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Archive for the ‘India Observed’ Category

A mosque is being built at Ground Zero near where the World Trade Center towers collapsed during the September 11 attacks on America.

Just a few hundred yards from where the jihadists’ planes crashed into the towers, a Muslim building will open, that too on the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.

The Cordoba Mosque is being touted as a peace initiative, but it is a two faced outrage. A hundred years from now, would someone even remember that there stood in that place what were once the world’s two tallest buildings, built by a people known as The Americans?

Imagine that for a moment.  Ever wonder what lay under the Dome of the Rock in Israel?  Does anyone ever doubt the recorded story of what lay in the past of Haghia Sophia in Turkey?

But then, it is possible that the Americans have lost their mind!

Now think about this:  why is it so hard for people to even allow the speculation that the Taj might not be what it is today.

History repeats itself, winners get to re-write the narrative.

In fact history needs to be re-written first before a civilization can re-invent itself, recreate itself. Else, it simply continues as a fossil replica. At the very least, people should stare at history with a cold hard eye, untainted by romanticism, poetry and unverified data. That is all IU is saying.

Original Post Begins Here:

The timeless wonder of Taj Mahal is a gift that keeps on giving, in more ways than one.

A nice round up of the lore, the legacy, the controversy, and the alternative view that Taj Mahal was actually Tejo Mahalaya (Professor P.N. Oakh), a Hindu Rajasthani temple – and other such notions –  all are  presented nicely in this round-up.

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Himalayas - Wiki

For a while there, the world was shaken to the core about global warming, rising tides, and disappearing glaciers.

Gangotri will be gone! The holy Indian cows emit too much gas, eat them up!

The man who invented internet, and global warming, Al Gore got his revenge on the world that cheated him out of Presidency by scaring it into giving him a Nobel prize for manufacturing predictions of doomsday.

Now, of course, we know it to be otherwise.

The East Anglia email scandal, the data fudging business.

And now this: the idea of Himalayan glaciers melting away by 2035 was “speculation” not  based on science, data or verified research.

The original news was not vetted, proven, peer-reviewed not subjected to test.

Times of London has all the details.

World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown.

Brief excerpt:

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it. [snip]

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and was not supported by any formal research.[snip]

Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: [snip]

The revelation is the latest crack to appear in the scientific concensus over climate change. It follows the so-called climate-gate scandal, where British scientists apparently tried to prevent other researchers from accessing key date. Last week another row broke out when the Met Office criticised suggestions that sea levels were likely to rise 1.9m by 2100, suggesting much lower increases were likely.

While the blame game goes on, science being not exempt from it. And not a moment too soon we have a new word for a new scandal, thank you Walter Russel Meade, Glacier Gate

Pachauri, in the meantime, is “studying the new evidence”

Truth being, of course, there is real evidence that some Himalayan glaciers are actually getting larger!

Not a particularly new idea, but things do change in nature, back and forth .. it’s not time for pralayam, yet …

The Resilient Earth has interesting photographs, and report by Vijay KumarRaina of Geological Survey of India.

IU is glad that Ganga will keep on flowing. Otherwise where else will the Indians put their pollution in?

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There is a certain odd richness to the current situation in Andhra Pradesh.

FIRST STATE IN THE  new Indian Union to demand re-unification based on language, now is roiled in separatism, or at a minimum, political opportunism masquerading as separatism. Somewhere, Potti Sriramulu is rolling in his grave, spinning faster than the evil web being woven by politicians all around, especially in New Delhi.

TELANGANA MOVEMENT  which periodically rose and fell, often resulting in political rapprochement, now has the enviable task of wishing it hadn’t wished so. Severance from brethren, in a state that is the envy of the entire Union – Hyderabad / Cyberabad, a later day mecca for IT – without capital pouring in, Telangana will revert to memories of Muslim ruled wretchedness, feudalism, and strife. Even the word Telang is an Islamized perversion of Telugu, the language of the region.

