Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Nikhil is Nine

Nikhil enters double digit

As he completes nine
This boy of mine

Has grown up to take care of his younger brother
With whom he shares all his smiles and laughter

Soccer is something he doesn't like to miss
Club jersey, shoes and a medal are all his

When playing video games with Dad
Both get equally charged up and mad

Reading books is his favourite pastime
And so is making Lego clocks that chime

He will gladly part with a chocolate
As he dislikes it being on his plate

Today as he completes nine and enters the tenth year

We wish him a very happy birthday full of fun and cheer!

Love and God bless

El                -  Elfo, Badi Amma, Nani, Nanu@Secunderabad
-         -  Naman, Dadi, Dadu, Mom and Dad@USA
-         -  Bade Babaji, Chote Nanu-Nani@Jaipur
-         -  Kruger, Anuva, Ansh bhaiya, Mama and Mami@Chennai

1st June 2016

This is birthday season in our family. Another birthday will follow soon!

Join me in wishing Nikhil our grandson in California (son of Ankur and Akanksha Bhargava) all the very best in the years to come.

          - Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 1st June 2016

Maya the Tigress of Tadoba

Maya's Maya माया 

You met Waghdoh the oldest tiger of Tadoba in the previous story. He was seen cooling himself in a water tank. May is the hottest month in Tadoba with day temperatures crossing 45 degrees Celsius. Water is essential for their survival. Ghumakkad was fortunate to have sighted some more tigers and other wild life at Tadoba in May 2016.

This is the story of Maya the tigress and her three cubs. Written beautifully by my son Ankush. We did this wildlife trip together as a family. Before we take you to Ankush's story, here is a picture of water hole No. 2 in Tadoba as seen by the naked eye. Wide, rocky, barren, depleting water surrounded by bamboo thickets-- this is where action unfolded. You can barely spot a tiger sitting at the far edge across the safari vehicle in the foreground.

See the video footage of tiger cub entering the water hole. This was shot without a telephoto lens on purpose-- to give you a feel not only of the tiger but its surroundings as well. See the rocky slope, fallen tree branches and depleting pool of water! All in one frame.

For those of you who have not yet experienced a Tiger reserve, here is a one-minute video with Cheetal the Spotted Deer giving a warning call. In the video, you don't see the deer, but can only hear the call of the deer. It is their way of alerting other animals that beware-- the king of the jungle is on the prowl!

Resuming Ankush's story titled 'Magnificent Maya and her Cubs', his opening lines are:
"Words can't describe the excitement and feeling that can best be termed as 'smallness' that takes over when you see a tiger in the wild. It's a feeling that makes you forget life outside the forest. Everything else becomes inconsequential and only the forest matters.

Maya is a magnificent specimen of a tiger and we were lucky to see her and her 3 9-month old cubs - one female and 2 males - in front of a watering hole that would turn out to be a theatre for the next 2 days. Can't imagine what goes through a poacher's mind when they hunt a tiger down. Was a heart warming pleasure to see her thrive in her habitat. and her territory. May her tribe grow and flourish! 

Rest of the experience in the picture comments. Happy reading!"

Click here to see 60 brilliant pictures with a gripping narration by Ankush.

After seeing the telephoto shots in Ankush's story, here are two 

wide angle shots by Neeta to give you a perspective of action at 

the scene. Let the pictures speak.

Tadoba can be visited again and again. Apart from Tigers, Tadoba 

has lots to offer. You have to be patient. Read the story 'Tiger 

Ahoy!' to get a feel of other wild life there.

Those looking for directions and other details, please read the 

previous story here

Hope you got a feel of Maya and her cubs. Did Maya cast her maya on you?

Special credits to Ankush and Neeta for their pictures as Ghumakkad was laid off for a day at Tadoba with a sprained back! He did bounce back the next day. That is where the videos came from!

