Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monkey Business (no more)

Nov 24, 2015. ~2PM. I am stirred from my sleep by some noise in the house. 
It is a delayed reaction, and my being comes to a sufficient amount of waking and cognitive sensory processing only 5 minutes later. The noise is still there. A low moan strikes my ears, the location of whose origin seems to be right outside my bedroom door (that opens to the balcony). It sounds familiar… like rhesus monkeys. Some of ‘em are probably inside right now.

Stepping off the bed, I cautiously strain my neck to see what beastiary my dining space - where the food is, the fridge is, adjacent to which is the kitchen - now boasts. A lone russet figure sits busy on the table. I am more of a surprise to it than the other way round. It is startled, and gives me a hate look. [Threat display is a behavior every being in nature often uses to defend themselves from aggression, more like an open declaration of hostility, beyond which things will be hella different from the different situation that has already occurred].

I step away from the general access path from the dining to the balcony, via the gallery. I watch it scurry out - and reunite with a baby monkey; and hence end our trifle confrontation. 
It turned out to be a female monkey, a mother, foraging for her child. Both of them now sit huddled outside, on the balcony. I rush to close the balcony grille, and successfully manage to.

Then a gander through my dining. The place is clear - there are no other monkeys. Examination tells, there hasn’t been any destruction at the table. The fridge is open, but all its contents seem intact. The kitchen hadn’t been touched - my sleep lasted a bit short than its expectations. She was a mother that put herself at a great risk for her child, to make out with (apparently) nothing.

Then the answer - that she could find no food in the house, or nothing that qualified as “food” to her. There isn’t a single natural food in my home. An old rotten orange, that she tried to bite into, lies on the table - the lone extant fruit in our household that is used for erecting incense sticks. I feel ashamed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Crackin' Intolerance

India is such a huge nation, that to see trash opinions being doled out by the political class, amplified by the media class, and reacted to by the cattle class is terrifying. Intolerance is the latest "in" thing, and we are made to believe that the government that has in past gained huge vote banks on intolerant lines has nothing to do with encouraging these intolerant opinions, and it is not in protocol to give an open condemnation; that this tolerance of intolerant opinions is coincidental; and that we should all agree, without protest, that there is no intolerance in our society whatsoever, and call it a "jolly good day" every waking hour.

Five minutes of listening to these opinions have shut down my pyloric valve. Severe constipation might follow, a psychosomatic response to the verbal diarrhea from these protostomes that encapsulate several prejudices in a pithy dispatch - such viscerally vicious statements should be met with body's autonomous response and nothing else.

People in this country have a very limited thought space, as is, and yet others litter that space with garbage with existential abandon, and make one completely resign to not thinking at all, or giving them a cleanup job that leaves no time to think. It reflects our cultural attitude towards  garbage - there is so much of it generated that we just quit thinking about it instead of formulating wise civic policies to handle that menace. Our streets and neighbourhoods reek of it sometimes, but that is okay, we can always insulate ourselves further, and even mislead our guests about our standards of sanitation and hygiene.

The only intolerance we should show is towards time. Time, that is finite, will not wait while we sit and discuss or try to understand the nature of our politicians and our politik, - their understanding of religion, their definition of patriotism, and the ulterior motives behind foisting such retrograde constructs on a contemporary society that is trying to match shoulders with mature, diversified, and tolerant societies. Time wants to talk about progressive concepts, breakthrough research, and here we are squandering our money, and airtime on whose shit stinks more. One could derive through calculations the money circulated in the system over our daily fix of offensive garbage, and wonder how they - the common man - is never in loop of that money circulation, and if such spending could have - rather unjudiciously - simply been doled out to some community in death throes, on the verge of losing their art, their culture, their tolerant heritage, their song and their science.

Even my last hour of the daylight, on the 11,091st day of my life was irresponsibly spent in this reaction. FML. FMP.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Ootheca and the Ancient Astronauts

This morning, I came across a curious object in the forest. It was a green-colored spongy ball the size of the palm of my hand. It was about as heavy as a paper rolled into a ball of the same size. There was some detritus - a leaf, a coupla pine nettles - lodged in this object that was closed from everywhere. Gentle wind blew this morning, and I deduced this had been carried to its present spot by that same wind through the night. Realizing that anything so fragile lying so bare on the forest floor (which was most likely an accidental occurence) will not last for long in the daylight hours, I carried the ball home.

My impulse, that this was an Ootheca - the cocoon sac that the Praying Mantis weaves and lays egg in, kinda like an incubation chamber - turned to be correct. The Mantids - the females, in this case - are industrious, artful spinners that build this colossal structure overnight from their spit. Meticulously, the female mantid would spit some, then lay an eggs, and wrap them neatly in more spit, to total about 100-200 eggs, that results in a ball the size of the mantid herself (comparing it to humans, it is akin to being in labor, building a house, then giving birth, all by oneself; but the distinctions make this a lesser worthwhile comparison).
Striking gold Ootheca felt special, since I have the Mantoidae in my mindae of late. My obsessiveness has resulted in a few GBs of nothing but extreme closeups of them in their nature, just lounging.

The Ootheca is a brilliant labyrinthine structure. The mantids indeed work very hard on something that offers an evolutionary closure. It is a very resilient structure, that can withstand winds and cold for months. The Mantids generally take 2-3 months for incubation. For something of that small a size, that is a long while. The while gets even longer, when temperature and moisture conditions are not appropriate. For this reason, predicting a mantid hatching is difficult, unless done in a controlled manner. This fact is put in intelligent use among insect/mantis breeder communities, who collect and keep the Ootheca in cold storage, and produce suitable conditions in a controlled environment to initiate the hatching. Yes, it will survive the period of unfavorable conditions, almost like plant seeds. It is a structure that seems to offer insights into how we can populate other worlds with the species of our own that can be frozen (in development), transported, and later made to "hatch".

Back home, when my guess was unconfirmed, I put my curiosity to the first person around, a village boy about 16 years old, Amit. He had seen it before. "It comes from the meteors at night," he said. It was surprising, since, firstly, there was an existing cultural explanation of an Ootheca, and secondly, because it connected to the outer space. I asked a senior villager, 75-year old DK, and his reply resonated with Amit's, "It is a fragment broken from the stars".
Then I hastened to ask a third village person around - a resident of another Himalayan region called Garhwal (aka Garhwal-is, as against the first two who were Kumaon-is), Vir. "It is the dropping of creatures living in distant stars," Vir said with confidence. It was happening to discover a cultural commonality, that had a connection to the outer space, and maybe even a keen insight into how life came to be on this planet.
That there is an understanding of space beyond Heaven and Hell, a un-earth-centric theory that talks of cosmic plularity, and that it exists as an understanding among the commoners, is thought fodder for me. The Ancient Astronaut theory also came to my mind, and this could offer some insight into how/why life started / was started.

I, for one, will welcome our new Mantid overlords.