Posts Tagged ‘bangalore’

Nature Feature, Feb ’18: A wildlife art exhibition and competition, 280118 to 010218

February 2, 2018

I first met

Prasad Natarajan

in 2014, when we attended a wildlife volunteer training program together. Even then, in the beautiful environs of Kudremukh,Karnataka, I always found him with a sketchpad and a pencil in his hands.

Since then, his artwork, especially on the theme of wildlife, has become quite well known. He is not afraid of using the most difficult and unforgiving of art media, such as Indian ink (lampblack collected in a container and mixed with grease, and applied carefully to paper.) He is now an artist whose work finds homes across the world.

However, Prasad decided to step beyond displaying his own talent; in March 2017, he conceived the idea of mounting an exhibition and competion of wildlife art. In a city which has many wildlife events, including wildlife photography, this w the first such exhibition; indeed, it is probably the first such competition-cum-exhibition in the country. Artists from all over the country, and abroad, sent in their work to be exhibited. The event finally came to fruition and was held at the Venkatappa Art Gallery in Bangalore, from January 28th to February 2nd, 2018….almost a year of hard and unremitting work.

Mounting such an exhibition was not easy. Prasad first reached out to the fraternity of wildlife artists, asking if they would like to show their work. Several artists responded, and after he shortlisted the participants, sent him their pieces, which he stored in his own home, taking the utmost care of them. “The artists sent me their works in all kinds of frames and sizes,” he smiles reminiscently. “Transporting them to the gallery, and back, was one of the major logistics hurdles. We hired a mini truck for all non-glass-framed artwork, and a car for all pieces with frames. Most of the art works were taken back by the artists at the gallery, but the remaining pieces, which are from outside Bangalore, will be couriered back to the artists.”

Did he have anyone to help in all this? Prasad points gratefully to Sree Latha P., an artist whom he met at several art events. She volunteered to help, designing the brochure, and cheerfully working on the many details that cropped up. “Certainly,” he says, “Next year, I cannot increase her burden; I am going to need more volunteers to help me!”

23 artists participated, with Prasad curating the work to be displayed. In a show of solidarity, 18 of them were present at the show opening. Prasad named the event “Artists for Wildlife and Nature, Annual Wildlife Art Show” (AWN for short).

Here are the artists from Bangalore who participated:

artists group, 300118

He invited Hemlata Pradhan to judge the art and prizes were awarded as follows:

Artist of the Year Award Winner- Sweta Dilip Desai
Mammal Category Award Winner- Eric Ramanujam
Landscape Category Award Winner-Prabal Mallick
Avian Category Award Winner-Prahlad Hegde
Student Category Award Winner- Daksesh D Velu

The young students who participated were Daksesh D Velu, Neha Satish, Vidisha choudhary, Kuruganti Naga Priyanka and Gowri L Jadhav.

Here are some of the awardees:

prizewinners, Artists for Wildlife and Nature, 300118, Blr

Supporters included five-year-old artist Nisha!

nisha, 5 yrs, Art for Wildlife and Nature, 300118

The pictures displayed covered a remarkable variety of media used. A few sculptures by Eric Ramanujam were also part of the show.

Jainy Kuriakose, the Chief Guest (who is a superb photographer, and has travelled extensively to document the rarest of birds), gives away the prize to Sweta Desai:

jainy kuriakose and awardee sweta, art and wildlife for nature, 300118

Sweta, and her father, who are from Goa, as well as artists like Prahlad Hegde, wore delighted smiles at the exposure their art was getting, with over 600 people visiting the exhibition over the four days.

Prasad, having put together the show successfully, welcomed the gathering at the opening:

prasad natarajan, art and wildlife for nature, 300118

A large gathering of luminaries from both wildlife and art circles attended the event. Nearly Rs.55,000 was recorded in sales. For artists who are looking for their first commercial break, this was heartening indeed.

However, though the rates charged by Venkatappa Art Gallery are extremely reasonable, Prasad sounds a note of warning about the booking process. ” We officially booked the gallery two months before the show,”, he says. “But what I did not notice was that the dates need to be entered six months prior to the show in the gallery register. This was a pencil entry by the person in charge of the gallery. When I went to make the final arrangements, I found that the last date (2nd Feb) had been erased, and the gallery rented out to someone else.” Since even ink-entries might be erased by a whitener, it might be better to take a photo of the register entry on one’s mobile phone, and keep that as proof of the dates the gallery has been booked for.

