Monday, December 19, 2011

Building brain power...Turning grey matter in to gold...a useful book for parents and teachers...

Do you think you know your brain well ?

I know your really can't know your brain ever in absolute terms. But we can all try and know more about how it works and how we can train it to work the way we want it to. I have always been into training my mind in order to sail through difficult waters, many people do that on a subconscious level to achieve day to day goals and to scale new heights of success.

I have been a teacher for almost a decade and have experienced how you can make the kids learn things easily if you can make them visualise the forms they are being taught. If you are able to make a three dimensional picture in the young student's mind the lessons are imprinted in their mind for ever. Arousing the curiosity also works wonders with young minds when you are to teach them about a complex topic. We should let the creativity of young minds loose to make peace with the logic they are exposed to.

As Dilip Mukherjea rightly says, "The ability to apply logic in our thinking is essential, But it should not dominate our mode of operation when the need of creativity beckons."

 I always keep looking for literature that talks about mind, brain and the infinite possibilities associated with this one gift of God to humankind ...that was the reason straight away showed interest in reviewing the book Building Brainpower by Dilip Mukerjea when Blogadda informed the same.

Human brain is such a bundle of miracles, with infinite ways to train it to perform in numerous ways. This is what I always have believed in, many of you do i know, for me it was more in a spiritual way during the last couple of years. The immense possibilities with the functioning of brain mesmerize me whenever i read about the way it works at the crossroads of it's synapses. The book introduces a layman about brain as an organ first, the parts I skipped reading as I have read those details with great interest in my student life and there was hardly anything new to know.

 Brain mapping as a tool to train the mind is comparatively a new idea for me, especially the way it is explained in the book. Dilip Mukerjea has done some wonderful illustrations by himself to explain how one can map all the information about a particular subject with the help of a diagram using different colors and some images to help the brain remember every single detail. Receptivity of he brain can be enhanced many folds as the book says, 'Brain blooming' or 'Brain blossoming' are the new terms for 'Brain storming', quite literally. Through 'Brain blooming' more thoughts are generated and appropriately assessed.
Isn't that a wonderful thing to practice.

The illustrations and the brain mapping techniques can be really helpful for students, parents and teachers and I think there should be workshops for teachers to train them how to use brain mapping as a tool in teaching. The book discusses how colors and doodles can help in the learning process as well as using key words when memorising a piece of information. In my experience, the doodles we make during lectures, the jokes the teachers cracks while teaching and even the music we listen during self studying helps the process of cementing the information in our brain. To be dug up later whenever required, or better to resurface by it's own whenever required.

Reading is actually a dynamic process in which our brain converts symbols into ideas. How a string of words gets imprinted into the brain like a thought process, like an ideology for life or simple wisdom to live life. The book comes with some interesting anecdotes about the reading and memorising text, much for the students if they takes pains to read a hefty book  like this. It will be worth the pain for those who learn by memorising and for those who are learning in a training atmosphere, be it a school or a trainees camp. The book gets a little boring for self learners i must say.

Yes, the book looks more like  an academic journal, might be scary to look at but keeps you engaged if you understand the working of brain as a constant firing of ideas and emotions. Understanding the brain makes the first part of book if you are interested to know the biology. There are some worksheet type exercises in the last part of the book, which you might find boring again, but could be helpful for some kids and young students.

A great book for those concerned with teaching and training. As i mentioned, more for teachers,parents and students in that order , knowing students need to be inspired by the teachers or parents.

Dilip Mukherjea runs Buzon center at Singapore and has written many books on mind mapping, fast reading and memorising techniques etc., and this book includes almost every element required for a methodical learning. I wish the book was written in a more engaging way , I could read because I have interest in the process of making the brain more and more productive. Overall a good book I must say..

This review is a part of Indian bloggers book reviews program by blogadda . Participate now to get free books. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

doors of the past...

Walking on the streets of Banaras is never a dull moment. A lot of chaos ... all kinds of people belonging to different centuries brush shoulders with each other and talk in different languages. Still understanding each other. Some quadrupeds pushing through the human types or chasing them. We were walking towards pizzeria one day when we saw a foreigner running with his fancy running shoes on , with a steady speed meandering through the maze of all the centuries walking on the narrow lane. A dog got curious and started following him with a warning bark. That guy who was wearing smart looking running gear, stopped , bent down, picked up a stone and gestured to hit the dog ....The dog stopped , stepped back and the foreigner resumed his run.

