Archive for February, 2014

Visit to Galibore, Cauvery WLS, 150214: Life…and death

February 19, 2014

She’s beautiful, the Goddess Kaveri:


Some forms of life that I saw:









SHIKRA silhouette:






ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (feasting on a watermelon in an angry farmer’s field…!)















a beautiful, spreading village tree:


a cobbler plying his trade (while preparing to chew his paan)


a flower seller:


flowers of the



hungry brefus-eaters:


I found the incredible colours of death, too:


Life in the balance. Galibore, 150214

February 19, 2014


She walks along the road
Calmly, with her headload
Balanced perfectly, her food
Carried in her hand.
Is her life as balanced?
What does she think, as she trudges along?
How far does she have to walk?
How often does she do this?
These questions occur to me..
I do not know what questions, what thoughts,
What issues dominate her life.
Life, it seems to me, is like this:
You pick up your load, and your sustenance,
And carry both along.
No idea what the next turn will bring.
The path winds forward, and you just keep walking…
Until the day you stagger, or drop.

Maps on the internet…

February 18, 2014

Google maps, google maps,
Where have I been?
On my way to my destination,
The whole world I’ve seen.
When there is, to journey’s end,
A short road, straight and true,
Google maps ensures that I
Travel an extra forty-two…

Nokia maps are better by (to use an apt word) far!

JLR Explore: Cauvery WLS Bird Census, 100114

February 18, 2014

Click here

for my article about the Cauvery WS Bird Census, in JLR Explore.

Big Bird Day, Bannerghatta forest area, 160214

February 17, 2014

18 of us went together to cover the areas of Ragihalli, Bannerghatta Zoo area, Valley School and Vaderahalli Lake, to document the bird species and record their numbers. Here’s the photo that I took:


And here’s one a passerby took of all of us:


L to R: Murali, Anirudh, Saandip, Bhaskar, Mani, Gokul, Sindhu,Amit, Jayashree,YT, Kumuda, Santosh, Raghavendra, Skanda,Anjana,Gaurav,Shijo, Murugan.

Santosh explained the how-to’s to everyone during the MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop):


We fanned out at Ragihalli koLA (pond)


Brefus was after we covered the Zoo area, and at the Mayura, we all had masal dosas:


This basket caught my eye:


So did the birds…a





which was working away at an ant’s nest. We thought it was simple predation, until I saw Prof. Raguram’s blogpost,


about the actual complexity and wonder of what really happens. Nature has such incredible complexities!







a completely unafraid



I loved the affection between these two:


What was the chance that these three were bird-watching? Nun!





My friend Kumuda wore this lovely top, and when she walked, the ladies with their pots of water sashayed along, too!


You can see more photos on my FB album


Let me close with another image of the Bold Bushlark:


When sight begins to falter…

February 17, 2014

I’ve been having sudden flashes of “light” at the periphery of my vision; as I’d received a warning from my opthalmologist, in 2012, to go to him if ever it happened, I went immediately.

Yes, there has been retinal detachment in my right eye, but luckiy, it’s not accompanied by a tear, so it does not require surgery. However, there are developing cataracts in both eyes (a very slow growth process, though) and I have been advised a surgical procedure to dissolve and remove them.

I have been noticing just a slight lessening in the clarity of my vision over the past year, and difficulty in low-light situations.

I am now getting my insurance papers in order (quite a long and daunting task in India!) and seeing if I am eligible to claim insurance for this procedure. But meanwhile, I was pondering on how life might be if, instead, I had been told that I had a progressive condition that would lead to my blindness.


cortical homunculus

shows the amount of information about the world that we derive from our various senses, and parts of the body…the eye, and sight, play a major part in our sensory inputs.

I remember, while doing a training program for teaching blind and low-vision people, having an Orientation and Mobility session where we were blindfolded and asked to reach the main road, from the venue (Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind) where the training program was being held. The main road! Most of us couldn’t even make it down the stairs to the ground floor from our classroom, without falling several times, and suffering deep trauma about our ability to manage, and getting quite disoriented.

Everyone glibly claims that “those who are deprived of sight develop the other senses to a remarkable degree” but surely this cannot be true of every single person who loses sight…so I wonder how the world, and life, would change without the magic of sight. I am able to shrug my very slight discomfort off…but what must it be like for a person who knows that s/he will lose the ability to see?

It makes me grateful, all over again, for the wonderful gift of having a body and mind which are “normal” and do not need constant care. My thoughts go out to those who have to get along without one (or more) of their senses.

