Sunday, 3 December 2006

Spot-billed ducks

These elegant ducks stay close to the shore and swim away when they see you coming.

At the frontier outpost

This large pied wagtail keeps guard during sunset.

A model

Presumably there are models even within birds. This bay-backed shrike modelled for me, hopping from one branch to another.


Cobwebs on the grass trap dew which sparkles with the morning sun.

Sandpiper, off the bottle!

My city-slicker friend, RN, visited ICRISAT a couple of winters ago. While driving him through the campus I pointed the beautiful sight of a pied kingfisher hovering helicopter-like over water to catch a fish.

"I have seen many kingfishers," RN dismissed my excitement.

"Where?" I was curious.

"On beer bottles!" he said.

Likewise, if you are the kind who sees sandpipers only on beer bottles, here is a picture of one.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Writing in air

The last Diwali gave me an opportunity to try the classic Diwali shot.

From darkness lead us to light!

This picture of the lamps was shot by Varun on the Diwali night.

A stealthy predator

At times the lens captures what the eye misses. I almost missed this yellow spider sitting on the flower to catch unwary insects visiting for the nectar.

Saturday, 18 November 2006

The bell

Bells have dominated our lives. In schools it signalled the start of an interesting class or the end of a boring one. In my younger days, railway stations announced the arrival of a train with a bell. Wedding is supposedly marked by bells, though with the Hindu community in South India it is more with nadaswaram and drums. In temples they hang bells so that you can announce your arrival to the Lord. And in churches they have bells to announce your departure to the world at large.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Siesta time!

An old lady and her daughter catch a wink of sleep inside Amber fort, Jaipur. This is the picture I liked the best out of our Rajasthan trip.

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Quaint Pushkar!

Pushkar hits your senses. As you get off the bus you realize there are no auto- or cycle-rickshaws. There are only handcarts that transport both humans and their baggage. The lake is sorrounded by white- and blue-washed buildings. Sadhus abound (Indian/non-Indian, junkies/non-junkies)in this small town. It has a beautiful temple dedicated to Brahma (rather rare). As the sun sets, groups of Pushkarites do aarthi with lamps on the steps leading down to the lake.

We have strict copyright rules in our family. Since all of us were clicking pictures at Pushkar, these images are credited to Raji, Varun and Gopi Warrier.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Riding the camel

You cannot visit Pushkar without taking the mandatory camel ride. Varun ahoy!

In the third picture, Raji and Varun contemplate a serious decision - what to order for breakfast!

Salim Chishti's dargah

For us a trip to Agra is never complete without a trip to Salim Chishti's dargah at Fatehpur Sikri. We have loved returning to the dargah and praying there.

The third picture, in the mosque adjacent to the dargah, was shot by Varun.

Mughal craftmanship

Mughal craftmanship is as fine as it is grand.

Pyar kiya to darana kya?

Madhubala as Anarkali sang this while Pritviraj Kapoor as Akbar seethed at her impertinence in the all-time classic Hindi movie, Mughal-e-Azam. The song sequence, which was the first sequence to be shot in colour in India, was shot in the Seesh Mahal (the palace of mirrors in Agra Fort). We managed an entry and saw the small shining mirrors while our guide showed a candle.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Wah Taj!

This is my fourth visit to the Taj Mahal. It never fails to awe me. Varun, who was seeing the monument of love for the first time said that it is much grander than the pictures. This is exactly what I felt when I saw the building for the first time, when I was as old as what Varun is today.

Sunset at Taj

Mughal architecture looks grander when silhouetted against the sunset. Varun shot this picture of one of the buildings in the Taj Mahal complex.

Taj - Upside down!

There is always a different perspective to everything in life. This foreign tourist wants to see Taj upside down!

Sunday, 17 September 2006

The parrots are here

They come in groups, at dawn and dusk. They squawk and screech, and raise a racket. Who said parrots are sweet-talking birds?

Babblers come calling

Babblers are busy birds. They come in a group of six or seven. It's like a military operation. They come, keep babbling to each other, upturn the soil for insects, grains, eat and fly away together. This one, of course, was perched on the tree.

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Birdcalls at dawn and dusk

Having lived for more than 15 years in urban Delhi and Chennai, it is a different experience to hear birds from the trees around my campus residence at ICRISAT. Raji, my wife, hates the 5 am cuckoo though. After perching on the tree next to our bedroom window, he starts his alarm call early in the morning - with every coo getting louder and shriller.
Here's the villain.

And below is his mate.

Saturday, 2 September 2006

In the field

A farm worker walks through an experimental field.

A sorghum head in the same field.

The bovine connection

Agricultural research is incomplete without livestock research. It is awesome to watch the gigantic cattle (being researched by the International Livestock Research Institute) return to their sheds in the evening. Of course, an entourage of egrets follow their every step.

Sunset at ICRISAT

I have watched the sun setting over ICRISAT hundreds of times. The beauty is that no two sunsets are same. Sitting at the edge of the mud bund that stretches into the ICRISAT lake, it is peaceful to watch the sun slide under the horizon, only to rise the next morning and hit me sharp on my face from the east-facing front door. I will keep returning to this theme over and over again on this blog.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Raindrops on petals

It rained last night. There were raindrops on the petals of the Vinca rosea flowers in the front yard when I woke this morning.

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Why mid-life blues?

Joseph Heller starts his chapter on Col Cathcart in Catch 22 with words which mean something like this (not exact quote): "Col Cathcart was a happy and a sad man. Happy that at the age of 39 he was a full colonel. Sad that at the age of 39 he was only a full colonel."

There is a Cathcart in all of us, and it surfaces rather menacingly when one is around 40. We feel that we have done something worthwhile in life, but also feel that there was much that could have been done left undone.

Gopi Warrier is my name. Crossed 40 a couple of years ago. Was a journalist for many years. Now I am on the other end of the table, handling media relations for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). I live on the beautiful, expansive ICRISAT campus.

Here's a picture to set the mood. I like to call it the sentinel at sunset, for it shows a farm laborer scaring birds at sunset to prevent them from attacking the standing sorghum crop.

Maya or virtual reality

I have heard about blogs for some time now. Never tried creating one for myself. I once had a free website, where I used to post some of my writings and pictures. I hadn't made any changes to the website for more than a year. It vapourised! They call it "virtual reality." Advaita gives it another name - Maya. I will be posting pictures and random scribblings on this blog.