Posts Tagged ‘observation’

Morning walk, 080717

July 8, 2017

The morning walk, in cool, cloudy weather, is a great joy.

I start by buying the Deccan Herald (the news is always the same, but I love the Saturday cryptic crossword). I walk under the shade of large trees, watching the vegetable, fruits and flower vendors setting up for the morning.

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Joggers, walkers, and others pass me or fall behind. Several people stand on the grass, contorting themselves into good health.

Barbets and Koels welcome the morning as they clear their throats, prior to singing their familiar songs.The screech of a squirrel as the resident Shikra catches it. A snatch of Venkatesha Suprabhatham from someone who has apparently not heard of earphones.

The White-Hair-or-No-Hair brigade sitting in easy companionship, with steaming cups of darshini coffee, and the morning papers. Youngsters employed in call centers leaving, looking bleary-eyed.

I come home, tear off yesterday’s sheet on my Murugan calendar, and give thanks for the new day that lies ahead. And yes, I have filled in a few words in the crossword!

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Morning walk back home, 050417

April 5, 2017

This morning’s walk back home:
Women dotting freshly-washed front yards with rangoli in the making.
The carpets of Honge, Copper Pod, and mahogany flowers on the roads.
The smell of onion cooking as a lady makes morning palya at a mobile cart.
Walkers with their morning filter kaapi, exchanging notes and spreading newspapers.
Sunlight filtering through the trees, haloing the head of an old man as he walks with difficulty but determination.
No school buses or sleepy-faced students.
Milk packets and newspapers on mopeds,being distributed.
A young girl stopping for a minute in front of a small shrine, her eyes closed over her hands folded in prayer.
Cut watermelons making red stars.
I reach my home, content, looking up at our resident bulbuls as their burbling song pours liquidly over the lawn.

The Red-breasted Flycatcher, Nandi Hills, 241214

December 24, 2014

This morning, I went with Savithri Singh, her son Kartik and his friend Karuna, Brinda, and Sharmila, to Nandi Hills.

Though it certainly didn’t rain birds, we saw enough to keep us quite happy, and one of the highlights of the outing was the

RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER

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that flew about, delighting us.

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I wanted to find the difference between the Red-breasted and the Red-throated Flycatcher, and I read that the Red-breasted Flycatcher is Ficedula parva ,” is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. It breeds in eastern Europe and across central Asia and is migratory, wintering in south Asia:…. and “the Asian species, Ficedula albicilla, previously considered a subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, has the red throat surrounded by grey and a different song. It is usually now separated as the Taiga flycatcher.”

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Why Taiga? Because…this bird goes to breed in Poland! However, one disturbing fact is that
“Studies on their spring arrivals to the breeding quarters in Poland from 1973–2002 show that males are returning earlier with increasing temperatures.”

They are found mainly deciduous woodlands, especially near water. They build an open nest in a tree hole or similar recess. 4–7 eggs are laid.

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The

Wiki entry

about the Taiga Flycatcher has this to say:

“In winter they are mostly silent but have a typical chip-chip-chr-rrr flycatcher call. In their breeding season, the song consists of melodious whistles, like that of the European pied flycatcher.”

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For other photos from the outing, click on my FB album

here .

The heights a job can take people to…..Gurgaon, 111214

December 11, 2014

I went for a walk today, and was awed by the size of the highrise buildings all around me in Gurgaon, Haryana…now a suburb of Delhi, the capital.

As I climbed back to my sister-in-law’s 19th floor flat (boast, boast…I can do 19 floors after an hour’s walk!), it suddenly occurred to me, as I crossed the 7th floor, that I could take a pic of the view from each floor and make it into a movie. So here’the 7th to the 19th floors:

I saw a few garbage collectors doing their jobs on each floor; I didn’t photograph them out of sensitivity…I don’t think they would have liked it.

While on my walk, I saw this incredibly tall fire-fighting crane:

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It belonged to the DLF Firefighting Service (apparently each Phase of this residential complex has one, this is Phase Five)

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I imagined a firefighter, high up on that small platform on top, going to the rescue of residents in apartment buildings, quite high up.

Then, I found something that I didn’t have to imagine. A speck on the building opposite me caught my eye.

