Archive for December, 2019

4th Sunday outing, Muthanallur kere, 221219

December 27, 2019

Nowadays, what with the monsoon not willing to leave us, and the winter morning fog setting in as well, the question always is, “Will we be able to see anything at the beginning of a bird walk?”

Well, enough of us gathered at the pig farm at Muthanallur lake to answer this question…the answer being, “It’s difficult to distinguish colours, but the birds are there…and enjoy the lovely monochrome scenery until the colours are clear!”

The pig farm was probably not the most pleasant of places as a meeting point, noisome as it was. However, as soon as I took the mandatory group photo, we set off along the narrow path, and reached the bund of the lake. The water in the lake is still quite high, but the areas near the bund are completely covered by water hyacinth, making it impossible for any waders to forage there. We saw a few Grey Herons, a Purple Heron, and several Egrets, and in the bare trees, we watched a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings arrive and fly around noisily. This reminded me of the majestic Silk-cotton tree at Lalbagh, the blossoms of which are covered by flocks of these Starlings in season, making it a delightful sight!

The next sighting brought forth exclamation marks from everyone; one of the distant bare branches sat a Booted Eagle, one of the winter visitors which one generally expects to see at this location. A few Drongos were there, too, mobbing other birds as usual..but this time, it was Black Kites which mobbed the Eagle and sent it flying off. However, we kept sighting both the pale and dark morphs of this bird as they wheeled overhead in their search for prey.

We walked as far as we could along the bund, noting the excessive growth of Lantana and Parthenium, which crowded out much of the other plants one would like to see. Sunbirds, however, seemed to enjoy nectaring in the former, and the latter had a lot of Lynx spiders and Orb Weavers.. The “chit-chit-chit” of the Pale-billed Flowerpeckers kept up a rhythm to our walking.

Beyond the majestic Mahua tree and the newly-constructed Adi Parashakti temple, the path became really overgrown after a bit, so we retraced our steps to the temple, where we halted to share our snacks, and then walked down perpendicular to the lake bund. In the open space just beyond the temple, the Booted Eagles gave us an aerobatics show again; and several Large Grey Babblers, a Paddyfield Pipit, and some flitting-in-the-undergrowth Warblers kept us occupied.

The path into the Eucalyptus grove yielded a few more birds, and the swampy area that we ended up in had Purple Swamphens, a White-breasted Waterhen, the White-throated Kingfisher, and Bee-eaters too. We watched each bird’s behaviour for a while, and then turned and retraced our steps.

All this sounds as if we did the walking in a smooth, continuous way…but that is never the way it is with bird watching! Halt, find something that looks interesting, peer it at through binoculars, try and identify the bird, and then observe it…it’s a stop-and-go procedure, with the stops often outnumbering the “go” part!

We noticed several beautiful butterflies on the path, too, and it was pleasant to hear the sound of contented clicking as the macro photographers captured various six- and eight-footers. I was able to point out a few wildflowers like Ipomoea, Indigofera, Trichodesma (such scientific names are, to me, less fascinating than the common names…I much prefer “Coat Button” to “Tridax” and “Krishna Kranti” to Evolvulus!)

All too soon, we wound along the path in the Eucalyptus grove, with the last sighting of a Paradise Flycatcher to keep in our memory (and our memory cards) as a memento of another pleasant morning at Muthanallur kere. As usual, while some of us went home to waiting breakfasts, some adjourned to a group breakfast where we laughed and exchanged notes, and admired excellent shots on the bazooka lenses!

The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/checklist/S62520502

I have put up my photos on an FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10157160364603878&type=3

and the Flickr album is at

IMG_0664

Butterflies:

Apefly
Blue, Lesser Grass
Blue, Pale Gass
Blue, Pea
Blue, Zebra
Cerulean, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Pansy, Yellow
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Cheers, and see you all with “Twenty-Twenty” vision next year!

Bird id…

December 24, 2019

He said, “I regret
To say, I can only identify
This bird called the Egret,
The other thing that’s long and white
That I can sight,”
He said with a sigh,
“Is…a cigarette!”

Chandra, and hope

December 11, 2019

IMG_0199

It seems but a few days ago, O Moon,
That I saw you wasting away to nothing.
Yet here you are, sailing serenely in the clouds,
Smiling at the earth, and at those who see you.
When I am troubled, I should think of you:
After waning, you will wax again to fullness,
Bringing the shining light of eternal hope
To us mortals on Earth.

K2: His age

December 3, 2019

K2: Has it been 20 years since I was born?
Mother: No. How old are you?
K2: 7.
Mother: Then…. How many years since you were born?
K2:… One hundred?

“Mami”…Mrs M V A Sastry, 031119

December 3, 2019

She passed away on 3rd Nov 2019.

mami031219

Photo from Prakash Sastry’s FB page

At first, when Usha called up to say that her mother was sinking, I felt very bad…I was leaving that evening for Madhya Pradesh, and was returning only after a week. Sure enough, when I returned from the forests, to a place where my mobile worked, I got the news that she had passed away.