Thanks for browsing

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with Ankush Bhargava/ 31st May 2016

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Oldest Tiger of Tadoba

'Tadoba again?' 
"And that too in this heat?' this is how many friends reacted when we said we were off to Tadoba last week. Just one year back, we had been to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). But this time, we had our grandchildren for company. Yes, our three year old princess- Anuva and 12 year old Ansh- a keen nature lover besides our son Ankush and daughter-in-law Prabjoth made the team. Neeta and Ghumakkad made the rear guard of Team Tiger.

Readers may browse the earlier story titled 'Tiger Ahoy' for location map and other details. Those visitors who are unable to book a core zone safari through any of the five entry gates in advance, can try their luck with a buffer zone safari. Buffer zone safari is open on Tuesdays also when TATR park is otherwise closed for visitors. Buffer zone entry fee is Rs 300/- for a vehicle (as opposed to Rs 750 to 1000/- for core zone) with additional Rs 300/- for the forest guide. Gypsy hire charges remain same at Rs 2000/- Since we arrived on a Tuesday, we took a buffer zone safari from Moharli gate. It can also be taken from Devda gate. No. of vehicles entering the buffer zone is limited. Entry timings are 5.30 AM and 3 PM with exit timings of 9.30 AM and 6.30 PM for morning and afternoon safaris respectively. Timings vary slightly during winter months.

With temperature soaring to 43 degrees Celsius and beyond, you have to protect yourself from the heat. Cool cottons, a hat, plenty of water and sun shades are a must. Tiger too feels the heat and comes out to the water holes in TATR. This story takes you to one such water hole in the Moharli buffer zone in Tadoba. Relish the pictures.

For ease of identification and protection, the forest has been divided into compartments. The compartment numbers are prominently painted on tree barks. See the picture below. 
We spotted the pug marks of a tiger. This picture taken from our safari jeep shows the pug marks. On many safari visits, pug marks is all you see! 
Then we noticed a rufus tree pie close to a water hole. We knew the tiger was not far away as this bird is not afraid of the Tiger. 
Gray Langur also called the Hanuman Langur too made an appearance.
Tiger was not far behind. See the video as the tiger enters the water hole backwards.

Once settled in water, it showed its mighty paws.

How does the forest department replenish the water in the pool? By using a solar powered water pump! Very encouraging indeed.

Baghdoma-- the tiger claimed to be the oldest in Tadoba, seems to own the pool! 

After the tiger hauled himself out of the pool, we resumed our safari through a village to spot some more animals. 

Women folk in the villages spend a lot of time and energy to fetch water for their homes. It gives them time to interact socially. These women were surprised to see our Gypsy jeep. Safari jeeps do not have a horn to ensure silence in the forest.
Glimpses of some more wild life sighted by us in the buffer zone of Tadoba.

Dhol-- the Indian wild dogs hunt in packs and are a dangerous lot. We spotted a pack. Here is a wild dog stretching itself. 

As the sun started to go down, it was time for us to exit the forest too! See Ansh's silhouette against the setting sun.
 Animals too return home as the light fades.

The forest department has plans to introduce night safari. Night viewing towers are under construction. See the picture below. 
We hope the night safari will not unduly disturb the animals and they will continue to be safe in the years to come. 

Having shared the buffer zone story, we will soon be bringing you Ghumakkad's encounter with tigress Maya and her three cubs!

Thanks for browsing and stay connected.

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 22nd May 2016

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Bringing Realism to the Classroom

"Recall any one thing you loved in your class", was the on-line question to 10,000 alumni of a leading engineering institution in India. Guess what was the majority response?
"Class what class?" and "Missing my absence"!

What do these responses signify? Given an option, students would bunk every class-- even in a top ranked institute in the country! We may argue that above responses may be on lighter side. But jokes apart, why do students detest classes? Because classes are so boring, theoretical and distanced from reality! Hope the blog readers who are teachers do not take offence. Ghumakkad the writer too is a teacher. Therefore, honest soul searching will tell us that we need to give our classes a 'real life' feel! How to do that? This was the focus of a workshop conducted by me for teachers of an engineering college recently. It was part of Faculty Development Program (FDP) organised by TASK- Telangana Academy of Skills and Knowledge. 

