Archive for October, 2017

Life with K2

October 25, 2017

K2, as I call Kalyan Mohan Shaffer, is an original thinker as all children are. Some examples:

K2, while getting ready for playschool: I want to be like the old pwesident of Amewica.
Me: Who’s the old president of Amewi..sorry, America?
K2: Obana (sic).
Father: The present president is older than the old president.
K2: Oh, Donald Twump is older?
….the things four-year-olds know!

K2: “Spell ‘thousand’, Deepamma.”
Me: “T-H-O-U-S-A….”
K2: “No! You are WONG! Thouzend…you have to spell it with ‘z’ and ‘e’. You don’t know ANYTHING!”
Me (humbly): “Yes…I am afraid so…”

K2: “You are WONG. You are saying ‘night’. There is a ‘k’ there, so you should say ‘kanight’ not ‘night’, Deepamma!”
Me: “OK, have it your way…”
K2: “No, it’s not MY way, it’s the WIGHT way!”


Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

Nothing on the net is forever

October 22, 2017

I have lost so much of work done on the net, especially since I didn’t know for a long time that I had to back up all my work, believing that anything on the net would be there, always.

I used to write detailed posts for a site called “Metro Blogs”, where I did a lot of detailed posts, with photographs, documenting Bangalore…they closed down without informing me.

Deccan Herald deleted all my archived articles. No article shows up now when I click on the link.

Photobucket suddenly went from being a free site for 3rd party hosting, to demanding $400 per year. I have 5 accounts, there is no way I can afford that amount. I can’t see any of my photos there now, and have lost years of blogs as well, as a result.

I’d saved all my music on a site called Muziboo. They did warn me they were about to close down, but I did not know how to port all my songs, so lost them, too.

I lost a lot of posts when Citizen Matters first had a server crash, and then when they moved to Word Press. Still struggling with many posts.

So I for one do not believe that anything on the net is there forever! They all pass away, just as I will, some day.

Why I travel by train in India

October 13, 2017

Why I travel by train rather than by flight.
1. I have to reach the station only half an hour before the train, not two or three hours ahead of departure.
2. The railway station is 15 km away as opposed to the airport’s 45 km. (which mandates a journey of its own).
3. I don’t have horrible luggage restrictions which mean I cannot take an extra pair of socks.
4. I don’t have to screen my luggage (well, except in Old Delhi Station).
5.I don’t have to stand in long security check queues.
6. I don’t need to have my sunscreen lotion and (yes, once) safety pins thrown away.
7. I can pack home food and lots of water for the journey.
8. I get a lot of free time on the train.
9. I have enough time to both strike up conversations with fellow passengers as well as commune with myself.
10. The view from the window is as spectucular as the one from the air.
Oh, and
11. I get a senior citizen’s discount!

I can also add to this, that train travel is definitely more “green” than air travel…and that food on the train is mediumly priced junkola as opposed to exorbitantly priced junkola at airports and on flights.

Savandurga, 081017

October 11, 2017

It was just four of us: Padma, Ramaswamy, Srini and I… who decided to go to


on a misty monsoon morning.


Sign in Kannada for our destination:


The mist in the trees…


Which slowly cleared up:


Our activities attracted a lot of attention!


We did see a lot of birds…here are some.

Black Drongos


This Ashy Prinia presented a cartoony view.


Green Bee-eater with dragonfly catch


Laughing Dove


The butterflies were out in force, too!

Yellow Orange-tip



Dark Blue Tiger


Plain Tiger caterpillar


Pointed Ciliate Blue



Common Wanderer


Dark Grass Blue


Common Gull


Here’s Srini, delighted with the way a butterfly trustingly climbed on to his finger (if one wipes one’s perspiration off, they are attracted to the minerals in the fluid)


That was the Pointed Ciliate Blue again.


Some of the insects we saw included this White-tailed Damselfly


and this beautiful Copper Beetle (at least, that’s what I named it!)


Wildflowers were varied and plentiful.


Here’s a lovely Balloon Vine:


Mexican Poppy


Gossypium sp (Mallow)


Waterlilies in a pond


Even seed pods can look stunning




Dabbaguli was one of the places we stopped at


And just outside the town, we spotted a bonus…the Jungle Nightjar!




Padma brought her tasty cutlets, and we feasted on them


Later we also had some local breakfast.


We stopped near two old temples, the Shaivite sAvaNdi veerabhadraswAmy and bhadrakAlamma temple


and the Vaishnavite Lakshmi Narasimha temple


Here’s narasimhA, the man-lion avatAr of Vishnu, with His consort Lakshmi, who is his laptop…


The deities were being taken out in procession, which was a nice bonus.


This life-like dog in a vendor’s stall nearly had me fooled.


Part of this temple seemed lost in dreams of another time….


Some rather risky rock-climbing was going on.


