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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Butterflies

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A butterfly is an insect of the taxonomic order Lepidoptera. It is remarkable for its unusual life cycle comprising different stages like larval caterpillar stage, pupal stage and metamorphosis. The caterpillar stage is motile where as pupal stage is inactive. The metamorphosis is a spectacular stage of the life cycle of a butterfly as it produces a familiar, colourful and winged adult.

There are three types of butterflies – True Butterflies that belong to the Superfamily Papilioidea, the Skippers that belong to the Superfamily Hesperioidea, and the Moth Butterflies that belong to the Superfamily Hedyloidea. Most of the true butterflies are day flyers, and so they can draw our regular attention. Their brightly coloured wings form such a diverse pattern that in spite of their erratic but graceful flight, people develop a hobby of watching them.

VISION, HEARING AND SENSE OF COLOUR
Butterflies have well developed vision. Many species are even sensitive to the ultraviolet spectrum. Many of them show sexual dimorphism in the pattern of ultraviolet reflective patches.Some researchers have reported that some species of butterflies have organs of hearing and some species are still known to produce clicking sounds.Butterflies have well developed sense of colour. Due to this they remain cleaverer enough in selecting places where they alight. They try to hide themselves in the background by expanding their wings and if disturbed once, they try to remain on the same place again and again.

TERRITORIAL BEHAVIOUR AND MIGRATION
Some butterflies maintain territories. They chase butterflies of other species very actively. They bask on chosen perches usually during cool morning hours, and observe individuals that try to intrude their territories.They chase individuals that may stray into their territories.

Many butterflies such as Monarch Butterflies are capable of long distance flights. They migrate during the day and use the sun to orient themselves. They also perceive polarised light and use it for orientation when the sun is hidden.

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF BUTTERFLIES
Butterflies are important economically as agents of pollination. They form an important link of the ecosystem of the locality in which they live.However, some butterflies are pests as they can damage domestic crops and trees in their larval stage.

FOOD HABIT AND PERCHING BEHAVIOUR
Butterflies primarily feed on nectar of flowers which they suck in liquid state.They obtain glucose from the nectar and derive energy they need for their active life.They, however, need minerals like sodium for their reproduction. Due to this fact, they sometimes derive nourishment from tree sap, rotting fruits, dung, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt.This may be the potential reason why a butterfly can be seen on a railway platform that can provide them many of such opportunities.

Butterflies usually sip water from damp patches. Some butterflies need more sodium during their reproductive stages. That is why they some times land on people attracted by their sweat that contains sodium. Some butterflies usually visit dung, rotting fruits, or carcasses to obtain minerals and other nutrients.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Butterflies have scales that act as tiny solar collectors. This knowledge has led scientists in China and Japan to design a more efficient Solar Cell that could be used for powering homes, business and for other applications in future.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Butterfly at the Railway Platform

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The title - A Butterfly on the Railway Platform, may initiate a variety of thoughts in a reader’s mind. For one instance, you may think that the matter may relate to the presence of a team of the voluntary organization working with the street children or the child labor in Delhi since 1989. If you think so after reading this title, it is sure for me that you are a responsible citizen who devotes some thought to the cause of the Rights of Children.

Yes, the voluntary organization “Butterflies” is committed within its mandate to work towards solidarity among NGOs, government and all the civil society organizations for addressing the concern of children.

You may be thinking that a team of the NGO might have gone to some railway junction and have tried to conduct a programme for working or begging children … and the story may go further telling all about the same. It is not. However, let me say that I have not yet seen any organization helping a child begging at a railway platform, or stretching his small hand with palm open before passengers, and asking for money after sweeping the floor of the compartment. Sorry, the title of this story is going to relate to the actual butterfly, an insect, taxonomically belonging to the order Lepidoptera that once visited the platform number one of the Ranchi Railway Junction.

