Posts Tagged ‘people’

Visit to Ziro Butterfly Festival, Sept 2-9, 2019

September 12, 2019

Since it was a very, very long trip…Bangalore-Guwahati-Itanagar-Ziro-Pange WLS and back…I simply can’t describe everything in detail, but the visual story of what I experienced, with captions, is in a series of albums on Flickr.

Day 1, 020919, Blr-Guwahati:

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Fisherman at Deepor Beel

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Yellow Helen at Deepor Beel

Day 2, 030919, Guwahati and Rani WLS, overnight journey to Naharlagun (Itanagar)

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Grey Pansy, Kirtti Inn

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Crimson Sunbird, Kirtti Inn

Day 3, 040919, Itanagar, journey to Ziro

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Sonku and her son Ranka

Day 4, 050919, Ziro to Pange WLS

https://www.flickr.com/photos/86494503@N00/albums/72157710798479712/with/48716450193/

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Tytler’s Multicolored Flat

Day 5, 060919, Pange WLS

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Bhutan Glory

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Juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher

Day 6, 070919, Pange WLS to Ziro

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Paresh Churi’s color-pencil work of the Kaiser-e-Hind, the queen of Talle Valley

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An Apatani priest recites a prayer to save the crops from destruction by pests

Day 7, 080919, Walk in Ziro, overnight journey to Itanagar

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View of Old Ziro from Ziro Point

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Lunch at Potin, on the way to Itanagar

Day 8, 090919m Itanagar to Guwahati, and flight back to Bangalore

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Moving furniture

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater

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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

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Tussock Moth caterpillar

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

Deepa.

Tax

July 7, 2019

A poem for Union Budget 2019

Tax his land, tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.
Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow, tax his goat,
Tax his pants, tax his coat.
Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
Tax his work, tax his dirt.
Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
Teach him taxes are no joke.
Tax his car, tax his grass,
Tax the roads he must pass.

Tax his food, tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
If he cries, tax his tears.

Tax his bills, tax his gas,
Tax his notes, tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers, tax him more,
Tax him until he’s good and sore.
Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,
“Taxes drove me to my doom!”
And when he’s gone, we won’t relax,
We’ll still be after the inheritance tax….
~ Author Unknown

The bubble seller, 160619

June 16, 2019

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He sells ephemeral pleasures
Gently float the bubbles.

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Perhaps, in their rainbow colours
He, too, forgets his troubles.

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Every day heroism

June 13, 2019

In the past week, I have spent time with: someone bravely going through a painful divorce, someone recovering from a stroke, that someone’s daughter who’s taken the load on her shoulders, someone who’s taken care of his father and family through the father’s severe illness, and struggled to get ahead in academics (and succeeded in both), someone who’s been swindled by family members, and is trying to bounce back, someone whose children may lose their vision, someone who is dealing with a spouse’s cancer..and perhaps others whose secret trials and burdens I will never know.

Heroes? I walk among them.They are everywhere, my every single day heroes and heroines. Everyday bravery, that is silent, is the toughest bravery of all.

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Mr Gay India

April 25, 2019

My friends Stephen and Gordon sent me this link to Franklin’s interview of Samarpan Maiti:

http://www.khabar.com/…/mr-gay-india-samarpan-maiti-breaks-…

My response to them:

Samarpan comes across as such an honest person. The social stigma across the spectrum continues, since the British infected us with their Victorian prudery and morals. Somehow, I feel, before the British came over, we were far more accepting of all kinds of orientations.

I have gay friends here who are still very much “in the closet” or who are open but oh so prickly (er, rather a terrible word to use!) about themselves; I have one friend who finally moved to Germany, married and who says he will not return to India to live, because of the difference in the attitudes of acceptance. I do not know even one woman who is openly gay. Apparently they do not exist….not in my middle-class world, anyway.

In India, we actually go a few steps further. Open expressions of heterosexuality are also frowned upon (except in urban pockets). The front of the bus is for only women and the back of the bus is for men. (I am not joking.) We like to pretend that sex, of any kind, does not exist…our storks are overworked … bringing all those billions of babies to our country!

Looking forward to animated discussions when you come here. Hugs to all of you, since you are all in the US right now! Steve, Gordon, following all your posts on FB, and I wish I could attend the events on Vashon! …and I follow Franklin’s posts on FB, too…I enjoy his sense of humour very much.

Franklin, thank you for a well-conducted and articulately-written interview.

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”!

Ravugodlu: 4thSunday Bngbirds outing, 240219

February 26, 2019

We were 22 of us meeting up at the shrine at Ravugodlu,

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as the sun rose behind the hillocks of the beautiful scrub jungle. It is getting more and more difficult to find forest patches which are not walled off and where prior permission (often not given) is required. I do envy the birders and naturalists who could range freely over so many areas in the 60’s and 70’s! The population pressure is telling on the patches we have left, and I cannot blame the Karnataka Forest Department for being very wary of visitors, but definitely for students, research scholars and low-budget enthusiasts like me, the wilderness is increasingly either out of reach or inaccessible.

