Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Birding, now….

April 2, 2020

Gone are the days of birding travel.
The virus has made all my plans unravel.
From planning to see the Myzornis,
My birding world has shrunk to this:
How can I catch the Tailorbird,
Which whips in and out, and is only heard
Upon the terrace that I keep looking at? Why
Should these birds be so wary and shy?
Such a fleeting glimpse of the yellow White-eye…
What makes it so keen to zip and fly?
Why can’t it wait and pose for me
And let me take a photo…or three?
I have forgotten the forests, the deer and leopards
And even the various, colourful birds.
Mountain streams and riverside breeze,
Coastal stickiness and Himalayan freeze.
Life for me is the Barbet in the Bangalore sun.
Sighting a Koel is quite a lot of fun.
It’s the terrace that exerts a recurring pull,
For a sight of the Sunbird or the Bulbul.
Overhead, the v-shaped tails of the Black Kite.
The fluttering Pigeons, blue, grey and white.
I can’t even hear the Crows, of late,
Or see their throats of dull grey slate.
Birding is also memories: I go to my Flickr
And wish my broadband speed was quicker.
I visit, once again, birds all over the world:
Fieldfares, Bluebirds, Toucans, with their feathers unfurled.
I close my laptop and arise from my sofa,
And dream of the day when again I will go far
Looking for my beloved, favourite birds,
Which will then be real, not just photos and words!

grey-headed kingfisher

Grey-headed Kingfisher from Tanzania.

Two Dictators

April 2, 2020

Email to Nanna:

Here are K1 and K2, dictating to me what they want to say about your lemon cake. It has been mentioned at least fifty time in the past two days.

Message begins:

K2: Nana, I love your lemon cake. I want to visit you on Christmas and Easter because in those festivals, your lemon cake is the best (not festivals, times)

K1: Because we have never tasted it other than those times. Your lemon cake is better than potato (which I love very much)

K2: I also want to visit you early because otherwise I will miss Easter.

K1: Nana I love your lemon cake way more than any of the birthday cakes I’ve ever had…Kalyan keep quiet!….I am still dictating….Nanna, your lemon cake is one of my most favourite cakes baked by you.

K2: Nana, I also love your lemon cakes way more than even pizza. Kavya, keep quiet! Nana, your lemon cake is my favourite food.

K1: I think if you are in some kind of cooking competition you would definitely win first prize with your lemon cake….Deepamma, I can see that! Kalyan, please get your hand off my foot!…

K2: If you are in MasterChef Australia, a TV show, you would win with your awesome lemon cake. That is the same thing Kavya said, but with some edits. If I am wrong, please email me.

K1: Anyway, once you do, I’d love to see your first place trophy. I don’t know why we are writing you email about your lemon cake, it’s absolutely weird, when we are in the middle of making brownies and she (Deepamma) called us over here. But I bet the brownies will never be nearly as good as your lemon cake….no, I don’t want to say bye yet!….fine, fine…

K2: Anyway, that was Kavya. But why did she have to add the part that said, it is weird we are emailing you? I don’t know. But if I ever get to eat any food I like, I would pick your lemon cake.

K2 pushes off to the kitchen. K1 : OK, fine, bye.

There are now two dictators in my life!

Love from K1, K2, and Deepa.

In the morning on the first of April

April 1, 2020

Me: Your parents cleared out your Lego pieces yesterday.
K2: WHAT! Rushes off to check.
Me: April Fool!
K2: Ha, ha, ha. But actually….you shouldn’t joke about my Lego. It gave me palpitations.

K1: OW! I stepped on a piece of glass! *limps to the sofa*
Me: Oh, let me have a look.
K1: April Fool!

The terrace and the window..

March 30, 2020

Being housebound is not very tough for me, as we have our essential supplies, and are quite used to doing our house chores without maids. But certainly, the time spent indoors has been very rewarding because of the two features of our apartment, that form my subject title.

