Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Some creatures & plants I have seen in Bangalore (70s and early 80s)but no longer see.....

  • Sparrows
  • Lizards: Household Geckos which were on the ceiling or on the walls inside the home 
  • Also a  gecko which lived in my bathroom but which had white dots on it and was fatter than the usual geckos
  • Skinny grey lizards These were in my garden and outdoors on the roof, outdoor walls on the house. They were almost invisible against the unpainted cement of my home
  •  Lizards with the spiky growth along neck and back;
  •  Lizards which were partially covered with bright colours like red, orange,black and yellow;
  • The shiny and wet looking lizard called as Hav-rani in Kannada. Responding to a reader's comment, the Hav-rani is called snake-eyed skink, which is a species of lizards found in many countries and there are 35 types of these snake-eyed skinks (Googled it!)
  • Snakes:Cobras which have entered my house on more than one occasion in parts of Bangalore which are now densely populated by people.
  • Grey frogs
  • Plump earthworms
  • Bats
  • Squirrels
  • Butterflies & moths
  • Green and brown grasshoppers
  • Several insects I cannot name such as a thin leggy insect  which could skate on water, an insect which came in large numbers after rains and flew round and round the street lights, etc.
  • Tailor bird(This one would stitch a nest out of two leaves of  the brinjal plant which grew in front of our garage)
  • Dragonflies
  • Blue kingfishers near water bodies such as Hebbal lake and so on.
  • Purple moorhens at the Puttenhalli kere
I do not see any of the above these days i.e.  2010 onwards. The non-human life(excluding plants) I see in urban Bangalore  today include dogs, cats, cockroaches, mosquitoes, crows, black and red ants(ants in houses). Maybe my list would be longer if I could recall better!

 I am saddened to see so much of animal, insect and reptile  life missing from urban Bangalore. Thanks to increasing takeover of the city's green earth  by man, there isn't  an inch of space left  for other living creatures!
One example of man's ruthless domination of urban space is of people destroying nests in houses, outside houses as they think it 'looks shabby'. They poke out these nests with long sticks if they cannot reach them, without a thought for the birds or their eggs & young ones.
I have seen people screaming with fear and killing lizards and house- geckos as if they were dangerous bandits. It burns me up, but hey, what can I do?  Bangalore is full of educated and Ignorant idiots! The first rankers of these ignorant idiots is of course our politicians who allow all the green earth and lakes of Bangalore to be built over, simply to fill their personal coffers.
Another set of  Bangaloreans who annoy me are those who build and cover with concrete every single square inch of land on their site! Thee is no uncovered earth, for the rain water to go in and replenish the ground water.
I also hate the Bangaloreans who don't want 'dead leaves dirtying' their 'clean-swept' concrete. My dad's neighbour is one such person, who constantly fights with my father about the leaves from our garden.
I had this conversation with a friend who lives in Bangalore this year(2016). 
Me: It's so hot and no water around for the birds. Why don't you place a bucket of water on the rooftop of your apartment building daily.
Friend: Yes. I will ask the security to do it. umm. I don't think my husband will let me talk to the security and ask him to do this daily.
M:Why don't you do it yourself?
F:What ?Me? My husband will kill me. I cant go daily with a bucket to the apartment roof. People will think I am mad!

People's obsessive need for appearing clean, spruced up and shiny makes them take long poles and poke out the nests built by birds in their building's nooks and crannies.
 People have zero tolerance for anything which clashes with their urban cleanliness. They don't want birds nests as they are messy; they don't want birds flying near their homes as they don't want bird shit;
 They don't want lizards or geckos as they 'may fall into open food vessels and they will die if they eat that food', they don't want  owls or bats around their area as it's bad luck to see them, and so on and on and on. 
A paradoxical behaviour of Indians/Bangaloreans/Hindus  is the worship of cobras i.e .the sculptures of cobras in temples and on festival days such as Nag-Panchami but also beat a snake to death with sticks the moment they spot one! Even tiny baby snakes are not spared.
A similar worship-cum-cruelty is the reverence & worship of cows as they are considered to be Gods and the simultaneous mistreatment of bull-calves (born in the cities) by starving them as they are 'not useful'. The bull calves born in villages don't face similar fate as their unfortunate city-born brothers as they are 'useful' for ploughing in the fields. Personally, I think it's less cruel to kill the calf with one stroke then let it roam the city without feeding it and die a slow painful death by starvation & dehydration.

