Monday, 27 February 2012

Tales from Saraswathipura - Dhavala, the white horse

The rains had stopped. Alas, the Electricity board was slow to catch up, and we were in darkness still. A gentle breeze unsettled the raindrops lingering on the trees outside in the garden, as if trying to keep the rain going on its own. The breeze snuck in through the open window, and threatened to blow out the lamp lit in the corner of the room. The air was redolent with ajji's saaru and hurlaikayi palya, and four sleepy heads clustered around her, hungrily devouring the handfuls of rice she handed out, and demanded a story.
Which story... ajji pondered. Dhavala! came the answer in unison. And Dhavala's story it was.
My dad liked horses, ajji said, and Dhavala even more so. He was a white horse, pure white. Not a dark spot, not a blemish, the kind that the Maharajas ride. And what's more, Dhavala was the smartest horse that I have ever seen.
However, it was not long after that Dhavala left our house, continued ajji. There was a Doctor in Jagalur, and he was a very close friend of my father. It was only fitting that when he left Jagalur, my father's farewell gift to him was Dhavala.
After Dhavala left with the Doctor, I often wondered how he was. Oh, we were sure he would be looked after well....but it was only much later, when the Doctor visited us again that I came to hear about how he saved the Doctor's life once. In those days, ajji said, we had no cars and trains to carry us from one place to another, and buses were few and far in between. If you had to travel, you used bullock carts or horses. This is what the Doctor did when he travelled the District, treating patients. On one these trips, he was in the middle of a jungle when dacoits attacked him. They encircled him, preventing escape. The Doctor feared for his life. Silently, he prayed the Lord, and whispered a plea to Dhavala - you are my only hope, he said, save me. Dhavala seemed to understand. He charged at the circle of the thieves, as if to test their strength. he did that a few times, and each time, the men bunched up and held him back. The Doctor despaired, Dhavala has failed me he thought, until....the horse made an almighty charge against the circle, stopped inches from the men, swivelled abruptly!.. galloped thunderingly, and jumped high, effortlessly clearing the men at the opposite end of the circle. They were free!
And we listened, mouths open, minds agog and totally unheeding of the fact that we had infact eaten at least twice as much as we normally did..........(For ajji, it was a job done, four fussy kids fed. Time for bed)
The story doesn't end there, resumed ajji. Dhavala landed in the direction that the Doctor originally planned to! needless to say, they went on to reach their destination safely. Dhavala served his master for a long time, finally joining the Maharaja's service, and proudly rode in the Dasara procession. Who knows, it is even possible the Yuvaraja himself rode on his back.
Now, what takes me back to that day, what makes me sigh at those fond memories? Not just ajji's fragrant saaru, nor the fascinating story. It was the remembered images of that beautiful woman, radiant in the light that the guttering lamp, and the warmth of her utterly unconditional love.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

About Intelligence, success, survival and then finally, me


..intelligence in itself isn't much as far as survival values are concerned. the elephant does very poorly indeed when compared to the sparrow even though he is much more intelligent.....Or take the primates as a group...... the baboons do the best and that is because of their canines, not brains. .....Sure, we (humans) are intelligent, but what's intelligence? We think it is important because we have it.


-'Dr Elwood Ralson' in 'Breeds there a man....?' by Isaac Asimov


I remember our Professor of Surgery, a highly respected, brilliant surgeon and teacher telling us this story. He met an old school friend after a long time. This friend belonged to a family of businessmen and had dropped out of school. Initial pleasantries were exchanged and the conversation went on like this after that

Friend: Fancy meeting you, A.... those were the days!
Prof: Indeed, those were the days.
Friend: How are you getting on?
Prof: Fine, I guess.
Friend: What have you done so far in your life and career?
Prof: Well, I did medicine, trained to be a surgeon, passed with distinction all the way, and now I am a Professor.
Friend:....hmmmm......
Prof: Er... I was made President of the Association of the Surgeons of India. I have trained innumerable medical students and guided many doctors in their efforts to become surgeons... but that's enough about me. What about you?
Friend: I made a crore.

