Bangalore New Year and some fishy tales

The mister and me were bored. Out performing each other with the help of Fruit Ninja and other highly competitive mobile games, was getting too mainstream. We wanted to ‘do something.’ Having arrived in Bangalore one morning for a surprise visit to my in-laws boomeranged. The surprise was on us; there was no one to welcome or hug or make us feel wanted, as both ma and pa in law were away completing chores on the last day of2013.

After the epic train journey that we had had in Udayan Express, this was just what we needed. We had the keys to the apartment, so we snuggled in and made ourselves at home. Soon we were planning on doing something, but what exactly could one do after having endured 20 hours in a train? We ended up watching ‘Captain Phillips’ starring our common favourite ‘Tom Hanks’.

Our folks arrived home in the evening and received a grand surprise. The day ended with talks, debates and ‘why did you not inform us’ with the company of some good food and loads of hugs.

The next day was 1st of January 2014. We again decided to ‘do something’.

Bangalore is the city of gardens; you’re always stepping into one garden or the other. But, Bangalore is also the city of museums, rich cultural history, temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras each with their architectural wonder and more.

800px-Cubbon_Park_W
Cubbon Park, Source: Wikipedia

We decided to enhance our knowledge of flora, while in the city. So Cubbon Park it would be with a visit to the aquarium adjacent to it. Located in the heart of the city, one cannot have missed the Cubbon Park while travelling anywhere in Bangalore. Starting off with 100 acres, the park was extended to around 300 acres because everybody likes a little more greenery. 300 acres is equal to 1.2 square kilometres by the way, so that’s a lot of flora watching. Named after Sir Mark Cubbon, the longest serving commissioner of Mysore, the park has a variety of bamboos, imported ornamental trees, a toy train and many historical monuments.

It is New Year day and the whole of Bangalore had made similar plans. After having braved the traffic jams and changing two buses, we arrived at Cubbon Park to realise that sightseeing 300 acres of flora with nearly 300 thousand people is not a fun way to start off 2014.

So we started with the aquarium located at the entrance gate to the park. The Bangalore Aquarium, as it is called, is the second largest in the country. Surprisingly, it wasn’t crowded so I could have all the fun with the fishes. I was all excited like a kid who visits an aquarium for the first time.

I don’t know how to describe this but the second largest aquarium in the country had me disappointed. Some of the tanks were empty, while some of them had their labels torn. Most of the fishes have lived in these artificial environments for so many years that they do not have a motive left to explore it anymore. They don’t bother to swim across the next manmade underwater cave to meet with their friends.

But, there was one enthusiastic guy that I fell in love with. He went up and down his little tank frantically looking for something – worms perhaps. Or maybe he has a story of a lost love. Maybe she was taken to another tank, we would never know.

Sadly, his label was pulled off so I might not be able to identify his species. To the discerning fish buff, the bulging eyes are a clear giveaway though. Here’s a little video shoot of the smarty:

We then decided to skip the Cubbon Park for another day when it is less crowded.

The second day of the year, we visited the Lal Baug botanical garden spread across 240 acres in the southern part of the city. Both of these were being managed by the horticulture department of the state who are fairly good at their jobs. The floral clock works but the aquarium is defunct. For a nature enthusiast especially of flora, the garden is a treasure house.

Most of the trees are more than a hundred years old and being near them makes you feel like a child under the care of loving elders. I can’t describe the contentment we returned with. It will always remain like a beautiful memory within us.

Butterfly garden Bangalore
Butterfly garden, Bangalore

So the Google search for ‘exciting places to visit in bangalore’ served us well indeed! Hope you too visit places in your city and discover the beauty hidden in its hustle and bustle.

The Avian Invasion of 2013!

The Mayans were wrong. The world had not ended after all and the happy new year was peeping in all its false glory. But, my world had certainly reached a dead end and good thing was I didn’t know it then. Struck by a back injury, I could barely sit or stand, let alone shoo away that pair of pigeons whose 2013 resolution was to spend some ‘cozy’ time in our kitchen attic.

If any of you ever happen to be in my city and walk past a bus depot near Kothrud, don’t forget to ask for the smelly house. You will be led to our apartment unfailingly. That’s how bad the scene was back then.