The Malkoha, Galibore, 150214

February 15, 2014



has a name derived from the Sinhala word for the Red-faced Malkoha; Mal-Koha meaning flower-cuckoo. They are large birds in the cuckoo family,Cuculidae, all in the genus Phaenicophaeus. (That name derives from the Ancient Greek phoiniko- “crimson”, and phaes “eyes” or “face”.)

In Karnataka, I see two of these birds; the more common is the

BLUE-FACED MALKHOHA , (Phaenicophaeus viridirostris)

This is a shy bird that eats a variety of insects, caterpillars and small vertebrates, and,occasionally, berries too. It is not a powerful flier.

According to the wikipaedia, there are 11 varieties of the Malkoha in the Indian subcontinent.

Here’s the Malkoha in the Neem tree:


The way the bird can normally be seen, skulking in the foliage:


The other Malkoha I’ve seen in Karnataka is the

SIRKEER MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii)

The scientific name of this bird commemorates the French botanist Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.


This bird talks about amongst thickets like the Coucal or Crow-Pheasant, searching for food; insects, lizards, fallen fruits and berries.It runs swiftly through undergrowth looking like mongoose. It is a feeble flier, but ascends trees rapidly, hopping from branch to branch with great agility, like the Coucal.

Malkohas are non-parasitic cuckoos, building their own nests and laying eggs.

Here’s a short video of the Sirkeer that I took at Galibore, in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary:

and here it is, eating berries:


It’s always a delight to spot these birds, and observe their behaviour…but they generally manage to disappear in a short while!

Suchi Govindarajan’s wit

February 14, 2014

Happy Something Day!
July 22, 2013 at 10:34am
This Mother’s Day, Brether’s Day, is all getting too much I say. Only last month, on June 15th, my cousin brother called me at the ungodly hour of 6.00 am.

“Why you didn’t wish me?” he is asking, “Lalli, Paddu, even my North-Indian daughter-in-law Sweety and her parents are calling to wish me.”
“Is it your bird-day? Happy Bird-day! Happy long life to you! May you have many more birds.”
“No, no. It is not my bird-day. It is Father’s Day.”
I thought about this for a few seconds.
“Ay, don’t you know who you have called?” I said, “You are not my father! That’s why I didn’t wish you.”
“No, no.” he said, “I am a father means everyone should wish me. That is the new tradition. Please note for next time. Cut the phone now, I have to call other relatives also.”

After that, I am logging into Facebook, and seeing all my friends, including my friend Hema Malini, putting two-two pictures of their fathers. Then they are posting about what they bought for them. One person is writing, “I bought cotton shirt, that too Pure Lenin shirt, for my father”. One more is posting that he bought Ab-Circle Pro Exerciser for his father from Home Shopping Network because he wants him to be healthy. Then, just for effect, he is adding, “It came with seven free potato peelers which I gifted to my driver”. Within four minutes, he got 60 likes for this status. This, my friends, is the state of the world today. No wonder all this global warming things is happening. All the collective hot air in our brains is getting multiplied by the number of Facebook likes and spreading into atmosphere through wireless.

Now, I have no objection to celebrating family and friends, but why should everyone should do this on the same day? Take this Valentine’s Day. You are having one number girlfriend or boyfriend. If you want to take them for a romantic dinner, you should do it on a really special day. Why to go out when hundred other people in the city are also going out? What romance is there in that? And if that is not enough, every now and then, some politician will declare that it is offensive to Indian culture. “In Indian culture, there is no sex, no this type of love and all.”, they will say, “We are highly moral culture. It is only through prayers to God that one child is born here every two seconds.” And then they will return to their parliament session and watch porn on their mobiles.

The other problem with these foreign days is that everybody will be wanting sep-separate days for themselves. Already, people are asking when is Daughter’s Day, and is it different or same-to-same from Day of the Girl Child? Imagine how big a problem it will become in Indian context? We will end up with Co-Brether’s Day, First-Cousin-Twice-Removed Day, Sister-in-law-on-spouse-side-day, Sister-in-law-on-my-side-day, etc. And there will be major confusion in families where there is intermarriage. In some families in South, your cousin is also your uncle (or sometimes, your father). In that case, whether you should wish them for Cousin’s Day or Uncle’s Day? Unnecessary complications, I tell you.

As I was writing this, I decided to do some research on today, hoping it will be a Nothing Day. But then I found
out that July 21st is National Junk Food Day in the US. And full July is National Ice-cream Month, as proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. (Yes, there is a full proclamation on the internet.)

