Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life.. in the jungle

Nature never ceases to bewilder me.
not only the variety of creation, but also the ways of the world, so to say!
as evolved mental beings, we impose our mental models to understand evolution and the myriad models of representing life.
but still, there are so many unanswered questions.
recently, while walking to the Dodda Sampige, the jeep had a puncture and not having the right tools, the driver went up ahead to get help and spares.
while that was getting fixed, some of us decided to take a walk.
one of the persons in the group pointed out a ‘Gobbare Hula’.
an insect that would curl up to protect itself.
he demonstrated how that happens and we caught it on camera.
we walked further and came to a small breach on the path, and did not want to get our feet wet in that muddy water.
we saw another jeep with the spares coming our way and decided to get back to our jeep.
we could not miss a fresh squish on the road, which was the Hula we had seen just a few minutes ago.
squished by the second jeep.
we were, naturally, disturbed.
it surely was not normal for a jeep to go by that path regularly – particularly being a protected area with a requirement for advance permission to go there.
it was also not normal for someone to interfere with the Hula, to make it curl up on the road.
maybe it might still have got crushed, we thought – on the other side of the road or by someone else..
the only evidence of this Hula being there was the photo we had taken!
there must be zillions of such lives and deaths in this world, that go un-chronicled, and even without leaving any trace or impact.
i remembered the book – the selfish gene – where the ‘desire’ to propagate was so strong in a gene that it figures out how to stay on!
i saw an example of that also in that jungle.
a mango sapling, growing out of a seed that was embedded in elephant poop!
the seed had survived the elephant’s digestive system and at the first opportunity sprouted leaves..
not sure how long it can survive, without proper roots and nourishment..
maybe someone would transplant it or take it home.
who knows – that might even spawn off a new breed of mangoes – which would be the mango equivalent of ‘kopi luwak’!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dodda Sampige

it took 3 years, multiple wishes before we could see the Dodda Sampige.

The first time, i guess we did not wish hard enough.

the group that i am a member of, believed that a very strong intent by a group of persons [or even an individual] can make things happen.

the excuse was that the area was still in the zone of Veerappan – and public was not allowed in the interest of their own safety.

the next time, it was some other local ‘politics’ that the forest officer did not want to take any decision.

finally, this year – we could make it to the Dodda sampige. till we reached the place, there were elements of uncertainty. from the weather to the recent declaration of the area as a protected tiger reserve.

thanks to the stronger intent and the other forces, we finally made it!

we, here, refers to a group of like-minded, but diverse group of persons with an interest to understand the human mind..

So, what is so special about the Dodda Sampige?

the story goes -

Once, Renuka, the wife of sage jamadagni, saw a gandharva and an apsara play in the river and wanted to do the same with her husband. Jamadagni came to know abotu it and was angry. So, he ordered one of their seven sons to sever the head of their mother. all but the youngest refuse and were turned to ashes by the angry Jamadagni. when bhargaram does as his father expected him to, he is granted three wishes.

using two of those wishes, he brings back his mother and brothers back to life. his third wish was to have his father’s anger recede forever.

repenting has act on his mother, he goes into a deep penance deep in the forest, under a champaka tree – you guessed it – the dodda sampige, which is supposed to be many centuries old.

his mother turns into a river – bhargavi – and flows by the side.

all this is in the B.R. Hills area.

the access to the spot – about 4 kms from the main road, is not easily motorable by normal vehicles and we needed a 4 wheel drive [jeep].


after the recent rains, the thick plants and shrubs made it a good environment for the leeches..


a flight of steps


took us to the banks of bhargavi – with a view of dodda sampige!


here are some more views around the tree..





after some time around the tree and a short visit to a coffee estate on the other side, to see a soliga dwelling, i noticed the ‘chikka sampige’.


not sure if it is called that – but i felt thaty near the big brother, this one on the other side of the river looked very ignored, though imposing in its own way..


some more side stories the next time.. till then .. a panoramic view of the dodda sampige side bank of the bhargavi river

Panorama 2

Saturday, November 5, 2011


work and work related travel were the main reasons for being away from this blog in the last few months.

a recent weekend break to Masinagudi was a welcome relief.

about 250KM from Bangalore, it was a good drive upto mysore and then a little slow via nanjangud.

the drive through bandipur offered some close encounters with wildlife right from the road.