The conversation flagged a bit after that.

It is a sad fact, but, intelligence does not mean better survival skills. In his blog, recently, my cousin bemoaned the fact that people mistake street smartness and a lack of morals for intelligence.

What's the difference between intelligence and street smartness?

If you take Professor's story as an example, our Professor was the intelligent one. What he did not do was to convert his intelligence into hard cash. Now, this could be because he chose not to, or because he did not have the skills or inclination to do it. Our Professor was a great surgeon, and one of the best teachers I have had the privilege of learning from, in my medical career.

What did his friend - the crorepathi have that he did not?

Business acumen? Shrewdness? Ruthlessness? A tendency to ignore rules, and cheat if necessary to earn money? Maybe a combination of all these. I remember a programme on TV which pitted highly successful businessmen against 'ordinary' men. They were all given a task requiring innovation. One difference that was obvious even to me was how quick the businessmen were to think out of box, and cheat if they were not getting ahead. Needless to say, they won more times than the others.

I suppose if one was cynical, they would conclude the main difference between an intelligent person who has earned a lot of money and one who has not is lax morals and a criminal tendency in the former. At the other end, you could say that merely being intelligent does not ensure success. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

As for me, I am unable to incriminate, an unfortunate victim of my high ethical and moral standards. And I could have been a serious threat to Bill Gates if only I were intelligent.

I have been trying very hard to think out of box (is it thinking-out-of-the-box or thinking-out-of-box?), ever since I realised it could make me rich. Sadly, all my efforts have failed at the first hurdle - viz. getting into the box and trying to think in the first place. I would be grateful for any tips, including the location of the said box.




Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Homeopathy - estimating truth

This post was prompted a similar one by my cousin .. here..
Homeopathy is popular world wide, perhaps the most prominent of the alternative medicine systems. There is a Hospital in Glasgow, a stone's throw from my house.
Having said that, I am not about to throw stones at homeopathy.................
The fundamental healing 'principle' of homeopathy is 'similia similibus curentur' or, in english, 'like cures like'.
This isn't like, you know, teenagerese, dude.
Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, worked out that cinchona, taken on its own, induced a malaria like condition. He postulated that you could cure diseases by using medication that mimicked the symptoms of that disease. In other words, to treat hypertension, you would use a drug that increases your blood pressure, asthmatics would benefit from drugs that cause wheezing, and laxatives would cure diarrheas!
Now, this idea is not entirely crazy. For example, capsaicin, or chilli extract can be used to treat burning pain, and the antidote for morphine has very similar effects to it. However, these are specific instances, and generalising it is a bad idea. DONOT try to cure headache by listening to Black Sabbath. And, bungee jumping is not a cure for vertigo.
Another basic principle of homeopathy is the technique of 'super diluting' pharmacological agents to improve their efficacy.
In the mid eighties, a french immunologist, Jacques Benveniste sought to use research to provide scientific basis to homeopathy. he conducted a randomised controlled trial, (RCT) the gold standard for evaluating any treatment in medicine.
Amazingly, the study showed that indeed, diluting did enhance the effect of the drug.
Benveniste sought to publish this in 'Nature' - a highly respected scientific journal.
The editorial board of Nature were in a difficult position. They could not decline to publish the article. Over the years, 'Nature' has published ground breaking articles, some on which were not initially accepted by the scientific community. On the other hand, they had a lot of difficulty in accepting those results themselves. They did something very unusual. they published it with a sort of a disclaimer, and added conditions - i.e. Nature would get their experts to review the study process, and get a few more groups to reproduce the results.
(
Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE. E. Davenas, J. Benveniste et al.Nature.30 June 1988. 333; 816-818) .