The builders of this apartment designed the terrace in a rather unusual way; the access is only through one of the bedrooms, so I cannot go out on to it whenever I wish to. However, one window in the living area has a view of the terrace, and I sit at my laptop, facing the many pots placed there.

I always have noticed the Red-whiskered Bulbul pair that flies around, as well as many Purple-rumped Sunbirds. That, I thought, was the sum total of what I would see through the window.

Of course, you all know that the story has turned out differently! One day, both my son in law (I typed sin in law, which is a very interesting relationship!) and I watered the plants, and apart from the shallow plate kept on the floor of the terrace, a couple of pots had an inch or two of water in them.

The two Bulbuls, which had, so far, disdained using the shallow plate, suddenly decided that the muddy water in the pot was ideal for their hamam! First the adults, and then the juvenile, would come and alight at the edge of the pots, and very carefully look, and hop around, the edges. Then, emboldened, they would sit in the water and splash to their hearts’ content, coming out and sitting on a branch of the small Frangipani tree, “shivering” themselves out and preening, with that fashionable “wet-spiky” look.

I started hearing the tiny cheeping sounds of the Sunbirds too; but they were much more wary in approaching the pots, and would often only take a dainty sip or two before flying off. However, as I started watering the plants both morning and evening, I started seeing them having a quick dip, too. They would perch mostly on a small twig just above the water, and pick their moment to dip in.

Then came a bird with its “upticked” tail…yes, a little Tailorbird, which literally zoomed in and out like one of the bazooka lenses that my friends use! After the rapid bath, though, its call was loud and clear.

The Bulbuls, I found, are bullies! They often sit on the edge of the pots, not allowing the other birds to come near at all.That probably accounts for the lightning-fast visits of the Tailorbird and the Sunbirds!

Meanwhile, the squirrels did not come to have a bath, but did come over to take a little drink from the pots. They whisked themselves into gravity- defying poses on the branches of the Frangipani, and would then scurry off.

I must say, there are no House Sparrows, and the Barbets, Koels and Pigeons seem not to want to bathe in the water at all; so I thought to myself that three was the total of birds that were bathing and drinking. However, I corrected myself when an Oriental White-eye delighted me by coming in for a very, very brief visit! Here I sit, now, with my eyes glued to the terrace in the fading light of a warm evening, hoping to see the yellow beauty again.

The household chores call, as do two active young grandchildren who want to play a card game with me; but still I sit on, looking through the window, into the world of the thirsty squirrels and the bathing avians.

I took a quick video of one of the Bulbuls bathing. It was through the glass of the window, and the anti-mosquito wire mesh too, so it’s a little hazy:

More about K2

March 26, 2020

Father: If I give you $5, how many quarters will you give me?
K2: Don’t ask me such hard questions.
Me: Let’s take it step by step. If I give you one dollar, how many quarters will I get from you?
K2: Zero. Thank you for the dollar. I am not going to give you any quarters back!

I broke into O+ laughter…

March 25, 2020

K2: My blood group is O+.
Me: That means it’s Hopeless (O+).
K2: (angrily) DON’T MAKE FUN OF MY BLOOD GROUP!

Birding at home, 250320

March 25, 2020

It is the first day of the total 21-day lockdown announced by our Prime Minister. I decided to move to my daughter’s home as that makes more logistical sense.

I have watered all the plants in the pots on the terrace, not knowing that my son in law has already done so. This results in a pool of water in some of the pots (though the Coleus plants still look droopy and deprived).

I come inside and sit, typing random stuff on my laptop; the terrace is visible through the grille of the window, which also has an anti-mosquito mesh.

To my delight, one of the pair of Red-whiskered Bulbuls that are resident in the building, decides on a long, luxurious bath in one of the pots! After a few delighted moments, I quickly get my camera, and the following video.

I wasn’t able to get the lady sunbird that was feeding off the Hibiscus earlier; I am glad I’ve had more success this time, though it was through the grille and the net…I can call it the Internet Bulbul!

