Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sunrise, 260315

March 27, 2015

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Bowed down with worries, some people go home
As the sun sinks to rest.
Cares fill some minds and hearts,
As they look at the sun in the west.

But when the sun rises,
The slate is clean
A fresh shining disc, in golden hues,
In the mental spaces between

Yesterday’s woes, or troubles
And what may be, today.
Hope..the shining sun through the clouds:
That’s what we live with, each day.

A FaceBook post by Gopakumar Menon: Weight and See

March 25, 2015

‘Six kgs excess,’ said the lady at the check-in
With a charming, engaging smile
‘Would you please pay by cash, rupees
As the card will take quite awhile?’

I put on my favourite hunted look
As the mouse would before (what else?) a cat
‘Could you please waive this once away
And have a delighted customer after that?’

She shook her head as she wrote the receipt
(The smile was still in its intended place)
I paid up a ransom that emptied my wallet
(And the blood off my cherubic face).

As I walked ashen, the next man checked in
His bag was light; no excess to declare
Built like a hulk, all beef, beer and bulk
HE was excess baggage; it just wasn’t fair!

I thought for a moment of raising the point
That a chap and his bag be together weighed
A limit be placed that charges his flab
And rewards a guy who slim has stayed……(that’s me!)

But I walked on, poorer, a rebel with a cause
Cursing myself as a weakling dimwit.
When I reflect on what held me back
I guess it was the smile that did it.

Nandi Hills trip, 200315

March 20, 2015

Email to bngbirds egroup:

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When Kiran Kashyap suddenly called and asked if I would like to join
in for a trip to Nandi Hills, I must admit, I was very ambivalent. I’d
just had cataract surgery in both eyes a week ago, and was still in
the process of putting in various eye-drops (sorry, in today’s world,
i-drops!) every couple of hours…should I go or not? In the event, I
decided that if I couldn’t see much, I could at least enjoy the beauty
of Nandi Hills…so off I went with Kiran, Guru, and Manju.

And wow….I was so glad I did! Beginning the Indian Blue Robin at the
“leaking pipe” site near Tipu’s summer lodge (I hope they never repair
it!) , and going on to the spectrum of Thrushes and Robins in the
nursery area, it was just a rain of birds. The Asian Paradise
Flycatchers, too, were there in white and rufous glory, ribboning
their tails to and fro. I got one changing from rufous to white!

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Babblers, both Puff-throated and Tawny-bellied, walked in and around
the flowerpots, tantalizing us. The Nilgiri Wood Pigeons

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and the Pied Thrushes,

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which we normally look for near the Akashganga, all appeared
as if on cue, for us. It was only the knowledge that the masala dosa
counter at the top of the hill closes by 9.30 that made us tear
ourselves away.

The Auricaria cookii tree near Nehru Nilaya yielded the Red-breasted
Flycatcher, and Olive-backed Pipits in the lawns nearby. We sighted
many Ashy Drongos, but only a single Black Drongo.(No, don’t ask me if
it was married!)

Apart from the birds, the trees were wonderful, too. The beautiful figs of Ficus drupacea,
Ficus drupacea

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the different greens of the leaves;

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the Jacaranda and the Tabebuia aurea flowers carpeting the ground with purple and
gold…

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even the fresh copper-sheen leaves on the mango

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and the peepal trees were such a visual treat.

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The nursery area was soothing to the eye,

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with the golden morning sunlight falling on so many flowers. We
saw the loving care that the staff lavish on the gardens in the Nehru
Nilaya.

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It was lovely to have the place practically to ourselves,
for a change; the weekday, and the fact that we are in the middle of
the ‘exam season’, contributed to the general peace and quiet. I would
not like to visit Nandi Hills a couple of weekends from now, I must
admit!

I must repeat my query…have there been any sightings of Owls or
Owlets from Nandi Hills? I’ve never seen one…yet.

I am sorry…I couldn’t clearly see the butterflies, but I did see a
few flitting around; I’ve included the very basic list.

