The World Migratory Birds Day

Their Future is our future

This is the theme of the world migratory bird day being commemorated on May 13th.

Avian migration is one of the most wonderful events of nature. Birds fly distances to find best ecological conditions and habitat for feeding, breeding and bringing up their young.

Migratory birds are birds that travel distances for various reasons, but primarily reason being food and nesting. birds move between the northern and southern hemisphere in search of food, and safe and comfortable nesting zones.

Migration could be short distance that is in the geographic range from high altitude to low  or it could be of medium order within a reasonable radius and  then there are long distance ones that are across continents. A bird like Red knot travels 16,000 km twice a year.

These birds fly year after year with very little deviation in the flyway corridor. The first year birds often make their first migration on their own, it is almost as if the flight chart is memorized by the DNA. How the birds do this is not really understood. However it is known that they orient themselves with the sun during the day, the stars guide the navigation at night and geomagnetism can be tapped on any time. Olfactory sense seem to play a great role when it comes to navigation in the case of the homing pigeon.

Many birds have a preferred pathway for their annual migration, these usually involves important stop overs that provide food supplies that are critical to the birds survival.

These flights are dangerous and ardours. It challenges the physical and mental capacity of the bird. There are predators that threaten the bird. In the recent years, the land reclamation and poaching is eating into the natural habitat disorienting the avian migrations. Many birds are attracted by bright lights while some are confused resulting in collisions with structures. The latest hazard being the tall communication towers.

Role of migratory birds in economy.

Migrant birds are biodiversity indicators of the state of our environment, as their migratory patterns match their feeding and breeding needs. With change in climate there is a change in the timing of the elements of their life cycle too.

Migrating birds act as eco-wardens, and health wardens as they feed on insects and rodents. Vultures which are almost non-visible these days are natural scavengers they can dispose large carcasses rapidly , thus playing a critical role in nutrient cycling. Vultures west Africa to southeast Asia are declining partially due to poisoning of their prey.

The migrant birds follow the food trail, this feeding pattern leads to flower pollination and seed dispersion.  This is part of natures ecological regulation.

Project UNEP Siberian crane wetlands were about sustaining Siberian cranes and millions of other migratory water birds. This restoration not only provided the migratory birds like Siberian Crane to rest and feed it also helped to provide millions people water. The wetlands act as carbon sinks and help in combating climate change. The wetlands are flood defences and help to sustain productive fisheries.

Guano in Quechan language means droppings of the sea birds, this is considered one of nature’s best fertizers.  The Incas considered it so valuable that access to was restricted any disturbance to the sea bird incurred death penalty. Guano allowed improved soil texture, clearing of toxins and speedy decomposition.

The bird dropping result from a complex process starting with the living plants eaten by insects, which in turn are consumed by the fishes that are eaten by the sea birds and digested by the sea bird.

Falconry is another economic activity that uses avian migration, the roots of which lies in Asia dating back to 2000BC. Falconry has been recongnized by UNESCO as global cultural heritage since 2010, it is an art of hunting with trained birds of prey. The decrease in the demand has brought about 60% drop in the species over the last 20yrs. Falconers however are working at conserving of raptors and their prey through preservation of natural habitats and captive breeding. Recently the falconers have reintroduced a species that had totally vanished.

Bird hunting is a major socio-economic activity around the globe, and billions of birds are hunted each year. This along with land poaching has resulted in a decline of migratory bird population. The flyway of these global avian, run across nations and their decline effect globally.

At the end of the day it is for us, to sit up and ensure that these health wardens, natural pollinators, biodiversity indicators , natural scavengers and soil doctors are safe. for their future is also our future, we need to re-commit to sustainable development.

UN migratory movie





Etiquette school drop outs

Carasid, is a lovely eatery at campal, they- have delicious cakes, now with Paratas and breakfast counter they have really grown.

What used to draw most of us to Carasid, was the feeling of sitting in the garden and sipping Tea.  The owners Sunil and Chris are great fun. Both are Marathon runners, yet they would indulge the arty- crafty crowd not to mention the Blogging world. If you had an idea that you were not sure of, Sunil is the go to person for a bounce off. His entire experience tempered with Landmark Forum Education is  a great guy. Then there is Sid, who is affectionate the entire experience was good.

