Dec 31, 2014

Rewind 2014

Coming from 2013, this has been a fast year...a very fast one indeed :)

2014 has been exciting in more than one ways for me and I personally am ending it on a high and very well looking forward to 2015.

January - A start to the year with a visit to my personally favorite destination, Dandeli. A solo trip and a nice meet up with some wonderful travel bloggers. Another trip back our favorite jaunt, this time with the group and the year starts with a bang with a much cherished sighting of the Great Hornbill, something that I was waiting for years.

February - A special day when your blog is recognized as the 'best travel blog' by BlogAdda here. Bird survey at Melagiris and a much awaited visit to the Seethanadi camp kept be busy through the month.

March - Awed by the sight of congregation of more than 5000 Bar headed Geese at Magadi lake, Gadag... a conservation success story indeed. Bird estimate in Nilgiris (around Mukurthi) and some fine birding there at Ooty.

April - June - dry months for the year... probably a first time witnessed such a lean period due to hectic work schedules.

July - A long pending trip to the heaven, Kashmir/Ladakh, courtesy Amith, the traveler and a wish fulfilled and a dream accomplished... way to go!
After the Adda award, a quick weekend to Goa to test drive the new Tata Zest as a top blogger, an event where I met a lot of awesome bloggers from different worlds.

Aug-Sep - 2nd set of dry months for the year... well...!

Oct-Nov - the volunteering work started in full force... volunteering for crowd/traffic management at Bandipur during Dasara/Deepawali and jaathre (temple fair) times, lots of appreciation and new learnings.

Dec - Closing the year with yet again a trip to our favorite jaunt, the Old Magazine House at Ganeshgudi.

Been a hectic and a fast paced year that had a lot of challenges for me and ending the year on a high with an apt change in the professional life and looking forward to 2015 with a lot of plans and hopes.

Being true to self, blogging took a backseat and I appreciate all the readers/followers who have steadfast been with me, trust and hope will be posting more content on regularity henceforth :)

Three Cheers!

Nov 28, 2014

Volunteers Training Program (VTP)

Sometime last year (2013), I got an opportunity to attend the Volunteers Training Program (VTP) conducted by the Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board ( in association with Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR -, a week long extensive program with theoretical as well as field sessions to train an individual as a eco-volunteer to assist the forest department in their various activities.

Course content: A diverse course covering all aspects of forests, wildlife, conservation, role of photographers and much more that enables an individual to grasp what happens on a day-to-day basis and what are the challenges than an forest department employee faces and the field sessions like walking the beats along with the forest guards helps you gauge the amount of hard work they put in to conserve the forests and wildlife.

Sitting in air conditioned rooms and blasting out the keyboards on the laptops, we post, like, dislike, comment, share and are very critical of any happenings related to forests or the staff or the tigers or elephants etc.. It's only when you get out on to the field, get in the shoes of a daily wage watcher, eat what they eat and sleep where they do (cut off from their families for months together), you realize how important their role is and how important they are to conserve of what is left today; It literally strikes you in the face the harsh, raw realities that they go through day in and out.

We had various topics that we were briefed on and I'll list out some that I recollect...
> National Parks and Sanctuaries
> History and Role of National Parks
> Mammals  - Introduction and Classification
> Birds - Identifying them
> Reptiles and Amphibians
> Lesser Fauna
> Life in an APC
> Tracks and Signs
> Role of a Eco Volunteer and Expectations
> Tools of the trade

We had talks too by various personalities ranging from park directors to botanists to conservationists to wildlife experts and let me list few that I can recollect
> Role of a Wildlife Photographer and Ethics
> Photography as a tool for Conservation
> Nature Inspires
> Taxonomy of Plants

> NTCA protocols and guidelines
> Wildlife Protection Acts and Schedules
> Man-Animal conflicts
> Wildlife crime
> Poachers and their operative methods
> Initiatives so far

Field sessions
> Walking the 'beats' along with the forest guards on their regular routine
> All about Camera trapping
> GPS tracking
> Bird watching and notes

It was an eye-opener for me and an opportunity to learn many new things (that I never knew) and improving on knowledge of many other facts and at the end committing ourselves to help the department in their various activities and protecting/conserving what we are left with.

To sign up to be a Ceritified Volunteer, please follow this link.

coming up next: Interesting learning's and what are we doing as volunteers now...

