There is a river near my home. It is a seasonal river and has a large dry bed which is full of pebbles and sand. Many birds lay their eggs in the nests made on the soil. I generally go for a walk and to take pictures there. Today while I was walking alongside the pebbles, I noticed a pink-colored pebble.
On close inspection, it turned out to be a pink Grasshopper which is very rare. Usually, the Grasshoppers are green to match the grass background for camouflage which gives them safety against predators.
But this one was of Pink Colour. It was also trying to use camouflage by sitting in the pebbles especially pink ones. It is an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to the one which affects albino animals. This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduction or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case, red which results in pink morphs. Such a morph is exposed to predators and rarely achieve adulthood.
It is quite rare as is evident from some spottings. Like the following link
Sky was overcast with dark black clouds. It looked as if thick smoke has risen to skies. The evening was very gloomy and night was about to fall albeit prematurely. A lonely albatross was flying indolently towards its abode.
Why was it lonely? May be its partner has been snatched by the claws of death or by another albatross. What was it thinking? Was the life worth living alone? What will it do after reaching its home? Sleep alone, Sun will come again, the survival instinct will force it to fly again in search of food. Again in the evening it will return. Is there any hope, will it find a companion with whom it shall be happy and find after all a reason to live. Its life will have certitude, some meaning. It looked to me as a mirror in which i could see myself. God, it is futile to find reason with actions, your canvass of work is unfathomable. Each of us is different from the horns other. You have created this world and may be many more I don’t know. You created man and woman, love and hate, yin and yang, electron and proton; Osiris and Isis; all in pairs and complements. Each pair is two sides of a coin.
You become micro and macro, you are atom, nay you are the machinery inside the atom: protons, electrons and electrons; No, still smaller. You are quarks and leptons. Then where is the complement of albatross? Why have you denied it its partner and destined it to loneliness?
Sir David Attenborough is an icon in the field of wildlife world. He has explored and brought his rendezvous with nature to the common man through his extraordinary documentaries. Now he has brought this documentary “One Planet Seven Worlds” which will be on BBC Earth.
Our Earth has 70% of the water in the form of oceans and 30% landmass. In the beginning, the whole landmass was one continuous mass. At that time, a lot was happening inside the Earth. Lots of tectonic activity was occurring and lava, as it was cooling down, was also spewing out.
Tectonic plates were colliding and pushing against one another. Slowly the single landmass began breaking into fragments. Ultimately it broke into 7 stable landmasses separated from each other by the water. These are the seven continents. Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America, Oceania, and Antarctica.
Each continent has a unique climate and geology which has given rise to stunning individual bio-diversities on each continent. That is why Attenborough calls them Seven Worlds. The series will feature remarkable, new behavior from different continents. From the extremely hot African plains to frozen waters of Antarctica.
He will also touch how we are now destroying the habitat of the wildlife. Due to this, some species are faced with extinction. Forests are being cut, extreme fishing and pollution are threatening our own and wildlife existence.
People have been migrating to different places in search of better resources for living a better life. In India people from Arabian countries, Iran, China have come and settled here.
There are four distinct Jewish group live in India:
3.Sephardic Jews and
Bene Israel Jews are said to have descended from the Jews who reached India’s West coast in second Century after they fled from persecution in Galilee. They live mostly in Panvel, Ali Baug and Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi and Ahmedabad. They say their ancestors were “Oil-Pressers” in Galil. Those which live in Panvel, Alibaug and Mumbai speak Judae-Marathi and inter-marriages with the local natives have led to their resembling with Marathi people.
Bhagdadi Jews came from Bhagdad. The most famous name among these Jews is that of Sassoon after whom Sassoon docks, Jacob Circle and Hospital are so named. He was a great business man. He also built hospitals in Mumbai and Pune.
The Jews of Cochin are called “Black Jews“. They are said to have arrived in Cranganore for the sake of spice trade in the times of King Solomon of Israel and settled their. They faced attacks from the Moors and shifted to Cochin where Hindu king gave them land to settle. This place is called “Jew Town” Most of these jews have migrated to Israel after the formation of state of Israel. A synagogue was built by them in Cochin which is said to the most beautiful of the synagogues in the world. It has blue Chinese tiles on its floor and no two tiles are said to alike. There are myths associated with these tiles. It is said that if you look deeply in the tiles, they begin to appear like a television screen in which story of one’s life begins to unfold both past and future also. The synagogue was built in 1568.
