Thursday, July 19, 2018

Goa Goes Green!

One month into the rainy season, it is Green festival in Goa! The greenery which I see around me during the rainy season, always overwhelms me. Even though it is the Nth time I am witnessing it, I get excited, take pictures and post them everywhere! The dust and filth accumulated over the year on all surfaces is cleaned by the rain and everything feels fresh. The road side trash gets covered by the profuse growth of wild plants. Creepers cover the dead tree stumps, electric poles and form a festoon on the assorted wires and cables hanging by the roadside. Everything looks beautiful to me . I usually do not carry my phone when I go on my morning walk. But at least once during the rainy season I take my phone, click pictures of whatever I fancy and bug everyone with my pictures. Today was the day for this season!

An art work on my neighbour's compound. 

Roadside rubbish , beautifully covered!

A sea of green in my close neighbourhood!

Creepers turn a roadside tree stub into a green sculpture. Add an eye and/or an ear and you can have a cat or a bird!

A very common plant which has leaves big enough to cover any rubbish!

Rains turn a usually dry and drab surroundings into a feast for the eyes!

Single roadside wild flower, if you want a change from the green!

Nothing in particular. I just liked the mango tree!

How I wish we had roads like this everywhere. I know that my wish would never realise and am happy that I have one here for a sample!

Another 'plasticfree' stretch!

Some lucky guy's plantation!

Naturally formed welcome arch to someone's house.

Plants on both sides of the coconut tree join hands to create their own floral arch in my own backyard!

A creeper attempting to reach the top of my compound. I don't know what I like about it but I liked it!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Urban wild Life - Python

This clip must have left you wondering what it is all about. Though a bit chaotic,
I am sure that you did see a line in front of the windshield in the
beginning and after some psychedelic effects, something moving slowly
on the road. That moving thing was the Python crossing the highway at night.
It was pouring and it was 2 am. If you are wondering why I was out there in pouring
rain at 2 am, here is the explanation. I had taken the midnight flight from
Bengaluru to Goa and was heading home  from the airport. I had the
pleasure of meeting this wild friend on the Curti - Borim bypass road
near Ponda. I had heard that there are Pythons in that part but had
never had the pleasure of meeting one, before. I was exited and hence this post.

The Python must have come out for a casual stroll after a good meal,
as the bulging middle indicated, or probably on the lookout for a
comfortable resting place. It was lucky not to have found a permanent
resting place under the wheels of a passing truck! Of course, you couldn’t blame a
driver if he ran over the Python. It had no resemblance to a snake, had an odd shape
because of its meal, and was moving imperceptibly in a straight line. It could have
been easily mistaken for any of the odd things one finds on a road. I would have missed
It if my son had not pointed it to me. It took its own time to cross the road and we
stopped in the middle, providing it some protection from other drivers who might not be
as considerate.

My efforts in getting a picture was not very successful and my son managed
to get this clip after snatching the phone and leaning out of the door.
We enjoyed the unexpected encounter till the Python entered into the
roadside bushes and then continued on our way.

Though not convenient, I take these night flights as I the fares are usually
low and there is no hassle of moving through the nightmare of Bengaluru traffic.

Now, this is another incentive and I hope to meet the Python again!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My Yoga & The International Yoga Day

Today is the International Yoga Day. People all over the world will be bending backwards to include yoga in their schedule. All government offices and establishments are required to make their staff perform CYP (Common Yoga Protocol) and send pictures and reports. Arrangements are being made to collect a lakh of people in one place, make them perform Yogasanas and create records.

For me, Yoga is just another form of physical exercise and a long standing habit. I started practicing nearly fifty years ago and am practicing even now! I don't expect any benefit from my practice and have nothing to show for my fifty years of work. I have been doing it because I like doing it. Just like lighting the lamp in front of the idols of gods every morning and prostrating before them.  Good, if you do it and no loss if you don't!

That is my message on the IYD!!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Monsoon!!

One week into the monsoon season and the grass, weeds, ferns and creepers
around my house have grown with a vehemence and covered almost all of the
ground. I don’t mind the bushy growth. In fact I love them. The problem is that
the snakes around my house also love them. And the venomous Viper, in
particular, is known to come out for a walk in the early morning, when it is still
semi dark and that is the time when I set out for my walk too.  

Today I decided to clear the overgrowth and create a path for me to go to the gate
and got a taste of nature’s way of protecting itself. Since it was grass mostly, I
started plucking it out with my bear hands and in no time had dozens of pricks
and scratches on my hands made by the unseen tiny thorny growth co existing
with the grass. I retreated, wore a pair of gardening gloves and returned. A little
progress and then I had my hands tangled amongst the creepers spreading on
the ground which just wouldn’t budge. I went back for a cutter and got to work.