One day we (me and my wife) had gone to the railway station with my son to see him off for Lucknow.Luckily; we had not to face traffic jams, and reached the junction in time. The train was late as we expected to know there, and we had to pass time with our own efforts. After asking a number of questions one by one to the boy, and after getting satisfactory answers, my wife preached something in his ear as most of the mothers do on similar occasions- always try to take breakfast, lunch and dinner in time; don’t forget to carry the lunch box to the college; and yes, don’t forget to take bath regularly; and always do a short prayer before going out for college.

After concluding the session she suddenly turned and went straight to the cold drink shop and bought a bottle of packaged chilled water.

‘Keep it. You may feel thirsty in the way. And yes, never drink water from any other source, or you may fall ill. Pure and uncontaminated water is hard to find these days. I have kept ‘alu paratha’ in your Tiffin box and eat properly before you sleep” talks did not know an end.

The boy took my mobile phone from my hand and started playing with its buttons. He took some pics of us, especially of his mother who was in a multicolor sari with yellow background. I took the cell from him, focused on them and snapped a nice photograph. Soon, a big yellow butterfly alighted on my wife’s sari and remained there with its wings fully expanded on the cloth, as if it did not want to go at all. My wife with her eyes filled with tears and dipped in the ocean of sorrow as her son was about to depart for a few months, could not feel the incident. But both of us spotted the beautiful insect, soon after it alighted on the cloth. My son took the mobile from me, carefully focused its lens, and took a nice photograph capturing the insect in the image. The same is still with us.

Soon the train shook.

“Go and take your seat. The train has started to move. Yes, call me when you reach there. Take care.”

The boy went to his seat first and came near the window so as to capture the last glimpse of his mother with a stream running out of her eyes. The train took speed and all the compartments passed before our eyes one by one. We remained standing there as if our feet had lost the sense of movement. The boy was waving his hand from the window and the mother was seeing his son going away from him.

When we arrived home, the phone rang. “Dad, please mail the photograph of the butterfly to me. The train has stopped for some time due to any reason, but don’t worry. I will call on reaching there. Just, don’t forget to mail the photograph.”
My wife snatched the phone from me and a session of preaching started as all the mothers do to their children studying somewhere away from them.

A Viable experiment of Jhoom cultivation by Angami Tribes of Nagaland

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So far, we are well acquainted that the leguminous plants are able to fix nitrogen of the atmosphere as they host Nitrogen Fixing bacteria called as Rhizobium in their root nodules. Have you ever heard of a non- leguminous tree that possesses nitrogen fixing bacteria in it its root nodules? The first strange thing that comes to our way is that even a non- leguminous plant can have nodules on its roots; and the second strange thing is the act of Nitrogen Fixation by such a plant or tree.

Well, it is true. There is a tree called as Alder i.e. Alnus nepalensis, which extensively grows in Himalayas and that it is a non- leguminous tree, and that it contains root nodules that host nitrogen fixing bacteria. The Angami, Chakhasang, Chang, Yimchounger, and Konyak tribes of Nagaland identified the property of alder tree many- many years ago and started planting it in their Jhoom- Cultivation plots.

Since it had been very difficult for slope dwelling tribal farmers of Nagaland to leave their traditional system of cultivation, they remained trying to stabilize it at lower cycles and to make it environment friendly. The tribal people living in Knononome or the Khonoma village finally succeeded in finding out a viable solution. They learnt the nitrogen fixing property of the alder tree. They started growing crops of maize, millets, potatoes, chilies, pumpkins and barley etc. by enhancing soil fertility by planting alder trees in their Jhoom plots. Alder grows well in the altitude ranging from 800 to 3000m.Besides improving soil fertility for growing crops, alder tree also supplies timber, furniture and fuel wood.

