Random Thoughts

Raghu Menon


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Looking for a prey, a winged visitor…

Caught this bird quite far through my camera zoom.

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It was raining slightly.  The bird was scanning the neighbourhood quite intensely.

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When I zoomed in a bit more, it looked as if it did not have a beak!

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It had a brown head with light brown body down.

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Not finding anything to eat – perhaps – it turned giving me a better view of it from its back. And before I could click again, it flew away.  But I could get a fairly good view of its feathers /wings.

Did some research and with help from my friends, it seems that the bird is “Oriental Turtle Dove” . Maybe they are migrating from the northern part of India as winter is closing in there as these birds are known to migrate to South India during winter.


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The migrating butterflies – Crimson rose.

A couple of days I had this red and black butterfly caught on my camera. But now I see hundreds of them everywhere. Today, while it was still raining, I got a number of the same species fluttering around.

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It was raining and it was difficult to catch them on my camera from a distance. But I managed to get a few of them.

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They were everywhere. Fluttering around with their magnificent and bright beautiful wings.

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I got them through the window of my office on the second floor (Sri Aurobindo Society) from a distance of about 30 meters away.

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Some of the shots are off-center due to a high zoom.

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Obviously, due to the huge numbers of them, I presume, they are migrating.

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It is north-east monsoon in Pondicherry. It has been raining from today morning off and on since morning till almost noon. Because of my vantage position, I could get these butterflies about 40 feet above the ground.

Nature is so beautiful, green and soothing, especially when it rains! It is kind of regenerative even within minutes of its impact. The whole atmosphere changes and transforms!.


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The fluttering beauty of red, black and white… Crimson rose.

Recently when I was in Bahour which is about 20 km south of Pondicherry (India), I came across this beautiful butterfly which was fluttering around… It was late evening around 6pm so there was not much light for a better image. Still, its red, black and white pattern was beautiful, against the green background!!.  This is the crimson rose butterfly.IMG_2174 Nature is so bountiful and we often forget to realize it!!

I have seen similar butterflies before which used to be more bright. This fellow looked a bit of shabby, dusty one.

Maybe it had a hard day wandering in the dusty routes!!!


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The shrinking green spaces and birds…

I live in Puducherry, or Pondicherry or even shortly as Pondy as it used to be known – and still of course- a small or rather tiny Union Territory in the southern part of India. Having a series of colonial successions like the Dutch, the French and the British in between, Pondicherry still has a metropolitan culture having a true mix of people from all parts of India and abroad. It is also the place of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, the Aurobindo Ashram and of course, the Auroville, the international city of peace where people of several countries live as communities. Auroville is a beautiful experiment a totally barren stretch of land has been converted into a beautiful green space with several forests, organic farms & gardens, production units, renewable energy options including the solar kitchen, organic outlets, restaurants, model schools and all that is needed to be a self-sustained community

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The beautiful beach of Pondicherry, hardly any trees at all…

Now coming to my topic of the day, Pondy is really graceful and beautiful town that has a true historic past starting from maybe the 2nd century BC where a small town called Arikamedu had excellent maritime trade connections including the Romans. Pondy also has several small towns – for example, Bahour, which was at the peak of its civilization about 1200 years ago.  The first temple constructed by the Paranthaka Chozha is at Bahour and it still stands strong and tall with stone inscriptions telling the excellent governance systems and water management systems of that time.

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The Oussudu Lake –one of  he largest one and a great habitat for migratory birds….

Fortunately, the water system is still intact and I will write about it later.  Unfortunately, due to unplanned, irrational, shortsighted planning, Pondy is losing its shine at a  faster pace. Totally berserk town and country planning processes have fast deteriorated the green spaces of this small territory.

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With no trees to perch…

Houses, houses everywhere and not many trees or shade at all. This is affecting the birds very much and they cuddle to whichever little spaces that is available. One such space is the Botanical Gardens of Pondy where the film “Life of Pi” was shot. With exploding migratory population, the spaces are shrinking very fast and the bird population is the worst affected.

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Green and green …

How can one increase the green spaces? Puducherry had around 1000 water ponds to its credit, but a study done by the government of Puducherry 10 years ago, says that the water ponds have reduced to 600 in number.  But now, we would be lucky if we even have half of it, I suppose. Why is this happening? The negligence of the government coupled with the greed of the politicians to illegally appropriate them and distribute them as free house sites to gain political mileage for vote banks!!.

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Hope is that drives us on and on….

So is there any hope? Yes, there seems to be. Currently, a community initiative under several NGOs and peoples collectives are urging the government to declare the wetlands of Pondicherry and even to try to reclaim the lost water and green spaces. Let us hope it will work !!!. After all, it is hope that keeps us driving… Isn’t it?


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A date with Nature..

After many weeks of spending in the office, sitting on a chair and attending meetings, writing proposals and strategizing plans for various projects, etc., I got a chance to go out and have a date with nature. This was my trip to Matru Udyan, a picturesque, piece of land near the Oussudu Lake, where the various birds, trees, shrubs, climbers,  flowering plants make you so fresh, energetic and think differently and also reminding you, what all you have been missing all these days.

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This land belongs to Sri Aurobindo Ashram and is a wonderful place for people of all ages to study, understand and internalize the role of the various components of nature and its services to not only human beings but all life-forms as well as to land, water, air also.

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Just a few images from my short visit from there, as no words can express what I experienced there better.

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From the flowers to the birds, pond, and lotus, the little creepers and shrubs, everything had a meaning and role to its surroundings. Sometimes, I get a strong feeling, the only species which does not gell with nature are us, the human beings, may we are the “weeds” that nature might not want at all- if it had a choice!!!


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Restarting….

Almost after about five or so years, I am about to start my writing again. Things have not changed much since then. The city – that is Pondicherry- or Puducherry – is the same. The chaos has only increased. The same traffic – a bit more unorganized, the same law-less citizens, the don’t care attitude of the law enforcement police – the same attitude towards – or lack of it – the safety of pedestrians – it’s all the same. That is Pondy, the way people call it. The small, tiny metropolis of India. The roads are still ridden with potholes – only locations have changed. So still has a lot to share and in the coming days, I intend to share some of my random thoughts again in these pages.

I have changed a lot in these five years, and so is also my outlook.. Let me unveil me, unravel me and unwind me in the coming days.