Old Habits Die Hard – et in hoc !

Unless one writes short and crisp, nowadays it is quite uncommon that someone will read it- be it on Facebook or a blog or a book.

Always not because people don’t have time !

We have quite lost our Reading culture as a hobby mostly because we have taken to easier and glittery channels of entertainment, whether or not it is constructive. Trapped in various rat-races, we are more than happy to simply please our worldly senses; we rarely brood on the ‘food for thought’, whether it a write-up, music, dance, painting, theatre or any other form of art.

To add further, you too shall observe and agree that nowadays, an article or a post-on-Facebook which has embedded in it an attractive picture or a short video-clip or catchy phrase-liners, has more chances of being read than one without it. The same tactics is commonly followed in routine journalism and children’s books too.

The concerns run similar to this- when you get a ‘Like’ on such an article in your blog-site or a post-in-Facebook, you don’t really know whether the message in it was appreciated or merely the accompanying colourful picture or video-clip or decorative phrase-liners !! 😦 Sometimes, you can make it out from the comments that follow. Your reply in turn may bother some viewers (I shall not address them as readers ! 🙂 ) who attempt to justify their own jerky opinions since they have not read a single line of your write-up, or it shall leave others unmoved or unembarrassed. The latter group of people seem not to care for anything on Earth, not even in saving their own faces !! 🙂

Such negative trends are not only demotivating factors for a write-up to be well-thought and neatly composed but also aches the heart that values literature and art in all its forms, even if it were not to ever pen down a single composition… Thoughts then appear to quite lose their ‘food’ ! 😦

Very briefly going back to our school days, one definitely remembers this- there used to be a ‘picture composition’. Nowadays, we are more a fan of the reverse of it; that is, where the picture says it all ! Not sure what we call it- a ‘composed picture’ ? 🙂

Well, nothing wrong in that- that is also an all-time great expression of art. But a picture or a video-clip can never convey discrete information or detailed analysis pertaining to the core sections of a subject or topic ! More so, if the subject is a debatable one. Therein comes the necessity for one to be at least a good reader, if not an avid one.

All I mean to highlight is that it would do all of us good if we could go back to our old Reading hobby (at least to some extent), mainly based on the significance of the topics or substance or relevancy therein; and not merely based on pictures or video-clips or colourful, bold phrase-liners. Pictographic representation does not help every time and it may even convey the wrong message at times !!!

Irrespective of age, like writing is a great art, having correct information and gathering vast, good knowledge is a great wealth ! It cannot be accumulated overnight; it has to be done bit by bit. Moreover, only a gradual process of accumulation of such immeasurable wealth is gratifying as we learn about the evolution of the human mind and art over thousands of years. Certain texts that we read may not be at all linked with our profession or even our lifestyle. But we must still learn about it in order to understand mankind or the various facets of the society. And writing is undoubtedly one of the best methods to record our emotional space, spirits and times.

And to keep the process of evolving psyche and the arts in good continuation and truly educate our next-generations, we must inculcate in them this Reading habit or hobby, right in their formative years. As obvious- the earlier it is, the better .

On a lighter note… Look, our fore-fathers started written communication with cave-drawings, the very first pictographic script; and that is still followed in some form in few modern languages and quite preserved across many tribes of the world. Perhaps, this very basic psychological inclination is somehow inherent and therefore, one of the reasons why even a modern day write-up accompanied by “an attractive picture or a short video-clip or colourful, bold phrase-liners” becomes a quick hit affair than one totally devoid of these !!!

Hmmmn, guess…… Old habits die hard – et in hoc !?! 😉 🙂

Aamjunta– what do you say?

 

 

Indian Space Station – Connect, Engage And Ignite The Space Explorers

A guest post by the team Indian Space Station (ISS), a noble initiative for popularizing space science.

ISS

www.indianspacestation.com

Vision

To create a forum of knowledge, discussion and for the dissemination of news and information for the out worldly science of Space.

Mission

The mission of Indian Space Station (ISS) is to provide budding space enthusiasts every possible kind of information and assistance towards furthering their dreams of travel into the stars. At ISS, we strive to strike a balance between the presentation of theoretical and practical aspects of space technologies, between news and opportunities for students and amateurs and between informative and entertaining aspects of space literature.

What we do at ISS?