Iron Man

DECCAN OF YORE,  that old Islamic plateau of Central South India found freedom along three separate ways, thanks to Mahatma Gandhi. Speakers of Marathi and Kannada seem happily blended with their co-linguists in Maharashtra and Karnataka respectively. Only speakers of Telugu (synonym for Andhra) language have been restless, on and off. First they were unable to shake off the yoke of their Islamic spiritual cultural hegemony,  next they couldn’t break free from the feeble, feudal Nizam, but with help eventually did, thanks to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, (where would India be without him!)

TELUGU people have been, forever, an uneasy alliance. Some thirty years ago another separatist, a doctor,  one Marri Chenna Reddy whipped up the descendants of the former Nizam’s subjects into a frenzy. His antics quieted only when offered Chief Minister job. The solution to separatism has since remained a political modus vivendi. Until now. Let all stakeholders sit down and work it out. The ottomanic, sultanate style handing down of decrees from New Delhi has to stop!

LIKE THE BRITS AND YANKS finally settled on the opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean peaceably, “divided by a common language”  (Winston Churchill), the Telugu speakers would rather be divided by a common language, emphasize the accent over the grammar. Or, do they? What to make of all the rumors about local political instigators?

NEIGHBORING STATES to Andhra Pradesh changed names and place names and such. Mysore became Karnataka, Madras became Tamil Nadu, Madras City became Chennai, Bombay became Mumbai. Only the Telugu people pretty much let history be, and got together, and got along fairly well. NO  naming gimmicks. Hyderabad never became Bhagya Nagar. Only Visakhapatnam shrugged off the shorter moniker Vizag. Even Rajahmundry was content to leave Raja-Mahendra-Varam in the past. Back in Seventies, Twin Cities slowly faded from common parlance as Greater Hyderabad swallowed up Secunderabad, with nary a peep of objection. Both erstwhile muslim municipalities grew immensely. Hyderabad is as well-known in science circles of the world as Bangalore, or Bhopal!

MIDNIGHT MADNESS represented by the hapless ‘man in shawl’ The Chettiyar has to be one of the dumbest official acts ever in Independent Indian History.  Only Mr. Nehru’s advocacy for China’s membership of UN would exceed in folly. What was The Chettiyar thinking, or was he thinking at all. Was he, and Secretary Pillai as well, channeling Mohd. Bin Tuglaque of a few centuries ago, remember from history books, the decision to move the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, perhaps?

THE INDIAN HOME MINISTER, filling those enormous shoes of The Iron Man, Vallabh Bhai, looked like he found himself frozen in headlights, like a feral creature crossing a busy highway at night. He simply allowed himself to become an instrument of his party, rather than a guardian of his nation, and the protector of the nation’s polity.  His reading of a short proclamation from a clipboard at the midnight hour had all the shallow similitude to Pundit Nehru’s ‘tryst with destiny’ moment. Except, that nobody was expecting it. Even fewer people wanted it. No Salman Rushdie to troubadour this travesty ….

TELANGANA people deserve nothing less than what they can work for and are willing to invest in themselves. The ‘big brother’ approach of their co-linguists had to stop. But also had to cease was the mindset of victim-hood and exploitation complex brought on by centuries of the feudalistic, parasitic grip on parts of the region by the religiously empowered entities.

TELANGANA PROSPERED when great leaders of the region grew in stature and assumed major roles in polity. Ranga Reddy got a district created and named in his honor. Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao hailed from Karimnagar area of Telangana, his Chief Ministership of AP was effective, peaceable. His Prime Ministership of India was astonishingly adroit, surviving both religious turmoil as well as national bankruptcy as it did. PVN has been compared to leaders like Michael Gorbachev in Russia – a most difficult stewardship at a time of great changes at home and abroad. Without ‘PV’ and the associated Manmohan Singh, modern India would not have materialized so swiftly.  Perhaps, an all-party summit could be arranged to ensure that Chief Ministership of an undivided A.P.  is rotated amongst the three regions every two years. May be, even change the name to TELUGU SEEMA, OR TELUGU RASHTRAM.

