Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Love of Nature

~I woke up in the morning, got out of bed. Picked up the news paper. Read it a while sipping coffee.

~I started to office, cursed the traffic, waited impatiently at the signals and finally reached the office and rushed in with impatience.

~I took a break and came out of office, crossed the road cursing the traffic yet again and finished off my work and get back to office.

~While walking on the road with friends and collagues, we gossiped and discussed about job, manager and gals of course ;)

~On weekends, I sit back at home on saturday morning wondering what to do !


~I woke up in the morning, went out and my eyes searched for the daily visitors- the whitebrowed wagtails and the spotted dove. While I read the newspaper I lent an ear to enjoy the song of the wagtail.

~I started to office, scanning the skies and the tress tops. Traffic signals provided ample time to look out for birds around. I reached office glancing the "resident" Rock pigeons and the huge fig tree.

~I took a break and came out of office and noticed the regular Pariah kites that dominate the skies. I found that a group of rose ringed parakeets too were making lot of noise.

~While walking on the road with colleagues gossiping, I talked less and scanned the skies and trees... besides regular gossip. I picked up something from the ground aaah a fig fruit, I opened it and searched for the fig wasps!!
( at times preaching friends about how wonderful fig pollination is..)

~On weekends, I started wondering how to manage time with so many birding places to visit!!


Aaah.. you are right!!! I misplaced the Epilogue!!. But, it was intentionally done!

Now some questions-
What can a 3 day program do to a city/town-born spoiled brat?? - Magic!!
What can a meeting with other nature lovers can do to a nature lover--? Rub-off effect!!
What can an enlightenting session do to someone who think wild life=forest?Discover the city outskirts!!

The answers for all those can be searched by analyzing the prelog and epilog I wrote above
Between the prelog and the Epilog happened the Jungle Lodges and Resorts-Naturalist Training program! (henceforth referred JLR-NTP)

When Shalini called me on one fine day in September and informed me about the JLR-NTP Program plan, I jumped up at the thought. How can I reject such an offer, it's something that I have been looking forward to, but never thought it could happen so soon. So how can I reject such an offer. I need to attend a wedding around the same time, but gave it a slip and decided that I will spend 3 days away from the civilization learning what is it to be a naturalist. I blocked my calendar, applied for leave and was counting days.

Finally the D-day arrived and I packed off my bags and reached Ramesh's place albeit with regular delay.We are joined by a group of women and in total 11 of us set off in 2 cars to Bannerghatta to spend 2.5 precious days away from home. We stopped at one of the darshini and finished our breakfast and reached the Bannerghatta zoo well in time. From there finally we were "escorted" by the JLR staff into the herbivores park and eventually to the JLR-Bannerghatta camp where our trainer Mr.Karthikeyan was waiting for us.

I read Karthik's blog ( and learned more about him through websites and forums and admired him. So, the idea of meeting him excited me.Karthik came to receive us and ushered us into the meeting room. Another student named Rachana joined us. After completing the formalities, the "ice-breaker" session started where we tagged each of us with an animal or bird name and Karthik added more insights into each of those.The fun has just started!! I was asked to start the naming and I smartly passed on to my neighbour to start, but evenutally we were told that everyone should reiterate all the names quoted till then and proceed that put me in a spot!! :)Now the ball passed on and I should thank god we are only 11 members. I quicly picked up the Copersmith barbet name looking at the name of one of the tents and co-incidentally I was alloted accomodation in the same tent.That is not the end, we spotted Coppersmith Barbet in almost all 3 outings that followed and I fell in love with this bird.

The first session was very interesting (infact all sessions). It's on the "Naturalist" and "Bio-diveristy of India" which amazed us and we started to get a feel of the whole thing. We had a break which prompted us to take our cellphones and go hunting for signal. Ramesh and I went searching for signal in the JLR campus and somebody told us that we can get decent airtel signal if we walk beyond the dinner place taking the small clearing that reaches the border of the campus.

