Posts Tagged ‘house’

The things that Go Wrong during a long absence….

November 19, 2014

1. Gas disconnected. For “my protection”, I am locked out of my connection if I do not book for 180 days since the last booking. I am consuming less, and so I should be praised, shouldn’t I? But no…I get locked out instead.. I have to give a letter of request, a proof of address, and a proof of id. Several visits to reactivate it, and waiting for the cylinder to be delivered.

2. Electricity disconnected, and no proper reason being given for it,giving rise to the worry that it will happen again. Multiple visits to bank and BESCOM office. This is one of the biggest messes, with different BESCOM personnel giving me widely varying reasons why the power was disconnected. One lady at the office asked, “Since you’ve got the power back, why are you complaining?” All the contents of my freezer lost.

3. Driving licence expired, since I crossed 60. Process of renewal under way. I have to apply in the “prescribed form” and stand for a photograph (which is not shown to me). I cannot take delivery of the licence, but must wait for it to be delivered by Registered Post, and hope I am at home when the postman comes.

4. UPS batteries died…it was not just the distilled water in the batteries going down, but the batteries themselves had run down in five months. Since I don’t have cell phone on which I can access the numbers of the battery repair people, the process of getting them home to check it took a while. Batteries have been taken away, recharging under way. Waiting for the people to come and re-install the batteries. Then, if there are still problmes, will have to call the UPS people and go through a similar process.

5. Cable TV set top box died. Contacting the cable guy took 3 days, getting him to come home, Replacement set top box given and process of repair under way. Will have to wait at home the day he comes to reinstall it.

6. Landline cordless phone not working properly. Have to find time to go and buy another one. It is very irritating to find the handsets suddenly dying in my hand. Have to find someone to try and repair it, or get another one.

7. Cell phone died in the US and still under inspection, I may have to buy another phone, because I am not sure, even if I get this lemon repaired, if it will continue to work. Multiple visits have been made. Not having a cell phone that can access my Google contacts means a lot of inconvenience.

8. Printer died. Friends want to buy me a new one as a birthday gift, so I’m waiting for them to find some time. Meanwhile feeling the lack of a printer.

9. State Bank of Mysore account ( the one in my name alone) made inactive. I was so disgusted I went and closed the account, which I cannot do with the Vijaya Bank accounts. (Even closing the account took 4 visits as the Branch Manager was never around.)

10. Good tenant vacated. Have started the painting of the flat now. Getting a plumber and an electrician to check out various problems in the flat.

11. Sleep pattern, always bad, now completely spoilt, thanks to terrible jet lag. Neither melatonin or lorezepam is helping in the least, I’ve stopped taking them.

12. Decided not to fight Airtel who charged me for International Roaming for 5 months and never activated the service. Just don’t have the energy for it!

I never know whether to go out and do the chores or wait for the people to come home for the repairs, delivery, etc. At every place, I am told, “Ask someone to be at home for the delivery (of gas, post, batteries, etc.) I *don’t* have someone And I want to do my own chores, not take obligations from others.

But… I did manage to see two good plays, attend a wedding, volunteer for a children’s event in Bandipur, go for a birding outing, and interview a bookstore owner, meet friends from out of town, make a start on cleaning up the flat…

It takes 2 to 3 weeks to get the systems in place after a long absence. Moral of the story…don’t go away for more than a month. Or if you do…don’t come back!

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November 19, 2014

1. Gas disconnected. For “my protection”, I am locked out of my connection if I do not book for 180 day. I have to give a letter of request, a proof of address, and a proof of id. Several visits to reactivate it, and waiting for the cylinder to be delivered.

2. Electricity disconnected, and no proper reason being given for it,giving rise to the worry that it will happen again. Multiple visits to bank and BESCOM office. This is one of the biggest messes, with different BESCOM personnel giving me widely varying reasons why the power was disconnected. One lady at the office asked, “Since you’ve got the power back, why are you complaining?” All the contents of my freezer lost.