Some of the important activities of ISS are as follows:

  • To interact with the researcher scholars from across the world to understand their research problems and the proposed solutions at the abstract level. We believe that the space domain is the only field which is truly multidisciplinary which could use solutions from every field to make its technology to advance. These interviews also provide an opportunity to the student/research community to get acquainted with the current state of the art research going on across the world. You could visit here to know the type of research problems that have been captured so far.

  • To interact with the eminent space experts from the industry and the academia around the world and to get their opinion on future of space science, space technology and exploration, etc. In addition, these interviews also serve as a guidance for the student/research community as most of the questions are relevant to them. You could visit here to know the eminent people who have been interviewed on ISS.

  • To keep a track of every major achievement from the student/research community. We bring those people on the ISS platform to talk about their achievements through various articles. These articles serve as a motivation for other people to take up the similar initiatives. Please visit here to know more about it.

  • To conduct workshops/competitions at regular intervals with focus on involving more people in this space revolution rather for a profit. Some of the workshops are CanSat leadership training program, High altitude ballooning competition/training, telescope making, etc. Please visit here to know our current work in this direction.

  • To ignite and inspire the school students as well by conducting events like space related drawing competition, space essay competition, cartoon explaining the various space concepts etc. Please visit here to know our current initiative on this.

  • To provide an opportunity for the students through the intern-ship program. In these intern-ship, they contribute to science education improvement by identifying local talent or issues. In addition, their work is being published in the form of white papers summarizing various information related to space field. Please visit here to know more about it.

  • To provide stipend to the talented and bright for a limited period of time. This is another way to keep them motivated to do better work and research.

  • To review some of the important books related to space domain. The idea here is to let the audience know these great books written by the eminent space experts. You could visit here to know more about it.

  • One of the best medium to see the future technologies is through movies. We do review science movies on a regular basis to identify the technologies shown in them and feasibility of its realization in the coming days. We also talk about the current developments so far related to those technologies. Please visit here to know more.

  • To provide information on the various institutes in India which provides different programs to pursue a career in space domain. You could visit ISS to know more about this.

  • To provide information on available scholarships program across the world for the students to support their education in basic science and space domain. You could visit here to know more about this initiative.

  • To write about the important science and space related workshops happening across the world. In addition, we do provide articles related to career guidance. We also guide the students who contact us through ISS platform. Please visit here to know more about it.

Achievements

  • After working close to 6 years on this initiative, Indian Space Station name is quite familiar among the student community and even with some of the best space experts and scientists from around the world.

  • Indian Space Station name is also quite familiar with the publisher due to their honest review of various science related books.

  • First of a kind BalloonSat competition is being held for the undergraduate and graduate students in India in close collaboration with Antariksha Labs.

  • Successfully conducted an essay competition for the school student to ignite their creativity and imagination.

  • On-going drawing competition for the school students in tribute to Mangalyaan, India’s first Mars mission. The competition is well received by the students and there is a huge response in every month.

  • A new kind of workshop is in progress to give a hands-on experience in designing and launching a model satellite to every student in India.

  • Developed an expertise in high altitude ballooning missions in close collaboration with Antariksha Labs. This service will be offered to interested people.

  • Unique opportunity is being provided to the students to get better exposure to space field through our intern-ship, stipend programs and student ambassador programs.

  • Regular career guidance from ISS team to the students who contact us to know about various opportunities and avenues related to space field.

What next from ISS?

In the next few years, we have plans-

  • To conduct the space workshops in every college in India to motivate and ignite them to work on space related projects which is both exciting and equally challenging. We believe that the student skill set could improve significantly by working in these multi-disciplinary space projects.

  • To develop in-house products related related to small and large scale, small scale propulsion systems, products targeted at the farmers/rural area to make effective use of satellite technology etc. Our ultimate goal is revolutionize the private space industry in India. We have collaborated with Antariksha Labs (www.antarikshalabs.in) to realize this goal.

  • To create a venture capitalist division which will fund the research work privately to the deserving students, faculties and experts. These research will be time-bounded and there will be an accountability. The idea is to generate a pool of patents by utilizing the vast talent available in India.

  • and many more ambitious proposals in pipeline.

Aamjunta – your contribution to this noble initiative will be the game changer in India’s education system and future of young India.

 

Is Universe the Ultimate Free Lunch: Cosmic Inflation to Intellectual Inflation ?

