Sunday, October 26, 2014

The best laid plans ...

Just when we don't want a shower, it rains and how! Last week we'd requested BBMP to remove the Salvinia Molesta, growing in front of the slum side. It was prevented from spreading everywhere by the alligator weed, another invasive weed which, thankfully, spreads less profusely than the dreaded Salvinia. The contractor was supposed to begin work soon after Diwali. Yesterday at around 3 p.m., while we were inspecting the Salvinia infested area, it began to rain sending us scampering for cover to the Gazebo. We were joined by a few others and our volunteer teacher, Mr. Ramakrishna Rao shifted the class to the security cabin. His two students are preparing for the 12th board exam and cannot be disturbed on any account. 

The rain continued and our 12 foot long level marker which was a good foot or more above the water, submerged. Within an hour, the Salvinia side too went under water. Now there's just a thin strip of alligator weed acting as a barrier! Our plan to remove the Salvinia manually was well and truly scotched. Perhaps we should revise our plan and get the Salvinia weevil from Trichur! Not for nothing did poet Robert Burns say that the best laid schemes of mice and men/often go awry. 

The photos show how the water level increased after yesterday's shower, post the last major shower on 6th October.


6th Oct 2014

25th Oct 2014

6th Oct 2014

25th Oct 2014

6th Oct 2014

26th Oct 2014 (Pic: Geetha Srikrishnan)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lake update

The birds are definitely less in number this year and it is worrying us a great deal. The lake has clean rain water, level is fairly good, as deep as 12 feet or more at places. The 3000 fingerlings we'd introduced last Sept. have multiplied and can been seen at times especially around noon just below the surface of the water. 

The resident birds, though few, are constantly perching on the different dead trees we'd planted in the lake bed,  From Jan. 2014 many more new species of birds were spotted at various times and yet, the total number has not gone up. Bird experts tell us to be patient. We are trying very, very hard to follow their advice!

Too often in the recent months, the rainfall was just enough to water the plants, but the rain today evening has increased the level considerably. Since it poured while we were present, we had the pleasure of seeing the water gush in from the inlets. This year several of the trees have started maturing and flowering. The latest is the Shisham (Dalbergia Sissoo) in the viewing deck. This is the tree adopted Anjana and her friends by giving to PNLIT the money Anjana would have spent on Dussehra. This Haldi kumkum tree  is flowering profusely. It is a mild fragrance that is attracting a number of bees. Read more about Shisham here.

One dilemma that we faced was with a Champak Tree sapling (Michelia Champaka, Sampige in Kannada)  we'd planted in July. Its new and tender leaves are a favourite of the Tailed Jay caterpillar and the leaves are full of these fat, green creatures! Do we save the tree or let the caterpillar become butterflies? We decided on the latter and left them alone for, after all the tree will sprout new leaves. In any case, this is the way of nature, isn't it? 

Deepavali greetings to all!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bird Watch Update - Black-headed Ibis

The Black-headed Ibis is a common enough bird in India and can be seen in large numbers at Ranganathittu sanctuary. However, it was a first time visitor to the Puttenahalli Lake and was spotted today morning. 

As if escorting it around, was an Egret. The pair made a delightful sight, the Egret all white and the Ibis with its coal black head, neck and legs. For more info see the wikipedia link here

Mr Gopinath Subbarao, a neighbourhood resident, dropped in at the lake after hearing about the new visitor and he caught these beautiful sights of the birds in action. Visit the lake and see if you can spot the Black-headed Ibis yourself!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On the divine and the rain

If Dussehra 2013 was unique for PNLIT with a South City resident replicating Puttenahalli Lake in her Golu, this year it was a lady from Brigade Millennium who took us by surprise. Mrs. Anjana Shivakumar wanted to donate to PNLIT, the money she would otherwise have spent on gifts for her guests invited for Haldi kumkum! 

What better celebration can there be of Mother Nature than by taking care of a lake? Mrs. Shivakumar and her 40 friends chanted Lalitha Sahasarnama invoking the Mother Goddess. When it ended, she announced that she was giving Rs. 5000 to PNLIT towards nurturing the lake. We hope at least some of them (and many of you, readers) would follow her example and donate to the upkeep of the lake. 