COMMUNIST INFLUENCE anywhere in the world can only lead to trouble. For decades they stirred up Bengal, Telangana, Kerala and across a swathe of India reaching into Nepal. Indians must be the only people in the world who didn’t get the memo, it’s ok to make money. The statist ideas promulgated at Independence, and since not disavowed with vigor, retain grip on people and places that remain underdeveloped and vulnerable. The commies exploited Telangana relentlessly. What Telangana needed was more democratic governance, investment, and job creation. They didn’t need yet another ideology that only engendered anger. Commingling of Islamism, separatism, proletarianism, do not bode well. Telangana needs another PVN Rao!

ANGST IN A.P.  is being expressed in voices blending anger, bitterness and sadness,  especially  in Coastal and Ceded (‘Seema) areas. There is oft’ repeated talk of “outsides conspiring” to make the entire state of A.P. look weak, hapless, and enfeebled. Else, goes the conspiracy theory, how come ministers from ‘other southern states’ such as Chidambaram and Moily get to decide fate of Andhra? Was the CM of AP told about it first? Isn’t AP in great shape? With great educational and investment climate? Also mooted, the idea that the late CM’s son was less than honorable in this matter.

VOICES OF SEPARATISM in India are never quite muted. The country has been divided repeatedly. This is great when done for administrative, cultural and developmental reasons. The lament of Telangana seems phony, political, and opportunistic. Demands for infrastructural improvements, major national and international projects should all be discussed openly and democratically. Statehood is essentially a political plum, a scheme to divide the spoils at the top rather than at the bottom. There are parts of India more abjectly poor, ill-served and needier than Telangana. But, this baby’s crying has been indulged in for so long, in so many wrong ways, this time it make take a real breast to feed it, not just a pacifier.

CONGRESS PARTY OPPORTUNISM is boundless, bottomless, and listless. The same applies to other Indian politicians in general. But Congress, like any behemoth, merely exists for its own sake. Those who wear party colors will sell their soul in the name of party unity, discipline, and respect for ‘high command’. All politicians in India seem to behave thus. Perhaps, it is Indian character to be un-egotistic, and yet un-principled at the same time. Perhaps, it is a case of  filial piety being institutionalized.

Poorvanchal idea gains!

Gorkhaland demanded!

List of Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh.

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{If readers are willing, and Ganesha consenting, this will mark the start of a yet another series. VOTARIES & VISIONARIES will be just that. A spotlight on some very productive, visionary and informative people – regardless of their origin or current location –  whose singular achievement is to show an India that is Unfinished in the best sense. Writers, broadcasters and advocates, great men and women with voice, who see in India a rising tide of good tidings. This category of posts is a salute to the strong voices of Praise India , if you will. Even critical but constructive rants will be featured. Happy Reading, we have a very strong subject to lead off with!}

Kamla Bhatt is, to put it simply, Extraordinary. How so, you say? Listen to this none too humble a goal:

We need heroes and role models that are relevant to the new and emerging India. There are hundreds of stories out there of inspiration, motivation and innovation waiting to be discovered and told. I am passionate about getting those stories told and heard,

And, indeed she delivers, day after day, post after relentless post, video after endless stream of video. Poet, pauper, philosopher, merchant prince, or prince turned merchant: all are grist for the mill of what is nowadays simply called the Kamla Show.

Among the knowledgeable, the show is a phenomenon. The Wall Street Journal’s Indian siding, Live MINT’s radio show, Livemint Radio harbours Kamla Show.

kamlaShow

Click to open Kamla Show

The show, the podcast, the blog, the persona- Kamla Bhatt is the voice of India on the Internet.

The sheer range and volume of her topics and subjects simply takes the breath away. One is just left to wonder, where does she find time, and, where does the energy come from. Well, it’s got to be a true labor of love and passion for expression and exploration. But, also love of India in there clearly, but you be the judge. First partake of a few offerings from her extensive, exhaustive archives.

