Posts Tagged ‘food’

Begur Lake, a triumph of rejuvenation! 060620

June 8, 2020

The last couple of occasions I had visited Begur Lake, it was under renovation, and we were a little concerned about how the job would be carried out.

Well, on Saturday the 6th, a few of us

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decided to visit the lake, as Dhanapal has been getting such excellent images from there; and we were very happy that we did; the birds (and other living beings) are back at, and in, the lake.

The onset of the monsoon meant that we walked on to the lake bund. Following Dhanapal’s directions, we walked along the eastern bund instead of the western one near which the Panchalingeswara temple stands. We found several stands of reeds and almost immediately, our attention was riveted by the variety of birds that we found. Coots, Grebes, Egrets (all sizes), Herons (both the common colours of grey and purple) all went about their business of securing breakfast in their different ways, ducking in the water, or wading along the shoreline.

In a while, we could discern even more activity in the reeds. Streaked Weavers were building their nests, carrying long reed-leaves to one stand and expertly weaving them in;

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In this connection, I would like to add two excellent videos Ashwin has made, of Streaked Weavers feeding their young:

and

Pond Herons in fine breeding plumage

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stood stock-still while their sharp eyes scanned the water; and a few Yellow bitterns, which are rather difficult to sight as a rule, were quite clearly visible as, clutching the reeds with both feet, they darted their beaks into the muddy ground for insects, snails or a small fish.

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The typical spider-like movement of these birds, along the reeds instead of over the ground, made them easy to identify, and tell apart from the Pond Herons.

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For many of us, this was a “lifer” (a bird being seen for the first time) and the binoculars and the cameras were very busy indeed!

One surprising fact was that there were far more Brahminy Kites than Black Kites, in a city where the reverse is often true. We enjoyed their soaring, and their swoops into the water to catch fish, the attempts being successful occasionally.

Cormorants, Little, Indian and Great, were in plenty, and flew in and out of the lake, stippling the water as they landed or took off. Overhead, too, they formed skeins as they disappeared into the brightening sky, perhaps bound for other water bodies. Several Darters added their zigzag snake-necks to our bird count.

Several Spot-billed Pelicans were found in the far reaches, while a few swam lazily around nearer to where we stood. We found only a few Spot-billed Ducks, and some Lesser Whistling Ducks, far away. Meanwhile, Ashy and Plain Prinias, and one single Clamorous Reed Warbler, delighted us at the front of our birding stage. Both the Bronze-winged

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and the Pheasant-tailed Jacanas wandered around, the males of the latter in their spectacular “comma-tail” breeeding plumage. For some reason, there were only two Painted Storks, one of which struggled (successfully!) with a very large fish, as we looked on.

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Purple Swamphens

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and Common Moorhens added both colour and black-and-red, and we saw the Pied, White-breasted and the Small Blue Kingfisher. Red-rumped Swallows collected mud for their nests, from the shore.

Indeed, I would say that Begur lake is an ideal spot for bird watching and bird photography. One does not need to walk far; the light of the morning sun falls on the birds; one can watch the behaviour of the birds at leisure, rather than just sighting them and moving on. The first frenzy of the cameras gives way to the calm use of the binoculars!

Nor were birds the only thing that caught our attention, Starting with a gleaming Jewel Bug at the entrance, many handsome six footers welcomed us to the lake. Pentatomid bugs, Net-winged Beetles,

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different kinds of bees and wasps nectaring and gathering pollen

and several spiders which were ready to catch any unwary ones,

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Lynx spider killing a bee which came to nectar in the Dhatura flower.

dragonflies

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Ruddy Marsh Skimmer

and damselflies

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…there was no dearth of six- and eight-legged creatures. Several butterflies woke up

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Lesser Grass Blue

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Mating Mottled Emigrants

and flitted around as the sunlight warmed up; we saw Emigrants, Common and Crimson Roses, some Blues, Tawny Costers…and so the list went.

The lake itself was redolent with the peace of the morning. Scudding grey and white moisture-bearing clouds, across patches of freshly-washed blue skies;

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the reflection of those clouds, along with the old Panchalingeswara temple and the multicoloured buildings of Begur, in the waters of the lake; the fresh monsoon breeze and the gentle monsoon sunshine..it was utterly delightful to be out in the open air, enjoying all of this.

Alas, some trash has also made an appearance at the lake, as has some stagnant areas with stinking algae,

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but with the easing of the lockdown, I hope that the lake will be better maintained.

