December 15th, 2006

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Sunset at St Louis Zoo....posted on Blogger

Posting from Picasa to Blogger is much easier than posting to Flickr first and then posting to LJ....so here's the photo of the sunset at the St Louis Zoo:

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=20561054&postID=116612502696358514

I notice that cross-posts from Blogger to LJ get truncated...but I hope that the photo can be viewed properly since it is on Blogger! No, it doesn't display the photo as well as the text, no doubt I don't have the hang of posting yet....you have to click on the "11.35 am" (the time given for the post) to see the pic.

Oh all ye geeks out there...tell me how to do this properly!!
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Bird-watching in St L, photography, and cheetah cubs

kalyan talks about the mindset which makes him rush off somewhere as soon as he hears of the prospect of seeing a rare bird.

At my beginners' level, too, I find symptoms of this dread disease. I missed two wonderful trips, to B R Hills and to Bhadra...but family commitments took me halfway across the world at the time when LOTS of winter birds arrive at home, when travelling is such fun and when I could have learnt a lot more.

But having come here, I decided that I would at least visit the Zoo, which is just half an hour's walk away, and see the exotic birds there with newly awakened eyes.

Alas, KM didn't want to bring either the Canon prime lens, or the 75-300 lens which I have been somewhat getting used to...now, instead, I am getting used to the Tamron 28-200 lens instead. Predictably, my pictures quality has regressed again.

I have shot a couple of birds on nearby trees that I can't yet identify...but today, I got some AWFUL pictures of what is THE representative bird of St Louis, after which their baseball team is also named...the Cardinal. It is such a bright and beautiful bird...bright red in colour. Birds are not frequently to be seen at this time of year.

My friend Abhijit Menon-Sen gave me a useful link for birds of Missouri; I am trying to match my OFP (Orrible Fuzzy Pictures) to them to get id's. I *might* post the fuzzy pic of the cardinal...if my birder friends promise not to laugh at it.

I tried my hand at some pictures of some of the beautiful birds at the Zoo, like the Hyacinth Macaw, Spectacled Owl, the Tawny Frogmouth and so on...but alas, the low light in the bird house meant that red-eye is a permanent problem, and the wire of the cages keeps getting in the way, too, Will have to figure out how to leave the flash off and yet get good pics. I am a basic-point-and-shoot person getting into deep waters....helllpppp!

But meanwhile...I picked up a local newspaper yesterday..and it says that the cheetah in the Zoo has just had three cubs!! Wow, what a success for the Zoo. (the St Louis Zoo is a smaller, but to my mind, an even better version of the world-famous San Diego Zoo...indeed, they have several times won the Best Zoo in the US award, no mean feat when you know the size and clout of other Zoos.) Apparently, since the weather is so cold, the cubs will not be displayed at the Riverside Enclosure until spring....I am planning to call/ email someone at the Zoo (I find people there VERY approachable, I might even just go there in person) and ask if, as a visitor from halfway across the world, I could get a sneak peak at the babies...maybe I won't be allowed to photograph them, but I would really LOVE to see the cheetah cubs, even though captive!
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This weekend--Indira Raghavan

We have just one weekend before we leave for Maine to celebrate Christmas, and thereafter, go to Connecticut to celebrate DS' brother's wedding. So it would be sensible to do our shopping, get home tasks organized and utilize the weekend fully. in fact, we had decided not to go to Memphis, Tennessee, to visit a childhood friend of mine, as we had planned earlier

But that was before we heard from mriga that my friend,Murali who is a close friend of Mriga's too, is planning to celebrate his mother's 75th birthday. She turns 75 on December 19th.

Indira Mami has been a loving presence throughout my childhood and I have great admiration for her. She, like others in her generation, married very young, and raised a large family--4 daughters and 2 sons-- and dedicated herself to them totally. And yet she managed to retain her interests, especially in music, because she has always actively encouraged my singing, and would often come over just to sit and listen to it. She has managed large numbers of relatives and friends, marriages, births, deaths, joys and sorrows, with such ease. She and Raghavan Mama are such a united couple, I cannot think of one without the other. They took the trouble to come over to Bangalore for my daughter's weddding...not an easy task considering the fact that they live here, in the US. She still looks replesendent in her 9 yards saree and her glittering diamonds, the traditional dress of an Iyengar lady.

It was our privilege and honour to have them as elders at the wedding. Neither KM nor I have parents living and it was they who represented our missing elders.

And true to his usual affectionate nature, Murali, my friend (his links with us are too numerous to mention; he and KM were also colleagues for a long time, and are both still in the same field, automotive ancillaries) has actually advanced the date of the celebration from the scheduled 24th to this Sunday, just so that we can attend. We are so touched by this... I do wish that my friend Anu, Murali's littlest sister, whom I knew as "the little tyke running around" then, and have got to know and love as a person recently, could have also joined us. I will miss her a lot. It will also be my privilege to sing for Indira Mami on Sunday.

So off we go to Memphis on Saturday afternoon. The priest will be picked up from the temple by 6 am on Sunday and the religious function will be held between 6.30 and 7.30 am. We hope to return by Sunday evening. Here's a prayer that Indira Mami and Raghavan Mama are amongst us, in health and unity, for a long time to come.