Check out Kamla Bhatt on Youtube too!

Consider for example, a conversation with Pico Iyer, on a wide ranging issues.

A more recent show captured the flavor of a Hare Krishna Rath Yathra in San Francisco.

Here is a video to go with that post.

A fascinating conversation with Flower Silliman discusses her reminiscenses of Mahathma Gandhi, and her life in Bomaby cinema before there was Bollywood the foolish word/world. That conversation centered around the role of Baghdadi Jewish women in early Hindi Cinema (one of IU’s earlier posts “When Hindi films went Jewish”).

Any worthy journalist can not do without the mandatory ‘cab driver interview’. Bhatt talks to a septugenarian Sharma, of Delhi. Listen here. Her interest goes beyond the human interest or the banal. Using Hindi and English she elicits a portrait of India in flux, India Unfinished.

For the Obama junkies, there is an interview with Prof. Paul Kapur about Obama’s South Asian policy.

Have you ever wondered what really happened between India and China that long ago during the 1962 war, when India under Nehru-Menon got it’s clock cleaned.  Kamla’s guest, Rajesh Rajagopalan, sheds a ray of light.

Diwali Around the World is a delightful romp.

You can read about the great ho-hums of India such as  Shyam Benegal, Amin Sayani, MiraNair, Madhur Jaffrey and others just about any where, and Kamla does feature them with her own brand of special keenness.

But, where else could you read about  jazz musician Rudresh Mahanthappa, google video sensations Smrithi Mandhra, and  Ben Rekhi, writer Anita Nair, cinematogrpher V. K. Murthy, the unsung man who filmed Guru Dutt movies for 30 years. Who knew!!

Kamla scores a triumph in her great chats with Indian legends in IT such as the delightfully named Ninja Srinivasan of Yahoo, Padamsee Warrior of Cisco, Ashish Gupta of Helion, Suresh Narasimha of Bluetooth and countless others.

Kamla, too, features dozens of young and upcoming artists, enterepreneurs, cross-over adventurers and a whole cast of interesting personae.

Undoubtedly, caveat here, examples cited and linked here are random, chosen for no special reason. Don’t let this selection bias you in any way. In point of truth, the Kamla show is a veritable, inexhaustible smorgasbord that leaves you craving for more.

Kamla - Twitter

Kamla - Twitter

Lest one thinks Kamla is all intellection and no fun, fret not. She is witty, and funny.

According to a recent tweet from her, she can enjoy Jimmy Buffet, and Indian dinner at the same time (and along the tweet-way also drops us a tip on the Buffets’ lineage). How about that for commingling two great classics.

Now, you get an idea of why IU thinks the real classic here is Kamla!

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It's a Phenomenon!

It's a Phenomenon!

Some of you never can get enough of Slumdog Millionaire. A variety of reasons – nationalistic pride, joy, delight, and the sheer musical thrill – all add up to the historic creative confluence, itself limned vividly against the background of the historicity of a phenom called Obama, it can get all too giddy for some.

And the opinions, good god man, the opinions, there is no shortage of them either.

The reviews, on the other hand, are generally long on rhetoric and often fall short on thoughtfulness. Except this:

Molly A Daniels-Ramanujan does a superb job of providing a comprehensive overview of all the ideas expressed, and a terrific perspective on what it all says. She offers a particularly powerful vantage point, borne of comparable situations and circumstances half a world away.

The reviews fell into three distinct camps: the ideological, the aesthetic, and the didactic. [ ]

For writers, artists, and creative people on the whole, slum-dwellers are people like themselves. More so in India, where there is only one degree of separation from the people who live on Marine Drive, or Malabar Hill, and slum dwellers: [snip]

If you loved the fairy tale, the romance of rags to riches story; if you marveled at the color, the energy and the sense of community found in an Indian slum, this is your film. [  ]
And, anyone who reviews “Slumdog” should read the original novel by Indian diplomat Vikram Swarup, titled “Q & A.” The ideas in the novel cannot be easily translated into sociology or anthropology. The ideas are subtle, and could have only come from someone who understands, first hand, how knowledge is disseminated in an oral culture. [ ]

There are people like me who take an interest equally in the life lived in an Indian hovel or an Indian palace. Even to me, a woman born and bred in India, India is still exotic. It is an artist’s paradise. The best muse in the world [ ]

There is more, a lot more. I recommend you read all of it to get a comprehensive idea of the different ways you can look at, err India Unfinished.

