29 March, 2010

Temple Ponds

Temple ponds, or, 'Pushkarni's are such an integral part of ancient temples. I just can't get over the idea as well as the efforts that must have been made to build them.
 Often, these ponds are quite polluted. But for the presence of some stagnant water, some of them look like dump yards :(
 So, it was a pleasure to come across this clean one at the Janardhana Swami Temple at Yermalu on the Udupi- M'lore highway.

Dakshina Kannada & Udupi districts can be called the temple districts of the world- there are so many temples that one would need a lifetime to cover all of them! So, not surprisingly, this was our first visit to this temple.

If the M-S wedding didn't take place here, we would have missed this one. The idol here was installed by Saint Madhavacharya- social reformer & philosopher who lived 700 years ago.

This pond has obviously been renovated since, but, surely, the origins date back to the 13th century, or, earlier? You know, according to traditional wisdom, if the water of a pond is blue-green in colour, it means that the water source never dries up. Of course, we know that the colour is due to the presence of blue-green algae. Maybe, this species thrive in water sources that never dry up?

23 March, 2010

Testing Times

Come tests and exams, and my neighbour's kids are at their studious best. They love to read their lessons loudly.Their study is about forty feet away from mine. Since the windows are usually open on both sides, I can hear them quite clearly.
Often, I'm tempted to yell out, 'Read softly' or mention about it when I see them. But, something holds me back. What, if their marks come down because of reading softly? I would feel very guilty :( So, I simply shut the window and switch on the fan!

Sometimes, I wonder about what the Americans would have done. The other day, a US- based relative was telling us about how, one of his neighbours, a dog owner, had to get the voice box of his dog removed. Thanks to the dog's constant barking, a lot of people were deprived of their sleep. Someone started a signature campaign and got the minimum number of signatures required and the poor dog lost it's voice :(
Parents of wailing babies are not spared of complaints and that's why, one sees most American babies in pacifiers.
 Maybe, we should send some 'Maata Snehabodhanandamayee' to the US. She can go on some talk show and preach basic tolerance. Maybe, I should take up this job!
I can almost imagine myself, smiling and nodding now and then, at the host and the audience - 'Let barking dogs bark and wailing babies wail. After all, they are forms of expression. Listen to a child wail and you can identify the need by the tone of the wail. Ditto with the dogs. Company deprived and confined within the four walls, the only way that a dog can express his boredom is by barking', and so on.
The major hitch that I can see here is the whole world calling me 'Maata'. I will wait for another 25 years for that. Till then, this job is up for grabs. The name too :)

16 March, 2010

Empowering Women

In the Udupi - Dakshina Kannada - Chikmagalur region of Karnataka, Dr.Veerendra Heggade of Dharmasthala has been setting up and promoting women's self-help groups as part of his rural development programme. It is an initiative meant to make semi-literate/ illiterate women economically independant. Women's self-help groups in other parts of the country are not unheard of. A lot of them have been started by & spear headed by men. I think, initiatives like this bring more power to women, than, say, reservation of seats in the Parliament.

The basic principle of these area- based, self-help groups is some sort of a fund that is set up from which loans are handed out for small- scale industries (chiefly food items like pickles, squashes, chips), dairy/ poultry farming, etc. Easy repayment schemes & money- saving schemes have successfully lured a large number of women, irrespective of caste/ community, to these groups. Thanks to this, there is a BIG shortage of domestic helps in these parts.Only the old retainers of long- standing families remain.

As it is, education till Class 10 is compulsory & the school drop out level in these parts is quite low.Young girls haven't been opting for jobs as domestic helps. And now, these 'Sthree Shakti Sanghas'(as the SHGs are known) have successfully weaned the older women, leaving people like me in the lurch :(

Most of us have come to terms with this house-cleaning thing. I'm fortunate to be my own boss and since I work mostly from home, I have a flexible work schedule. Sometimes, though, tight schedules creep in and I feel quite harassed. At times like this, I try to think like my ex-help (now, a home-guard). Had I been in her place, I would have very gladly grabbed the opportunity to opt out of doing other people's domestic chores. After all, life is about bettering oneself. If this doesn't pep me up, I try to think of doing domestic chores as regular physical exercise - for my better health.