With in minutes my hands were messy up to the elbow and that is when the
mosquitos decided to come to the rescue of the flora. They were almost of the
size of a tiny bird, and they descended on the most unapproachable spots of
my body. No amount of shaking and wiggling would get them off and I had to
swat myself in ten places before I hit one mosquito. In the process I was
generously garnished with mud and bits of grass and an occasional swatted
mosquito providing a contrast of red colour.

As I was busy swatting mosquitoes, I did not notice the red ants which had
silently crept onto my legs and the very next minute I was found dancing in
my front yard hitting and scratching myself all over.

My neighbour, Mr Raikar came out walking his dog and asked “Doctor, what

“Enjoying the rains” I said, “Happy Monsoon!”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

My Winged Neighbours!

I have a neighbour, who has a large car and parking space enough for two cars. But his car is always parked on the narrow road in front of his house blocking two thirds of the road. This irritates me. There is another, whose habit of burning plastic bags in front of their house, irritates my wife no end. There is yet another, whose pet cat thinks that my scooter seat is there only to satisfy its scratching urge. And my patient's two wheelers, often parked carelessly in front of the clinic, obstruct the road and bothers all three of them. So, It is tit for tat or give and take or whatever, and we live accepting the irritations as part of life.

In contrast, we have these winged neighbours, the Barbets, Bulbuls, Coukal, Cuckoo, Hornbills, Robins, Sun birds, Warblers and a few others not introduced to me yet, who are a pleasure to have around! They enliven the mornings with their twittering and enliven the surroundings with their flittering. The Bulbuls sometime destroy the  Chikoo fruits in the tree and help themselves to a share of Bananas from my kitchen but the pleasure that I get from them is certainly more than the sustenance they get from me!

Now and then I try to get their pictures but they are not used to sitting and posing for cameras. That being the case I was very much surprised to see the family of Hornbills who reside in the tree opposite my house, sitting on the coconut leave next to my window in the morning. I usually hear their harsh call but rarely see them. Once or twice they alighted on my balcony for a few seconds and once they tried to break my window! Today they spent a lot of time sitting there relaxed, calling to their friends and preening themselves. Since I have tinted glasses in the window, I could see them clearly but they were not aware of my presence.  Had I opened my window, I could touch them! I spent an enjoyable half an hour looking at them and got a good many pictures. Few of them are here.

The Bulbul's yearly family building programme is on. The nest this year is on the loops of electric cable hanging above my clinic door. They seem to have an affinity to electricity! Probably they select places which the cat can't reach!

The Family - one parent and two siblings

The child in full splendour!

The parent and child - Having opposite views?

Another pose.
The site of Bulbul's home - the year before
Remnants of the last year's home !

Mother providing warmth of love and putting the off springs to sleep, after feeding
Managed to get the picture of the hatchlings when the mother was not around!

This year's nest, in the coil of power cable above the door. And it was an adventure, risking my limbs, to photograph them. I had to keep one foot on the railing another on the window sill and use both hands to take the picture!

After a long time I tried posting a video - the Hornbills preening and grooming themselves!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Lick Your Fingers And Be Ready!

When I was in second standard I changed my school and joined one which was a little away from our house. It wasn't very far but at the same time not a 'walkable distance' either. Then I started to take a city bus to go to school. I usually purchased a monthly concession pass but on occasions when it was not renewed in time, I had to buy a ticket. The ticket then costed five paisa and the conductor usually pocketed the coin and never issued a ticket. This, in fact was a blessing for me because, when he did issue a ticket he usually licked his finger, tore out a ticket and pushed it into my hand in a hurry. The ticket sometimes had a generous coating of his saliva and it even wet my hand. This was very disgusting for me and hence I usually hesitated before accepting the ticket and tried to get hold of a part of the ticket which was not soiled by his spit. Usually the end at which the tickets had been pinned together. In the process I dilly dallied and got scolded by the conductor for delaying him. I gingerly held the ticket by the tips of my fingers and dropped it as soon as I alighted from the bus.

I always tried to catch hold of this end of the ticket!

Unfortunately I turned out to be a dentist and was forced to spend a life time in other peoples mouths  enjoying cooling sprays of saliva on my face half a dozen times everyday, but my disgust towards finger licking has only steadily grown.

I go to the reading room and see at least half  the people reading there absentmindedly licking their fingers before turning pages. The finger lickers usually turn the pages by the right bottom corner and so, I have developed a habit of turning the pages of a borrowed book always from the top right corner!

I give a set of sheets to the xerox fellow to make copies. He gets the copies, licks his fingers, counts them and hands them over to me. Sometimes I object and try to tell him that he should not do so but he is usually surrounded by half a dozen people who are licking their fingers to check their copied sheets. I shut my mouth, accept the sheets and do whatever I can to assuage my disgust.

It is the same situation when I have to accept change from hawkers/shopkeepers and even when my patients pay me. In fact it is even worse in the clinic. Apart from the habit of finger licking to count cash, my patient's fingers are always in their mouth after the treatment either confirming that an offending tooth is not there any more or a filling has really been done! Sometimes I send them to wash their hands before paying me. But it is hopeless. So, all the notes that I receive from my patients invariably go into the formaldehyde vapour steriliser and I retrieve them after few hours!