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Mexican Poppy

We shared our snacks (having removed our masks for a bit, in case you were wondering) and munched contentedly with the ease of undemanding camaraderie, and went homes with our spirits lifted and our memories, and memory cards, filled up!

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I have posted my photos on Flickr

here

and on FB at

here

The eBird list is
here

Looking forward to more outings with all of us having our good health intact,

Deepa.

The KK restaurant, Blr, 100420

April 11, 2020

=K1 and K2 opened a restaurant yesterday, and it was called the KK Restaurant.

A beautiful menu was prepared:

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Two customers seated themselves, playing some soft romantic music and dimming the lights:

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The Sous Chef also doubled as the maitre d’hote, and waited at the table:

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The Head Chef also gave the dishes his attention.

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The entree and the main course seemed to be Monaco biscuits with toppings of ketchup, cream cheese, olives and jalapenos, and chips with tomato sauce.

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Dessert consisted of chocolate biscuits, sadly depleted in the kitchen because the Head Chef sampled them too freely. (The same problem occurred with the Monaco biscuits, the chips and the cream cheese.)

The Sous Chef made a bowl of Maggi all by herself and divided it between the two customers. Alas, the Kitchen Manager-cum-Dishwasher (fired by the Head Chef for “disturbing the kitchen” and rehired by the Sous Chef ) was busy taking photos elsewhere and forgot to click the Maggi fine cuisine.

There were also delightful drinks of Blue Curacao, Orangeade, and Mint-flavoured water. Here’s the Head Chef, in his other role as the drinks waiter:

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The Dishwasher was thankful when service ended at the restaurant, because it already meant quite a lot of dishes and bowls to be washed and dried!

The restrauteurs took a bow from the deeply appreciative customers, as also an extra, elderly customer who came a little later. The customers paid the bill with hugs!

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.

“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”.

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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):

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Then a dollop of butter:

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Then cheese is grated on to it:

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

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

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Kumar then cuts the dosas into strips:

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He then rolls up the strips:

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His young helper stands the little rolls on the plate:

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

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

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Ravugodlu, 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing, 250819

August 29, 2019

Email to the Bngbirds egroup:

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Since it was cloudy with a possibility of rain, I was quite heartened that 30 of us decided to join for the 4th Sunday Bngbirds outing. We were all quite punctual at the meeting point near the small Anjaneya shrine,

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and the two majestic Banyan trees; and a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and the loud cheep-cheep of a Tailorbird started us off on the path.

Ravugodlu is one of the last semi-scrub forest patches

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that groups can be taken to, without having to go to various Forest Department offices to submit applications in triplicate, for permission (only to be told that you should have done this a week ago!) We enjoyed the scenery and the bluffs on the side of which lies the Ragihalli area. It was delightful to children like Saanvi and Aanvi (er, not related to each other…they just happen to have similar names!) join in, binoculars and note-books in hand.

A few Green Bee-eaters, and the ubiquitous Black and Brahminy Kites were in the air; the rains had ensured that the pond along the path was also full. Several yellow birds…Ioras and Oriental White-eyes

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…brought flashes of brightness to the cloudy atmosphere.

The group rather quickly straggled along the path and I was never sure whether all of us saw all the birds or not! The first sighting of a Shikra, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle, upped our raptor count; we looked it up in the bird book,

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to be sure.

At the pond, we found a solitary White-browed Wagtail, and a small blue jewel of a kingfisher flew about, trying to get breakfast.

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As we reached the part of the path which widens out into a flat area, with the hill slopes and rocks surrounding us, the sunshine finally broke through the clouds and promptly pushed up the temperature! Little Swifts and Palm Swifts swooped around overhead, as did Red-rumped Swallows. We were delighted to see large flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets flying around into the mango orchard area, as they looked for nesting sites and foraged. These may be very common birds even in the urban setting; but their bright green plumage and red beaks add a lovely dash of colour to any birding outing!

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At the open area, those of us who reached first, brought out our snacks, and I am afraid, though not repentant, that I pigged out on a lot of stuff ( eg Mamta’s superb dhokla and the soy sticks from Haldiram.) Fruits, almonds, many crisp snacks from the recent Janmashtami festival…all were despatched with gusto!

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Though I expected at least half the group to catch up, many people had already left, so only a few people joined up with us. We looked up to see another raptor, and with my usual question mark hovering over my head, I was able to confirm it only later as a Bonelli’s Eagle.

