Sunday, November 30, 2008


The western sky in the morning. As if spouting steam
from the other end of infinity. The east is usually
shrouded in voluminous cream, as if its had enough
of blue!

Crows fly above the coconut and betel nut trees. More
wispy clouds float on northern skies.

But by afternoon there's no sign of blue. Other colours
take over.

The sun plays peek-a-boo. My west-side neighbours have no
idea that their house has got into my camera frame umpteen
times. There's no way I can get at the setting sun, at least
when I'm at home!

The changes within minutes! These sunset shots were taken
on three different days. Although the location is the same
the colours change so drastically that I can't resist pho-
tographing, and posting.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

All Wings, No Tail!

As the days grow shorter and colder, many winged creatures
have gone into hibernation. But there are some still out
there in full force, namely butterflies. If you remember
some of my older posts, I've whined about not being able
to photograph these beauties with wings wide open...Ah,
seems like that's history now! Ta da!

In my dream did I hear the secret moonlit whispers of the
butterfly fairies Midnight Convention where they decided
Terra Farmer had suffered enough?! And with a magical flutter
of a hundred-splendoured wings and a swish of anthers they've
granted me my wish! Too hazy to recollect now but they're
definitely 'still there' when I click away.

This beauty on my Money Plant (a.k.a. Devil's Ivy) and the Dumb
Cane is the Grey Pansy ( Junonia atlites). The underside is pale
with faint markings. This variety is common near water bodies.

There are many more on the bamboo grove. They're mostly
brown, and rather than being near flowers they seem to
feed on decaying matter.

This one does look like the Common Indian Crow butterfly
(Euploea core). I found out that my home state, Assam, has
over 500 species of butterflies. Although it has only 2.64%
of India's landmass, it has 50% of the butterflies found in
the entire country. Isn't that wonderful? However, there's
very little conservation activity in third world countries
and India too lags behind, here.

Found this swallowtail amidst all the tangle recently. Since
then this area has been cleaned up!

A skipper too! As I was about to click, it suddenly took off.
Just take a look at that proboscis!

Now for some 'beecrobatics'! This one ( not sure about the name)
does not look like my usual dead-bamboo-loving carpenters. But
it has a fat body and loves the iron rod sticking out of my
neighbour's wall.

Dead and dewy--a carpenter bee. I'd seen it trying to clamber
up this planter a day before. A few bees, those who missed the
hibernation bus, and may not have timed their movements right,
were in the backyard, in different stages of dying. They
were so sluggish, they could barely move. Trying to help
them was useless. They simply coud not clamber back into
the bamboo opening even with a little help from me.

Found this lone red flitting about yesterday just as
I was wondering whether they'd all said their goodbyes.

And this little swinger on the coconut fronds was snapped
about a week ago. Just two types seen recently.

Early in the morning, as I was taking dewy shots, I found this
very fuzzy, white moth on the underside of a palm frond. Clever!

We see so many moths around the house. Many of them are pale--
either white or cream with brown splotches. Since the bedroom
floor's almost the same colour as this moth, I quickly placed
it on my phone for the contrast.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing what could well be my last
winged visitors this year. Except for the butterflies...

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Lizard's Tale

I've been busy painting our small gate which leads
to the back of the house. On Friday, after I had
finished off with the first coat, on one side of
the gate, something caught caught my eye. Next to
the gate, on the tomato bed was a tiny lizard so
still I thought it was dead! A closer inspection
revealed that it was alive and splattered with
white paint!

I picked it up and placed it on this rock. Its
left front-leg was stuck to its body. I'd never
held a lizard before but holding it was so soft
and tender that it reminded me of the underside
a dog's paws. As gently as I could I pulled away
the leg. It separated easily and did not seem to
cause the lizard any pain.

I only got one chance to photograph it. I did
wonder about the tail when I picked it up. But
the moment it realised its mobility was back it
took off like greased lightning!

And I felt good that I'd saved a life. End of story,
or that's what I thought!

Little did I know that this sight would greet me the
next day! Stuck to the gate! On fresh paint! With the
severed tail next to it! I hadn't noticed the tail
stuck to the gate...My first thought was--well, babies
will be babies! Did it think it could retrieve its tail?
Why did it come back to the same dangerous place?!