Both of us( Arvind and me) were smiling seeing this how each one on the road is conditioned to this kind of chaos and  everything goes on with a smooth precision.

I found this door on the same street which leads to Assi ghat starting from Nagwa , where we saw the dog chase ...there is something to stop and gaze every few steps .... or I am an eternal romantic....who knows better :-)

Many foreigners live in this side of the town as they come and settle down for studies and for spiritual reasons too. My favorite authors Robert Pirsig and Inez Baraney have lived and walked in these streets of Banaras and i feel a connect when i read their stories. Many of the Hindi laureates have lived in this city and their stories are full of life, a timelessness is what i witness in their works. This city and it's streets are timeless. Modern and ancient exist together and meld together like they were born here... together.

This interesting door was closed and looked like as if the building is abandoned. But i saw one of the doors ajar when we were walking back from pizzeria . Someone certainly lives inside this historical looking home.

There was a sliding iron gate inside this frail damaged yet strong old wooden door to indicate someone has made it habitable for a modern life. Or a life hung between centuries.

Or a timeless life.

This is the feeling i always get whenever i visit the areas around the ghats... there is a certain rhythm in the life in this place which cannot be explained in words. You have to spend an evening on the ghats of Ganges to experience that.

Doors is the topic of today's Thursday challenge and when i saw it on Bikram's blog i was just reminded of this old wooden door from a timeless street in Banaras.

I really want to visit many more old cities of India as the few i have visited till now seem to be having the same kind of soul. A sense of belonging , a sense of being connected and a sense of walking through the same doors we get in such cities...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

worship them but don't have them...

Some Hindu mythology terms used in the text...

Kanjka ...a name given to the young girl avatar of the goddess Durga.
Devi ... goddess
Pooja ...worship.
Halwa poori and chana ...the traditional dishes made as an offering to the Godess.
Maha astami ...a auspicious date in hindu calender 
Navratra...a nine day period in hindu calender when Godess Durga is considered to visit the worldly ...

The day of maha ashtami during Navratra is considered special for worshiping the kanya roop (young girl avatar) of the Devi. Young girls from all over the neighborhood are invited and worshiped, their feet are washed and they are seated on a decorated place and offered the traditional halwa poori and chana. They are worshiped like any other God, in this case Devi (goddess). In the northern parts of India, young girls are called Kanjka on this day, Kanjka is the name given for the young girl avatar of the Goddess.

I witnessed something very obvious which has happened in our society recently. Still it remains oblivious.
Early in the morning i saw a middle aged lady searching for kanjkas in the neighborhood and muttering how there are no kanjakas 'available' these days.

What i see in my neighborhood is that people call the daughters of maids and other workers to perform this pooja which is considered to bring good luck and prosperity (all kinds of worshiping is done with a sole purpose), the maids bring a group of young girls with them, often all the young girls from their locality, and they visit the apartments one after the other.

Now , don't get me wrong as i do not have anything against feeding these young girls(from slums) and offering them some gifts on this occasion. I myself used to invite many of my friend's daughters and some maids' daughters (and sons too) for maha ashtami pooja some years ago and it used to be a great picnic for all the kids. For me it used to be a nice get together of kids which my daughter also enjoyed and many kids would refuse to go home.

I would come to what came upon me today seeing that middle aged woman asking for the kanjkas  .... Aajkal kanjkan milti hi nahi hain ( these kanjakas are not available these days)... I was reminded of a day when i overheard this lady advising another younger pregnant lady , asking weather she has got the 'tests' done. She was saying ...hamare zamaane me to ye test hote nahi the to humne kuchh nahi kiya, ab toh mauka hai , beta hi kar lo .....(these tests were not available in our times but now you should try for a son as there are options).....A quick flash back flickered before my eyes and i have been thinking about the morals we have as a society.

Incidentally , the trade and practice of sex determination and preferential abortions has picked up in the last decade only , may be a little earlier Although there were other practices like killing the girl child after birth in some parts of the country but this particular 'sex determination test' thing has made it more convenient for the people who think that aborting a female foetus is not murder and there is nothing wrong in doing that. I will talk about this mind set a little later, but this sudden unavailability of kanjakas (young girls during navaratra) is a recent phenomenon. I guess girls aged below 10 would be even lesser in numbers than the already skewed gender ratio.