Many Vultures and Eagles have reached on the brink of becoming extinct. The main reason for this is said to the consumption of contaminated flesh from carcasses. Many of these Vultures migrate from Eurasian areas to the comparatively warmer climates found in Asia. Here they come for escaping the bitter cold and lack of food there. They rear their young here.
Fortunately, I have been able to spot these Vultures at some places like garbage dumps or where some people used to dump the carcass. These birds come there from hills nearby. Most prominent amongst them is Himalayan Griffon Vultures.
Ah, Assam again. We had a colleague there whose name is Pranab. He is a true blue Ahom as far his looks are concerned because he does not look one bit like Indians. He resembles Mongolians. In fact, we can cite him as a proof that Ahoms indeed came to India from outside.
He always chews the raw betel nuts called “tamul” in local language. His teeth look dyed brown-black due to this masticating activity. He generally supports very small hair on his head. He is very avaricious about food and money. In fact, he never parts with a penny.
But, no one can deny that he is a rather anomaly as far as the attitude towards work and punctuality is concerned. In fact, he is always hovering near the office even on the holidays. He reels off very juicy stories, scandals about almost every person. Stories seem to be so authentic. Who has love affairs, extramarital affairs, affairs with colleagues, who smuggled women into his room, he will tell you all. That so and so driver tried to take liberties with the female officer he was taking to other office. Who and who stayed back late in the night on the excuse of doing extra work but did the extra activities. He will fire your imagination and you will begin to ponder about what he has told. Sometimes, you will begin to feel frustrated why was not I a character in this binges.
No only those who worked in office were the actors in his stories, even he will tell stories about tea shop owners, their womenfolk. Really, he is purveyor of juicy stories.
Asparagus is very popular in Europe as a vegetable. People in some countries prefer white variety which is not different but lacks chlorophyll as it is grown in areas of very low light. Eating asparagus results in Smelly urine smell.
Asparagus contains a non-toxic acid called Asparagusic acid. This acid contains sulphur element. When it is eaten, the acid in the stomach breaks down the Asparagusic acid into volatile sulphur compounds like mercaptan.
When a person who has consumed asparagus goes to urinate, the sulphur compounds evaporate very fast and get separated from urine and reach the nose giving rotten eggs or rotten cabbage like smell. Studies indicate that effect can be felt within 20 minutes after consumption of asparagus.
Rhinos or more accurately Rhinoceros are in the danger of becoming extinct. They are hunted for their horns due to their supposed healing and aphrodisiac properties. The horns were sold as trophies and also used in Chinese medicine. Handles of ornamental daggers called Jambiyas are made from the horns.
There are 5 species of Rhinos
Black Rhinos: 5055 left
Sumatran Rhinos: 100 left
Javan Rhinos: 35-44 left
Northern White Rhinos: 2 both females
Southern White Rhinos
Major areas where the Rhinos are found are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya
These animals are herbivores. They are often accompanied by oxpeckers who sit on the Rhinos back and eat the harmful bugs hanging on the skin of rhino.
Sunderbans, the very name sends the imagination reeling about a amphibian land in the south of Kolkata spread over the maze work of islands created by Ganga, Brahmputra and Meghna rivers. These rivers which seem to abandon their discipline and break up like a fan in this land. It is labyrinth of channels encircling the islands which contain the most fertile soil in their upper crust.
The name seems to be associated with the conspicuous sundari trees which are called Heritiera macrophylla by the botanists. But Mughals, as narrated by Amitav Ghosh in his beautiful novel “The Hungry Tide”, called it Bhati Desh which means Ebb tide country. This became Bhatir Desh over time.
It is the land which is so surreal that there is no line of demarcation between reality and imagination. There are eighteen islands which is why it is also called “Atharo Bhatir Desh”, the land of eighteen lands. There are tigers which can swim miles and miles after their quarries. Crocodiles and dolphins abound here.
There is one chapter in the famous book “Midnights Children” by Salman Rushdie in which three young soldiers of West Pakistan who were the part of army sent to East Pakistan and committed heinous crimes like their army, after getting lost, land up in a boat in this Jungle. Rushdie then go on to weave a superb web about the description of the place. He tells that in rainy season, the Jungle seems to grow literally before the eyes. The fruits from the Nipa Palms fall and crack on the ground. In no time the ants swoop on the fruit juice. Since the light never reaches inside many parts, there live snakes which are transparent. Jungle begins to take a complete control of your mind and you forget about the time dimension. Clearly it is the work of great creative imagination of the writer but the author builds these things making base as some real stories.