Oct 31, 2014

Dasara Dolls

Dasara is one among the important festivals in India spanning over a period of 10 days symbolizing the victory of good over evil. Dasara is also the state-festival of Karnataka.

Keeping dolls is a tradition that has come along with the festival since a long time and displaying your collectibles and in themes is a time consuming and patient affair. Whilst this practice has dwindled over the years owing to the lack-of-time generation that we are in, some do put in their efforts in keeping this going.

While we didn't have this practice all these years, we have started this over the last couple of years that keeps the kids engaged and enthralled and is a wonderful way to narrate stories and events of our wonderful mythology that is so fascinating how many ever times you get to know about it...

Let me show you our setup since the past couple of years...

(2012 arrangement of the dolls in 4 steps)

(2013 arrangement of the dolls with few additions)

(2014 setup was much more extensive than seen here... bigger than the previous years with multiple new sets displayed)

If you have any similar collections, do let me know through a comment below.

Sep 24, 2014

Team Blog-o-holics (week 2)

'A Time To Die' Chapter 12, Week 2, Team Blog-o-holics

Read the first post here from Dola...

Read the earlier post from Akash here...

The receptionist looked quite surprised with two people asking about the same patient. Room No 301, 3rd Floor, lift lobby over there… uttered the receptionist still glancing towards the two people standing over there. Her face still had a quizzical remark on how the little kid had ended up there.

She’s my mom, blurted out Roohi before walking towards the lift lobby leaving the receptionist and Jennifer surprised. Jennifer did a hop and run to catch up with Roohi who was near the lift and frantically pressing the buttons over there only to realize the lifts were not working. Argh! Squeaked both of them together. By the way, who are you and why have you come to see my mom? Are you a reporter questioned Roohi noticing the camera dangling on the shoulders of Jennifer? Jennifer was taken aback at the flurry of questions from Roohi and looked around not knowing what to answer…


Tara had sneaked down along with Cyrus to the parking lot covering her identity with a dupatta and looking to appear more like a visitor than a patient. Cyrus had called for a taxi and it took a while for Tara to get in without anybody noiticing that, a task that was quite difficult evading the security and the hospital staff. The taxi while coming out of the hospital almost banged into an SUV that had a police officer seated in it. Tara hurriedly hid between the seats for not to be noticed by anybody out there…

But she was wrong… the lone figure, out in the corner had seen them and he was there precisely to watch them. He noted the taxi no MH00 AA1144 as he let out a big fart loud enough to get the alarm system on the car parked going off!!! Hurriedly, he vanished into the dar corners leaving behind the cigarette on the ground…


The cigarette, a Sherman special, distinctly brown in colour, half burnt and still emitting smoke caught the attention of the Samson who had come to the hospital to meet Tara. He got down from his SUV and gazed at the cigarette running his hands through his hair trying to figure out something! A phone call interrupted his thought as he picked up the cigarette butt and placed it in a small neat plastic cover and placed it into his pocket.

Hurriedly, he walked off towards the lift lobby. It was a call from an informant having some information about Roger’s death. The lifts were out and as he started climbing the stairs… his phone rang again making him sto midway and after a brief conversation, he headed back to his SUV and drove away…


The taxi sped through the city streets ignorant of the heavy traffic around. Tara had a pensive look on her face while Cyrus was stealing looks at her, somehow he couldn’t stop admiring her. Stop it, boomed Tara frightening the life out of Cyrus and the driver and the taxi came to a screeching halt instantly. Looking out of the window… Rajeev, Rajeev blurted Tara…
Read the next post by Parichita here...

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

Sep 21, 2014

the Barbets and the Woodpeckers

Nature never ceases to amaze me and the dual between the woodpeckers and the barbets that I witnessed at the Seethanadhi nature camp was one of those moments that I would not forget soon; the Davids taking on the Goliaths.

While we were busy trying to locate the calling Trogon, familiar sounding of metallic ‘chiank’, ‘chiank’ made me turn around and it took me hardly a second to figure out where the sound was coming from. On the opposite bank of the camp, landed a pair of White-bellied Woodpeckers (Dryocopus javensis) on a bare stump and furiously drumming away sounding like a machine gun. These are the largest woodpeckers found south of the Himalayas and are predominantly black with a white belly and a red crown.

