Thursday, May 15, 2014

The pleasure of driving in Bangalore

Driving in Bangalore is a pleasure - from 6:30 AM to 9:30 AM and from 6 PM to 11 PM.
No, it's not the potholed roads, or the random unmarked speed-bumps, or the yellow-board Indicas who believe traffic rules don't apply to them, or the two-wheelers streaking between the sluggishly moving cars or the big red Volvo buses in Brownian motion.

It's the FM radio station Amritavarshini, 100.1 FM. Amritavarshini, is probably the country's only classical music station and it's a pleasure to listen to Hindustani and Carnatic music uninterrupted by commercials, with the RJ speaking briefly and in chaste Kannada to introduce the program. There are no ads promoting the channel, no RJs speaking in mongrel tongues and no agenda except allowing the audience to forget the misery that is the Bangalore roads and listen to some great music.

Here's hoping that 100.1 FM remains funded, is able to extend their operating hours and continues to play great music for the years to come.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A walk around the lake

Henry David Thoreau, in his 1854 book, Walden, narrates his experience of living in solitude for two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst the woodland. While we didn't have the luxury of spending as much time around our neighborhood Kaikondrahalli Lake , this Saturday morning walk around the lake was a delight with the variety of birds, bird calls and nature on exhibition.

We reached the lake at around 9 AM by when most of the joggers and serious bird watchers with the telescopic zoom lenses have left.

We start the walk with the call and sighting of a White Cheeked Barbet.The barbet is rarely seen outside the thick green foliage of mature trees and it is a rare sighting for us to see it perched on an electric wire.

A White Throated Kingfisher flies to its perch - a wall on the edge of the lake

and a little egret takes flight, splashing along its liquid runway.

We walk towards the lake and catch sight of our first set of waders - a purple heron, an egret and a purple swamp hen.

The pond herons which are normally inconspicuous with their muddy brown plumage are now very conspicuous, showing off their breeding plumage.

A Brahminy Kite is sitting on one of the bare branches over the water with its catch in its claws.

The next sighting is spot billed ducks lined up in the grass.

Cicadas are screeching from the trees on the side of the walkway and in spite of the cacophony they create, their camouflage is amazing, and it's very difficult to catch sight of them.

A white throated kingfisher is calling out loudly from a tree.

We cross the amphitheater and are near the rookery - where many birds nest. A coot is stepping resolutely out of the water

The "cormorant tree" is weighed down with birds, nests and fledglings.

A grey heron stands poised motionless, one foot raised, with razor-sharp concentration, near the edge of the water.

The call of the Koels and the arrival of mangoes signify the advent of summer in India and now the call of a female Koel breaks the silence around the lake.

Flowers are in full bloom on the small trees that line the walkway and a ruddy marsh skimmer is resting on one of them.

The air is filled with the odor of the Eucalyptus leaves and a great cormorant has abandoned the water and sought a spot high among the Eucalyptus branches.

An open-billed stork stands silently surveying the shore

A BronzeWinged Jacana, identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes, is roaming the lot behind the lake. There is also a large  purple swamp hen colony in the same area.

As we leave we catch sight of a couple of lizards sunning themselves on the fence around the lake, oblivious of all the avian drama around them.