To reciprocate her thoughtful, indeed unique, gesture, PNLIT has "gifted" her and her friends with a tree, a Sheesham , more popularly called Indian RosewoodWhat's special about this particular tree is that it was brought from Golden Temple, Amritsar when our fellow trustee Arathi Manay last visited the shrine. It therefore occupies the pride of place in the viewing deck. We are renaming this tree "Haldi kumkum tree" for a year and shall soon put up a board to this effect. 

Haldi kumkum tree (Sheesham)

PNLIT's Dussehra celebration was a small, simple affair confined to one day - Ayudha Puja. Not surprising since we have a whole array of garden equipment and tools!

Ayudha Puja

Every drop of rain that falls sends our hope soaring. How much of it will enter the lake is the first question that comes to our minds. The rain last evening was no different. Today morning we went to the lake to check the level against our own personal markers (a stone sticking out of the water, distance between a dead tree and the edge of water, etc.) At first glance it did indeed seem that the level had gone up considerably from the last such downpour on Sept. 25th. Two of the dead trees we'd planted in the lake bed were now standing in water! The water had not yet circled the base of the island but yes, the two ends had come a little closer. Compared to this time last year, however, the level is far too low! 

After the rain, Oct 6, 2014

After the rain, Oct 8, 2013 (a year ago)

The birds were not many too - only a pair of Spot Billed Ducks, a few Common Coots and the Swamp Hens. Just when we were sighing over the low water level and the few birds, there was a flash of bright green over our heads! Ah ha! A Barbet? Just that sight was enough to elevate our morale. We certainly hope that the divine will shower more rain and send more birds flocking to our lake in the coming months!


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Story telling event - this day, last week

A week has sped by but the story telling event we had on Sept. 6th in collaboration with The Storywallahs is so vivid in our minds as if it took place, well, today.

The day was murky from morning and when it began to rain at around 2 p.m., we were relieved. If it rains now surely it won't during the story telling. We reached the lake well in advance, set out the registration counter and ... it rained. We took the table to the gazebo, wiped it dry and cleaned the seats just as sky cleared and the first of the early birds began to come in from 4 p.m. 

The programme began promptly AND with a full house. Kids, kids, kids everywhere but where were the story tellers? The children lined up and we set out to locate Nupur Aggarwal and Parvathi Om. The search was quick and the children "pulled" them out of the lake. Like Pied Pipers, Nupur and Parvathi led the kids to the Gazebo singing and coaxing the reluctant ones to sing along. 

The children sat on the floor of the Gazebo, parents on the benches, others stood outside but all eyes were on the dynamic duo, Nupur and Parvathi. Then began the best part of such events - seeing the story tellers and listeners get swept into the narrative. The artists were in full form. The kids didn't look here or there.

Suddenly a child burst into loud tears. He was so caught up with the action that he had bit his thumb a too hard! We swooped him away to our "office" to administer first aid. 

It was a small cut by the base of the nail but it was enough for a drop of blood and bigger drops of tears! We pacified him but his cries grew louder. He managed to blurt out why - he wanted to find out what happened to the Generous Crow!

The next story was a Punjabi folktale, Kaka and Munni. Kaka was also a crow but such a wicked fellow! He was out to steal Munni, the sparrow's eggs. Tension mounted in the kids and it seemed as if they held their breath even as their eyes grew wider.

The story telling event was turning out to be exactly how we wanted - transporting the children into a world of imagination. It was time for the next segment - paper craft. All was well ... or so we thought forgetting the biggest child of all - Rain God! He decided that it was time to make an appearance and how! 

We tied a tarpaulin between two pillars. The story tellers didn't stop, the children moved closer to them. Parents sitting on the benches got up and stood behind the kids, shielding them. Adults standing outside opened their umbrellas and blocked the rain further. It was magical, truly heart warming sight. No wonder it feels as if it happened just moments ago!

One of the parents, Mithun Prabhu took "126 photos, which i finally cut down to 81 as couldn't cut it down further seeing innocent cute little ones photos and some of their enthusiastic parents."  

You can see more photos here and here.

If you want any of these photographs please email Mithun <> / Nupur Aggarwal <>. 

Thanks to The Storywallahs who make learning so much fun through storytelling. 
You are welcome to send yours or your child's comments to Nupur and to us