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Can you see the window-cleaner?

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I zoomed in:

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Dangling by that rope (though it seemed a safe piece of equipment, it certainly gave me vertigo), he was busy with his work:

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I walked home, musing that those in “high places” in the pursuit of their jobs or careers need not always be the object of our envy. I salute people like this, who take up “high-level” jobs where they live with danger every working day, and take it in their stride.

Scientific experiment, STL, 170814

August 19, 2014

DnA suddenly decided that there would be a scientific experiment for the education and edification of KTB, and they chose one that involved baking soda, vinegar, a glass bottle, and a balloon.

D measured out the last of the baking soda:

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KTB put it in the glass bottle, which held some vinegar:

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The vinegar frothed up:

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At this point, D realized that the mouth of the bottle was too wide to fit the balloon around, and the experiment was going to be repeated with a narrower-mouthed bottle:

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Many hands were required for this delicate operation,because this was the last of the baking soda:

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We watched the end result:

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The observer observed.

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I think The Booda was recording and documenting all this on his laptop, but I am not sure:

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He certainly seemed happy with his efforts, though.

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The balloon filled up, satisfyingly but not fully, with carbon di oxide gas:

Now I’d like KTB to realize that all the cooking done in the kitchen, that gets the food on the table, is also a series of chemical reactions, starting from the setting of her favourite “thayir” (yogurt)!

Chakra and yantra, 040814

August 4, 2014

When was tending his bike, he asked me to take this snap of the cycle gears:

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This was mounted on the bicycle wheel, which is called “chakra” in Sanskrit. It has 10 gears…or levels.

It reminded me of a spiritual aid, that has been worshipped for centuries in Hindu culture:

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(Pic from the net.)

Here is the wiki entry about

The Sri Chakra or the Sri Yantra

Which has nine levels.

How apt, I felt, that the cycle, which is a “yantra” or instrument, has two “chakras”, with gears that so closely resemble an ancient “chakra” or “yantra”!

Kinetic energy does not, after all, seem to change much over many centuries!And cycling is a religion for many….

Birding and bubble algae, 210714

July 24, 2014

I took this pic of a Northern Shoveller in a pond:

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And of two thorougly “ducking” into their food:

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I was very intrigued by those algae bubbles, which added quite a surreal touch to the photograph. So I googled, and ofkose, there was quite a lot of info…

here

I realized that algae bubbles seem to be classified as “pests” for reef tank enthusiasts.

“When we hear of ‘bubble algae’, one reflex is to think of the infamous “Valonia ventricosa”, without even considering the many other algae that form bubble-like structures. Premature judgment can be regrettable, but there is this added twist: the much-cited ‘Valonia’ of our nightmares is no longer Valonia, but, thanks to Olsen & West (1988) now has its own Genus, Ventricaria. ”

Suggestions were given for controlling the algae:

“e can try to manually reduce said presence to provide relief, and include in the affected tank a set of agencies that exert pressure against the problem alga. Since availability of usable nutrients fuels the alga’s aggressive growth and reproduction, we attempt to restrict such availability. That is pretty much the standard threefold approach to most algal outbreaks:

1. Manual removal of the problem alga
2. Suppression via appropriate herbivores
3. Denial of resources

Normally, there would be a fourth aspect, of fiddling with temperature, pH, or some other physical-environmental parameter to suppress the problem alga. However, the environmental tolerances of most bubble algae exceed those of most ornamentals put into reef tanks.”

I can’t find much about naturally-occurring bubble algae, though, I get only reefkeeping fora!

Therefore, I decided that for this particular (public) pond, near the Campushallen (University) where I photographed the ducks, algae bubbles, far from being a “problem”, actually food for the birds.

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So…I don’t care about the unhappy reef tank lovers, I am very happy indeed that the Northern Shovellers were happily feeding on these bubbles and enjoying themselves!

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Ducklings, water and green bubbles…is there anything else required for sheer enjoyment of the childish kind?