The imprints of the lizard can be seen here. Again as
gently as I could, I removed from the offending paint.
Now there was more paint on its body than before.
Placing it on my palm, I tried to peel away dried
paint, as much as I could. Most of it came off easily
and I assumed that the rest would go with time.

I placed it on this growth of Maidenhair. For a second
or so, it didn't budge. Maybe it was still under the
impression that its mobility was gone forever.

Realisation dawns...and it loses no time in disappearing
into the world it knows so well! That's the last I saw of
the paint-splattered lizard!

After this experience I read up some tail facts on the

Sometimes a lizard might eat their own tail after shedding
it. This is done in order to regain weight from losing the

Some lizards store up to 60% of their body fat in their tail.

Female lizards produce fewer eggs because their body's energy
is used to regrow their tail.

Small lizards may take a month to regrow their tail but bigger
lizards may take up to a year.

The new tail can only be shed above the point where its old tail was lost.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dewy Mornings

November dewdrops
Sit light on petals and leaves.
First signs of winter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coconut(ty) Days!

Some of our coconuts were ready for the picking.
Here they are, fresh off the tree. Many will be
gifted to friends and family but I've kept some
for making all those coconut delicacies!

We've heard about coconut oil but coconut owl?!:)
Tu whit!!

Tu whoo!!!

I fried up some with sugar and added cashew nuts---

and turned them into these coconut-filled sweet snack!

Another the sun blazed an orange trail and a
spider wove sunset dreams on a leafless branch, I
headed back to the kitchen

took some grated coconut, added salt, sliced onions,
chopped green chillies and a generous helping of
coriander leaves and made

these! Glad I was able to photograph them. Soon enough the
dish was empty!! Wiped clean by the three men in my life!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Serenaded By An Autumn Sky

4.20 p.m.

I really didn't think I'd post today. But as I went about
the usual business of watering my plants, the western
horizon started to unveil its symphony of colours...


The softest of hues...the palest of pales....


A swirling concoction of orange...


The faintest tinges trailed towards infinity...


An orange dream fades...


When did the etchings turn to ink?


The stars are out--strips of gossamer clouds still float on a
darkening sky. When you're serenaded by an autumn sky, how
can you NOT post?!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Coral Jasmine

Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.~ Heinrich Heine

One of the most fragrant flowers to bloom in this season is
the Coral Jasmine. It is also known as the Night Jasmine and
the plant is known as The Tree of Sorrow or The Sad Tree. It's
well into the season because the flowering period is from
September to December. In Hindi it's called "Harsinghar". In
Assam it is known as "Sewali".
The flowers bloom at night and by dawn they fall to the ground.
The fragrance that wafts into the surrounding area is heavenly!
In the morning the ground below the tree forms a carpet of white
and orange. As you can see from the photo, the blooms are small
and white with a bright orange tube. These are usually picked up
and used for worship or kept in bowls and platters for the frag-

The botanical name of this tree is Nyctanthes arbor-tristis
which means a night flowering sad tree. Bereft of its blooms
in the morning the tree appears sad!
This is a small tree which can grow upto 4 mtrs. It needs a well
-drained soil and full to partial sun. It needs good sunlight
for profuse flowering. It also bears green fruit capsules
with one or two seeds.The leaves, grey bark and flowers all
have medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, the leaves
are used in the treatment of sciatica, arthritis, fevers,
various painful conditions, liver disorders and as a laxative.

The flowers are believed to keep diabetes under control. The tree's
medicinal properties range from treatment of stomach diseases,
piles, common cough and cold. Apart from these, the leaves are
used for polishing wood (it's abrasive) and cleaning utensils.

For a flower as beautiful and aromatic as this will surely be asso-
ciated with our mythology. It is said that Lord Krisna brought it
from the heavens!
Apart from India, this tree also grows in Indonesia, Thailand,
Nepal and Pakistan. Found in many gardens all over India, it is
also grown in the courtyards of temples. Blooms offered to the
gods are generally not picked up from the ground but with the
coral jasmine, there's an exception. Buddhists also venerate
this "night flowering sad tree".

It's always good to add something bitter to your diet! I made a
simple fish curry with these pretty blooms...