bathing elephants and


monkeys having the right of way to cross the road..

as a protected tiger reserve, the place is not very formally organized for ecotourism, though there are persons who offer services for those interested in some explorations.

the activities officer at the resort we stayed in welcomed us saying that is was a jungle resort, with the concept being ‘just relax’ – meaning that there are no special activities or adventure sports and we are pretty much on our own, except for a guided fishing trip


the trips with the guide, who said that he was also listed on the lonely planet took us to more interesting locations in the neighborhood.

on our walk in the Singara region, we saw some bones




just as we wondered if these bones were set up there by the guides for photo ops for the visitors, we were shown some pugmarks


we were told how lucky we were to see these clearly as it had rained the previous day and the path was very muddy and that it was a leapord that had crossed that spot less than 30 minutes earlier.

we were shown some more marks – saying that a bear had skidded, possibly while trying to escape from the leopard


our anticipation increased and the expectation that the leopard might spring on us anytime made the walk that much more exciting.

the leopard probably got its prey elsewhere and did not return, even though we walked for about 10 kilometers in that area for over 2 hours.

we decided to explore other areas around.

the walk in the Bokkapuram area was more of scenic beauty



and the horse path that Tipu Sultan had made for his trips to Ooty


our guide wanted us to hury back as it was getting dark and that it was not safe as animals would be returning to their homes.

on the way back, we spotted a waterfall – and could not resist taking a bath.


the force of the water was a good massage and the cold temperature made it refreshing.

and, this time also, no animal sighting.

the next morning, we decided to explore the Mavanalla area.

the vegetation here was different from the earlier expeditions with more thick shrubs.


this time, the guide smelt and told us that an elephat had passed that area a few minutes earlier.

we could see a startled deer, a huge male, run when we approached some shrubs – raising our hopes of spotting more animals.

but, what we spotted were – birds



and flora, including a golf ball shaped mushroom


and ‘fresh’ poop that indicated that animals were there!


a porcupine ‘nail’?


and a peacock feather


also gave us hopes that we would surely spot some of them or bears, that were supposed to be staying in that area.

but the closest encounter we had was with a herd of cattle that, we thought, were ready to charge on us


and realized soon that they were probably just amused to see us in their grazing area.

in spite of the disappointment of not seeing wild animals close, it was a very enjoyable break and would surely consider going there again.. maybe even if it to ‘just relax’!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A memorable reunion

It was close to midnight. and I had returned to my hotel room just a few minutes earlier, after attending a concert by Mohit Chauhan in Colombo.

The conference I had come to attend was over and my flight was late afternoon the next day.

As I was wondering how i can spend the time in the morning – with rain in the forecast – it occurred to me that I could possibly try to trace an old pen pal.

We were pen pals during my school days. A common interest of DXing or SWLing [Short wave long distance listening] brought us in contact through the Radio Malaysia.

We used to write to each other fairly regularly for a few years. Even after I moved from Chennai to Bangalore for my studies and a little later on getting into the job, we were in touch, but much less frequently.

That was about 30+ years ago. All I could remember were:

  • his name
  • his town [Mount Lavinia]
  • and that he used to play cricket for his club there

It was a wild shot, but i wanted to still give it one.

After a few attempts, i seemed to get some search results that seemed to reinforce the identity.

still nothing concrete.

then, one site that catered to SWLs  - with some details of QSL cards [the acknowledgement that SWLs get when their reception is confirmed by the broadcasting radio station], had the name i was looking for – and, an address. and a phone number.

i could not confirm the date of the entry.

but, i thought it was worth an attempt. anyway, as some of the locals explained earlier in the evening, there was not much to do / see in Colombo other than the museum, zoo etc which would take time – except shopping, as any other activity / visit would need more time than the couple of hours I had.