The disclaimer read,

............Readers of this article may share the incredulity of the many referees who have commented on several versions of it during the past several months. The essence of the result is that an aqueous solution of an antibody retains its ability to evoke a biological response even when diluted to such an extent that there is a negligible chance of there being a single molecule in any sample. There is no physical basis for such an activity. With the kind collaboration of Professor Benveniste, Nature has therefore arranged for independent investigators to observe repetitions of the experiments. A report of this investigation will appear shortly......

Nature commissioned three experts to scrutinise the study as it was being conducted in Professor Benveniste's lab. This 'committee' included a magician, James Randi, well known for his sceptic views. To the relief of many scientists watching this around the world, the committee pointed out a few obvious problems with the study design. Mainly, with observer bias - which means, if your study requires an observation to be made, (counting the number of cells under a microscope for example), using an observer who has a reason to favour one side or the other of the result will consciously or subconsciously bias the observations.
In other words, if you appoint a Congress MP to record the political affiliation of a group of voters in your study of voting patterns, it is highly likely that Congress will emerge as the most popular party.
The actual graphs in the original article are very revealing. The response of the cells appear as a series of peaks, and these peaks are exaggerated as the dilution proceeds giving one the impression that the effect is enhanced.
Needless to say, the study has been discredited, in spite of Professor Benveniste's efforts to fight back, resorting to theories such as 'digital memory' to explain the apparent 'potent' effects of pure water. If you believe him, water molecules retain 'memory' of the substances they have been exposed to, and continue to have effects. The argument continue to date, with fairly vitriolic debates on either side. Here's one against the study. I don't think any one however, questions the integrity of Professor Benveniste. His study was defective, while his intentions were honurable.

If you have read my previous post, you probably know that I am a weak minded ditherer unable to decide one way or the other on any controversial issue.
Nothing's changed since then............I am still wishy washy.

I agree that homeopathy has no scientific basis. Does this mean we should never trust or practice homeopathy.?
On the surface, modern medicine appears to be built on solid science, facts, and well conducted experiments. However, any experienced practitioner will tell you the process of verifying truth in medicine is a fairly difficult one. Statistics never allows you to make a clear yes/ no statement, only likelihoods. (Lies, d....d lies and statistics, remember?).
In practical terms, everyday practice is a mixture of weak evidence, lots of experience, black magic and sometimes, pure chance.

Modern medicine should not hope to assume a position of superiority because it is more 'scientific' because our methods of estimating truth is still in its infancy. The only reason we can feel proud is the fact that it is always searching, improving and willing to accept its own weaknesses. Above all it is accountable.

And look at the above study. Nature was willing to publish it. The reason it received close scrutiny was that the results did not make sense, and the results were contrary to the traditional scientific thought. How many has Nature allowed through? How many have not received a closer scrutiny that they deserve? How many have remained 'truths' because no one has attempted to reproduce the results?

Unfortunately, the real world is where homeopathy as with any other medicine has unscrupulous elements who practice modern medicine by the backdoor, using dangerous drugs like steroids wily nily. In addition, homeopathic medicines use elements like mercury and can have disastrous consequences if used carelessly. When I mean homeopath I am assuming an honest practitioner.

On the other hand, sadly, the street cred of homeopathy has taken a blow ever since Prince Charles chose to throw his weight behind it.

To finish here's a homeopathy joke.

I remember 'Chakarvarthi' (name slightly changed), my dear friend from my clinical days. He was doing his BHMS (basic homeopathic degree in India), and I, my MBBS. We defended our systems loyally to each other. Chakarvarthi would end up saying - Look, Arnica, our most common used medicine, has no side effects! and I would retort, no wonder, it has no effects either.
Nearly 25 years later, I am not so sure. I guess neither is Chakravarthi.