We started the walk with a kind of Coppersmith Barbet convocation, as large numbers of them flew in and settled on the tops of the trees nearby.

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So it was a while before we could move on. Already, before I arrived, the others had seen quite a few Indian Grey Hornbills flying past, and this continued on our walk.

Even when we were not sighting birds, the beauty of the rocky area and the path was delightful. We had been warned by a local farmer about the leopardess in the area (we had seen her pugmarks on the last 4th Sunday outing in July ’18) which had given birth to two cubs, but we saw no sign of her this time. Other footprints were there, though…the peafowl, and some other tracks which Mayur tried to identify.

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As we went on, we sighted birds like the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and other woodland inhabitants. The Bulbuls called, as did Tailorbirds…the calls of the Warblers, our winter visitors, were harder to identify. Even the call of the Drongos sounded very different when they imitated other birds! I explained to some of the others about “birding by ear”.

One of the highlights of the walk was the sighting of a Yellow-throated Bulbul, clearly if not sharply, caught on camera by one of the group. Later, Tej was certain that he’d sighted a Black-crested Bulbul, but since none of us had seen it with him, I decided to leave that out of the bird list. My apologies to Tej for caving in on this one! Another interesting sighting was that of the rarely-seen Marshall’s Iora.

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The white in the tail that marks the Marshall’s Iora

At the pond, which still has a good amount of water, we sighted some of the waterfowl…a Little Cormorant, a Common Sandpiper, and both the Common

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as well as the White-throated Kingfisher, looking for their breakfasts. Several birds, such as Swallows, flying overhead, were also noted.

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Large Cuckooshrike

Several unusual trees and plants also caught our attention, and I must thank Subbu for pointing out some of them when I was chatting to the others about the birds. Wildlfowers are stunningly beautiful!

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Now you know why they are called Bottle Gourds!

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Cochlospermum religiosum, Buttercup tree

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Indian elm (Holoptelia integrifolia)

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The inverted parachutes of Aristolochia indica, Eshwaramooli,or Indian Birthwort; critical for the Southern Birdwing butterfly

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Gmelina asiatica,Asian Bushbeech

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A Pond Terrapin that we spotted

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Crimson Tip

We stopped at the end of the trail for our variety of snacks, and both Vidhya’s “mangai thengai pattani sundal” and the masala buttermilk I brought, went down well with an assortment of biscuits and crunchy snacks. Why can’t all the vitamins be in the tasty nachos, I wonder!

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The only child in the group, Sanchana,

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proved to be very curious about everything she saw..and she quizzed me a lot, too! I am not sure if I answered her questions to her satisfaction…but it was very nice indeed to spend time with her. I do wish more parents would bring their children along, though I know the early start is a bit tough…our wildernesses are fast disappearing into residential layouts!

We dispersed at the end of the walk with some of us stopping at the Davangere Benne Dose eatery and others at Thavaru Mane (Mother’s home)Thindi,

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and went home with our hearts…and tummies…full, to face whatever the week ahead would bring.

The eBird list, compiled by Vidhya, is at

https://ebird.org/india/view/checklist/S53078827

Butterflies:

Blue, Pea
Blue, Tiny Grass
Cerulean, Common
Crimson-Tip
Emigrant, Common
Jezebel, Common
Leopard,Common
Orange-tip, White
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Plain
Tiger, Striped
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

Mammals:

A quick video of the participants , with each one announcing his/her name, is at


I have put up my photos on my FB album

here

and on a Flickr album,

here

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Monet-esque waterlilies in the pond