I decided to take a chance and told the cab driver to take me to the address. on the way, he wanted to confirm the directions and called the number.

to my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be the right number – though my friend was not very sure who i was.

after navigating fairly narrow roads in a hilly terrain – and missing the house a couple of times, we finally made it!

then, from memory, we recalled a few points that we had exchanged – i do not know how I suddenly remembered some of those trivia! – and could pretty much  catch up on the lost years.

we then went to the Mount Lavinia beach and he showed me the hall where he got married etc.

it was then time for me to head back to the hotel, after a little shopping – to return.

i will cherish this meeting as the most memorable reunion.

p.s. while getting to know each other’s families, i came to know of the tragic demise of their son last year, due to cancer. i saw his picture – a charming and pleasant boy. he was also a cricket player, who was playing for his college and very well regarded by his teachers and friends. my prayers for his soul to rest in peace. and to give my friend and family the strength to tide over this irreplaceable loss.

while some of the online stalking techniques helped me reconnect with my friend, in keeping with the principle of online privacy, i have avoided mentioning names or other personally identifiable information of known people to be shared in public channels.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

can i have a [less]smart phone please?

a few months ago, i experienced my first thrill of a phone app!

while i have a lot of interest in new technology, and like to explore new applications that i can put technology to use – i have resisted a few things, such as email on the phone – or even the smart phones.. for fear that my life would be controlled more by these multi functional devices, rather than my spontaneous will..

it was an activity tracker – on my non-smart nokia phone, that i was using to track my daily morning walk. looking at the statistics, walk route etc and comparing my performance across days was some trivial thrill.

i was very excited when i got my first ‘smart’ phone.. that too on windows phone 7 operating system.

when everyone i knew had an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or a Nokia, i felt unique that i had a phone with an OS that has not yet been ‘officially’ launched in India.

what it meant was that i only had the web for help!

the first impression was good – in terms of how it powered up, got the initial settings and the basic phone was functional in minutes.

then, the ‘smartness’ took over! and i was totally lost.

it appeared as if i did not matter to the phone that had its own mind!

starting with the Wi-Fi settings – while it detected the network at home, it would not let me adjust any settings manually! that was a shame, because i have a non-standard setup at home, that requires a manual configuration of Wi-Fi settings. think of it as an additional layer of security..

the process of transferring my contacts from the old phone was also not easy. thanks to the web, found a few utilities that would : export my old contacts list, then convert them into a merged .csv file and then import it into my Gmail account and … and … and …

finally the contacts were set up.

i realized that – just like in the real world, we accumulate so much junk over time. i could see some very old phone numbers, addresses etc. and contacts that i have not been in touch with for ages..

thank you smart phone, for reminding me – but, no thanks – as you threaten to remove the contact details from the mail system also, if i want to delete them only from my phone.. they need to be in sync, you said!

then came the next challenge – of downloading any of my music collection. or games [free ones, of course!] and some other ‘enhancements’ that i saw ads of on various sites..

the designers assume that there should be only one way to do things [possibly to avoid calls to the help desk] and by not giving the users any choice, they can make it efficient..

thanks to the friends on the web again, i learnt how to do some of these.

all this, at a cost of a few days and many hours of time.. and i am probably about 30% set up on the phone.

i am yet to figure out how to set my favourite tune for the alarm, or to pick up or reject a call without the vertical swipe etc.

as i get used to it more, i am sure to find more situations when the phone makes me feel dumb!

not sure if i would like it.. maybe a dumb smart phone is what i need… a phone where i can see all the settings and decide what to use when and for the 10-15% of the functionality that i would use most frequently, have some defaults and shortcuts

Sunday, May 1, 2011

are we there yet?

Recently, I had an opportunity to accompany a seven year old from Bangalore to Chennai.

He was a very well mannered child who would normally not need constant supervision and find things to do to keep himself occupied.

but, transit was different.

while we were stuck in slow moving traffic or at lights, i could see some impatience surfacing.

after boarding the flight, we were waiting for about 10 minutes before the doors closed.

the impatience surfaced again.

as a question that has been made a classic in family vacation movies : are we there yet? or how much longer? how much farther?

and of course, i was blamed to be the cause of this boredom, which would not have been there, if we had travelled by train!

that set me thinking. how did i change to be resigned to the endless lines, traffic snarls and progressive delays – some times due to the weather, sometimes, ‘chumma’, as no reasonable reason was provided.

i was reminded of a very interesting description that i had read in a book recently.

that frequent travellers attain nirvana by developing techniques to deal with all the uncertainties and resultant induced stress.

some of them – reproduced very loosely:

  • consider yourself as ‘living cargo’. you are just like cargo, except that you do not move on the belt
  • spin yourself into a cocoon, ignore the world around you, plunge yourself into a book or the newspaper crossword , that you may never otherwise would
  • imagining – the wilder, the better – about what some of the other cocoons would have done before reaching the airport or what they would do first when they reach their destination

i like the last one – watching others, guessing and completing their halfalogs or make stories with characters inspired by the cocoons i see around me.