To see images of and by the artists, and guests who visited the exhbition, you can see Prasad’s FaceBook album of the event,

HERE

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Walk home, 310118

January 31, 2018

My walk home this morning.

Newspapers flying through the air to land in sometimes wet front driveways. Vegetable vendors offloading from autorickshaws. Sunlight slanting in motes of dust, through the branches of trees. The still-lingering nip in the air that makes me–almost– forget that I am still limping, 9 weeks after the knee surgery.

Steaming, tiny cups of chai and kaapi at various corners. Rangolis that are much smaller than they were last month. A little boy reluctant to get off his mother’s two-wheeler, at his school. Beans more tender than a child’s finger, and a cauliflower with a caterpillar smiling up at me…that makes me decide to buy them (no pesticides!) Smiling at several people whom I don’t know but see regularly.

I arrive home, feeling peaceful and happy. Surely, this is a perfect life.

Location, location, location!

January 11, 2018

Where, oh, where can I say that I saw
In the capital city of Karnataka….
Those rare ornithological specimens that I click.
Usually not in the city, but far!

I worry, you see, that others might spy
And click …and disturb…those beautiful birts.
But I don’t want to keep the location to myself.
So of course,I say, “Bangalore Outskirts.”

Whether it’s the hills, the forests or the valley
Or any of the few remaining lakes…the wirts
That are written under those superb photographs, are always
Those teasing ones: “Bangalore Outskirts”.

Bangalore-for-birders is a shy maiden: Not for her
Those see-through tees or off-the-shoulder shirts.
You may get only a peep at some shy part of a birt
Under those far-reaching “Bangalore Outskirts”.

So I feel happy I’m sharing the info with the world
Of fellow Bangalore-birders till it hurts:
But still I know I will never give away
The actual location of those “Bangalore Outskirts”.

I rest easy in mind; I am the only ethical birder.
All the rest of them are irresponsible disaster-alerts.
Let them try to find the bird I found! I defy them
By telling them I found it in the “Bangalore Outskirts”.

Nature walk for Munchkins Montessori, Puttenahalli kere, 151217

December 15, 2017

Letter to Chanda of Munchkins:

Hi Chanda,

The walk went very well. It was very nice to meet Priti, Mythili, Anna and others.

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List of various beings seen:

Birds:

Cormorant, Great

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Cormorant, Little
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Little
Heron, Pond
Kite, Common
Moorhen, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Tailorbird, Common
Warbler, Greenish

Butterflies:

Bob, Chestnut
Cerulean, Common
Castor, Common
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Lacewing, Common (eggs)
Leopard,Common
Pansy, Lemon

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Lime, Common
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Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass

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Fishes:
Tilapia

Insects:

Bees
Damselflies
Dragonflies
Spiders
Wasps

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Trees and Plants

Bougainvillea
Badminton Ball
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Date Palm
Fig Tree
Honge
Mahogany
Neem
Pride of India
Sampige
Singapore Cherry

I talked about leaf composting, clearing weeds in the lake, the way birds’ beaks have different shapes, water and woodland birds, differences in leaves and tree bark, and about how much effort it takes to maintain a lake.

When I conduct walks I generally take far fewer photos. I have posted the photos on my FB album

here

Please share this link with the others.

Looking forward to future association with all of you…the children were truly delightful!

Cheers, Deepa

How some balloons are useful!

December 2, 2017

Nature Feature on CitMat, Dec ’17

I often come across the

Balloon Vine

(also called “Love in a puff”)

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on my walks through the fields and forests around my city. It’s a very common vine, indeed….and in fact, in New Zealand, it is identified as a prohibited pest plant! However, in Kerala, the flower of this vine  is one of the ten “sacred flowers”

Seed pod and flowers:

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I found that the scientific name for the genus of this vine is “Cardiospermum”. The name intrigued me, until a friend and avid amateur botanist, Ajit Ampalakkad, showed me the seeds inside the “balloons”. Each seed was attached to the seed pod, and when removed, that area showed a beautiful heart-shaped pattern.