Interestingly , the gender ratio doesn't seem to be affected amongst the slum dwellers . Is it due to the unavailability of means for them or ignorance of such 'divine facilities'. Or it is due to the fact that their social fabric is different from the mainstream society . The woman is often the sole bread earner and worker by all means. Or just more working hands irrespective of gender. They seems to be the providers of Kanjkas of maha ashtami for a long time to come. Idols for worships come from the most unlikely places and go back to the oblivious life they live.

How the same people who worship the kanjakas whole heartedly are the same people who advocate those 'tests' and advice young couples to abort a female foetus . Isn't that shocking? I wouldn't be surprised to see the couple who chose to abort a female foetus , inviting young girls and worshiping them for the prosperity they thought their own daughter would have hindered.

I am talking of my own experience...
I have seen people of my generation (earlier i used to think our generation is the one who would bring change)
justifying sex determination and female foeticide. It was numb shocking for me to see a friend of mine whose family includes 4 doctors and a lawyer, choose to abort a female foetus...which would have been her second daughter. Yes, i am ashamed of that friend of mine. It was even more shameful when she tried to convince me how there is no life in the foetus till.....

I will tell you something even more shocking. This was a person who used to talk like an activist, talking about women's rights all the time in our college days and rebelling against every restriction she thought society is putting on women. The question is , how these people turn deaf and dumb when it's their turn to act. They want everything from the society, condemn the society when their own conveniences are denied and bend the moralities in their own favor whenever required , for their own convenience. Are we a nation of self centered people? Pointing a finger to others when norms are inconvenient for us and keeping our eyes shut when we ourselves do a crime....

And we worship the kanjka.....

And i question the activist types more.....just because i have seen more fake activists in my life.

Do we use activism as a means to make the societal fabric convenient for ourselves only ?
Do we work from our own side to make the societal structure conducive for overall growth , including equal rights for women and children and for other people deprived of human rights?
Do we know that demanding for equal rights and working for equal rights could be more result oriented if we would have worked for self empowerment and awareness (i would call it awakening) ?

I was just thinking if today being maha ashtami , some people might have performed this pooja first thing in the morning and went on to do this business of sex selection as their 'job' .

Or in some family the discussions of aborting a female foetus might have been hush hushed just for today or they might have gone ahead with their plans after performing the pooja at home...

I am wondering.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

For those who want to know....

Why the Himalayas and what made me try this .....

Considering it was such an exhaustive cycling expedition and i am no cycling expert I was very reluctant initially, to talk the nitty-gritty of it.. True that i like doing so many different things , some of them very enthusiastically but i end up being an average performer. Not that i regret being an average performer, but an average performer is not the best person to tell the stories of how to do things. An average performer can just tell how to plunge into something even when you don't really want to win. How wanting to do something can be a winning feeling. And more than winning the battle or reaching the destination , the journey can be a test of your limits too. Average performers learn to be contented even when they take breaks and are clubbed with the laggards. At the same time you, as an average performer, overcome the odds and 'stay there' even when the difficulties seem to take your spirits off your mind . All said, after seeing so many excellent performers zip zapping past me, i think i can tell what i didn't have. Years of practiced stamina, that tidal volume they had. But still i could cycle , at my own pace and cover unbelievably long distances was not on my mind anyways.

 I knew i had very limited time and still i wanted to give it a chance, that could make it more interesting for the people who want to know how i prepared for an extraordinary cycling expedition like this ...a couch potato sprouting legs to peddle and expanding lungs to inhale....:) It was unbelievable for me too...

There was much more i learnt during this apart from cycling fundas and performance-fitness strategies.....And here i am , a reluctant learner ...sharing my journey with you. I realized that a basic threshold of fitness was required of course, but there was much more to it.....

I would quote a discussion i was having with one of the organizers travelling with us on the expedition . This gentleman was complaining about how the newbies and amateurs are not suitable for this kind of torturous cycling event , he told me he was disappointed and even angry to know that someone has just learned cycling for 15 days and has come for this expedition. I asked him what if the girl in question was fit enough to pull it off as this journey was more than just cycling as i felt. He shrugged and gave a half smile , let's see ...

Needless to say , the lady in question was a 43 year old yoga teacher and she cycled so well till the end. I met another woman who learnt cycling just for this event and did very well with good energy level throughout the expedition. This woman is a doctor and had traversed the same route on a motorbike 4 years back and that time she had learnt to drive a bike just for that . Indicative of the fact that it's not the vehicle you choose to go there , it's your personal grit against adversities and love for nature combined which takes you through the most treacherous roads of the world.