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As we walked back, we looked at several other living creatures…the beauty of the crimson seed pods of the Indian Redwing;

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blooming wildflowers such as the Node Flower,

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Indian Cadaba,

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Coat Button, the Devil’s Coach Whip, Vishnukranti, Cyanotis; the children had great fun touching the Touch-me-not leaves! I was able to show people near me the seed pods of the Indrajao or Pala Indigo,

Several reptiles like the Garden Lizard

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and the Rock Agama

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kept us occupied. Spiders of all kinds…Lynx, Funnel Web, Orb Weavers, Social Spiders…truly wove a web of fascination for us. A little Dung Beetle added some metallic colour.

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We didn’t see too many butterflies, but a Crimson Rose, some Common Mormons, a Common Lime, Emigrants, Jezebels,a Common Baron

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and Grass Yellows which looked like little flitting blossoms in the grass and reeds, added their beauty to the scene. A grasshopper was beautifully camouflaged in the reeds.

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As we returned to our cars, we were suddenly treated to a magnificient finale to the outing…a Black Eagle

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swept past quite low, and had us walking off in its wake, hoping to have a better sight of it.

After this unexpected bonus, I am sorry to say that all the erudite scientific and nature discussions gave way to “Where shall we stop for breakfast?” and the Davangere Benne Dose eatery was the unanimous choice.

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A few of us enjoyed the crisp dose-s with the dollops of potato and butter,

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and with our tummies, minds,hearts (and possibly camera memory cards!) full, we dispersed back to our separate lives and weekend commitments.

Here is most of our group before the start of the walk:

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The eBird list is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S59241149

(62 species…not a bad haul for a monsoon morning!)

I have put up my photos on a FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10156844507918878&type=3

For the non-FB friends, the Flickr album is at

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A few of us went to the Bhutanahalli pond to observe the Baya Weaver nesting activity:

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Even here, there were several handsome six-footers to captivate us:

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Jewel Bug

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Sweet Potato Weevil

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Blister Beetle

IMG_0165 Tussock Moth Cat early instar
Tussock Moth caterpillar

Every outing is full of the wonders of the natural world!

Deepa.

Kitchen musings

July 10, 2019

On Monday, I was chopping the spinach the workers in the field gave us on Sunday. They gave us a big bunch and wouldn’t take money for it, so we divided up the bunch between ourselves.

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As I chop, I muse on the fact that all this respectable-looking amount will boil down to just a few teaspoonfuls. So, too, it is with ambitions and desires….the overwhelming, dominating aims and longings of today will melt down into tiny, insignificant things, in the entirety of life. And like the spinach, other wants and needs and must-haves will take their place!

Eid at Fatima’s home, 050619

June 6, 2019

Fatima (in the lehenga..she’s 20, can you believe it?) teaches K1 Hindi. She invited us over for Eid and, with her family, extended such warm hospitality!

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Fatima, her parents and brother Zain, with K1 and K2

When we got home, I explained to the children how Imitiaz, her father, had fallen on hard times and had to shut his tailoring shop. The children have just brought out some toys that they want to give Zain, her 7-year-old brother.

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The feast at Fatima’s
I am very proud of of Fatima, who works in an office; and I am very proud of my grandchildren. This warmth and inclusiveness is what Eid, or any other festival, is all about.

Sri Lalit “Achar”ya, Cheetal Resort, Madhai, Madhya Pradesh, 010219

March 26, 2019

When I went for the Bird Survey at the Satpura Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh,I stayed at the

Cheetal Resort at Madhai

It was a most impressive home stay, but apart from everything else, I spotted this sign:

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Pickle and food research room! That intrigued me very much. Little did I know that I was going to get a course on Pickle Making 101 from Sri Lalit Khattar, who owns the resort!

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At lunch, Lalit ji noticed me taking a lot of interest in, and relishing, the ginger, small-mango (“midi mAvinkAi” in Kannada or “mAvadu” in Tamizh) and date pickles

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that Karthik Hegde gave me to try, and walked up, asking if I would like to know more, and see the Pickle Research room. I was delighted to agree!

A very instructive and interesting time followed as my friends Harish, Sharmila and I went with him. Here he is, with some of his pickle jars.

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Lalitji says that pickles can be made from almost any vegetable or fruit.Properly made, he adds, the pickle has as long a life as the person who’s making it, and possibly longer!

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Harish and Sharmila talk to Lalit ji

Some pickles, he says, need to be made with oil, and some without. Very few pickles need the constituent vegetable to be boiled or otherwise cooked beforehand. However, he cautions, the process must be very carefully followed.