We went promptly looking at our cellphones signal and while we are searching for signal as I stepped further I heard some noise in the bush next to me. I was curious but then started looking at the signal and stepped further.I heard another sound from the bush that drew my attention and bingo out came a colorful small bird out of the bush, glanced at me and flew away.!! It's the INDIAN PITTA. It's colors are stunning and awesome and made a vivid combination. I know instantly that I had seen this birds before. Memories from childhood flashed for once. I remember, we tried rescuing it when we were kids but failed to so. It's a complete surprise to me.

Back to the sessions- the afternoon session was when we tried to draw a sketch of birds. It's fun and imagination at it's best and we are anxiously waiting for the "nature trial". Eventually at 4-30 we set out albeit a bit late on a nature trail.We started geared up wtih cameras and bincos and first spotting if i remember right was none other than the "Copper smith Barbet"...way 2 go.. !!It's an interesting birds with beautiful bright colors and never seazes to amaze me.No wonder that's why they had choosen it to be on the cover of the Grimmett and Inskipp's "Birds of Indian Subcontient ".

Once we moved out of the campus,we saw a millipede and karthik told us that it's harmless and we handled it with ease. We learnt the difference between the Centipede and Millipede.
Interestingly it had ticks or parasites clinging on to it's body. Then we debated what we say was a Jungle crow or a Common crow and moved toward the lake.We had a good outing and we started to identify birds...oops I should say we started to find out birds to identify.

I must admit as a starter it's tough on first hand to spot the bird leave alone identifying it.With the kind help of Karthik, we saw the White cheeked barbet and Pond Heron and then moved on to see the "Resident Sambar" of the Herbivore park. The light was quickly failing and just when we are about go back we saw this active brid flying around and catching something in air.The beautiful blue color and tiny body made it look awesome. It put up a great show for us. Karthik eventually told us that is' the TICKELLS BLUE FLY CATCHER.

With the ligh failing, we returned to our rooms and refreshed and watched a wonderful part from the "Life of birds" series of Sir Attenborough. Later we had a dinner and with that we called it a day and retreated to our rooms and set off to sleep.

The next day morning we set out to a lake and it rained birds in that session. We started with the bulbul cousins. The redvented and the white browed perched on the same branch and gave us a good show.The cocophony started, "where is it??", "I can't see the bird", "aah yes I can", "can you give me the binocs", "it's red tail", "no it's white, bigger than crows", "smaller than sparrow"... anwyays, we had good sigthings and returned to the resort and munched happily on the yummy breakfast.

The first session of the second day was on Bird behavior and we dwelled deeper into the subject. It helped us understood and made us awed by the depth of the details we are witnessing. It's just the introduction to the big world of Birds.Late in the afternoon Deepa and Mohan joined us. That's the second person I have been looking forward to meet in this training. I read deepa's blogs and when Shalini mentioned about deepa during some conversation and told me that she knew deepa and that she is going to drop by at the training, I was looking forward to meet her in person.

Finally I met her and yet again I realized the power of blog. If you follow someone's blog and meet the person I am sure you tend to feel that you know each other from quite some time. It's different from a situation where you hear about someone from a third party/person and meet him/her. Deepa is sweet, warm, open, active, friendly, witty (the kinds of friends I always wish to have) and Mohan who enrolled for the course was my roomie and they make a good couple!!Anush also joined us for the evening.

The afternoon session is when where we are supposed to go for lion-tiger safari. But we did not want to trouble the poor beasts and instead had a session on Mammals which was a learning experience.During a break in that session we came out and saw the drama of a WASP paralzying a spider,laying eggs inside it and trying to dig in a hole to secure it!! what a drama.. more on it here..

Later in the day another nature trail and some more sighting. But as we are about to start, it drizzled a bit but we procceded. We proceed in a different direction and since it just stopped raining and an overcast october sky didn't do any good to us. We could spot few drongos and barbets and just when the excitement is going down Mohan managed to see and click an EURASIAN EAGLE OWL. Although the pic shows it facing the other side, it's such a a beautiful one. It made our day and we spent quite sometime tracing it as it went into the bushes after we started looking at him. Anush with his sharp eyes was quick to spot it and then he had his belly full and left for home.

We then proceeded to the lake when the heavens thought the otherway and it started pouring. We got drenched and karthik managed to call the resort to send us a vehicle and we all were transported back. On the way back, few of us wished to have some pakods+chai in such a chill weather and Karthik had them ready by the time we got freshened up.We attacked the pakodas and tea... reminded me of Youth hostel treks....! Later, we watched video from the "Life of Birds" and concluded the day.

