Friday, January 30, 2009

I've Been Away

I made a quick trip to my hometown to visit my parents and
my mother-in-law. It was short but hectic and I bumped into
many familiar faces. Connecting again with relatives and
people from my past made the trip all the more worth-while.
And somehow the thought about giving time to near and
dear ones turned into a reality. It was on an impulse that
I went, not long after I'd visited my sister in Dec/Jan.

My beautiful hometown called Haflong, was enveloped in a winter
haze. Even the hills, those blue hills that I love so much,
was not visible during my five-day-stay. But one scenic spot,
the Haflong lake, was serene and resplendent in green.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Wildlife Weekend

On Sunday, we headed towards Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary,
some 40 kms away. In this pleasant weather, picnickers are
out in the open making the most of the weather, and off we
went too, for what is hopefully, the first picnic of the
season. The day was hazy and it shows in many of the photos.
Many of the trees were bare as seen in the first photo.

Please click on all images for a better view.

Besides tea and the mighty river Brahmaputra, Assam is also
known as the home of the one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros
unicornis). Although the sanctuary is spread over an an area
of 38.8 square kms, it has the highest concentration of rhinos
as compared to other sanctuaries in the state. With the day
being hazy, I couldn't get a clearer shot and we were told
by the guards not to venture into the grassland. This shot was
taken from the road bordering the park.

The small water bodies in the picture attract several birds.
Birds of the heron family dominated the water whereas the
skies were for migratory birds, mainly Siberian cranes which
flock to warmer climes in winter.

Another view of where the Rhinoceros roam.....

The Spider flowers (Cleome spinosa) were in full bloom. I'd
never seen cleome growing so abundantly in the wild. There
were many butterflies and a few dragonflies near the blooms.

On the edge of this water body too... A prominent feature of the
great wide floodplains of the Brahmaputra valley is a water body
of this type known as "beels". These low-lying depressions are
fed by rain and floodwaters during the monsoon. Rich in aquatic
life, they are a source of food to man and animals. Many villages
in areas near these "beels" depend on them for a constant supply
of fish.

The Peacock Pansy (Junonia almana). This is a stunning butterfly
with the spotted pattern on the wings. This species is native to
India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka.

After lunch we went boating. Took this shot from the boat.
Sunsets cannot be missed...just look at that colour!

As we passed colourful clumps of cleome and flocks of parrots
pecking at wild berries, huge flocks of Siberian cranes came to
roost on these trees. The sunlight was no longer strong and I
could only manage to capture these beautiful creatures sihouetted
against a fading light.

Like I said earlier, these birds dominated the Pobitora skyline.
I'd read about these birds coming here during winter but I'd
never seen them. We had no plans of going to Pobitora. We wanted
to be together somewhere in the great outdoors. Not everybody liked
the first spot and that's how we reached a place so rich in flora
and fauna. Needless to say we all came back happy with how it all went.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blooms At Queensland Amusement Park

With GBBD and floral thoughts still on my mind, I'm
posting photos of more blooms taken in this beautiful
amusement park on the Chennai-Bangalore highway. While
the children freaked out on the rides, I went berserk at
the sight of hundreds of trees, flowering and non-
flowering shrubs, birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
All this, and a water body, spread over an area of 70 acres!

The Orchid Tree (on the left) is popular in the East. So
called because the blooms resemble orchids, the tree can
reach heights of 20-35 ft. The botanical name is Bauhinia
Purpurea. The tree blooms in the winter with the blooming
period lasting till January.

Three different varieties of hibiscus. I simply ignored
the common red ones.

Although I coudn't get good shots of butterflies, this
little dragonfly showed me what camouflage was all about!

Wild grass blooming in white abandon.

A fountain amidst all that verdure.

Late afternoon...the sun turns a brighter shade of orange.

I hope you enjoyed going through these photos. I wish everyone
a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Seeing all the Bloom Day pictures I couldn't resist joining
in. Winter, in many parts of India, is a vibrant splash of
colour. If it's January, chrysanthemums are still at it--
blooming in profusion. An early morning shot has this little
guy staring back at me with no sign of flitting away from
its fragrant, floral bed!