Last week, as I was browsing a news report, an advertisement of a car appeared on the right-hand column. Its caption read ‘space re-defined’ and then it instantly struck me – all the three kinds of news that I had come across by then related to inflation (or some sort of that) banged on my thoughts with a hint of some inter-connection.

Here is the list of those inflations:

Economics inflation.

Cosmic inflation.

And the mysteries of the human mind, its quest, its challenges  and expansion of our thoughts, which I refer here as Intellectual inflation.

Last year, President Barack Obama highlighted innovations as an important factor to boost the American economy and unveiled “the next great American project“- a $100 million enterprise to probe the mysteries of the human brain. At the august gathering of top scientific dignitaries of America, he also affirmed the power of philanthropic science.

I myself now borrowing, scaling up and transforming a few ideas from the above bit of news, hope to present in the forth-coming analysis how this Intellectual inflation, quite expectedly, acts like a window of perception with regard to the other two types.

The first one- I need not elaborate it as everyday, we either personally confront it or see it in the newspapers or hear it on the television. What I need to mention is that the third type, our ever-changing or expanding ideas can further influence those graphs that feature significantly in the internal world of business and commerce. Terms in economics like demand, supply, costs, profit, loss, etc. finally boil down to various human needs and achievements across demographies and are also changeable over time.

Now, let us focus on the second type of inflation which has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years. Before I relate this to the third type, let me first highlight the newly discovered spectacular findings or evidential proofs as a result of the undaunted perseverance of man.

Describing in very simple terms, Cosmic inflation means when the cosmos or the universe, just after the Big Bang, underwent an exponential gush in its first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. According to British scientist Dr Jo Dunkley, it could be when “everything that is important, everything we see today – the galaxies, the stars, the planets – was imprinted at that moment”! Since then, space has continued to expand for nearly 14 billion years and will endlessly continue to blow up here and there (multiverse). Scientists opine that coupled with a few other factors, a phenomenon as this has perhaps also rendered an evenness to the sky.

Researchers from the American BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) team believe they have detected the residual signal (B-mode polarisation) left in the sky by this super-rapid expansion of space or Cosmic inflation. To seek this “smoking gun”, they have been using a telescope (basically a giant superconducting thermometer) at the South Pole to make ideal observations of a small part of the thin, cold and dry sky. This residual signal was observed to have a distinctive twist pattern, now believed to have been caused by gravitational waves. The discovery of this particular polarization of the cosmic microwave radiation was thrilling because it means ‘the light waves had a slight preference to vibrate in one direction rather than another’. These patterned spirals were detected by measuring infinitesimally small differences in the temperature of the microwaves.

So far, so good.

The BICEP2 data does not talk about what this magical-sounding inflating energy is. Einstein’s concept of anti-gravity or dark energy was revived 15 years ago along lines that it is ‘giving a boost to the expansion of the universe, albeit far more gently than inflation did’.

Let us take a look at the four forces of Physics at work in the world today: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But Physicists have long suspected that ‘those are simply different manifestations of a single unified force that ruled the universe in its earliest, hottest moments.’ Since men interpreted these forces, the laws of Physics have evolved and can definitely evolve further whenever or until the cosmos ‘super-cools’.

Though the BICEP2 group’s data is subject to intense peer review, there is an all-high possibility that this new observation may make certain existing theories or models indefensible and set up a completely new regime of Physics or even science.

In the exalted and equally humble words of Prof. Alan Guth, a leading pioneer of the theory of Cosmic inflation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the BBC: “I have been completely astounded. I never believed when we started that anybody would ever measure the non-uniformities of the CMB, let alone the polarisation, which is now what we are seeing…I think it is absolutely amazing that it can be measured and also absolutely amazing that it can agree so well with inflation and also the simplest models of inflation – nature did not have to be so kind and the theory didn’t have to be right.”

Amazed at the enormity and ways of the Cosmic inflation, he further mentions: “It’s often said that there is no such thing as a free lunch,”…”but the universe might be the ultimate free lunch.” 🙂

But scientists do admit that ‘we might never know what happened before inflation, at the very beginning, because inflation erases everything that came before it. All the chaos and randomness of the primordial moment are swept away, forever out of our view.’

And this is perhaps where, in my opinion, the eternal and imperishable Bhagavad Gita would come in as a form of Intellectual inflation to bid defiance, in a way, to the boundaries set by Cosmic inflation.

