Posts Tagged ‘citizen matters’

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:

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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 Atlas Moth, 120817

August 15, 2017

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We have a huge variety of moths in the world, but one of the most spectacular is the

The [Atlas Moth](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attacus_atlas), which is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, and is common across the Malay archipelago.

The Atlas moth was held to be the largest moth in the world, before the

[Hercules Moth](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coscinocera_hercules) relegated it to second place. However, it still remains one of the most spectacular moths one can see!

We were very lucky to see two of these moths on a nature walk at Turahalli State Forest, on 120817.

These Saturniid moths have wingspans reaching over 25 cm (9.8 in). Females are appreciably larger and heavier than the males.

Atlas moths are said to be named after either the Titan of Greek mythology, or their map-like wing patterns. In Hong Kong the Cantonese name translates as “snake’s head moth”, referring to the apical extension of the forewing, which bears a more than passing resemblance to a snake’s head.

Here are the beautiful, feathery antennae of the moth:

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In India, Atlas moths are cultivated for their silk in a non-commercial capacity; unlike that produced by the related silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), Atlas moth silk is secreted as broken strands. This brown, wool-like silk is thought to have greater durability and is known as “fagara”.

Females are sexually passive, releasing powerful pheromones which males detect and home in on with the help of chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae. Males may thus be attracted from several kilometres downwind! The females do not wander far from their chrysalis.

After mating, the female lays about spherical eggs,

I was equally struck by the beauty of the moth’s thorax.

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Another amazing fact…the adult moth has no mouth parts, and cannot eat! Adult Atlas m only live for a few days…finding mates and reproducing within that time. Dusty-green caterpillars hatch after about two weeks. Theyfeed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus and other evergreen trees.The caterpillars are adorned with fleshy spines along their backs which are covered in a waxy white substance. After reaching a length of about 115 millimetres (4.5 in), the caterpillars pupate within a papery cocoon interwoven into desiccated leaves. The adult moths emerge after about four weeks.

Here’s the moth whith its wings folded:

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We were extremely lucky to see not one, but two moths in the wild…it’s an experience that will stay with us for a lifetime!

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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.) ┬áBut 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?

lagOri, Kaikondrahalli kere, 080117

January 8, 2017

We often lament about our children using tablets and X-boxes all the time…but I find, often that even our urban children are quite in touch with the traditional games of childhood.

Today, when I went to Kaikondrahalli lake, I found this pile of flat stones, with a young girl piling them up carefully.

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I knew that a game of

Lagori

was in progress, and waited a bit while the girls surrounded the pile of stones and began their game.

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The game involves a ball and a pile of flat stones, generally played between two teams in a large outdoor area. A member of one team (the seekers) throws a tennis ball at a pile of stones to knock them over. The seekers then try to restore the pile of stones while the opposing team (the hitters) throws the ball at them. If the ball touches a seeker, she is out and her team continues without her. A seeker can always safeguard herself by touching an opposite team member before the ball hits her.

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There are some other rules that may be added in different regions of the country.

So here, to please all of us, is the scene of children (the girls were dressed to the nines for an event at their school, which is adjacent to the kere) playing a traditional game which does not need electricity, and which is one that their parents and grandparents have probably played!

The weight of words…

November 20, 2014

A few days ago, Amith Kumar introduced me to a rather unusual bookshop in Jayanagar…”Book Bonanza”.

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Tipu Pasha, Book Bonanza. Pic: Amith Kumar

I have always been a lover of second-hand books, Somehow, these, to me, have the lustre of the previous owner, in addition to their contents, and so are greater treasures than usual.

When I walked into the bookstore, I was quite thrilled to see books stacked up along all the walls, and piled up along bookshelves, too.

All sorts of books, fiction and non-fiction, best-sellers as well as arcane treatises, jostled each other, and in front of it all sat the young man who owns the store, and has been running it since 2006 (and at the present location for the past two years.)

A passion for books made Tipu Pasha give up his job with a multi-national company, and set up shop with an investment of Rs. 2 lakhs, which he used to import books from Europe and the US. He bought 40 tons of books, which might have retailed for 22-25 lakhs!

He still continues this practice, and so the bookstore deals only in English titles.

The unusual part of the bookstore is that 95% of the books are sold by weight. The other 5%, are the brand new books, which are still sold at about 50% discount over their retail prices.

“The response has been quite good from the beginning,” says a smiling Tipu, nodding to several people who, starting as customers and browsers, have now become friends. “I have quite a group of regulars, and the people who come in to browse and buy are a very heterogeneous lot– scientists looking for reference books, artists, writers, ad designers, children, parents…”

What he enjoys is the personal interaction with all these people, as well as being able to help them with their requirements as he knows exactly what books are where.

Apart from this, he says, several lending libraries also come here to source books. “I am also called in as a consultant by many schools to design and stock their libraries,” he adds.

How has he, as the owner of a bookstore, felt the impact of e-books and online reading? “There has been an impact, no doubt,” he remarks, “But people still seem to like the actual feel of a book in their hands, and I have no complaints!” Many people, he says, often also come and exchange books at the store…a facility not offered anywhere else.

If you would like to go to a store where you can browse around, find some books that you like, and buy them by weight, go to

Book Bonanza,
532, 32nd Cross, 11th Main Road,
Jayanagar 4th Block
Bangalore 560011.
(Landmarks: KFC and Metro Footwear are right opposite the shop, which is close to the Jayanagar 4th Block signal.)