Update on the doctor’s list

October 17, 2018


I had posted this ad.
drmayanja, blr, 161018 humour
Turns out, this is from Central Africa, and
here
is an article by Patrick Mbataru, that explains, amongst other things, the first item on the list.
NAIROBI: In 1997, out of curiosity, I asked Gacamuku, a well-known Mbeere witchdoctor about a tale told about him. The story goes that the sorcerer was once presented before a magistrate.
Upon pronouncing judgement jailing him for three months, the medicine man replied, ‘I also jail you…’ The magistrate, so the tale goes, was stuck on his seat in the courtroom and the sorcerer had to be called to ‘release’ him.
This is a common selling story for sorcerers in the region. I forgot about the incident until recently when someone in my WhatsApp group hysterically claimed that our village has turned to witchcraft to solve rising theft.
There was a burst of holy anger and self-righteousness! An angry villager had hired a witchdoctor to catch the thief who had stolen his only cow.
Now, I am neither concerned with its practicality nor the moral-religious arguments that this subject immediately provokes. My interest here is purely the ‘why’.
Open witchcraft is rare in Central province. What people do secretly is a different matter. So when one hears that in Tetu, Nyeri County, after over a century of evangelisation and western education, people are using the occult to solve problems, there is ground for moral outrage.
But I asked the WhatsApp group: What would you do if your only source of income is stolen? (A) Report to bwana chief and wait until cows come home (pun intended), (B) pray the rosary or if you are of protestant persuasion conduct kesha where the pastor invokes the wrath of God on the thief, (C) hire a sorcerer for Sh5,000?
Nobody answered. It set me thinking. You surely have seen on TV thieves ‘eating’ grass after alleged bewitchment. Is it not quicker? You pay a wizard ‘to trace the footsteps’ of the thief and voila, the following morning a guy is mowing grass on the roadside using his teeth. And you get your cow back or the monetary equivalent.
And better, thieves will never touch anything in the village.
Why do people continue believing in witchcraft? The simple answer is that it helps for some people.
The imposition of the European God, his rival Satan and his militia of supporting demons did not kill African witchcraft. The accompanying western architecture of government merely suppressed traditional means of making sense of this life.
Prof Anne-Maria Makhulu, an anthropologist at Duke University, writes that humans still resort to magic to cope with desperate medical, emotional, and financial situations in these heady times.
There are three legitimate mechanisms of social control: one, government, which we allow to use all sorts of methods to maintain social order. Two, religion; where the fear of eternal damnation persuades us to keep trying to be good.
Three, customs where the society punishes us through alienation or torment by spirits if we don’t abide with the norms. Witchcraft, scholars tell us was one of the tools used in the traditional society to control and balance society.
So strong was it that the colonial government banned it, and so did the independent Kenyan government. No government wants citizens believing in powers that it cannot control.
However, with life rapidly becoming complicated, modern governments and the churches can no longer provide all the answers to the questions unleashed by globalisation.Progress through scientific thinking has proven inadequate in answering the numerous questions it raises. Witchcraft helps some people to articulate the internal contradictions of modernity.
The farmer who loses his cow no longer gets quick answers from the Government, though he is supposed to vote and pay taxes to enable the same government protect his property.
The farmer is forced to look for his own catch-thief mechanisms.
The moral framework subscribed by the church fails to prevent the thief from doing his thing despite threats of hellfire.

Savandurga, 081017

October 11, 2017

It was just four of us: Padma, Ramaswamy, Srini and I… who decided to go to

Savandurga

on a misty monsoon morning.

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Sign in Kannada for our destination:

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The mist in the trees…

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Which slowly cleared up:

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Our activities attracted a lot of attention!

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We did see a lot of birds…here are some.

Black Drongos

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This Ashy Prinia presented a cartoony view.

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Green Bee-eater with dragonfly catch

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Laughing Dove

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The butterflies were out in force, too!

Yellow Orange-tip

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Dark Blue Tiger

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Plain Tiger caterpillar

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Pointed Ciliate Blue

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Common Wanderer

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Dark Grass Blue

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Common Gull

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Here’s Srini, delighted with the way a butterfly trustingly climbed on to his finger (if one wipes one’s perspiration off, they are attracted to the minerals in the fluid)

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That was the Pointed Ciliate Blue again.

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Some of the insects we saw included this White-tailed Damselfly

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and this beautiful Copper Beetle (at least, that’s what I named it!)

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Wildflowers were varied and plentiful.

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Here’s a lovely Balloon Vine:

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Mexican Poppy

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Gossypium sp (Mallow)

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Waterlilies in a pond

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Even seed pods can look stunning

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Mushrooms

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Dabbaguli was one of the places we stopped at

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And just outside the town, we spotted a bonus…the Jungle Nightjar!

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Padma brought her tasty cutlets, and we feasted on them

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Later we also had some local breakfast.

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We stopped near two old temples, the Shaivite sAvaNdi veerabhadraswAmy and bhadrakAlamma temple

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and the Vaishnavite Lakshmi Narasimha temple

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Here’s narasimhA, the man-lion avatAr of Vishnu, with His consort Lakshmi, who is his laptop…

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The deities were being taken out in procession, which was a nice bonus.

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This life-like dog in a vendor’s stall nearly had me fooled.

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Part of this temple seemed lost in dreams of another time….

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Some rather risky rock-climbing was going on.

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The scenery was stunning:

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It was on the rocky outcrop in the centre that we spotted three Egyptian vultures.

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We returned home, well pleased with our morning, stopping to say “bye” to this Oriental Garden Lizard which also seemed to be having a swinging time.

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Looking forward to the next weekend outing…!