The scenery was stunning:




It was on the rocky outcrop in the centre that we spotted three Egyptian vultures.





We returned home, well pleased with our morning, stopping to say “bye” to this Oriental Garden Lizard which also seemed to be having a swinging time.


Looking forward to the next weekend outing…!

Valley Outing, 021017

October 10, 2017

Gandhiji said India lives in her villages, but today, on the anniversary of his birth, we decided that she also lives in the variety of life forms that she has!

Aishwary, Ajit, Kumar, Padma, Prem, Ramaswamy, Venkatesh and I


tarried a little on our way to the Valley as the mist hung heavy in the air. However, by the time we signed in the register at the gate and walked along the path, the weather had cleared up a little.

Whether or not we sighted any moving creature…the sheer burst of greenery had us mesmerized! Everywhere was a clean, washed green, with diamonds sparkling wherever we looked. Raindrops stood on everything…blades of grass, tiny insects and butterflies, and on the wildflowers too.


I always feel that one of the best times to go for a nature walk is when the rain is about to stop. The insects and butterflies come out to make the most of the sun, and the birds come out to make the most of the insects…a lot of action happens at every level, on the ground, in the air…on a small and large scale. This was what happened this morning.

Spiders lay in wait for unwary flies or butterflies;

Neoscona Spider with her egg-case

dragonflies, visiting us from Africa,


Globe Skimmer aka Wandering Glider….this has migrated from Africa. It takes four generations to complete the migratory cycle.

Pantala flavescens

zipped along in the air, looking for food.

Ichneumon (Parasitoid) Wasp.



Birds breakfasted on whatever they could find, on the trees, under the leaves, and in the air.

An unusual visitor for the Valley was an Oriental Darter flying overhead, which “opened our account.” A greedy Red-whiskered Barbet,


A Black Drongo mobbing a White-cheeked Barbet, several Green Bee-eaters,a dancing Fantail Flycatcher


(why it’s called a Fantail Flycatcher)

a preening Spotted Dove,


with Ashy Prinias singing,


and a Brahminy Skink (the only reptile we saw)


a White-browed Bulbul


made us wait in the area before the first banyan tree for a while; but then we went further down the path. With so much to observe and enjoy, from different kinds of spiders and their webs, dragonflies, plants of all kinds, a couple of Blue-faced Malkohas(giving Prem his first sighting of these skulky birds),

How we usually see Malkohas!


Occasionally,when they can be seen better…


by the time we reached the abandoned house, it was past 9am! Well-rewarded, we stopped to share our snacks, and then went further to the bamboo thicket.

For the first time in many years, I saw the stream of the Valley in good force, with a lot of water gushing over the stones and along the gully in the bamboo thicket.


The song of the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and a brief hello from the White-rumped Shama filled in the audio part of our outing.

By now, the butterflies were out, too, making the most of the weak sunshine to recharge themselves, or mud-puddling along the path.

Zebra Blue


Bush Brown


Common Lime


Pointed Ciliate Blue


Common Pierrot


Common Silverline


Danaid Eggfly female


Common Line Blue on Tephrosia purpurea


The Common Crows were out in full force, and we managed to catch sight of one Double-branded one as well. Emigrant numbers were lower than in the past weeks, but a Dark Blue Tiger appeared too. It was easy to show our friends why a butterly was called the Pale Grass Blue when it had its wings open to the sunlight!


Common Hedge Blues also flashed their bright upper wings for us instead of sitting folded up as usual. Aishwary was a great help in singing the Blues!



Aishwary (left) helping out.

I saw the unusual sight of a Chocolate and a Lemon Pansy executing a pas de deux as they mud puddled together. Some of the butterflies were fresh and colourful specimens, some were tattered, dull survivors of battles with predators.

Other insects:


Ichneumon (parasitoid) wasp. Look at that ovipositor! I wouldn’t like that wasp positing any ova on (or in) me!


Robber Fly


Stag Beetle

We noticed some beautiful plants and wildflowers


Cassia mimoisedes


Pseudarthria viscida


Cyanotis sp.


Indigofera nammularifolia:


(what a long name for a very tiny flower)

We returned to our regular lives, much refreshed and energized by the sights and sound, the touch of different kinds of leaves, the taste of ripe Passion fruit, and the aroma of several flowers. Truly, a treat for the senses!

Beginning my morning chores, reminiscing about the wonderful outing, and already looking forward to what the next weekend may bring!


The eBird list, compiled by Ajit, is


Blue, Common Hedge
Blue, Pale Grass
Blue, Pointed Ciliate
Blue, Zebra
Bush Brown
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-branded
Eggfly, Danaid
Emigrant, Common
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Lime, Common
Orange-tip, Plain
Orange-tip, White
Orange-tip, Yellow
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Silverline, Common
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

I’ve put up the photos of the birds, butterflies, insects, plants, a single reptile and us mammals,