Since most of the finger licking is for counting cash and turning pages, our banks used to be the best places to observe the habit. Every one of the workers there used to be either counting cash, handling paper slips or turning pages of a ledger! Now with  ATM machines handing over cash and ledgers having been replaced by computers, I had thought that there is not much scope for finger licking in the banks.

I went to the bank this morning for some work.  I was a bit early and the counter clerk was just then logging on to his computer. Before he logged himself in, the manager had to authorise his logging and he requested the manager to do the needful. The manager in turn had to confirm his identity by pressing his thumb on the electronic thumb print recorder attached to the computer. He pressed his thumb on the panel once, twice, thrice. Nothing happened. Then he casually licked his thumb and pressed it on the recorder and voila! There was a flash and a beep and it was done! Now I am curious to see what the ATM machine is going to do next!

Whenever I go to renew my driving licence or passport I am asked to press my thumb on this recorder and I always pressed without thinking twice. I understand there is a plan to incorporate Adhar number while buying air and train tickets and you will be required to register the thumb impression before entering the airport/ railway station. Now that we have sensitised our electronic gadgets to accept only licked thumbs, I hate to think of my fate. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Writing Itch And My Telephone Line

Have you ever tried to reconnect a severed telephone cable? Not many would have.
And why should any one do that? Most of the people are 'wireless' these days.
Unlike me. I am still attached to the good old BSNL landline and every now and then 
find myself holding the cut ends of a telephone line. If you continue reading this you
will know why I end up with that. But before that, a bit about re connecting the cut 

Please see the picture. If you intend re connecting the ends, first you have to cut 
through the outer black insulation and remove it with out damaging but exposing 
the inner red and green coloured wires. Then you have to separate them and cut 
through their thin plastic covering exposing but not cutting through the very thin 
copper core. once that is achieved, you can join the copper wires by twisting them
together. Sounds easy but not very easy.

I invariably cut through the whole thing half a dozen times and the red
and green wires twice or thrice before I get the copper core out safely. It is a 
frustrating business, and most of the times this will have to be done balancing 
myself precariously on the compound wall in pouring rain or hot sun. I hate to 
attempt it and usually I manage to catch hold of the lineman who is an expert. 
(And the fact that he has bad teeth is a blessing) But I am forced to attempt it 
now and then for some reason or the other.

Given below is the story of my telephone cable.

It is more than two decades since I got my landline telephone connection,
“OYT Special” (Own Your Telephone - and 'special' because I was a dentist
in the Government Hospital and got it through a special quota!) along with a brand
new instrument. I still have it (the connection, not the instrument) and it is through
this landline that I get my internet connection, the so called broadband, which is
just broad enough for my needs. My house is in a place where no 2G, 3G, 4G,
Soniaji or Modiji penetrate and hence my landline is my only contact with 
Google Guruji.

This landline, which mostly runs underground, comes overground one street
and two houses away behind my house and after having run its course over
Mr Braganza’s balcony, through Mr Deshpande’s Mango tree and on top of
Mrs John’s compound wall, passes around Mr Bhatikar’s coconut tree and
then enters my window. The picture underneath gives a fair idea of the terrain
over which my landline (seen here next to the coconut tree) runs.

That being the situation, the line is often disturbed by acts of man,
animal and god and since we have a cordial relation with the BSNL
lineman covering the area, I manage to get the connection restored without
much delay. We keep a constant watch on the line and clear up dead 
plantain leaves and mango twigs fallen on the line as soon as we notice them 
and also hasten to shoo away the monkeys which repeatedly invade Mr Deshpande's 
mango tree. Once the line was hanging low and got entangled in the horns of a stray 
cow which had made a casual visit to the empty plot next to my house and after 
some very anxious moments we managed to to lure the cow closer to our 
compound with some bananas and tactfully release our broadband with the help
of the special implement which I have kept for use in such contingencies!

One of the heavy coconut leaves fell on the line last week and the telephone cable was
cut. It was repaired by the lineman. Yesterday I found another leave fallen on the line. 
Since the base of the leaf was still attached to the coconut tree, the line had been 
pulled to one side but not broken.I wanted to avoid more damage to the line and so, 
using the cement fencing material stacked against the compound as foot hold

and risking my joints and ligaments, I climbed on to the high compound wall, managed to
get hold of the fallen leaf, gently separated it from the tree and in an effort to throw it as far
from the tree as possible, threw it squarely on the telephone cable, which I was 
trying to protect!

My stupid act severed the line very efficiently. I called the lineman but he was away
on leave. With some difficulty I recovered the two cut ends and was overjoyed to see
that the cable had been cut in such a way that about half an inch of inner copper 
wire had been exposed nicely on both the ends.

I have managed to join them temporarily and have been able to send this post 
across. Hope the ends hold till the line man returns from his leave.