The alder tree is chopped or pollarded within a period of 6 to 8 years after which the trunk sprouts into new and delicate shoots that are called as coppices. After proper pollarding, one alder tree is capable of giving birth to 100 to 200 coppices but only five to six coppices are left for regeneration. Rest of the coppices are cut and mixed into the soil along with their leaves that forms very good manure for the soil and future crop. The cultivation of crops is done after chopping the alder tree till the new branches come out and develop good coppices within a period of two to three years. After that, a new plot with alder trees is selected for cultivation. Thus the trend set by the people of tribal villages, especially the Angamis who are masters of cutting excellent terraces, shows that traditional systems are extremely important even in the current age of science and technology. The Ecological rationality of traditional practices still remains valid in the present context. Here one point needs special reference

One of the prime goals of the alder plantation project in Nagaland, is to bring women into the process of Agricultural decision making while augmenting their traditional roles as farm labourers.Now, Angami women in Khonoma are preparing their own nurseries of alder saplings. Afterwards, the Nagaland Environmental Protection and Economic Development (NEPED) project was started for the development of this type of farming using alder trees by the assistance of the Canadian International Development Agency through the Indian Canada Environment Facility.

ETHNIC TREASURE

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The term ethnic relates to a particular social group which has the tradition and culture of its own. The famous sociologist Max Weber has defined the term as - hose human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists.


In the context of environment and herbology, the ethnicity has been playing various types of important roles. The traditions and cultures of different ethnic groups are full of sacred sense of protection of flora, fauna, and the biodiversity on the whole. Various components of the natural environment like plants, trees, animals including birds, and even the earth, the sun, the wind etc. are worshiped or regarded as sacred by different ethnic groups. Hindus of Bihar and Jharkhand are famous to celebrate Surya Shashti or the CHHATH, which is the worship of the Sun God. The festival has spread to various other states also. The cleanliness or the personal and community hygiene strictly cared and practiced during the festival- session has an excellent scientific base. The treatment of body by sun-rays during morning and evening hours, that too while the worshiper remains half dipped in water, has powerful healing impacts which are acceptable to even a minor literate person. A number of offerings that are used during the festival have impacts and significance of their own. So this was one example of the ethnic approach to environment. There are thousands and thousands of ethnic practices that have profound impact on the concept of conservation of the natural environment on the whole. A number of plants having significant medicinal values are known to different ethnic groups, and that are yet to be explored out by the scientific community of the world. But increasing pressure on land, increasing activities of habitat destruction, hunting and poaching of wild animals, extinction of various species of aquatic plants and animals; and also of different terrestrial animals has created persistent dangers against different ethnic cultures and traditions. A number of incidents of public opposition against habitat destruction, tree-felling, hunting and poaching etc. are freshly known to the history. Here we will continue to introduce various ethnic treasures in view of enhancing awareness of environment and its valuable resources that have been under protection by different ethnic groups through various traditions, cultures, religions etc.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Strange Visitor

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We have been living on rent in the ground floor of a double storied building for about six months. Earlier, we had been living in the back part of a house with our lovely dog, Jerry – a stray dog adopted by my son. But it was due to hatred of the house owner, his family disputes or our fortunes that one day he had asked us to leave the house. The owner of the new house we are living in now lives with his wife in the first floor. The house-lady (as I may call her here), a retired IAS officer’s daughter and a housewife, is a disciplinarian with a tight pattern of behavior. She likes ornamental plants but hates animals and birds. She hates the sight of even countable grains of rice or wheat scattered on the floor due to some or the other reason. She hates to see grains on the floor because grains invite birds.On the other hand, we all in the family tend to scatter grains in side and peaceful areas of the campus to invite house sparrows at least, if not bigger birds like pigeons and mynas. My wife says – frequent visits and chirping of birds in a campus brings happiness and vitality to the family living in the house. So we use to scatter grains on flower beds and undersides of bushes whenever we know that none of the couple is at home.

One month after our arrival in this new rented flat, and after we arranged our belongings in the house, strange incidents started happening in the surrounding one by one. First, we had to get rid of the four feet high Jatropha plant that was planted by my son one year ago, and being landless we could not plant it firmly in the ground to keep alive before our eyes , my son’s beloved plant and to see the same growing into a tree. Thus the second, the third and many more incidents followed in queue.