Amphibians:

Pond Terrapin

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Birds:

Babbler, Puff-throated
Babbler, Tawny-bellied
Bulbul, Red-whiskered

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Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Blackbird, Indian

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Bushchat, Pied
Crow, House
Crow, Long-billed
Dove, Spotted
Dove, Laughing
Drongo, Ashy

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Drongo, Black
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Flycatcher, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher, Red-breasted
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Flycatcher, Verditer
Flycatcher, White-browed Fantail
Honey-buzzard, Oriental
Iora. Common
Kite, Black
Kite, Black-winged
Kite, Brahminy
Koel, Asian
Leafbird, Jerdon’s
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Pigeon, Nilgiri Wood
Pipit, Olive-backed
Prinia, Ashy
Robin, Indian Blue

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Robin, Oriental Magpie
Shikra
Sparrow, House
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swift, Asian Palm
Tailorbird, Common
Thrush, Blue Rock

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(female)

Thrush, Blue-capped Rock

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Thrush, Orange-headed Ground
Thrush, Pied
Wagtail, Grey
Warbler, Booted
Warbler, Greenish Leaf
Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf
Warbler, Un id
White-eye, Oriental

The list is on eBird at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22432347

Butterflies:

Crow, Common
Eggfly, Danaid
Emigrant, Mottled
Jezebel, Common
Pierrot, Common
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Dark Blue

Mammals:

Macaque, Bonnet

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Squirrel, Three-striped Palm

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Concern vs. Intrusion

March 18, 2015

There seems to be some particular joy in assuming that I will break the medical “rules”after my cataract surgery. and go out/ cook/walk a tightrope….generally, do something before I am cleared for it, and then making judgmental remarks about it, without finding out whether I am allowed to do it or not. (Or, if I say the doctor has cleared it, the reply is, “Doctors will say such things, but you must be careful.”)

My eyes are very precious to me and I will not do anything that will jeopardize my vision. The first umpteen times I told myself the remarks are out of concern..but that theory doesn’t seem to hold water any more. Please, I don’t want to be told how “brave”, “foolish”, “bold”, “headstrong” and “restless” I am. I’ve been housebound for a week because I don’t want to use public transport, though I’ve been cleared for going out. Please take the effort to find out facts before passing judgement.

Just TOO many of these unsolicited remarks…are slowly getting under my skin.

Cataract surgery, 12 and 130315

March 17, 2015

Had the cataract removed from one eye (with laser surgery) on Thursday, 12th March, 2015.. The other eye, Friday, 13th March, 2015. Reasonably painless procedure. My vision was manageable, but was already giving enough fuzziness through my spectacles to make me want to go to the eye surgeon.

Everyone told me how simple, and painless, the procedure is, these days. Did this stop my worrying about it? Of course. I was very, very calm, cool and collected. On Tuesday night, I even had a pleasant dream. In the dream, the eye doctor unmasked herself in the operation theatre…. she was actually a demon, and proceed to poke out my eyes with a hot trident. I calmly woke up and calmly did not sleep the rest of the night.At some point, my daughter called me up, asking, “Would you like to see your grandchildren while you are still able to see them?”, thus completing my serenity quotient.

I was quite suprised at the counsellor that the ophthalmologist sent me to. This lady, with a bright smile, breezily announced, “Madam, cataract operation, no risk at all! Absolutely no risk!” I told her that no surgery came without a certain risk, however negligible it might be…but Ms. Optimist (not Optometrist) stuck to her cheerful guns! I had to tell the doctor that he needed to counsel the counsellor not to make such claims.

Many friends offered to be with me on both days of the surgery, but the fear of being a wimp (even though I was one) kept me from accepting. So one friend dropped me at the clinic, and spent a little time with me before she went home to accept a conference call. During this time, I must say, one of the nurses plied us with a lot of attention, even giving us a calendar printed by the clinic, and stood quite close until my friend gave her a hundred-rupee note. She was going off-duty at 9am and would not be around when I came out of the surgery, but I hope there was chicken biryani in her home that evening, and that she thought of us!

Coming in at 7.30am, my friend and I realized that the surgeon would not come in before 9am, so we went next door to the Adigas eatery and had some brefus and excellent filter coffee…and then came back. The clinic was airy, clean and comfortable.

I was soon given the latest Surgery Fashion clothing to wear. A robe that was, luckily, not open at the back ( and hallelujah, I was not asked to remove my clothes) was draped tastefully around me, touching me at odd points, dropping off me at others, and tied at the back. A cap, exactly like the ones worn by members of catering services at weddings, who served the food on our plantain leaves, was set atop my short-cropped hair luxuriant tresses. I now had made the transition from DM to Patient no. XYZ.