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Hence…”cardio”, meaning heart, and “spermum” meaning seed. Voila! A tough-sounding scientific name was explained.

But there were more interesting things about this vine to be discovered; I realized that it has anti-diarrhoeal and homoeopathic properties.

Ripe seed pod:

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Here

is a blog by Ramya Venkateshwaran in April 2015,  describing the various ways the leaves of this vine can be prepared.

I also came across this video, part of a food/travel series called “Suttralam Suvaikkalam”, hosted by

Rakesh Raghunathan

in which the green leaves are ground and added to rice batter to make tasty dosai (not dosas, which is a pan-Indian term…dosai is the Tamil word!)

So…do look around you if you are walking down country or wooded paths…if you collect the leaves of this vine (called “Mundakathan keerai” in Tamil), you will be doing yourself a good turn healthwise, if you include this in your diet!

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!”

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

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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.

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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;

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Neoscona Spider with her egg-case

dragonflies, visiting us from Africa,

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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.

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Ichneumon (Parasitoid) Wasp.

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Ladybird.

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,

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

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(why it’s called a Fantail Flycatcher)

a preening Spotted Dove,

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with Ashy Prinias singing,

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and a Brahminy Skink (the only reptile we saw)

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a White-browed Bulbul

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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!

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Occasionally,when they can be seen better…

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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.

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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.

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Zebra Blue

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Bush Brown

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Common Lime

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Pointed Ciliate Blue

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Common Pierrot

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Common Silverline

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Danaid Eggfly female

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Common Line Blue on Tephrosia purpurea

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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!

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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!

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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:

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

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Robber Fly

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Stag Beetle

We noticed some beautiful plants and wildflowers

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Cassia mimoisedes

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Pseudarthria viscida

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Cyanotis sp.

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Indigofera nammularifolia:

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(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!

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The eBird list, compiled by Ajit, is

here

Butterflies:
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
Pioneer
Psyche
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,
here

A Mushroom..a Fun Guy!

August 29, 2017

Mushrooms or Toadstools

are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source.
I’ve been amazed at the variety of mushrooms that, er, mushroom during the monsoons. Here are some:

A group of mushrooms:

vndna mshrm 231115
Pic: Vandana Murthy

Mushrooms go by different names, such as “bolete”, “puffball”, “stinkhorn”, and “morel”, and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called “agarics”.

Puffball mushroom:

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Saucer mushrooms:

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Their spores, called basidiospores, are produced on the gills and fall in a fine rain of powder from under the caps as a result.

Bracket mushrooms:

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Scalloped edges:

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Many species of mushrooms seemingly appear overnight, growing or expanding rapidly. This phenomenon is the source of several common expressions in the English language including “to mushroom” or “mushrooming” (expanding rapidly in size or scope) and “to pop up like a mushroom” (to appear unexpectedly and quickly). In reality all species of mushrooms take several days to form

The classic “toadstool” shape:

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Mustard-coloured:

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Though mushroom fruiting bodies are short-lived, the underlying network can itself be long-lived and massive. A colony of Armillaria solidipes (formerly known as Armillaria ostoyae) in Malheur National Forest in the United States is estimated to be 2,400 years old, possibly older, and spans an estimated 2,200 acres

Bright orange:

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Greenish:

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Mushrooms are used extensively in cooking, in many cuisines (notably Chinese, Korean, European, and Japanese). Though neither meat nor vegetable, mushrooms are known as the “meat” of the vegetable world.[21]

Most mushrooms sold in supermarkets have been commercially grown on mushroom farms. The most popular of these, Agaricus bisporus, is considered safe for most people to eat because it is grown in controlled, sterilized environments. Several varieties of these are grown commercially, including whites, crimini, and portobello. Other cultivated species available at many grocers include Hericium erinaceus, shiitake, maitake (hen-of-the-woods),

Fan-shaped ones:

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Rosette-shaped:

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People who collect mushrooms for consumption are known as mycophagists, collecting them is known as mushroom hunting, or simply “mushrooming”.

Looking like a human brain!

