Archive for December, 2016

Just two leaves left on the daily calendar….

December 29, 2016

I look at my daily calendar,
And feel a sense of closure
When I see that there just two leaves left
To tear off, with the passage
Of each day.
It then occurs to me
That it’s only we humans
Who seem to thus divide Time
Into compartments, and mark
Endings and beginnings.
Time flows continuously in Nature:
The days, nights, weeks and seasons
Follow each other at the same pace.
If I can let go of my need
To compartmentalize Time,
I need not think of what’s ending
And what’s beginning.
But, perhaps…
Taking stock of my life
At regular intervals
Is not a bad thing to do.
So yes, I will tear off the two leaves
Left on my daily calendar.
I will hang up a new one,
And watch the progress of the new year:
See it slip past, day by day,
Much as the old one went,
And the ones before that.

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Mist-ery, and creating the look, Hoskote Kere, 251216

December 28, 2016

On Christmas Day, I went to the 4th Sunday outing of BngBirds, which I had organized this month at Hoskote Lake. It was foggy, and I got some mist-erious shots:

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Amongst other things, I noticed this godman getting ready for his day, donning the accoutrements of his trade (sorry, religion seems to be as much a profession these days as any other more-usual one!)

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He had an assistant, who did not seem to need as much adornment as he did.

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I asked them if I could take photographs, and he and his assistant nodded and carried on with their makeup. Everything…the “rudrAksha” beads, the “vibhUti”, the “sindUr”…was being applied carefully.

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I got a strange, half-suspicious look when they realized I was taking more than one photograph! So I stopped and went on my way.

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What are the lives of these people like, and how do they eke a living? I will never know…we live in the same city, but on different planets!

December 24, 2016

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Here’s the stunning-looking

Torch Ginger

which, in the gathering dusk of a winter evening, certainly lived up to its name.

The scientific name of this plant is Etlingera elatior, which, frankly, I am never going to remember, so I’m putting it down here. This is a star attraction on the campus of

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

where I’d gone to conduct a birding/nature “walk-talk” for the faculty and their families.

The showy pink flowers are used in decorative arrangements, but the plant is also used in several cuisines. In North Sumatra (especially in Karo tribe), the flower buds are used for a stewed fish is called Arsik ikan mas (Andaliman/Szechuan pepper-spiced carp). In Bali, people use the white part of the bottom trunk for cooking a chilli sauce called “Sambal Bongkot”, and use the flower buds to make a chilli sauce called “Sambal Kecicang”. In Thailand, it is eaten in a kind of Thai salad preparation.

The plant, says the wiki entry, has the highest antioxidant and antibacterial properties amongst the five species of Etlingera.

Well, I didn’t feel the need to eat this beautiful flower…I was content to photograph it and capture its beauty.

In defence of non-excellence

December 21, 2016

I read something, nearly every day, on the desirable quality of excellence. In whatever I do, I am told, I must strive to excel. I must hone my skills at that particular activity until I am excellent at it.

I want to present a heretical point of view. I don’t propound this point of view as applicable to everyone, or indeed, to anyone but myself. But it’s saved me a lot of tears, so sharing it.

I am interested in quite a lot of things, and have been lucky enough, in my life, to pursue many activities. Let me list them…academics, languages, music, art, writing, quizzing, theatre, photography, nature/wildlife, heritage and history, travel, getting groups of people together, teaching…and so the list goes.

Yes, indeed most of my interests are pursuits to which I’ve devoted a long time. I’ve tried to attain a reasonable proficiency in what I do.

But…I don’t feel the need to excel. And here’s why.

The margin between proficiency and excellence may often not be wide…but it can be very time-consuming indeed. And I have found that when I strive for excellence in one particular activity, I have to neglect several others.

So over the years, I’ve decided that I would rather have enough time to pursue these interests instead of setting some aside for excellence…in any case, I will not be able to achieve excellence in more than one or two fields.