we see these everywhere – very rarely have i had a meaningful conversation that lasted more than a few initial exchanges around common frustrations of the flight delays or rude staff or the evergreens of traffic or the weather.

train journeys, possibly because the travel durations are longer and the arrangement of the seating, where the passengers face others, create at these more lasting ‘rail sneham’ – or train friendship.

even in the pre-Facebook days, updates about everybody’s friends and pets and their friends would be exchanged and discussed in detail. if you are in such a situation and want to make a lively conversation, talk of personal privacy in a train.. and watch the effect!

all will be forgotten the moment the passengers step out and go their own ways.

p.s – a bonus tip to handle a seven year old’s question of are we there yet, etc..

keep track of the time and distance you mentioned in your last response. decrement it – even if it is by just one [minute or kilometre] for the next one.. you can see the relief on the child’s face, knowing that we are getting closer to 'there’.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


it is interesting to learn new words.

Greenwashing is not a new word, but recently when i came across a reference to a chair that had a low carbon footprint, i could not feel anything but amused!

this was one of those hi-tech chairs that comes with buttons for umpteen adjustments. sitting in those chairs makes one feel in control – of what, i do not know! but the novelty wears off soon.

once adjusted, most of us are going to sit / work in the same position.

i like car seats that can be adjusted. particularly when you need to make some minor adjustments in a car driven by someone else before you. most of those are mechanical adjustments.

by adding extra motors and increasing the costs and the carbon footprint when a company says that the latest model is their lowest carbon footprint, i am not sure if that is also not  form of greenwashing.

in my school going years, i remember reading a monthly newsletter from a Canadian company that would have articles on new technologies and products. i used to wait for every issue eagerly. That company used to have a bye-line ‘if technology cannot solve problems, what else can?’. i remember writing to them asking how many of these problems solved by technology were created by technology! i never got an answer..

those were days before email and internet technology Smile

don’t get me wrong – i love technology. like when earlier today, i was on a phone call with my daughter – who needed some  directions to reach a place in Boston.

Here i was, in Bangalore, checking an online map and pretty much giving block by block directions over the phone to locate a place half way across the world!

i know, you my ask if a local GPS or a smartphone would have given the same or better results.. but the human touch would have been lost and sharing the feeling of being lost in real time is something that technology alone cannot completely capture or share..

Thursday, April 7, 2011

a prize for [writing about] walking..

Today is World Health Day!

for a contest organized by the wellness council @ the office, i wrote this piece while waitig for other to join a conference call..

not sure how many entries were received by the organizers, my entry was chosen to be one of five winning entries..


I shall not respond to any queries related to how much of this is fact…

if you decide to jump to conclusions, maybe it is good for your health on this world health day..


I like to walk.

Even as a child, my mother used to say that I would convince her that we should walk, rather than take a rickshaw – and use that money – to buy some biscuits or juice that I could have while walking!

As we watch babies grow, it is always a very special moment to see a child standing up and taking the first step! That is the first sign of growing up and standing on one’s own feet and becoming mobile. It increases the confidence of the child and everyone around too!

While I enjoyed walking, particularly with bare feet sinking in the sands of Marina beach, it became a serious activity soon after I discovered that my cholesterol levels were high. The doctor was surprised to see that though the rations were high, the good cholesterol [HDL] levels were also high – higher than the normal expectation.

When I told him that I like and do walk regularly, he asked me to continue that practice. From that time, I try to walk for at least 30 minutes a day.

A few years ago, I used to walk at the Lalbagh gardens in Bangalore with a few friends and their families every weekend. Since that was limited to weekends – and also required some commute to get to Lalbagh, I was looking for other options. When we moved to the flat where I stay at present, the ‘mini forest’ close by became a convenient path for a walk.

An old saying goes – sit a while after supper; walk a mile after dinner. This walking would be more of a leisurely stroll, as it is not advisable to walk briskly after a [heavy] meal – as the body needs the energy to digest the food consumed.

Walking as an exercise has to be more aerobic. The action of walking with swinging arms and keeping a steady pace improves the blood circulation and also regulates breathing.

Breath control is a technique that many yoga schools also recommend. The side benefit of breath control is to have your pulse rate also low! This is something quite normal for athletes. They need to conserve their body energy to peak at the precise moment they need additional energy to push themselves higher or faster or farther.