Purple salvia in the mixed bed. Red and peachy ones are
blooming too.

More mums opening up. Good to know that my li'l space won't
be bereft of colour for another three weeks or so. that pristine white!

Prospects of a bright future at the sight of this baby
bottle-gourd and a bloom!

Finally, the view from my kitchen window and this does not
belong to me. My neighbour's yard with all those pretty
flowers...a welcome sight at any time of the day!

If you'd like to join Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day, please
visit Carol at May Dreams Garden.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Nursery In Chennai

Being in a new place the idea of visiting a nursery
was so tempting! We headed off to a place that my
sister often passes by, on the way to her friend's
house. The sight of the adeniums was breath-taking!
There were hundreds of them lining the terrace in
colours to die for! Such subtle variations and so
beautiful too!

Rajendra Kumar the man behind it all! A storehouse of
information on all things botanical. It was a pleasure
meeting him and talking to him. When we got there, he was
busy working in the garden and also dealing with customers
who were buying in bulk. I did buy about seven varieties
but he charged me for only about three of them!! Such a kind
gesture because I'm from the other extreme of the country!

Checking out his site on the web later, I learnt that PLR
Gardens ( that name was on his card) is a formidable presence
in Chennai and in the state of Tamil Nadu.

David admiring some of the plants at the nursery.

As you can see from most of the photos the 'soil' looks
different. It's actually coco-dust, a by-product of the
coir industry. The outermost layer of the coconut is processed
for the extraction of fibre which is used in making rugs,
rope, brushes and upholstery stuffing. Between these fibres
is the corky substance known as Coir pith or Coir dust. This
is fast becoming a hydroponic growing medium. Some of the
advantages of using coco-dust are---
High water-holding capacity
Healthy root growth
Larger roots and blooms
Doesn't smell, is bio-degradable and is easily incorporated
into soil
The idea of using this by-product originated in the Far East
and made its way to the Netherlands and Canada. Some websites
have mentioned cocodust as a replacement (in the US) for
rockwool in hydroponic rose production.

Some of the garden features that I liked. I particularly
like the small but attractive water feature. I did see a
solitary water lily but forgot to take a close shot. New
place, new plants....the mind goes haywire!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back To Blogdom

Hello everyone! Thank you for all your visits and the lovely
messages you left for me! Although I got back a week ago,
several commitments kept me away from blogging but now I'm
here and rarin' to go!! There'll be a few posts on the south
Indian city of Chennai where I'd gone to be with my sister
and her family.

The yellow blooms seen in the photo above seem to be everywhere.
The bright blooms of the Chestnutleaf Trumpetbush (tecoma
castanifolia) greet you from street corners, parks and innume-
rable Chennai homes. I noticed that other prolific bloomers are
the bougainvillea and jasmine.

Waiting for our turn at the Himalayan Water Ride at Queensland
Amusement Park. From left---my sister Molly, her older daughter
Shivani and Suzanne (in red), husband David, and my son, Nishant.

Suzanne turned 10 in December. When her sister Vani turned 13 in
October, the latter had raved about becoming a teenager. Feeling
that one needs to be some kind of an "ager" she announced that
she's a "ten-ager"!

Some terracotta items on display/sale at a roadside. Many of the
objects were very beautiful and reasonably priced.

Vibrant lime-green money plant ouside a house in Anna-Nagar, an
old locality in Chennai. This variety is not common in my state.

Caught the last 2008 sunset with rooftop workers silhouetted
against that vivid orange. So different from my usual sunset

Molly's friend Micky and husband Rupam (not in picture) joined
us one evening. It was great meeting them.

We had a wonderful time in Chennai. We visited several areas,
made a trip to a beautiful place called Pondicherry, savoured
different kinds of sea-food (we're far from the sea here). I'm
glad I somehow managed to leave the house and travel a few
thousand kilometres away to be with family. So many times, other
responsibilities come in between and visits are put off till
tomorrow. And the proverbial tomorrow takes its own sweet time,
or never comes! Children grow so fast but I'm glad that at this
time of their lives they got to spend some days together. And till
we make the next trip, we can look back on this and be thankful
that we did it!!