Category Archives: Writing

Lonely Albatross

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?

One Planet : Seven Worlds

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.

Trailer of One Planet Seven Worlds

Introduction features a very soulful song “Out There” by Australian born singer Sia.

“I pray
Yeah, I’m hoping that if I pray
Maybe you’ll talk back
‘Cause I pray for some faith, some faith today

This walk feels longer in the dark tonight
No hand to hold, no hand in sight
I pour my heart out to the blackest sky
Oh, spirit, can you hear my soul’s cry?

Can you hear my call? Can I have a sign?
‘Cause I am losing hope
Yeah, on my darkest night

This walk feels longer in the dark tonight
No hand to hold, no hand in sight
I pour my heart out to the blackest sky
Oh, spirit, can you hear my soul’s cry?

No, I don’t wanna walk alone, I want to believe
‘Cause I am losing hope
As love will speak to me
Can you hear my call? Can I have a sign?
‘Cause I am losing hope
Yeah, on my darkest night

I got a feeling you’re out there
I got a feeling you’re out there”

Video on Youtube Link

Sia Kate Isobelle Furler

Happy Augury!!

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.

Asparagus and Smelly Urine

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.

https://www.amazon.in/Super-Agri-Green-Asparagus-Seeds/dp/B01E2BJ1D4

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: On the Verge of Extinction

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

  1. Black Rhinos: 5055 left
  2. Sumatran Rhinos: 100 left
  3. Javan Rhinos: 35-44 left
  4. Northern White Rhinos: 2 both females
  5. 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.

Mango : The King of Fruits

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.

Main Constituents:

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.

Nutrients

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.

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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

8: Kesar

Aromatic fruit of Junagadh Gujarat. Giving a tough fight to Hapoos. Plantations are on foothills of mount Girnar.

IMG_6277

9: Bedmi:

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.

Bully Dog aka Bully Kutta

Bully dog or Bully Kutta (dog) is a native of Sindh and adjoining areas of Pakistani Punjab. These are very strong dogs and are used for helping in hunting. When adult, standing at about 3 feet in height and weighing about 65 to 80 kilograms, it must be very imposing and fearful.
But at the same time, it is very protective about the owners especially the children. It has to be given proper training from the very beginning and then it becomes very useful to its owners.
Being the giant dog, this is meant for those who are experienced in keeping the dogs. Novices cannot handle it.
Due to its macho image, affluent Punjabis in the adjoining areas like Bathinda, Ferozepur and other bordering districts of Indian Punjab as well Sri Ganganagar district dominated by Punjabi farmers compete to acquire this dog. It comes with a whopping price tag between 1 lakh to 4 lakh in indian rupees. It is a prestige symbol like horse and bullet. Although some enterprising breeders have begun to breed them in Punjab itself but the demand is for the original stuff from Pakistan.
Every affluent Punjabi wants to have it in his backyard.
Bully dog in the context of Pakistan gives the first impression of term being used for an ISI fellow being. These dogs were popularised by the British who used them for hunting.
Frankly, I have not seen this dog myself. Recently there was an article on this subject in the newspaper and for the sake of curiosity took a look at the results of google searches. Here is one picture.

20150217-214411-78251251.jpg

Libyan Desert Glass

In the desert situated in western Egypt and Libya, this glass is scattered over thousands of miles. It is said to have formed due to a meteoric collision some 29 million years ago. Collision resulted in high temperature which melted the silica but it so happened that molten mass cooled rapidly and got converted into glass.

Real interest in this glass began when It was found in the pharaoh Tutankhamen crown as a beetle. This crown is 3000 years old. The designers even at that time were thinking the glass to be a gem.

Lingering Look??

She gave him a look which seemed to linger for a moment longer than cursory look you give to the strangers. He had come to enquire about some official matter. She was sitting in her chair in the office and a table stood between him and her.

Her eyes rested for a moment and her gaze fixed on his face; it was momentary but said so many things because the silence is powerful than the speech. It gave him a pang in his heart and he remembered his youth when he was a handsome young man having athletic figure and swarthy complexion and a broad chest and shoulders.

Men from North India where he belonged are generally stronger; they are less sentimental and Platonic love is not of much value there. They love to exhibit their physical charms more and assert their love in a coarser manner.

She might also have recalled such thoughts from the recesses of her past youth. The memory only is what remains and it is to be kept and cherished.

Carotenoid Rich Cucumbers

Cucumber along with raw carrots, radish, and tomatoes has been a part of salad for the time immemorial. Cucumber is also consumed in cooked and pickled form in many parts of the world. People on diet for weight control eats this vegetable as it is often regarded as a health food because of its low calories and its high vitamins and minerals content.

Common cucumber varieties are white to greenish inside and are of low nutritional quality. On the other hand, orange fleshed cucumber is rich in carotenoids. India, being the center of origin for cucumbers, is known to be the treasure-house of cucumber diversity. Mostly the first variety is used as it is abundantly grown. caroteinoids are part of many fruits and vegetables like carrots, papaya, mangoes and autumn leaves.

But in the Mamit district of Mizoram, two varieties are found which are very rich in carotenoids as high as 6.5 μg/100 g as compared to 1.17 μg/100 g in the best check variety Himangi.. They have yellow to orange mesocarp and endocarp; an extremely rare trait.

cucumber

Previously orange-flesh cucumber was reported to be derived from a land race named Xishuangbanna Gourd from a Prefecture Xishuangbanna of the Yunnan Province in the South-west China, which is closer to north-eastern part of the India. Studies indicate that orange fleshed cucumber of China (Xishuangbanna Gourd) is closely related to Indian cucumber found in Mizoram. This suggests that orange-fleshed Indian cucumber might have migrated to China from northeastern parts of the country; which is the primary centre of its origin.

All this information is from ICAR.