Walking every morning is one of the best exercises one can get. It is advisable to walk at least for half an hour every morning. Studies show that walking has a positive effect on problems related to high sugar levels [diabetes] as well as high cholesterol levels.

If you are not able to walk any day, try to make up for it by climbing stairs. Someone told me once that ‘your health can be assessed by what you take two at a time. Steps – or tablets!’ from the time I heard it, I have been trying to take two steps at a time.

Our flat is on the 4th level – and we are probably the only family in the building that takes the steps most of the time.

I am happy to see many colleagues take the stairs to get to work in the morning or to the cafeteria in the afternoon.

Now, are you enthused enough to start walking?

This page can be your starting page to get some basic concepts.

See you soon on the stairs in Surya Sapphire – or if you walk in the mornings, at JP Nagar Mini Forest! If there are sufficient enthusiasts, we can start a walking club – to explore electronics city and the neighborhood during lunch hours!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Summer is [almost] here!

Today was Ugadi.

Tthe first day of the new moon cycle of the month of Chaitra.  In terms of ritu (season), it is the last fortnight of basant (spring), and the onset of grishma ritu (summer) is a fortnight hence.

The day is celebrated as the beginning of the new year in various parts of the country.  It is Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra; and Yugadi in Andhra and Karnatka.  In Goa, today is being celebrated as Samsar Padvo.  The Sindhi community celebrates today as Cheti Chand.  It is also the beginning of the spring Navratra, the nine days of celebration and worship of the Mother Goddess. –-*--

While in other states, the new year is a couple of weeks away. the difference being the calendar based on the moon or the sun.

essentially, what this means is -- Summer is here.

that means the next two months would be the least comfortable weather wise in Bangalore.

before it gets too hot, this is a good time to enjoy cold water baths. after that, the water will also be hot through the day!

while i always have cold water baths in chennai, warm water in Bangalore feels more natural during the winter Smile this season marks the return to cold water baths!

as refreshing as the water is the mental preparation for the first splash of cold water on the body.

a cold water bath after a sweatey morning walk is very refreshing. with the early mornings still soemwhat cool, the water could be … cold! it is a major decision. whether to wet the head, toe or thigh first.

after that, it does not mater. just plunge in - if under the shower, or pour it on - if from a bucket!

today, i also realized that i am not alone. look at the sequence below, when this bird hesitated for a moment, before jumping in to the little lilly basin!

step 1: take a close look at the water. is anyone else watching?

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step 2: take a look from another angle

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step 3: another view .. just make sure it is not too cold or hot!

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step 4: just check the water – be ready to take off!

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step 5: what does it matter now! just enjoy the summer bath..

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the lilly basin has become a regular watering hole for mynahs, doves [recent visitors] and… sparrows! yes sparrows. i saw the first one today. i guess the SOS is working..

I remember a trip to kovai kutralam, where even at mid day, the water was very cold. the localite who took us there encouraged getting into the water, saying it would be very refreshing. jumping into the water without realizing it – was a resl shock! but very enjoyable and surely refreshing..

--*--thanks to a friend and former colleague for the fundas on the calendar!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Animal Similies

i hope that this post does not trigger the wrath of the animal rights activists.

no offense intended directly or otherwise to any other living beings.

for humans, i leave it to the reader to interpret the similies as compliments – as much as a nmirror would be considered one.

if you feel offended, you know whom to blame!

i have wondered many times how some of the analogies or behaviors are associated with specirfic species.

as .. as a sloth or as .. as a dodo.

isn’t it their nature? i get very uncomfortable when someone remarks on somebody else’s physical form [size, for example] or their eating habits [quantity].

when one says as poor as a church mouse – do mice have a desire to be rich?

or as crazy as a bedbug .. i know that bedbugs drive me crazy, are they crazy? maybe they are stupid, by our standards – to expect a feast by biting me!

if dogs are geneticaly condition to be faithful to their contemporary masters – can that be considered lotyalty – as we define for humans?

the Chinese name their years after animals. the soothsayers attribute qualities to an individual based on the animal associated with their with their year of birth..

i have come across many references to the region influencing expressions in the local languages.

while it is very positive to be received warmly, in the west – in south India at least, it is a compliment when someone talks to you cool or cold. I had rationalized this as a quality that is sought after in that region – in cold climates, it is good to have warmth – and in hot climates, anything cold is welcome.

