Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Drushya, Hasya and Lasya

Mrs. Vani Ratnakar gave me an invitation, saying "Do not miss it! Its not typical, it has some thing different and a new trail too". I simply accepted her invitation and said I will make it. After having a very good cup of strong filter coffee, I bid farewell to her. I extended the invitation to my mother too, 'surprisingly' she too accepted it and we were at Kuvempu Ranga Mandir, precisely at 6:00pm on 8th October. The Event was " Yaksha-Drushya-Hasya-Lasya" - a special Yakshagana programme picking up comedy scenes, organized by 'Abhiruchi' - a cultural organization to mark its 5th annual day.

The programme began with an young boy, Sripada Hegde, doing "Harikathe" on Bhakta Sudhama. For a boy of 8years, the presence of mind, clarity in thinking, proper utterance of words and above all the confidence in communicating the delicate social issues to the public was just mind boggling. Here is an excerpt of his Harikathe. His Harikathe must have put many into trance.

After harikathe, next two hours was nothing but laughter, laughter and laughter. Sridhara Hegde Chapparamane, hails from Sirsi (Sneha balaga), settled in Shimoga and runs a pan shop for livelihood, was the key artiste. In search of lake hidden Duryodhana by Vyadha and Bhima, was the first part. Sridhara played Vyadha's role. My mother amidst of such humour, was constantly telling me to lower my volume of laughter. Second part was Bedarakanappa and Poojari, where Poojari was by Sridhara. It was an amazing performance by Sridhara, who is an actor par excellence!! It was also unique attempt in Yakshagana. I am far more happy for the very reason that I could able to make it along with my mother. Instead of putting my words to describe, here are the clips for you to enjoy. Thanks to Abhiruchi, for arranging such a wonderful programme.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Choice or Chance! or Just Made in Heaven?

Mate selection in human are non-random, for that matter in any living being. To put it in simple terms, it is 'by choice' we find our partners and not 'by chance'. I got very inquisitive on the issue very recently, thanks to my age or an evolving mind!! Google guru, my brother, and a paper in The Public Opinion Quarterly of 1953 have all provided sufficient gum for me to chew.

I started off with an approach of thinking globally and acting locally. At a larger picture, especially in the West, finding a partner is more individualistic, while here, its more societal or familial affair. As male or female attains certain age, the family decides that its time for marriage and search would soon start, in the relative circles. At this instance, let me presume that the male to female ratio in the society is 1:1 and also that for a female there exist a population of suitable males and vice versa. In other words, the probability of getting a mate is 'one'. As my knowledge and understanding on the other than Hindu religion is very limited, I restrict my self to this religion, which is one of the key variable in mate choice too. If mate choice so easy, I think, even myself would not have tried on writing this piece. As we start scaling down ourselves, the complexity increases, so also the variables.

I tried my level best to put major variables in to two broad categories, Family and Individual. At the familial level, the key variable is religion. Followed by caste, sub-caste, gotra and pravara. Other important variables are family background, parents, siblings, tradition and region, but over the years, with the advent of nuclear families, these variables are losing their intial charm (In a way good, increasing the probability!). Individually, Janma Kundli (Jataka), at religion level and age, height, education, occupation/salary, complexion, at personal level forms key variables. The important point here is that, with the addition of each variable, the probability value starts dwindling, more so each variable are not uniformly valued. The weight to each of the variable is decided again by the family, an example would be, a traditional and orthodox family might give higher weight to caste, sub-caste, gotra, jataka etc, while it may carry least weight in an unorthodox family.

Whatever may be the weight, ultimately, with almost 10 major and 6 minor variables, the probability value of 1 decreases drastically. In some castes in India, this has gone to zero (fortunately, probability does not give negative values, otherwise it could have been -1 too), in the sense, there is no way of having a 'choice' of partners as there are no partners at all. Similarly, each of the variable has a threshold value, below which probability is on a higher scale, where as after breaching the threshold, the probability diminishes exponentially. An example is age (again this is not equally weighted and cannot be between male and female), 23-28 for male is considered prime, and so is his probability. Once you touch 30, its the danger mark of overflowing dam and beyond 32, the dam breaks! and probability is near zero.

At the outset, what looked as non-random selection, finally when it boils down to marriage, looks exactly the opposite of what is said, its purely a chance! and nothing else. In India, after 'Monsoon', Marriage is said to be the second only 'chance' Indians bet on (pers. comm. chandrakantha). Amidst all these, some sensical and some nonsensical variables, key set of variables called 'heart/mind/feel' were never considered at all and were no where in the picture too. These variables, which determine the entire after life of marriage, of a male or a female, should have been the prime factor, putting all others in the dust bin, during mate selection. Otherwise, we have to accept that mate selection is random, marriages are made in heaven and keep our fingers crossed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

ಯಾರು ಹಿತವರು ನಿನಗೆ ಈ ಇರ್ವರೊಳಗೆ? (Who is better among the two)

Love! they do, truly, though one way, but passionate . They are behind me from the day they learnt that I love forest and would run into a nearby one with slightest opportunity. One exclusively in Monsoon and the other in Winter/Summer. They must be having a greater understanding of niche partitioning, which makes me wonder and think of a ecological niche modeling for better insight on 'shared love'. Over the years, I heard that love loses its lust, but here it has deepened further and this year, it was much more than what I anticipated? I think, only here, I got beyond what I aimed for!