3. Driving licence expired, since I crossed 60. Process of renewal under way. I have to apply in the “prescribed form” and stand for a photograph (which is not shown to me). I cannot take delivery of the licence, but must wait for it to be delivered by Registered Post, and hope I am at home when the postman comes.

4. UPS batteries died…it was not just the distilled water in the batteries going down, but the batteries themselves had run down. Since I don’t have cell phone on which I can acces the numbers of the battery repair people, the process of getting them home to check it took a while. Batteries have been taken away, recharging under way. Waiting for the people to come and re-install the batteries. Then, if there are still problmes, will have to call the UPS people and go through a similar process.

5. Cable TV set top box died. Contacting the cable guy took 3 days, getting him to come home, Replacement set top box given and process of repair under way. Will have to wait at home the day he comes to reinstall it.

6. Landline cordless phone not working properly. Have to find time to go and buy another one. It is very irritating to find the handsets suddenly dying in my hand. Have to find someone to try and repair it, or get another one.

7. Cell phone died in the US and still under inspection, I may have to buy another phone, because I am not sure, even if I get this lemon repaired, if it will continue to work. Multiple visits have been made. Not having a cell phone that can access my Google contacts means a lot of inconvenience.

8. Printer died. Friednd want to buy me one as a birthday gift, so I’m waiting for them to find some time. Meanwhile feeling the lack of a printer.

9. State Bank of Mysore account ( the one in my name alone) made inactive. I was so disgusted I went and closed the account, which I cannot do with the Vijaya Bank accounts. (Even closing the account took 4 visits as the Branch Manager was never around.)

10. Good tenant vacated. Have started the painting of the flat now. Getting a plumber and an electrician to check out various problems in the flat.

11. Sleep pattern, always bad, now completely spoilt, thanks to terrible jet lag. Neither melatonin or lorezepam is helping in the least, I’ve stopped taking them.

12. Decided not to fight Airtel who charged me for International Roaming for 5 months and never activated the service. Just don’t have the energy for it!

I never know whether to go out and do the chores or wait for the people to come home for the repairs, delivery, etc.

But I did manage to see two good plays, attend a wedding, volunteer for a children’s event in Bandipur, go for a birding outing, and interview a bookstore owner, meet friends from out of town, make a start on cleaning up the flat…

It takes 2 to 3 weeks to get the systems in place after a long absence. Moral of the story…don’t go away for more than a month. Or if you do…don’t come back!

Drawing, chatting, and playing house, STL, 270814

August 28, 2014

KTB’s drawing is improving apace; here she is, explaining who the people are (her friends, Ananya and Aditi, along with Teddy Naryanan, who was given to her mother by her mother’s uncle in 1988…and Pinky Bear, who was a gift from KTB’s great grandmother.)…and how they are sleeping:

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She drew a cat:

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And her parents

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While video-chatting to her Nana and Grandpa in Maine:

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I rig up a “house” for her (which she really loves to play at) after loud complaints that her brother was messing up the one she built for herself on the corner of the sofa:

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She enjoys being in it:

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She likes looking out, once in a while:

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She’s describing her pets in her house, and her purse:

Here’s the purse, held out for inspection:’

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Kalyan looks very innocent:

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But..off course Kallubhai has to get in on the act here too:

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He offsets the act of invasion with a charming smile:

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Here’s KTB in her “house”, with the Bad Dog Walker (who as usual makes a beeline for the camera):

Due to Kallubhai’s truly terrible habit of heading directly for the camera every time he sees it, most of my shots of him look like this:

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KTB finally comes out through what is apparently a side entrance:

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The abandoned house, Valley School area, 130514

May 14, 2014

In several years of visiting the Valley School area, I’ve passed this abandoned house so many times…but it was only yesterday, when we did “waiting” birding instead of “walking” birding, and when Mark went into the house to explore, that I also decided to walk around and in it.

