Archive for November, 2015

Landmarks…how not to give directions

November 27, 2015

Circa 2006:

Me to my friend: “We can meet at Shoppers’ Stop, opposite my home.”

That branch of Shoppers’ Stop had just been opened, and when my friend told the auto driver, “Shoppers’Stop”, he was taken to Magrath Road about 11 km from my home, and we had a fine time with him saying, “But I am at Shoppers’ Stop!” and me saying, “But I can’t see you!”

I had to clarify that “my” Shoppers’ Stop was on Bannerghatta Road.

Last week (November 2015):

Me to my friend: “We can meet at Shoppers’ Stop, opposite my home.” I added, very carefully, “On Bannerghatta Road.”

So my friend located Shoppers’ Stop on Bannerghatta Road…and went to the newly-opened outlet (which I didn’t know about) on Bannerghatta Road at Meenakshi Mall, about 6 km from my home, and (here’s the refrain)

we had a fine time with him saying, “But I am at Shoppers’ Stop!” and me saying, “But I can’t see you!”

MOTS. I should not use Shoppers’ Stop as a landmark, any more.

Three poyums by KTB, 251115

November 26, 2015

Here are three poyums (well, I’m sure that’s the way she’d spell it!) by KTB on a single sheet of paper,with her trademark spelling. The erth, the “gordon” (garden), and bees…

kavya poyum 251115//

this is probably the first time that she’s consciously made a rhyme!

I love her thought that if we were smaller than a bee, we could fly on its back!

kArthikai deepam, mAri amman and savAri amman temple, HAL 2nd Stage, Blr, 251115

November 26, 2015

It was by sheer chance that I happened upon the sight. I’d gone to see “Court” at Max Mueller Bhavan, and the house was not only full, there was no way to enter! So my friends and I went to “Murugan Idly Shop”, and then walked back…and along a lane leading from the road on which we were walking, we saw a blaze of light.




Though we were initially hesitant to walk in with our footwear, we found others doing so, and then went right up to the temple.








We found the ground alight with lamps.






Nearby was a newly constructed kalyani, IMG_1554
which was also set about with lamps.




The two goddesses of the temple, Mari Amman and Savari Amman had their Utsava Moorthis out in replesendent procession:




I took a quick shot of one of the idols inside, through the thronging crowds.


Prasada was being distributed. As we watched, the event wound down, with the lamps slowly flickering out. We resumed our walk towards our bus stop, facing the beautiful full moon.



Muthanallur Lake: Morning of the Booted Eagle, 221115

November 25, 2015

Email to the bngbirds egroup:



A few of us took advantage of a slight break in the rain to go to Muthanallur kere.

MCS(Mandatory Chai Stop)at Purple Point:

At the lake:

L to R: Arun, Anvitha, Kumar, Megha, Thomas, Raghavendra, Arpita, Vignesh, Raghunath



Though we had quite a variety of sightings, such as this Common Sandpiper,


we did missing seeing any but the usual Spot-billed Ducks on the water. Watching the cormorants fishing,


and the kites, too, I felt it was heartening to see so many Brahminy Kites with juveniles,soaring along the waters and overhead.

Chestnut-tailed Starlings


treated us to a small show of murmuration, and settled down in several Eucalyptus trees. Drongos swooped and hawked insects in the air. As we walked along the banks of the lake, several woodland birds also delighted us, and some warbler visitors
had us arguing about their names.

But more than anything else,it was Booted Eagle day! We saw them at different points on the lake, in both dark and pale morphs, sitting on various tall trees. I have not, before this, seen Booted Eagles upon a perch; and for several of the group, it was a lifer.

Can you see the Booted Eagle?


Here it is, at half-zoom


Closer still:


Was Arpita stumped for bird names? I don’t think so!


A group of Black-headed Ibis flew overhead, making a Japanese painting in the sky.