Oh...I forgot to introduce, please meet my beloved friends, leeches and ticks. At least I can tolerate leeches, certainly I cannot with the other one. Though both have some similarity when they approach me, the difference lies when they depart from me and that too after a day or two. Ticks would literally push me to depression, would occupy both my mind as well as my body, unlike leeches. There were more than 20 rashes in very strategic positions! on my body, this I counted after 4 days of field work from Dandeli. Rashes followed by itching...oops...puss formation...irritation...and invariably during night I will scratch one or the other and again it bleeds. That is too much of ticks. Leeches on the other hand, though very large and scary than ticks, but are silent killers. They crawl up your feet, cling and suck the blood and drop as soon as they have drunk enough for next few months. The difference is that, you will not feel the itch or rash like that of ticks. Unless one has seen it crawling and tried to pull leech from the wound, leech seems to be gentlemanly parasite.

Recently Vijay Cavale was asking me, what repellent I use for ticks? I said 'nothing'. And unfortunately, in a kind of giving out more information, I uttered about KFD (Kyasanur Forest Disease), a deadly viral fever from tick bites in the region of Sagar, Kumta, Bhatkal. Vijay became very restless and I over heard him telling 'no one has informed me about such disease can occur from ticks or at least about the vaccination'. He started asking every villager or village boy he met, what will happen with this tick bite? Any disease? Do they lay eggs beneath the skin where they bite? Do you people know KFD? etc etc. It took two long days for me to explain that nothing will happen with this tick bite, its the larger tick that causes KFD, and for KFD there is vaccination and I have taken twice while working in that region. On the next day, I was sensing some smell from Vijay, he had put some repellent and was telling me that he will not have tick bite any more. For me, a simple tick bite can give sufficient food for thought, for entire life and I would prefer leech over tick!!! and what about you!?

Vijay - The Cavalry

"Gururaj, This is THE best micro lens in the world, its Nikkor 105mm, 1:1 and this is one of the best Cameras in the world (Nikon, D2x). Take this and shoot what ever you want to! All images are yours and do not hesistate. This is 'on' button, just focus and click" with these words, the middle aged gentleman, who drove all the way from Kulgi to Syke's point at 6:30 in the morning, handed over the camera to me, with his ever lasting smile and charm on the face. I was really touched!!! For the first time in my life, some one offered his Digital SLR camera, that too on his own. Hats off to you Vijay Cavale for that kind gesture!

The camera weighing more than a kilo, my intial photographs were blurr! I even tried, stopping my breath to take a few pictures. After a few clicks, I could able to hold the camera properly, but infront of this camera, my own Sony DSC-H2 appeared like a peanut!! (I stared clicking DSC-H2 with one hand). He asked me to carry the camera with me even after our morning session at Syke's point. Since I was new to micro lens, I went very close to take a frog's photograph. This gave a very low depth image of my frog, which Vijay shot later with a distance more than two meters away!!

For the next two days, Vijay was my teacher, friend, philosopher and guide in many issues under the sun, starting from photographic lessons to leading a fruitful life. Words fail to express my sincere thanks to Vijay - The Cavalry. To know more about Vijay Cavale and his passion, visit

The King's Gambit!!

STOP...stop...stop...stop...stop! I screamed to CR Nayak. We were on two wheeler, heading towards Dandeli along Kulgi-Dandli road, had come just a kilometer from Kulgi toll gate. Surprised by sudden scream, Nayak pressed hard, both the foot break as well the front one, to get the bike stop at least 10 meters from the spot from where I screamed. Still in his surprise, he looked at my face, with an expression, why did I do that?

"King cobra"...I yelled at again and started running back. He followed me, now a bit more confused. I stopped nearly 5-6 m away from the on looking King, dropped my back pack and started searching for the Camera! Literally pulled out from my ever packed bag, my DSC-H2, shot one and for safety clicked one more. What a sight! He was simply majestic. Nearly a feet and a half lifted from the ground. To me, his had the grace of a tusker, looking both ways for the clearance for easy passage. I too was mesmerized with its shimmering black colour, size and the majesty. In fact, I forgot to click more or move closer to have better shot.

Mean time, it was Nayak's turn to get stunned at the sight and he intended to go near the King. Fortunately or unfortunately, a scooty came along and its line of arrival was like ours, me and Nayak started signaling those guys to move towards right. In next, few seconds, the King layed flat and started moving back. Since Nayak was very close to the king, my visual estimation of its length was about twice of Nayak's height (around 12ft) and almost 8-10inch in girth. Even in its exit, King showed why he is called 'King' Cobra.

It took almost 10minutes for both of us to realize what we had seen. We looked at the path, it was hardly 5 feet from the King's head. Nayak was praising me for my sight and was surprised why he could not see? I told him that both of us were fortunate to see The King in this region 'live'!!! and 'Long live the King'. With a very happy and "achieved" kind of feel, we moved towards Dandeli. This King has etched his image in my memory for very long years to come.