Some glimpses of the 1st of the workshops in FDP series.

The college motto reads "Giving wings to thoughts'. It was pictorially depicted in a mural in central foyer of the college.

Located on the northern outskirts of Hyderabad, the college has maintained a fine balance with its rocky surroundings.

Workshop topics included the following:
•Engineering Education- Challenges?
•Bringing Realism
•Current Generation- Likes/Dislikes
•Classroom Experiences
•Role of a Teacher
Participants had to answer questions like "What do the students want?" Students love outdoor activities like industry visits. Of course, every time we teachers can not oblige. But once in a while, a class under a tree is a great idea as seen in the picture below.

During the FDP, the participating teachers had to address following 10 aspects to make the classroom a fun place: This was a team effort with teachers of different subjects coming together to brainstorm and make a presentation.

1.What do the students want in an engineering college and its classes? 
     2.   How to encourage students’ curiosity? 
3.  What is the relevance of the subject you are teaching? 
4.   Innovations in teaching methods and pedagogy
5.  Teacher has to be a listener first. 
6. Class discipline Vs. empathy for students. 
7.  Do PPTs enhance learning? 
8. Integrative learning—moving across subjects. 
9. Using social media to enhance the learning experience
10. How to encourage students to read?

  The  teachers' presentations were assessed and best team awarded a prize during the FDP.

It was time for a group photograph. 

But with smart phones all around, selfies take over! Picture below.

Ghumakkad felt years younger on completion of the workshop! The teachers showed outstanding enthusiasm. Am confident they will make their classrooms a fun place for learning!

Credit goes to TASK Team in Hyderabad for taking this much-needed initiative.

Thanks for browsing

   Harsh-The-Ghuamkkad/ 15th May 2016

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Our Princess turns Three

Our Princess Turns Three

Anuva* our only grand daughter is three
Her vocabulary is on an expansion spree

Sample this: “Do fast. You are taking ages!”
It’s her way to hasten you as she rages

Likes to dress up proper and prim
As she makes sentences which are trim

            Complimenting you she quips, “You look nice and fit!”
            And asks, “Can I sleep your shoulder for a little bit?”

Ever fond of animals since she was two years old
When her vocabulary was both unique and bold

(Click here for the previous story and a short video on Anuva's 2nd birthday)

            She identifies herself with the cartoon character ‘Peppa Pig’
            And loves the entire family of Daddy, Mummy and George Pig

Without animals' company she doesn’t go to sleep
With them in a tent, she plays hide and peep

            Anuva is fond of listening to stories at bed time
            Appa- a cricket story and Mumma a ‘girly’ one

She is a tech-kid whose WhatsApp messages to her Appa will floor you
Sample this to Ankush “how much will you come? 2 mins? Missing you”

            She pretends to be elder brother Ansh’s mumma

            And loves to feed birds whether sparrows or munia

As our princess turns three in Chennai today
We wish her many happy returns of the day

            She shares her birthday with her Appa
            And doesn't leave Ankush or his lap

We await her arrival with lot of excitement
As her presence gives us life’s best enjoyment

* Daughter of Prabjoth and Ankush Bhargava

God bless and lots of love

-          Elfo, Badi Amma, Dadi, Dadu@Secunderabad
-          Naman, Nihkil, Bhui and Puphaji@USA
-          Bade Babaji, Chote Dadu-Dadi@Jaipur
-          Nanu, Mausis and families@Mumbai, Pune and USA

13th May 2016

Hope you enjoyed reading the short poem. Am sure, all grandparent-readers would identify with their own grand children!
And younger parents would recall their toddlers when they were three. Seeing them grow is life's real pleasure!

Thanks for browsing