Thanks to the drizzling rain, there were hardly any butterflies; I noticed only the Common Four-ring, and some Grass Yellows. I was glad my “buttering” friends had not come along!

However, we did watch several Giant Wood Spiders


at their webs, and it was especially riveting to see one GWS lady gently pick a eucalyptus leaf that had become entangled in her web, and drop it to the ground.


Good Housekeeping at its best! Lynx spiders with their egg-sacs,


oothecas of other insects,


grasshoppers, small snails,


Jewel bugs,


and tiny frogs,


kept us occupied as we walked. Raindrops lay on the webs in diamond festoons,


and jewelled up the very blades of grass.

A skein of Bar-headed Geese, sighted overhead, as we were returning to the car, made the day for all of us, especially for Vignesh, for whom it was a lifer.

It’s all very well to talk poetically about the bejewelled blades of grass, but the rain had also turned the paths to slush, and I joked that this was Coorg, because we were in “muddy kere”. We squished along as best we could, and were caked with mud up to at least our
knees in a while. The mud had a way of catching at one’s shoe, and the next step would involve pulling out of the mud and squelching down one’s foot again! At one point, the sole of Megha’s shoe came right off, and as she carried it back,


I teased her about keeping body and sole together.

Mushrooms of many kinds…er…mushroomed everywhere, and we wondered if we could take some home to our kitchens…but our ignorance was too much to take a risk!







I enjoyed seeing the majestic girth of the Mahua tree that Ajit Ampalakkad showed me. I’m looking forward to seeing it flower in season!

There was no sign of the Peregrine falcon, but a Tawny Eagle, quickly sighted at the beginning, a Shikra, a Honey Buzzard, the Kites, and of course, the Booted Eagles, kept our raptor quotient at a satisfactory level.

On the way back, we saw a calf that had just been born, wet and unsteady on its feet,seeking its first meal, while the mother licked it lovingly. A delightful sight!


We looked at the fields of millet


and raagi


as we left.

I’ve put up my SMS on my FB album


and the eBird list, put up by Anvitha Rao, is


WE finished by about 9.30am but it was too late to join the
Kaikondrahalli Kere outing and so dispersed after having enjoyed a
pleasant morning with good friends.

Climbing Nightshade:



The Gay Pride Parade, Bangalore, 221115

November 23, 2015

For many years, I’ve missed this event in Bangalore as I was always out of town. But this time, when my friend


told me he was going, I said I’d go, too. Before that, we went to the

Bangalore Harmonica and Reed Instrument Festival, 2015

where where I was in time to see my friend Ashok Sengupta playing, both solo and with others. We then walked to the Puttannachetty Town Hall, and waited a fairly long time for the parade to arrive (it was the end point.) When they did, it was a buzz of activity, with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite and queer people taking part.


To illustrate that sexual orientation covers not just “gay” and “straight” but a wide range, the LGBTQ community has now adopted the rainbow of colours as their signature, and they displayed the rainbow colours in many innovative ways.

There was speech-making, dancing, slogan-chanting, and a lot of dressing up, very colourful and attractive to a photographer!

The increasing noise level due to the evening traffic at this venue made sure that no more than twenty people ever heard what anyone said or sang! In the light drizzle and the gloomy evening, the air was still charged with energy and excitement.

There were strong protests against Section 377, which, recently brought to law, makes homosexuality a criminal offence in India. I consider this an extremely retrogressive step, and the LGBTQ community wholeheartedly shares this opinion.

I am not able to understand why we seem to be so intolerant of people who seem “different from us.” Surely things like religion and one’s sex life are intensely personal things, and not the business of the whole world?

I think that by marginalizing people whose orientation is “different”, we are making life much tougher for them, and probably increasing promiscuity as well, because they cannot openly have “different” relationships but must resort to secrecy and deviousness in order to try and meet people of a similar orientation. How can this be good for society? Also, it stokes anger and resentment in their minds, and that will definitely have a negative impact, too, if there is an “us-vs-them” attitude in our minds.