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

DVG, A N Murthy Rao, Charlie Brown and a fly in the er....... ointment


(That should be the longest title of any of my blogs so far)

ನಂಬದಿರ್ದನು ತಂದೆ, ನಂಬಿದನು ಪ್ರಹ್ಲಾದ|
ನಂಬಿಯುಂ ನಂಬದಿರುವಿಬ್ಬಂದಿ ನೀನು||
ಕಂಬದಿನೋ ಬಿಂಬದಿನೋ ಮೋಕ್ಷವವರಿಂಗಾಯ್ತು|
ಸಿಂಬಳದಿ ನೊಣ ನೀನು - ಮಂಕುತಿಮ್ಮ
ಡಿ. ವಿ. ಜಿ- ಮಂಕುತಿಮ್ಮನ ಕಗ್ಗ




A translation -
The skeptic father*, and devout Prahlada
And you, two - faced between faith and doubt
Salvation, they found, in the **pillar, or in the Icon
And you are stagnant, like a fly stuck in snot - Manku Timma
DV Gundappa - The ramblings of the dull witted Timma.

*Hiranyakashipu, the demon king who did not believe in God, and his devout son Prahlaada **The pillar - Hiranyakashipu, kicks at a pillar in disdain when Prahlaada reiterates "God is everywhere, even in this pillar". The Lord emerges from the pillar as the ferocious Narasimha, and slays him - Hiranyakashipu attains salvation as the Lord feels he sincerely believed in "something" even if he did not concede that "something" was God when he was alive.

Recently, in India, I visited my cousin. It was Janmashtami, and my cousin amazed me by performing the rituals for the festival, complete with reciting the mantras. The last I knew him, he had the same lukewarm interest in religion I currently have. When asked for the reasons for his transformation, he replied with the above excerpt from DVGs "Kagga"
My ears perked up, because this was the exact same verse that my brother - in - law quoted when I asked him about God and his beliefs. Except, his own beliefs are best described as atheist.

This had to be some sort of a sign, from the almighty, asking me to make mind up, was I on his side, or what?

A N Murthy Rao (1900 - 2003)was perhaps one of the keenest intellects to grace Kannada literature. He was an atheist, and outspoken in his views. A N Murthy Rao wrote - "ದೇವರು" (God) when he was in his nineties. In the foreword of this book, he mentions that, the book as being his response to the discussions he had with DVG about God. (DVG was a devout Hindu, and later wrote a book entitled ದೇವರು himself, with detailed descriptions of Hindu rituals). A N Murthy Rao forwards powerful, scholarly arguments on how God, religion and beliefs are unnecessary, illogical and absurd. Very convincing.

What am I to do now?

Both DVG and A N Murthy Rao are equally authoritative and have compelling arguments, so I could never decide. Sitting on the fence is no option - see above. Being stuck in ಸಿಂಬಳ doesn't sound very comfortable or for that matter, hygienic. And you can kiss salvation goodbye, it is simply not for the ditherers.

I turned to my third philosopher, who I relate to, a lot, viz. Charlie Brown from the "Peanuts". Charlie Brown is well known for being wishy washy, and is once berated on this fact by his friends when he yet again fails to make up his mind. He finally decides to be wishy on one day and washy on the other day.

Before I sign off, a story. I remember reading this in a book by Osho Rajneesh.

In a small town, there lived a famous atheist and a theologist. Both were intelligent, scholarly and very skilled debaters. They played havoc with the citizens minds. The priest would talk them over to religion, and before they settled down, the atheist would win them over with a powerful argument and convince them God did not exist. This went on for some time, and the town elders decided to put an end to it. They got both of them together, organised a public debate and announced that the whole town would follow the victor of the debate. The debate started. Both of them amazed the audience with their knowledge and logic. As it went on and on into the night, the audience gradually melted away till eventually only the two debaters were left. The town elders came back in the morning to find both of them silent. The priest sheepishly admitted he was convinced he had been on the wrong track, and now realised God was a figment of his imagination. The elders heaved a sigh of relief and go over to congratulate the atheist. Looking up, the atheist said "Please let me be. I have sinned. I am now off to beg forgiveness from the Lord for doubting his existence".

I really hope every one including the Lord will forgive me for being wishy one day and washy on others, believing in God when I am trouble, and losing interest when things pick up a bit. Fly in ಸಿಂಬಳ but happy anyway.

