hatched eggs spin this “silk screen” in front of their holes, to prevent predators such as wasps and ants from coming in!

trntla ggudi 251012

Votzit?

November 14, 2012

I often post photographs in Facebook under the album, “Votzit”…and I ask friends to identify what’s been photographed. Since I loved the colours in my latest set, I am posting the set here, and I think you will not find it too difficult to find out the answer!

141112 rnd glas 3

141112 rnd glas 2

round glass 141112

I just *loved* the deep,rich colours….!

Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple and Fort, Pune

November 13, 2012

On my way to the bus terminus in Pune, I saw parts of this historic city that I’ve never seen before…

halwai tmple pune 041112\\

Click here to read about the temple and the trust’s activities

Here’s the deity that I snapped as I went past:

ganapathi pune 041112

I also passed the Fort:

2 pune fort 041112
oon
pune fort 041112

I’ll have to go back to Pune to explore these wonderful areas. How come I’ve visited Pune so many times and never been here at all? The place was alive with people, shops and bustle…the heart of India, beating strongly in its populous cities.

Wildlife Rescue…

November 12, 2012

We have recently been having a discussion about wildlife rescue…and here are my two cents.

I think….it’s better to totally avoid touching wild creatures, always…their “space” gets violated as well and they get tense and distressed (and they tend to retaliate IF they can). Think of how you feel when a stranger brushes too close to you on a bus… how you cringe away from contact! Multiply this factor for a shy wild creature.

Rehabilitation of “rescued” wildlife is very problematic…sometimes, we see babies that we leave alone, for Nature to take Her course….

Let me give you two examples….

1. We once saw a little Pond Heron, obviously injured, at the edge of Madivala Lake, late in the evening.. Some slum-dwellers were standing around, eyeing the bird hopefully. Quite upset, we picked up the bird …and it was obvious that the bird became even more distressed at being picked up by us….we could not go to the Bannerghatta (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) area, so my friend took it all the way to Uttarahalli, to PFA (People For Animals). But the bird died early the morning. It then struck me…would it not have been better for the natural course of things to happen? The bird would have assuaged the hunger pangs of those poor people, and been part of Nature’s food chain, instead of its body being buried at PFA and being of no use to anyone.

2. We found a baby bird apparently abandoned, in an apartment complex…. helpless, but quite healthy….I picked it up and took it to WRRC, only to find that it had actually died on my hands…and later the building guard, whom I know, told me that the mother bird was flying around frantically from morning to evening, the next day.

These are some of the incidents which have convinced me, against my initial instinctive reaction, to leave things alone. We, as human beings, protect our weak (or are supposed to) but elsewhere, the law of the survival of the fittest does apply (much as in our job situations!) ….and one has to remember that human beings are also part of the animal kingdom, and the food chain, though we have set ourselves apart. So, cruel though it appears at first sight, it’s usually better to leave every creature as one finds them.

I have a distrust of some of the Forest Dept guards; there is a lot of the fence grazing on the crop. Apparently, hare is high on their cuisine menu! On a census once, on pain of secrecy, I was told how much they enjoy the meat of various animals. And we all know the macho value of boasting about the various game meat one has eaten…film stars and politicians are always doing it, and then trying to get out of the legal cases.

We can have an endless conversation about this 🙂 All sorts of views about it are there…probably each as valid as the other.

Bannerghatta, zoo area, and Gulakmale, 101112

November 11, 2012

Sun in water 101112 bgz

When Chandu and I planned an outing, we didn’t realize that we would wind up with a fairly large group of friends, but we did…and in alphabetical order, our list went:

Brinda
Chandu
Deepa
Geetanjali
Harish
Harsha
Hrishi
Ranjani
Savitha
Sharmila
Shudhanta
Sumanth
Vinay
Vishnu

Here my friends are:

group 101112 bgz

We started at the parking lot of the zoo area. One sad development that I am seeing, having haunted this area for some years, is the increasing building of enclosures everywhere, cordoning off access for visitors like us. Everywhere there are “watchmen” who harass us, barring access for no valid reason. The parking lot is closed in the mornings, and though I must say it saves us the parking fees, I can’t see why the attendant should prevent us from walking in a deserted parking lot, especially when that is the place where a pair of resident Rufous-tailed Larks always delight us!

cobra skin 101112 gulakmale

Well, we walked through the BMTC Bannerghatta Bus Terminus and walked down the path (to the left) to the Butterfly Park, and looked at the quarry pond, where we did not find the usual Small Blue or Pied Kingfishers. We then slowly walked down the path towards JLR. Here, too, we were harassed, and we had to say we were from JLR (which in a sense, many of us who have done the NTP are!). Luckily, the JLR people and some of the Forest Dept people also know me, so we were granted access, and we walked around the JLR property and went down the sheet rock to the Flycatcher Avenue that runs along the Zoo wall, down to the Kingfisher pond, and looked across into the Herbivore Safari area, and returned.