One day the milk man bringing milk to the house owner, left the gate open and a goat that used to rest in the shadow of the gate entered into the campus with her four children and ate away all the leaves of plants standing happily near the gate. The goat family ate away the leaves of the religious Shami plant we have planted in a pot, and even chewed its twigs also.In the evening, when the house lady stepped down to visit plants on her usual round, she was stunned to see plants nearby the gate standing sadly without single leaf. She started making lots of noise and scolding the air – “I have already warned many times that anyone who lives on the ground floor has his sacred responsibility to see that the gate is shut all the time. See, what happened to these plants. It takes time and efforts in raising plants to see them bloom”.

My wife, who remains scared of her voice, came out and told her to the best of her knowledge and belief that the milk man had left the gate opened. Things settled somehow within half an hour after a lecture session on the art of living a good life. In this way, some of the strange problems came one by one and we could solve all of them with all our humbleness and courtesy. But this was not the end.


One day, to the pleasure of our children, a white cat visited our house and met my elder daughter at the back gate. Gazing right into her eyes she mewed something that was soon translated by her as – “May I come in Miss.?” She announced the good news and the translated version of the cat’s voice loudly so that it may be heard by everyone present in the house. Nearly everyone rushed to the spot to see the visitor. But someone of us performed in such a way that the cat became sad and it turned back slowly. She jumped up the boundary wall and again jumped down to visit some other house. Disagreed with the translation done earlier, my younger daughter said, “Cats don’t know about any sense like Miss., Mr., Madam, or Sir. But it was good that she took permission as you say.“And, if there is no one to request for permission, she can speedily run into the kitchen and steal all the milk we have…” remarked my son.
Days passed on and on when one day my daughter brought news and read it loudly – The cat in our house has given birth to three lovely kittens.

Every one rushed to see the new born babies but no one dared to go closer as the mother cat was there. Some photographs were taken by the mobile phone camera of 3.2 megapixels of which I am a proud owner. The cat and the kittens could no longer remain protected against the eyes of the house lady. She ordered her gardener to remove the problem as soon as he could. The gardener chased the cat but kittens managed to hide themselves in the places left among the closely placed flower pots and did not come out for a very long time. Now, every one except my family was sure that the cat family had moved out. At night around 8 P. M. my daughter came to me and whispered into my ear – “the cat with its all the kitten is sitting under the shade. She has brought a big field rat for their children.”
We had to attend a series of marriages in our native state and so we had to go soon. We all moved after closing all the doors and windows within two days of the incident. After taking part in the social commitments, we all came back after twenty days. On the next day of our arrival the house lady stepped down to see us. Soon after some formal talks, she burst out –“Has anyone of you seen the cat family since you people arrived here?”

“No, not at all” – I replied.

“I do perfect whatever I do”.

“You are right Ma’m”- said my younger daughter.

“Soon after you people departed for there, I employed two tough and clever boys to eradicate the problem. They worked hard the whole day and drove away the cat. They caught the entire three kittens in a jute sac and ...” Continued the lady when my elder daughter interrupted – Did they kill the kittens?

“No, no. They carried them up to a very long distance of about ten to fifteen kilometers and left them there. Now they may be disturbing some other family. What of that, we have got rid of the menace” the lady concluded.None of us could think or speak a word about the act of bravery the lady had managed earlier.

“What might have happened to the poor kittens? They were not so clever or strong enough, to protect themselves from dogs. I guess that the boys might have killed them by suffocating them inside the sac. God should have saved the poor things. What wrong were they doing to the lady? I myself could wash their latrines on the doormats. See what I have done so far”, said my elder daughter. She showed two doormats and one bed cover she had cleaned earlier without informing us about it.