Having said that, almost all the girls i am i touch with, feel that there were times when they thought why did they decide to go for it , The tough uphills , scorching sun and declining pO2 was an extreme concoction.You need to carry your own water with you and many of us didn't have the camelback hydration packs, most of us used to carry 2 liters of water , our bottles tucked into the clamps and yet we needed to refill the bottles a few times. A dry mouth , breathless lungs and oxygen deprived muscles , all of that could be a recipe to disaster. The muscles and joints can get injured very easily if not warmed up properly before starting , can you imagine there was hardly time to warm up before we started our daily spin?

Your muscles need to be warm to perform well and your joints need to be warm too before starting and imagine after a night in the tents , often sleepless , a reluctant visit to the open air or pit toilets , quick brushing and a quicker breakfast ...repacking your bags and loading them into the truck and getting your gear ready for the daily pedaling. This was in such contrast with our daily workouts,with proper warm ups-working out in the luxury of abundant oxygen-proper fluid intake-and then a relaxed cool down session. And REST . There was practically no rest between those long hours of cycling daily.

It was getting more and more difficult daily and as soon as we reached Sarchu , many of us required Oxygen and one of the participant was recorded with a pO2 of 40% ( normal value is 80-100%) A very handsome doctor treated us at Sarchu army hospital BTW... It was so heartening to see the participants getting up and getting ready to cycle again, and no , it was not because of the handsome doctor, it was what they had come for, to challenge their own body and mind. Many participants required the services of the accompanying ambulance and started with the cycles as soon as they felt better. It was the place to see a bundle of highly motivated people.

Was i really ready for such a tough task of my life? Not really . Not when i got to know about it through IHM.I was really very uneasy about my fitness levels and whatever i could do in the two and a half months i got for my preparations for this event. Needless to say, i started spinning on my standing bike the day i decided to go. I was very reluctant because of my long years of being a couch potato when IHM asked me for the first time. It was after a long telephonic chat with her friend Anita Rao, who is also one of the organizers, that i decided i should go. She is one great motivating person and i fell in love with her from day one.

The feeling to challenge myself had awakened . Then came the wanting to get back to my fit days. I had seen many mental challenges during the past years and this time i wanted to challenge myself on a different turf.

Okay , so this old standing bike was dusted and pulled up in the middle of my dining space and thus started my 5-10 minutes of spinning after every hour or so. Being breathless in the first few days and then getting my breath back as the day passed , i started doing my pranayam and yoga stretches too for one and a half hours in the morning. Do i need to say i started feeling a lot better on energy level front. It was not difficult to cycle 50-60 kms a day almost daily, sometimes even more. It was later to be revealed that in the mountains, this much energy was to be exhausted in just 30 kms and we would need to push more every single day.

How fit i was before this expedition?

I used to do an hour of morning walk cum bird watching in the morning earlier , with a good session of gardening (read handling the hoe and repeated squatting , weeding etc. , getting myself dirty in the process) once a week at least. A few yoga stretches now and then and some ten minute sessions of pranayam thrown in time to time. My standing bike was masquerading a hanger in a corner all these years , now it was time to place my butt on it . And what a discovery it was , i never knew cycling for long hours can give you serious butt issues to deal with. I realized i needed some basic equipment for cycling. A gel padded saddle cover and a gel and chamois padded cycling pants were bought and started my cycling practice , mostly within the confines of my home. Delhi roads are scary for a cyclist and i didn't want to buy a cycle till i was sure i would continue cycling , and i am still not sure of it :)

I did cycling on the roads too , some 3-4 days for 2-3 hours each day . It was on a borrowed racing bike which was more than 30 years old and gave me knee pain because of it's chain being faulty and other issues i could not diagnose. Some knee specific stretches were included to protect my precious knees . All of these exercises were self motivated and found on the internet thanks to the age of google. I was not in a mood to go out of my home much and to invest too much into it for some reasons .Somehow i still wanted to be in my comfort zone probably while preparing and yet i had to go out and challenge myself with all my grit i thought i this affinity to my comfort zone was challenged you already know :)