The bird flies off, and I return to my work, smiling happily to myself.

The Leaf-cutter Bee making a nest….

March 24, 2020

We were at the Kanakapura Police Station,

IMG_6338

trying to make a complaint to the traffic police (why and how is another long story!) and while Jayashree and I were waiting for Deepak to finish his work, we noticed a small insect flying into the open tube of the steel chair.

IMG_6335

I quickly realized that it was a

Leaf-cutter Bee

and that it was trying to make a nest in this space!

IMG_6331

I tried to take photos of it, and got just a couple of shots at odd intervals.You can see a fragment of a leaf being brought in every time.

IMG_6329

It was very tough to click because of the speed at which the insect went in…and since it came out even faster (it didn’t have the burden of the leaf!) I missed it several times. Then, I decided to take a video and got the insect leaving the hole.

You can see the bee zooming out:

Leaf-cutter Bees are mostly solitary, and build their nest cells in various cavities (the hollow arm of the chair appeared very suitable to this insect!) by cutting leaves or collecting resin and bringing them inside. They are, for the most part, above-ground nesters and more commonly attracted to artificial nests…and this one certainly was!

There is afossil record for megachilid from a Middle Eocene dicotyledonous leaf which shows definite semicircular cutouts along its margin, implying that leaf-cutting bees existed at that time.Amazing!

When Deepak came back after finishing his work, he might have felt that we were getting tired or bored…but thanks to the Leaf-cutter Bee, we never knew where the time went! Another opportunity for observing Nature at work in the most unexpected of places.

A message for Women’s Day

March 10, 2020

If we must celebrate a day for women, let us celebrate freedom from stereotypes, from expectations, from idolisation, from sacrifice.

Stop congratulating women for being the secret behind a successful man. Start saluting them for being successful.
Stop saying the mother is sacred for all the sacrifices she makes. Try to reduce those sacrifices!

Stop telling women they are beautiful.Try telling them it’s not important to be beautiful!

Stop praising her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister. Celebrate her as an individual, a person, independent of relationships.

Stop justifying her necessity to multi task. Give her a chance not to!

Stop these constructs which are aimed at making her strive for an impossible balance. Let her be inadequate. And happy!

Stop making her look at herself through a conveniently male viewpoint. Let her be imperfect, whimsical, irresponsible, boorish, lazy, fierce, opinionated, loud, flabby, ungroomed, adventurous, unpredictable, unprepared, impractical.”

Happy Women’s Day!!

A salute to Dr Suresh

March 9, 2020

I would like to salute someone who’s been a part of my life for 40 years (yes!) now. When my daughter was 6 months old (June or July of 1979) I was visiting Bangalore, and she had dreadful, projectile diarrhoea. My friend Shantha told me about Dr H Suresh, and I went to his clinic at Jayanagar 9th Block, and he cured her. After many years, when I moved into south Bangalore, my friend Mythreyi told me about a doctor’s clinic, and lo and behold, it was Dr Suresh!

He has been in the same spot all these years. Not for him the overarching ambition of huge growth; he is, and always has been, a family physician. He does not medicate unnecessarily, or advocate unnecessary tests or surgery. When his years of experience tell him that the matter is serious, he steps back and suggests that the patient goes to a specialist This has happened to me a few times when I have taken friends to him.

Content and happy with the living he makes, he takes off on his birthday and his wedding anniversary (his wife, Manjula, is a physician too, running a clinic at their residence). He attended my father in law, being one of the very few doctors, even then (around 2002 to 2004) who would make house visits.

He has treated us, and after they moved to Bangalore, our daughter and son in law, and our grandchildren too…a family physician in the true sense of the word, because the children are the fourth generation that he is treating. Roopa has been assisting him for quite a few years now, and I trust her as much as I trust the good doctor!

His clinic is named after his daughter, and is another reason why it rang a bell when I visited after a long gap…it’s called Deepa Clinic! A rare gem in today’s world of medicine. Blr, 070320.

IMG_6133