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I do not know for whom this house was built. It seems a roomy, spacious house. The rooms seem to be of gracious proportions. The arches outside the house look lovely:

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In fact, with the date palms they give a slightly Islamic look:

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Were these sheds, next to the huge banyan tree, meant as outhouses? They also lie abandoned:

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I googled for information, but there is nothing about it. the best guess I can make is that this was built, like the earlier (and now demolished) Art Village, on property that belonged to the Karnataka Forest Department, and was therefore abandoned.

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The windows gape open, with a ghostly look.

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And yet, after all these years, the house looks quite inviting:

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But the only residents there today are the various insects and rodents, and the nests of the swifts in the eaves of the roof. Oh, abandoned house…what is your history? With what hopes and aspirations were you built, and with what frustrations and sorrow were you left, with the construction nearing completion, to deteriorate on your own….with such good quality of construction that today, many years later, many of the panes of glass in your windows are unbroken, and the whole aspect is not that of a ruin? What a mystery!

Heritage hits the dust…

May 3, 2014

I went to Langford Town, and was saddened to see another beautiful heritage home hit the dust on Oleff road.

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This lovely bungalow, typical of old Bangalore architecture, set in small, lovely garden, was already half gone.

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I tried to see if the year of construction was marked anywhere, but could not find it.

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The solidity of the construction, and the high ceilings, can be seen:

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How I wish I had the money to buy up such old homes, and maintain them in the old style! I could sit in them and dream about days when space in the city was not such a valuable commodity,that history had to be sacrificed on the altar of Mammon…

Harley Estates, Sakleshpur, Karnataka, 24,25,260414

May 1, 2014

Amith, Deepak, Sachin and I went to do a bird census for some friends, on their coffee estate in Sakleshpur. I must say, I didn’t expect such a dream list of birds at the end of April!

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Signboards to various places.

The estate is about 450 acres, so, the best of our ability, we divided it into four quadrants and tried to cover one during each outing.

What a difference between a tea and a coffee plantation! Tea plants need the sun, so no other trees are grown; but since coffee needs to grow in shade, a coffee plantation has a variety of trees, and majestic trees are the rule rather than the exception. It was wonderful to see so many spices, beverages, and condiments…pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coffee, cocoa…all growing together. What a magical region the Western Ghats are!

The fact that the estate had both a small pond and a running stream, even in summer, made for sighting of many more bird species. And perhaps thanks to the elevation, we found many of the migrants still around.

Sunrise:

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Deepak, checking the map with Mr Dicky, the manager, to decide on the next place to go birding in:

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Another check:

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On the birding trail:

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Deepak, Sachin, Mr Dicky, and Amith:

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Stream and bamboo thicket:

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A tiny frog:

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Damselfly:

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Common Crow on Latana:

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Blue Tiger on Lantana:

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Moth:

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Palm beetle (not the Arecanut farmer’s best friend):

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Magical hills…

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“Magizham Poo”:

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Tiny wildflower.

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Datura (the fruit of this plant is very poisonous, but it’s used as an ornamental)

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One of the coffee growing areas on the estate, and the year of planting.

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Plantation workers streaming in to work at day-break.

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Mayflower (Gul Mohar) in full bloom on our way to Sakleshpur:

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Wild Jasmine:

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Un id wildflower:

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Beautiful new leaves:

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Un id plant.

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Waterlilies at Harley Estate.

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Hibiscus

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Confederate Rose:

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Un id Wildflower:

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Bay leaf :

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Lures set out to trap Coffee-berry borers, which destroy the coffee crop:

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Coffee-berry Borers caught in the lure:

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Red-vented Bulbul back!

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Red-vented Bulbul front!

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Asian Fairy Bluebird:

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Jungle Myna:

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Scarlet Minivet:

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Syke’s Lark:

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Chestnut-headed Bee-eater:

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Dusky Crag Martin:

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Laundry gets done the old-fashioned way, with a washing stone, at Harley Estates.

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Deepak and Shravan.