csmith bbt 101112 bgz

Flycatcher Avenue did not disappoint us.In alphabetical order, he Asian Brown, the Asian Paradise, the Grey-headed Canary, the Tickell’s Blue, the Verditer, and the White-browed Fantail…all of them delighted us with short or long appearances!

crmrnt 101112 bgz

We had a nice dosa breakfast (sponsored by Chandu) at the Mayura Dose Camp, and then some of us decided to go to Gulakmale. So of course I led the others on a chase of that elusive bird, the Wild Goose, as I took the wrong route completely, and wasted quite an hour of everyone’s time until Geetanjali set us on the right route. We went straight to the Gulakmale stream, and on the way back, we touched Gulakmale lake as well.

It was sad to see that Gulakmale lake is in a very dry condition. However, the stream runs as strongly as before, and that was a relief. We do hope that a good monsoon next year will set the lake to rights, and that the drying up is not due (like the case of Puttenahalli Lake) to construction activity in the catchment areas.

So much for the route; our bird list was quite good, and it went like this (alphabetical order again…I never remember to write down birds in their order of appearance, and find it difficult to locate birds in such lists, so I prefer AB order!)

At the zoo area:

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Yellow-billed (yes, we saw the difference!)
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked (Small Green)
Bee-eater, Blue-throated
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-browed
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Indian
Bushlark, Jerdon’s
Cormorant, Little
Cormorant, Indian
Coucal, Greater
Crow, House
Crow, Large-billed
Cuckoo, Common Hawk
Cuckooshrike, Large
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Drongo, White-bellied
Drongo, Spangled
Eagle, un id
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Brown
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Flycatcher, Verditer
Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail
Francolin, Grey
Heron, Grey
Heron, Pond
Iora, Common
Kingfisher, Pied
Kingfisher, Small Blue
Kingfisher, White-throated
Kite, Black
Kite, Black-winged
Kite, Brahminy
Koel, Asian
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Lark, Rufous-tailed
Leafbird, Blue-winged
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Munia, Scaly-breasted
Mynah, Common
Mynah, Jungle
Oriole, Eurasian Golden
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pipit, Paddyfield
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Plain
Shikra
Shrike, Brown
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Sunbird, Loten’s
Swift, Common
Tailorbird, Common
Tit, Great
Wagtail, Grey
Wagtail, Pied
Warbler, Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish Leaf
White-eye, Oriental

The Butterfly list is smaller because a) the focus was birds and b) I am pretty ignorant about them. So here goes:

Baronet, Common
Blue, various types
Cerulean, Common
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull, Common
Hopper, various
Jezebel, Common
Leopard, Common
Pioneer
Psyche
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Skipper, various
Wanderer, Common

baronet 101112 gulakmale

Let me know if I have left out anything
We also saw several types of Spiders….Giant Wood, Hermit, Orb-weaver, Signature, and so on.

But most of all, it was the mammals…Homo sapiens naturophilus….that made the day very enjoyable for me. The group gelled really well, and we laughed a lot, too! A big thank you to everyone for a very pleasant day, especially considering the fact that some people came from as far away as Sahakar Nagar and C V Raman Nagar.

I have put up the photos and the narrative on my Facebook album…

click here

Words play is not the same as sword play…

November 9, 2012

A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Acupuncture : a jab well done.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

I was going to look for my missing watch, but I could never find the time.

I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.

A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. Really it was just a play on words.

I used to be addicted to soap, but I’m clean now.

Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.

Need an ark to save two of every animal? I Noah guy.

A new type of broom came out, it is sweeping the nation.

A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital.When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was a nurse said ‘No change yet’.

The new weed whacker is cutting-hedge technology.

Some people’s noses and feet are built backwards: their feet smell and their noses run.

When William joined the army he disliked the phrase ‘fire at will’.

Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.

There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.

The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

I wanted to lose weight so I went to the paint store. I heard I could get thinner there.

Lightning sometimes shocks people because it just doesn’t know how to conduct itself.

A prisoner’s favorite punctuation mark is the period. It marks the end of his sentence.

A rule of grammar: double negatives are a no-no.

Sleeping comes so naturally to me, I could do it with my eyes closed.

Atheists don’t solve exponential equations because they don’t believe in higher powers.

It’s raining cats and dogs. Well, as long as it doesn’t reindeer.