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What is India but the sum total of her parts?

Well, some will argue that the totality of India is more than the sum of her parts. It will be argued, there has to be added that little bit extra something to explain the “real” India. I suppose that such may be true of all large entities. One really can’t grasp any entity without first dissecting it, and then put it back. That’s when you have to add that little something.

What is it then that makes India more than the some of her parts?

I susprect that it is the interaction, that dynamic flux and fusion that is continually occurring internally, tectonically, amongst the diverse internal components or identities. A land and a people as ancient and overrun as those of the India subcontinent will invariably offer a great many such subterranean tectonic gratings.

The only way to look at such clashes is via humor. Nothing but a lighter touch will help us look at ourselves, and smirk and giggle. That’s where we come upon this new feature.

A SLICE OF INDIA is a particular attempt to look at such intra-ethotic cross-currents of the India scene. For centuries, people have mingled, clashed, lived cheek to jowl, and bickered. Every Indian is looked down upon by every other Indian. There is no denying it. Some attitudes are more codified and less learned than others. Nonetheless, Indians love to put down each other, across every possible imaginable divide. And in the next very moment, find something in common, to ride over a third some one else!!

A SLICE OF INDIA will offer portraits of India from a peculiarly slanted, perverted, humorous point of view. Of necessity, they will annoy some, insult others, titillate many. So here goes ….

Madras in Mumbai - A wickedly funny look

Madras in Mumbai - A wickedly funny look

I owe this find to another blog, The Butterfly Diaries carried in their sidebar this very funny, Blogger offering: Shtories and Shtuff from Bharat Bhushan.

SHTORIES AND SHTUFF FROM BHARAT BHUSHAN is wicked, wicked stuff. Side-splittingly funny, razor-sharp in observation, and devilishly accurate in reproduction of the dislocation: Madrasi in Mumbai.
It appears as though the author has gotten tired or busy, but he has a keen ear and a good turn of the phrase. I hope he will post more often in future. But for now there is enough there to bring a chuckle, and as they say, there some good local color!!

Your suggestions are needed!

This category should rightfully belong to the readers, Indian or otherwise. So take it away. Send me your suggestions via email box in the sidebar, suggest a site that you would like featured under the category of A Slice of India, be sure to include your info for a hat tip.

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Just how well do you know India and Indians?

A banal question you say? Well, over a hundred years ago the Mahatma asked it of himself, and found the answer to be so unsatisfying, he set off on a journey at once. The rest as they say is history. A similar motive, equally unpretentious, is at play in this series.

As I stated at the outset, India is so vast and varied that no single mind can truly wrap around her. It does take, er .. a number of villagers to do the job.

In this new series that I call Our Selves, Hidden Selves, I would like to highlight certain aspects of India, and certain Indians. Some seemingly minor aspect not generally given serious thought or discussion. I would like us to focus on what otherwise gets glossed over, waxed eloquent, with little attention to detail.

(A bit of a rant on the side. Like citizens elsewhere, Indians who depend on the so-called MSM (main stream media) for some understanding of our current selves are to be pitied. For the media, in India as elsewhere, is populated by the mindless, fueled by the witless, and run by the heartless. In an ancient worn out landscape such as India specially, to turn a McLuhanesque phrase, the Medium is the Mess.)

Therefore, we turn to the Internet and there in, like the swans of the lore filter out the gibberish and come up with some keen observers.

The focus today is Nature in India; the choice  is a blog called  THE BUTTERFLY DIARIES.