In the 70s and earlier, people had space for gardens in homes. Now every inch of land is built over and covered with concrete, leaving no earth  for the plants to grow; With plants absent, there's  no resources for insects and birds and reptiles to survive.  The food chain for all these creatures is brutally cut and Bangaloreans and the politicians of Karnataka forget that this will ultimately lead to death of Bangalore itself.

The plants I NO LONGER SEE TODAY BUT  I had seen growing wild in Bangalore in the past...by wild I mean that I had seen these plants growing on pavements, in empty sites, in people's houses, etc

bili-tumbe-hoovu (white tumbe hoovu) whose botanical name is Leucas Cephalotes(roth)spreng
Tumbe hoovu(pink )
Red tumbe hoovu
Milk weed(It had silky hair-like stuff attached to it's seeds)(Giant milkweed or swallow-wart)
Another is a  plant which was used as borders or fences between houses with tiny  red-pink flowers,growing in bunches. This plant's leaves were pretty rough textured.. I see this plant in Canada in pots as an ornamental plant. Lantana Camara

Another plant I don't see these days in Bangalore is a weed with lovely  yellow flowers & thorny bluish leaves (http://floraandhrika.blogspot.ca/ gives information about this yellow flower plant called Argemone Mexicana).For some reason thoughts about this weed have nagged me on and off  for the last many years. I even looked out for it during my 2016 visit to Bangalore and dint find it anywhere. I am  glad I finally found it's name and details in this webpage(invasive plants of India pdf) at least now in July 2016! Finding this plant was like getting out an elusive piece of food stuck in your teeth after hours of trying to get it out with your tongue! 
Another is a weed with white bell shaped flowers and thorn covered fruit.(possibly Datura Stramonium)
Another was a blue bell shaped flower weed plant, growing lightly like a creeper and spreading all over the ground and fences.(Clitoria ternata) Also called Vishnu Kranti and Shanka pushpa
Another was morning glory or Ipomea flowers
Another was a plant with yellow flowers, growing on the fence of the stone building school near Malleshwaram bus stand(near Sankey tank) in the early 70s!
Another was a weed with bright yellow flowers and leaves like the groundnut plant's.
How could I forget the 'touch me not' plant (Mimosa Pidica)whose leaves magically close when touched! This too was a weed growing randomly around Bangalore, I would love to have this plant here in Canada and show off to kids!
 I feel bad that these weeds have gone missing in Bangalore....they may be 'only' weeds but still, they were pretty. It is high time Bangalore builders stopped pouring concrete over the entire Earth surface of Bangalore and give some space to plants to root!
 is an excellent reference if you are looking for weeds of India. It has pictures which helped me to recognize what I was looking for.

Celosia argentea was a weed in the crops in my village. it was sold outside temples in the taluk as offerings to the Gods.

Chloris Barbata is another weed I recognize but cannot remember if I saw it in villages or cities in India

Cortalaria Retusa
Cryptostegia Grandiflora
Cuscuta Reflexa
Datura Innoxia
Datura metel but the flower color I have seen is different from the one I saw in the link above
Ipomoea Obscura
Mirabilis Jalapa
Opuntia Stricta (Not sure if I saw this cactus as a weed growing in villages or as a potted plant in homes in cities)
Tridax Cocumbens --I remember this tiny yellow flower so well!
Eicchornia Crassipes (I have seen this in Hebbal lake of India)

While reading about these plants in India, I was puzzled and I still have no answers. Majority of these plants came to India from other countries like Brazil according to what I read about each plant in wikepedia, etc.
Then what are the plants, trees, etc really native to India?
When I read  books on Hindu  customs and rituals, so many flowers, plants & trees  mentioned in  Hindu mythology don't seem to have been in India during Vedic times. How can this be explained?

