Nowadays, what with the monsoon not willing to leave us, and the winter morning fog setting in as well, the question always is, "Will we be able to see anything at the beginning of a bird walk?"
Well, enough of us gathered at the pig farm at Muthanallur lake to answer this question...the answer being, "It's difficult to distinguish colours, but the birds are there...and enjoy the lovely monochrome scenery until the colours are clear!"
The pig farm was probably not the most pleasant of places as a meeting point, noisome as it was. However, as soon as I took the mandatory group photo, we set off along the narrow path, and reached the bund of the lake. The water in the lake is still quite high, but the areas near the bund are completely covered by water hyacinth, making it impossible for any waders to forage there. We saw a few Grey Herons, a Purple Heron, and several Egrets, and in the bare trees, we watched a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings arrive and fly around noisily. This reminded me of the majestic Silk-cotton tree at Lalbagh, the blossoms of which are covered by flocks of these Starlings in season, making it a delightful sight!
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He said, "I regret
To say, I can only identify
This bird called the Egret,
The other thing that's long and white
That I can sight,"
He said with a sigh,
It seems but a few days ago, O Moon,
That I saw you wasting away to nothing.
Yet here you are, sailing serenely in the clouds,
Smiling at the earth, and at those who see you.
When I am troubled, I should think of you:
After waning, you will wax again to fullness,
Bringing the shining light of eternal hope
To us mortals on Earth.
Photo from Prakash Sastry's FB page
At first, when Usha called up to say that her mother was sinking, I felt very bad...I was leaving that evening for Madhya Pradesh, and was returning only after a week. Sure enough, when I returned from the forests, to a place where my mobile worked, I got the news that she had passed away.
I went down with viral fever, which recurred; this prevented me from attending the Vaikuntha Samaradhana, too. I felt really miserable. I wanted to hold my friends' hands at this moment...to take comfort from them as much as to comfort them in their hour of loss.
But now...I feel better about it. I remember Mami, not in the sad state of her health...but as a very strong pillar of her family and circle of friends. Let me reminisce...
At the beginning, of course, Mami was, to me, only "Prakash's mother" and "Usha's mother". It took me many years to realize what an excellent homemaker she was, and what a great "sahadharmini" for Mama. Their flat was always neat and spotless; there was always something that she would offer visitors She herself, was the same. A spick-and-span saree, hair tied neatly back in a plait, with perhaps a few flowers in her hair; face bright with sindhoor...and always, always, always, that welcoming smile on her face. Such unstinting affection. My heart overflows through my eyes, and I hear once again, her calm "Enna Deepa! Eppidi irukkai?"
What a great homemaker she was. She sent Usha for veena lessons, Prakash for violin; she watched with very quiet apride as they both became proficient. (In fact, I still feel that I rarely have heard the kind of "naadam" on the violin that I heard from Prakash.). She was patient and loving to Bhaskar, too, and his being "special", though it must have been quite tough for her, never saw her complaining or wishing that things were otherwise.
She supported Mama through his career; they never changed their simple living and high thinking. At every gathering, you could see her, well-turned out....and that affectionate smile.
I never thought to ask her about her life before marriage, or how she managed, coming to a very strange city all those years ago. For me, she was like a mother or an aunt...a wise, mature person, who always managed.
When they moved to Bangalore, they had intense difficulty with the flat they had booked, and she silently supported Mama through the years of struggle before they could move into their own apartment. I have never heard her complain. "That's the way it is!" would be her pragmatic comment.
She was an excellent cook. One of my great favourites was her "gasagasa" payasa...I used to joke about the ganja in it, and she would smile. She was never one to talk a lot, or laugh uproariously...but she always enjoyed the company of others. Did she sing herself? Did she learn any instrument in the time before she got married? Who were her parents? Oh...I never found out all this...I regret that now.
I got to know her more as a person (rather than "Usha-Prakash's mother" after they moved to Malleswaram. Even then, when arthritis gave her a lot of knee/leg pain, she tried to bear it stoically. She took care of Prakash's children while the parents went to work.
All through the time that Usha and Prasad went through severe health travails, she kept up her courage and hope. I remember telling Usha just before her major heart surgery at Vellore..."You will be out for the count, and fast asleep! I have come here more to be with your mother!" Which, of course, elicited another laugh from both of them. Usha's daughters were a source of delight to her, too. She would smilingly share some small anecdote of their mischief.