However, a “side-thought” that occurred to me, very strongly, was the politicalization of colours in our society these days. Pink is for cancer victims and survivors; black is for protests and war veterans; green has Islamic signficance is has religious overtones; yellow-and-red are the colours of Karnataka, making a political statement…and now, the LGBTQ community has taken over the rainbow.

The colour aspect came into sharp and poignant focus at the venue. The LGBTQ parade was to conclude outside the hall; inside, Swami Parthasarathi and his daughter Sunanda were giving a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita. Their acolytes were all dressed in pristine cream-coloured clothes. So the colours of the rainbow,


and the white that these colours all combine to make


…represented by different sections of society, coming together with a message that didn’t seem too different to me…i found the irony iresistible.


Though I enjoyed the dancing,


singing and the general energy,


it did make me feel sad to reflect that a community finds itself in a minority that is oppressed enough to have to make such statements in public about its existence and its right, having its members dress in outre garments and downright fancy dress, to make a public statement.


One positive note was the efficient way in which the police shepherded the parade down to the venue and kept a benign eye on the event until it ended, and also the peaceful way in which the community made a stand without any form of angry protest. Their banners only asked why they could not marry (rather ungrammatically!)


for the repeal of Section 377, and proclaimed,

“All we need is love.”


Is that not what ALL of us need?


Prathap’s blogpost, a factual account, is


Dr. Roosevelt Thomas, a well-known author and consultant in the field of Diversity, made the point that while the majority feels good about saying that they are “tolerant,” the minority may not feel good about being “tolerated.”

I stumbled on a well-made moovie about a relationship that turns out to be “not the usual”, and how honesty breaks it:

I wonder why we are so intolerant of those ‘who are not like us”.

The photos I took are on my FB album,


(a few more than I’ve posted here.)

The process of choosing songs for a concert

November 20, 2015


This post will make no sense at all to those who do not know Carnatic music.

I am giving a concert after a long break, in Chennai, on Dec 30. And as usual before any concert, or even starting to practise…comes the tough job of selecting the kritis!

There are so many parameters to follow:

1. The concert should start with a varnam, or, if a short concert (as this one is going to be) must start with an song on Ganesha.

So..should I think of my daughter and sing her favourite, “vAthApi gaNapathim”? Or should I sing a shorter one? Most songs on Ganesha are set in the rAgam hamsadhwani. (I do know a few exceptions, but since hamsadhwani is a nice bright rAgam and engages the audience immediately, that’s the best rAgam to start with.) Well, I decide on the song composed by G N Balasubramanian, “vara vallabha ramaNA”.

2. Now I also want a song which would be a guru-vandanA (salutation to my music teacher). I must be careful to change to a rAgam where the notes are different from hamsadhwani. If possible, change the thALam, also, from the 4-beat Adi thALam. I choose “nee chitthamu” in dhanyAsi, composed by Saint Thyagraja, set to the 7-beat misra chApu.

3. Then comes a song where I can do some rAga AlApanai, and add some swarams at the end (no time for two kritis with niraval and then swaram). Change the rhythm, and leave out the panchamam in the rAgam this time? I choose “sogasugA mridanga thALamu” by Thyagaraja again (vottudu!) in the 6-beat rUpaka thAlam, in the rAgam sriranjani. It’s a lovely song about the qualities of ease, fidelity to pitch, and other attributes that make for good music. I choose a somewhat difficult place to take up the swaram…5 aksharams after the samam, at “mridanga thALamu”. Needs a LOT of practice.

4.Time for a quick, bright kriti alone. Let me think of my father (Viswanath) and sing “viswanAthEna samrakshithOham” in the rAgam sAmantham (not a common rAgam, good!) in Adi thAlam again.