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This one was more than 6 inches in diameter:

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You can see the human foot for reference:

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More generally, and particularly with gilled mushrooms, separating edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail; there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified, nor one by which all edible mushrooms can be identified. Additionally, even edible mushrooms may produce allergic reactions in susceptible individuals, from a mild asthmatic response to severe anaphylactic shock.

Stunning lilac ones:

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Mushrooms with psychoactive properties have long played a role in various native medicine traditions in cultures all around the world. They have been used as sacrament in rituals aimed at mental and physical healing, and to facilitate visionary states. One such ritual is the velada ceremony. A practitioner of traditional mushroom use is the shaman or curandera.Mushrooms can be used for dyeing wool and other natural fibers, too.

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But of course, the best use of mushrooms, for me, is as food! Here’s one of the eateries around Hessarghatta, which specializes in mushroom (khumbh) dishses:

Hotel Oyster at Hessarghatta:

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Here’s a mushroom dish at the eatery:

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A most interesting and complex organism…that’s why I say that a mushroom is an example of a “fun guy”!

Layers:

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A delicate umbrella:

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The tinies of Turahalli, 120817

August 15, 2017

As my friend Janhvi was going to do a trek to Turahalli State Forest as part of her Corporate Social Initiative (CSI), a few of us decided to join in.

True to the lacklustre response from her company, the usual number of people (two!) turned up….and we promptly hijacked the trek into a nature outing.

Here we are, at brefus before beginning the walk:

Akash, Janhvi, Anand, Subbu, Shoba, Padma and Ramaswamy

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We started our walk from a point not known to regular visitors….and the lesser-travelled path proved to be extremely productive.

Several tiny flowers caught our eye.

Andrographis serpyllifolia:

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Commelina sp:

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Ground Orchid, Habenaria roxburghii:

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The “Argyreia cuneata” name of this flower won’t stick in my mind, but its common name, “Mahalungi” will, for the wrong reasons!

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We were lucky to find this Ceropagia candelarbrum:

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Tiny flowers of the Dodonea viscosa:

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Some of us took a break to look up things:

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Unknown:

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We were also enchanted by some of the six-footers we saw. Sometimes the insects and flowers were together.

Blister beetle (on Clerodendron flowers):

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Ants on Leucas species:

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Sarcostemma acidum:

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Crinium, or the Spider Lily:

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Stachytarpeta, the Devil’s Coach Whip:’

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Such small beauties:

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Gulaganji, or Abrus precatorius:

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The tiny flower of the Bastard Sandal:

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This Puffball mushroom had broken, showing beautifully-speckled spores:

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A tiny fly on the Sarcostemma plant:

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A Common Wanderer female:

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A Bagworm Moth pupa:

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A Hoverfly (that huge part of the head are just its two compound eyes!)

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A Plain Tiger caterpillar:

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A Geometer moth:

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A Peninsular Rock Agama coming into breeding colours:

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We did go over a few rocks:

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Eggs on the Bastard Sandal:

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A Shield or Stink Bug:

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Even the Giant Wood Spider was smaller than usual!

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The insects got tinier:

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Of course, one of the highlights of the morning was sighting not one, but two

Atlas Moths

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Very satisfied with all that we’d seen, we went home…looking forward to the next outing!

The Nano graveyard

July 15, 2017

We went on a nature/birding walk to Kalena Agrahara today, and skirted the lake at IDBI Bank Layout. I was amazed to see several Nano cars parked, and rusting in the monsoon weather.

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There must have been about sixty of the cars, parked all around.

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At a conservative estimate of Rs.2 lakhs per car, that’s Rs. 80 lakhs just wasting away.

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I finally found this banner, saying that these cars apparently belong to this rental initiative:

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The problem in our country seems to be, not lack of good initiatives, but keeping up with them. I have tried to call this number to find out why so many cars are rusting…and could not get through. I will try again on Monday (which should be a working day.)  But meanwhile…would it not have been better to just donate these cars rather than let such an investment waste away in this fashion?

“Oh…this is a new AirBnB effort!” said my friend Rekha-Ram Lakshmanan, from St.Louis, when he saw the cars. “No,” I riposted, “This is CarBnB!”

What a sad state of affairs. Can anyone throw any more light on this failed initiative?