Good Ol' Charlie Brown, I am getting more like him every day. I am even getting bald like him.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Fuchsia fjuːʃə/ FEW-shə

Around two years ago, I was in the Achamore gardens on the island of Gigha. I was still new to my Nikon D50, and was looking for things to photograph. Amongst other things in the unique Achamore Gardens, a bright pink flower caught my eye, and I snapped it. Looking back I now feel it was a very clumsy attempt at a "macro" or a close up photograph.


Neither could I recognise a Fuchsia when I saw one.

Sadly, I am still to become an expert in macro, which in itself is a specialised form of photography. I tried my hand at this form of photography which involves photographing objects from very close up - few inches. You can see some of the photos in my Flickr photostream. Purists will object to me calling them macros, because they lack a few features of macros. First, they don't have a ratio of 1:1 i.e. the objects are larger than the camera sensor. Secondly, my lens, a standard kit 18 - 55 mm AF Nikkor, is not quite a 'macro' lens. If you are one of them purists, dear reader, please erase my name from the list of macro practitioners, and demote me to the ranks of a humble amateur photogrpaher.

The Glasgow and District Fuchsia Society held their Annual show in the Kibble palace , The Botanics, Glasgow. This was my opportunity to try out close up photography. The show had a wonderful collection of Fuchsias.
I have since then done some research on Fuchsias. I started with the spelling, which according to a website is often misspelt as 'Fuschia'. See the pronounciation as well, as in the title. In case you are wondering what the last letter'ə' means, it is meant to be pronounced a as in sofa. There are around 13 150 named varieties of Fuchsias. Fuchsias were named after the yonder intense looking gentleman, Fullmaurer Leonhart Fuchs, a physician who was one of the 'founding fathers' of botany, no less.

Below are a selection of photos from that show. I have a lot more in my Flckr photostream (link on the right).
Hope you like them. I certainly enjoyed the whole experience, and will certainly aim to do more of this. If you are still reading, dear macro purist, I hope to hoodwink my wife someday and buy a proper macro lens, God willing, a brand new Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D.................. sigh..................Or at least a Nikon AF Micro - Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D.

Are you listening, Santa?







Wednesday, 19 August 2009

ಜೋಗದ ಸಿರಿ ಬೆಳಕೂ...... ಮುಂಗಾರು ಮಳೆಯೂ

ಜೋಗದ ಸಿರಿ ಬೆಳಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ತುಂಗೆಯ ತೆನೆ ತಳುಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ
ಸಹ್ಯಾದ್ರಿಯ
ಲೋಹದದಿರ ಉತ್ತುಂಗದ ನಿಲುಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ
ನಿತ್ಯಹರಿತ್ಸ್ವರ್ಣವನದ ತೇಗ ಗಂಧ ತರುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ
ನಿತ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ ತಾಯಿ ನಿತ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ

-ಡಾ|| ಕೆ. ಎಸ್. ನಿಸಾರ್ ಅಹ್ಮದ್
As usual, I have no idea what Dr Ahmad is on about. ಜೋಗದ ಸಿರಿ-I guess he is trying to say Jog falls are quite spectacular. ಹರಿತ್ ಸ್ವರ್ಣವನ, no problems, he is spot on about the lush evergreen rain forest ( incidentally, I am not too sure about the ಗಂಧ , bit - I didn't see a lot of it). The rest is really beyond me. I must say, I have listened to this song being sung endless number of times, by different singers and groups, all in the same tune - and I have enjoyed it every time.

Some one, please, please enlighten me!

If I say Dr Ahmed is being obscure, I will be slaughtered - between the last time I visited India to now, he has entered the hallowed club of writers/ Poets Who Cannot Be Criticised. However, I agree he is a poet, and by definition would lose his street cred if he said things plainly, and in simple kannada.

