You Can’t Pull Me Down

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By pointing at my grey-hair,
And telling me that,
My skin stopped glowing.
By showing me my pimple scars,
And pointing at my thinning hair.

And then telling me that it’s out of concern
It’s not a concern, my friend.
It tells me who you really are!
You’re like those thousands
of people who think women
must be beautiful.

Oh! According to your standards of beauty.

Shiny voluminous hair
that’s always picture perfect.
That sits in place how you’ve left it.
A face that glows,
doesn’t matter if the glow is fake.
Eyes lined and lashes curled.

No, they don’t care if it’s fake.
If it’s carcinogenic,
If it’s harmful,
If it’s objectifying you.
No, they just don’t care.

How you look today is what matters,
If you’re pleasing to my eyes,
Long hair, fair skin and oh! that glow.
Scars, marks and tan is not beauty for them
And if you’ve got greys, your life is ruined.
Not married yet? Oh no, what a shame!

It’s not the end.

I have more to say,
More to write,
More to do,
More to beautify.

I work on my mind,
I read more and polish my brain with words.
I practice how to answer your questions,
So that you cannot break me
by your micro-mini standards.
So that you cannot pull me down!

I am a woman of substance,
I beg to differ!
I like my greys,
They are a sign of my intelligence.
They tell you how many books,
I have read.

My ageing skin of wrinkles,
And lines.
And those slowly developing crow’s feet,
They scream mindfulness,
They show compassion.

My brain explodes with mixed feelings.

And about your concern towards me,
Let me tell you, you’re least concerned.
If you really were, you’d ask me about my,
Work. About my pain,
about my challenges.

You’d give me tips to overcome them.
You’d not be commenting on my beauty.
Because if you knew me the least bit
You’d know what my life is,
What I work towards,
What my values are!

My life is about my values
It’s about the forests,
It’s about words and flying long distances,
Using my paraglider.
My life is of discipline,
Disciple of my mind.

Still, my heart is weak.
It allows me to break rules,
To not follow my own discipline.
My heart breaks from time to time
As a response,
Tears flow down my eyes.

I cry inside when another woman,
Points a finger at me – A woman!
When another woman asks another woman of her beauty,
Asks her to dress up,
Wear a saree, line eyes and apply lipstick
Are we objectifying ourselves?

We should be talking about important matters –
Sports, Politics, Feminism, Work, Life.
There’s a lot to speak.
There’s a lot to do,
There’s a lot to focus on.

I gather all my courage every single day,
To explore a new unheard place.
To seek the voices of animals,
That don’t speak our language,
To understand complexities like climate change.

That’s too much for a brain like yours,
(I am sorry!)
A brain that is still focusing on how
women should look…  Err!
Thick, shiny hair. Glowing skin and some natural makeup?

You come to me and tell me that a woman’s life,
Is complete with a child,
That happiness is marriage,
That greatest joy is being with your family,
I must tell you, you’re lucky my friend,
To have it all.

I beg your pardon, I am not like you.

I am not that woman.
I differ!
I don’t think my greatest happiness
is marriage or a child.
A family? Yes, my family!

What’s my other greatest happiness?
It’s for sure exploring the forests,
Hearing the chirps and the croaks
Yes, I am different.
I am free. Liberated!

If by chance, you see my variation from the norms
The norms that you’re aware of,
Thick hair and makeup!
You’ll see where I am coming from,
It’s shocking at first, I understand.
But the day you start appreciating my difference
I promise I will start accepting your standards. Your views!

Right now, am angry and I just think,
By your standards of beauty,
And pointing fingers at me,
You’re trying to pull me down.
You’re diverting from things that matter to me.

I’d like to tell you that I am such a bitch,
That when you point at my grey hair,
I will answer you back and
Tell you that my grey hair is,
More beautiful than your coloured hair.
That my facial wrinkles are nicer,
And that dark circles are just another
Sign of intelligence!

And healthy skin is disease free. It’s not the glow!

My friend, I want to appeal to you,
To start accepting absurd standards of beauty,
like that of mine.
Because difference is what creates this world,
And difference is what makes our lives valuable!

What you say is true.
That maybe you’re truly concerned about me.
And other women…
I am sorry, I don’t believe you!
And you cannot pull me down by your standards.

I will live with my messy hair,
With hair in my armpits #noshave
I will not line my eyes.
I’d want to call myself – a silver vixen.
The society must learn,
Must get comfortable.

Around women who divert from the norms.

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#FridayFrogFact – The largest tadpoles in India!


I sat looking at the misty mountains of the Western Ghats, appreciating the landscape of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. A slow moving stream beside me changed its colour as the sun rose from behind the mountains shining its dim orange light. I glanced at the beautiful vegetation around the stream. The leaves are laden with silvery dew drops. The stream is home to numerous tadpoles and fish signifying the freshness of the flowing water. I was taken back to my childhood memories of catching tadpoles in my cupped hands. Since the largest tadpoles in India are those of the Bicoloured frog – we will be talking about them in this #FridayFrogFact!