Most Indian pickles (called “achAr” in Hindi..in Tamizh, it’s “oorugAi”, meaning, “soaked vegetables” and in Kannada the name is “uppinkAi” or “salted vegetables”) have condiments (a combination of various spices) added to them,stuffed or marinaded , to soak into the vegetable, fruit or flower, and add the unique taste. His research, he remarks, is to try various combinations of spices, and also vary the process of preparing the pickle, and to see what tastes the best, and lasts the longest.

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Lalitji shows some of the “masAlA” (condiments) made to be added to the pickles.

His oldest pickle, that he showed us, was made with lemon…35 years ago! It still smelt heavenly!

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These are pickles made with “kundru” (Coccinia grandis, the ivy gourd, or “tindOrA”) They were crunchy.

He had some very unusual pickles to show us, too. Here are pickles made from Mahua (Madhuca longifolia) flowers. I knew that they were used to make a potent liquor, but the pickles were something new.

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He showed us a pickle made from Guava seeds, and mentioned how he’s made pickles with the seeds of the Tulsi (Basil) plant. “The cost of the seeds is about Rs.500 per kilo,” he said. “Oh, who buys it then?” I asked. “I don’t sell it!” was the reply. I make it for my own satisfaction and consumption.” Now that’s what I’d call a “consuming” passion for the pickle-making art!

Karthik Hegde, who manages the home stay, is an enthusiastic participant in the ongoing research. It was he who gave Lalit ji the recipe for the small-mango pickle…which was made perfectly, tasting absolutely authentic, from the small mangoes that grew on the trees in the homestay (which is also a farm in itself.) Here, Karthik and Lalit ji discuss the product and the process.

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Storing the pickles properly is vital to the long shelf-life of the pickle, Lalit ji is quick to emphasize. But if stored properly, he adds, metal, glass, or plastic containers, anything can be used for storage. His room bore witness to his words.

Many tart substances, such as lemon or lime juice, or tamarind, can be used as a base for pickles. These, too, should be properly processed to ensure a good shelf-life. Tamarind itself can be a pickle! So can chillies, apart from being a component of the condiment, in the form of chilli powder, or added as green chillies to give heat to the pickle. Apparently, chillies, and their varieties, are a huge subject by themselves, in this art.

Some pickles need to be kept in the sun for a few days or weeks; some need to be stirred at regular intervals. Definitely, there needs to be an investment of patience, time, and dedicated effort in making these delectable additions to our Indian meals.

A pickle can be eaten with anything; whether it’s rOtis, nAn, rice or pulAo, just with curds (yoghurt)..or sometimes, as I did lip-smackingly with the date pickles.. all by itself!

I did want to discuss some of the short-life pickles I make (such as “menthiya mAngAi” or “puLi miLagAi”) but alas, the survey that we had come to do didn’t leave much time for discussion! So I mean to have a further chat the next time I go to Madhai..and meanwhile, let me confer the title of “AchAryA” (respected teacher, and a pun on the word “achAr”) on Sri Lalit Khattar!

Long may his research on this tasty part of Indian cuisine last. I have been savouring the wonderful date pickles that he told Karthik to gift me as I left (I saw it only when I returned home!) and think of the very interesting time I had with the “AchAryA”!

International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), Ramnagara, and Nelligudde kere, 010918

September 6, 2018

had nearly forgotten that the first Saturday of September is International Vulture Awareness Day; a reminder jogged my memory, and my friends and I shelved our Maidanahalli plans for a visit to Ramadevara betta (hillock), to see the only known roosting and nesting spot of the Long-billed Vultures in Karnataka. The Karnataka Vulture Conservation Trust, in collaboration with the Karnataka Forest Department, had organized a walk to see the vultures, and talks by experts, an event open to all.

We were a group that started from the south, north, and east of the city, and met up at the gates of the Vulture Sanctuary, by 6.15am.’

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UGS. Gopinath, Nikhil, Arpitha, Sriram, Sharmila, Keerthana, Subhadra,Harish, Vijay, Tara, Arnab, Anisha,Sahas, Nitin, Regin. Kneeling with Arjun : Praveen and Srini. Ramnagara, 010918

Many of my friends were visiting Ramnagara (Ramnagaram? I am not sure which is the right name) for the first time, so, having driven just past the entrance gates, we parked our cars,

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and clambered up on the rock face (slippery, alas, from the recent rains!)

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and looked up at the vultures that could be seen (three of them at that time).