Broken-wing behaviour, Copenhagen, 060714

July 15, 2014

Broken-wing behaviour (or

Distraction Display

is a very interesting phenomenon in the bird world. Usually, the bird “acts” as if one wing is broken, to decoy predators from a nest, or fledglings, nearby. When the creature that is the perceived threat approaches quite close, the bird suddenly “regains” the use of the lame wing and flies off.

I have observed one demonstration of broken-wing behaviour which was very unusual, and for which I have never got an explanation. A female Koel tried this behaviour when she was trying to get into the nest of a couple of Coppersmith Barbets. This was in my favourite haunt…Flycatcher Avenue at Bannerghatta Zoo area.

Here

is my account of what happened, and here is the pic of the female Koel displaying her “lame” wing:

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I still do not know what the female Koel wished to achieve by this, but I enjoyed watching the drama.

I also watched an Oriental Magpie Robin exhibiting this behaviour once in Thattekkad, and a Kildeer in St.Louis, Missouri, decoying a cat from her nest.

But…little did I expect to have this behaviour shown to me in the middle of a crowded marina, in Copenhagen, of all places! But as we (, , and I) walked towards the water, I was surprised to see a Blue Rock Pigeon sitting on the ground, quite close to the visitors, with one apparently broken wing.

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“Oh!” exclaimed my friend, “Poor bird, its wing is broken.” “No,” I responded, “It’s not!” and as I clicked, I continued to move closer to the pigeon. I moved closer and closer…and still the bird did not move. Was I wrong, perhaps, in my idea? My friend repeated, “It IS broken, you are going so near it…”

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Oh, no, I was perfectly right, after all…impressing my friend no end with my “knowledge of nature” (heh, heh!) , the bird flew off on two perfectly good wings! It then went further by teaming up with this strutting white pigeon.

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I don’t know if they are a couple, or a sorority…

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But that pigeon with her acting certainly delighted my friend no end, and I hope the bird ensured the safety of the nest, or fledglings…or whatever it was we were getting distracted from!

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So…I went to see Copenhagen as a tourist, but wound up with a welcome spot of birding behaviour!

A walk and a climb in Highrisegaon, 260314

March 26, 2014

Yesterday I was far too knocked out by the migraine, but this morning, I did wake up in time to leave for my walk by 5.45 am. It was the lovely “ushat kAlam” ..the pre-dawn darkness slowly glowing into ambient light.

I went down the stairs…and it was dark enough that after a few floors, I had to go back to the lift and take that down to the ground floor. Out I walked, and with the tall buildings looming on every side, I walked along, being careful to get my various co-ordinates so that I would be able to find my way back through the Redwood Sequioas of Gurgaon.

Several things caught my eye. One thinks, perhaps, that each building is a compact “village”…but that is not so…most people living in the apartments are strangers to each other…they just share the cocoon, and the sense of camaraderie is pretty fragile. After I got no response to my third or fourth “good morning”, I stopped wishing anyone.

I went out of the apartment building I was staying in, and walked out to the “downmarket” area that I could see from the 19th floor balcony…from which the maid, who works in the apartment, comes. The area is divided by a “nullah” (sewage canal), with all sorts of filth in it, in which several huge-looking pigs (some actually having back-bristles like boars) were rooting around. What a difference between economic strata, separated by a road and a ditch! And yet, the residents of the building depend deeply on the denizens of this “pocket sector” (as one of Anjana’s banker friends in this area described it) meant for the “EWS” (Economically Weaker Sections). The drivers, the maids, the “ironwallahs”, the many domestic and menial services provided to the residents…they come from these “pockets”.

I noticed the early morning services in operation. Milk, in plastic sachets that were stacked in hard plastic crates, was being unstacked after being unloaded from the vans, and being delivered. Newspaper vendors sat in groups, with the day’s several papers in front of them, folding deftly, and inserting the various leaflets that make them a few extra rupees every morning, as well as the supplements of each newspaper. Maids and servants were walking to work, some with a shawl over their torsos, against the early morning’s slight nip. I was cheered to see some maids (yes) on cycles. In fact, at one place, I found several cycles, and the security told me that I could borrow a cycle if I wished, and return it after going around. That made me very happy!

I came back from the open road, and decided to walk along the buildings themselves. Between the high-rises were some even more opulent “low rises”…in this region of high real estate values, to have a bungalow or a low-rise building with just two or three floors must mean sky-high cost!