An article in The New York Times bears this comment regarding the ever-changing state of the cosmos and consequently, the changes in laws of Physics: ‘As the universe cooled, according to this theory (a special break point in the evolution of the universe), there was a fall from grace, not unlike some old folk mythology of gods or brothers falling out with each other. The laws of Physics evolved, with one force after another “freezing out,” or splitting away.’

Now, recall the chapter in Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna bestows the divine eyes to Arjuna and asks him to behold the countless manifestations of the entire cosmos in His majestic, inconceivable, indestructible, expansive, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, all-sustaining, all-pervading and transcendental Form. This Holy text extols – if the glory of thousands of suns were to blaze forth all at once in the sky, even that would not resemble the glory and prowess of that exalted Form – the Adhiyajn or ParBrahma or Ishvar (Super Being or Ultimate Consciousness) from which multifariously emanates the animate, the inanimate, the smaller than the smallest and the bigger than the biggest in these eternal cosmic phenomenon since time immemorial. In other words, it means that the entire cosmos is a manifestation of that Super Being.

Then there is a chapter which deals with the cyclic nature of creation and eternal transcendental existence. In the cyclic creation, one day and one night of the Brahma (Aadi Prakriti or primary material nature of Ishvar), each, lasts one thousand Yugas or one Kalp (4.32 billion years). At the beginning of such a day of the Brahma, all mortal beings are born again and again; and they are annihilated when such a night falls. These beings are said to be under the control of Gunas (Modes) of Prakriti or Maya (Nature). Interestingly, I wonder if these Gunas are those forces (comprehensible by the mortal being) that Physicists have so far deciphered and defined after years of perseverance !!

Only in the transcendental existence, can one rise above Prakriti and attain Param Dhaam or Vaikuntha (Supreme Abode); such beings do not take birth again. Only a steadfast Yogi who is aware of that splendid Form both in his inner psyche (contemplation) as well as in his Karma (actions) and devotionally meditates on the Ishvar, can seek Him and His endless cosmic vision. According to the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita (and even Vedas), seeking the Supreme Guru or Ishvar should be the ultimate aim of a true Seeker of knowledge. This knowledge is the most sacred and is in conformity with Dharma (Righteousness) and can be perceived by instinct gliding on the wings of Faith. Perhaps this Yogic manner of seeking the Ultimate Realization or Truth has been symbolically represented by Lord Krishna’s grant of divine eyes to Arjuna, who knelt in humility and in Faith, and prayed to the Lord to reveal His cosmic phenomenon !

Thus we, the human-beings, see how subtle yet how vast, how deep is the relation between the spiritual inner psyche and an outward urge for rationality. It is indeed amazing to realize how the Bhagavad Gita or the Vedas, composed thousands of years ago, contains so many golden mantras intensively relevant for the entire mankind, even today !!!

Whether metaphysics or science or spiritual beliefs, after all it begins with Faith and humbly continues with man’s unfathomable quest of knowledge. Whatever we do, we must surrender it in all good Faith, as an offering to the Lord who seems to pervade everything in this cosmos. Therein, we behold the beautiful balance of the intellectual and the spiritual worlds, and always a dramatically unfolding picture of the infinite Creation. The day either our Faith or our humility or our quest ends, we as human-beings, shall fall from grace.

Aamjunta – what do you say?

Set Up the Curve of Lips, Early on

Today morning, while chit-chatting with my husband over our morning cup of tea, a thought re-emerged which held out to us a single sharp contrast in two type of writings. And the next twenty minutes saw us discussing further on it which I now desire to express, though the theme can be found oft-repeated in several columns.

Here, we begin…

A major difference between documentary and creative writing is that you can always keep editing, appending the former but you can compose the latter only once !

Also, you need to have references for a documentary work. But a creative one has to flow straight from your heart or imaginations only- so events in your life, your reservoir of good knowledge, mental health, emotional maturity, sometimes your social circle, place of upbringing or living or writing, and both time and timing matter a lot. When I say mental health, it does not necessarily mean composure but nonetheless, your levels of sensibility must always be present to correctly channelize your thoughts !! For example, to write a romantic poem or illustrate a roseate sunset, you shall certainly need to have a serene mood; whereas lines echoing nationalistic fervour or any desperate want of freedom can be still appreciatively composed by you in an agitated frame of mind.