A great deal of online research led to discoveries of good stretching techniques , cycling equipment and packing essentials. It helped a lot. Being a beginner and a first timer i was curious to know more about the other people who were going for this expedition ,i made a facebook group to interact with people who were going on this prestigious expedition. We shared our exercise regimes and lists of packing essentials, tips were exchanged about what kind of padding in the cycling pants were suitable for us. Turned out that the chamois padding is better for long duration cycling expedition like ours. Some home remedies for joint pains and mountain sickness were exchanged and travel plans were finalized. The bus we boarded from Delhi, turned out to be a college excursion like experience as there were 16 cyclists from our group and 3 Australian cyclists who were carrying their own cycles in the boot of the bus. Interestingly those Australian cyclists were planning to cycle from manali to spiti valley and then move on to srinagar but seeing and knowing about our group prompted them to cycle till khardung la , we used to meet them every day. They probably proceeded towards srinagar after that.

The expedition was a huge learning experience, discovering myself a bit more and discovering people around me a little bit more too. Being with the most natural elements of nature comes with a lot of surprises and a lot of spiritual moments , a lot of introspection in a human mind . Feeling like being just a speck of dirt on the face of Earth and still having a place of my own and a consigned work of my own.

On a lighter note , there were many villagers we found till Keylong , who asked where we were going. After knowing we were going to Khardung la , many of the girls were asked why we are going on cycles .....

This kid came to me asking to be photographed and wanted to see how he looks in the camera. His father asked me where we were going and why on bicycles. How some questions are tough to answer and we have to look away with a smile :) 
This cute kid wanted a bicycle and wanted mine , i made a false promise to come back to him.....How we make false promises to kids . I had to say similar things to many kids we found during the Kullu to Solang nala via Manali ride, that was our first day of cycling and we found many slate roof houses and many women and children walking past the roadside , that day was the happiest day of cycling , if i forget making false promises to those innocent kids.

Not for those false promises i made , but i want to go there again for soul is craving for it.... 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Himalayas conspired ....

Home cooked comfort food , lots of sleep and my own comfortable bed with a back support mattress is the ulterior form of luxury i am relishing these days. For the last few days since i returned from the most crazy trip i ever had. Yesterday was the first day when i didn't feel sleepy during the daytime.

I realized i am loving my home all the more after this exhausting detour i took to confirm my sane state of mind.I also realized that i am the mad variety trying to sound saner....and yet i like it when my folks call me mad.This mad woman felt really bad when she had to leave the expedition halfway for someone else's reasons  , found difficult to calm down her spirits and yet knew that when the superior powers conspire we just have to take a back seat.

I was talking about coming home.

Yes, i loved and relished the adventure and loving my home even more now. A mad mad mind trying to sound saner and calmer.... You wouldn't believe i was feeling equally at home in the Himalayas too , till the treeline lasted at around 11000 ft. After that it was a different story . A different planet it looked was magnanimously beautiful but i didn't feel at home. The monochrome of grey and brown was blinding in it's vastness and still there was a feeling of emptiness .

 I felt enamored by  this emptiness experienced in a stone age like civilization where one could see a whole lot of naturally carved stone figurines as if they are waiting for you to come . As if they would come alive any moment and have a chit chat with you , or at least give a glimpse of what they actually are.

As if a story is about to unfold in the silence of a dark theater ...

All of these theatrical appearances were great distractions for a cyclist . A cyclist has to focus on the road , on the uphill and one the rhythm . This rhythm and pace of cycling are a concern if you are a novice like me. I enjoyed cycling in the mountains , although it was tough for a first timer . I liked the way i could cycle long distances in the mountains and still feel fresh most of the days . Altitude sickness took it's toll later on but in the lap of such untouched unspoiled nature it doesn't take long before you feel refreshed again. A nature lover like me was more and more enthralled by the beauty that was waiting for me.

It was awe inspiring to see life springing out in the most harsh conditions , in the most unlikely surfaces. I couldn't stop myself from getting distracted in many places , not worrying about getting late and loosing my rhythm i stopped by many flowers to say hello ...

 A spore born in the lap of sunny florets 
is blown away by chilly winds
to be thrown into the face of intemperate stone
into the deep crevices of weathered rocks
puckered , tunneled , cracked and torn !!!

The spore chooses a niche
and dissolves the hard interiors of the rock
bit by bit , one after another molecule
and then it extends an appendage
to capture the world !!!

It grows and grows into the labyrinths
of the abrasive and scratchy, rocky mountains
takes some time underground , silently
to collect the resources to evoke an inner eye
"inner growth" !!!