It has been a great place, to eat somehow with food and coffee/Tea ideas and conversation seem to flow, discussions energized and how do I put it? it was like personal hospitality with Sunil-Chris-Sid around. Their staff is also extremely friendly and polite without intruding.

For the past month I have been observing, that when we have to have a meeting the group goes, “not Carasid”. We are now perplexed as to where do we sit for the one hour or one and hours we required for our work…. it isn’t that we have got bored the place it is that the place as morphed.

It is almost as if we are entering some office with stale coffee and lingering tobacco smell. The inviting kitchen fragrance no more wafts. The welcoming smile of Sunil – Chris – Sid and fellow foodies,is now replaced by obnoxious foul mouthed crew, of some event management company. I do not know the name nor do I want to know.

It is bad enough that they have hijacked most of the chairs, the two fans, and available plug points are totally hogged by this group, the most disgusting of them all was this guy who decided to plonk on my parked scooter, munched something and wiped his hand on my scooter seat, not to mention dropping ash I was petrified that my scooter would go up in flames.

Since it was just three of us meeting, and Carasid happened to be convenient we decided to me up  and guess what we had to hunt for chairs,Oh! Yes, after this jing-a-bing has hijacked al the tables, we are left with  2 and ½ unoccupied ones, half because there are laptop bags strewn over the place.  When we eventually found the chairs our conversation was rudely interrupted by  this demure salwar kameez clad girl talking about which male stripper to book for a bachlorette party, it was as if someone was pimping!!

Admist this great hostile territory the “on the move customers” add terror by driving right into the eating place, where the orphaned 2 and 1/2 chairs are located it is as if someone is trying to mow you down.

Sunil, Chris and Sid, when we have that wonderful warm place that Brand Carasid stood for back?

car invading the dining space at Carasid

For those of you who are working your start ups out of cafe’s and as  just a passing thought

Mahabali cannot be Dwarfed.

baliAs we were driving down from Panaji, to Margao I saw this banner that said, 37%  Goan have votes AAP, 27%BJP, and some X% congress, the conclusion was AAP leads, what occurred to me, is it could also be interpreted as 63% Goans are clear that they do not want AAP.

Ultimately every story is about whose story are you telling?

chalayasi vikramane keshava balim adbhuta vamana padanakha nira-janita-janapavana kesava dhrita vamana rupa jaya jagadisa hare.

When we were kids we were told the story of the benevolent Balindra or the Mahabali, who was an epitome of virtue that Lakshmi was chained to his dungeons. the story as narrated by Kittadoddamma, always told us how the Deva’s were jealous of Bali and Indra decided requested Vishnu to annihilate Bali he was then pushed down to the PatalaLoka, and each Onam he comes to oversee the harvest Bali or Mahaveli’s arrival I never could figure the solar calendar out, the only thing I know is it Sone thingalu… some day and she said and the festival after it was ananthan chaturdashi.

She would tell us about Bali Maharaja, his greatness and his kindness and how his persona is honoured by the word Bali meaning sacrifice, she talked of the sacrifice of the seed that shed its skin, the soil that gave the nutrients, the clouds that showered the rains, the earthworms and the snakes that kept the soil enriched and how all this combined bounty gave a rich harvest. When this mission was complete Bali returned to the Patala on the day of Balipadya after being sure that his subjects were secure.

The understanding of the sacrifice or the effort that went into bringing that abundance, she would tell was the secret which kept Bali alive  among his subjects, she would conclude Kings would come, Kings would go but Bali still ruled.., Vamana stayed dwarfed and forgotten.

When I got married my value system was questioned because the story here was Bali was arrogant he chained Lakshmi so the Deva’s were justified in sending Vamana, it putting an asura in place.It was the ballad of Vamana and not Bali.

As I learnt more of these and began the quest of understanding the untold story of the other, after all eulogies and history is always about the winner. Here is what came to me…Bali the King of an prosperous Agrarian society.