5. Main rAgam/song time! I must change to a prathi madhyamam rAgam now…all the songs so far had rAgams with shuddha madhyamam (hamsadhwani had no madhyamam). Also, the majesty and stateliness of “rettai kiLai choukkam” (slow, double-count Adi thALam) is needed. I settle on simhEndra madhyamam, and “rAma rAma guNa seemA”,by Swathi Thirunal. rAga AlApanai will be more elaborate, there will be niraval, and a longer run of kalpanAswaram. This will be a “arai eduppu” (two aksharAs after the beat.) The mridangam player will play his thani Avarthanam (solo rendition) after this.

6. The “thukkdAs” (smaller songs) now. Change of beat and rAgam…so I choose “bhOgeendra shAyinam” (again, Swathi Tirunal,but I can’t add this parameter as well right now!) in the rAgam kadana kuthoohalam, in the 5-beat khanta chApu.

7. I choose a personal favourite in the haunting, slightly melancholy rAgam sindhu bhairavi, a song surrendering oneself to shivA…”chidambaranai” (I have never been able to find out who composed it) in Adi thALam. A lot of fast-paced notes in the sangathis. Practice!

8. My cousin Gurumurthi, who was a musical prodigy, and my mother, produced many wonderful compositions, working in an incredibly united musical partnership. Guru’s compositions, especially the rhythmical pieces called thillAnAs, are full of complicated mathematical arrangments. I choose one in the rAgam naLinkAnthi,in Adi thALam. The Tamizh lyrics, composed by my mother, fit seamlessly into the thillAna and are full of swarAksharams. MORE intense practice required to render the mathematical expressions perfectly.

9. No more time left (yes,I have to calculate the time that each rendition wil take, adding in the time that the violinist will play!)…but a few minutes to sing one of my own compositions, “vAyu puthram” in the rAgam madhyamAvathi (no gandhAram, so change of notes). MadhaymAvathi is usually the last rAgam rendered in a concert, as it is supposed to be a ‘dOsha nivritthi’ or expiation of mistakes committed during the peformance. Also, it is a tradition to end with a song on Hanuman, and so the choice is good. Also, the tempo is again changed…this is the 7-beat misra chApu.

Ah. Working through all the combinations of change o rAgam, thALam, and composer, wanting to include a note of reverence to my guru and my parents…with all these parameters, I manage to put together a list of kritis which will also end the concert in time, and yet leave the audience satisfied.

And…all this is the easy part. To practise relentlessly and perform with as few mistakes as possible (and those, only ones that are apparent to me!) ..not to let stage fright creep up and paralyse me, when I know that there will be many very knowledgeable people in the audience…I try not to tense up. It’s when I lose myself in my music and stop worrying about the audience (or anything else) that my music will rise above the merely good to the very good.

To sing, solo, for 2.5 hours is not easy. It never gets any easier,except perhaps for professional peformers who sing regularly.

Wish me luck…I hope I don’t fall flat on my face…!

How KTB is shaping up…

November 19, 2015

Anjana Mohan
47 mins · St. Louis, Missouri, MO, United States ·

Letter from Kavya’s teacher:

Good Evening,

I just wanted to share a few wonderful things that Kavya has shared with me and/or our Icy Bear Family. A couple of weeks ago, Kavya & another student decided to take it upon themselves to help another student in our class who is often disruptive & struggles with understanding/applying social skills. They both have reached out to him at recess, in classroom, and during daily routines because they genuinely care about him & want to help.

We have also talked about the little voice inside our heads, “our conscience.” Kavya described to our entire class her understanding of doing the right thing in regards to “the good wolf & bad wolf” inside our heads. It was such a great analogy & I now use this to help our Icy Bears listen to their brains/hearts & do the right thing.

Lastly, today we began discussing what Thanksgiving is, how it began, and what it means. While discussing Thanksgiving & what we are thankful for, the topic of “Black Friday Shopping” came up. Kavya then said, “my mom always says why would we go shopping for things we don’t need when we are already thankful for what we have.” This made me smile & warmed my heart tremendously! It was such a great point to bring up!