This is a wonderful little blog, its format is unassuming, yet the content quite rich and well-informed. Its stated motives are modest but don’t let that deceive you, it gets the job done! The writing is direct, clear, and honest. It has hundreds of photographs, the vast majority are original!

What makes The Butterfly Diaries uniquely charming despite its simple title is that, at times the blog takes on the character of a soliloquy, the author’s treat to himself, and that enables us to get inside the blogger’s viewpoint. The blogger is our spyglass, we get an intimate look at India’s nature, like never before. It should make you want to become a naturalist yourself.

The writer and proprietor of the blog is Ashwin Baindur, a scholar, soldier, and conservationist. Someone derived from the same mould as that great hero of mine, The Colonel himself, Teddy Roosevelt.

With that caveat, let’s jump right into the blog, and enjoy some great personal observations of Nature in India. Here is the real reason why this blog attracts me:

This blog has taken a vow not to concentrate only on things that always get attention, such as tigers, rain-forests and cute pandas, but also about those things that don’t get written about much such as invertebrates, plants and such-like things.

Boy, does he ever!

How is this related to Gandhi's Dandi March?  Photo via downtoearth.org

How is this related to Gandhi's Dandi March? Photo via downtoearth.org

It is a good thing that he is not merely a butterfly chaser, or even plain watcher of things living. He has an abiding curiosity about all that’s around, and how it came about too.

Else, how would we know what this picture represents.

What is that enormous squiggly line running down the map of grand old India?

Ashwin Baindur explains via this post: Taxman’s Hedge. Pull on the hedgerow here and there, unravel an entire chapter of history!

From another post we get an idea of Nature as close as the backyard:

My day begins early, the ploonk plink of bulbuls and the caw caw caw of the crows is infinitely preferable to waking up with the help of an alarm clock. It is just after dawn, the sky is still grey as the sun has not risen over the dunes at the horizon and the breeze which blows cross the sand is still cold. The last vestiges of night-life can occasionally still be seen. Today, a flicker of movement at the corner of my eye causes me to turn my head, just in time to catch a last glimpse of the tail of the large desert monitor (Varanus griseus) who lives behind my bungalow in a hole amidst a tangle of barbed wire. He has a regular nocturnal beat at this time of the year which takes him through the matchbox-sized gardens of the three bungalows side-by-side, then around the large store-house, into the transport yard, across the bordering dune, and back along it on the far side till he rounds the dune, crosses a road and is back into the tiny gardens.

Like the err, natural naturalist, that he is, Ashwin Baindur engages all the senses, to give an authentic feel to his writings. His keen senses are our portals to our India, our hidden self, so to speak.

When Ashwin is not chasing critters in the backyard with the proverbial hand lens and net, he is outdoors, on an adventure. He writes with feeling, but crafts a narrative absorbing enough to overcome the sentiment. Such keen writing, yet quite intimate and absorbing. Like you were there!

Far below out of sight, flowed the Rishiganga which eternally reminded us with its roar that we, mere mortals, had dared to venture into hallowed ground – the inner sanctuary of the Valley of the Lost Horizon, the path through which took 37 years after it had been first glimpsed to discover.

Between two rocks, bending down to ease the strain of my overfilled rucksack, I glimpsed a smidgen of green through the boulders. Yet the porter guided us unerringly through this stony maze and before I realised it, my feet trod no longer on hard rock but on soil layered with a thick carpet of grass and herbs. We had reached our destination, the bugyal of our dreams, Sarson Patal.