I relish the fact that you’ve mustard the strength to ketchup to me.

My new theory on inertia doesn’t seem to be gaining momentum.

The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

What did the grape say when it got stepped on? Nothing – but it let out a little whine.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

If you don’t pay your exorcist you get repossessed.

She got fired from the hot dog stand for putting her hair in a bun.

Dead batteries were given out free of charge.

John Deere’s manure spreader is the only equipment the company won’t stand behind.

Pencils could be made with erasers at both ends, but what would be the point?

I was arrested after my therapist suggested I take something for my kleptomania.

Storm from the train, and Pune

November 6, 2012

On the train to Pune, I watched the effects of the clouds, sky, sunlight and storm as we sped past the landscape:

spot snlight 01112 train

storm train 011112

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2 storm train 011112

I got a rainbow, too:

3 rnbow storm train 011112

that’s against a house of God…

4 rnbow storm train 011112

that’ against the power generated by humanity, so puny against the forces of Nature….

I got an amazing sunset as usual:

2 snst 011112

sunst 01112

And thought of as usual!

Then I got these synchronized clouds:

synch clouds 011112

I’ve posted more photos on my Facebook album,

here

I also managed to see parts of Pune that I’ve never seen before, thanks to who dropped me off at the bus stand:

A little pavement shrine in Aundh:

pune aundh shrine 021112

the Pune Fort:

pune fort 041112

2 pune fort 041112

the Halwai Ganesha temple:

halwai tmple pune 041112

The sanctum:

ganapathi pune 041112

Some more pics of Pune by night,

here

on Facebook

I saw some lovely “AkAsh kandeel” or “sky lights” ready for Deepavali:

akash kandeel 041112

The memory of this lovely city is now associated with this little jasmine creeper:

jasminga 051112

Maharashtra and the north of Karnataka are so beautiful!

How banking happens here…

November 6, 2012

I’ve returned from a memorable trip to the north of Karnataka and then Pune, and part of Maharashtra….but that’s not what I want to write about.

I *have* to move my banking from the ICICI Bank account that we’ve held so far, to my account at Vijaya Bank, Sarakki Branch. It’s close to my home, I have a locker there, the bank works half-day on Sundays…these are the pluses.

But the minuses? We have three savings accounts there, and it took me the better part of 3 months to get the accounts online…and then, the system blocked me out as I had not changed the password in 180 days (this was not intimated to me at the beginning.) Getting the accounts activated again took another month of repeated visits and phone calls to the call center.

Then I realized that for many transactions, I will need an ATM (debit) card. So last week I went and got the forms (forms are SO beloved of bureaucracy everywhere) and filled them up carefully…and today, I went to the bank. I left late as if I go for “extra” work (that’s what the clerical staff call any work that does not involve direct transactions), I am told that it’s better to come “after working hours”.

I go to Vijaya Bank, Sarakki Branch, at 2.20pm. (Working hours, 9am to 1pm, 1.30pm to 2.30pm.) I make the mistake of approaching the Branch Manager first, to ask why a cheque has not been accepted on e-banking, and to give my ATM card applications.

Meanwhile, I have given our (3) account passbooks for updating. I then go to the concerned Clerical Person (CP1)to hand over the ATM applications.

Then I go to present my self-cheque. “Service is closed,” proudly announces the teller, who’s seen me at the bank for the past 20 minutes. I go to get my passbooks, updating not yet done. I go to CP1 again, as before, to request for another cheque book. “Come back tomorrow,” she says. Why? “I have a big backlog of pending work.” Maybe she won’t have it if she does her work NOW instead of postponing it?

I go to the Branch Manager and ask that I be given the cheque book now. I check on the pass book…updating not yet done. (I’ve had very few transactions in the past few days.). I come back and get the cheque book from a sour-faced CP1.

Then, as I cannot withdraw cash from my account through the teller, I go to the ATM, and try to use my ICICI Bank debit card. Doesn’t work, I try thrice, go back into the bank, and report it to Clerical Person 2 (CP2) who points me to another one (CP3), who is talking on the phone. I finally resort to the Branch Manager again, and tell him the ATM is not working. He asks the CP2, who whines, “I don’t know why, the ATM is not accepting other bank cards.” Why could he not have told me this before? The Branch Manager shrugs. I walk out (er, the passbooks have FINALLY been updated.)

Is Vijaya Bank, Sarakki Branch, the worst bank I’ve known? No. That distinction belongs to State Bank of Mysore, J P Nagar Branch, where, after months of torture,trying to get our accounts online, I had great pleasure in closing my account. I don’t have the energy to relate that horror story….!