Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Raat ki raani blooms!

I bought my young Raat ki raani from a road side nursery on the way to Hoskote on Old Madras Road. Sixty bucks for the plant was expensive, but it was large and in a biggish pot so I indulged him!

The plant did not do well in a pot, so I removed a fern from the corner of the lawn and put this down. Like Jack and the Beanstalk, The plant just took off like it had hit pay dirt and it turned into a huge green monster. I just pretended not to see it every day thinking if its happy whom am I to stop it?! But not a flower appeared. Just these lush long branches and tons of lusher leaves.

I just took deep breaths as I passed a small little plant growing in Shoolay around a a tiny house, which was covered in flowers.Those people were just palin lucky I thought to myself.The flowers are not nice to look at -- take a look at my pictures. They are green and cylinderical and ugly. But come the night and poof, like Alice in Wonderland the flowers turn into a mass of fragrant smelling blooms.

Then came Narsimappa from Hoskote and while I was away in Madurai for my PhD exam, hacked the tree down to almost its base. When I returned I was horrified and stood in shock yelling at Steve and Bonny for allowing this carnage! I felt so sad for it and even put some wet mud on the ends of branches which had been lopped off.

Then suddenly like magic, all the stems have sprouted flowers! Yes, the whole hacked shrub as you can see in the pic has masses and masses of flowers and I could die with the wonderful smell wafting from the garden every night!

Funny how I can 'hear' Dad telling us things to do in the garden so many years ago. He always said, tons of leaves means the plant is just feeding the branches. Cut them back and it will flower. Well, his words ring true every single time!

Narsimappa will have his little I told you so grin, just watch when we go this weekend to Hoskote!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Singata hotel in Kenya

This is apparently rated the best hotel in the world for eco tourism.It was sent to me by a friend who knows how I love Africa. Frankly I hate these kind of hotels which have a facade of eco tourism and really are all luxury personified including air-conditioned tents.

However I cant help but agree that it is beautiful and would be marvelous to experience the animals so up and personal. But I still have reservations. There are a lot of unanswered questions like where is their sewage sent? Where is the fresh water got from? Do they serve any 'game' as delicacies? what are the security measures for tourists living in the tents which are definitely not safe from say a lion, or an elephant.

And at 50k a day it is steep anyway, too steep for me to experience ever!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Garganey's are here!

The first image that I had of wild ducks was a whole pile of dead birds, blood splattered all over their gorgeous irridescent plumage in my friends Nadine and Raymond Lovett's kitchen. The next I saw those birds was a day later, cooked up into a sort of roast by the ace cook Nadine. I could not eat any of them, and felt fairly pukey looking at the roasted carcasses.

I am so glad that laws have come in banning the shooting of these wonderful birds and most of these hunters today are saviours of their feathered friends.

So when the news came down the bird wire that the Garganeys are in town, flown all the way from Europe to grace the rejuvenated Puttenahalli lake it was an exciting feeling. Ofcourse talking to birders who go out at the crack of dawn to photograph these birds was interesting and most of them are happy to share their images with us immediately for free.

These pics are by JM Garg.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Towers of trees in Milan!

Was sent this email by a student which talks about a fascinating new pair of residential towers called Bosco Verticale being constructed at Milan, Italy. Designed by architect Stefano Boeri, Bosco Verticale is being constructed as a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory.

Towering over the city's skyline the world's first forest in the sky will be a sight to behold. The 27 storied building will accommodate nearly one hectare of forest trees as tall as oak and amelanchiers in its cleverly designed balconies.

The 365 and 260 foot emerald twin towers will house an astonishing 900 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 ground cover plants. This is a concept illustration of how Bosco Verticale will look like when completed.

Ah ha, man again thinks he knows best. Frankly I am not impressed and have so many questions of the builder! But anyway lets laud him for his efforts at least at greening our urban jungles where there is no biodiversity save ants, rats and us humans!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Toshiba NB100 bought in Dubai

Since I travel so much and have to lug my large laptop around to conferences, I decided to take the Indonesian journalists advice and buy a NB100from Toshiba. I spent 450 Euros in Dubai while I was in transit to Nairobi and was very pleased with my purchase.
However from the start, the keyboard gave trouble, one could not see the letters and also they did not work too well. The whole machine was very slow and considering I had NOTHING on it I did wonder but just ignored the issue.

Suddenly at the Delhi conference the keyboard stopped working properly with only some keys functioning. The IT help said it was def a prob with the machine. I shut it down and used the media room comps instead.

Forgetting the problem I took it all the way to the ICIMOD conf in Kathmandu to be greeted with the same problem. I could not even log into my gmail but could from others comps. That is when the IT trouble shooter there said, Maam, its your computer which you need checked.

So I came back to Bangalore and never mind the mad run around from Manipal Centre to Koramangala, I get this nice fat bill for a problem that is due to Toshiba's inherent poor quality of machine. I am mad angry and fighting about it because I am so tired of their service which is all but not there.Plus to be slammed with a bill on top of a faulty machine and down time galls me.

DO NOT buy Toshiba. Their service sucks in India and dont throw good money down the drain, think before you buy. They say DELL's after sales is the best.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kathmandu and ICIMOD

Say Kathmandu and everyone's eyes light up. Well for me say Kathmandu and ICIMOD and ONLY THEN my eyes light up! ICIMOD is a green Shangrila while the rest of Kathmandu is a dirty dusty little city which you could find anywhere in India. There are ofcourse little islands like the Boudha Stupa which I love, but on the whole the place is polluted, garbage strewn and crawling with firangs. The only saving feature are the people. They are smiling and very humble and inspite of their obvious poverty are hard working and happy.

The pictures are of ICIMOD and the Kiwi fruit grown in Godavari, the project site of ICIMOD. That is a wonderful place with dense forest which has been regenerated to teach the locals to replicate it- and with the forest has come water and biodiversity of plant, bird and insect life.

When will we as man realise and accept that we need to preserve nature in order to preserve our planet? Never I think!