Archive for May, 2016

Victory to thee….Bangalore, 250516

May 25, 2016

I’d just asked them to listen to this stirring anthem of ours, and they’d got the first line, when I left to return home.

This morning, when they set foot on Indian soil, K1 and K2 saluted the nation:

With all the million things she had to do, their mother did this one too…

Anekchidiya, Ragihalli/Jaipurdoddi outing, 220516

May 24, 2016

Mohit Aggarwal has started


as a forum for exchanging birding info.


is my birding report (Ragihalli/Jaipurdoddi, 22 May 2016) on it.

Here we are at the MCS (Mandatory Chai Stop) at the start of the outing.


and here’s a beautiful White-bellied Drongo at nest in the Jaipurdoddi Forest area:


I’ll be writing about the elephants we sighted at Ragihalli sheet rock, in a bit…

Checkered Keelback, and fish breakfast, Lalbagh, 200516

May 23, 2016

At the lake in Lalbagh, one can often find the water snakes called

Checkered Keelbacks

On one occasion, Raji and I saw one, just under the surface of the water:


Having caught a fish too large to eat, it brought the fish out of the water in an attempt to kill the fish.


You can see how large the fish is!


Here it’s trying to take it back to the water, though it did not do so as long as we were there:

Another keelback comes to try its luck, is quickly repulsed and glides off:

They are very often seen in the lake:

Here’s one taking a fish into a nook in the rocks to feast:

Keelbacks’ mdiet is, obviously, the fish in the lake (and frogs too). and it was riveting to watch how these creatures eat and survive. Keelbacks, in their turn, are often prey for the birds of prey like Brahminy or Black Kites; indeed, there are two common birds of prey called the “Short-toed Snake Eagle” and the “Crested Serpent Eagle”, both known for their liking for snakes!


May 17, 2016

Shy as a young bride, the monsoon hints at her presence,but does not actually come right in. I, the lover of Varsha,as enamoured as any infatuated swain, ardently wait. The grey will turn a richer hue, the clouds will boil and scud across the sky, the air will cool magically….the life-giving drops will patter upon the parched earth, and grishma ritu will lose her hold, at least for a while….


Jewellery Repair…craftsmen on Jewellers’ Street, Bangalore, 150516

May 17, 2016

I’ve written earlier, in

this post

about artisans who make a living by repairing jewellery. On Sunday, two friends and I went to Commercial Street, a shopping area in Bangalore. Off this street is another narrow street, called, quite appropriately, Jewellers Street. Both of them had jewellery that needed repair, so we found a small shop.


“Gun Short” is actually a “gunshot”, using a staple gun to pierce the ear quickly and painlessly.


“Manul” piercing could also be done.


My friends showed the shopkeeper the work to be done, and negotiations for the amount to be charged were successfully concluded.


The tools of the trade include these wire brushes,


and to clean the jewellery,

soap nut (called reethA in Hindi and Kannada, and boondi kottai kAi in Tamizh) is used. The “meat” of this nut foams up well, and is used extensively for cleaning silks, as well as for washing hair.


As we were getting our jobs done, another customer walked in. He needed a stone to be replaced in a ring.

You can see how the oxyactelyne torch is delicately turned on to the area to be repaired.


The torch comes with its own little cylinder, too.

The stone is carefully set into the ring.



The customer inspects the repaired ring.


My friends, too, were pleased with the repairs done, and we parted on mutually satisfied terms!

My salute to the many skilled craftsmen who eke out a living, dealing with precious metals and stones.

Transcendental Meditation…and sales techniques

May 17, 2016

I have a friend who completed the course to teach transcendental mediation. He seems extremely impressed by it, and he’s someone whose thinking processes I respect. Therefore, though I had tried learning the meditation many years ago, I decided to take up the offer he made, to teach the first five people who responded to his FaceBook post, for free.

Though I am not usually a person who goes in for freebies, in my present financial situation, I suppose the offer attracted me.

Trying to organize the initiation process (it apparently needs five consecutive days, with the first session lasting nearly 2 hours), it was apparent that he’d stipulated a condition that I had not met…that I should share his post on FB.

So, the initiation would cost me Rs.1500. Not a big amount…but certainly, as an unexpected expense, something to think about. Having accepted the “free” offer, I thought I should not back out of the “paid” one.

I was then told that I would have to buy flowers, fruits and coconuts as part of the initiation ceremony. As someone who’s had less and less liking for rites and rituals, this bothered me, but this, too, I accepted as part of the deal.