Going back to the title of this article, I am depressed, angry and frustrated about the state of Bangalore at present.
One day our children will have to see the common sparrow (of the 70s) in zoos !

Bangalore is NOT DEVELOPING.
Bangalore is being MURDERED by people.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

my assignment for screen play writing at TDSB Learn4life Fall 2014 class

The forest at the edge of the Himalayan Mountains was thickly wooded, dark and cool. There were places in the forest, where even the sun’s rays could not penetrate through the thick branches of the trees.

This forest was home  not only for the hundreds of birds& beasts, plants & trees, reptiles & fishes, rocks & caves, lakes & rivers but also for many of society’s outcasts and oddities.  Rumor had it that not only did people seeking God lived here but also the lunatics, the robbers and thieves, the lepers and the other outcasts of society.  There were huts with monks who meditated upon God in this forest. The simple people of the nearby villages, walked to these huts to give alms and seek blessings, advice and holy ashs from the monks. Fearful of the wild beasts and the robbers who were supposed to inhabit the forest, they never came singly but in groups.

Some villagers said they saw this leper or that lunatic entering or leaving the forest. Some claimed to have seen fierce looking dacoits with huge mustaches entering the forest, in the early hours, carrying booty. If everyone’s story was believed, the forest seemed to hold more people, than a city!

Little boys played at the edge of the forest during the holidays from school when could escape the watchful eyes of their parents. Only the boldest of the older boys strayed a bit farther inside the forest to prove he was not scared of the ghosts haunting the trees in this forest.

Several tales about this forest made their rounds. One tale is of a brave hunter & his servant who entered this forest many years ago. People spoke in hushed tones about the hunter who never returned and his servant who was a babbling idiot when he emerged from the forest. Another was the tale of a band of robbers who lived in the forest and hid their booty in one of the caves. No villager dared to enter to hunt for this treasure and wild tales of the treasures hidden grew as the stories passed on from one generation to another.

Kiran, a teenager from the city, who spent his holidays with his grandmother, who lived in the village at the edge of this forest, played with the boys, by the river running between the forest and the village.  He loved the wide open spaces in the village. He loved swimming in the river and keeping an eye out for the cunning croc, added a delicious sense of danger to the swimming.  Kiran found the mangoes tasted sweeter only if he stole them! He enjoyed the scary thrill when the old man guarding the trees gave chase to him and his friends.  

Kiran heard the stories about the forest from his friends. He was fascinated by the story of the ghost which had chased a man who took the shortcut through the forest to reach another village. He was curious about the treasures in the cave. He was most curious about his grandmother, who let him do almost everything he wanted but would never let him go to the forest.

One hot day, when his friends were busy helping their families with harvesting the crops, Kiran, was by the river fishing and looking across at the forest. He tried to peer through the trees, but could see nothing but trees and a family of monkeys doing what monkeys do…. Kiran  looked longingly at the forest.  He had only a few days left before his school, in the city started. He thought of the forest, the people in it, the treasures in it, the wild animals, whose roars in the nights, sent shivers up his spine. He thought of the robbers and killers who lived in them, though he had never seen any.  He wondered if he would ever see the King Cobra with 5 hoods and if he would ever get the Nagaratna from it’s hood.

Kiran’s longing to go into the forest got stronger and stronger, as the day for him to depart to the city got nearer and nearer. But his grandmother was adamant that her grandson, who came to stay with her should return to the city, safe and sound. She would not hear of Kiran, even setting foot on the other side of the river. Kiran, who loved his grandmother was torn between obeying her and his longing for the forest.

He thought of the forest all the time. He spoke less to his friends and lost interest in his games. His mind was full of the forest and he thought of it during the day and dreamt of it at night.  Will he return to the city without searching the forest?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Michael Robotham and others...I read in summer 2014

My colleague and friend introduced me  another nice author, previously unknown to me... Michael Robotham.
I just finished reading two of his books i.e. The night ferry and Watching you. Enjoyed both.
Ordering other books by  this author and hope the other books are as thrilling as these two.  The night ferry is a thriller told in first person by a Sikh lady born and brought up in England and working in the police force. It tickles me to think that a male, non-Asian person wrote this!

