Archive for March, 2016

Three activities, STL, 250316

March 26, 2016

This morning, I sent The Booda to brush his teeth. I didn’t hear any “chikachikachikachik” so I investigated…and found a Boy In A Bucket.


His mother has been commuting by cycle, and I caught her sailing off:


And here’s KTB, saying that pigs can fly.


Common birds, at home and in Forest Park…. 16 and 180316

March 19, 2016

Having reached St.Louis in response to an appeal from Ye Daughter (the call came on Wednesday, the ticket was bought on Friday, and I was here just past midnight on Wednesday!) I decided to peep out at the birds that were coming to the front yard as I could not sleep, on the 16th; and on the 18th, I had two hours to walk to Forest Park, walk around the Prairie area, and walk back.

So…here are the winged beauties that delighted me at both places!

At home:

Northern Mockingbird



Dark-eyed Junco ,

a winter visitor



House Sparrow

imported from other countries, and regarded as a pest in America:



Common Housefinch (male)

which is a local winter visitor:


the female:



Mourning Dove



Northern Cardinal (male)

iconic bird of St.Louis:


The female, blending right into the colours of the Japanese Maple:



American Robin




European Starling

another import that seems to be overruning local species now:


Four kinds of Woodpeckers that I saw within the space of an hour:


Red-headed Woodpecker

(on which the cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker, is based)



Red-bellied Woodpecker



Downy Woodpecker



Northern Flicker




Song Sparrow



Wood Duck




Common Grackle




Red-winged Blackbird



Red-tailed Hawk



I’ll add more birds as I photograph them (especially that elusive Blue Jay!)

Let me close with another look at, and from, the Cardinal:



March 12, 2016

A tanka written by Arun Anantharaman

She tells him We fight
too often for a couple
on the first floor, he
wonders how far their voices
carry when they reconcile.

made me write this:

The loud words, the angry decibels
Of accusation and recrimination
Are over. The quiet, the peace
Of reconciliation steals over
The scene of the recent quarrel.
Hands are tucked into hands,
Tears shed,
Melting away the rage
(That battled over two minds and hearts)
Into the softness of forgiveness,
The awareness that the whole loud episode
Was not worth the furious energy spent upon it.
Anger is harsh and often seen by all.
Reconciliation is softer, quieter,
Hidden away, known only to those
Who are involved in it:
A sweetness, and the serenity of resurgent love.

Another rare visitor to our country..GKVK, Bangalore, 02,03,04,050316!

March 10, 2016

I had one rare visitor…my friend Abhijit Menon-Sen (AMS) who is building a home in Lweshal, in Uttaranchal, in the lap of the Himalaya.

The day before he arrived, I also got the news of another rare visitor, this time, one that’s usually not found in our country….the

Swinhoe’s or Brown-rumped Minivet


that’s usually found in the Far East…in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was quite a thrill to birders in Bangalore that this bird, along with the not-common

Ashy Minivet ,



had been found in the campus of Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra (GKVK, also known as the University of Agricultural Sciences, or UAS.)


Ramit Singal is also working on the Great Backyard Bird Count at the campus, he called us over, and with my friend Thomas Job, off we went to see the bird. We had to park the cars outside and walk a bit.



We met other interested birdersthere, too, and while AMS contentedly worked his way through the sightings of “plains birds”, which he said were quite exciting for him, we came to the place where the two Minivets had arrived, as part of a flock of Small Minivets. The latter had flown away, leaving the two stars of the day to flit around in the clutter of two bare trees.

These Minivets are predominantly white and black, unlike other Minivets in India, which come in a range of oranges and reds. As they flew about in the clutter of twigs and branches, it was easy to follow them with the binoculars, but not so easy to get a good shot of them!

Since this was a very exciting and rare bird, I proceeded to go on three successive days to the campus, and made sure that several of my friends were able to see this visitor, too.