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(Pic: Nayantara Chakravarthi)

My friend left after wishing me luck, and I opened the day’s newspapers. The usual…one murder, one scandal, one rape, one protest…the only thing worth going through were the comics and the puzzles!

At about 9.20am, after I had done the day’s newspaper crossword and got all the details about the local starlets’ love lives from the tabloids, the nurse and I walked into the operating theatre (thankfully, I was not wheeled in. I don’t think I could handle the drama of that.) I lay down on the table. The eye that would not be “done” was covered, as was the rest of my face. My hands and feet were bound to the table, and this certainly did disturb me, but I didn’t want to let my craven cowardice slight misgivings show. A clip of some sort was attached to one of the fingers of my right-hand. A band-aid kind of strip was laid flush with my open left eye. When a sheet was pulled up to my chin, I already felt like a dead body. Only the bright lights shining into my one open eye, from above, kept my soul from rising free in the manner described by so many alienists.

It was at this nadir of the morning that the surgeon walked in and bade me a chirpy “hello”, to which I mumbled a response. She was very kind; she kept describing, throughout the 20 or 25-minute procedure, what she was doing.

When the cataract was emulsified, there was a feeling of pressure, and there was some unearthly musical whine that the laser machine made while the incisions were being cut into the cornea. But as the surgeon had given me some anaesthetic drops which actually made that bright light above me (a microscope was also being used) go dim and grey, I didn’t mind anything. I kept taking deep breaths, and consciously relaxing, only to start again when I realized I was holding my breath once more! The procedure was finished, expertly, and a thick padded bandage applied to the eye.

I got off the table with just a little feeling of soreness in the “done” eye, and walked back to my room, close by. For some reason (you will not say, fear) my throat was dry, so I drank a lot of water, closed the other eye, too, and meditated (no, not medicated.)

After a couple of hours, the nurse came and removed my bandage, and my friend Chandan, who had come to take me home, got a list of ruinously expensive medicines. I was asked to get home and use my eyes normally.

The list of eye-drops (sorry, in today’s world I must call the i-drops, and I certainly did have an i-Pad over the left eye!) also came with a Karunanidhi Karuppu KannAdi. This was a kind of oversized, wrapround pair of dark glasses which instantly made me look like a canvassing politician. I was supposed to wear this when outdoors, to prevent dust from getting into my eyes. Anyone who can completely exclude dust in a city like ours deserves a medal, and these glasses were more for my psychological satifaction. I must say, looking like a cheap politician did not add to that! The first day, I thought I’d use my own shades, but realized that something that also covered the side of my face would be better.

The next day, after surgery, I had to buy the same medicines again (“For the right eye, Madam, keep them separate!”) but there were no dark glasses! Why? “But madam you got one pair yesterday!”. “No, I gave back those glasses, because I had my own dark glasses…but now I think I prefer the wraparound type, and anyway, why did you leave out the glasses without asking me?” I asked the nurse. I got the glasses, nice cheap China-made ones, which further enhanced my already bright-eyed beauty. I refuse to take selfie of myself with those things on!

I had specifically asked if the “normal usage” of my eyes included laptop work, and yes, it did. So of course, I logged into FB when I reached home…and got it in the neck from friends about eyestrain and sleeping and spoiling my eyes. However…the best stricture I got so far was about NOT getting my eye done on Friday the 13th. Sorry, but the procedure went as well as on Thursday the 12th. Not ONE person asked me what the doctor had said I could and could not do…they all knew better, and gave me all sorts of instructions (not advice, which I can take or not,but instructions, which I *must* follow.)

No one seemed to think that I was under the eye doctor’s care, and that I would implicitly and explicitly follow do’s and don’ts…that these were my eyes, and I would not take any risk with them! I had a follow-up on Saturday the 14th (I drove myself to the clinic and back.) I’ll have another on Friday the 27th. I have the feeling that I will be putting drops into my eyes for the rest of my natural life, having become habituated to it over four weeks!