In this context, I am further reminded of Teachers and Parents /Guardians  evaluating compositions of children on various topics. Some certainly do justice to such delicate formative years; they are aware that children need to grasp concepts at this stage and not necessarily do an extra-ordinary job – be it a routine exam or competition. Thus they never drive them hard; they adequately guide them in their pursuit. Especially regarding creative writing, what a child is far from achieving today, he or she may profoundly excel in it tomorrow, provided the passion for it is discovered as well as rightly nurtured at the right time at the right place.

Others unfortunately, simply label marks without using an average standard or without themselves understanding the basic framework of nascent writing. They may unfairly end up grading a child as an under-performer. To make matters worse, sometimes such unweighed high expectations from children may completely ‘kill’ their potentialities like a pre-maturely ripe fruit. We saw something much similar in the very well depicted Indian films Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots. And then, the modern pace of life may not allow enough space or time to everyone for re-adjustments later on !

Therefore, irrespective of the medium of language, education systems must abide by well-balanced methods that are scientifically assessed and set up. It should be process-oriented and not people-oriented.

Now, scaling it up…

Here I go to reiterate the message that we see everywhere- let’s shed the unhealthy bearings wherever possible…and rather encourage children to explore their potentialities or passion- whatever be the field. Together with children, let us patiently and tactfully help them discover their own-selves. The early the curve of their lips is defined or re-defined, the more secured and happy shall be any society. Our aim should be to assist them gather pleasant memories, contentment and happiness from the core-of-the-heart; not dictate their profession or status or salary.

And my experience says- apart from unwinding and having unlimited fun, summer vacations are an excellent opportunity for this introspection and nurturing of hopes borne by passion. Let us utilize it to our best advantage. Who knows, what goodness is stored for entire mankind even…? 🙂

Aamjunta – what do you say?

An Indian Summer with the Bulbuls

A story from Purulia (West Bengal, India) made quite a few headlines last week. A tusker, also known to have killed three people last year, smashed a house into bits and started moving away. Just then it heard the cries of a helpless 10-month-old baby from under the debris. To the crowd’s amazement, it immediately turned back and gently removed every last bit of stone, brick and mortar from the infant’s body before heading back to the forest.

A similar incident was reported from Jalpaiguri (also in West Bengal, India) about six months ago where a herd of elephants carefully removed a little girl from the way before going on a rampage.

Very recently, it has been reported that elephants and dogs too recognize certain voices and languages. On a lighter note, now we know how justified is ‘HMV’ and its logo – His Master’s Voice !! 🙂

Incidents as these that sound straight from India’s Amar Chitra Katha series or Jataka Tales or western Fairy Tales, have been observed all over the world. In about two or three separate articles starting from this particular write-up, I would love to narrate a few remarkable ones from my childhood. These would also constitute my humble attempt in appreciating all Nature-lovers, observers and researchers. And I hope that readers will enjoy this curious side of life where Nature vividly communicates with man in symbolic languages.

Before I begin, I would like to mention that my parents have always ardently hailed Nature. My mother (here addressed as Ma), was not only keen at gardening but also guarded all life-forms in our garden just as she was protective of her own family. And therefore we believed that’s perhaps how she was more well-recognized, completely trusted and sort of much admired by the other occupants of our green ambience.

In this article, I shall focus on one episode based on birds in the district of Mayurbhanj (Odisha, India), where I spent most of my young days, almost 25 years.

The jovial Bulbuls seemed to be eternally present in the green, calm surroundings of the bungalow. Once a pretty young Bulbul-ma (that’s how I used to call the mother-bird) over-estimated her plans of a good nest and the entire fledging process after her cute eggs hatched. Consequently, on a scorching summer day in May,1990 she anxiously fluttered up to Ma who was watering the plants in the patio. She chirped madly and then flew to and fro in the direction of her unsecured nest. Ma lost no time in understanding that she had to rush as per Bulbul-ma‘s directional moves. I tiptoed along on the grassy patches here and there, intermittently starred by some bright seasonal flowers. Bulbul-ma perched on a nascent palm tree planted in a clay pot. Its leaves had quite dwindled away in the heat that was everywhere. The tree barely supported the small nest built for three members. Ma peeped at the centre and her heart sank to see three tiny nestlings struggling to survive the heat, thirst and hunger. Hair on their skin was singed and beneath it was visible the tender skin, slightly reddish. Their beaks were wide open with its pink delicate but almost dry inner linings exposed towards the clear blue sky that was absolutely unpromising of a shower for the next couple of days. They were desperately waiting for Bulbul-ma‘s solace. But she was utterly helpless because she could not have transferred them anywhere at this stage! The well too was far from the pot; so she could not have even managed a small spray on her nest with her wings soaked in the water from any container.