Here, wearing blue tees, are Ashwin and Bhanu, who are students at GKVK and first sighted and identified the bird.


Other interesting sightings were of the

Indian Pitta


and large numbers of Orioles: The Eurasian Golden Oriole, the Black-naped Oriole and the Black-hooded Oriole, all sitting on the same tree, made a rewarding sight! A Shikra, Blue-faced Malkoha, Black-headed Cuckoo-shrikes…the list of birds was quite a delight in itself!

Here are two pics
of the Black-naped Oriole:



I also enjoyed looking at the various trees and the plants on campus, and found a lot of interesting ones, such as this

Cochlospermum vitifolium


or this tree called the Buddha’s Coconut:



Sterculium urens:


and the tart, fleshy fruit of the Japanese Persimmon:


Of course, we never forgot about food, and had a great breakfast each day at the UAS Canteen, the main one or the “assistant” one:







Let me close with another shot of the Swinhoe’s Minivet:


Organizing outings

March 7, 2016

Many people say, “Let me know when you go somewhere, I’ll join you”. So I call up or message people.

Here are some of responses I get to “Hi, I’m thinking of going to ABC, would you like to join in?”

1. “Yes, I’m in!” and they come along, and we have a great time. Good.

2. “Oh…not sure…let me check and tell you…” which means I have to keep calling back to check. Not good.

3. No response. I don’t know if their phone is busy, if they’ve not checked their mail. Not good.

4. No response, and a message after the outing saying, “I saw it late.” Not good.

5. “Who else is coming?” Decision to be made based on this. Not good.

6. “Yes, I’m in!” and then a last-minute cancellation, some with valid reasons, some..not. Not good.

7. “Yes, I’m in!” “No, I’m out!” “I changed my mind, I’m in!” “Sorry, I’m out” (and so it goes…)…Not good.

8. Several conditions are stated. (Eg “I will come if my maid comes to work the previous day” or “If I can finish my work assignments”)This is good or not good depending on the conditions! (“I’ll join in if I feel like it” is the one I like the least.)

9. “Sorry, I won’t be able to make it.” Clear reasons given. Not good, but I know where I stand.

I agree that this variety will always be there…but it’s tough to organize outings, especially when transportation has to be arranged, too. I hate leaving people out, so yes, I often take extra effort for it.

My thanks to the dear friends who agree, join in, and ensure that the trip is productive and fun.

My thanks, also to the friends who clearly state why they can’t come, and do join in when they can.

To NRI’s in distant lands…

March 1, 2016

NRI Poem
ना इधर के रहे
ना उधर के रहे
बीच में लटकते रहे

ना India को भुला सके
ना videsh को अपना सके
NRI बन के काम चलाते रहे

ना हिन्दी को छोड़ सके
ना अंग्रेजी को पकड़ सके
देसी accent में गोरो को
confuse करते रहे

ना Christmas tree बना सके
ना बच्चो को समझा सके
दिवाली पर Santa बनके तोहफे बाँटते रहे

ना shorts पहन सके
ना सलवार कमीज़ छोड़ सके
Jeans पर कुरता पहेन कर इतराते रहे

ना नाश्ते में Donut खा सके
ना खिचड़ी कढी को भुला सके
Pizza पर मिर्च छिड़ककर
मज़ा लेते रहे

ना गरमी को भुला सके
ना Snow को अपना सके
खिड़की से सूरज को
Beautiful Day कहते रहे

अब आयी बारी
जाने की तो
हाथ में mineral पानी की बोतल लेकर चलते रहे

लेकिन वहां पर………….

ना भेल पूरी खा सके
ना लस्सी पी सके
पेट के दर्द से तड़पते रहे
तिरफला और डाइज़िंन
से काम चलाते रहे

ना मच्छर से भाग सके
ना खुजली को रोक सके
Cream से दर्दों को छुपाते रहे

ना इधर के रहे
ना उधर के रहे
कमबख्त कहीं के ना रहे