Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Cryptic crosswords

August 2, 2019

I love my morning cryptic crossword. It’s a very Brit thing…I am hopelessly addicted. I do the Deccan Herald every day; the compiler of the Eco Times crossword changed a while ago, and I am just getting to grips with the compiler’s mentality.

I like the Indian Express,too, and though it’s not my favourite, I do the Business Standard one too, just to keep my hand in with different compilers. The Hindu cryptic is a smug and self-satisfied crossword that I do not like, but I will do it if I can’t find anything else. But my great favourite is the cryptic crossword on Saturday in the Deccan Herald. It’s so witty…it often sets me laughing!

I remember the days in Chennai when the Eco Times had just been introduced; there were small prizes (such as cosmetics) for the first person to finish, and I loved winning all the junkola!

This morning, I posted a “Crossbird” in one of the birding groups I belong to; at once, someone called

Minchu Kulkarni

who works for


pinged me, and helped me make a proper online crossword of it. All the clues are names of birds (no technical stuff, just general names) can try it out


Have fun, and let me know how it went…it’s very simple indeed. Today’s learning…thank you, Minchu! Looking forward to learning more from you.

Vasu on methods of teaching

March 4, 2014

Methods of Teaching

In the CAGE method of teaching
The guru sees you as strong but wild
He cracks the whip, shows you your place
You learn by dint of focus and discipline
As a team of lions learns from one
Truly in command

In the CASE method of teaching
The guru engages with you questions
Challenging, she channels your thinking
You learn by tentative and cautious chance taking
By participative experimentation
Your learning grows

In the CARE method of teaching
The guru expresses his love for you
He makes your mental maturation his sole mission
(His soul mission too)
You learn from his love for what and whom he teaches
And you come to love learning


P.S.: Each method is appropriate for a different stage in the student’s – not to mention the teacher’s – development. In school, we got a good bit of the CAGE method, then at college we got a taste of the CASE method. I have used a combination of the first two in my own teaching, and am now trending more and more toward the third because a good teacher once told me, “They may or may not remember what you taught them but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

What do you do if you’re four years old, and go to the Seal/Sea Lion show at the St.Louis Zoo?

October 12, 2013

It’s not given to everyone to watch the Sea Lion show sitting on their 91-year-old great grandmother’s lap!


You admire the whiskers:


You also take a little time to explore the railings:


You wonder when the show will start:


You watch the trainers take the stage:


You watch the seal sliding down the chute:


You wonder at its ability to balance that ball so perfectly:


You watch Mark, who’s volunteered, as he interacts with the pinniped:


You love the smile on his face:


You wonder if you would like fish as much as these creatures do…


You are stunned to silence when the Sea Lion arrives:


You watch a little more:

You go down to the water’s edge with your Amma and Nana, to get up close and personal with these creatures of the sea:



You go out to enjoy the rest of the Zoo, talking excitedly about the Sea Lion show!

Names, knowledge, and elitism

June 5, 2013

I tend to notice an elitism about Knowing Names. I start out by looking at a beautiful bird, or a pretty butterfly, or a lovely tree. I then look up to the person who confidently identifies it for me. A Bulbul! I am thrilled that I have this knowledge.

red-whiskered bulbul vs 100710 photo IMG_6372.jpg

Then, of course, I go on the next birding trip, and realize that “Bulbul” is not enough. Another expert informs me that it is the Red-whiskered Bulbul. I file this name away in my (admittedly leaky) memory.

After this, over several birding outings, I see many other kinds of Bulbul. The White-browed, the Red-vented, the Yellow-throated, the Ruby-throated…and so the list goes. I now go all scientific. I no longer refer to a Bulbul. I say, with hauteur, to the person next to me, who’s come his or her first birding trip: “Oh, yes, that’s a very common bird!”(It’s always important to beat the newbie down from the joy of enjoying the beauty of a bird by emphasizing that it’s a Very Common Bird.)”It’s the…Pycnonotus jocosus,” I add (if I remember the name…the experts do remember, of course, and add it, cutting my ego down to size every time.) For some reason, just saying “Pycnonotus jocosus” impresses the bejeesus out of the newbies. I am now an Experienced Birder (no matter that I may not know the name, let alone the scientific one, of the next bird we spot!). Should I not have added to the joy of the birder’s thrill by agreeing that it’s a beautiful bird, and letting him find out, later, that it is a “common” bird? Oh, no…I have to rain on his parade with my “knowledge”!

I now always go on about how the scientific names are the only correct way of identifying the bird. “Scientific names are full of knowledge,” I say glibly, and take the example of another bird, where the Latin name is easily translatable…and apt. I never refer to the “Pycnonotus jocosus” which I myself have trouble remembering. Nor do I take the example of scientific names which are downright esoteric, or unfathomable. My eager listeners hang on my every (learned) word.