Here comes Purandara the destroyer of cities, choose to call him divine incarnate if you wish, but definitely King somewhere who coveted the prosperity, the riches of the land, in comes the conqueror, and relegates the indigenous culture down. He is potbellied at that, and he unchains Lakshmi the goddess of Prosperity that would mean either he grabbed the riches or he destroyed the assets.

The conquerors Ballads talk of Bali being an Asura could be for Asura of the Rig Veda is the Ahura of the Zenda-Vesta the Zoroastrian holy text and Kerala always sea connect with the middle east.

Like our Balipadya being traded for the bhaubheej or our Onam is being traded for Vaman Jayanthi, the conqueror is marketed our oral stories and histories relegated as the large wave of Hindaptations (adaption to Hindi culture) even Thiruadhira or the big wave will not be able to save us.

Mr.Amit Shah, this is the translation of what my grandmother used to chant about Mahabali, can you bring it back?  Till then let your Vamana stay the way he is  — dwarfed!!

When Maveli ruled the land,onam
All the people were equal-
Times when people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
No wicked person was in sight anywhere
All the people on the land were good.
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no false words or promises.
Measures and weights were right;
There were no lies,
No one cheated or wronged his neighbour.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless race

I do not know which of the stories are true but the story of Bali narrated by my grandmother is definitely more empowering than the story of Vamana.

Maya-Matanga The Vanishing Elephants

world elephant dayI have just come across a book in our library called the Mathangalila. Mathangalila, is Sanskrit text written by author Nilakantha which deals with the science of Elephant. The book talks about Asiatic Elephants, diagnosis and cure of illness that afflict elephants, use of elephant parts in medicine. Folklore round elephants.

Elephants are very part of our cultural ethos, be it Indra’s Airavata, or the panel of Gajalakshmi fanned by elephants. Or the story of King Udayana who could capture a elephant with his powers of playing the Veena. Most of us are familiar with the line up of dressed up elephants that happens on Thiru-Onam.

Laksmeesha and Subhadra were the two elephant calves rescued from nagaraholle and housed in Udupi. Visiting them was  a thrill for my daughter, but she was always concerned that the elephant was away from its mom, and that they was no one who could give its favourite food.

The story of the elephant and tailor, the story of the Gajendra moksha they are all there but with the destruction of habitat and extensive poaching Elephants are slowly turning to pictures in a picture book instead of live majestic creatures that roam the world.

Elephants are African and Asian. Fossil evidence shows that elephants of Sri Lanka were 5 tusks, and now they have shrunk to single tusk. The cost of ivory exceeds the cost of gold, so the greed has lead to poaching of elephants. Elephant meat and elephant skin leather are causes leading to poaching.

With the loss of forest cover the elephants are coming closer to human habitat causing destruction to agriculture and crops,

The world elephant day is celebrated annually on August 12th since its conception in 2011.  This day is dedicated to the preservation and protection of elephants.  To share the knowledge of elephants and to ensure better care and management of captive elephants.  The African elephants are currently listed as vulnerable, as their population is about 400,000 while its Asian cousins  at 40,000 are endangered. Studies show that they are only 12yrs from being extinct.

The world elephant day is an international event conceived by filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest pictures and Sivaporn Dardarnanda the Secretary General Of Elephant Reintroduction Foundation Of Thailand.




biodieselInternational day for bio diesel

August 10th is the international Biodiesel day. it is celebrated worldwide in honour of the  prime model of an engine that ran on peanut oil, in 1893. This event triggered the development of biodiesel as an alternate to petrol or gasoline

1977 witnessed a Brazilian scientist Expedito Parente inventing and submitting for a patent of an industrial process to produce biodiesel.  Tecbio worldwide is working on standardizing this fuel in collaboration with NASA and Boeing. This is referred to as bio-kerosene.

South Africa initiated the use of transesterified sunflower oil as fuel for cars in 1979. This technology was obtained by Austria from South Africa so that a biodiesel plant to be erected, through 1990 many European countries erected plants to produce biodiesel, as of now quite a few service stations across Europe provide 100% biodiesel.

