Month: March 2015

Scaly-Breasted Munia

Something about her beak felt like 1968 to me

With a
nutmeg
for a bosom,
she bears
the swiftness
of the breeze
on her beak;
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Indian Gaur vs Kid, Valparai

Man vs beast: Carpe diem, baby

Indian Gaurs, the largest bovine species in South East Asia, are magnificent creatures. They live like retired Mafia bosses in reserve forest areas in and around the hill stations. They coexist harmoniously with the locals in nearby areas. But conflicts do arise.

A year ago, while driving from Valparai to Thrissur (in the state Kerala), I saw an alpha male Indian Gaur trampling the crops at a tea plantation. At a distance, the caretaker and his son were assessing scare tactics to chase it away. After a short discussion, the kid armed himself with a log of wood and a large stone. He seemed to approach the Gaur with confidence yet caution.

He flayed his arms with panache, waving the stick like Gandolf in a street fight. The beast stopped grazing to look up for a few seconds. The kid inched closer, holding the stick higher in the air.

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Chestnut Munias, Ponneri

2014 was a number

To beg, borrow and steal
from Charles Dickens,
2015 was the best of times
and it was the worst.
Perhaps  2016 will be the same,
but I shall recollect, with love,
and by no other name, how
even the fiercest winds never
once frightened away the birds.

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Shikra , Choolaimedu

I’d hate to eat and run but…

He
runs
wildly,
in search
of her
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White-Throated Kingfisher

Wrestling with childhood heroes

I have an enormous appetite for professional wrestling. I have been watching it since I was 10 years old. Even as I grew older, the obsession remained. People ridicule it because perhaps they haven’t connected with it. I am alright with that, as a fan, because professional wrestling is an art form. And art is subjective; something that one can relate to, find therapy in, get inspired by, cherish time with or simply choose to ignore.

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Eurasian Kestrel

Wild is her colour palette

I
want to
grow old
in your hair,
like wild plantains,
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Black Kite, Ponneri

Songs for stringless kites

A kite soars,
sans a string, above
crowded streets and
the wind whistles a lengthy tune,
steering it over curry leaf trees
that cough up a stiff, browning
breeze to caress its paper- mache 
cheeks, rerouting its soul
to wild, weightless worlds.

Black Kite, Chennai

Black Kite, Chennai

I think I can commute long distances without listening to music. I am also confident about typing a full sentence using just my big toe. But these are things I don’t want to find out. Music has, during my weekend trails, made a long-distance swimmer out of me. Only while birding for bonuses through bus windows or striking up a conversation with a passenger do I put my headphones away. I have forgotten to pack trekking shoes, towels and torchlights on several occasions; never my precious headphones.

I no longer have favorite bands or songs or albums. I have plenty of time for any form of good music . And I have playlists. They are like a favorite pillow, whether soft cushions or the gently-aching belly slopes, on which I can sleep peacefully.

A 15-track playlist for the silent bus traveler in you.

Alt J – Tessellate Llive from the Africa Centre)

M S Viswanathan & TK Ramamoorthy – Viswanathan Velai Vendum

Sigur Rós – Olsen Olsen (Live from Heima)

Hundred Waters – Down the Rafters

Ilaiyaraaja –  Punnagai Mannan Theme

Blue Man Group (feat Dave Matthews) – Sing Along

Alu – Martian Rendezvous

Patrick Watson – Lighthouse

Caribou (feat Luke Lalonde & One Little Plane) – Melody Day 

Ilaiyaraja – Background score for Pallavi Anu Pallavi

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird

Carter Burwell – Exercise In Darkness

Rolfe Kent – Abandoning The Wedding

Ilaiyaraja – Thendral Vanthu Theendum

Branches – Chim-Chim Cheree

White-Bellied Treepie, Thekkady

The great Indian chop suey

Rufous Treepie. Thiruvanmyur

Rufous Treepie. Thiruvanmyur

I had written this after the Uber incident last December. An unfortunate time when the Indian government decided to ban a taxi app, pass the paneer tikka and inform the masses that safety has been restored on our streets.

I re-posted it after reading a recent report about one of the accused in the horrific 2012 Delhi incident in which four guys who brutally gang-raped and murdered, inside a bus, a 16-year-old girl. Among other frightening perspectives, the accused spoke about how rape victims must share the blame. That “she should not have fought back”. It is not an uncommon train of thought in India. Some of our politicians believe that. Women politicians too.

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Jungle Owlet, Thekkady

8 reasons for you to quit your job and unlearn voodoo

Spotted Owl, Vedanthangal

Spotted Owl

I believe that it is imperious to tell people how to live. You can tell a friend that it might be a terrible idea to share his bank account details with a Nigerian Prince over email. But you can’t just go around, saying things like “you won’t know who you are until you travel” or “quit your job and paint the sky”. While these sound like great ideas, they may not be universally-applicable. People might end up even more clueless about themselves and more xenophobic about the world. Or exposed to toxic paint fumes.

Similarly, some people need a fully-loaded corporate environment to live as functional citizens. Without politicking over promotions, their lives just would not be complete. Without scheduled bathroom breaks, they might end up with bloated livers. If they didn’t exert superficial dominance over those they consider to be lower on some imaginary totem pole, they might do weird things to blind kittens in the privacy of their basements.

Having said that, here are 8 reasons why some people should quit their jobs and unlearn voodoo.

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