The migratory season is well underway, first indication was a surprise call of White-browed Wagtail, a local migrant, outside my window about a month back. I am quite lucky to see atleast a dozen species from my window early morning ranging from nesting Brahmini Kites, Red naped Ibis (occasionally Black Headed too, I am yet to see the Glossy this year), Sunbirds, Prinias, Tailorbirds, Bulbuls…so on. On morning walks, these days are, compelling sights of Baya Weavers weaving their nests. There are hundreds of them precariously perched along the irrigational canals and rain soaked green fields. Very meticulously choosing the long stranded grass and zipping back to weave it. And yes the early arrival migrant Common Sandpiper likes to startle me all the while. Exactly two weeks back I spotted Blue tailed Bee eaters, since then have been attempting to click it. Not a success, today though I manage to get White-rumped Munia. First I thought they are Black-throated Munia, the one I used to see quite often on my daily walks in Western Ghats, it is much later I realized that I haven’t clicked them. I realized Black-throats are endemic to high altitudes of Western Ghats, on a closer look confirmed it is White-rumped.
From boodhan to jeevandhan, saving endangered native trees
My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs, wrote Wislawa Syzmborska, my all time favourite poet. It is much interesting to read about people trying to save endangered native trees. I was at the temple town of Melukote to meet Surendra Koulagi, an octogenarian closely associated with dramatis personae of Indian history. He was secretary to Jaiprakash Narayan in late 1950s, those were initial days of JP movement and young Surendra Koulagi had landed in Mumbai (then Bombay) in search of employment and as fate would have he got the job of an assistant at Dr.Dinshah Mehta’s clinic. Those well versed in Indian history will recall Dr.Mehta, who professed nature cure therapy, as the personal physician of Mahatma Gandhi. The correspondence between the two suggest their relation was more than that of just doctor and patient (those who want to follow-up on this may read the book Mahatma Gandhi: The Beloved Patient, compilation of letters between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Dinshah Mehta, edited by Sundari Vaswani). Through Dr. Mehta young Koulagi got personally acquainted to ideas of Gandhian practices. It was while he was employed with Dr.Mehta that JP visited for treatment of some ailment. Mr. Koulagi reminisces “JP began as a communist and turned into a socialist but having observed remarkable success of Vinoba Bhave’s boodhan andholan he realized the importance of Gandhian methods as a way to achieve socialistic goals. JP evolved it further and declared Jeevandhan for the cause of the nation”. This was the critical juncture at which Mr. Koulagi joined JP and became his confidante. This was much before JP movement had caught the imagination of the nation and ensuing emergency period. Carrying the idealistic flame in the cause of service to the nation Mr. Koulagi returned to his hometown Melkote and started Janapada Seva Trust in 1960, inspired by Gandhian ideal of Sarvodaya. Initially he focused on women empowerment later extended to weaker sections; they now have child adoption centre and also a thriving organic farm that supply to Mysore. A weaving centre is also functioning that use natural organic dyes and provide skill training and employment to local community. Finished organic khadi cloth products are sold through retail shops.
Significantly Janapada Seva Trust has also taken the initiative to conserve endangered native trees. Mr.Koulagi explained about importance of native trees and its significance to not only the biodiversity but also to our culture “many a times a tree is centre of folklore, with the vanishing of native tree we lose part of our culture. It is a collective lose to the humanity” he asserts and adds “take for instance Banni maraa (Acacia ferruginea), the leaves of this tree was once distributed among people during diwali as a message of peace and goodwill”. Santhosh Koulagi, son of Surendra Koulagi who now looks after the affairs of the Trust and is eminently known for translating the much acclaimed Masanobu Fukoka’s book One Straw Revolution into Kannada titled Ondu Hullina Kranti, took me to the huge Alale maraa (Terminalia chebula) in the premise and explained the medicinal importance of the tree as cure for digestive ailments. The extract from the nut is also used as a natural dye. The dyes are also produced from extracts of areca nuts, betel nuts, pomegranate, indigo and rust. On the way back I bought a shirt from their retail shop. These cloths are comfortable to wear and look trendy. I request readers of this blog to please encourage cloths made from natural dye by sustainable means. It is our choices that sustain these efforts.
From my scribble pad…
The I in me
The I in me is in constant prowl
sniffing possibilities, calculating the increase.
Whenever an opportunity poses
the I makes a slick deal as me look the other way.
The immediate gain is what keeps its attention.
Shoving others out of the way
and reach early is what keeps it going.
When me extends helping hand to the needy
and volunteer for a cause
the I baulk, raise an eyebrow, twitch the nose,
and firmly stays away.
As me makes pacts with conscience,
express regrets and ask for forgiveness
I keeps a safe distance.
Me is adorable and a constant guide
but it is the I am in love with
and pander to its whims all the while.