But when he explained to me that I’d not “shared” his post on FaceBook, I demurred. Why should endorse a process which I had not yet taken up, and, indeed, had not found appealing all those years ago? Surely he did not praise transcendental meditation before he took it up; why did he expect others to do so?

I analysed my actions further. I had, I decided, fallen for that old sales technique…the “something-for-nothing” pitch. Tempted by the offer of a “free” initiation, I had not paused to reflect that nothing, especially knowledge, should be free. There is always a cost to acquiring anything, and anyone wishing to acquire it should pay that cost. Alas, my friend wanted to defray that cost by asking me to endorse the process in advance, a cost that I had not paid, and was not keen to do, either.

My friend then told me that the actual cost of the initiation would be closer to Rs.2000, and indeed, in the US (I don’t know how he arrived at the figure) it should be $1000. I don’t know why he brought up the dollar figure, as neither of us are in the US.

At this point, I was quite disillusioned, and decided that I would not take up the initiation. I also had a feeling that, whether I paid Rs. 1500 or Rs.2000, I would feel beholden to this friend, and not having found the initiation helpful to my mental processes or peace of mind many years ago, I might be also starting with a slight bias against it.

I blame myself for falling for the “freebie” sales technique, which played to my sense of getting something for nothing. Most marketing and sales techniques, with their offers of various freebies, work on this mentality. Surely, a little rational reflection can make me realize that everything has a cost, and in a “free” offer, this cost is built into the transaction.

I cannot blame my friend. He used a recognized sales technique; and when he found that I had not endorsed him by sharing his post, he told me, up front, what the costs would be, and what the rites would be. It was just to me that neither the technique nor the ritual appealed, and the fact that I would have to pay for it made it even less attractive. I made up my mind and told him that I’d decided not to take up the initiation.

When I would not buy a packet of detergent just because it comes with a “free” bucket (I asked that I buy the detergent without the bucket, and actually got Rs.40 off the price, and saved myself from getting a bucket that I didn’t want!), why should I agree to go for a “free” initiation? It was, I think, my reasoning that since, this time, I would not have to pay, I would approach the meditation process with an open mind, and see if it worked any better for me. When the money aspect kicked in, my resistance to the process also raised its head again.

“Free”…a misleading and much-abused word in all commercial transactions. And no matter whether it’s a detergent or transcendental meditation which is the product, it is a commercial transaction, and I should never go for “free”. A lesson which, I hope, I have learnt for the final time, and well.

Find Nature in a public park

May 12, 2016

One doesn’t have to visit distant forests or wildlife sanctuaries in order to find the beauties of Nature…a visit to the local park will do just as well. Here’s what I did on a recent morning visit to Lalbagh.

First of all, I soaked in the morning sun, and the freshness of the air.


I then walked along the lake, and I found these Black-crowned Night Herons, looking, hopefully, for a fish breakfast.


There were so many flowers still blooming, even though Bangalore has been at its hottest. Here are the Gulmohar blooms, setting the park afire:


Here are Copper Shield Bearers with their lovely yellow blooms:


This is the huge Bauhinia vine near the Glass House:


Tree trunks themselves are works of art!




Even common trees like the Tamarind had beautiful flowers!


Unusually, I found a cone on the huge Auracaria tree, which is about 100 years old!


The birdwatchers were out with the joggers, the walkers and the yoga enthusiasts:


And the birds, of course, were everywhere!

Jungle Myna


Coppersmith Barbet


A Rose-ringed Parakeet dispersing Spathodea (African Tulip) seeds while feeding on them:


Southern Coucal:


Spotted Owlets preening each other:


Some bird of prey had dropped this large scorpion on the path!


I enjoyed the morning sunshine through the green leaves


So…if you’re feelng tired, or in need of some soul-pick-up…just walk around in the nearest park, looking and listening, and you’ll come away with your mind and heart refreshed!

A poem about parents

May 12, 2016

Amitabh Bacchan

is probably the top hero of the Hindi film world. His father,

Harivansh Rai Bacchan

was a noted Hindi poet. Amitabh made his way against all odds in “Bollywood”, the Hindi film industry, and is today one of the most respected as well as the most sought-after actor.

He appears in this ad (so much of our culture seems to be in our ads today!). He enunciates, in his inimitable style a beautiful poem, written by Anurag Agnihotri, group creative director Ogilvy & Mather.