With the gardener’s help, Ma quickly but carefully shifted the pot to a spot in the verandah where shade was almost perpetual and we could monitor them maximally. A polythene sheet was later hung at one side as a double guard against all the remaining rays. Ma found a very innovative way to artificially feed the nestlings- she took a new ink-pen dropper and with it, very smoothly let droplets of water and mango-juice into their mouths. They gulped and gulped…and I was always very excited when Ma delegated this task to me after a simple demonstration. Then she taught me to spray their almost singed bodies with cool water and to often check their nests for enemies- ants and insects. When they grew better, Bulbul-ma would feed them small dead ants and insects. At nightfall, it was the watchman’s turn to guard the nest as well. Ma also regularly gave hand-mashed mango pulp and nuts to Bulbul-ma, who sitting on the same palm tree, would sincerely observe us when we nursed her nestlings. Her expression was like ‘achaa! itna kuch karna parrta hai kya? mujhe nahi malum tha!! (oh! we got to do all these, is it? I didn’t know!!)’ :-).

And Bulbul-ma was somehow acquainted with saree (Ma, grand-ma and domestic helps), dhoti (gardener and grand-father) and casual skirt and top (me). Till date, I wonder why she missed out the formal shirt and trousers (my father)! So initially, when my father went near the palm tree to see this interesting episode, she would scream and again start seeking Ma or me. We explained to her in a language of the homo sapiens that ‘a father’ is the man-of-the-house, someone who would ultimately rescue us all in case there is a danger…that he is Ma’s husband and my father, the little girl’s father. And several times, we took him along with us to the nest so that Bulbul-ma would learn that he is after all a safe visitor :-).

I had just stepped into my teenage. Once, during a mid-day chat with Ma who was my closest friend, she very jokingly remarked ‘perhaps, this Bulbul-ma has not come of age…looks like these eggs are borne out of a pre-matured wedlock’… 🙂 Then in the next few moments, her tone transformed to that of immense appreciation and respect for Bulbul-ma– ‘but one thing my girl, note she hasn’t ditched her eggs…rather she has accepted Nature’s rule in rearing them up, even all alone in this scorching heat’ !! And again she rushed towards their nest to check on them.

The monsoons were nearing when one day, the now hearty fledglings flapped their wings for the first time. Bulbul-ma spent two days in fruitlessly trying to teach them fly. We concluded that they had got used to the comforts in badde-sahaab ke bungalow (big man’s bungalow)- all our family and helps accused Ma and me :-). On the third day, as evening approached, two of them managed to fly out; after hobbling for a few metres, they took to the air smoothly. The last one just didn’t move. It was indeed robust. Ma blamed it on me saying that I over-fed my pet and now its wings could not bear its weight. Bulbul-ma pricked its back with her beak so as to stimulate it. The fledgling merely shrugged off the sensation and continued to stubbornly sit in the nest :-). Then my Ma gently brought it out and placed it on the floor in the verandah. Using her fingers, she prompted the fledgling to follow it and walk. There was no response. Then she slightly stroked her nascent wings and blew some mouth-air over it. We were still surprised how this little fellow was unable to decode natural instincts! Just then, my grand-father happened to sit on a mattress on the floor barely a few metres away from it. Suddenly, the fledgling flapped its wings and flew onto his cosy lap in a manner most unlike of even a distant-cousin of birds :-)! I think it had understood by then that it had to perform under the full glare of spectators and the view of the short distance to be covered at a small altitude helped it muster some strength to fly- ‘bhai, udd le…isse asaan aur chance nahi! (hey,lemme show I can fly…there can’t be an easier chance to do it!)’ :).

