Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Field observations on a random day

A night ghoom has been most stimulating. A mantis, several Barsines, a few Geometrids, a coupla frogs, a groovy caterpie.. all these to welcome me, who is back to the most familiar place in my life aka home after 3 days. It wasn't a long separation, but sure feels like it, since there has been a bloom of several new species in the past week following the monsoons. The caterpillars that fed voraciously on the fauna all around are now pupating and imago-ing. Their last stage is the most exciting, since their bodies attain unique forms, more so than their caterpillar stages. It is seldom that the things most beautiful as caterpillars turn out as adult form in rather simple shapes and muted colours, but that is also one line of evolution that has gone right. Everything in the moth world gets hunted and eaten, by much larger predators of various kinds, and every size has its own hiders and seekers.

A few other reasons why the last stage of butterflies/moths is a WIN:
- A new set of legs achieved
- A new mobility mechanism achieved: Flight
- New panic response sets and related mobilities achieved
- A great transition from living as an egg-bound species, to a subterranean (as a larva), to living on the forest floor (as a caterpillar), and flying on the sweep of winds all day (as an imago)
- A redistribution of body mass achieved
- A new vision achieved
- A new feeding mechanism achieved: Proboscis
- A new food achieved: Nectar
- A new growth mechanism achieved: Molting
- A great set of sensory mechanisms achieved - highly developed antennae (among the lepids, moths have a higher sense of smell than butterflies, and also, moths have antennae in very complex shapes while butterflies have clavate antennae - surely developed in response to the need for more predictable flight and least wind resistance), highly resilient bodies (in this case as well, the moths have an upper hand - many of them even shun mouth parts to conserve their final stage bodies and do nothing but lounge during the day and breed at night, with the male being the one doing the traveling looking for a "transmitting" female through trails of pheromones scattered in the 3d spaces in nature)

In general, a much greater world awareness achieved.
Maybe they don't get as much time to think about the world as an imago. As caterpillars, they spend much more time immobile and sated, maybe that's when they do most of their thinking.

meeting old friends

As I was contemplating dinner, a friend called, and exhorted me to step out with him for a while. Being depressed through much of the day - part needs, part existential musings, - I assented. We rode (on his mobike) to Kth for a casual encounter with the T.

Indian Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, our old friend SS and Barry Bhai were the topics of discussion. I felt myself short of words or opinions on any of these topics.

The most sensational of updates was that SS has been missing since November of 2016. His wife quit the marriage not much before that - she was apparently treated like a dolt, like a tool.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

People who push your perspective

Experiences with people (real ones) is bewildering, to say the least. The most recent one left me existentially enervated. That it followed a hearty lunch, leaves me with an additional feeling of guilt - the guilt of gluttony and hedonistic indulgence.

As I returned home from the last official task of the day, I spotted an incoming Rik. The challak (driver) alighted  before a speed bump. By the look in his eyes, I had the impression that he had expectations with me. My impression was proven right when, nearing him, he urged me to climb on, for a drop. Since I was close to home, and moreover since I rarely excuse myself from a brisk walk whenever the chance, I declined his exhortations.

"बस थोड़ा ही जाना है"
"10 रुपये दे देना छोड़ देंगे साहब"

From his tone, he seemed desperate for money. I, having already crossed him, turned, and doled him a 20 rupee note. The gesture made him emotional. He lifted up his shirt to show me a stitched-up body from a recent operation - a long vertical cut extending from the sternum to below the navel, stitched poorly, dusted with some medicine.

To someone raised in an environment of sufficiency, nightmares of stitches opening and organs spilling out (with considerable blood, of course) come to the imagination aplenty. However, this guy seemed above those considerations. To the poor, rest after surgery is not an option. Here was this guy, into an occupation that demanded physical exertion, trying to have a day out working despite his organism's condition.  As a daily wage earner, the only options he had were : to make it worse by not earning, or to make it worse by exerting, of which he chose the latter.

He then started explaining how his daily medicines itself needed 100-150 bucks. Then his voice got thin and wheezy , and he got teary-eyed. It was not an enjoyable moment for I, and I shudder at thinking what kind of moment it were for him. I marched onwards, feeling heartless.