Striving for excellence can also often be frustrating, with the sobering realization, after much time and effort has been spent, that my level is that of proficiency,and excellence will be beyond.

So..what is wrong in my being reasonably proficient at many activities, instead of always wanting to be the world’s best in anything? I will never, indeed, top the world in any field, because there are always going to be others who will be far better than I in that field.

More and more, as I age, I see the comfortable joy of being good at several things and enjoying doing all of them, rather than frustrate myself in trying to excel and still find that I am not much further up the ladder.

And I notice this in many people I see around me…that they are good, very good sometimes, in several things that they do…but they need not be earth-shakingly good at it!

I therefore adhere to my happy state of reasonable proficiency (and fairly high ignorance sometimes!) in my several interests, giving thanks for being able to enjoy all of them. Excellence in one field does not give me as much happiness as being good in several.

What are your thoughts on this?

Memories are made of this…

December 18, 2016

Many years hence, we’ll gently look back
On fading, black-and-white memories…
Of seeing many birds, of the winter sunshine,
Of the drive on roads with many trees….

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Road to Jigani, 181216

Captivity over freedom: Grey Francolins, Jigani Lake, 181216

December 18, 2016

Something strange on the 3rd Sunday outing to Jigani kere today.

We saw a young man with 2 Grey Francolins in a cage, and when I walked up to the group, everyone told me how they voluntarily came back into the cage when the young man let them out. Well, once again, the young man let them out, and this time, both birds flew quite a distance before landing in the field. I couldn’t believe that the Francolins would be captive again…but stood and watched the young man approaching the area where they were,they voluntarily came back into the cage when the young man let them out.

On this video, you can see the first Francolin just inside the cage, and the second walk in to the cage, with no force or persuasion! DoSomething strange on the 3rd Sunday outing today (Sun, 18 Dec 2016) at Jigani kere.

We saw a young man with two Grey Francolins in a cage, and when I walked up to the group, everyone told me ho the birds get so used to captivity that they prefer it to an uncertain freedom?

Here’s the Francolin, outside the cage:

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Here’s the video:

Regarding the outing, the

eBird checklist for Jigani kere is

here

eBird checklist for Hennagara is

here

the FaceBook Album is

here

and the Flickr album is

here

Veena Stores, Malleswaram, Bangalore, 171216

December 17, 2016

There are some eateries in Bangalore which have become quite renowned.

Veena Stores is one such eatery…and I’d never visited in all the years that I have lived in this city I call home.

So today, after our birding outing in

Institute of Wood Science and Technology

and

Sankey Tank

even though Mrs Maneesha Sharma, whose husband is a scientist and who lives on the campus, had given us a delicious breakfast, we decided to go to

Veena Stores .

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I was very glad to find that the eatery has not fallen for its own hype as has happened to many others (MTR and Koshy’s top that list, in my opinion!) The service was as unsmiling as could be, the person at the till (you can see him behind the counter in the photo below)

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would not give change for Sarrah’s Rs.2000 note..we queued up to get our food,

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and it was outstanding because we all ate standing out on the footpath!

But the iddlies were excellent,

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and so was the coffee. I do wish I’d had space for more!

I loved seeing this gentleman doling out chutney from a bucket! (You can also see the queue)

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It was a lovely nippy morning to have a great breakfast, and I returned home very happy at having visited an iconic eatery, and not being disappointed!

“Top” fun…no electricity required…and it’s a lot of fun! Blr, 131216

December 14, 2016

I decided to show K2 how tops work, and I wondered if I still had the old skill. The first two tries did not work, but on the 3rd attempt…

(I had to throw the top and then pick up the camera!)

Here’s K2 demonstrating the best way to enjoy a spinning top.

Here’s the top:

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Obviously, watching it upside down between one’s feet is good:

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Then he comes closer, only to be stopped by my warning not to touch it!

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We had an hour or so of this…I hope, one day, to see him very proficient with the top,too!

Traditional pastimes for children, which are delightful, and require no electricity!