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is renewable biodegradable fuel manufactured domestically from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant grease. It is a cleaner burning option for petroleum diesel fuel, and meets both the biomass based diesel and overall advanced bio fuel requirement of renewable fuel standard.

The bio feed or source oils could come from a variety of oils, some of those being

  • Soyabean which is most commonly used. Mustard, jojoba, Palm oil, coconut, hemp are also used.
  • Waste vegetable oil
  • Animal fats like tallow, lard, yellow grease and the by products from the production of Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Algae that are grown using waste materials like sewage and without displacing land currently used for food production.
  • Oil from halophytes such as salicornia bigelovii that can be grown using saltwater in coastal areas where conventional crops cannot be grown. The yields from this equals the yield of soybeans and other oilseeds grown using freshwater irrigation.
  • Sewage slugde this is an option that is attracting interests from companies like waste management and start-ups like infoSpi.

Biodiesel is beneficial both economically and environmentally, there is a huge reduction in green house gas emissions, deforestations, pollutions and the rate of biodegradation.

What Biodiesel means

  • Energy independence to economically challenged countries. For biodiesel can be used in any existing diesel engines.
  • Smaller trade deficit – instead of importing natural resources we can convert our own living resource power, we can to the tropics for bio-fuels this saves foreign exchange ,strengthens the national economic allows the country to serve its neediest citizens.
  • Economic growth is boosted as new markets are created for agricultural products and stimulate rural economy. This becomes very potent because two thirds the population of developing countries derive their incomes from agriculture. Many small farmers are too small to compete with the global market, this will allow them supplement their income. At the national level it would mean, developing a new industry and creating new jobs.
  • Biofuel also means less pollution as it burns more cleanly than gasoline or diesel.
  • Biofuel means less global warming, for the carbon in the fuel is from the atmosphere of where the plant grew. While fossil fuel adds huge amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere while Bio-fuel brings it down considerably, all most 75% cleaner there are cases where it has reached zero carbon dioxide emission
  • Biofuel exhaust is not offensive and does not irritate the eye or skin. If cooking oil is used there chances that you will get a whiff of your favourite food. J

To sum it up

  • Biodiesel is clean burning fuel
  • It does not have any toxic emission like the mineral diesel
  • It can be made from any vegetable oil such as Soya, Rice Bran, Canola, Palm, Coconut, mustard or animal fat like lard or tallow.
  • Biodiesel can be a complete substitute for mineral based diesel.
  • Biodiesel is methyl ester converted from fats of natural origin into a chemical process and it is not vegetable oil.
  • It is intended to be used as replacement for petroleum diesel or can be blended into the petroleum diesel in various proportions.
  • Biofuel can be used in a diesel engine without having to modify it.
  • The exhaust emission and the pollution in it reduces almost by 75%.
  • Biofuel is biodegradable.

For more information log to:

The Community Garden at Taleigao

devancha bhaat (1)
Community Garden at Taleigao

It is such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth to feel at one’s finger tips the possibilities of the new seasons. Growing up in rural west coast, between fields and kitchen gardens we pottered around, it helped us connect and the single greatest lesson that we learnt was that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that  as the sun shines and people can still plan and plant, think and do, we can, if bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

With  habitat growing aerially, and earth being entombed in cement, we seem to create quite a havoc.

But sometimes there are small hopes that pops up like this patch of garden field at Taleigao, it is marooned by aerially rising buildings, but yet holds like hope. I am not talking of the fields that the farmers own, there is a patch of field where there is a community garden.devancha bhaat (3)

This is an movement spear headed by the late dada Panduranga Athale of swadhyaya, where people come and work with the earth, they grow and tend to the garden. The proceeds can be taken by the people who contribute or they are sold and the money goes to the movement.

There are couples who want to re-bond, who take to working in these patches together.  They are not allowed to get their kids along on these time schedules, the band of swadhyayees are so committed that they walk or cycle around to villages creating these community gardens.devancha bhaat (4)

There can be no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden if he/she is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.

