The snake in the hole

Around 4 PM on Tuesday as I was working from home, someone rang the bell. Father answered it, only to find no one. Turned out some of the workers’ kids nearby had done that. They were now busy looking at the other side of the road. Turned out they had seen a snake cross from our side of the road and go into a hole in the empty site opposite our house.

On looking closely, the snake had coiled itself inside that hole. I pulled out my camera and shot a pic to see what it was. I thought it would be a rat snake, but the neighbour who had seen it was insistent that it was a cobra. He turned out to be right.

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Even if I could concede that he knew what he saw, I was a bit worried about letting on to the standing labourers that it was a cobra. Most labourers’ first reaction to snakes is to beat them to death, and I really wanted to see the cobra go its way. The labourers and other assorted people standing nearby eventually lost interest and went their ways. The snake stayed put. A few kids came down to watch, one decided to pick up a stone to throw. A few stern words and they were off, no stones being thrown.

Continue reading “The snake in the hole”

Some winter visitors – Mallathahalli Lake

After a long time, I stopped by Mallathahalli lake for some birding. It’s a place I was using for running, but that stopped 4 years back as the path had become overgrown. Even though most of the 2.5 Km track is cobblestones, it’s amazing how much Parthenium can grow out of the gaps!

This time I was looking specifically for one kind of bird – the rosy starling. They are winter visitors and found in huge numbers and I was inspired by this photo from zenrainman on his lovely twitter feed.

In case you are wondering where those birds are, that ‘cloud’ near the middle is what you are looking for.

I remember seeing these birds a few times on earlier walks around the lake. So this time, I carried the camera to see what I can get.

The first thing I saw on getting off the car was that the yellow tabebuia tree was in bloom, and amidst those flowers was a flock of rosy starlings. Talk about beginner’s luck!
Rosy starling

Rosy starling Continue reading “Some winter visitors – Mallathahalli Lake”

The Fastest Masala Puri Ever

The 4:36 PM Metro drops me off at Attiguppe at exactly 5:06 PM. I make the long walk of close to half a kilometre to the Income Tax Layout Bus stop. Buses pass under the station, but BMTC is strict about not stopping for metro users. Lots of people waiting at the IT layout stop. It’s always for buses that go as far as Nagarabhavi Circle. There’s one every 15 minutes approx. It can be better, but BMTC prefers the Moodalapalya route, where the roads are narrow and buses move like bogies of a train.

A Pani puri vendor has his cart near the bus stop. It’s a bigger cart than the usual, and he attracts a fair trickle of customers, even as early as 5 PM. Most ask for ‘parcel’ and take it away, to be eaten in the comfort of home, instead of by the street. I watch him, keeping one eye on the turning from West of Chord Road for any incoming buses. One question on my mind, every time:

Given foresight of an arriving bus, what’s the minimum time needed to order, prepare, pay for and eat a Masala puri without missing said bus? Continue reading “The Fastest Masala Puri Ever”

Day ride: Bhoga Nandeeshwara

Being a long weekend and all, a ride was always on the cards. I had had my eyes on Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple for a while now, thanks to ZenRainman‘s pics on Twitter. I pinged S who had only recently got his RE and was keen on doing a ride. A was a doubtful starter, and pulled out in the morning. I started out from home at 8:30 AM, and S left from his place at the same time. The plan was to meet up near Hebbal opposite the notorious Esteem Mall. I reached there at 9 as there was hardly any traffic on the way. S reached there in a few minutes too! Talk about timing!

We hit the Hyderabad highway and after passing the turnoff for the airport, we reached a Sri Krishna Garden at 9:30 AM. The breakfast was just about decent, and we back on  the road by 10 AM. The route was to avoid the Nandi hills turnout, take left on a service road somewhere further up, and then take left onto the road leading to Nandi town. As expected with such turns when on bikes, we missed it and came upon the Chikkaballapur turnoff. We doubled back and got on to the road. Very soon we came across our first sign that we were on the right track. (:P)

Glorious Promised Land

Not sure what this place is. The board said it’s a religious place. But a Google search did not reveal anything interesting about it. Either way, we rode along and reached the temple pretty soon.

The very first structure is the main temple complex itself. The rest of the structures are on its left (on your right as you enter). We were greeted by a pillared hall with pillars that looked like they had been plucked out from Hampi. The temple itself is very old, built around 800 AD. Various dynasties and Kings have added their own structures, and you can see a temple evolving across different architectures from different periods.

Pillars

If this reminds you of Hampi, not too surprising. Those pillars inside with 3 sculptures are also similar.

Pillars

Continue reading “Day ride: Bhoga Nandeeshwara”

Where are the silences?

After weeks of enduring the constant stream of latest B’wood numbers coming from a let-out house a road away, I went up and asked the students living there to pipe down. They were very polite and reduced the volume immediately. They were also well-versed in the art of giving up a few battles for the ultimate war. The volume went right up the next morning. It usually stays up whenever there’s someone at home, so it starts at 8 AM and goes on all the way till 10 PM. Thankfully, during the evenings, the TV volume at home can drown out extraneous noises.