but, in today’s context – it is great to be cool whereever one is.

before my mind wanders off like a monkey i want to tell you about this research paper that i read recently – that is about some theory behind some of the animal similies in English.

warning: this is not a very deep research paper that you might find very educative. but, if the topic interests you, it might be worth a quick read.

p.s. why is a wandering mind like a monkey and not like a butterfly?

one of the amusing expressions that i have heard some persons say about secrets that aren’t is [in tamil!] Kamba sootram, kazhudai m…… [rhymes with sootram]

don’t ask me the connection or the exact meaning

Friday, March 18, 2011

SOS day : 20 March 2011

No, it is not SOS due to the supermoon effect.

In a way, it is an SOS of a different kind.

it is the Save our Sparrows movement. i noticed it in a news item a couple of weeks ago. Got curious, as the organization,  Burhani Foundation was distributing free bird feeders, not too far from home.

as i drove towards the Burhani Masjid, i was welcomed warmly by the volunteers and given priority treatment and taken to the distribution desk; after filling up a simple form – with contact details, i collected my bird feeder.

they were setting a record of number of bird feeders distributed in a day.

on the way out, some birdfeed was also distributed.

this was on one of my long time wish lists and i was very thrilled to have a birdfeeder in the garden.

an earlier attempt to have one


was not very successful as the birds could not recognize it, i guess.

i was hoping that this would have a better result.

though this had a clearly printed label, what it could attract was

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a squirrel family!

other birds come to the garden, but i am yet to see a sparrow.

this does not seem to be a crisis only in India.

the facebook page indicates that this is possibly an international problem.

Friday, March 11, 2011

communicating briefly

i grew up in the era of correspondence.
and letter writing.
i used to look forward to the weekends, to catch up on the 'snail mails' from pen friends and radio stations, to write back to them.
the challenge was to write something different and personal for each letter.
even if it was the same, one had to write it all over again.

then came email. the ability to send the same content to many, by just adding them to the To, CC or worse, BCC  lists!

i was amused when i saw a Microsoft Word template called letter to mom. one could not miss the humor, that was part of the letter - that complained of how everything is being automated and simplified, but nothing could replace the joy of writing a letter to mom!

then came the world of blogs. one could just go on and on on whatever one wanted to fill cyberspace with.
a recent research that i read mentioned that most blogs have just one reader [i hope it is other than the person who wrote it!]

in the post facebook and twitter era, blogs seem to have lost their attraction for the Gen Y. but the facebook generation is freer with comments and discussions.

when i connected this blog to my facebook account, i find that more comments are on facebook, though, when i meet in person, more people talk to me about some of the posts.

can we not have a universal blog that could be read and commented on from various applications?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

agastiyar everywhere

it started as a drop .. as it rightfully should have, at the origin of the river cauvery.

the recent trip to talacauvery became more interesting when i knew that the complex houses a temple for sage agastya.

agastya being one of the sages of our 'gotram' that is named after him, has been associated with water.
there are many stories including how he drank up the ocean, how he spilt water from his 'kamandalam' to create rivers, how he acted as the counter weight to prevent the sub continent from tilting, when everyone was attending Lord Shiva's wedding in the Himalayas.

Agastya is also known as the deity of the Siddhas.

the initial drop became a major flow with multiple instances all having an agastya connection, all happening pretty much on the same day!

a couple of weeks ago, i came across an organization called atree - an NGO working on research in ecology and environment.
their newsletter is called Agasthya!
they have a focus on the agastyamalai biodiversity area.

as i was reading that, a friend had a status update on facebook about agastyar falls that he was visiting
all this was during a recent visit to pondicherry for a weekend. Pondicherry - aka Vedapuri - was said to have been the abode of many Siddhas.
Agasthya was supposed to have worshipped the 'swayambhu' deity of Vedapuriswarar, the god of Vedapuri - now known as Pondicherry or Puducherry.

while talking to someone about the building housing sri Aurobindo Ashram, i was pointed to the following reference:

According to the archaeologist, Prof. Dubreuil of Pondicherry, on this very site there stood thousands
of years ago, a Vedic College, a centre of culture. The legendary Patron of the city was the great sage

I could not stop thinking is there is some hidden message for me - from Agasthya..