Bhaskar's passing away, and the manner of it, was the kind of tragedy that only she could have handled. What it must have cost her in terms of worry and emotional trauma..I can only guess. But she took that blow, too, that Fate dealt her. Dearest Mami, what a load you have carried in your heart...
When Mama died, something inside her seemed to crumble. That cheerful countenance was less so. But the affection never varied. I count myself so very lucky to have had that kind of unstinting affection and love, most of my life, from her.
Mami, I miss you more often than I would have thought possible. You taught me so many values in life, without a single sermon...you were the living example. Simplicity, competence, and wisdom...you were the epitome of these qualities.
So I am glad that I remember you as I last saw you...in full possession of your faculties, offering me some sweet which you had made.
I know that your suffering has ended, and that you are in a much better place now, looking down on us and blessing us. Why, then, are my eyes filling with tears?Why do I feel bereft?
Life has made me wary of rituals, so I am not unhappy that I could not attend the samaradhana or the homa that your children carried out in your memory. But your memory, and the memory of those happy, halcyon days in Calcutta...that is where you will live forever, smiling, your love reaching out to me, making me a carefree child once again.
On a visit to Solapur, we were having chai, when I looked at the shop next door, intriguingly called "Nani's Dosa".
I was watching this young man make a new variety (he told me later, his name is Kumar, and this "pAni poori" dosa was his invention!)
Here he is, making the dosas on the tAvA:
He then adds ginger/chilli paste and a "Madras podi" (that's what he called it):
Then a dollop of butter:
Then cheese is grated on to it:
The whole thing is thoroughly mixed, with the cheese and butter melting in:
And the mixture is spread (in an aesthetically pleasing way!) on top of the entire dosa:
Kumar then cuts the dosas into strips:
He then rolls up the strips:
His young helper stands the little rolls on the plate:
Cream (malAi) is then drizzled on the rolls. Here's the dosa as it is served:
And finally, here is the picture of Kumar's sister in law, and the extended family, all about to enjoy the finished item!
The patella, femur and tibia, they all got along
I ran, I jogged, I danced with such poise
But soon they began to make some noise
Crack, pop, grate, what’s all this fuss
The doc saw my knee, said crepitus
They rubbed each other the wrong way
Good ol’ cartilage couldn’t keep them at bay
Femur told the patella you are always in my face
Why don’t you realize I need some space?
The quadriceps tried to mediate but soon got worn
The ligaments would have tried but they were already torn
The big burly synovium now laughed in glee
My knee swelled up in this unusual melee
I tried many things but all in vain
Oh say hello to chronic pain
Some Chinese healer stuck needles into me
My neighbor told me try physiotherapy
I even got a bee-sting, if you get the gist
Then someone suggested “rheumatologist”
Did he do better it’s really hard to say
Let’s leave doctor-bashing for another day
Maybe it’s time to slow down in life
How I dread the thought of going under the knife
Symptomatic treatment isn’t it just a lure
C’mon science buck up, where is the cure?
*The knee Pop*
Dr. Benzeeta Pinto,
Asst. Prof. Clin immunology and Rheumatology,
St. John’s Med College, Bengaluru
By friends, family...
But for many, many things,
We are on our own,
Though we may not be alone.
No one can bear the pain of my body
No one can help me walk, limping, once again,
Determined to get back my ability to walk everywhere.
No one can take away the sorrow in my heart
That the random events of life fill it with;
I can express some of it to others,
But in the dead of night,
In the small hours when the body and mind
Are at their lowest ebb,
It is I who must bear it.
My sorrow at an insult I have suffered;
My sadness at some hurt I have caused:
Recollections of things I could have done better:
Many are the burdens, often secret
That I must carry myself.
Learning to set them down,
And laugh in spite of them,
Is growing up as a human being:
This, too, I must do on my own.
You may hold my hand, you may even hold my heart..
.But in the secret, innermost chambers of my being,
I am in solitude, and on my own...
And this is true of everyone.