Two days passed in sorrow. On the third day, when my elder daughter was sitting in the backyard, the cat appeared and sat close to her. It looked very sad. As the girl was studying something, she could not see the cat. But, when she stood up and turned up for something she saw it. The cat mewed something thrice in the lowest pitch, waited for some time and went away slowly. Some hours passed. In the evening when I was getting ready to go for a walk, my elder daughter almost rushed to me and whispered loudly into my ear – The cat came to me, asked me if she could bring her kittens, I nodded in affirmation, and see … she is now here with all her children.” She was nearly jumping with joy.

“But how could you understand that the cat was asking you if she could bring her kittens here?” – said my younger daughter.“Translation”- she replied.

Coral Reefs and the Great Barrier Reef

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In seas and oceans, there exist many waves -resistant walls of lime stone. These walls are called as Coral Reefs. Who makes coral reefs? Well, a big team of coral polyps…. But what are coral polyps? Coral Polyps are solitary or colonial marine animals with soft and sac like bodies. These tiny animals secrete Aragonite, a type of lime stone which accumulates to form high ridges called as reefs. Thus we can define a coral reef as - massive wave- resistant walls of corals built by coral polyps in oceans. In some areas of an ocean, coral reefs grow high enough to take the shape of a barrier in the ocean. The example of such an oceanic barrier is the Great Barrier Reef, which can be seen even from the space. It stretches itself 1,200 miles off of the east of Queensland; Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest marine preserve in the world. It harbors about 500 species of beautifully coloured corals; 4000 kinds of shell fish, and 1,500 types of other fish species; besides vast varieties of algae and millions of varieties of consumers.

Coral reefs provide shelter to specific algae that live inside them in mutually beneficial relationship called as symbiosis. Besides algae, varieties of colorful fishes also receive shelter in coral reefs. These reefs are so rich in animals that these are called as "rain forests of the sea". A number of sea-slugs, sea- anemones, sea- urchins, worms, parrot fish, angel fish, damselfish, and butterfly fish, and star fishes move around coral reefs and often take shelter in them. Thus coral reefs support an extraordinary biodiversity. Different colours of coral reefs are due to different colours of algae living in them. Now, what are algae? Algae is a plural of alga which means – variously coloured delicate plants found in water, having no distinction of true roots, stems, leaves etc.

The famous English poet Jein Morris has composed a beautiful poem about coral reef a few lines of which are –


"Cradle to Myriads of species
Millennia to create
Moments to destroy…"

The famous conservationist of the world Rachel Carson has written –
"There has long been a belief that sea, at least, was inviolate, beyond man's ability to change and to
despoil. But this belief, unfortunately, has proved to be naïve".

Both of these writings and many more by the world famous conservationists show that the treasure of our oceans – the coral reefs are in danger now. Here are some important facts about coral reefs –

(i). 10 percent of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed completely.
(ii). Over 70 percent of the coral reefs have been destroyed in Philippines alone.

There are two broad reasons behind the destruction of coral reefs- direct human activities and indirect human activities. The direct human activities that destroy coral reefs include- dynamite fishing which is the act of blowing up a coral reef with explosives and then catching all the stunned fish swimming around. The dynamite fishing destroys not only the coral reefs; it kills the coral polyps also that make the coral reefs.Indirect human activities that cause destruction of coral reefs include activities of land development, pollutions of land and water, destruction of mangrove vegetation, soil erosion along river- banks, global warming due to increasing concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere,, extensive fish catch by way of using sodium cyanides, and ocean acidification by increasing carbon dioxide in oceans. The increasing absorption of carbon dioxide in the oceanic water forms carbonic acid which tends to dissolve the
materials of coral reefs.

Vanishing Field Sparrows

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Sparrows signify life and wellbeing. Some people believe so, and like that beautiful birds should visit their homes. Others do not think so. Why they don't like birds, I can't say. But I see people hunting and killing birds.Days have gone when field sparrows used to enjoy in the fields. While these tiny creatures were occupied in searching food in the crop fields, a group of people were occupied in developing technologies for hunting and killing them, and for earning money byselling them in markets. Finally, the technology for capturing them was developed and the first flock was vanished on the first day in the early morning of which day and of which year is recorded by god himself. I have seen how these innocent birds are caught cunningly and killedmercilessly. Is there a merciful killing? Killing that too with mercy?? Who has assembled these two words together???