As you may have guessed, I was in India, and made a quick trip to Jog falls. It was a wonderful trip. We were lucky to get good weather, in spite of the monsoons. We were conducted around by our friend, who has lived in Sagara most of his life. We stepped off the beaten pathway and visited remote farms, the backwaters of the Linganamakki dam. We wallowed in the famed malenadu hospitality. The brief visits to houses, farms, cups of steaming tea, and affection showered on absolute strangers such as us. We ticked all the appropriate touristy boxes, including the big falls. We laboured up the mountain, in itself a wonderful journey, and when we reached the top, we exulted on seeing the falls, partly for having reached there, and partly for seeing it. There wasn't much time left, so I hurried around, photographing them as many times as I could. The fog played games with us, now obscuring, now revealing the view. The light may seem vastly differing in these photos, but that was just me experimenting with different exposure times and apertures.







On my way back, and now, sitting at my desk, there are a few things that stuck in my mind. When we visited the backwaters, we also went to a farm, bordering the reservoir, one of the ones which survived the Sharavathi project. After tea and some chat, I was talking to G.... (our guide), and asked him about the people who were displaced by the reservoir. he told me around 20 villages, with at least one big town, and around 12 000 people were relocated. When I asked them about their fate, he told me some of them had managed to get on with their lives, whereas the others never got close to the life styles they left behind.

Later, when we went out to the backwaters, we saw well constructed roads disappearing into the reservoir, islands sticking out of the reservoir, which must have been low hills before they submerged.... stumps of tall trees. The whole idea of entire towns lying there under water spooked me.






How would you feel, to return from your holidays and to be told your house was now underwater, here's Rs.2000/- to compensate, thank you for your sacrifice, Have a good life!

They sacrificed a lot so we could all watch mungaaru male on our LCD TVs in Bengaluru. Did they have a chance to say no? How about the elephants of the valley, who lost their bearings, encountering a massive lake where their regular feeding grounds lay? And what about the diversity, the flora and fauna of this incredibly beautiful, rich, rain forest?

I can see this snowballing into a big debate........ There are pros and cons for this, lets skip that and save a lot of angst for all of us.

For those of you who like a bit of a scrap, here's some ammunition.


I have a small story for the end. At the height of he bad old days of the cold war, the East bloc sent a delegation of citizens to the US, so they might observe and sneer at the decadent west. One of the delegates, a woman, apparently defended her own country steadfastly at every oppportunity, until she saw the rows and rows of fresh vegetables and produce in a supermarket. Then she wept.

Look the jogada gundi, as it might have been, had we not built the dam. You might weep too.

(cheer up, it might have meant you didn't have to watch Mungaaru male - while a decent movie with soothing music, has the lead played by an actor whose face has an unfortunate resemblance to a pumpkin)


Sing with me......

ಮಾನವನಾಗಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ್ಮೇಲೆ ಎನೇನ್ ಕಂಡಿ
ಸಾಯೋದ್ರೊಳ್ಗೆ ಸಂಸಾರ್ದೊಳ್ಗೆ ಗಂಡಾಗುಂಡಿ
ಏರಿಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗೋದಲ್ಲ ಸತ್ಮೇಲ್ ಬಂಡಿ
ಇರೋದ್ರೊಳ್ಗೆ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ನೋಡು ಜೋಗಾದ್ ಗುಂಡಿ

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Madikeri ಲಿ ಮಂಜು and er.... poetry

ಭೂಮೀನ್ ತಬ್ಬಿದ್ ಮೋಡಿದ್ದಂಗೆ
ಬೆಳ್ಳಿ ಬಳದಿದ್ ರೋಡಿದ್ದಂಗೆ

ಸಾಫಾಗಳ್ಳ ತಿಟ್ಟಿಲ್ದಂಗೆ

ಮಡ್ಕೆರೀಲೀ ಮಂಜು!

- ಜಿ ಪಿ ರಾಜರತ್ನಂ
One of the best memories of my school days is listening to Mysore Ananthaswamy singing this song in the Jayanagar 8th block Ramanavami programmes. When he sang this, there was a hush and the very air around us seemed to turn cool, even though it was summer!