And then comes the time to open a window
peep out and say hello to the wind
take the showers and sunshine
sprout the heads ... many heads
and splash the colors !!!

It flourishes , grows out into leaves
and then flowers and then makes more spores
bursting with life , to conquer the world
Then it adorns the window of it's own sweet home
and gets ready to say hello to me when i pass by !!!

I wonder how much time the spore took
inside the dark labyrinthus crevices of the rock
to grow into such a vibrant composition
to sing such a lovely song
to wave such a lively hello for me !!!

More stories of the Himalayas to follow and more smiles to be shared. 
Thank you all who wished me good luck for the expedition.

Be well !!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

want some healthy snacks?

With apologies for a long absence , here are some good ideas for healthy snacking.
Snacking as the birds do in my garden . And inspire me all the more.

You can see a bird all right but there is some dry fruit which has lured this green chatterbox to this branch.
Those dry drumstick pods are bursting with nutritious food , the dry seeds which the squirrels and other birds too find nutritious . They instinctively know what is good for them.

This was a couple who came chattering loudly and i walked to the window to see what is so special that they are chattering this much. I was talking on phone and went to fetch the camera and the other one flew away probably carrying some of the seeds to her young ones.

I kept talking on the phone and clicked some pictures . Truly a multi tasker :) ...but multitasking results in two jobs done poorly ...see what happened to these pictures...

And see how this guy descends down the pod to pick at the seeds.... I have been watching this routine for a long time now but never have been able to take decent pictures...

This time i decided to share them anyways . The pleasure of watching them eating like this had to be shared .

Perching on the stalk of the pod and stretching his neck to reach the seeds down there...

Gulping down one seed....

And then picking another...

Digging in some more...

Coming up to balance...what a difficult job...

Starting again....digging some more...

Picking with a different angle now...

 Learnt a thing or two from baba Ramdev ?

A satisfied , contented gait...

Has somebody been watching?

Now ready to fly ... and fly he did....

And i continued with my telephonic chat . The phone was on speaker , placed on the window sill while i was clicking all these pictures...

Long chats on phone to plan our trip to the great Himalayas . The highest passes of the Himalayas .

A group of 100 women is all set out to cycle through the highest passes , cycling from Kullu to Kardung La and then back to Leh . I am a part of this group and need a lot of healthy snacking these days...just like this Rose Ringed Parakeet...and i need to be chirpy just like them...

Taking a lesson from them and getting ready. Can i ask for good wishes ? Please do pray for good weather over there and good health for me all through this expedition.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Olive back sunbird ... snacking on some healthy things...

Drumstick flowers are super food of the common man . Rich in nutrients needed for good bones and skeletal system . Birds need that too and they know where to look for some healthy food. They come to the garden of a health food blogger :)

Her yellow breast finds a great camouflage with that color of the drumstick flowers. This picture was taken a couple of months back . The health food blogger is a lazy person when it comes to the things that make her happy .

Can you believe that?

But she is working hard these days making her bones stronger :)

Looking through the pictures this bird reminded me to go pluck some drumstick leaves and use it for a nice daal or egg scramble.

Isn't she cute ?
Does she inspire you to eat healthy?

Friday, May 27, 2011

brown headed barbet drinking water ...

They are feasting on the small green jamun berries in the garden and in the neighborhood gardens too but this one must have been really thirsty to come down to have a sip of water even when i was standing at some distance...otherwise i have noticed , they are very shy...The triangular rock in the rack garden set up looks like a resting place for all birds ....

But this barbet descended down to the bird bath quickly , had his fill , looked at me ....see how he looks at me...

And retreated quickly .... to the same bunch of jamuns hanging there....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Female Asian Koel...

My gypsy garden looks like a blessed place. So many different birds keep visiting this place and fill my life with excitement . So many small birds keep chirping all day , Oriental white eyes , Tailor birds and Sun birds make such sweet calls that not a single moment is a silent moment . The frequent calls by these different birds make the flute notes of the symphony nature plays in my gypsy garden .