What surprises me is not the noise coming out, but the noise that stays in during all this time.Forget hear each other, how the hell do they even hear themselves think?! I can understand their being young and all, but surely at some point, your brain will scream “FATIGUE!” no? Even I was a teen, a student, and I couldn’t endure so much sound. Of course, living in Srinagar meant that there was always some loudspeaker for some function on, or a front-engine auto running on kerosene would try valiantly to climb up the slope in front of the house, stopping all conversation at home, and spreading the stink of kerosene over a 100ft radius.

But then, students’ music noise is just one of the cacophony of noises filling up the area. We live in a reasonably quiet neighbourhood, mainly because there is a lake behind and roads here lead to houses and not to other areas. There is no pass-through traffic. But even with that, the propensity for noise is just staggering! Anyone who returns home after 11 PM has to cause his share of noise. There are cars with reverse horns, which are banned by the Govt, but no one cares. And then there are just normal front horns, which people nervously press every few seconds, especially two-wheelers. A quiet neighbourhood brings out the need to fill up the quietness with some noise, those trying to sleep be damned.

Come daytime, these noises fade into the background as granite grinding machines fill up the quietness. Sunbirds, tailorbirds and bulbuls fly in, perch on trees and plants, sing for a few minutes, realise the pointlessness of it and fly away. A few brave butterflies flit around, some with wings mutilated by predators or speeding vehicles; their numbers coming down every passing year. Every house needs to have the tree in front of it cut down. I stopped blaming houses though. Whoever planted trees should have put them at the border of sites, not bang in the front of each site. Almost all trees that are in between sites survive. Very few put at the front of sites make it. Gates, parking, cars always take precedence in the anthropocene.

Through all this I try looking for silence. While the last construction was raging on, I grieved over the death of the bulbul chicks by sitting by the lake, listening to Weavers singing. The lake was a respite on bad days. Now the path is overgrown and there is no easy way to walk around. A constable stays put there and has barred the entrance closest to me. He is amicable though and tells me about the kind of people who use public areas that few people go to and for what purpose.

What is left is just cycling. The road is silent, there are few vehicles, some honk, but I tend not to notice, I hear them coming and wave them by, trying to prevent a few honks. But the effort for cycling helps clear out noise. I take Amma walking. She struggles to walk after a few minutes, but we manage. I show her the flitting Mormons and Crimson Roses. Some days at the lake, we see cormorants, egrets and ducks. We still have some commons in the Western part of the city that aren’t polluted as much by noise.

We went to Bhadra a few weeks back. I sat outside listening to the river lapping at the banks, some birds singing, and watching butterflies flit by. Within minutes the sound of people talking came over from neighbouring huts. It wasn’t just in huts, everywhere there was the noise of them talking. Never an immersion into the surroundings. It is almost a fear of silences, the need to fill everything silent with some familiar sound.

During the days of running, those used to be minutes of silence when the lake was still good enough to run around. I never could run with music like many do; after all, it shouldn’t be that difficult to do some activity without having some noise that you control coming into you.

Wonder where we are getting to where we have to go farther and farther to find any sense of silence. At least night times used to guarantee some sense of silence. Now we have to get used to sleeping through sudden horns from vehicles that could not care less. We just might get there, with deep sleep that doesn’t get disturbed by vehicle noises in the middle of the night. But all this noise will exact its consequences, and there are already reports of deafness rising in cities.

There is something assholic about the way people use their cars. Honking in the middle of the night, honking early morning, honking to ask people inside the house to hurry up, honking just for the heck of it! The real tragedy though is that we go to sleep listening to horns, not crickets or cicadas and we wake up very early again to blaring horns and not birdsong.

 

More spiders

That time of the year when spiders start putting up webs all over the garden. The more common one is the Signature spider (Argiope anasuja), which I put up last year. It was around this year too, and I managed to snap one from the back using the phone, thanks to the Camera+ app’s macro feature.
Spider... signature spider Continue reading “More spiders”

Cars and bikes…

I have been driving in Bangalore for the past 5 years now. When I moved back from the US I took a 6 month break from all driving, to rinse out any nice ways of driving, took off on two-wheelers all that while and then bought a used car to drive. The plan was to use it for 5 years and then look for a new car.

5 years have come, and I don’t intend to sell my car. The usage is so minimal that I don’t really need to change it. There is a temptation to go for an electric one, but again it’s costlier than a petrol car given the cost of battery and my usage. The more you use it the better it works out. In the current market, a petrol car works best if you don’t drive to work everyday.

But my plan is to hopefully sell my car and not own a car after that. Every time I drive, I come back home nerves frayed, after enduring what can only be called traumatic experiences. People constantly cutting in, slow moving vehicles suddenly speeding up without indication just because you might be thinking that since they’re slow you might take a right some 60ft in front of them. How can anyone allow that!

Two-wheelers doing blind turns, or blind lane switches, or just plain scared in some cases and taking over a whole 10 ft side of the road by plonking themselves in the middle and not responding to anything.