This kind of “I know more than you” games are not restricted to birding…indeed, every form of human endeavour and knowlege has the Gods of the Id, who can Recite The Names and Spout The Jargon better than others, and are, therefore, reckoned to be The Experts. The person in the seat next to me in the Carnatic music concert is, in utterly blissful ignorance, enjoying the melody of what he is hearing. But I won’t let him in peace. To his happy question, “Isn’t it beautiful?” I don’t merely nod….I respond, “Oh, yes, Podalangapriya is such a rare but beautiful ragam! I remember, in 1905, Mahakrishnapuram Rama Iyengar sang an RTP (such is the erudite way of referring to Ragam, Thaanam, Pallavi) in this ragam, set to khanda triputa taalam!” The poor neighbour retires in abashed awe.

I don’t dispute that scientific names, and precise id’s are required. But they are not required by everyone. My “ignorant” neighbour in the concert is enjoying the music as much as I fact, probably more than I am, as I try to resolve in my own mind whether the ragam is, indeed, Podalangapriya, or its relative in the same Melakarta, Kathrikeswari. If I want to make a study of the science underlying what I enjoy, that’s fine. But let it not be touted as a superior achievement, to be aspired to by one and all.


is a photograph, with Adesh’s view of scientific names, and my response to him.

Junglescapes Amphibian/Reptiles Excursion, Tambdi Surla, Goa, 12-16 Sept,, 2012

September 25, 2012

Girish, Parimala, Santosh and I visited the Canopy Goa resort for
their Amphibian/Reptilan excursions package. Everything was organized
by Ramesh, who, however, had to drop out at the last minute. It was a
memorable trip. I have put up photos on my Facebook albums, and here
is the creatures list that we have compiled.

I strongly recommend Ramesh Zermakar and Omkar Dharwadkar…their
knowledge is very impressive, and they are very helpful. Ramesh and
Pankaj Lad (along with his brother Gowreesh Lad) run the resort
extremely well. Even our Innova driver, Ali, was very helpful showing
us Monitor Lizards on the side of the road as he was driving, and
showing us pictures of a python that had eaten a macaque and later
regurgitated it.

Er, no, we did not have any Feni. We were drunk on the beauty of the
monsoon, and the wonderful beings that we could see and observe.



Amboli bush (id yet to be confirmed)
Common Indian Bullfrog
Dobson’s Burrowing
Malabar Gliding
Ornate Narrow-mouthed
Reddish Burrowing
Waynad or Marten’s bush frog (id yet to be confirmed)

Fejervarya, Indirana, and Nyctibatrachus species…I do not know the others.

Common Indian


Babbler, Dark-fronted
Babbler, Jungle
Barbet, Brown-headed
Barbet, White-cheeked
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, Yellow-browed
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Ashy
Drongo, Black
Eagle, Crested Serpent
Flameback, Common
Flycatcher, Tickell’s Blue
Fulvetta, Brown-cheeked
Hawk-Cuckoo, Common
Hornbill, Malabar Grey
Hornbill, Malabar Pied
Iora, Common
Kite, Brahminy
Kite, Common
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Leafbird, Blue-winged
Leafbird, Golden-fronted
Minivet, Small
Nightjar, Jerdon’s
Oriole, Black-hooded
Oriole,Eurasian Golden
Parakeet, Malabar
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Parrot, Vernal Hanging
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Grey-breasted
Robin, Oriental Magpie
Spiderhunter, Little
Sunbird, Crimson-backed
Sunbird, Loten’s
Sunbird, Purple
Sunbird, Purple-rumped
Tailorbird, Common
Treepie, Indian
Treepie, Rufous
White-eye, Oriental
Woodshrike, Common
Woopecker, Heart-spotted
Woodpecker, White-naped


Bulbul, Grey-headed
Francolin, Grey
Frogmouth, Ceylon
Eagle, Changeable Hawk
Junglefowl, Grey
Myna, Hill
Thrush, Malabar Whistling

Birds sighted from train:

Bee-eater, Small Green
Bushchat, Pied
Crow, House
Crow, Jungle
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Spotted
Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed
Egret, Little
Ibis, Black-headed
Kingfisher, Pied
Kingfisher, White-breasted
Kite Black
Mynah, Common
Robin, Indian


Blue. Grass
Blue, Pea
Castor, Angled
Castor, Common
Cerulean, Common
Crow, Common
Crow, Double-banded
Demon, Grass (cat)
Eggfly, Great (Cat also)
Emigrant, Common
Emigrant, Mottled
Gull. Common
Jezebel, Common
Lime, Common
Mormon, Blue (also cat and eggs)
Mormon. Common (also cat)
Oakblue, Common
Pansy, Chocolate
Pansy, Lemon
Psyche, Common
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Spotless Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass


Dart, Malabar Torrent
Glider, Crimson Marsh
Glory, Clear-winged Forest
Skimmer, Ground

Insects and Others

Spiders: Crab, Giant Wood, Jumping, Lynx, Orb-Weaver, Wolf.

Tarantula, Indian

Assassin Bug, Centipede, Grasshoppers, plain and painted, Mayfly,
Millipede, Bark Mantis, Praying Mantis, Robberfly Stick Insect,
and other assorted Moths, Beetles and Insects. One Web Scorpion,
Several crabs of all sizes.