On the morning of the last day we went for another trial and our list of birds almost doubled on this eventfull day. We saw the malkoha, the cuckoo shrike, the robins....
Interestinlgy, we DISCOVERED a new species of birds. :) In all our nature trials Ramesh used to spot lots of birds, but eventually most of them ended up as Red-vented Bulbuls. The last day was no exception and finally mohan suggested renaming the bubuls as "Ramesh Vented Bubuls" instead of Red vented bubils

The last day had a session on Ubran wild life which was an eye-opener and dispersed the myth we usuallly have that Wild life is only in forests!!. We started to know what a big world we have around. Karthik quoted that he spent 400+ hours watching just a bird from his house window. We learnt lot which I cannot share all here, rather it need to be felt and experienced than read.
With a heavy heart (at least me) we packed off and checked out and reached home.

Now let me differ from what I wrote above. I want to share something I learnt.
~Nature hosts so many miracles that it never ceases to interest you.
~There is so much happening around us that we fail to notice and all we need is an attitude to understand and learn.
~There is never a dull moment in life when you stay close to nature.
~The joy of being with nature is unmatchable and less told and more to be experienced.
~The way you look at things will change and you will start observing minute things and details when you get used to being with nature.
~It's a duty of naturalist to spread the awareness, share knowledge and I promise myself to do so.

~Nature is a delicate web of interdependancies where a distrubance at one palce can make a big impact on lot other. So be sensitive when dealing with nature
~Every living creature (incldues flora & fauna) have a role to play in this world and all of them are equally important. An ANT is as good as a TIGER to me.
~Ultimately the same generic logic applies to be a naturalist- Be curious, Be energetic, Be patient, Be hungry to learn more, Be open to admit NO or say I DON'T KNOW....

There is so much to learn , so much to understand, that once you start exploring or understanding nature you can't help yourself from admiring it. The bonus here is there is never an end to this learning since a life time is not enough to completely understand each and everything thing that constitutes the nature and I am glad I started my journey....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Break Time

No... I am not taking break. I am referring the break time while watching TV. I used to change channel during commercial breaks earlier, but offlate I stopped doing it, thanks to the creative advertisements. I fell in love with this ad.

I can just watch it over & over and the cute kiddo made it even more memorable & enjoyable. The innocence, the way she talks, her expressions.. flawless. Esp when she bring in the excitement on the grim face. I could not resist joining her to say "sone ke daanth" evry time I watch the advertisement. It brings back all those silly superstitions we had as a kid.

I confess, I too digged a pit and secured my "milk teeth" in it and covered it up. But curious me had digged it after few days to check why nothing happened!!On the money part, we got the money in alternate ways (leaving that story for another day..) How about you??? gotcha!!?

Another interesting one...

Hmm... interesting to note that Indian ads are getting better and better and more creative. Take for instance the Virgin mobile ad's that are too creative and smart too!!

Talking about ads, watch this advertisement on my friend's blog that we spotted last fortnight :~)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Time for new snaps :)- an easy way to post something!!!
I have been to Valley school off kanakapura road with new friends and had a great time. Few pics from the trip. To start with, on the ocassion of Chandrayan's sucess, here is one pic clicked today to pay my tribute to my cutie moonie..

Touching the moon:

Place: IndiraNagar

The X Factor:

Place: Valley school

The Mini Spectrum:


There is always HOPE!! Take care and have a great weekend!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Jumbo Conflict

On one of my yahoo "interest-groups", a member brought in an interesting topic. He found a report stating that the forest department compensated villagers whose crops are destroyed by elephants. Apparently, the department ended up paying lakhs of ruppess to those villagers who live on the edge of forest and constantly troubled by elephants who raid the crops and destroy the yield. So the question is- Instead of spending so much money on compensation, why can't forest department buy off the land from the villagers and make it part of the forest. Very interesting idea!! So I took it up and dwelled deep into it and with my little exposure and knowledge I tried to look at the BIG Picture. Here is my take....(long one.. needs 5 tons of patience, note- 1 ton=1 minute)

Say the forest department bought the land for 2 lakhs! How long do you think the farmers survive with that money. In most of the cases the not-so-educated sons of the land who do not know how smartly to use the money might end up evaporating the money in an year. To top it, if they get their children married off, it might evaporate even before...