7:59 PM (42 minutes ago)
to sharmila, Nature, Kiran, Sagarika, Ambarish, Nutan, pranshugaba, Pragati, avinandan.94, vinaya15927, rahul.navlanka, Arnab, dijeesh.v, subramaniansivam, Vijaya, manjulerao, Praveen
I was very happy with the response for the walk this time, and luck was certainly with us in terms of the variety of flora and fauna that we could observe and learn about.
It was indeed nice to have Naivedya along for the walk though he had to leave a little early. And I was impressed by Ambarish's interest and knowledge in spiders and insects, too.I too would like to have their contact nos. or email ids.
I usually write a short account of the walks I conduct or participate in; here is my email to Bngbirds, which is the umbrella birding/nature group of Bangalore. I have given the link to my photos on both an FB album and a Flickr album in it.
Looking forward to these walks becoming regular. As you would have seen yesterday, the friends who come with me are all keen birders and nature enthusiasts, very respectful of the spaces we walk in, and keen on conservation. So I do hope that Nature Club can allow me to bring a few more people, who, in their turn, can be helpful to the others who may be comparitively newer to the natural world and its wonders.
From: Deepa Mohan <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, Nov 16, 2019 at 10:31 PM
Subject: Birding/nature walk at IISc, 16 Nov '19
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
For the second time. the Nature Club at IISc invited me to conduct a birding/nature walk on the campus; this time, the turnout was quite good, and a group of us started out from the nursery area and walked along the campus.
One unexpected bonus was the presence of Rahul Narlankar, an experienced birder from Manipal, who is at IISc for a 2-month period. He responded immediately to my invitation and we were happy to have him with us. Almost immediately, in the midst of the calls of the White-cheeked Barbets and the Ashy Drongos, he pointed out the difference between the calls of the Green and Greenish Warbler, and also explained some of the ways warblers can be identified.
A beautiful Paradise Flycatcher caught our eyes at this point, flaunting his white tail-feather ribbons as he lured us on. We looked up into the tall trees, and spotted some White-eyes and Cinereous Tits, while overhead, the Black Kites wheeled, displaying the typical v-shaped wedge in their tails. However, some of them were making calls rather like Ioras, a call that I have not heard before.
We were able to show everyone the tiny beauty of the Pale-billed Flowerpecker, and soon, the Purple and Purple-rumped Sunbirds too. Sharmila was able to see a female Loten's Sunbird sitting on the path...a most unusual sight!
As we walked to the IGP Station, set on the gneiss, in a clearing, we found Red-whiskered Bulbuls on the bare branches of nearby trees. But soon, our attention was riveted skywards...because first a Honey Buzzard, and then three Booted Eagles (both pale and dark morphs) put up a lovely aerobatic show for us, swooping up and down on the thermals,being mobbed by the Black Kites, and soaring back again. Having thoroughly enjoyed this display, we spent a while also looking at the wildflowers, and the several butterflies and insects in the area. Antlions, Stone Beetles and Jewel Bugs, Gaudy Grasshoppers, Handmaiden Moths and Lynx Spiders... we enjoyed seeing the handsome six- and eight-footers.
As we walked towards the faculty quarters. we heard the calls of a Greater Coucal, and Rahul also pointed out the typical shapes of several other birds, like Dusky Crag Martins, Barn Swallows, and Little Swifts. The beauty of the well-grown trees, with full canopies, was a delight to walk through. I pointed out various native and non-native species, and it was a delight to look at the various hues of the wildflowers.
I was very happy to find several youngsters, like Ambarish, knowledgeable about insects and spiders, and we were very happy to see the colourful show put up by a variety of butterflies.l
We walked until the call of the "White-breasted Iddli" could no longer be denied, and then we adjourned to Nesara Canteen for a companionable, laughter-filled breakfast, and the promise of more walks with the Nature Club on this verdant, wooded campus, that must surely rank as one of the natural hotspots of our city. Those of us who had travelled all the way from south Bangalore did not grudge the time we spent getting back home!
the eBird list, compiled by Rahul Narlankar, is at
Blue, Pale Grass
Mormon, Common (mimicking the Common Rose)
Skipper, Indian Grizzled
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass
I have put up the photos on an FB album
And on a Flickr album
Bee caught in spider web, Churna, 031119
(it ultimately escaped)
Butterflies mud-puddling, Churna, 031119
Drive through the forest/grasslands, Churna, 031119:
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher calling, Madhai, 041119