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Four-poster bed at Harley Estate:

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Beautiful antique mirror at Harley Estate:

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House dating from 1959 at Sakleshpur:

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Sunset:

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Enjoying watermelons and sugarcane juice in the summer heat:

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We stopped at this restaurant, named after the imaginary town created by R K Narayan,for an afternoon snack.

The estate census list is compiled by Deepak, and below that is the list I compiled, of the birds we saw on the drive to and from Sakleshpur. Any mistakes are mine.

On a non-birding note, Sakleshpur seems to have some great eating places, and we enjoyed some excellent akki roti!

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Consolidated bird list at the coffee plantation:

Gray Junglefowl – Gallus sonneratii
Indian Peafowl – Pavo cristatus
Asian Openbill – Anastomus oscitans
Little Cormorant – Phalacrocorax niger
Intermediate Egret – Mesophoyx intermedia
Little Egret – Egretta garzetta
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
Indian Pond Heron – Ardeola grayii
Oriental Honey-buzzard – Pernis ptilorhynchus
Crested Serpent-Eagle – Spilornis cheela
Crested Goshawk – Accipiter trivirgatus
Shikra – Accipiter badius
Brahminy Kite – Haliastur indus
White-breasted Waterhen – Amaurornis phoenicurus
Rock Pigeon – Columba livia
Spotted Dove – Streptopelia chinensis
Emerald Dove – Chalcophaps indica
Gray-fronted Green-Pigeon – Treron affinis
Banded Bay Cuckoo – Cacomantis sonneratii
Southern Coucal – Centropus sinensis
Little Swift – Apus affinis
Asian Palm-Swift – Cypsiurus balasiensis
White-throated Kingfisher – Halcyon smyrnensis
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater – Merops leschenaulti
Malabar Gray Hornbill – Ocyceros griseus
White-cheeked Barbet – Megalaima viridis
Malabar Barbet – Megalaima malabarica
Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker – Dendrocopos nanus
White-bellied Woodpecker – Dryocopus javensis
Lesser Yellownape – Picus chlorolophus
Common Flameback – Dinopium javanense
Black-rumped Flameback – Dinopium benghalense
Greater Flameback – Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
Heart-spotted Woodpecker – Hemicircus canente
Plum-headed Parakeet – Psittacula cyanocephala
Malabar Parakeet – Psittacula columboides
Vernal Hanging-Parrot – Loriculus vernalis
Malabar Woodshrike – Tephrodornis sylvicola
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike – Hemipus picatus
Ashy Woodswallow – Artamus fuscus
Common Iora – Aegithina tiphia
Small Minivet – Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
Orange Minivet – Pericrocotus flammeus
Large Cuckooshrike – Coracina macei
Black-headed Cuckooshrike – Lalage melanoptera
Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus
Indian Golden Oriole – Oriolus kundoo
Ashy Drongo – Dicrurus leucophaeus
Bronzed Drongo – Dicrurus aeneus
Spangled Drongo – Dicrurus hottentottus
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo – Dicrurus paradiseus
Black-naped Monarch – Hypothymis azurea
Rufous Treepie – Dendrocitta vagabunda
White-bellied Treepie – Dendrocitta leucogastra
Large-billed Crow – Corvus macrorhynchos
Dusky Crag-Martin – Ptyonoprogne concolor
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow – Cecropis daurica
Black-lored Tit – Parus xanthogenys
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch – Sitta frontalis
Flame-throated Bulbul – Pycnonotus gularis
Red-vented Bulbul – Pycnonotus cafer
Red-whiskered Bulbul – Pycnonotus jocosus
Yellow-browed Bulbul – Iole indica
Square-tailed Bulbul – Hypsipetes ganeesa
Greenish Warbler – Phylloscopus trochiloides
Common Tailorbird – Orthotomus sutorius
Oriental White-eye – Zosterops palpebrosus
Dark-fronted Babbler – Rhopocichla atriceps
Indian Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus horsfieldii
Puff-throated Babbler – Pellorneum ruficeps
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta – Alcippe poioicephala
Rufous Babbler – Turdoides subrufa
Jungle Babbler – Turdoides striata
Asian Fairy-bluebird – Irena puella
Oriental Magpie-Robin – Copsychus saularis
White-rumped Shama – Copsychus malabaricus
Tickell’s Blue-Flycatcher – Cyornis tickelliae
Malabar Whistling-Thrush – Myophonus horsfieldii
Orange-headed Thrush – Geokichla citrina
Southern Hill Myna – Gracula indica
Jungle Myna – Acridotheres fuscus
Common Myna – Acridotheres tristis
Malabar Starling – Sturnia blythii
Golden-fronted Leafbird – Chloropsis aurifrons
Nilgiri Flowerpecker – Dicaeum concolor
Purple-rumped Sunbird – Leptocoma zeylonica
Crimson-backed Sunbird – Leptocoma minima
Loten’s Sunbird – Cinnyris lotenius
Little Spiderhunter – Arachnothera longirostra
White-browed Wagtail – Motacilla madaraspatensis
House Sparrow – Passer domesticus