Sometimes i really think if this garden was a perfectly laid out , geometrically sectioned beds of flowers and green grass looking at each other with admiration .... may be these little birds would have felt alienated here and would never have felt so at home . I feel so good at the thought of of creating this little rock garden for them , it was a lazy day last year when i thought of using all the stones lying around in a way to make them look good . Almost like rearranging the scattered pebbles of my own being. This rock garden was adorned with some cute ceramic pots of cacti , but soon i realized that the lemon tree above this miniature rock garden did not allow enough sunlight for the cacti and i planted some shade loving evergreens there. A couple of bird baths attract a good number of visitors everyday during summers.

I keep watching and clicking all sorts of smaller birds and squirrels in this place but these large birds made me really curious . It was a really huge female Asian Koel.

This bird makes shrill harsh calls just outside my bedroom window, perched on the grapefruit tree.

And then hops on to the lemon can see a few lemons in this picture..

 This couple of Koels comes to my garden and loves sitting in the lower branches of the lemon tree and the grapefruit tree , the shrubby kind of foliage that they like for themselves during the hottest time of the day.

In the evening they are seen on the Jamun tree in my backyard.

 And to my surprise and great pleasure they spend a good amount of time resting here . Probably they find the watering hole more enticing. And may be it is the shade is what they need.

 I am hopeful about their nesting around this place. See how she keeps her beak open almost all the time and the shrilly call she makes for the partner is so nice to hear .

 They always tell about their arrival in the garden.

First they always get perched on the lemon branches , then inquire around the place , look towards the bird bath a few times and then descend down and sit over the peak of the triangular rock....see how this one is keeping his head in shade....

Looks around and sits on the bird bath to have his fill . The lonely Foot ball lily (Haemanthus Multiflorus) gets it's fifteen minutes of fame through this lovely Female Koel.

I got only one bloom this year , this one was planted in this spot years ago and this time it decided to bloom .
The potted ones remained silent this time.

Koels are known to be cunning and manipulative in Avian sociology. They like drinking water from the bird bath many times during the day and do not let other smaller birds come near them while they are having their fill.

But they do not seem to be disturbed by my presence . They allow me to come quite close to them .

How beautiful is the plumage . I like the red eyes and the brownish glint on the scalp and around the eye...

Here comes the other one ( the second picture from the top is also of this individual ) who looks smaller and a bit darker . Plumage and beak both are darker than the first one from top...

All birds of the same species must be having their own beauty spots :-)

The size is smaller too . I still do not know if the smaller one is still a baby.... .

I would be glad if someone tells me more about them.

These two pictures are shot in different lights but the difference in the birds is clear enough ...see the next one who looks bigger and has a lighter colored plumage. The pattern of white specks on the plumage is a little different too.


See how this one is drinking water while few of the droplets are suspended into the air , glistening in light....a moment caught by chance ...but so beautiful...

 A few ripples in the bird bath , and the bird looking contented . As I type this i heard them tweeting again in the garden , went down to watch and click a few more pictures . They look so comfortable in my presence i feel glad .

The theme for Thursday challenge this week is  "WET" (Rain, Puddles, Water,...) ..
I saw a post by Swaram right now and decided to link this one to the challenge as i have been missing the pleasure for many weeks now...The bird bath and this Female Asian Koel drinking water make a nice picture for the theme this week this goes to Thursday Challenge...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

the river and the stones.....

No wonder the steps are stone
pink, dark, wet, cold and warm
but stone....
The river flows fast
really fast
waves up and down
billowing one after the other
in quick succession
racing with each other
to reach the undecided destination

They wet the stone
splash over it
The stone embraces them
just for a moment
they slow down during this embrace
and envelop over the stone
wetting it , getting it ...
and then
they just leave...

The stone remains wet
for a while
yearning for the lost embrace
for the wet kiss
and for the cold comfort ...

Then another wave comes
billowing , rolling , flowing
in it's own , new way
as if to rest here for a while...
but this one came again
not to stay ...
just for that quick embrace
the wet kiss ritual
and a low departure...

The stone is eager again
for the kiss , for the embrace
and for the cold comfort
not thinking
that this one
will pass on too...

The stone lay there
after a quite farewell
still with controlled emotions
being wet and cold
embracing all those waves
that come....

Waving all those
who don't keep their promise
and pass by
teasing the stone...
racing towards
the destination
they don't yet know....

Now i know why the steps are stone...
they have to be there for ever
to welcome all those
who are destined to go away
to welcome all those
who never keep their promise ...

The stone is still pink
dark , wet , cold and warm..
welcoming the sparkle...
The sparkle..
which is going to vanish
the next moment...
The sparkle ...
which will be missed
for eternity...