So what do they do after they finishing off their reserve cash.??? One of these...
1. End up as a labourer at some resort or farm (visit some of the villages around Bandipur to WITNESS THIS, but there the land is bought by so called "city-people" from bangalore for their private party houses..)
2. Migrate to cities for better living.
3. Feel bad at loosing the land hence clear some other trees bordering reserve forests and start cultivation.(Farmers are very closely attached to land)
4. Frustrated at loosing the land and the income they might turn hostile towards the forest department and the wild life(read: elephants in this context). Some of them can turn into poachers which can earn them the EASY BUCKS.

So it's not just about buying the land, you need to provide them with alternate sources of income which helps them on a long run and when I say alternate sources of income that leads to another discussion.

OK, when somebody uses the buzz word "alternate source of income"- it is easier said than done!! The less-educated farmers who got no skills other than cultivating the land should be willing to learn new skills that can provide them alternate income sources. Again, this should not be causing any destruction to the forest and it's biodiversity-- say if you decide to manufacture finished goods or some material where they use the resources of forest, the typical challenges(note- not problems) can be finding out skilled people to train them, sharing of income, usage of forest resources if any and marketing the goods which ultimately earns the income.

So do you think our forest department and political lobby are ready to take up such a MAMMOTH TASK, especially with no self-gain motivation other than saving forest??(I agree there are some genuine forest department people who had the attitude and will)? I guess the answer is a big "NO" in most of the cases. This is where a GENUINE and dedicated NGO's can chip-in and be a crucial link that connects all- -The people, the forest department and the political lobby without which the whole program might not succeed to the extent we anticipate.

So, I agree it sounds more logical to buy land, I would be more than happy to hear such a news...but I would add-- Buy the land but make sure the sons of the land are taken care of. To sum it up, make sure the impact of our actions have less side-effects by taking into account the welfare of all parties involved in this.

To do so, we need :

1. Committed people who can work with the villagers by educating them on the importance of conservation and about the alternate sources of income and win their confidence.
2. Do a socioeconomic study that reveals the "per capita income" that helps in choosing the right SOURCE of alternate income generation (ex: Handicrafts, Herbal products, Honey etc). Also, we need to do a Marketing survey and find out the places where the products can be sold (basically a BUSINESS PLAN that fits in.. spare my little knowledge on marketing, could not get right word)

3. Study the forest bio-diversity to understand the Non-timber products that can fetch any income (with a controlled and limited usage of forest resources- again only in reserve forests not national parks where such an activity is prohibited.) In fact, if forest department can buy 100 acres of land, they can use part of it to "grow" plants that might not be of interest to any herbivores but can generate income.(again here I am not an elephant expert to decide that and I assume elephants do not raid crops which will not serve them as food except when they are in "musth" .. experts correct me..!!!)

4. Have a strong political will plus forest department support to undertake such projects which can be implemented across all villages where the Human-Animal conflict is on rise.

5. Last, but not the least- Plan to use the land bought by the forest department in a right manner...the reality is... you might be surprised to see a politically supported fella erecting a "RESORT" on the recovered Land....! It's INDIA- anything can happen over night. .! Besides this, acquiring land might bring in resistance from political parties lobbying against the government who gives a damn for anything except POWER!

If any of you managed to read till here, a big THANKS. These are opinions expressed from my personal experience and observations. There are lots of other issues that I might have missed. At the same time, I confess I am neither a Human-Animal conflict expert nor a animal behaviour expert. I am just a lover of mother earth who would prefer the planet to be rugged, the way it was ages ago!!

I agree that some of the things I listed above can be debated for hours. But this is just my take on the issue and I am open for any open-discussion (not debate..) and love to hear your thoughts and opinions. I can agree to dis-agree with my opinions :~)

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I already warned you in the first post that I will be bugging you with pics. So here we go... enjoy the Bisi(e)-foto-bath series that goes on.....
(click on pics to get better resolution. I am yet to get a hang of this blogger. May be time to create flickr account)

The Web-hanger..