Monday, February 21, 2011

7.25 AM

all clocks exhibit a strange behavior.

irrespective of brand or geography, the following seem to be true:
- when you hit snooze in the morning, they seem to cover 5 minutes in much less time, to wake you up again
- when you switch off the alarm, for that 2 minute extra sleep, they move super fast and move ahead by anything between 10 and 30 [lucky, if it is not 45 or more] minutes

i could not agree any more with whoever said that no two clocks agree - except, i guess the ones that have stopped. they show the right time at least once a day.

most of the time time is approximate. particularly the Indian way. When shall we meet - say 7, 7.30.
- i'll call you around 4.30

while in mumbai, if we miss the 7.23 local, we can take the 7.27 and still make it to the bus @ ghatkopar!

it is not just while waking up - while getting ready to go to work [particularly on days when i take the company bus] - the clocks move double or triple fast between 7 AM and 7.45 AM.

with the nearly weekly trips to delhi over the last few weeks, this has become a very important time.
while the actual departure times have been delayed, the web check-in would open precisely 24 hours before the scheduled time and this becomes a very significant

so, in all the morning rush, i need to make sure that i get through to the website precisely at 7.25 AM for the choice of my preferred seat.
strangely, these seem to be many others who also seem to be waiting for this time and have the same preference of a seat.
why else would i be seq #7, even if i miss the 7.25 AM slot by a minute or two?

lessening this disappointment or stress is the irctc site at 8 AM in the morning, to book a tatkal ticket.
blood pressure will automatically rise, as you see the available seats go down faster than the clock - with every successive attempt that you would be forced to, as the transactions would fail in various stages..

Saturday, February 12, 2011

starting young

in the last four weeks, i have been averaging about three days a week in delhi.
i was amused when i saw a front page news item a couple of weeks ago, about the nursery schools publishing their first list of kids selected for admissions!

time was, when everyone would eagerly wait for the board / public exam results.
this news item triggered some nostalgic thoughts..
i remember a personal disappointment about not getting admission to one of the schools in chennai - for my nursery.
i got into another, with my sister's teacher's connections!

more recently, i regularly see parents camping out on the pavement overnight, to get applications for admission to nursery schools.

there are still a lot of variations in the nursery school admissions in Bangalore.
In Delhi, though, there are many regulations to streamline this.
the Directorate of Education, Delhi has a comprehensive website with all applicable information.

and when the first list is published, it is front page news.
i also have been reading many interviews from disappointed parents.
one of them said that the system is not fair - as it does not give adequate weightage to the potential of the child.
they were particularly disappointed and concerned since they do not qualify under many criteria - such as alumni, sibling in the school, income, one of the parents NOT working, not a transfer case, not a government employee etc [the last one may not be a qualifying criterion, i think].
they were happy that their driver could get admission for his daughter in the first list - in three prestigious schools, thanks to the Right To Education act, but felt that deserving kids should all be given equal opportunity to compete and qualify.

i also noticed that there are many websites specializing in ... yes, nursery admissions in delhi!
a sampling from a google search: admissionsnursery, nurseryadmissions, schooladmissions, schooladmissionsindia, delhischooladmissions, nurseryadmissions ..

interestingly, the last site in the above list is not for nursery schools, i found this under 'about', but could not understand what is means.

Cardiogenic shock occurs not only at large but also in the small focal myocardial infarction. Are 4 variants of the flow and cardiogenic shock: reflex (caused by severe pain attack), cardiogenic true (the sharp decrease of myocardial contractility, impaired peripheral resistance, development of acidosis and giperkoagulemii) areactive shock (the most severe variant of true cardiogenic shock resistant to curative interventions and forced to carry an auxiliary circulation); arrhythmic shock (occurs in patients with acute myocardial infarction with heart rhythm disturbances - paroxysmal tachycardia and slowing of atrioventricular conduction and complete transverse heart block).

maybe the site is work in progress, or being developed as a class project by nursery school students! a school started recently near my home, talks of all modern facilities being available for the children and when we went there to see what they have [a small detour from our normal walking path], we found that some of the facilities - such as tennis - are only indoors.

