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Showing posts from 2012

The Sweet One and the Warm One

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The Sweet One The rustling grass formed shapes of spirals in an otherwise uniform, sun-blasted lateritic surface of the Sudhagad plateau. As we emerged from the hot and humid forests adorning its foothills, we were witness to a vast field under a clear sky with a cumulonimbus budding over the horizon. From far we saw a Bonelli’s Eagle as it swooped low amongst ancient trees twisted and gnarled, to surprise the hidden doves and quails, of which there were plenty. Some of these ancient trees reminded me of Corbett’s banshee, screaming and wailing from the tree tops, but as the screams fell on my ear it was not the dread I felt, it was amazement. Then I looked at the reason behind the painful squeals, saw an unsettling grin it had carved, and thought otherwise. I quickened my steps as I fought myself from being attracted to this hidden (hideous?) face. Then quietness settled upon me. Not the lull before the storm quiet, it was of something pure and untouched by mindless activities. We ca…

The Earth-lion of India

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Around the world it is infamous for a number of reasons. Some call it the curse of a king of old, some say it is the symbol of Satan himself, some call it a bad omen while some burry it to protect themselves from bad luck, some consider it to possess magical powers, and some call it the greatest prophesier.

Its personality (as perceived by humans) is as varied as the colours it adorns. It is probably the most highly specialized reptile on our planet, the Chameleon – literally Earth Lion (Chamai leon in Greek); and in this context, the Indian Chameleon, Chamaeleo zeylanicus.
It is with utmost curiosity and interest that I have been inspecting around trees and shrubs, for half-a-decade, to get a glimpse of this sole Chameleon of the Indian subcontinent, and on the dawn of a fresh winter morning, we met. As time passes it is only natural that the certain event you perceived in the past will happen sooner now than before. I have always carried this wish of seeing a Chameleon on all the e…

Sahyadrica

Dear friends,
                 Wanderer’s Eye is now Sahyadrica. A name I closely relate with. Sahyadrica is derived from two words: Sahyadri·ica
Sahyādri                 : [Noun] a mountain range along the western coast of India. -ica                 : [Suffix] a collection of things that relate to a specific place, person, theme, etc.
                Kalidasa identifies Western Ghats as a maiden, ever so young and beautiful, draped in a green sari. Her sari is now slowly faded of its colour. Man is ripping her to pieces. The solution is not of building walls around her for keeping men at bay. The question is, how can we both coexist. How can man – her son and daughter – save her at the same time serving his self. There have been solutions proposed but I guess they’re not to everyone’s liking so far.

                Sahyadrica is widely used to describe a species first discovered in, or endemic to the Sahyadri region, sometimes more specifically to the region from Karnataka and Mahara…

On a few wonders of Sahyadri

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Sahyadri’s tabletop mountains are famous for their mighty cliffs. Some are tough to climb, some are too long to tread. Add to it the climatic variation, and they provide a different challenge in the dry and wet seasons. Monsoon is over now, but the wonderful results of the season can be felt everywhere. I’m glad to say we trekkers get to see all the avatars of Sahyadri as and when we get the opportunity. And yet, after all the peaks and passes and forts trekked in all the seasons, there are many cues and hints to things extraordinary and sometimes supernatural, that many of us miss.
Let me take you on a walk to witness a few wonders of life in Sahyadri, which I believe are lesser known albeit being a phenomenon commonly experienced by many, but missed by chance, on a climb uphill on crumbling rocks.
Trekking in October has its own merits and demerits. For one, it is extremely sultry, and therefore one must carry all the necessary provisions, like a hat, lots of water, and nutritious …

Tracing Monsoon: Part IV: An Ode to Graminoids

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Their birth is marked by very few, yet we all eagerly await them. They are one of the few organisms that, if I may use the phrase, carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. But they lack shoulders, or bones. Scientists studying them call it agrostology, taxonomists identify them as Graminoids, but we all call them grass.
We’re talking about grass which we all ignore simply because we’re too used to seeing it. In fact it is there right now not more than five meters from your home, unless you live in Antartica – but there too grows grass. Graminoid is a term used for three types of monocotyledonous plants with peculiar behavioural and growth pattern: the true grass (Poaceae), the sedges (Cyperaceae), and the rushes (Juncaceae). So what we call grass may either really be grass or it may be a sedge or a rush. That’s just one of the secrets of grasses (More on Graminoids and how to distinguish them can be read here).

I only recently started wondering about the life of grasses, alt…