The best of the responses to my eye surgery:
1. Have they fitted a Hubble telescope?
2. Is laughing a risk now? (It always has been…remember that sometimes laughter leaves one in stitches, just like surgery does!)
3. Did the doc fit a 600mm prime or a 100-400 zoom lens> (whether I should also get a teleconverter has not been specified.)
4. You are a person of vision. (LOVED this one…Lakshman-Rekha from St.Louis!)
5. Why are you having one surgery done on Friday the 13th? Don’t do it. It will not go well. (It did go well.)
6. Best that you keep sleeping until you get your glasses (this is going to be after 4 or 5 weeks, so I am supposed to do a Kumbhakarna or Rip Van Winkle)

Well, I realized that all the commandments were out of concern and affection, so I just listened…and did not react too much. Putting in drops of one sort or another pretty much kept me housebound, and I napped when I felt like it. It felt very good to slothify for three days!

The surgeon who carried out the procedure on my right eye the next differed in minor procedural details from the lady who did the day before. So it was quite interesting to realize that even in a simple procedure like this, each surgeon has a slightly different approach. I asked Friday’s surgeon to describe what he was doing; it would, I said, give me information and allay my anxiety. Because of this, I got quite an interesting talk on the history of cataract surgery!

The insurance was taken care of rather easily and being a typical insurance plan, covered only 80% of the surgery costs, and a small percentage of the medications I had to buy. It was not only my cataracts but a lot of my bank balance as well, that were extracted!

I came home on Friday with two white-hazed eyes instead of one, and when there was some clearing of that haze, I found that I had pretty good vision out of both eyes…and that the colours were now so vivid that I had not realized how the cataracts must have dimmed my sight over the past 2 years or so! However, I had to instill various drops in my eye,for the next few weeks, and one of the i-drops dilates the pupil. So every time I begin to have clear vision, I know it’s time to fuzz it up again!

Earlier, I used to wear glasses (for myopia) all the time, and remove them for close-up work. Now, it’s the reverse, and getting into the habit is still not a very successful effort! I keep trying to take my glasses off when I lie down (I’ve worn glasses for myopia from age 12); when I can’t find my glasses, I feel I should take off my contact lenses (after all, I wore them from age 16 to 54!)…then I feel foolish when I realize that I’d better not touch my eyes!

The funniest part is sitting at home because every hour on the hour (oh, it’s time now!) I must put in 1, 2, 3, or 4 different types of drops, one or more of them. I call it having dropsy…or drops-eye!

OK…time for the next set of drops in both eyes…truly I am singing “Eyes, eyes, baby, these days!

While we debate in our ivory towers…

March 13, 2015

Was “India’s Daughter” a good documentary? Did it deal with a matter that is sub judice? Was at least one of the convicted rapists paid for his interview? Should the defence lawyers be banned?

The debate ranges on. But meanwhile, from the news …click on these links…

Tamil Nadu police officer bashes up his daughter in public (Deccan Herald, Friday, 13th March 2015.)

click here

Abused six-year-old girl battles trauma (Hindu, Friday, 13th March, 2015)

click here

A missing girl’s body turns up in Mysore…burnt: (Times of India, 12th March, 2015)

click here

Salman Khan’s case still dragging on, while he acts in movies. The incident where several slumdwellers were run over, occurred on Sept 28, 2002. (www.ndtv.com, 12th March, 2015)

click here

What’s happening in the place I’m going to in a while isn’t good, either; Ferguson, Missouri, continues to fester:

click here

I came back from my second eye surgery, and friends have been telling me not to read. Perhaps they are right, and I should give up reading..altogether. We are not going to change, are we?

Cataract surgery, 110315

March 12, 2015

Had the cataract removed from one eye (with laser surgery) today. The other eye, tomorrow. Reasonably painless procedure. Typing is automatic on my laptop keyboard…but reading is still problematic, about 7 hours after surgery, as the eye that was done still seems to have a not-very clean plastic sheet over it. The other eye was already giving enough fuzziness through my spectacles to make me want to go to the eye surgeon.

Was made to come to the clinic at 7.45 am, and realized that the surgeon would arrive only at 9am. Was issued a cap and a robe that made me look the latest thing in the wedding-caterer-servers’ fashion magazine.

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(Pic: Nayantara Chakravarthi)

The funniest part is sitting at home because every hour on the hour (oh, it’s time now!) I must put in 1, 2, 3, or 4 different types of drops.

Been listening to a lot of good music :D

Been getting a lot of advice. People never want to ask how I am feeling. They call only to give advice, most of which is….wrong.