I am thinking now, this is not a bad idea. Instead of having days for people, we should have days for food items. I think National Junk Food day is little foolish for a country where they are drinking Coca-Cola using bucket and mug, but, we Indians can improve on this. First, I want to propose “National Curd-Rice Day”. It will serve many purposes: it will be a good day off for all the people who have to cook, and youngsters will also get full quota of dairy and carbohydrates. There will be no tension in giving gifts on this day. Simply make or buy curds and distribute to family, friends and annoying neighbours. Or, if you are unable to do that, simply make photo of curd-rice as your profile photo in Facebook. I guarantee that people will put many likes on it.

Udupi Temple Complex, Karnataka, 090214

February 13, 2014

Having participated in the Manipal Bird Day, my friends Prabhakar and Savita


took me to the famous Sri Krishna temple at Udupi.




Krishna Temple

is the one that most devotees go to visit, but the Sri Krishna Matha is one of the

Ashta Mathas

(mattha, or matt, or mutt…are different ways of spelling it), the eight monasteries, and their heads being:

Palimaru – Sri Hrishikesha Tirtha
Adamaru – Sri Narasimha Tirtha
Krishnapura – Sri Janardhana Tirtha
Puttige – Sri Upendra Tirtha
Shirur – Sri Vamana Tirtha
Sodhe – Sri Vishnu Tirtha
Kaniyooru – Sri Raama Tirtha
Pejavara – Sri Adhokshaja Tirtha






The ashta mathas are named after the villages in which they were originally located. Today, the mathas are situated in the temple town of Udupi. The mathas work to propagate the Dvaita philosophy. They also administer the famous Udupi Krishna Temple by way of a formal rotation scheme called


There are many, extensive buildings:


The Kaniyoor Matha


has two colourful dwAra pAlakAs (entrance guards):



Note the ornate pillars, too.


It was surprising to see a mango tree already fruiting in February!


The rathA (temple chariot) is majestic:




The wheels are of wood:


Here are some of views of the beautiful woodwork on the rathA:


(in the centre is a drum, which I think is beaten during processions.)


The ratna rathA (chariot of gems) was locked up, but one could peep in through a small window:


One “rathA” is made of the wood, but is more like a gOpurA (temple tower) as it is not set on wheels.



We went to the very first “udupi hotel”; today, Udupi cuisinee is one of the hallmarks of Karnataka cuisine, represented across the world.



We had masAl dosAs:


After the first assault, this became a “hol(e)y” masal dosa!


There are shops all around the complex, but this young man was selling his wares independently:


This is called an “appa kArai” in Tamizh; oil or ghee is poured into the little depressions, and sweet or savoury batter balls, called “appam”, are fried. My friend Shyama Priya tells me that the appa kArai pictured here are made of shale/claystone, and appams fried in them turn out golden!

My friends took the decision to move to Manipal from Bangalore, when their son Aditya studied there. It’s a move that they are very happy with; they are very involved with the student community in the university town, and are deeply involved with birding, theatre, music, and other activities.

They have a lovely “tree” bookshelf dividing their drawing and dining areas:


In the middle of a busy, happy life, Prabhakar knows how to relax:


Thank you to my dear friends for a very memorable visit! Will post about the Manipal Bird Day soon…

Love is all around

February 11, 2014

Here are the words:

Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around Lyrics
Send “Love Is All Around” Ringtone to your Cell
Songwriters: PRESLEY, REG
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Love is all around me
And so the feeling grows

It’s written on the wind
It’s everywhere I go,
So if you really love me
Come on and let it show

You know I love you, I always will
My mind’s made up by the
Way that I feel
There’s no beginning,
There’ll be no end
’cause on my love you can depend

I see your face before me
As I lay on my bed
I kinda get to thinking
Of all the things you said, oh yes I did
You gave your promise to me and I
Gave mine to you
I need someone beside me
In everything I do,

You know I love you, I always will,
My mind’s made up by the
Way that I feel
There’s no beginning,
There’ll be no end
’cause on my love you can depend

Got to keep it moving

Oh It’s written in the wind
Oh everywhere I go, yeah, oh well
So if you really love me, love me, love me
Come on and let it show
Come on and let it show
Come on and let it
Come on and let it (come and let it show, baby)
Come on, come on, come on let it show baby
Come on and let it show
Come on and let it show, baby
Come on and let it showv