Watching you is a thriller with a psychologist in it and as I am in the mental health field, I was sort of curious.

I hope I have a great summer with lots of great books to read! I am currently enjoying the TV show, Psych. My husband who usually refuses to see TV is also hooked to this and we see about 2 epidodes per day. I love this show! It is fun, not at all serious, the guys Shawn and Gus and all of the cast are fun. We do miss the shows we were watching and all of which have stopped now and will hopefully restart in fall. The shows we are hooked to and not airing now are Homeland, White collar, Justified, True detective, Republic of Doyle, House of cards, NCIS, NCIS Los Angles and God knows what else...I can remember only these now.

One of my dreams if I win a lottery ticket is to buy the dvds of all my favorite shows and give it to my friends in India who have no access to these shows. I would LOVE to do that! I want my friends, especially those who are having problems with their husbands to watch the shows such as Good wife, The Closer, etc...I feel it would empower them at least to some extent and make them stand up for themselves, more than they are doing now. I also think/hope that these shows would change the mind set of the people who continue to think that Indian culture is great, that women should obey their husbands, that family is the most important thing for a woman and that women sacrificing themselves is the only right way.
Surfing on Netflix I discovered a funny enjoyable , old show called The job...it is about a police Precinct in New York city and it's not serious and I feels relaxed watching this...I love the characters, and the fact that things were so easy -going and less grim or less criminal  in those days..or at least in this show.

A few of the other books I enjoyed in Summer of 2014:
Maximum city by Suketu Mehta This is a must read for people who want to understand the 'Real' India !

Lachlan Smith's Bear is broken and Lion plays rough...both are set in San Fransisco, are the first two books by this writer and is crime fiction and about Criminal Lawyers...What I liked about this book is that it is realistic.

Sara Paretsky's  Warshawski series about a female P I in Chicago  I liked these books but found some of them a bit slow... I was surprised to get a Detroit feel about the book (the poverty and crime made me think of Detroit). I liked it because it was realistic(I am over-using this word but cannot think of a different one!), and loved the fact that it is a female P.I...I have only seen male P.Is till now.
Loyalty by Ingird Thoft...this too has a female private investigator
The magician's accomplice by Michael Genelin...this is the first crime fiction set in Slovakia that I am reading. I really like it as it's fast paced, easy to read, believable characters. I  have already booked books by the same author, to read when I am done with this one.
One great non-fiction book, really well written is Human Traffic and Transnational Crime edited by Sally Stoecker & Louise Shelly.

Linwood Barclay's A tap on the window....I love most of his books as they are fast paced.

 And one more thing...Either because I am aging or because today's crime fiction is different I have observed one thing about myself. I  remember the plots clearly of the books I read 10-30 years ago. But the books I read today... i.e. modern crime fiction, I enjoy them as they are quick paced, well written and have characters I can identify with or like... but I  forget the book completely within a few days after finishing them! I am trying to figure out why.

The books I read ages ago but remember very well are all the classics, and  books by James Herriot, A.J.Cronin, Georgette Heyer, Dick Francis, etc and crime fiction by authors like James Hadley Chase, Alistair Maclean, Lawrence Sanders, Earle Stanley Gardner, etc

The books I read today but forget completely include those by Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coban, to name two. The books I have read recently but remember are books by Martin Cruz Smith, Stuart.M.Kaminsky's Rostinkov and Liberman series, Tom Rob Smith's trilogy, to name a few.
books read in fall of 2014:
Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie : female PI, set in South Africa (My first book with the story set in South Africa). It is very violent (I don't like this amount or this kind of violence) but the writing is fast paced and I would have enjoyed it more if the violence was a bit less
I have borrowed another book by this author but still to start i.e. Pale Horses

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sea glass by Lake Ontario in Bluffer's Park, Scarborough

Sea glass


I don’t remember when or how I discovered about sea glass but now, it is my latest obsession. I had no idea about sea glass when I was in India. A few years ago, when I was searching for something else on the internet, I discovered sea glass … I think. Ever since I discovered sea glass I have fallen in love with it and have spent several hours trawling on the internet and even borrowing books from the library to read about it.