The spaces between the buildings were plentifully planted with trees and plants…and I was happy to see that not all of them were stunted and pruned to human domination…there were quite a few trees that supported a lot of squirrels, and birds…and as the sun rose, butterflies flitted along, too, as (did dragonflies. There were assigned walking paths, but I could walk along the entrances of the various grand apartments, and look up at the incredible variety of the architecture…some of which was pleasing to the eye, and some of which was…otherwise (“Neo-Gurgainyya”sums it up best for me.) The anonmyity of living in such apartments is, I suppose, both a comfort and a discomfort sometimes…but the greenery helps one in adjusting to this kind of city life.

I watched Bulbuls, Sunbirds, Pigeons and Wagtails; in the ditch, Lapwings looked incuriously at me; I saw a few Flowerpeckers in the Bottle-Brush trees, and did my chanting (108 names of Anjaneya, kanakadhArA stOtram, and some more slOkA), meditated in peace, watched some ladies doing yoga…by this time nearly two hours had elapsed.

The weather was just warming up by now, but I climbed the 19 floors to the terrace with ease, and was only slightly huffy and puffy when I reached the front door. I was happy with my morning walk, climb, observations and thoughts…

I walked into the apartment to greet everyone, especially the two children who are now the center of my universe. They ran to me and hugged me; the younger one showed his two teeth in a happy grin; the elder had some anecdote to relate….I was back in my present world..and I left behind the world of Gurgaon, the High-rise Village.

The Missed Call

January 27, 2014

I don’t know if any other countries are as innovative as India is, when it comes to “lateral application” of technology. One of these lateral applications is that wonderful

jugaad

in the field of mobile communication…the Missed Call (MC).

In a country where every paise is squeezed for what it can yield, it was inevitable that the MC itself became a medium of communication. Almost as fast as the mobile service providers announced different plans, Indians have found a way of utilizing the ancient concept of zero to them.

How a zero? Let’s assume that when a call is made and received, it registers as one call. So, if the call is not completed, it does not register as a call, and is a zero on the mobile service provider’s billing. But in India, it works in other ways, even as a zero.

My first demonstration of the MC came when the plumber arrived at home to look at the pipes. His assistant needed to go to the terrace to check on the main pipes leading from the water tanks, and was told, “Go up to the terrace and if you find everything is OK there, give me a missed call”. Sure enough, the plumber disconnected his call from his helper, after the second ring..and the message had been passed, without a paisa having been spent on either side.

Over the years, I’ve also used the MC as a way of communication. I get on a bus at Bangalore, and want to tell my friend in Mysore that the bus is on its way…one MC. I’m to go downstairs and need to know when my friend is coming, so that I know when to go and wait…a MC from her.

A couple I know also uses the MC as a means of apparent non-communication, which is actually a method of communication. If someone calls at their home and wants to contact the husband, the wife gives her spouse a MC. The husband, noting the quick ending of the call, knows that someone has called (he usually knows who’s expected.) The wife apologizes to the visitor, “He’s not picking up his call”…and the husband now knows what to expect, and whether to come home to meet the person, or wait and avoid him.

But until a couple of days back, I didn’t know that MCs were also an accepted way of doing business, too. I switched on my TV and idly surfed through channels, and paused, out of curiosity, on one of those tv sales channels…and there it was…”Please give a MC on XXXX no, and we’ll call you back (and sell you this overpriced article that you don’t need…that subtext did not appear on the screen.)” went the text at the bottom of the screen. (And sell you this overpriced article that you don’t need…that subtext did not appear on the screen.) Open acceptance of the MC as a business communication method!

My washing machine service engineer also informs me that rather than send texts to his boss, he just “gives a MC” as soon as he reaches the next customer’s place. That’s jugaad in business practices! The only thing I couldn’t work out is, how his boss would know if he genuinely wanted to talk..and the service engineer clarified that, too. “My boss has another number, and when I call on that, he’ll pick up.”

I wonder if there are other applications of the MC, and I’d like to know what, and how. We Indians are masters of the art of Not Paying For Something! And this, when most of us have mobile usage plans that include free messaging!