​Here​’s the bird list for the journey to and from Bangalore to Sakleshpur:

Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Rufous
Babbler, Yellow-billed
Bushcat, Pied
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bee-eater, Small Green
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Coot, Common,
Cormorant, Little
Coucal, Southern
Crow,House
Crow, Jungle
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Black
Duck, Spot-billed
Egret, Cattle
Egret, Intermediat​e​
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flowerpecker, Pale-billed
Heron, Grey
Heron, Indian Pond
Heron, Purple
Hoopoe, Common
Ibis, Black-headed
Iora, Common
Jacana, Bronze-winged
Kingfisher, White-throated
Kite,Black
Kite,Brahminy
Lapwing, Red-watt​l​ed
Lark, Syke’s
Martin, Dusky Crag
Moorhen, Common
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Openbill, Asian
Owl, Rock Eagle
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Pigeon, Blue Rock
Prinia, Ashy
Pygmy-Goose, Cotton
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Roller, Indian
Shrike, Brown
Shrike, Long-tailed
Sparrow, House
Starling, Brahminy
Starling, Chestnut-tailed
Stork, Painted
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swamphen, Purple
Swift, Asian Palm
Tailorbird, Common
Tit, Great
Treepie, Rufous
Treepie, White-bellied
Wagtail, White-browed
Wagtail, Yellow
Warbler, Booted
Waterhen, White-breasted
Whistling-Duck, Lesser
White-eye, Oriental
Woodswallow, Ashy

Butterfly List:

Blue, Various
Bush Brown, Common
Bush Brown, Glad-eye
Castor, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-banded
Coster, Tawny
Damselflies, Various
Dragonflies, Various
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Rose, Common
Skipper, Indian
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Wanderer. Common
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, ​Three-spot ​ Grass

Mammals:

Macaque, Bonnet
Mongoose, Ruddy

Reptiles/Amphibians

Agama, Peninsular Rock
Bullfrog Indian
Frog, un id, Fejarvarya sp.
Snake, Rat

​My photos (er, mixed bag, don’t look if you only want birds!) are on my FB albums at

here

here

and

here

Hope you enjoyed the e-trip!

Decay

October 26, 2013

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A house in which no one lives
Any more. Dead sere leaves
Floating, spent, on a pool
Of autumn rain. Shut windows,
Reflected in the parking
Reserved for a pastor
Who suffered from cancer,
And passed away: whose wife,
Now the pastor, struggles
With health, herself.
What was once live, and green, and young
Passes into the waiting arms
Of mortality.
There remains, only, the hope
That the cycle will start
Once again, and the sap will rise
In a new spring, a house alive
With a family, and the parishioners
Renew their faith.

Terraces…

February 17, 2013

Terraces….I look at the houses around me in St.Louis, and this is one feature I miss…all these houses have sloping roofs, so that the occasional snow can slide off. However, in India, most houses and apartment buildings are topped by flat terraces, which have multiple uses, and which add to the rich texture of life in my country.

