Archive for August, 2016

The lamp flickers….

August 24, 2016

I get the news
That a life, once vigorous,
Is ebbing.
I do not know how long
The tide will remain
And when the waters, receding,
Will take the light with them.
The skies darken,
But there is no beauty from the stars;
Instead, there is the gloomy
Overcast darkness of heavy clouds overhead.
Helpless, powerless, I remain
Distant: no amount of my love
Can let me experience what that ebbing life
And those who are part of the family
Are going through now. I move…
Like a pendulum, from worried grief,
To acceptance of what must be.
A life of trying to think positively
Does not allow me to let go of hope altogether.
Perhaps, something will work?
Some herb will stem the irrevocable tide
Of galloping illness?
Hope, hopelessness: if I swing so uncontrollably between these two,
I can only imagine what those who are close must be feeling.
On top of everything else lies guilt:
Did I do enough when I could?
Is there anything I can do now…
Which I am not doing?
Why am I healthy, when my friend lies there
With health leaching out?
My mind tosses and turns,
It seeks peace only in meditation.
Let me let go for a while…and try and sort myself
Find inner peace in the midst of the turmoil.
Life and death are, and will be, eternal mysteries.
Let me not try and solve them,
Eroding myself in the effort.

Painted Grasshoppers, Valparai-Bangalore Road, 150816

August 19, 2016

On the road back from Valparai, my friend Manivannan spotted, in a small empty lot near the place where we stopped for our evening chai,


Painted Grasshopper


The wiki entry on this gorgeous-looking creature says that the grasshopper feeds on the poisonous plant Calotropis gigantea.


Certainly, these grasshoppers had stripped all the Calatropis (milkweed) plants nearby.

Striking in appearance….The mature grasshopper has canary yellow and turquoise stripes on its body, green tegmina with yellow spots, and pale red hind wings


The wiki also mentions the interesting fact that these grasshoppers, when squeezed or handled, upon slight pinching of the head or abdomen, the half-grown immature form ejects liquid in a sharp and sudden jet, with a range of two inches or more, from a dorsal opening between the first and second abdominal segments. The discharge is directed towards the pinched area and may be repeated several times. The liquid is pale and milky, slightly viscous and bad-tasting,containing cardiac glycosides that the insect obtains from the plant it feeds upon.

Grasshoppers can eat their way rapidly through vegetation, being a veritable plague of locusts. They are plant-eaters, sometimes becoming serious pests of cereals, vegetables and pasture, especially when they swarm in their millions as locusts and destroy crops over wide areas.


Most grasshoppers are polyphagous, eating vegetation from multiple plant sources,but some are omnivorous and also eat animal tissue and animal faeces. In general their preference is for grasses, including many cereals grown as crops.

Grasshoppers seem extraordinarily sensitive to their environment through many of their sense. On the side of the head are a pair of large compound eyes which give a broad field of vision and can detect movement, shape, colour and distance. There are also three simple eyes (ocelli) on the forehead which can detect light intensity, a pair of antennae containing olfactory (smell) and touch receptors, and mouthparts containing gustatory (taste) receptors. At the front end of the abdomen there is a pair of tympanal organs for sound reception. There are numerous fine hairs covering the whole body that act as mechanoreceptors (touch and wind sensors), and these are most dense on the antennae, the palps (part of the mouth), and on the cerci at the tip of the abdomen.There are special receptors (campaniform sensillae) embedded in the cuticle of the legs that sense pressure, too.


A large grasshopper such as a locust can jump about a metre (twenty body lengths) without using its wings!

What a fascinating creature this is, and it was sheer chance that led me to this sighting…thank you, Mani!

The Common Banded Peacock, Road to Valparai, 130816

August 17, 2016

One of the unexpected sights on our journey to Valparai was that of this

Common Banded Peacock

as we stopped to bird en route.


It was one of the many marvellous things that met my eye on the long (500 km) journey, back to the hairpin bends that elevated us to the heights of Valparai!

Mottled Wood Owl, Lalbagh, 120816

August 12, 2016

Every now and then, the “experts” start fussing that the

Mottled Wood Owls

of Lalbagh have “disappeared”. Immediately, of course the birders and bird photographers of Bangalore are blamed (interestingly never the hundreds of walkers and visitors that go past the place where the owls are.)

So, after a couple of reports that the Owls could not be found, one of them delighted me in its usual copse behind the giant Bauhinia creeper.


The sexes are alike, according to the Wiki entry, so I don’t know if this is a he or a she!

I took a short video as it hopped across, out of sight in the very low light.

The music is “Night Vision” which is what I needed to see the Owl in the low light…and the band playing it is Bird Creek, which, too, I thought appropriate!

Click on the name of the bird to find out more about this beautiful creature that shares one of Bangalore’s lung spaces with us!

Kalyan, 100816

August 10, 2016

Tiny little voice, from a fever-flushed face on the sofa, over and over again: “Two wittle dicky birds, sitting on e vol. One is named Peter, one is named Paul. Fly yeway, Peter, fly yeway, Paul! Come back, Peter, come back, Paul!” Me, my heart melting: “Shall I laptop you?” Tiny voice (with great decision): “NO! GO YEWAY!”

Here they are, K1 and K2 in a moment of filial love and sharing (of cream buns which their grandmother bought)


The Red Velvet Mite, 310716

August 3, 2016

On a visit to Cauvery Wild Life Sanctuary (CWLS) on Sunday, we found a

Red Velvet Mite

crawling along the ground.


Red Velvet Mites or Rain Bugs are arachnids found in soil litter known for their bright red colours but are often mistaken for spiders. They are about 2 cm. across, in size, when fully grown.


They usually have only one breeding cycle per year…so seeing them is not a very common occurrence.

The oil from the red velvet mite Trombidium grandissimum is used in traditional Indian medicine to treat paralysis. Also, due to their alleged ability to increase sexual desire, Trombidium mites are known as “Indian Viagra.”


is the Oatmeal’s take on this fascinating creature and its mating habits!


August 1, 2016

Fun with puns….

1. Laxman to Seeta: Stay offline

3. My watch is stuck between 2 and 2.30. It’s a do or dhai situation.

4. What did Jaya say to Abhishek when they saw Amitabh coming home in a rickshaw, “Rickshey mein toh woh tumhare baap lagte hai”

5. A potato was interrogated by cops. After 3 hours of torture, it gave in and said ‘Main batata hun, main batata hun…’

6. A well executed theft in which there are no finger prints left is a stainless steal.

7. Sita after seeing Hanuman in Lanka for the first time.

“Yahoo! Messenger.”

8. Friends pay restaurant bills on a de-tu-de basis.

9. ‘I laughed yesterday’ in Hindi is ‘Michael Hussey’.

10. They don’t facepalm in Indian villages. They Sarpanch.

11. An old lady asked me the way to the temple, I replied ‘Magistrate.’

12. Rahul Dravid’s wristwatch is technically a wall clock.

13. Arsenal naam hi galat hai. Na se nal hota hai

14. Toll Booths are nothing but Bill Gates.

15. “What’s the way to the cemetery?”

“Go straight and take the last rite.”

16. Vishwanathan Anand gets tense when the waiter in the hotel says ‘Check de doon’…