The mister was already juggling with cleaning, cooking, laundry, and keeping a check on me all round the clock, lest I make superheroic stunts like jump on a trampoline or something. The doctor had advised for a complete bed rest, but I managed to keep my ears open. My hunch was right – we were going to be invaded soon and how!

cozy pigeonsOne day sometime on a cold February afternoon, we heard the flapping of many wings and were quite taken aback to find two dusky grey pigeons making themselves at home, in our kitchen attic. The mister tried shooing them away but his pleas fell on deaf ears. These two smart fellows had also built a nice little nest complete with dried twigs and a chocolate brown rope. At once I realised the handles of my designer paper bag were not really stolen after all. What a relief!

These guys had long been following a modus operandi of sorts. They had been sneaking in twigs one at a time, when it was ‘all-clear’ in our kitchen – the long interval between breakfast and lunch and the few hours before tea time. The braver of the two made his/her way in through the window and stayed vigilant for some time. With a bunch of little twigs in his/her beak, he/she ensured we were where they wanted us to be, and nodded to the other one waiting at the window sill.

This guy would set the twig and fly out while the other got in and set his/her twig. The twigs that fell off their beaks and onto our floor was promptly picked up and set in place. Their operations were so smooth, little did we get an inkling of what’s happening in our kitchen. In this way, perhaps a thousand tos and fros later, their nest had been built on the sly, while I was sleeping…quite literally!

But, I swear I did hear some sounds, some very low frequency squeaks like pigeon whispers or something. But then I imagined these sounds as part of my wild imagination and let it go. However, I also did smell a faint poultry-like odour in the house, and blamed it on my strong sense of imagination.

By mid-March, I was able to walk around. Despite our pleading and shooing and then pleading again, this duo did not bother to move an inch, giving rise to our deepest fears – what if they have laid eggs? How long will the eggs take to hatch? What if the eggs fall down before hatching? In case, the baby pigeons do hatch, what if they fall down and we are held responsible. And worse, the place will get even more smelly. These stupid stupid pigeons!

Then came a day when they were gone. Yes, vanished before one could say ‘Shoo!’ after having a good time in our home for nearly two months. I managed to climb on top of the kitchen platform and investigate upon the smelly mess they had left behind.

But, what I saw was a couple of tiny little pale white eggs lying cuddled beside each other. “These two would surely hatch a very close-knit sibling love,” I thought to myself with a melting heart. All disgust vanished; I named them changu-mangu and immediately called out to the mister to supply me with some maize for the new parents.

pigeon eggs

Ever since then, our home was full of smiles and happiness, all four of us waited anxiously for the new members. The eggs hatched and what came out of them was ‘not so cute’ to look at, but an amazing act of nature, nevertheless. Never before had we been so happy with an invasion on our territory.

These dark ash balls covered with pale yellow hair and really long beaks were breathing away quite rapidly, while sleeping most of the time. It was a fascinating sight; one that deserved to be captured forever. Here is a video I managed to shoot of changu-mangu, balancing myself atop the kitchen platform, with one hand holding the attic base and the other holding a nearly-SLR Olympus camera recording from a safe distance.

The babies grew up so fast and flew away, leaving us with smelly memories and this smiley video.

P.S: This is my entry for Ambipur’s ‘From smelly to smiley“. When I took these pictures and the video, little did I know they would play a vital role one day.

The sky has many moods…

We (my much nagged husband and me) stayed almost the whole of July with my in-laws at Bangalore, better known as the Silicon Valley of India. The city isn’t much different from its sister IT city Pune, where I live now, but never before had I seen the sky change colors so often in a day. Overlooking the Indian Air Force school at Jalahalli near North Bangalore, which is forever enveloped in a lush coat of greenery, our 9th floor apartment is a wonderful viewing spot. While we lived in our refined interiors, we had the privilege to the exteriors served by nature. The whole was made up of only two entities – the sky above and the earth below.

And, watching the two of them in a jugalbandi of sorts, was great fun. Here I’ve shared a few pictures from my simple Olympus camera, taken from the bedroom window. By the way, Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece!

Cloudy in Bangalore

The innocence and the purity of nature…like sky-blue candy far far away!

Rain clouds peeping in

The angry rain clouds start peeping in, to take a reality check.

Dark clouds

By dusk they seem to be really happy, emerging victorious after defeating the Sun!

a masked sky

The clouds are having a party in the sky. My Olympus can create magic!

Do keep a watch on the skies above, like I do a lot nowadays. It really has many moods…