The Bicoloured frog (Clinotarsus curtipes) is a medium sized (7.4 cms) frog living on the leaf litter of forest floors and is endemic to the Western Ghats. In the non-breeding season the frog dons a dual-coloured attire of olive-gray back and black sides. Whereas in the breeding season that is from June to October, it turns golden reddish yellow with a patch of red on its shoulders. According to IUCN the frog is categorised as a ‘Near Threatened’ species but this requires an update because it is distributed across many more states than the ones we already know about.

Picture by Arun Achappa
Picture by Arun Achappa

Tadpoles of the Bicoloured frog are large, black, wriggly creatures with tails. They are found at the base of freshwater streams and ponds, all year round. These tadpoles are a common sight if you have wandered around the Western Ghats. As a child, these tadpoles were probably the first creatures that I got home and stored in plastic bottles. Eventually all of them died. I had no intentions to kill them but I was too immature to understand how their life functions. None of my family members knew about my affair with them so they too could not guide me on how to keep my lil’ tadpoles alive. Recently, when I came across these tadpoles during my expeditions I spent some time observing them very closely. I knew that there is more to these tiny creatures than what I observed so I decided to dig deeper. Five hours later, I was done compiling this list of the top interesting facts about them-

  1. The Bicolored frog tadpoles are the largest known tadpoles in India – now isn’t that something! They can grow up to 7-10 centimetres whereas an adult frog is only about 7 centimetres.
  2. The mouth of this tadpole is large and has horny teeth. There can up to 15 rows of teeth split between the upper and lower half of the mouth.
  3. The tadpoles usually live in small tanks or slow moving streams. They swim from their birthplace to other micro habitats and keep wandering till they metamorphose into frogs.
  4. Studies say that predator fish might not feed on these tadpoles. The tadpoles secrete toxins which makes them unpalatable.
  5. These tadpoles possess a pair of paratoid glands behind the eyes. Paratoid glands are warts containing high concentrations of toxins.
  6. A supra-caudal gland is present above the tail.
  7. It has been reported that these glands secrete a white (toxic) fluid when handled which is why predators might not feed on them!

If you have missed any of the previous #FridayFrogFact posts – read them all over here! And if you liked this article, join our growing community of amazing froggers on Facebook. Also please fill out this form and tell me what would you like to read in the next post.

Now go and croak it out (read share this article) to the entire world on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sharing the #FridayFrogFact with your friends on social media is a great idea to show your love for these species <3 

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Wait?

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Will you wait? Asked my heart. Waiting is great indeed
Wait for another dog to walk in your home.
When things fall into place on their own,
Till then, let me wait and moan.

Wait for that perfect opportunity
Wait for that perfect day.
When things fall into place just like you’d expected,
Till then, let me wait and pray!

Wait? What are you doing, said my brain
With the only life, you’ve got to make.
Things will never fall into place on their own,
You gotta get up and start to take that ache.

Life is difficult and unlucky, my girl
Success comes to those who never wait.
I know you will get there, but not just by pray,
Get up and find that opportunity to make your life great!

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#FridayFrogFact – Are There Any Poisonous Frogs In India?

The Poison Dart Frogs are the deadliest frogs in the world. When the poison from a Golden Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is rubbed on an arrow head and shot at a monkey high up in the canopy – the monkey falls straight down. Natives living in Colombian rainforest used this technique to hunt. Forget monkeys, just one milligramme of poison from this frog is capable of killing 10 human beings. 

giphy_poison frog

Fortunately (or unfortunately) these incredible frogs aren’t found in India. In fact, there are no poisonous frogs in India. While most toads have poison glands behind their eyes, the poison from these glands isn’t capable of doing any major harm to human beings. Most people are worried that if they touch frogs something dangerous might happen to them. Yes, that might be true for people living in other countries but not here in India. We Indians don’t have to fear – our country is free from deadly frogs!

How bright the colours are on a frog’s skin, is an indicator of just how poisonous the frog is! Most poisonous frogs produce poison as a defence mechanism to fight predators. This poison, unlike venon is not used to kill its prey. Indian frogs although have different defence mechanisms. For example, the brightly coloured Fungoid frog (Hydrophylax malabaricus) is known to produce an unpleasant odour when touched. Most toads will either urinate or secrete poison on being touched or picked up. Based on my personal observations, I have noticed that when some people with very sensitive skin come in contact with toads, they feel a burning or itching sensation. Another interesting frog whose looks can be confusing owing to its bright coloration is the Malabar Torrent Toad (Ghatophryne ornata). Rightly named, it is found on the rocks adjoining fast flowing streams in the Malabar region. The frog has bright colours on the insides – over its belly and groins. Intelligently, when the frog senses danger it flips in the flowing stream acting dead and showing off all the bright colours to the predator. 

giphy poisonous frog

 

So the next time someone points out and talks about poisonous frogs from India, you’d know the answer – there aren’t any!

PS: I am not encouraging any of you guys to pick-up or touch frogs unnecessarily!

If you have missed any of the previous #FridayFrogFact posts – read them all over here! And if you liked this article, join our growing community of amazing froggers on Facebook. Also please fill out this form and tell me what would you like to read in the next post.

