Ploughing with Oxen

I spotted this man ploughing with two oxen on the Immadihalli side of Whitefield on 1 August.

oxen ploughing

I asked for a photograph, and everyone posed happily – farmer and oxen.

Oxen turning crop

I hope I didn’t distract them from the next straight furrow.

Oxen turned

I was lucky to get these photographs, because I had never taken this road before.  It was a diversion to avoid the “scary crater” in Varthur Bridge, as described in The Hindu newspaper.

I Admit It: Palm Squirrels are Cute

After an hour or so sitting on the same branch, the Asian Koel from last week’s photos flew off, leaving all the food for the palm squirrel.

Peeling the yellow skin off

For a few days the squirrel re-appeared in the same tree every morning.  Then one day I looked out of my kitchen window and realised that all the yellow nuts were gone.  Between them, the Asian Koel and the Indian Palm Squirrel, with his long red tongue, had eaten the lot.

Is that a red tongue?

The palm squirrel has three stripes on its back (as you can see in the next photo) and there is an Indian legend about the origin of the stripes.  The version that I have heard is that Lord Rama was building a bridge between India and Sri Lanka in order to rescue his wife Sita, and the squirrel helped by adding some twigs and sand (shaken from his fur) to the bridge-building materials.  Lord Rama thanked the squirrel, leaving three stripes where his fingers stroked the squirrel’s back.

Showing off his three stripes
Showing off his three stripes

So I will admit that the squirrel is cute – but don’t forget my first comment on Indian palm squirrels – complete with “Wanted” poster: 2 May 2013.

Asian Koel

A bird was sitting outside my kitchen window for a long time last week.

Asian Koel

I’m pretty sure it’s an Asian Koel, and I wonder if it is the offspring of the bird I photographed in March.  The Koel is a kind of cuckoo, so (without any evidence at all) I imagine that that female laid her egg in a crow’s nest in one of the trees near my house; that the egg hatched; that the chick fledged; and that the juvenile bird flew back into my garden for a photo opportunity.

Tentatively identified as a  juvenile Asian Koel
Tentatively identified as a juvenile Asian Koel

It was breakfasting on the yellow palm nuts , but had to share a few with a palm squirrel (who is just a scurrying furry blur in the final photo, but gets a starring role in my next blog entry).

Yellow berries for breakfast
Yellow palm nuts for breakfast
Plenty of berries for bird and squirrel
Bright-eyed bird and bushy-tailed palm squirrel

10 Clues that We’re in India – Clues 8 to 10

Yes, it’s the same photo of a traffic jam. This is giving you a taste of the frustrations of living in Bangalore – looking at the same old traffic jams every day.  But we are on the last leg of this story.  Here are clues 8 to 10 that the photo was taken in India.

Traffic in Bangalore

Clue No. 8.   There is a palm tree in the background, and the men on the motorbikes are dressed for warm weather, but the sky is grey.  Just a typical July day in Bangalore.  By 4pm that day we had rain showers; by 8pm we had thunder.

Clue No. 9.  Staying with the guys on the motorbikes, they are dressed for different kind of jobs.

Motorbike riders

The man in the shirt with vertical stripes looks like he’s riding his own bike to an office job – maybe carrying a laptop in his shoulder bag on his way to his career in the new Bangalore of software companies and call centres.

The man in the white shirt and shorts looks like he’s on his way to a manual job – which might be connected to the IT sector as well, because so many offices are under construction.  His footwear is definitely Indian.  I hear various names for open shoes – slippers, sandals and chappals – and I think these ones are chappals, because they are not secured at the ankle.

And finally, Clue No. 10.   There are two advertisements about gold.  The poster of a woman is advertising gold for sale at the Malabar shop in our newest shopping mall – Phoenix Market City.


Jewellery shops thrive here.  Indian families are really keen on investing in gold.

Ad for gold in Varthur

The Malabar store advertised isn’t even the only jewellery shop in the Phoenix mall – there is also Tanishq.


But when you buy gold this year, what do you do when you are short of cash next year?  You could sell your gold jewellery, but you may be reluctant to part with it.

So instead you go to the bank asking to borrow money on the security of the gold.  In an ironic juxtaposition in the traffic jam, the ad on the back of the auto-rickshaw is offering “jewel loans – convert idle gold into active cash”.

I spoke to one man who has borrowed money like this. He was happy with the arrangement because the bank lent the money quickly, at a reduced interest rate, when he offered gold as security.  The gold, which he originally received as a wedding gift,  is stored in the bank until he repays the loan.  If he can’t keep up the repayments, the bank may eventually auction off his gold, but he is intending to repay the whole loan and reclaim the gold.

According to the KV Bank website, the bank will only be interested if you have jewellery of a minimum purity of 22 carats, or gold ingots.  As a foreigner who hasn’t been stockpiling ingots, and who received kitchenware as wedding presents, I don’t have much to offer them.

Enough of that photo of the traffic jam.  I promise that next week’s post will be vehicle-free!

Rice, Coconuts, Peanuts and Ragi

When the fields in the photo at the top of the Distant Drumlin blog are not covered in snow, they are used for grazing cattle, and for growing potatoes, turnips and barley.

Things are different here in South India.  In the countryside to the south-east of Bangalore, farmers grow rice….

Cow in rice field

(here is a closer view)

Rice paddy

….and finger millet or Ragi…..


…which is often intercropped with peanut….

Ragi and peanut

…and all of these are interspersed with palm trees….

Ragi and Palm Trees

…which produce regular crops of coconuts.

Coconuts on Bike

Bangalore Rocks

My mother says that I am building up a picture of life in India with this blog. That’s what I was hoping for, but sometimes the photos are misleading. I love green fields and cows, so that’s what I look for, and that’s what I post. Today I’m showing the other side of South India – the dry, rocky, ancient, semi-arid landscape.

I took these photos of rocks from the side of the road, on the highway connecting Bangalore and Chennai, near Kolar. I love the strange boulders at the top of the hills – placed there by giants?
If you are reading this in Bangalore, you may be more intrigued by the photo of an empty road – one precious moment when there was a break in the traffic.

The geology of this region pushes its way up to the surface, even at the golf course. The last two photos show the two opposite sides of the green at the 18th hole at Clover Greens Golf Club. In the granite outcrop, one strip stands out, as it runs all the way under the green and up on the other side.