Monday, May 24, 2021

feel of the vegetables

During the pandemic lockdown, what I missed the most was the forays into the vegetable market. 
Not only is it a welcome sight to "feel" the vegetables, you are sure you are picking up the real fresh ones. You don't get the same reassurance when ordering online. The above picture was clicked at the famous Mandai market in Pune when I had been there during my last visit. We bought some mangoes and kept ourselves busy by making mango pickles. Here is one batch ready to be bottled. 
Last week the yield from our kitchen garden was only two drumsticks, some tomatoes and lots of red chillies, so we bought some more drumsticks from the market and made sambhar out of it. Drumstick is one of those rare plant species whose seeds, flowers, leaves, and stems are edible and extremely nutritious. Moringa commonly referred to as drumstick is treated as a 'super plant' for its unique yet powerful properties that combat different ailments in our system.
Talking of the kitchen garden, the Aloe Vera is growing wild and we have been steadily trimming it down. (in other words throwing it away)
I know it is supposed to be medicinal and used for beauty treatments, but I don't have the faintest idea how it is to be consumed. At times I rub the fleshy part of the cut pieces on the elbows and I did notice that the black spots on the elbow have reduced. Another thing that we grow in our kitchen garden is wheat grass. 
Wheat Grass juice is good for health. It increases the Hb level in the blood and can be taken on a daily basis. The procedure to take the juice is simple. Sow some wheat in a shallow pot (approx 1 square feet) On the seventh day cut the grass and squeeze out the juice which can be consumed immediately. You must have noticed a different type of watermark on the above pictures.It is because of a site known as Dreamstime, where I upload some of my pictures.     It is a picture stock site where potential customers go through your pictures and if they like it they buy it. For example the wheat grass picture has been sold nine times, so I would say it is a win win situation.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Folk song from Nayattu

This folk song from the movie Nayattu is really catchy and it is stuck in my head after I saw the movie.
It is a song at a wedding party and the people who are singing it are also rural folks (as shown in the movie)
The instruments used are also appropriate for the flow of the music
The movie Nayattu is directed by Martin Prakkat and it is one of the best survival thrillers that I have seen. I am not going to disclose the story but I should say that good team work makes a movie click. The director made sure that all the fine details were taken care of, like Kunchacko is a tug-o-war enthusiast and a dark callus caused by the rope is always visible on his right inner forearm.
Or for that matter when the police is trying to frame a guy (on orders from the top) Joju gives the boy bottled water to drink.
Later he uses the same bottle to collect petrol and set fire to the window, but making sure that he holds the bottle by the cap or at the bottom so that the boy's finger prints remain
The casting of each character is very important to make it look authentic.The IPS officer required in the later part of the story was supposed to be someone from North India. So  Yama Gilgamesh was cast as the officer who did not look like a south Indian and her Malayalam accent was nowhere close to a Malayalee.
The photography was beautiful, especially of some places on the Munnar side.
The movie has got a rating of 8.2 on the IMDb and is available on Netflix with English subtitles.  Talking of irony, the writer of this movie is a police officer and the one who acted as an IPS officer is actually a writer. Reproducing the song here.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Black Kite and the chicks Part 2

Starting off with a comment I got from Mr K Parthasarathi in Part One of the Black Kite. Nature abounds with beauty, if only we observe keenly to the minute details. One need not go to forests or sanctuaries for watching the birds as they reside around our houses also. It just calls for an abiding interest. Looking for the second video soon. I know this second part got delayed. The main reason was that I was busy with some other assignments. So here goes: The young ones were growing up pretty fast and the parents were getting more and more protective about them.
I could have got better shots of the nest from the terrace, but stopped venturing there as the parents were getting the wrong idea that I was a threat to the young ones.
The male and the female made regular sorties to feed the young ones.
While observing the kite I couldn't help notice some of the other birds that visited the tree. Like this Indian Golden Oriole.
The bee eater turns up early morning and they are my favourite
This female Koel was looking menacing
The coppersmith was always up there on the wire reciting her tuk tuk at regular intervals.
I have seen the common mynah but this one looked different and after looking it up in the Bird book, I realized that this is the Brahminy Mynah.
These fan tail birds keep flitting from branch to branch and are very fast, making it difficult to click them. What I like about them is their sweet long bird call (20:57)
The sunbird as usual was good with her acrobatic tricks.
I was lucky enough to spot a sparrow. Yes, the common sparrow is not so common nowadays.
The crow kept looking at me as if to say "why don't you click me?"
When you have time just observe the crows and see how smart they are. (R K Laxman's favorite past time was to sketch the crows) The parrot was not far from the nest and observed the activity
He finally decided to savour the seeds from the pods of the same tree
While filming all this, the sound of the birds chirping filled up my sound track. Reminded me of what I read somewhere....... if you want to hear the sound of the bird, don't buy a cage, plant a tree. Meanwhile the feeding went on and you can see that one of them is waiting for his turn to be fed
There was some unseasonal rains and that caught the parents off guard. I mean the nesting season is well before the monsoon so that the young ones fly off before the monsoon. But this storm was really lashing out threatening to dislodge the nest. The mother bird tried her best to protect the young ones under her wings. After the storm was over this is what I captured. (12:00)
The next day was bright and sunny. While observing the young ones I was wondering about some of the traits that the young ones pick up. Like house keeping. When the chicks want to relieve themselves, they will slowly walk backwards to the end of the nest, aim and shoot out of the nest, thereby keeping the nest clean. I don't think they were potty trained by the parents, so I presume it is an inherited behaviour. (9:46 and 17:22)
The young ones liked to explore the surroundings when the parents were not around.
Meanwhile there was romance brewing on the adjacent tree between two Coucals (Bharadwaj) The nest on that tree is an old crow’s nest.
Coming back to the Black Kite, I found that they were more anxious about the young ones
I even found one of them dozing off during the day time. (26:10)
There was a squirrel who liked the thrill of jumping from one tree to the next one.
As the days progressed I found that only one chick was active or rather only one head was popping up.
After waiting for one more day I took a risk and went and peeped from the terrace. My fears were confirmed as I found the chick lying listless in the nest. It was probably dead. The mother kite did not give up hope and kept nudging and goading the listless one. By evening she must have realised what has happened and she picked up the carcass from the nest and threw it in a thicket not far away from the tree. The action was partially caught by my camera (36:52) Notice how we call them a chick or “young one” but the moment they are dead we refer to them as carcass. The part where I mentioned earlier that the chick was caught dozing off, maybe he was not well and couldn’t hold his head straight. The sad part was that the next day the same thing happened with the second chick. I was wondering, what must have gone wrong that both the chicks died within twenty four hours of each other. Was it food poisoning? Or was it due to the unseasonal rains which made them fall sick. I was hoping to capture the whole life cycle and present it as a cheerful event to the already gloomy world, but it was not to be. Life does not go as planned. This was one of the reasons I was putting off writing the second part. I am leaving these last two pics here without any comments.
The video was shot a little at a time on a daily basis and put together without much editing. So it may be a little lengthy, more like a documentary of the nest.