But crossing the rock maze, it is not the picturesque high altitude meadow which intrigues you but the feature towering over all of us high up into the sky, the most beautiful mountain in the world – NandaDevi. [sic]

The sun shone low over the Western sky and the face of the mountain was covered in a blue shadow. Eerily hypnotic, I realised that for the last thirteen years or so, no man had stepped on this earth till our expedition thrust through the Rishiganga gorge in the early summer of 1993 and made its way to the mountain’s threshold. [sic]

Sarson Patal was a carpet of grasses, herbs and shrubs. In those days I could not identify any wild flowers, unless I had Polunin and Stainton’s ‘Wildflowers of the Himalayas’ jammed in front of me and someone to guide me as I leafed through the hundreds of illustrations therein. The flowers were still few and far between because summer had yet to catch up with us at this altitude. In between the grass stalks flew small white butterflies with rounded wings having small red and blue markings.

”Snow Apollos!”, I cried. This was the very first time in my life that I had seen them. Ethereal, lightly drifting like snowflakes, they flew low on the bugyal. Amidst them also flew swift, brown Indian Tortoiseshell butterflies. [sic]

In the hollows where there was less wind, Queen Of Spain Fritillaries could be found. And everywhere, oblivious of wind, flew Dark Clouded Yellows and Common Yellow Swallowtails, sometimes zipping wind-aided across the meadows, sometimes clinging precariously onto grass stalks with wings slanted at an angle to the vertical and horizontal planes…

Further along in the post we read about the wildlife of the meadows, the rich fauna at the foot hills of Nanda Devi, the Wall of the Sanctuary, a series of high peaks that girdle the area like a protective enclosure. Getting deeper into the post we learn of an American climber who was so moved by the beauty of the mountain that he vowed to name his daughter Nanda Devi, after the mountain. And did! And we learn too, that Nanda Devi (the girl) Unsoeld, died on the mountain at a young age. A stone tablet placed by the Indian Army notes the tragic occurrence. Then there is the story of garbage; one man’s adventure, another man’s waste problem.

Sarson Patal was a major case of garbage-disposal. Most expeditions did load-breaking here, or dumped stuff on their way out which they didn’t want to pay good money to porter out. This was strewn all over in the stream-beds. The two jawans and I spent many hours collecting trash… I made a collection of tin-can labels from the different countries whose expeditions had dumped so much trash in our mountains.

There is more, lots more, in this post. Please read it and be thrilled! Now, onto other posts at this great little blog on Our Selves, Hidden Selves.

You have heard of spiders but not heard of Solifugid. You are not the only one. But, not to worry, Ashwin explains it all to us:

A solifuge looks like a thorny, bristly, cross between an insect and a large spider. Though it may look poisonous or venomous, it is not. It has an insect-like body but with eight ten legs instead of six, with the forward-most pair of ‘leg’s actually being pedipalps which are used for feeding and capturing prey. The solifugid has a pair of eyes perched closely together at the top of his head and you very soon get the feeling that he understands whatever is happening and knows everything! The solifugid kept moving throughout the garden and we succeeded in getting photographs by night despite my inexperience in photography.

As far as the common names are concerned, the common people have not quite decided what they resemble more – spiders or scorpions so that they are commonly referred to, both as wind-scorpions and camel-spiders! And sometimes, most insultingly to all solifugids, they are also called sun-spiders or sun-scorpions despite their obvious and lifelong abhorrence of the sun.

If a Solifugid is disturbed by day, he will first of all dart into the coolest shade he can find which may well be your shadow. If you move away and so does your shadow, you should not be surprised to find the solifugid following in order to keep out of the blazing sun. This behaviour can be quite un-nerving to those who don’t know much about Solifugids and has led the birth of many urban legends about Solifugids in Iraq amongst American soldiers.

The post relates with some hilarity how his daughter, a sophisticate enthalled by horror movies, but not Nature, finally found father’s work interesting when it involved, naturally Arachnids!! A delightful, must-read post.

There are guest posts at this blog too, such as by the post about Kanha National Park by Sarabjit Singh. Very elegant writing.

Finally, the word Paris Peacock might suggest the latest ingenou of a French film-noir offering, but naught!

Read all about a butterfly known as Paris Peacock by the Chel River.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing about this diarist. I hope fervently that this honorable  soldier of Hindostan will continue to publish and inspire.

The world needs his eye, India needs his heart.

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