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Monday, April 25, 2016

Kabini Diaries -03 ----Indian Rollers or the blue jay

Nagarhole forest or Kabini has got scores of Indian rollers and here are couple of images of them taken by me during my visit there.The male bird’s acrobatic display with twists and turns during the mating season has earned it its name Rollers and these birds prey on insects, scorpions, small reptiles. They are known to follow tractors In rural India for disturbed invertebrates.


Indian Rollers are quite colorful and are present in large number throughout India. Several states of India have chosen the Indian Roller as their state bird.

Indian rollers are associated with legends and it is said to be sacred to Lord Vishnu. Hindi name for this bird is Neelkanth ..means blue throat and is associated with Lord Shiva who also is supposed to have blue colored throat. Though Indian roller is known as neelkanth, it has brownish neck and blue crown whereas the European rollers have blue tinges on the neck.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Indian consumers have been living with the Surge pricing structure on commodities and services for quite some time and suddenly when the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal came down hard on cab operators Uber & Ola for their surge pricing the whole nation has woken up from its slumber and debates are raging about this pricing structure. There was no reaction when the Karnataka & Maharashtra governments enforced similar curbs on the cab operators.

 Most of us know that the pricing is based on the supply and demand in the market and for a consumer to get these at the time of demand has to surely pay higher than the next person. This is how the free markets works and I do not think that the government has rights to curb this practice. I am personally happy that there is a curb on surge pricing since it does save me considerable amount of monies but then how does it ensure him of the service or the product at the times of demand. Let me take an example of a cab service at Chennai where I reside on the outskirts… during the morning and evening rush hours you would normally not get an cab as the demand is very high with office going persons and during these times if I am lucky to book a cab using their application then it gives me an option of continuing with the confirmation for extra pricing and this could range from 1.2x to 3x. Now if I feel that this is too much I would have to wait for a long time to get a service at normal fare… choice is entirely mine and not the governments. If at all government uses their muscles to ban this surge pricing then they should also ensure that they have made provisions of good public transport system and infrastructure which is lacking terribly in most metros of India. In Chennai consumers are willing to accept the surge pricing for Ola cabs as the auto rickshaws charge even higher rates which are at times over 3X.

With the ban on surge pricing on the cab operators in three states let us see the state governments of other metros also take similar actions. If the surge pricing ban  is totally enforced for cab services then next step  by the government is to curb similar practices in commodities market, Cinemas ,Airlines, Hotel industry and so forth and let us see if this would work out for there would be a definite outrage from all the traders for sure. Only time would tell if the ban on such practices is a boon or a bane.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Illusion of a Ghost

Last couple of weeks there has been quite a few interactions with my college batch mates on newly formed WhatsApp group and memories of those care free days being exchanged now has regaled nearly 100 of us on the group.

One interesting incident that happened during the college stay does crop up on my mind is of a ghost scare running around the hostel block while I was in my 3rd year of engineering. During the hot summer months few students would sleep in the terrace of the hostel and on one such moonless night a fellow student woke up with a start massaging his sleepy eyes and it was then he noticed a hazy figure in white as though hovering above the terrace floor at parapet level. He then let out a scream in fright and hearing this the white clad figure dashed towards the staircase and vanished into the hostel. The noise woke up most students on the terrace and they started chasing behind the figure that had an ample start from these sleepy fellows. By the time they had reached the stairwell the mysterious figure had vanished and most of us in the hostel were now awake due to all this commotion and the boy who had started all this said that he saw a ghost floating in the air and it vanished because of his scream. On hearing these all of us armed with hockey sticks and whatever we could grab in our arms went about the entire hostel in search of this figure which had vanished without a trace.

Similar incident kept happening on and off during the semester and in spite of making all attempts to apprehend the culprit proved futile. The buzz in the hostel was that this mysterious person is a ghost since it was seen shrouded in white all times. Finally after few days one of the students (unable to recollect the name of the student) admitted that the figure is him and not a ghost. He was in fact standing on the water tank which is in level with the parapet with his dhoti over his head and was urinating and the scream by the boy and others waking up made him run back to his room.When questioned as to why he did not admit this earlier, he replied that he was worried that all of us would thrash him before even he could state his story so he kept quiet and joined the other students in search of this elusive person. 