Kavya is very blessed to have such well-rounded & caring parents/family! You guys rock!
smile emoticon

Mrs. S. R.
Wilkinson ECC
First Grade Teacher

Ramnagara: Religion and birds, 141115

November 17, 2015

It was a cloudy, misty day, but enough friends were enthusiastic about a birding/nature trip.


We went to Kanva Reservoir, actually, and saw some bright colours in spite of the gloom:



But the weather being cloudy and dull, I decided to take the group to Ramadevara Betta Vulture Sanctuary, and we were privileged to see a Long-billed Vulture mother on her nest!


After visiting Kanva, I decided that Prayut and Aishwary, who have moved to Bangalore recently from Jabalpur, should also try for the Yellow-throated Bulbul, so we went back and climbed the hill. Sure enough, they got their bird!


and a bonus:


I took these snaps of the Ramadevara temple at the summit of the hillock:





Just when one’s knees complained, there was this heartening message!


And across the slopes, on the cactus, sat this beautiful Blue Rock Thrush.


Birds…the natural beauty of the place…these are MY religion, and my temple is the entire area I surveyed. But different strokes for different folks! Some need the stripes that mark a temple:


And some, like me, are happy to look around, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy themselves…here we all are, doing just that!


Religion, colour and divisions…

November 11, 2015

नफरतों का असर देखो, जानवरों का बटवारा हो गया।
गाय हिन्दू हो गई ,और बकरा मुसलमान हो गया।
मंदिरों में हिन्दू देखे, मस्जिदों में मुसलमान;
शाम को जब मैखाने गए , तब जाकर दीखे इनसान।
यह पेड़, यह शाखे भी परेशान हो जाएं ,
अगर परिंदे भी हिन्दू और मुसलमान हो जाएं।
सूखे मेवे भी यह देख कर हैरान हो गए ,
न जाने कब नारियल हिन्दू, और खजूर मुसलमान हो गए।
जिस तरह से धर्म के नाम पे हम रंगों को भी बाँटते जा रहे हैं,
कि लाल हिन्दू, और हरा मुसलमान हो गया,
तो वह दिन दूर नहीं, जब सारी हरी सब्ज़ियाँ मुसलामानों की हो जायेगी।
अब यस समझ नहीं आ रहा कि तरबूज़ किस के हिस्सों में आएगा?
यह तो बेचारा ऊपर से मुस्लमान और अंदर से हिन्दू ही रह जाएगा !

See the effect of hatred..even animals have been divided.
The cow became Hindu, and the goat Muslim.
We see Hindus in temples, Muslims in mosques..
Only in the evening, in the drinking houses, we see men.
Even trees and their boughs would be troubled
If kites too were to become Hindu or Muslim.
Even dried delicacies have been divided:
Copra is Hindu, and dates are Muslim.
The way we are also dividing up colours in the name of religion,
Saying, red is Hindu, and green is Muslim,
The day is not far, when all green vegetables will belong to the Muslims.
However…to which camp will the watermelon belong?
The poor fruit will continue to be Muslim on the outside, and Hindu on the inside.

Thank you, Vishwa Prakash, for sending this along!

Can you spot the Kingfisher? Muthanallur kere, 081115

November 11, 2015

On the 8th of November, Ajit, Kumar, Kumuda and I went to Muthanallur lake (beyond Kaikondrahalli lake). They’d visited earlier this year and the lake was bone-dry,and filled with trash. Well, trash was still around, but the lake had plenty of water…and plenty oflife!

Can you spot the Small Blue Kingfisher in this picture?


I assure you, it’s there. I got this at half-zoom on my camera, from the very same spot:


Then I zoomed in a little more, to get this feathered jewel:


I love the superzoom on my camera that lets me capture things without going near them, or disturbing them! What wonderful technology!