I am not a big fan of poetry generally. I think they are strictly for the birds.

However, I will make an exception for G P Rajaratnam (and a few others, I will talk about that later). We all know him as the creator of nursery rhymes like ಬಣ್ಣದ ತಗಡಿನ ತುತ್ತೂರಿ. ಮಡಿಕೆರೀಲಿ ಮಂಜು is one of the poems from his collection 'ರತ್ನನ ಪದಗಳು. Madikeri and the ಮಂಜು remained elusive to me for a long time.

I finally had an opportunity when we had a wonderful holiday in Kutta, Kodagu district. We stayed in a farm was close to the Nagarhole and Wynad wildlife reserves, along the Karnataka - Kerala border. It was a very special trip because my sisters and me, and our children were going to be together under one roof after a gap of some eight years. The global village might make communication easy, but nothing can replace being together.

We lived in an old family house, tiled and spacious, which meant all of us could sleep comfortably.

Our hosts were very gracious people and looked after us very well. There was a lot of catching up for all of us to do. If you know our family well, that includes fighting about silly things, which we did.
Our visits to Nagarhole were a bit disappointing,. The forest and animals were a sad and pale in comparison to the memories of my previous visit to the sanctuary some thirty years ago. The countless chital, massive herds of wild cattle, and a wild boar we then saw in the forest seemed to have vanished. The elephant back safari was discontinued, so we had to be content doing a trip in the jeep. We saw a dispirited peacock, looking like he had a hangover, and a monitor lizard lying stationary, with no interest in monitoring or anything else.
The farm is actually a coffee plantation. On the second day there, I woke up early to walk around and indulge in some photography. I own a Nikon D50, and spend a lot of time reading photography books. I hardly ever get to go out and do some serious photography, and I rather cut loose with my Nikon, clicking everything in sight.

I love coffee, but nothing prepared me for the sheer beauty of the coffee berries, and the myriad colours they assume as they ripen.



Even the coffee flowers were absolute gems.



Here again, I am moved to poetry, with this coffee flower. My one other favourite poet - Jnanpith awardee, Dr G S Shivarudrappa, and his poem ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ

ನೋಡು ಇದೋ ಇಲ್ಲರಳಿ ನಗುತಿದೆ
ಏಳು ಸುತ್ತಿನ ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ

ಇಷ್ಟು ಹಚ್ಚನೆ ಹಸುರ ಗಿಡದಿಂ

ಎಂತು ಮೂಡಿತೋ ಬೆಳ್ಳಗೆ!


ಮೇಲೆ ನಭದಲಿ ನೂರು ತಾರೆಗಳ್
ಅರಳಿ ಮಿನುಗುವ ಮುನ್ನವೆ

ಬೆಳ್ಳಿಯೊಂದೆ ಬೆಳಗುವಂದದಿ

ಗಿಡದೊಳೊಂದೇ ಹೂವಿದು


I remember being thrilled to read these lines of poetry as a boy, just as I am now reading them in the copy of his book of poems he gave my father, with his neat writing on the fly leaf

ಆದರದೊಂದಿಗೆ, ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಮಿತ್ರ ......ರಿಗೆ

And most importantly, Madikeri ಮಂಜು hung around,
ತಾಯಿ ಮೊಗೀನ ಎತ್ಕೊಂಡಂಗೆ
ಒಂದಕ್ಕೊಂದು ಆತ್ಕೊಂಡಂಗೆ

ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲೇನೆ ಅಂಗಂಗೇನೆ

ಗಸ್ತಾಕ್ತಿತ್ತು ಮಂಜು



like a pleasant but persistent friend, carefully airbrushing over untidy bushes, filtering sunlight, and generally trying to beautify everything around.


And for once I was right all along, Madikeri ಮಂಜು does have that magical quality.

I realise I have just finished discussing two poets in a single blog.
I still don't like poetry.
I think this says more about the genius of these wonderful people who wrote them and sang them, than me.............