The heads of the poor birds are dipped into water to suffocate the birds to death. Can you bear suffocation for few minutes? Those suffering from asthma search their inhalers restlessly, and are pleased when they search it out. Suffocation is crueler than death. Thus the poor birds die many deaths before their actual deaths. And, after death starts the work of extracting out their meat by rubbing their dead bodies and removing their skin. Very costly their meat sells in themarkets. And those who buy it believe that the meat brings warmth and masculinity.

Masculinity is that which only important achievement in life is. The poor field sparrows offer masculinity to such people by sacrificing their lives for them. Since sparrow eaters believe that it is true for them. But the taste of tongue is also something that matters. And if someone kills birds just for the taste of his tongue, sounds unjust and awkward. And even the most unjust and
cruel people don't want to be called so.

Now, field sparrows are hard to find in the fields . Jerry, my son's pet dog, whom I never kept in chains, used to play with sparrows and lizards. I have never seen him killing even an insect.A street dog in the childhood could collect our sympathies and occupied a prime place in my family. Now he is living happily and proudly, though away from me, as I became unable to offer him maximum care and respect he deserved, at some point of my life. I don't know and Icannot even guess whether killers of innocent creatures of god, can ever remain happy and proud. Poor field sparrows used to control insects that damaged our crops. But since powerful pesticides are there in the markets, who can take the risk of trusting birds. Those peoplehave different philosophy of life- yes, the philosophy of eating field sparrows and allowing pesticides to eat them. Best of luck. I cannot dare to attempt to change the philosophies of lives of such great people bubbling with masculinity on the cost of field sparrows, the innocent creatures of God.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Encroachers

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While moving along roads and streets, I often see varieties of plants – sprouting, developing and struggling under life- threatening conditions. Besides plants of wild varieties; tomatoes, chilies, amaranths and sometimes watermelons are also seen growing in extremely dry conditions- along roadsides, near pavements, on broken cement plasters, and in weathering plasters between rows of bricks of some old walls.Peepal (Ficus religiosa) and Banyan(Ficus benghalensis)have their unique stands on walls and floors. On walls, these grow upwards parallel to the wall with leaves properly stretched to receive maximum sunshine.If uncared by humans and cattle, the small plants in adverse conditions, mostly grow and develop to reach to their flowering and fruiting stages and to complete their cycle of life. On the other hand Peepal and Banyan trees with longer life spawn grow and grow to attain peculiarly huge shape if left undisturbed by humans and cattle. The periodic flowering and fruiting stages come and go but the tough survivors remain firm once where they take birth. Their roots move in untiring search of moisture and nutrients through their whole lives. But, for me their survival, growth and development is always a mystery. How do these plants grow at a place where there is no trace of water and nutrients? … But, if there is life there must be conditions supportive to survival, though I may not be able to understand properly. If the availabilities of life supporting conditions in such habitats are beyond my imagination, there may surely be the skills and capabilities, or the energy behind adaptation, or the instinct for preservation of these plants to derive life out of non-living conditions and to live there for long.