I went down with viral fever, which recurred; this prevented me from attending the Vaikuntha Samaradhana, too. I felt really miserable. I wanted to hold my friends’ hands at this moment…to take comfort from them as much as to comfort them in their hour of loss.

But now…I feel better about it. I remember Mami, not in the sad state of her health…but as a very strong pillar of her family and circle of friends. Let me reminisce…

At the beginning, of course, Mami was, to me, only “Prakash’s mother” and “Usha’s mother”. It took me many years to realize what an excellent homemaker she was, and what a great “sahadharmini” for Mama. Their flat was always neat and spotless; there was always something that she would offer visitors She herself, was the same. A spick-and-span saree, hair tied neatly back in a plait, with perhaps a few flowers in her hair; face bright with sindhoor…and always, always, always, that welcoming smile on her face. Such unstinting affection. My heart overflows through my eyes, and I hear once again, her calm “Enna Deepa! Eppidi irukkai?”

What a great homemaker she was. She sent Usha for veena lessons, Prakash for violin; she watched with very quiet apride as they both became proficient. (In fact, I still feel that I rarely have heard the kind of “naadam” on the violin that I heard from Prakash.). She was patient and loving to Bhaskar, too, and his being “special”, though it must have been quite tough for her, never saw her complaining or wishing that things were otherwise.

She supported Mama through his career; they never changed their simple living and high thinking. At every gathering, you could see her, well-turned out….and that affectionate smile.

I never thought to ask her about her life before marriage, or how she managed, coming to a very strange city all those years ago. For me, she was like a mother or an aunt…a wise, mature person, who always managed.

When they moved to Bangalore, they had intense difficulty with the flat they had booked, and she silently supported Mama through the years of struggle before they could move into their own apartment. I have never heard her complain. “That’s the way it is!” would be her pragmatic comment.

She was an excellent cook. One of my great favourites was her “gasagasa” payasa…I used to joke about the ganja in it, and she would smile. She was never one to talk a lot, or laugh uproariously…but she always enjoyed the company of others. Did she sing herself? Did she learn any instrument in the time before she got married? Who were her parents? Oh…I never found out all this…I regret that now.

I got to know her more as a person (rather than “Usha-Prakash’s mother” after they moved to Malleswaram. Even then, when arthritis gave her a lot of knee/leg pain, she tried to bear it stoically. She took care of Prakash’s children while the parents went to work.

All through the time that Usha and Prasad went through severe health travails, she kept up her courage and hope. I remember telling Usha just before her major heart surgery at Vellore…”You will be out for the count, and fast asleep! I have come here more to be with your mother!” Which, of course, elicited another laugh from both of them. Usha’s daughters were a source of delight to her, too. She would smilingly share some small anecdote of their mischief.

Bhaskar’s passing away, and the manner of it, was the kind of tragedy that only she could have handled. What it must have cost her in terms of worry and emotional trauma..I can only guess. But she took that blow, too, that Fate dealt her. Dearest Mami, what a load you have carried in your heart…

When Mama died, something inside her seemed to crumble. That cheerful countenance was less so. But the affection never varied. I count myself so very lucky to have had that kind of unstinting affection and love, most of my life, from her.

Mami, I miss you more often than I would have thought possible. You taught me so many values in life, without a single sermon…you were the living example. Simplicity, competence, and wisdom…you were the epitome of these qualities.

So I am glad that I remember you as I last saw you…in full possession of your faculties, offering me some sweet which you had made.

I know that your suffering has ended, and that you are in a much better place now, looking down on us and blessing us. Why, then, are my eyes filling with tears?Why do I feel bereft?

Life has made me wary of rituals, so I am not unhappy that I could not attend the samaradhana or the homa that your children carried out in your memory. But your memory, and the memory of those happy, halcyon days in Calcutta…that is where you will live forever, smiling, your love reaching out to me, making me a carefree child once again.

“pAni poori dOsA”, Solapur, 301119

December 2, 2019

Dosas (dOsA) have become a popular item all over India, and in line with the constant evolution of food, this dish, too, is evolving, with several push carts advertising “100 varieties”!

On a visit to Solapur, we were having chai, when I looked at the shop next door, intriguingly called “Nani’s Dosa”.

IMG_0019

I was watching this young man make a new variety (he told me later, his name is Kumar, and this “pAni poori” dosa was his invention!)

Here he is, making the dosas on the tAvA:

He then adds ginger/chilli paste and a “Madras podi” (that’s what he called it):

IMG_0470

Then a dollop of butter:

IMG_0471

Then cheese is grated on to it:

IMG_0473

The whole thing is thoroughly mixed, with the cheese and butter melting in:

IMG_0474

And the mixture is spread (in an aesthetically pleasing way!) on top of the entire dosa:

IMG_0475

Kumar then cuts the dosas into strips:

IMG_0463

He then rolls up the strips:

IMG_0465

His young helper stands the little rolls on the plate:

IMG_0468

Cream (malAi) is then drizzled on the rolls. Here’s the dosa as it is served:

IMG_0476

And finally, here is the picture of Kumar’s sister in law, and the extended family, all about to enjoy the finished item!

IMG_0477