While drooling over photos of sea-glass on the internet, I was lead into the world of other fascinating things such as sea pottery, sea brick and beach stones. I enjoyed seeing the photos of sea brick and sea pottery, though there is less about them on the internet, compared to sea-glass.  I also started reading about sea-glass related things such as the sea glass museum at Fort Bragg in California and the sea glass events held in places like USA & Canada, and UK.  I saw the lovely art work and jewellery people have made out of sea glass in the western world. I also recall seeing, in a Baltimore jewelry shop by the harbour, lovely glass earrings …the  glass was supposed to be from Rome and  produced in B.C!  I hope it’s true! I love the idea of earrings made of glass from over 2000 years ago!

During my childhood, I had loved sea shells like any other child and still love them but I am no longer obsessed with them now. I now feel sorry for the sea animals in shells which are picked and killed for their shells and I don’t want any part of that. I pray and hope that someday, People will accept that even molluscs feel pain and stop torturing/killing them. (“Yo turtle-eater. Put yourself in the place of the turtle and try to imagine how it feels to have your skin/shell ripped out of you, even as you are living and breathing”.)

About a month ago, we went to Scarborough Bluffs as part of ‘show-Toronto-to-visitors-from USA’. And while walking along Lake Ontario in Scarborough’s Bluffer’s Park, I found my first beach glass (less tumbled than sea glass but quite pretty and pretty good!) I was thrilled! For me, it was like finding a treasure!

 I soon found and collected quite a bit of beach glass…about 50 pieces maybe. Most of the glass was milky white or a very pale green though I did find a few dark or bright shades such as cornflower blue, stout brown and a bright red. Most of the glass pieces had not been in water for a sufficient time …many were yet to lose their jagged edges and become rounded … but it was good enough for me!

My ceaseless talking about sea-glass seemed to have infected my husband too and he too began searching the beach.  Being picky, he collected fewer pieces but they were really smooth and worthy of being made into jewelry. We returned to Bluffer’s park again after a week (you do not have to pay for parking from start of winter till end of April) specifically to pick the beach glass. And this time I picked up other stuff  like sea pottery, sea brick and round speckled stones which may actually be pieces of concrete with embedded stones …the concrete pieces have become round after being smoothened by the waves of the lake.

 I loved the bricks on the beach this time! These are bricks with the edges rounded off by the waves and the holes in them look cute and they could be made to hold tiny plants or flowers! Another reason I am simply amazed by these bricks is that I compare these bricks of Toronto with the lousy quality bricks I have seen in India (Bangalore and Karnataka especially in the 70s when my dad was getting our house built). The red mud bricks in India were so weak that they would break if they fell from a height of three or four feet! And some  bricks in India were so poorly burnt that they would crumble if it simply rained on them! While these bricks from Toronto which have been in Lake Ontario, for years have only their edges rounded off! It makes me angry thinking of the poor quality of so many things in India.

The red bricks in Toronto are almost like rocks! As people in Toronto (and many parts of US & Canada) have seen, there are millions of exposed  brick houses and brick buildings which are over 100 years old…these brick houses are not covered with stucco or concrete and the bricks are exposed to the severe winters, to rain, snow, summer’s heat and yet, they remain strong! I have seen brick streets in Etobicoke and the distillery district, with vehicles running over them, yet they remain strong.

The rounded concrete pieces too were pretty intriguing for me. I have put the photos of all I found here and when you see the photos, you will know what I am talking about.

I did not see any sort of shells by the lake here…I don’t know if it’s too cold for the molluscs here in Lake Ontario near Scarborough…or if there’s some other reason as to why I did not find any shells here. We found plenty of pebbles and beach stones…they were beautiful, but I did not pick them.