Place: Lalbagh, Flower show
Cooked on : August-14-2007
Clicked this guy at Lalbagh flower show last year

D Quote:

Place: Autorickshaw
Cooked on: July-24-2007
What a quote man!! I instantly fell in love and clicked it on my mobile.
Let me try translating it with whatever little Kannada knowledge I had.
"Birth is FREE...
Death is CERTAIN...
Love is ETERNAL..."

The Fall collection!!

Place: Lalbagh
Cooked on: October-19-2007
The FALL collection....!

OK that's it folks. Stay hungry till next round. aa bisi bisi.. bisi bisi...

Monday, November 3, 2008

What a DRAMA!!!!!!

Emotions, Tears, Celebrations, Hope, Despair, Swing of Fortunes, Chaos, Destiny, Twists & Turns, almost-had-it.. if you wish to see all this in a minute, you should have watched the last 2 minutes of the "just" concluded grand and fitting final F1 race. I am sure it will be debated and discussed who the REAL champion is, but when I sit and write this review of the final F1 race, I could not stop myself from empathizing with FELIPE MASSA.

What a race this was!!Leave behind all those technical things, the last 2 minutes of the race had packed so many things and a big PUNCH at the end!! I am sure, he would have not felt this bad if HAMILTON had maintained his 5th position in the last but one lap, but that's life....!

In case you do not follow F-1, let me not bore you. But it's worth a watch to catch up some news highlights on the last F1 race of this year to see how all those emotions played with the lives of HAMILTON and MASSA. Understandably MASSA was in tears. Especially after a fantastic race, his hopes of championship budded just seconds before he crossed finish line and he erupted with joy assuming he WON it, only to find seconds later that his destiny has changed and Hamilton had the better of the fortunes. I wonder how many of us could expect such a TWIST in the tale.

If you an atheist, you might differ from me, but what a trick does GOD holds back till last minute. What a drama! Isn't it true that Life is so uncertain and full of unplanned things?? We plan so many things in life and we take it for granted with a positive hope that it is going to happen the way we thought, only to find later that the almighty had planned something else. It hurts more when you know you gave your best, but find yourself evaded of the fruits of your efforts. But, I believe all that happens for a reason. In this case, the tears Massa shed might be the fuel of inspiration for the next year to win comprehensively.

Anyways congrats to Hamilton and thank god I got a chance to witness a wonderful race of my life. (do catch some news on F1 to understand better of what i wrote above...).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One more time

Yes, one more time!! (STOP imagining and read, dirty minds..ayyo). I started it all over again. Although I have been passive(wahh.. whatta excuse) at blogging from the past 2 years, finally the itching prevailed and here I am at almost midnight of the 1st day of Novemeber franatically typing a post which is due from ages.

Allright, it's time to pay homage to my good old blog: that carried millions of memories and that helped me make friends for a life time and made me a better person, taught me loads, changed my attitude, helped me discover new things...... d list goes on.... I know 2 minutes of silence does not do any justice to what you had given me my old bloggie... I owe you a lot.. senti!!

Now, what happened to life ever since I became lazy to blog??Here you go ..
1. I'm married, albeit I claim it's child marraige, mom says 27 is not too early!
2. Although people notice that I have been "ballooning", let me write an explanation.. aah may be the G force of earth altered a little and making the weighing machines go crazy, especially when I stand on one of them!!
3. My love for nature is gaining strength and pulling me strong. Thanks to the JLR-NTP(reserving some lines on it for next post)
4. My Fitness levels have already dipped below the "ZERO" level and I badly need a reason to work out!
5. Work at office is "butchering" me (using the word Killing would do no justice ).
6. My camera handling skills got a bit better (something to cheer about, finally). I concluded it based on the fact that the count of images that I delete due to camera shakes or mis-focus have comedown. Don't be surprised to see my S3IS images posted here unlinke my old blog where I used to depend on gettyimages.

Let me not clog you all with more. I will keep updating more "happenings" in my posts. Till then with a promise of more posts, I sign off (enough man, lemme go sleep, it's 12-30 am).