Then it again sat there seeming to be very satisfied with its flying skills. I wanted to feed it again with the dropper because I believed it might have got exhausted with its efforts. But Ma stopped me as she seriously wanted it to fly as a natural response to thirst and hunger, and she also empathized with Bulbul-ma in her desperate efforts. Evening was nearing…

In the meanwhile, Bulbul-ma had brought in either Bulbul-baba (the father-bird) or some Bulbul-masi (Bulbul-ma‘s female friend) !! We didn’t try to figure out exactly who it was. We had better tricks of Bulbul-ma to watch. The adult birds had caught hold of a big grasshopper and another insect in their respective beaks and started luring the lazy fledgling towards it. As the latter hobbled after a few minutes, the adult birds continued moving back, maintaining a minimum take-off distance on the runway :-). The trick went on until the fledgling successfully flew towards the trees that the birds had flown to with the insects still held in their beaks.

Even years later, Ma used to recollect this particular trick and was very amused each time. She said ‘wasn’t that so much like human adults who try to lure their kids to desired activities or places by holding out a chocolate or a flashy toy in front of them ?’. Perfectly so.

That lazy fledgling was a female and she continued to be robust. So, we could always identify her as long as we all lived there. I roughly built a nest the following summer at the same spot (to lure my cute lazy fledgling) and I believe she only laid eggs. She turned out to be an intelligent Bulbul-ma and we didn’t have to look after any of her nests. Honestly speaking, I would have loved to bother about all subsequent fledging processes :-).

It was during this phase that I learnt about Dr.Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali, the great Indian ornithologist and naturalist. He is known all over the world for having conducted systematic bird surveys and giving a wonderful fillip to the subject. He is also referred to as the “”bird-man of India” and was conferred the Padma Vibhushan in 1976 . I wonder what a whale of observations and conclusions Dr. Ali must have had in his extra-ordinary pursuit to understand the ways of varieties of birds! The International Jury had rightly honoured him with these lines-

Since the writing of your book, the Book of Indian Birds which in its way was the seminal natural history volume for everyone in India, your name has been the single one known throughout the length and breadth of your own country, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as the father of conservation and the fount of knowledge on birds. Your message has gone high and low across the land and we are sure that weaver birds weave your initials in their nests, and swifts perform parabolas in the sky in your honor.
For your lifelong dedication to the preservation of bird life in the Indian subcontinent and your identification with the Bombay Natural History Society as a force for education, the World Wildlife Fund takes delight in presenting you with the second J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize. February 19, 1976.

More similar articles to follow, if Aamjunta approves… 🙂

The Baffling Flight MH370 !!

First of all, I would like to express my prayers and utmost hope for the passengers and crew…no matter what the situation looks at this hour. Anything is still possible !

Here are some observations that I made based on various news reports and a wild guess- rather say, yet another hope of an aamjunta

According to latest update on the BBC, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief has said that the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 jet remains “a mystery”.

Its more than 48 hours now (in fact almost three days) and no sign of the ‘missing’ plane that was flying well in a fair weather and suddenly fell off the radar- extremely strange and baffling in this age !!

Long oil slicks in the seas – to a layman, that apparently looks like the fuel tank had a massive burst or as experts say, the whole system may have disintegrated in mid-air. In that case, some wreckage can be found somewhere in the seas (on the surface or beneath) or scattered on land mass. Massive efforts are continuously on to locate it thus.

Hijacking or a terror attack on board is also not ruled out because of suspicions arising on the use of at least two fake passports. But as it usually happens in such cases, here no terror group has claimed anything so far !

Stealth technology testing- a very remote possibility !

Another news report mentions ‘flight tracking website flightaware.com showed it flew north-east after take off, climbed to 35,000 ft and was still climbing when it vanished from tracking records‘ – so now comes this wild guess- as a consequence of unprecedented climate changes, did some new gigantic sort of air-funnel or current suck it up and put it up in some trajectory ?!? Then it can surely be traced with the technologies known to us.

Since investigations have yet not found any clue or concrete sightings of the wreckage (neither we should ignore the admitted vast stretch of waters to be searched), I suggest that the scientific world now also starts looking for it in the space above Earth and not just in the seas beneath the flight path ! Without doing all our homework, let’s not merely name it like another Bermuda Triangle- whether myth or fact. After all, man is preparing for a huge leap to Mars !!!

Therefore, at the moment, personally I would call it baffling and not yet ‘missing’ !

Once again, with sincere prayers for the passengers, crew and their families…and best wishes for the investigating agencies.

Aamjunta – what do you say?

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