(the male and the female White-bellied Woodpeckers)

While they were happily gunning away to glory at the bare stump with the loud sounds resonating over the entire scape, entered a couple of Malabar Barbets (Megalaima malabarica) who perched right on the adjacent tree to where the woodpeckers were drumming hard.

(drumming together...)

The next few minutes witnessed an intense duel launched by the Barbets with each of the pairs taking turns to take a jibe at the woodpeckers, who amusingly were trying to avoid them and were seen moving around the tree holding on to their dear life.

(the Malabar Barbet harassing the Woopie... you can see another Barbet on the left...)

The Barbets, probably 1/3rd the size of the woodpeckers never gave a moment of relaxation to the woodpeckers and kept on heckling them, while all the while calling aloud and circling around the woodpeckers and swooping down on them in an attempt to chase them away. Finally getting heckled, the woodpeckers flew away and the Barbets were still calling away loud and clear.

(the Barbet almost hits on to the Woopie... the Woopie moves around for cover)

All this lasted for about 15 good minutes and all the while, I could not figure out why were the Barbets behind the woodpeckers as neither did I see any holes or cavities on the bare stump and that left me with lot of unanswered questions. Another reason I suspect would be their nesting cavities being probably on adjacent trees closer to the bare stump… probably!

(the Woodpecker flies away after constant nagging from the Barbets)

Some incidents never ceases to just need to have an eye to see it!

Sep 14, 2014

Team Blog-o-holics

'A Time To Die' Chapter 3, Week 1, Team Blog-o-holics
Read the earlier post from Sudam here...

Alighting from the train after a long arduous journey, weary eyed and rustic body rattled by the journey, Jennifer struggled with her trolley baggage, funky hand bag, Ipod plugged in and the messy wires all over and with a camera dangling around her neck entangled with her scarf, her eyes looked around for a stranger she had just chatted with over the last 30 hours, Shekar.

What she missed noticing was the numerous roving eyes that were ogling at her… the cart vendors, the cleaners, the coolie’s and the numerous passengers on the platform, all looking at the young girl funkily dressed and struggling with her baggage. It then stuck her mind that she was in Mumbai, the city of dreams for thousands who land up there, some to get successful and some lost in the fast paced city unable to cope with its speed.

Just as she started moving rearranging herself…, ‘thud’ she went on the ground getting knocked over by a heavy object. The deafening sounds from the moving trains, noises from the chaotic rush on the platform and the intensity of the fall made her head swivel like a windmill and she stayed so for a few seconds before getting back to her senses. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… she heard as she tried to get up but failed, till an arm holding her tightly helped her getting up; she somehow felt very comfortable in that strong hold of the person. She turned around angrily to give a mouthful to the person who knocked her down, but instead stammered and stuttered seeing a fair, tall, handsome hunk with lovely curls and an odd over sized specs looking sheepishly at her apologizing for his mistake.

Glancing at her watch (that she so lovingly had picked from over a hundred choices at the flea market in Cochin) that had cracked, Jennifer annoyingly asked the bespectacled guy the time. 9am was the reply from the tall lanky hunk still apologizing for his mistake. Oh gosh! My appointment is at 12 to meet Tara ma’am at the editor’s office and I’m still here and where is Shekar sir…! I’m lost and she went on without a break sobbing softly. Can I help…? Her non stop rants were interrupted from the guy now standing next to her, as tall as the Qutub Minar. Her reaction was interrupted with the ring on the guy’s phone and as she looked on menacingly, he answered the call turning around and Jennifer’s eyes lit up when she heard him mentioning the name of the editorial and Tara’s name where she was also headed.

Anger turned into laughter when she smilingly told him ‘two strangers, one destination and no time’. Ah! He said, so you’re headed to meet Tara ma’am… great! Well, I’m sorry and I’m Cyrus from Delhi and I was in a hurry because I was getting late being here for the first time and meanwhile knocked you over with a slight grin on his face. Jennifer nodded back with a wry smile somewhat smitten by the stranger Cyrus who just knocked her over.

Soon, a middle-aged bald person walked up to them and over hearing their conversations figured out the girl must be Jennifer as she had given him some pointers to identify her and introduced himself as Shekar. Exchanging pleasantaries and introducing Cyrus to Shekar, the trio headed out of the station and meanwhile Shekar got to know both of them were headed towards Tara’s office. Shekar did not reveal to them that Tara was his wife but instead offered them a lift up to Tara’s editorial office giving them a reason that he had to pick his daughter Roohie from school that was close by to where they were headed.

