Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sundarbans- A Wonderland of Mangroves

A happy New Year to you!
We spent the last days of 2016 in Sundarbans, an incredible ecological haven for mangrove trees and aquatic animals.  The river Ganga (Ganges) branches into many distributaries before it reaches the ocean, making a vast area of swamps. The tides make the water salty. There are different kinds of mangrove trees in the forests which line the river.
 We were on a boat cruising the streams for three days. It was chilly, but we enjoyed the cruise.The boat stopped at some villages, where we went ashore and visited museums. The folk drama  at one place about the saintly Bono Bibi who helps those in trouble , was poignant.
Although we could not catch a glimpse of the feared Royal Bengal Tiger, we came across large crocodiles sunning themselves, wild boar , monitor lizards and spotted deer.
The flower above is the flower of the Bruguiera mangrove. In one village I saw a number of these red flowers fallen on the ground and some were moving! On close inspection, I found that the moving ' flowers' were in fact red crabs camouflaged to look like the flowers, making it easy for them to catch their prey, and also helping them escape from the birds!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Thirty Kilometre Walk

 When I was in Indore in September, we went for a thirty kilometre walk along lush soyabean fields .
 We met some people who were waliking for 120 kilometers to get to the city of Ujjain, carrying earthen pots filled with the water of river Narmada. Many of them were walking barefoot. The weather was cool with occasional drizzzles .
 Luscious cucumbers cut and filled with spices selling on the roadside gave us energy.
 This villager was holding his dog who wanted to come with us!
At last we reached our destination- the Patalganga falls. There had been a tragic accident here four years ago, when a whole family had been washed away in a sudden flash floods. Now the falls is heavily fenced up and no one can go near it.
The walk back to Indore was not so enjoyable as there were too many cars going towards the falls.












Monday, November 14, 2016

Flowers of the Rainforest

 This Clerodendrum flowers in the most unexpected placess in the rainforests of the Western Ghats. It is also called the Pagoda flower because of its shape.
 This highly scented white flower is known as Suragi in Kannada. Girls like to wear them in their hair.
The greenish inflorescence of the creeper look like paper flowers.
I was away from home for a long time and so could not post anything earlier.
I will try to post regularly now!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Janak Palta McGilligan and the Success Story of Sustainable Development


 When I first heard of Dr. Janak Palta McGilligan in Indore, I was keen to visit her organic farm where she grows wheat, corn, six types of dal, and many different vegetables and fruit. I had heard that she needed to buy nothing but tea and sugar from the market! I finally got a chance to visit her , and I was overwhelmed by her friendliness and enthusiasm for the work she has been doing for the poor rural women of the region.
Janak's mantra has been 'Sustainable Development', where conservation and development of natural resources plays a crucial point. Janak practices what she preaches- her household is run by solar power and wind energy. Her solar cookers built by her husband Jimmy McGilligan, can cook a feast for a hundred people. The windmill erected in her yard powers eighteen street lights in the village.
Janak's husband, Jimmy McGilligan was a genius who used ordinary things to make extraordinary machines. By using old bicycle parts, he made a contraption which could turn the huge solar cooker towards the sun throughout the day. He invented a machine which turns old newspapers into brickets to be used as cooking fuel on rainy days. In fact, the delicious Aloo Paratha  which she served, was cooked in a stove using these brickets. Jimmy had been awarded the Order of the British Empire for his pioneering work with the rural women while Janak was honoured with a Padmashree by the President of India.
A cancer survivor, and a heart attack survivor, Janak was devastated by the death of her husband in a car accident a few years ago. She has not let her grief overcome her enthusiasm. Their home which Jimmy had built with his own hands is now Jimmy McGilligan Centre for sustainable Development which trains people , and is open to the public throughout the year.
In Janak's own words, "We don't have a choice of how we die, but we can choose how we live".

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shankha pushpa- Clitoria ternata

These wildflowers are now on all the hedges and fences. The white variety of Shankha pushpa is rarer than the dark blue one. Both have medicinal value. The roots and flowers are used to make a tonic to improve memory.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Butterflies in the Rainy Season

 Butterflies hide themselves when it is raining, but as soon as te sun comes out, they flit around madly.
 The Blue Tiger is a common butterfly in this season
 This wild flower lookks like a butterfly, and it attracts butterflies.
There are swarms of dragonflies which are  good because they eat up the mosquito larva in the lake near my home!
My thanks to the hosts of Our World Tuesday who are doing a splendid job.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lilies in my garden

 The Monsoon season is in full swing and there are lilies everywhere in my garden. The spider lilies make an attractive clump with their brilliant white flowers.
 I don't know the name of this lily with large, sword shaped leaves. Every barber's shop has this lily in front !!
 This sweet smelling lily is called Sudarshan in India. It has pink stripes on the underside. It is also known as Milk-and-Honey lily.
The Amazon lily has a heady perfume. Every part of the plant is poisonous.
My thanks to the team of Our World Tuesday.