The first use is, of course, to harvest all that solar energy that hits the rooftop of the house. Women bring their vegetables, pickles, and fritters to be dried in the sun, and the terrace of a home is often a delight for a small child, with delicious tibits spread out on mats. Some children are also given the job of guarding these self-same tidbits against marauding crows and sparrows, with the promise of a small reward (augmented, of course, by regular samplings!)

The terrace is the place (no longer true in apartments, alas!) where the family’s washing is brought up to be dried, by free solar power. Who has not been entranced by the lines of colourful clothes billowing in the sunlight!

Terraces have always been associated with love, which often is carried on under the guise of all the activities above! Those who are caught up with the mundane details of life in the lower floors, often come up to indulge in romance….the young girl spreading out the sarees on the clotheslines often lifts up her eyes to the young man teaching his younger brother to fly a kite…

Unfortunately, the terrace in a building is quite a public space, and other people (epecially children) delight in spoiling the mood of the lovers.

Here’s a song with children playing voyeurs…” mottai maadi mottai maadi love jodi love jodi”…terrible lyrics, but the song is fun!

ThanimayilE inimai kANa mudiyumA (Can you find sweetness in loneliness?)

Many Muslim houses also keep their “kabootharkhana” (pigeon nests) on the terraces, and its beautiful to see the birds fluttering up in unison against the morning or the evening sun.

The terraces of old houses have given rise to many romances, and many songs are pictured on terraces. Here’s a beautiful song set on a terrace:

Here’s a nice cartoon about love-on-the-terrace:

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With shamiyanas constructed on them, terraces also used to make a good place for food to be served during family weddings, in the days when weddings were held at home.

I remember, so many of us together, during the Leonid showers a few years ago, or when there were lunar eclipses, gathering with chai and snacks to watch the celestial spectacles.

Even today, in an apartment building, a terrace is often a kind of common space where neighbours can meet and spend a little time together. On a terrace, one is somehow apart from, and above, the cares that oppress one down below. The perspective and the view are different, and it’s a good time to enjoy oneself, or introspect….

Given this social history of terraces, it’s a pity so many builders just put a lot of water pipes on the terraces of apartment buildings, and completely spoil what could be a great place to gather and socialize. I do love terraces, as an extension of Indian habitation.

Shelters….

November 15, 2012

Nature seems to provide such a variety of housing options for Her children! We have all seen the twiggy nests of Crows and Kites in our cities, but let’s look at some other creatures’ homes, too…

Here are two Paper Wasps, beginning the construction of their nest (yes, it is a kind of papery material, hence their name).

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When they finish, the wasps’ nest looks like this…so beautiful, with its crescent-shaped patterns. However, do not approach too close, for fear of being stung!

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Several birds do much more than stack twigs together; one of the most famous is the Baya Weaver. They make beautifully engineered nests.

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Here is a male Baya Weaver (it’s the males who build the nest…the females inspect them, and if they are not good enough, they don’t accept!) weaving the nest expertly:

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Another very common bird is the Tailorbird. When you see the nest of a Tailorbird, it’s obvious why it’s called that. Can you see the neat “stitching” of the leaf and the nest material, in this photograph?

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Here are two Grey Tits (I often see them in the Bannerghatta zoo area)…these two are actually checking out an old “junction box” left by humans, to see if it is fit to nest in! So what we leave behind is sometimes useful to birds, too.

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Even the most “fearsome” of creatures need the protection of a nest, sometimes. Here is the nest of an Indian Tarantula….females which have just-hatched eggs spin this “silk screen” in front of their holes, to prevent predators such as wasps and ants from coming in!

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An architect….

October 26, 2011

LS was a math major in college; after her sons were born and were in school, she decided to study architecture. A few years ago, she took the very tough 9-part licentiate exam and qualified to practice on her own.

here

is her website…Wave House is her own home, designed and built recently. I’ve visited there a couple of times…it’s a warm home, not just an “architect-designed house”.

I am proud that my daughter is her daughter-in-law!