The single one:

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And two sitting together (they mated a little later)

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After looking our fill at the birds, which were preening, we also climbed up the hill to the gate of the temple, and went up a little towards the temple,

hoping to sight the beautiful Yellow-throated Bulbul which is another resident of the betta. We were lucky to sight just one, upon a rock!

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We had not realized that this date coincided with a festival at the Rama temple upon the hillock; we were not sure if the increased number of visitors was just due to its being a weekend, until we saw the idols of the deities, Rama, Lakshmana, Seeta and Anjaneya, being taken in a palanquin (on a modern tractor!) in procession, up the hill. The vulture finds a place in the epic poem, Ramayana, the story of the ideal man, Rama. Jatayu, the vulture, finds Rama’s wife Seeta being abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka, and fights valiantly to save her, until the ten-headed Ravana cuts off his wings. He falls, fatally wounded, to the ground. When Rama and Lakshmana come upon him, he recounts all that has happened to them, before giving up his life. Here upon the rocky boulders of Ramadevara betta, the old story somehow took on colorful life as I watched the trio of deities and their faithful attendant Hanuman, wending their way to the temple, bejewelled and bedecked with flowers.

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Closeup of the adorned idols

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We watched the posters for the Vulture Awareness Day being put up,

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and after meeting up with Mike and Chris, when they came to the viewing area, we were also able to glimpse the ungainly-on-the-ground and graceful-in-the-air birds with the help of the scope that Mike set up for everyone.

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Many of us also saw the Long-billed Pipit for the first time…so birds with long bills seemed to be the order of the day!

We had left the city by 4.30am and by this time, in spite of the snacks we shared, the call of the white-breasted iddli was quite loud in our ears! So off we went to Sahasa Kala Shiksana Kendra (Centre for training in martial arts) where the event is held every year. After the pouring rain of last year, it was very pleasant to have the sun shining, and patches of blue sky appearing amidst the grey monsoon clouds.

We lined in an orderly queue and partook of a piping hot and delicious breakfast,

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and with our mental and physical batteries recharged, settled down to the proceedings.

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One of the star attractions, of course, was a White-rumped Vulture attending…or at least, an actor wearing a very well-made costume of the bird! Many of the young men present had a fun time with the “bird”, which was the mascot for the event. I would like to know who created the marvellous costume!

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These young men took the “help the vultures” message very seriously!

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It was also heartening to see how many people had made it to the event. I must mention the Forestry College in Sirsi, which always sends its students, I have interacted with them several times, at several venues (also at Kaiga) and found many of them knowledgeable about conservation issues. Several of the people who have worked untiringly to have the area declared as a vulture sanctuary, including Dr Subramanya, also took their places on the stage, and shared what the vultures mean to the ecosystem, and the history of the decline of these birds, along with the efforts made to save them from extinction. Cadets, schoolchildren, nature lovers from near and far…we all listened to the inputs being given, and took our certificates of participation.

Some of us decided to go back and see if we could get shots of the vultures flying off from the cliff, and were successful. Some of us also stopped over at Bidadi to visit the Nelligudda lake.

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Apart from an edging of the now-to-be-expected trash, which included a dead fish,

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the lake was a serene setting,and under the shade of two gigantic banyan trees, a cool breeze blew.

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Several waterfowl, including two Woolly-necked Storks,

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kept our binoculars and lenses busy; sighting two mongoose in the fields added to our delight. Both Brahminy and Black Kites dived repeatedly into the water, fishing for food. By this time, several butterflies had also emerged, and we watched as they flitted around us, too.

Grass Dart:

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Some reptiles came out to bask on the rocks.

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Well satisfied with the morning, we drove rather sleepily back to the city, making plans about whether to go birding the next morning or to spend it getting back into the good books of our families!

I have put up my photos on my FB album
here

And for other photos on the Flickr album, click

here

Our grateful thanks to the organizers of the event, which we intend to support every year, come September!

Cheers, Deepa.

Let me end with the beauty of this mushroom!

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Food, and food for thought, 250418

April 26, 2018

Sometimes, the juxtaposition of two things strikes the eye, as it did when I saw this gentleman, along with a book that a young lady had left open on another table. The caption occurred to me at once.

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As he got up, the gentleman called the attention of yet another man to the glasses he’d left behind when moving to another table. Such casual helpfulness, somehow, made me feel very happy!

So much to see and observe even on a short visit to a Darshini (this one was Coffee Thindi in Jayangar 4th T Block)