All of us had huge laugh with relief for there was no ghost in the hostel and this incident remains etched in memory though the names have been forgotten for it happened nearly 38 years back.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Reminiscing of times at Baghdad -Israeli air strike on Nuclear facility in 1981

7th June 1981 was like any other day in Iraq; though a Sunday it was working day since Fridays were the weekly off. As usual the site activities started off at 6.30 am and as we were still mobilizing staff and manpower for the projects the current works involved setting up of labor camps, staff camp and excavation works for foundations of permanent buildings of the township just off Al Baaya, Baghdad. As we were going about our works we saw few jet fighters flying in the sky and it was not unusual as there was a war taking with Iran and it was quite common to see them in air. As there were no air raid warnings there was nothing to worry or take any actions that was told to us in the event of air raid.

Just in about half hour there were loud firing noise and anti-aircraft guns firing in the air from all parts of Baghdad and the air raid warning sirens sounding loudly in all localities of Baghdad. We engineer’s working in the field just dumped everything and was scampering to safety of the trench but in sheer fright all of us just went below a porta cabin. After about 20 minutes all clear sounded and we crawled out of the space and only then we realized that we were fools that we crawled beneath a wooden cabin which would not have given any protection against bombs. Read the earlier post where I have mentioned this incident under .Jinxed June

It was much later in the week that we came to know of the reasons for the air raid warning on 7th June… it was an air strike by Israelis air force on the Al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility was being built on the outskirts of Baghdad about 17kms southeast of Baghdad. I did not give a thought about this incident till I wrote about it in my blog couple of years back. Few days back while browsing the internet I came across declassified report on this bombing by Israelis and I was surprised to note that the Israeli’s have been trying to stop the construction of this reactor for over 3 years as they were worried that Iraq would build a nuclear device. Their secret services tried various means to delay or destroy the same but were unsuccessful. Then in 1981 Saddam Hussein in an Arab meet proclaimed that the nuclear reactor was going to go critical in a month or so and then he would build an Islamic bomb to be dropped on Tel Aviv. 

Route taken by Israeli Air force Image Courtesy- Google
This statement triggered the final go ahead for the air strike for which the Israelis air force had been training for over 10 months and was code named Operation Opera or Operation Baghdad. Eight F16’s took off from Israel avoided Jordan and flew at 100 feet above ground over Saudi Arabia and then entered Iraq to complete the bombing mission and finally went back to Israel safe. This daring strike took the world by total surprise and all countries decried and condemned the bombing since the reactor could not have developed nuclear bomb. Israeli’s however maintained that this strike was in self-defense of their country since Saddam Hussein was known to hate Israel and had threatened bombing Tel Aviv with nuclear device.

Well you can read about the planning details and routes taken by the fighter pilots on Google or even watch the same on You tube so I am not repeating it here. These moments have been etched in my memories and it keeps flooding back now and then whenever I read or hear about Iraq.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Whistling Hunters

The Indian wild dogs or the dholes are also known as the whistling dogs are highly social and stay in packs numbering anywhere from 2 to 20 or even more. They often hunt in packs and are known to down preys double their size in co-ordinated attack. During my trip to Kabini last year did photograph a pack of 7 dogs going out on a hunt and here are few images of them

This images shows 6 of the dogs in a frame crossing the road that runs in the forest

This was taken as they came out of the bush ... playfully

Two of the dholes relaxing beside the road

They produce a whistle sounding coo -coo and hence they are known as whistling hunters

Monday, April 11, 2016

PreConceived Notions

A colleague of mine seeing me dressed in a jeans and shirt commented “Dress according to your age…jeans are for youngsters”. This actually fueled me to write about Preconceived notions that most people have in India.

It very evident that my friend has a preconceived idea  set in his mind that a man or a woman who are aged 50 and beyond cannot wear Jeans pants. Now what is a preconceived notion and how does it happen… well this starts right from tender age while your parents keep saying don’t do this or if you do this you will be gauged like this and so forth. These opinions of parents or peers are implanted in one’s mind and you have set answers to questions and that are considered as gospel truth.

Most people have the following preconceived thoughts or notions and it is very difficult to convince them that the same is not true…..…..

·         Blonde women are dumb
·         People who wear glasses are studious
·         Blacks are lazy & also most Virile
·         Jews will cheat you in business
·         Men with beards are Muslims
·         All Muslims are terrorists
·         Judge people before even knowing him / her
·         Girls in film / fashion industry have no morality
·         Girls with skimpy dress or revealing dress are the cause of rapes
·         Wife needs to work at home as the man is the bread winner
·         Older men should act their age & be mature
·         A woman cannot be bossing over you at work place
·         Women are bad drivers

The above list is not the entire list and it would go on for pages as we to have preconceived answers for all situations and settings around us.

Instead of judging a person or any other thing with preconceived notions or thoughts have an open frame of mind and gauge accordingly and I am sure you would find that preconceived notions are totally wrong and judgmental

If you readers have any thoughts to add about this please comment !!!!