The Jungle is so dense that if one goes inside, he will forget about the concept of time. The jungle has the power to suspend the time. The land is famous for the mangroves which grow copiously and sometimes discard so much dead leaves and wood that they seem to be doing harakiri or suicide, if it were not for the crabs who live there and work as scavengers. They are the janitors who see to it that everything is spic and span or tickety-boo.
The people who live there have adapted themselves to the treacheries of the jungle. They invoke the Goddess “Bonbibi” before going to jungle to gather the honey and wax. The jungle is lorded by Dekkan Rai, who stalks in the form of tiger. The legend is that Dekkan rai ruled over the entire Bhatir Desh but he became obsessed with human flesh. According to story, he accosted a convoy of boats which had come there for gathering valuables from jungle, he promised them to give the untold gifts of honey and wax in liu of one human flesh. As planned by the convoy, they left one person behind and when Dekkan rai came to eat him in the garb of tiger, but he prayed to Banbibi, who then with the help of her brother fought and defeated Dekkan Rai. In the end it was decided that Dekkan Rai will rule only the dense jungle.
That is why, whenever inhabitants cross over to jungle, they worship not only Bonbibi but also the Dekkan rai, the tiger. It is the place where the womenfolk wear the white saris like widows when there menfolks go to jungle for hunting and gathering honey and wax.
The rivers which have spawned these islands bring with them so much fertile soil from Himalayas that they seem to be playing a game of erecting and erasing the islands at will. Many islands are said to have been buried and no longer exist now. New ones can be born anytime.
There exist so many biomes which harbour myriad kinds of flora and fauna. Storms break where minutes before it was so still that everything looked like a still picture.
It is not far away from Kolkata and yet it is entirely a different world, breathtaking and beautiful and at the same time extremely harsh and unforgiving to the inhabitants.
Hiuen Tsang, Chinese scholar after being in India is going back. Time AD 627-643, on the fabled Silk Route. Apart from his knowledge of Buddhism, his rucksack contains an extraordinary fruit called Mango.
The name in hindi AaM is derived from Sanskrit word AMRA which seems to be the loan word from Dravidian and is related to Tamil words for Mango like “mamaram”. Portuguese were responsible for transferring the name to the West. It is growing in India since 4000 years at least.
Moguls were great connoisseurs of the fruit. Akbar got 100000 mango trees planted in Lakhi Bagh (Lakhi: 100,000, Bagh means Garden) near Darbhanga Bihar India. Others who relished the fruit were Shahjahan and Noor Jehan, Aurangzeb, Sher Shah Suri. Raghunath Peshwa got large numbers planted all over Maharashtra.
Citric acid and related compounds are responsible for sour taste. Several terpenes have been found in unripe fruit..
Ripe mango contains volatile compounds like alpha terpineol, ocimene, limonene, 3-carene etc. Yellow colour is due to beta Carotene.
Mangoes are rich in potassium, about 8% carbohydrate with 1.6 % dietary fibre. Very rich in vitamin A , C, B-6, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Some famous Indian Varieties:
1: Alphonso or Hapoos King among the mangoes. Named after Portugal admiral D Afonso de Albuquerque. Deogad in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra has got the GI tag of genuineness.
2: Dasehri It is birth place is Malihabad in Lucknow. Soft, succulent and mild.
3: Banarasi Langda It was born in an orchard belonging to a Langda (lame) fellow and thus got this name.
4: Himsagar Fibre less, creamy and full of pulp. Pride of Murshidabad in West Bengal.
5: Fazli Quite big in size, famous in Malda of West Bengal. Late maturing.
6: Chaunsa: From Bihar. Full of Flavour. It is pressed into mouth and juice is sucked.
7: Gulab Khaas Native of Jharkhand. It is graceful mango
Aromatic fruit of Junagadh Gujarat. Giving a tough fight to Hapoos. Plantations are on foothills of mount Girnar.
Taste depends upon the plucking time.
10. Totapuri: it is abundant in southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka.
11: Sindoori: it gets its name from the vermillion colour of the skin.
12: Banganapalli/ Bagan Phali/ Safeda From Andhra’s small town Banganapalli. Sweet, yellow and fibre less.
13: Himam Pasand/ Humayun Pasand A cross made from Banganapalli and Malgoa. It is very popular in Deccan.
14: Chandrakaran: it is delicacy from Kerala. Sweet and sour. Quite costly.