Proprietor: Tipu Pasha, Mobile no: 97413 25687
Email: bookbonanza86@gmail.com

here

is my post in Citizen Matters.

Bade Miyaan Deewane: Play Review, 080614

June 9, 2014

here

is my review of the Hindustani play that I went to watch at Ranga Shankara yesterday.

Another excellent review is

here

The story of the play, as given by Ranga Shankara:

The play is essentially about a rich and eccentric octogenarian, who is used to a luxurious and flamboyant lifestyle. He is swept off his feet by a beautiful young girl in his neighborhood, who also happens to be the love interest of his son.

Meer Sahab falls for his neighbour’s young daughter. His son, Tabish, is also in love with the same girl and wants to marry her. Sheikh Sahab, on the other hand, wants his daughter to marry a dynamic man. Shaukat, a charming young writer, is an acquaintance of both Meer Sahab and Sheikh Sahab. Shaukat is a genuine well-wisher of Meer Sahab, who wants him to stop splurging his wealth on his tawaif (Heera & Gulab) and return to his good old days. Meer Sahab wants Shaukat to convince Sheikh that he is a great prospect for his daughter and at the same time, Sheikh wants Shaukat to counter Mir Sahab’s advances and teach him a lesson.

An enjoyable evening of folklore and children’s theatre, 230314

March 23, 2014

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Click here

to see my review of the evening (which was more than just the play), by Bangalore Little Theatre.

I’m glad I could show KTB a bit of children’s theatre in India!

An interesting afternoon with Paul Fernandes, Silver Talkies, and Suchetadhama, 070314

March 7, 2014

Here is my post about the afternoon

Harassment by autorickshaw driver and police constables, Gavi Gangadeshwara Temple, Basavanagudi

February 2, 2014

After getting her car stuck in dug-up areas of Bangalore roads, my friend KV yielded the wheel of her car to me. We were going to visit the Gavi Gangadeshwara Temple in Basavanagudi.

What happened as we turned the last blind corner to the temple felt like a sheer accident at the time, but in hindsight, appears to be a deliberately designed racket.

An auto driver came too close to me and hit the right-hand-side wing mirror. I was irritated at his driving, but since we were four ladies (my friend K V, her mother, her aunt, another friend, J V, and myself) in the car, I didn’t want to get into a slanging match. I knew that there had been no damage to my friend’s car or to the auto. I decided to let it go, as one does, countless times. I went further and parked.

The auto driver followed me, parked his auto next to me, and collected a group of other auto drivers (who all hang around with their autos there) and unleashed a storm of invective. Vituperative and abusive beyond belief, it was plain that he was angling to get some money. I refused to respond to his demands and told him I was wiling to go to the police station with him.

Quite magically, two constables appeared…with big grins on their faces, which I could not understand or explain at the time. They talked to the crowd of auto drivers, all of whom had become “eyewitnesses” to the “fact” that I had hit the auto. I stood my ground and they told me to come to the police station, just at the end of the road.

My poor friend, though a lawyer, is of a soft nature, and she did not want to respond to the threats by the auto driver and his cronies. Also, her mother and aunt were very perturbed, and the aunt tried the tactic of apologizing to the police and the auto driver, hoping that they would let us go. This only marked us down as being weak, and the auto driver’s behaviour became even more belligerent.

The constable on duty at the police station took down the details of the auto driver. When I said I too wanted to register a case, he was magically reminded that he could not book a traffic case, and told me to go to Basavanagudi Traffic Police Station. If this was so, how was he writing down the details of the auto driver’s complaint? I refused to go to any other police station, reminding the constables that it was they who asked me to come to this police station.

At this point, the auto driver touched me, inappropriately, and yelled again. I told him I would slap him if he touched me, and rounded on the constables who saw it happen and were enjoying the spectacle. By this time, I was indescribably angry.

Meanwhile, my friend called up another lawyer friend of hers, who advised her to book a case of harassment against the auto driver. At this point, she too was extremely angry. She came in, demanded that a case for harassment be booked, and promised to stay the night if necessary at the police station, until the matter was resolved. The police, who were there to protect citizens, were obviously not doing their job, to say the least.

The fact that we stood our ground, and clearly would not pay, and the fact that she was a lawyer, may not have had anything to do with the matter, but the inspector stepped in and asked us to go. And go, we did. We took the car right back to the temple, and J and I watched the car while my friend, her mother, and her aunt went in for darshan.

Whie we were there, the two original constables came back! They asked how we had come away. My friend J, with presence of mind, replied, “Go and ask your inspector that, he was the one who asked us to go.” They pushed off at this.

The person who takes care of the footwear outside the temple informed us that this is a regular happening near this temple, and usually, the frightened passengers of the car pay up to avoid trouble.

Therefore, the way the auto driver hit the car, the way he followed us and created a ruckus, calling in a crowd of other autowallahs, the way the constables appeared, the smiles on their faces, the attempt to intimidate us at the police station…all these conspire to make me feel strongly that this is an organized racket.

Here’s a photo of the auto driver and his auto. No, I could not get pictures of the police constables. I was far too upset arguing with them and trying to deal with the goons.

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He’s the one wearing the khaki coat, and the two others in the photos are two of the other auto drivers.

Once upon a flame…

February 21, 2013

Every friend who’s gone with me on the UGS (Usual Gang of Suspects) nature trails this year, has enjoyed the sight of the Pakshi Darshini (Eatery for birds)…

click here

for the short photo-feature on Citizen Matters.