I am sure there are preparatory and finishing schools for nursery admissions, when children start their education.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

bamboo flowers

on the way to coorg, we had stopped briefly to get an aerial view of srirangapatna.
just a couple of kilometers off the main road [bangalore - mysore] - a deviation would take us to nimishambha temple, hat is very popular.

much before that, is a spot - a small hill - called kari ghatta.
no signs or markings, one has to just know where to turn.
a small hill, with a vishnu temple, that was supposed o have been established by the sage brughu.

from the hilltop, one can get a view of srirangapatna and also the dariya daulat [gumbaz?]

seen faintly in the mist.

another spot we stopped at - near coorg - was at the neerkolli estate [kotle kaadu].

typical of that region, the vegetation was thick
among the other usual sights a rare one was the bamboo flowers, though already dried.
a closer look:

legends from many parts of the world refer to this phenomenon :

  • “When bamboo flowers, famine, death and destruction follows”, says a tribal legend in Mizoram.
  • When bamboo flowers it dies! Anyone familiar with bamboo has probably heard this
  • bamboo plant flowers once in every 48 years, brings along with a plague of rats
the reasons for this - on further enquiry seem to be that the flowers are eaten by rats, who also cause damage to other crops.
the dried bamboo can also catch fire - leading to additional damage.
of course, it takes time to grow again.
i could not confirm the 48 year theory, as i have heard that bamboos are evergreen.

speaking of rare blooms, i have heard of 'kurunji' in tamilnadu, that blooms once in 12 years.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


one of the distractions or sources of entertainment while traveling - to overcome the boredom while waiting at airports [or even in trains], is to imagine what the other person might be saying - while listening to loud cell-phone conversations.

such 'dialogs' are called halfalogs.

some recent ones..

'sir, there was heavy fog in my hometown. i got delayed getting to kolkatta and was in transit from early morning. i just landed in bangalore and am in the bus. will check my mails after reaching my room'. ....... what do you mean by this is becoming a habit?... i sent you the documents you wanted this morning, from my gmail id. ...'
=== this halfalog was heard while boarding the Bangalore flight in Delhi!

'you know what? i am going to chennai. i am so excited. i will be there for 3-4 days. am planning to go to pondicherry for a day. i heard that you get very good leather items, and cheap too.. what? jaipur or delhi is cheaper? can you then get me a nice pair of kholapuris? ya, and by the way, i forgot to tell you that my dad has given me permission to spend upto 5,000/- rupees and buy whatever i wanted. but then, it seems that they have reduced the baggage allowance to the US. i don't know ya, these airlines are taking everyone for a ride. how can i visit the US for 2 weeks without at least 5-6 pairs of footwear? anyway, this is the first time that i am traveling alone. that was why my dad insisted on shatabdi, so that even if i sleep off, someone would ensure that i eat. and also i get used to flying to the US alone to meet some of my cousins .. etc etc etc etc ..'
the person at the other end had very little [or no] opportunity to speak. it was a monologue - though fit enough to be classified as a halfalog.
=== the person who was halfalogging was a 20-something. and a first time traveler by a day train..

there were many others - more business halfalogs, that make an interesting guessing game of what the company, customer, value of the deal, competition etc could be.

just like most people seem to be quite free with sharing personal details online, most people seem unmindful of the surroundings while talking personal or professional matters.

Friday, January 14, 2011


one of the other lesser known spots in coorg is mandalpatti.
the abbi falls is very popular and attracts a steady stream of tourists.
a deviation from that road - and a further 25 kilometers will bring you to mandalpatti.

the road, where it exists, is also in fairly bad shape. some of the steep hairpin bends with loose gravel, make it a thrilling [and risky] drive. in a couple of points,

the shola forests
another estate we visited in bhagmandala
amidst a thick forest, the place was just off the main road.

the estate had a stream running through.

the water was fresh and cool.

one more aspect to observe if you get a chance to got through coffee plantations is to look for the kopi-luwak [pronounced kopilua] or civet coffee.
coffee beans, eaten by wild cats [civets] and the undigested beans that are excreted - are considered very special and tasty - quite likely because of the enzymes in the digestive system that give them the special flavor.
in most estates, these are not really used, as the quantities are very limited and do require special cleaning, packaging etc.

of course, no trip down the jungles is complete, particularly in the monsoon or damp areas, without leeches.
as we walked through thickly wooded paths, we did come across a few.

they are considered to have therapeutic value and no need to panic.
it is interesting to see how these small leeches quickly bloat up with your blood!
this is a picture of one that had its fill, and then was caught.