The lives of plants referred above, put great challenges before powerful and rich human beings who demand luxuries and comforts for their survival. These plants explain the life processes of the poor who are spotted living here and there – along rail tracks, railway platforms, under bridges, near historical monuments, in abandoned railway constructions etc. as encroachers.The encroachers are never liked by so called civilized human beings and by the governments also. The small plants that grow wildly in the hard conditions teach the lessons of existence through their short life spans where as plants like Peepal and Banyan show how one can survive facing extreme challenges and life threatening conditions. The poor perhaps understand the language of these plants and live accordingly. This is probably because all of them develop from the same stock. What the lesson they teach through their lives has nothing to matter as all of these are encroachers, deserving lots of hatred, negligence and anger.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Gulmohur Tree






I am not going to review the Aamer Hussein’s novel wherein Usman feeds a little hungry frog sitting under a Gulmohur tree, nor am I going to talk about some Hindi film song similar to that of the film entitled Devta – Gulmohur ‘gar tumhara nam hota …I am also not going to comment on the ‘Gulmohur Park Protest’ of February 23, 2009 happened in New Delhi against the allotment one thousand sq. meters of land in the Gulmohur Park Colony( not really a Gulmohur Park) to run a dance school.

There are a number of films entitled Gulmohur in different Indian languages like Tamil and Marathi. There are a number of institutions and companies too bearing this name. I am not going to talk about them also. Here, I am not at all concerned with the National Flower of St. Kitts, Nevia or the Official Tree of Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or the City Tree of Tainan in Taiwan.

“Then what are you going to talk about?”… You say. Well, I am going to talk about a tree waiting to be cut down for the sake of opening the fifteenth gate of a Stadium, or for the sake of urban development.Rather, I am going to tell about the sad but similar story of a number of trees known botanically as Delonix regia of the family Caesalpiniaceae. These trees are known in the world as Flame Trees, or the Royal Poincianas. In India Bengalis call it Krishnachura and Kannad people call it as Kmpuforai. Now here is the story-

Long , long ago( about twenty five years back, a period of twenty five years passed through my life like a long century, and I fear some more one or two such centuries - considering the average life expectancy of a man, may not pass through my life to enforce me see individuals of the species I belong to, doing the same as they often do), there were about a hundred plants, standing here and there or assembled in patches in the historic Morabadi Ground of Ranchi – standing as witnesses to the brutal rape of the ground by circus- companies, political parties, business melas etc. that used to leave a number of pits and pots, mounds and ditches, plastic pamphlets and banners, husks and fruit skins and lots of filth on its body – almost irreparable. About fifty out of those plants were of Gulmohur. 

I used to see those plants during my morning walk when my son filled with a number of questions used to gaze towards them, and towards the pits and pots, plastic banners and pamphlets, dung of circus elephants, garbage blowing in the air, and lots of filth scattered around. Some of the questions that came out, in spite of great resistance and struggle inside used to be – What is the name of this plant, Dad? Why do those people not repair the ground before leaving it? Who allows circus companies to stay here so long and to damage the ground? Why don’t they leave after repairing? Why do political parties scatter all the garbage in the ground during their rallies, and move away before cleaning it? One day I told him that more shady plants of them were called Gulmohur and out of others- some were natives while others were exotic. The Gulmohur plants grow into beautiful shady trees and attract all persons and creatures when they remain in full bloom during the months of May and June. Some good people have planted these a few years back. …

I watched those trees growing during every morning and evening when I passed through the ground while going on and coming back. Those plants grew into adults within years and their flowers started organizing seminars of insects that attracted every eye. A good I.A.S. Officer, a forest secretary in a good mood had once started massive tree plantation during his tenure and those plants too had grown up into smart and tough adults to accompany the majestic Gulmohur trees.

A vast ground bordered by beautiful blooming trees started attracting mafias and developers, as still it is , in the newly formed state capital of the newly formed state of Jharkhand. But the persistent fear created by the crowd of morning walkers during each morning and evening hours, did not allow them to think ahead.


 Mafias are blamed to grab land or a forest under the umbrella of government officers, but when the government itself needs something, it has a number of genuine reasons to grab a land or a forest in the name of development. And… to misfortunes of the lovely trees, the government planned to construct a very big football stadium in the ground and the work started to continue day and night. Local children assembled to see big machines and bulldozers deployed at the site by engineers.