And then the signals. Each one at least 2-3 minutes and not guaranteeing a move ahead on green even if you’re 2 rows behind the front. Possible that one car couldn’t get started, usually private and you have to wait it out. And after all this, you fervently hope you don’t have to deal with a traffic jam.

I have tried everything – being stoic, being Zen, playing music and closing windows and trying not to care. Except that the experience of constantly jerking slow for near misses does get to your nerves. It’s like having your reflexes on every moment for an hour or two. We are just not designed for this kind of stress. The only thing that works is to give enough time to get to your destination, but it is mostly the constant reflexive nature of driving that gets to you.

The sad part is it feels so much better to be on the Bullet. I don’t cut people off like other idiots, follow lane discipline, and try to ride the way I want others to when am driving. And it is so much more stress free. Am not sure if it is just the bike experience or the thump of the Bull that helps here, but it is overall a much better experience than driving. Of course, the kind of experiences you usually hate are life threatening when on the bike. A goods vehicle that decides it has had enough waiting and suddenly hurries across the road, or BMTC buses deciding to jump signals, those are always there. Defensive riding helps, and if you’re the one at front your side of the road, you can expect to be cut off by crossing vehicles. The main reflex intensive nature of driving is not there. On the highways though, you have to deal with farmers on Hero Splendours spitting around them, or bikes with rowdies throwing out cigarette butts (not even stubbed), but on bigger highways safe distances can be kept. A lot of temper management is called for here.

I really wish one day I can sell my car off and just manage with the bike. When it rains there are always taxis or autos. Probably manageable. I don’t know. Worth trying some time, but given my usage am already doing it more often!

Can’t say where we are headed this way, every time things get worse we get used to it and move on to the next level of worse. Seems to be our fate.

Oh well, a pointless post, I know. But hey, didn’t want my blog to open with the last one for too long. 🙂

 

The 14 year reflection post

August 5th 2002. The date we started earning money. We, as in, I and 7 others who joined you-know-which Chinese company. Fresh out of college, all deferential, and trying hard to be enthusiastic. There are some who are enthusiastic, and then there are those that just aren’t. Almost to the count, not a single one of us could summon up any reasonable ounce of enthusiasm. Am not talking about the basic stuff needed to get work done, we had enough of that, and some more. Am referring to that enthusiasm that makes people bubble and jump even when they are, on closer notice standing absolutely still. Almost all of us were mostly of even temperament with a fair degree of cynicism which we tried to hide, but realised soon enough that it’s par for the course.

Well, 14 years since I passed out of college. If I were Rama, I’d be returning home after defeating Ravana, memories of those days when I was booted out fading in the distance. Of course, given the nature of the adventures in the forests, am sure it would take some effort summoning up those days of adolescent joie de vivre.

Continue reading “The 14 year reflection post”

End of June

June is not expected to be a great month. Unlike popular perception, it isn’t wet and gloomy usually; among wet months, it ranks below May. It’s windy as the Monsoons sweep through. This brings in a lot of dust and garbage from all over. I like the winds, coming as they usually are after a hot summer, and sometimes a rainy and stormy May. I like the weather in general. It is usually sunny with puffy clouds and lots of winds. Later in the day, you get windswept clouds. Early on in the month, it gets cloudy, and rains to show that the Monsoons are here.

This year has been crazy. You wake up to cloudy weather. Some days even drizzly weather. You watch those clouds hanging by all day. And then in the evening, they let go and it’s the usual chaos. You wake up again the next morning, hoping that all those rains would’ve cleaned things up, but no, it’s the same charade all over again. It feels like October. You’d think it’s nice to have these bountiful rains, except that KRS and other important dams have barely registered anything. Pretty much, all these rains fall on concrete and roads, and not adding up to any value. And you have flooded roads and a potential water shortage. Maybe I should put in a rainwater harvesting thing. But the area we have is pretty small, not sure how useful it will be.

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The part that gets me is how things are turning out for me this month. All cycling has been advanced to the morning, when am also needed at home. This means waking up crazy early, and pedalling out, hoping to return as early as possible and then deal with things.

By evening, the mood is generally off. Not too many people like a house that is dark at 4 PM. And then it starts drizzling and raining. An entire evening’s worth of cheer is gone. I like rains, mind you, except that I like them when they should be raining. Supposed to be dry and windy, and it’s raining means that when it should be raining heavier, it probably might not.

img_2892Oh well, sometimes I wonder if this is just a phase for me, and the weather is something I am railing against for not helping. A bit of sunny love would be nice though, but what does one do?

June is pretty much over. It’ll be July now. Supposed to be wetter than June, but not as much as August. I only hope for a break, something that I can catch my breath in, before I have to run again, cos God knows when I’ll get to stop again. But I feel hopeful at times when I realise I’ve been through all this with Amma’s health in 2012, then again in 2013, hitting a nadir in 2014 and getting back to some semblance of something in 2015. 2016, I feel hope with, but it might just turn out to be worse than 2014. The signs are all there.

But there isn’t much to do but fight. And fight we will. What else is there to do?

Update:

So it isn’t just perception. Bangalore has received more than 170mm of rainfall so far in June, while the average is around 89mm. Source: The Hindu.