Yeah, that thought soothes me, and, I must admit that life outside the 'domestic help' tag, more social interaction & the financial betterment has improved the confidence levels of the hitherto faceless women.

09 March, 2010

Bulbul Watching - Part 2

My worst fears came true yesterday morning :(

When I discovered broken eggs and lots of feathers near the shrub, I didn't have to check in to realise what had happened. What a bad start to my day!

A few minutes later, I heard the continuous cry of a bulbul. Was it the male - searching/grieving? Or, was it the female, who may have fought before flying away? I will never know.

Hopefully, these bulbuls will not build their future nests at low levels.

Anyway, my attempt at getting to know about a bird's life had come to an abrupt end.

:(

07 March, 2010

Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day and every year, at least one woman I know, wonders, why only one day out of 365. Well, people pray to so many Gods every day, but have one special day every year, like Ganesh Chaturthi, Shivarathri,.... somewhat like that, I guess :)

I have always treated Dasara/Durga pooja as a celebration of womanhood. Durga is usually depicted as having many arms - each holding different things. I like to think of it as a tribute to a woman's multi-tasking abilities. Ditto with the many avataars of the Goddess.

Right from the woman who cleans the streets to the President, each one of us multi-tasks, be it in our relationships or in our range of duties. Giving equal justice to everything takes a lot out of us. To all those men who understand this and give us our space, thank you - may your tribe increase :)

According to one report, this year is the 100th year of IW Day. Wishing us more strength to wipe out female foeticide/ infanticide and other crimes against women, a wonderful day to all!

01 March, 2010

Bulbul Watching - Part I

Here is a peep into the life of the Red Whiskered Bulbuls who chose to make a part of our garden, their home :)
 
This is one of the bulbuls - I'm assuming it is the female. To an amateur eye like mine, the male and the female look similar. Even the creator seems to have taken gender equality seriously here!










The shrub the bulbuls chose for building their nest is so low and accessible! I'm praying that the cats and snakes that move about freely don't come to know about this. Though, how, I don't know :(
 Animals are so sensitive. I'm sure, like me, the snakes & cats have been keeping an eye on the bulbuls - for different reasons, of course!






3-4 days of hectic activity by both birds and their cosy home is ready :) It looks to be made of dry twigs only, but actually, they have lined it with large quantities of soft stuff like spiders' webs, etc. No fuss and frills, no disagreement, no third person's help required- excellent! I wish nest building was like this for all of us!
The nest
The next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see one egg :) I love that colour - a shade of burgundy - 'grape wine colour' in popular parlance.
One egg






The second morning, I peeped in to say 'hello' & discovered another egg!
 Hm.. so, birds lay eggs, one at a time. I had never given this a thought and for some strange reason had assumed that all the 3-4 eggs were laid at one go!!
Come to think of it, very stupid of me!!
Two eggs
The third morning, there was yet another egg! Maybe, this is it - the nest seems full now. When there were 1, 2 eggs, Ma Bulbul would leave the nest unattended. After the third, she has been around.

Three's a crowd!


I was right! She stopped at three. It has been 5 days now and she leaves the nest only for brief intervals- food breaks, I guess! She is used to me now. She allows me to peep in and say a few words. But, at the sound of the 'click', she flew away & I have decided not to disturb her again during the incubation period.
Mama-in-waiting
Birds are so active and chirpy and it must be very boring for her to simply sit in a cramped fashion and stare. What could she be thinking? How long will she have to sit? Let's learn patience from her and watch :)

The Story of a Seed

It was a visiting Sunday - six years ago at the Poorna Prajna School, Sangameshwarpet. As usual, all the hostelers were waiting for their pa...