Befoe parting, Shekar offered them to show around Mumbai, the city of dreams, for the next two days incidently being Saturday and Sunday and also offered them assistance in staying at a place closer to where he lived. He added that his wife and daughter would love their company and they should not refuse. Jennifer was more than happy as that would give her camera a chance to capture the life in Mumbai and surrounding places and she readily agreed. Cyrus agreed with a stern face not knowing what to say.

After Shekar dropped them and left, Jennifer started walking ahead with Cyrus next to him in animatic conversations with someone over the phone and going a little ahead she turned around not to see Cyrus behind! Frantically, she looked around for Cyrus but to no avail and she moved ahead in despair as it was already getting late to reach Tara’s office.

Moving ahead a few steps, Jennifer had an eerie feeling of someone closely following her…, she turned around thinking it could be Cyrus but found none. She thought it could just be her mindset after reading the ‘Hooded man’ short story earlier in the train written by Shekar.

Nodding her head in agreement and turning on the music on her ipod, she moved ahead binding her tresses with a band from the bag and flaunting her tattoo on her hand in style… but soon the eerie feeling was back and this time more intense then earlier. She stopped in her tracks and she could now hear her heart pounding aloud and her breath becoming heavy. Sweat drops started appearing on her forehead as her hand shivered and the eerie feeling becoming more intense by the passing second.

Her heart almost skipped beats and she started sweating profusely when a firm hand landed on her shoulders and Jennifer nervously turned around shivering in anxiety to see…
‘The Hooded Man’!!!

Read the next post by Nipath here...

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

Sep 13, 2014

Agumbe Recap (final part)

Read the earlier posts from Agumbe here...

Snakes, Frogs, Insects, Bugs, Beetles, Spiders were there everywhere... literally! Once the sun goes down, all you can hear are the croaks but finding the specimen out is a task and after all the search you see a handsome little fella croaking away to glory concealing himself under a leaf in the middle of a shrub or a plant.

And behind the same croaks you find the silent slithers looking out for a meal and aren't they beautiful! There is a lot of wrong notion about snakes and one is that all of them are venomous. Nope! There are only a handful of venomous snakes found in India whose bites are lethal.

The most commonly found are the Rat snakes or the Checkered Keelbacks whose bites are not lethal for humans.

Please get over the notion and start appreciating their beauty. They have a role to play in the ecosystem and they do it diligently, we just have to let them be what they are and where they are!

(a beautiful Vine snake on the lookout for a meal...)

(I thinks Yellow Bush Frog... will update the Id soon...)

(In between... we gorged on the simple yet delicious homely food!)

(incredibly beautiful Green Vine Snake)

(the man and his passion...)

(A vociferous croaking frog...)

(the Malabar Pit Viper... one of the venomous snakes)

(in the order of ascending height... Ashwini, Gowri, Prashanth and YT at KERC camp)

Sep 7, 2014

Agumbe Recap II

Read the earlier post here...

Agumbe is a 'macro' world and you get plenty of opportunities to see them and shoot them. Macro life forms are everywhere...literally right from the leeches that predate on you to the small insects, the colorful dragonflies and damselflies, beetles and bugs of various sizes, the moss dipped in showers gleaming in the occasional sunlight and not to forget the droplets that collect everywhere making it truly a magical place to wander in.

Here are a few frames that I've tried to capture from there... have a look through and do feel free to leave your comments :)

(ain't a beautiful pattern... nature is so beautiful even without life)

(wasp... maybe...!)

(a beetle ready for a meal...!)

(a damselfly... the differ from dragonflies by having closed wings)

(a nemesis for all :) 'Leech')

(Checkered Keelback snakes looking out for dinner...)

(a grasshopper soaked in rain...)

('beetle' 'leaf'...)

(orchid... not sure though!)

(a pretty, spiny caterpillar)

Await for another post to end the series from Agumbe!

Aug 3, 2014

Friends and being friends...

God chose your parents... you choose your friends!

Well, I've been blessed with some to the best I could wish for and our journeys have been nothing short of being adventurous and memorable.

Friends constitute an important part of my life and this post an ode to the best of my buddies!