I was thinking of my grandmother Kitta-doddamma, who used to tell us that garden, “hitla-thota” as she called it, called for a lot of dedication, sacrifice, which why the agrarian India worshiped Bali, the spirit of sacrifice. She used to tell us that being with plants one learnt patience and the power of sacrifice, the seed in sacrificing its skin, the soil in sacrificing its nutrition, the nematodes of the earth they contributed too, the rain with the water to the soil,  finally when the plant came up it was moment of celebration the bringing in of abundance in every way.

devancha bhaat (5)
sweet potato

The Real Heroes

sparrow 2
Enter a caption

A lofty call, how will I teach my kids to press Ctrl+S   for nature?

Well I will not, teach them. Simply because kids cannot be taught, they learn through imitation. They imbibe values that we can hand them.

We are destroying forests, we are destroying wild life, we have come to a stage where we are destroying anyone who walks on the road… we have no place for the man who walks. We could call this destruction of nature, but it is not destruction it is change. Nature cannot be destroyed; it is too powerful and is on its own rhythm and pace. No doubt humans will do a lot of damage before we ultimately destroy ourselves.. But life will continue without humans, newer forms of intelligence will emerge long after this human experiment is over. It is not about saving the nature, it is about acknowledging and repaying the debt owe nature.yugadi (2)

See the crevices of a cemented footpath, you will find greenery emerging from it. like the ants and lizards that co-habit our living space. Sometimes rats come it too.  so Noah’s arc or nature ensures things survive. We create plastic nature gets the bacteria in the Amazon forests to eat the plastic, and the rodents of Goa relish good Tupperware!!

Like I said before children learn by imitating, growing up I saw my paternal grandmother Singari, wake up in the morning, sweep the yard and ensure that all the debris went to the mango tree each day it was a different tree. She would then put out some grains for the birds, and keep a stone bowl of water for the birds.  As a rule we never plucked flowers, we always picked what fell down.  Every   atti hunnime that is the full moon between July-August we set a float a coconut, later of course I understood and appreciated seed dispersion, but we did it.yugadi (1)

When I set up home, I do the same, I have pots where I grow few vegetables, I have a bowl where keep water for the birds and everyday I put out a slice of bread for the crow. It is quite interesting to watch the crow perches on the ledge quietly until I finish drying the laundry, it then picks up the bread and flies away, if I am late it caws, it refuses to eat if my husband puts the bread out, it will eat only what my daughter or I give. We do this because we are part of the eco-system.

Traditionally if we cut a tree, we were to plant another one its place. Do we do it?

If we pay attention nature speaks to us, when we are in commune with nature it is difficult to disrespect her.

adivaram angadi (5)
adivaram angadi at secundrabad, that barters home grown stuff.

If it is activism you are asking then you would need to understand that the task of the activist is not negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible, it’s to dismantle those system.


Here are some people who are human beings, and are doing their bit without armchair activism or claiming to be intellectual revolutionaries.

Tavleen who felt if she was not part of the solution she was part of the problem, so she has come up with this. .  There is Col.Kohli of   Empower camp who has an outdoor camp to sensitize people to nature.   (  they let the kids do gardening and take care of the domestic animals.. There is the Purva Venetia Bangalore’s residents society that has come up with an excellent waste management system. (blog link to be put on Wednesday) .  The is a socio-religious group that promotes community farming, on a voluntary basis, the stuff grown is sold at nominal price and the money is reinvested into the farm.

Tavleen with her vision for work to drive.

Lets take a very practical call, how many farming, forestry, or fishery colleges do we have, every nukkad gully has an engineering college, so we are grooming people to destroy. There are libraries that allow kids to take come plants and look after it for a week; there are libraries that give out animals.

At the end of the day it is about what are we going to do to keep the environment safe for us.  for other caretakers of mother earth they are ordinary people who just go ahead and do what think needs to done, they do it with all integrity and faith

Do what you believe has to be done, your kids will imitate.

“I’m blogging about how I’ll remind kids to press Ctrl+S for nature for theShortcut Safaari weekend activity at BlogAdda.”