He makes the poem personal by references to his own parents, in real life.

Maa Baap kahin nahi jaate,
Bas aise lagta hai ki wo chale gaye
Per wo jaate nahi,
Kabhi wo aapke hothon se muskurate hain
To kabhi wo aapke chalne ke andaz me jhalak jaate hain
Kabhi wo aapke bete ke naak me dikh jaate hain
Aur nahi to kabhi wo aapke bete ki beti ki aankhon me chhup jate hain
Kabhi wo aapko chaunka detein hain
Aap ki hi zuban se nikli kisi baat per, jo unhone boli thi
Wo un loriyon Kabhi wo aapko chaunka detein hain
Aapkme hain jo aapko yaad bhi nahi
Wo us hichkichahat me hain, jo aap jhoot bolte samay mehsoos kerte hain
Kabhi socha hai ki aap baithe baithe pair kyun hilatein hain
Gullu, Bablu, Pinki jo bhi aapka pyar ka naam hai usme
Kisi tasveer mein
Kisi taareq mein
Aapke andar ki aag mein
Gaur se dekhiye
Ek bahut lambi ladi hai bahut purani
Jiski aap ek kadi hain
Wo aap ke pahle the aur aap ke baad bhi rahenge
Kyunki maa baap kahin jaate nahi
Wo yahin rehte… hain sadiyon ke liye.

Rough translation:

Parents don’t go away…
It only feels as if they’ve gone.
They don’t go…
Sometimes they smile from your lips,
Sometimes they flash by in your gait.
They sometimes are seen in your child’s nose
Or they hide in your grandchild’s eyes.
Sometimes they startle you
With words issuing from your lips…that they had said.
They are those lullabies which you can’t even remember;
They are in the hesitation you feel when uttering a lie.
Have you ever thought why you keep swinging your feet while sitting?
They are in “Gullu”, “Bablu” “Pinki”…whatever your “pet” name is
In some photograph, in some special date..
In your inner fire.
Look carefully:
It’s an old, long story,
In which you are just a chapter.
They were there before you, and will be there after you, too:
Because parents don’t go away.
They stay right here…for ages.

Silence and screams

May 7, 2016

Do not be angry
If you are met
With silence from another.
You may not know what screams
Echo in the silence of that person’s soul.
Screams, not uttered,unheard
But no less a torment
To that other one,
Who cannot, through those screams
Hear your words, or sounds.
I wish we could speak and hear
From soul to soul, heart to heart,
Instead of from mouth to ear, and ear to mouth.

Friends and acquaintances….

May 5, 2016

I’ve been musing on the way we interact with other human beings, all through our lives. Of all the relationships we have, those that involve love (and especially, romantic love) are praised to the skies in all our cultures and literature, and held in high esteem.

But then, do other relationships not have their own value? We certainly cannot love every human being that we meet. Several are people whom we might respect very much, but whom we hold at a distance because of that very respect. When I feel that someone’s maturity level is way beyond mine, I do not interact on an equal level with that person.

Then there are the many people one meets in various situations. Then our lives diverge, and it’s impossible for us to have the level of contact with them that we’d like. However, especially with social media today, we are able to keep in sporadic touch with them. We may not be close to them, but there is the comforting feeling that they are only a phone call or an email away..or a message on a social media site.

There are also the friendships that have waned a little because of lives taking different paths. I have several young friends whose horizons have broadened considerably as they went to educational institutions. Friendship has become more of acquaintanceship, but the basic warmth remains.

Acquaintanceships are, to me, every bit as valuable as friendships. A relationship of romantic love is something one may form (er, unless one is a movie star!) only once or twice in one’s life. One’s closest friends, too, are people that one can count on one’s fingers. But the many acquaintances-verging-on-friends, that one shares interests and time with…these are so necessary to life. Mutual respect and affection, which may not extend to daily sharing of each others’ lives…to me, this is the concrete that forms the framework, in which the bricks of my friendships are set.

To me, therefore, no acquaintance is “mere”. The gentleman, for example, who met me in a park in St.Louis some time ago, and out of the blue, gifted me two murder mysteries, with a birdwatching angle, by a British author, is someone I may never see again, but he’s someone I may not forget for a long time.

Here’s to acquaintances. They may have waned from friendship; they may have been chance encounters; they may ripen into friendship (it’s happened so many times!); one of them may (hopefully) even become the love of one’s life!…but my acquaintances are very dear to me, as dear and precious as those whom I call my dear friends.