Green Vine
Keelback, Beddome’s
Viper, Hump-nosed Pit
Viper, Saw-scaled
Wolf, Travancore

Calotes, Forest
Gecko, Banded
Lizard, Garden (Calotes versicolor)
Skink, Brahminy
Skink, un id

I would like help with the id of the Skink, I am sending the pic herewith

Cheers, Deepa.

I’ve put up the photograph on FB:

The Green Vine Snake taking the frog up into the tree canopy:

1st day:

2nd day:

3rd day:

4th day:

I have put up videos:

Saw-scaled Viper showing why it is so named:


Ramesh Zermakar handling a Beddome’s Keelback:

A Hump-nosed Pit Viper:

Two videos of the Green Vine Snake taking a captured frog up into the canopy:


We missed Ramesh and Shalini very much, as they had to drop out…Ramesh, literally, on the last day.

Live, laugh, love….

September 17, 2012


I hope all of you are alive and well….I went to Goa for an amphibian/reptile workshop, little realizing that there would be NO connectivity of any kind. Also, we were in the dripping forests, steering clear (99% successfully) of leeches, sighting various extremely venomous, and non-venomous snakes, and frogs and toads…and trying to dry out our clothes as much as we could before the next trail. So…forgive the long gap…but wait for the photographs of the area that we visited, pics of a Green Vine Snake catching a frog and taking it up high into the tree branches….I’ve been to Goa-the-town before, but the forests of Goa are….a wonderful experience that I want to share with you.

Steps….drama as a corporate learning tool

November 18, 2011

I’d attended an audition by

Steps Drama Learning

and to see my write-up about it in Citizen Matters,

click here

Here’s Mohan Mudgalkar, introducing this learning tool:

mhn mlgkr steps

And here are some of the participants, going through the audition:

steps drama

It was a very interesting experience, though I was not chosen (I didn’t expect to be!) But in the process, I got to know someone who is the wife of one of my NTP and wildlife friends, too!

The Angling Lesson

June 12, 2008

When Abhisheka, Adarsh,Anush, Sandeep and I (that’s the way we were taught to make a list of people…”x,y,z, and I”… not, “me and x,y,z “!) went to Galibore, we found one of Sandeep’s friends, an avid angler, called Balaji, getting ready to leave the camp for the Hyra fishing area with his fishing tackle. So we followed him there, and we all got a great first experience of angling….and according to Sandeep, the young men had the luck of the devil, because each time they got a Mahaseer , a famous fish found in the Kaveri, which can be really giant-sized, on their line.

Here’s the Mahaseer, when it was caught and before Sandeep released it:

the rest of Angling 101

Note to Myself

June 28, 2007

Before committing my time to someone for some activity, I must have a very clear idea of when that activity will happen, how long I might have to wait for it, what else I might have to miss on that account, and how much of time I might spend, or waste…

Learnt this today. No one can be held responsible, sometimes; these things happen; it is I who must be more careful.

It’s a note to myself, but I think it is universally leaving it as a public post!

Learning to speak Kannada

June 20, 2007

When I moved into Bangalore, one of the first things I felt happy about was that I would be learning a new language. I took up my daughter’s textbooks and learnt to read and write Kannada. I can now read and write the language, including Kannada numbers.

Alas, I found that in the Cantonment area, Kannada was NOT the lingua franca. My knowledge of the spoken language remained rudimentary.

I thought that once I moved to South Bangalore, my spoken Kannada would improve. But no. The reasons for this were:

I was living in an apartment building, where many languages were spoken when residents meet, and the link language remains English. And neither shopkeepers, servants, or service providers spoke Kannada. There being no need to speak the language, my knowledge improved only very marginally. Yes, I have still been making efforts to learn, as I believe that learning another language can only enrich me.

With my increased interest in wildlife and the many trips to the jungles of Karnataka, I have WANTED to improve my Kannada, and have been trying to speak it, and keep trying at every opportunity where I interact with someone who may not have a good command over English.

But I was really sad today, when I found that rather than appreciate the fact that I am making an effort, these people actually have been laughing at me behind my back for my fractured Kannada. The person who told me this has also told me,on an earlier occasion, not to speak Kannada (as I murder it)! True, no doubt..but then, how am I going to learn?

Well…NO ONE can speak a language with the fluency of one brought up to speak it as a child. And the fact is… that in the very cosmopolitan Bangalore there is NO NEED to speak Kannada at all;I know several friends who have lived here for over 20 years and do not know more than 3 of 4 words. Those of us who are trying to learn are doing so out of a respect for the language. Instead of being encouraged, if I know that I am being laughed at, my instinct is to stop the effort altogether. And when I say this, I am told that I cannot take criticism! And when I try to speak, every small mistake is objected to, instead of trying to see the broad picture.

There are no good conversational Kannada classes in my area; the language is generally taught as a “subject” and not as a living language at all.

Pouring scorn and laughter over someone’s efforts to learn anything is surely to put the greatest obstacle to the goal. I am sorry..but if this is the attitude of Kannadigas to those who try to learn the language, I am not surprised that so few people do try to learn it.

I must, however, give thanks for my friend Nirmala, who is taking a great effort to encourage me on the path to speaking Kannada….but I must confess to a great reluctance to speak it now!