More later. I want to share that yes, I did have some tension about “what if it goes wrong just for ME?” ….the right eye will be done tomorrow. hides the crossed fingers

The doctors at the Prabha Eye Clinic are very good. I can’t say the same of a counsellor who actually told me twice, “Madam, surgery absolutely no risk.” I’m all for having an optimist (not an optometrist) as a counsellor…but this was a bit much!

Also, the insurance, which, like a loincloth, will barely cover my nakedness and will still make me pay large sums….

Will write a consolidated post later. Cataract removal…who knew there could be so much humour in it?

The birds of Bandhavgarh

March 10, 2015

Though it poured for 3 days of our stay in Bandhavgarh, we still saw a lot of interesting things on our safaris, and within the grounds of Nature Heritage Resort where we stayed. I’m just going to put up the birds that I was able to click (my friends Karthik, Manjula, Nitin and Sharmila, who were all carrying DSLRs, definitely got more, and better shots!). Let me start with the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, a flaunty beauty which was a lifer for me.

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Our list was 125 species of birds, from the 1st to the 4th of March…here’s my list on eBird

click here

Go on to the next friend’s post if birds bore you, because here they come…

Booted Eagle, near Chennai, from the train, 270215:

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010315 (pouring rain and low light!):

Himalyan Griffon (I don’t know if this is now called a Himalyan Vulture or a Griffon Vulture):

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Long-billed Vulture (the kind that we are now seeing only in single digits (often, 1 or 2) in Ramnagara, Karnataka)

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On the 3rd, this one cranes (sorry for the bad pun) its neck for a better view:

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Woolly-necked Stork:

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Alexandrine Parakeet:

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Indian Roller:

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Painted Spurfowl:

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Red-headed Vulture:

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Indian Hoopoe:

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Chestnut-shouldered Petronia (you can see the chestnut-coloured shoulder!)

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The peacock (yes, it’s the male…and they were all over the place!)

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020315:

Red Junglefowl, from which all our domestic chickens are descended:

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Crested Tree-swift:

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Jungle Owlet:

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Yellow-footed Green Pigeons:

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Preening:

White-eyed Buzzard:

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Black-rumped Flameback:

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On 030315, acting in typical Thrush-fashion, turning over the leaf clutter in the resort:

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With a White-eyed Babbler:

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The Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher:

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Plum-headed Parakeet:

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On 030315:

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Wire-tailed Swallow:

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Crested Serpent Eagle:

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030315:

Small Minivet:

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Brown-headed Barbet:

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Lesser Adjutant:

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This Adjutant looks as if it’s comtemplating doing something very rude to the Chital :D

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But no, it doesn’t!

Coppersmith Barbet:

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Green Bee-eater, eating bee:

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Yellow-wattled Lapwing:

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Black-hooded Oriole:

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Indian Roller:

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Jungle Owlet at sunset:

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Oriental Magpie Robin:

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Changeable Hawk Eagle:

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Common Kingfisher:

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the Greater Coucal:

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Another silhouette of the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo:

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Let me close with a pic of We Who Watch (and me, who Eternally Drinks Chai):

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L to R, Manjula, Sharmila-in-the-jeep, YT, Nitin and Karthik. All looking very happy and satisfied! I hope you enjoyed the birds of Bandhavgarh as much as we did.

Violence against women…

March 10, 2015

If one thought that violence against women was something very recent…here’s a song which justificaties drunken violence against women: it says, “Ithu thAn iyarkkaiyin niyathi” (This is the law of Nature). Vannakkili was a 1959 film. The song makes me cringe

Here

is the storyline, and pretty grim it is, too.

More information about the movie,

here

As long as people feel violence in any form is justified….we are not going to eliminate it.

Waning…

March 7, 2015

Why do relationships die?
I’m sure I can’t tell you why.
The sweetness, the joy…
They turn sour, by and by.
One person seems to stop
Loving another; a sigh
Of sadness, a teardrop…
A wariness, a fear…
Happiness in each other
Turns to an attempt to smother
The fact that it feels
No longer the wonder
That it was before.
Before things go under…
Perhaps there’s time to shore
Up the weak spot, and retrieve
The magic…but life’s not fair
Or kind, or just.
Is there hope in the air..
Or is it just dust?


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