(we have traveled far and wide... to the jungles)
(here at KGudi-BR hills)

(and in pursuit of many falls...)
(here at Magod falls, Yellapura)

(through the streams...)
(here at a stream in Sakleshpur trekking from Rottikallu homestay, Sakleshpur)

(commuting by train...)
(train journey to Londa, near Ganeshgudi)

(rejoicing on accomplishment...)
(here at Sathodi falls, Yellapura)

(helping hands in water...)
(here, river rafting on river Kali, Karnataka)

(for the conversations and discussions...)
(here at Bandipur National Park)

(relaxing times after a long day...)
(here atop Kodachadri peak)

(rejoicing moments...)
(here on a break en-route conquering Kodachadri peak)

(wandering through the fields...)
(here wandering through a field in Sakleshpur with Gaitonde, hero from Karavali region)

(posing with the best buddy...)
(here with Raja...a prince in true sense)

(going downhill with backpacks...)
(here descending from peak KumaraParvatha)

(the camping spirit...)
(our best camping atop peak KumaraParvatha)

(together in search of the elusive tiger...)
(here at Tadoba tiger reserve...)

(moments of joy and togetherness)
(here with Guru... a guru for us for many things!)

(for the joy of sunsets...)
(here at Jenukal view point, Yellapura)

(and during the fatigue of climbs...)
(here ascending a steep cliff en-route KP)

(visiting heritage places...)
(here at Doddamane-Malgudi house, Agumbe)

(or on a trek...)

(or helping out to relax...)

(rejoicing in unison over an accomplishment...)
(here at Hidlumane falls, Kodachadri)

(friends are forever... an extension of yourself... truly!)
All I can say is thank you for being a part of me!

Jul 31, 2014

Deserty Rajasthan - Skyscanner

(Desert and dunes - that's Rajasthan. Photo from web)

Well, I would be the last person to submit this post..., I had no inclination and just about an hour before close thought of doing this. Yep, and that's how my travel plans also unfold almost everything at the last minute :)

(Umaid Bhawan Palace. Photo - from web)

Where I want to go - Rajasthan has been off my radar for quite long now and winters are the best months to visit the place. I would love to indulge myself in the palaces and forts and also enjoy the wildlife over there.

So, using Skyscanner, I have planned a week trip spending leisure time at Jodhpur and Mount Abu, I plan to do a leisure, luxurious, laid back trip that would help me best to enjoy the Rajasthani tradition, folklore, palaces and importantly food. My tentative schedule would be from Nov 21 over a period of 6-7 days.

My schedule would be simple and easy:-
At Jodhpur
> Reach Jodhpur flying directly from Bengaluru
> Explore Mehrangarh fort and Mehrangarh fort museum / Local cuisine / Jaswant Thada
> Explore Umaid Bhawan Palace / Osian (Khajuraho of Rajasthan) / Local markets
> Balsamand lake / Kalyana lake / Machiya safari park
> Relax / Shopping / Bazaars

(Mount Abu. Picture from web)

At Mount Abu
> Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary
> In pursuit of the Green Munia (only found here)
> Crocodile Park
> Achalgarh fort
> Temples / Sunset Point
> Shopping

(Green Munia - A strikingly beautiful bird found only here. Photo from net)

Browsing through the Skyscanner website, I found the airfare picker tool quite easy with lot of options and below would be my choices flying from Bengaluru to Jodhpur.

Booking cab was also quite simple with the option popping up on the left display asking 'Do you want to book a cab'. You click and it searches for the best deals on the same set of dates you booked your flight tickets. Easy.

Again, booking hotels was made easy with lot of options thrown in for the user. You can select based on the ratings, price, distance and popularity and you can book from the best website offering the best prices. Interesting and good analytics I should say.

With a budget of 1Lac, I would seriously consider this as a royal vacation and intend to save some to indulge in some wonderful shopping getting souvenirs, Rajasthani handicrafts and clothes.

Air fare = 10,740/- round trip
Cab for whole duration = 13,640/- Hotels = 39,691/- + 20,619/- = 60,310/-
Food & Misc = 10,000/- (obvious that I can't show here)
Total = Rs.94690/- and I still save about Rs.5310/-

Well, dreaming isn't bad and if Skyscanner can fulfill those, I would love to dream all day long.

This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at