My husband made these ear-rings and pendants which I wore with glee, the very next day. And I am planning to arrange the pieces of beach glass in different patterns, photograph them and save the photos. Unfortunately, I am not as creatively gifted as my husband and the only thing I can do is collect these glasses and weave fantasies about them!

Another topic of interest to me is driftwood. But I am yet to find interesting pieces and make something of them.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Books I am reading in January 2014

Bitten by the Black snake: the ancient wisdom of Ashtavakra by Manuel Schoch
This is one of the best philosophy books I have ever read, I am considering buying it.

The Mughal World:India's tainted paradise by Abraham Eraly
Anyone who is curious about life of the Mughal kings, the people of his court, and the lives of common people such as farmers, soldiers, merchants in India,  in the Mughal period India, should read this book! I had been curious about lives of people in India as a teenager but the social studies books I had as texts were useless. All they had was the names of kings, the wars and their dates, the places the wars took place. The books were so dry and the facts were so boring to read and retain, without a body of information to back them. (I am cursing the Karnataka State Government text books of the 70s and early 80s).
After moving to Canada and borrowing the books from Public Library,  I am learning so much about Indian history. Abraham's books is one of the best---highly readable, informative and this books gets into why people behaved in the ways they did and why things happened the say they did....why for example, the farmers in India   became thieves; how the artisans lived in poverty and  this lead to art slowly dying out, etc

Delusions..Allen Frances's Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis responding to the Challenge of DSM-5 (The Guilford Press, 2013)

........It is not the wrongness of the belief that defines a delusion, but rather it's being held in the face of universal consensual invalidation. Of course, this distinction is difficult to apply and can lead to some strange paradoxes. Galileo might accurately have fit this definition of "delusional", given the consensual state of scientific knowledge in 1600. And Jim Jones might not have been considered delusional, given the fact that his Jonestown cult provided consensual validation of his wacky and dangerous beliefs..........

This sentence gave me such a joyful Eureaka feeling, when I read it, I cannot express! I have been reading the definitions of delusions  since the last 30 odd years and until this wonderful definiton by Frances,  the definitions always stressed on the falseness of the belief('A delusion is a firm, fixed, unshakable false belief held by an individual' etc,etc,etc)
This description of delusion especially the fact that it is NOT THE WRONGNESS OF THE BELIEF THAT DEFINES A DELUSION, is so right and I am wondering why no one ever thought of it before...I thought of it but did not state publicly what I truly felt and this person Frances has done it!
This description of the delusion makes so many things easy and clear to me.
I can use this aspect of the delusion when I do CBT with clients ........
I can stop getting into arguments when I am accused of being delusional by thinking of this !
I can understand  better and empathize with delusional people...especially those who are not diagnosed with delusional disorder but those millions of people who are doing the same thing over and over again, with little success but strong beliefs.........Like a madcap I know who keeps buying arid agricultural land with high-interest-borrowed-money as he believes the value of this land will go up and up and up.

Normality and abnormality of human behaviour and  the criteria for mental health and illness in various cultures and situations is one area which has always facinated me.  I have written about my take on some aspects of mental illness in other articles of this blog. I will be writing more on delusions(my take on delusions...not regurgigated from other articles on the net or from texts) as delusions  facinate me; it is not the dramatic, exotic and obviously psychotic delusions that facinate me but  the subtle ones, which hover between non-delusional and delusional. The same behaviour falling at different points in the continum from  non-delusion to delusion, when it occurs in different cultures, times, places, genders, etc.
Let me give an example...
a girl of 15 refusing to step out of her house after 6 pm in Cairo as she is afraid of being attacked verbally or physically ..is she delusional or right or over cautious
This same girl of 15 has moved to  a small town in USA and is refusing to step out of her house after 6pm.

 I have written an article on judgement(What causes poor judgement? in 2012) which is sort of about delusions to some extent....poor judgements  are caused in part by delusions

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

Last walk because I can't take the mosquitoes.  I found this tree unusual... I dont know what these red berries are but th...