Yes, the work continued round the clock for two short years cutting the Gulmohar trees one by one. Trees that stood within the boundary were cut within the shortest time and no one could see even their dead bodies. But those who happened to be lucky enough to stand beyond the boundary started feeling that they had some more days to live and stand in the historic ground.

Now gradually it started appearing that the stadium had a number of gates – about fifteen, and each one of the gates happened to open before one, two or even more of the Gulmohar trees in full bloom. Who can tolerate a tree standing just in front of his gate? Laborers started opening frames of gates one by one and each day cleared at least one gate killing at least one tree. The other day killed another Gulmohar tree and opening of gate and cutting of trees continued. The fifteenth of the Gulmohar trees had more life to live. Just try to imagine its agony… As if a killer with sharpest knife in his hand has started talking with someone and thus has suspended the killing, only God knows how long ? The life which is sure to be ended is standing on its turn. 

See for yourself in the picture. I could not monitor the ground and its trees for about some days as I remained in bed due to irregular heartbeats followed by a number of other ailments. One day I felt better in the morning and prepared to join my duties. As I entered into the ground my eyes caught scene of the fifteenth gate. I could not see the majestic but unfortunate Gulmohar, that was standing waiting its death. Thus another Gulmohar tree disappeared. I thanked God, as I could neither see the dead body, nor could I see the ugly face of the killer. Many more trees in the ground are still waiting for their turn.

Key Words : Gulmohar, stadium, gate, historic

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The desire of being photographed

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One of my office clerks needed once to take a home loan and requested me to become his guarantor. I agreed and no sooner than I agreed she asked me to bring a number of documents on the next day, and one of those was – three copies of my recent photographs. No other but this – photograph, put me into great trouble. I said, “Sorry, I don’t have a single copy of my photograph.
You see I am quite grown up now, or you can say I am too old to have any desire of being photographed. Neither have I passed through any condition demanding a photograph from me. My department too, is not in a mood to ask for a photograph, even to be pasted on my service book, though I happen to see photographs pasted on the first pages of service books of many persons. They don’t tell me when this important incident took place, and I was left. My service book is still lacking my photograph, but none is ever asking me to decorate the page of my service book by pasting my photograph on it, and that this act is legally important. Now, I think that I have given sufficient reason of why I don’t have even a single copy of my photograph.” The lady did speak nothing and I thought she dared not say to pay for my photographs, otherwise I might have got one more chance of being photographed and one of many more chances of examining my face how it looked at this age.

In my age, people say that I looked smart. Probably, that has been the reason why a large number of my photographs are seen here and there in my home whenever books and files are dusted before Diwali or during other occasions demanding cleanliness. Some people don’t get a good photograph though they look smart whereas some look smart in their photographs too. Some look even smarter in their photographs. People say them PHOTOGENIC. Beyond all these, I think or you can say – I observe that every one wants to see how he is seen in his (or her) photograph. The inference is – every one wants to be photographed. I have seen some people falling on the camera man during a photo session while some people taking their place cleverly so that the camera man can not avoid his face in case he is responsible enough to photograph the most genuine person of the session, or for whom the session has been organized.

Some days ago, my son got success to make me agree to pay a good sum of money, that too through credit card, and bought a mobile phone with 3.2 mega pixel camera facility. When I became able to touch the same after some days, I cleverly rather narrowly escaped out of home and started searching things to take photograph on my own. I had seen my children taking very good photographs. First, I spotted a heard of goats one out of which was trying to chew leaves of an ornamental plant by climbing on the wall. I got success in this venture. I marched ahead taking many different photographs- of flowers, leaves, small plants, birds etc. At the corner of street I saw some puppies walking while two of them sitting lazily in the earthen bowl probably dug by their mother for their peaceful and safe lodging.

I decided to take photographs of those two puppies sitting lazily in the pit. I clicked. No sooner than I clicked on those, all the others rushed to the pit and sat in position pushing their faces out so that the lens of the camera may not loose even a single face. Look for yourself and tell me who is most photogenic. I am sure, you will say – none, but all.