Now go and croak it out (read share this article) to the entire world on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sharing the #FridayFrogFact with your friends on social media is a great idea to show your love for these species <3

 

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Set Yourself Free…

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When you truly sing, you sing yourself free.
When you truly dance, you dance yourself free.
And when you travel to places and discover a river, you swim to set yourself free!

PS: Read these lines somewhere in a book and modified them a little

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Reverse Bob Marley Flower

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Gloriosa superba otherwise called a flame lily or a fire lily is fatal to man and animals if consumed. The incredibly coloured flower reminded me of my favourite singer – Bob Marley when I first saw it in the wild. The whole flower is poisonous but the most poisonous part is the little bud below. If ingested the symptoms start with nausea and vomiting and eventually lead to death. The flower has been used by ancient tribes for suicides or murders. Woah!

It is found throughout the forests of India although the plant is a native of Africa. It is surprising to know that the plant has miraculous medicinal properties. It is used to induce labour, treat acne, kidney stones, STD, cancer, impotency, bruises, snake bites and much more. 

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The plant when in full bloom is indeed a treat to the eyes. I saw it first when I was touring Dharwad and lived on an organic farm on Dharwad outskirts. Mr Sanjeev, the owner of the farm introduced me to this beautiful flower!

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Why I love Frogs And Why You Should Too!

A beautiful froglet of endangered Rhacophorus lateralis. (Clicked by Shrikanth Nayak; naturalist in Bagh Villas, Kanha.)
A beautiful froglet of endangered Rhacophorus lateralis. (Clicked by Shrikanth Nayak; naturalist in Bagh Villas, Kanha)

Often when I tell people that I love frogs, one the most important question that they ask me is “Why do these ugly frogs fascinate you? What’s in them?” So to answer this FAQ, I have made a list of fascinating facts about these croaking knights.

I am sure these will not fail to impress even the most unexcitable amongst you:

1. Bioindicators- The word ‘bioindicator’ literally means a creature that tells you something about the environment. Did you know that frogs breathe through their skin? Fascinating- ain’t it! Scientists over the years have explained that frogs and amphibians are good bioindicators because they are affected by the natural environment. Their skin is highly permeable and any change in the quality of air or water will directly or indirectly affect their existence. Sudden increase or decrease in the population of frogs can speak a lot about the environment that we live in.

Watch this video to know more –

2. Hate creepy crawlies? Love frogs- Most frogs feed on little invertebrates on the land and in the water. They play a major role in controlling the population of pests. Frogs will feed on mosquito larvae thus keeping the environment clean and preventing many deadly diseases. This could be most people’s personal favorite reason to love frogs 😀

Take a look at this mind-boggling poster released by Vancouver Aquarium to show you what the world without frogs would look like –

iffrogsgoextinct

 

3. Two lives specialist- Amphibians are specialized creatures that live in the water and on the land. Alfred Sherwood Romer quotes- “The amphibian is.. in many respects, little more than a peculiar type of fish which is capable of walking on land.” Frogs spend one-half of their life in water being tadpoles and other half on land or trees. There are indeed frogs that are fully aquatic but would still spend time at the edges of the pools (half immersed) instead of fully being in the water, unlike any fish.

An adult frog with a tail!
Almost adult night frog (with a tail) chills on a wet rock surface by a small puddle in Coorg, India!

4. Breathing through the largest organ- Just like human beings, frogs have skin, bones, muscles and in-cavity organs. In the early nineteenth century, a number of scientists studied the frog’s respiratory system and found out that frogs could stay alive in the absence of lungs for more than a month! Skin is the largest organ in the body and frogs rely to a great extent on cutaneous (through skin) respiration. This explains why the frog’s skin is highly permeable to water and air, although the only constraint being it must be kept moist at all times.

Such beautiful and photogenic creatures clicked by Dr Gururaja
A group of Rhacophorus lateralis clicked by Dr Gururaja. Aren’t they innocently photogenic?

5. Clean drinking water- Excessive algae blooms have been a major cause for the destruction of fresh water bodies. Most tadpoles and frogs feed on algae that grow in the water bodies. Thus they help in maintaining the oxygen levels of the water. They form a part of natural filtration system in the freshwater ponds. You might also like to know that they are never found in salty water or in the sea!

This tiny rests on the rock overflowing a stream
This tiny croaker (Micrixalus Saxicola) rests on the rock adjoining an overflowing water stream in the Western Ghats of India

6. Eggs so weird- Frogs lay their eggs in water or on very damp surfaces. Their eggs are unlike any other reptile or bird eggs – they are not covered by hard shells. Frog eggs are little squishy bundles made of a jelly like matter that protects the growing embryo. Most amphibians use external fertilization (the female lays eggs first and the male fertilizes it later). This again explains the need for damp surfaces and requirement of fresh water for their survival.

A male Nyctibatrachus grandis guards it's eggs
This male night frog (Nyctibatrachus grandis) sits alert to guard his egg clutch!

7. Psychedelic calls- ‘The sound, which the scientific books describe as “croaking,” floats far and wide, and produces a beautiful, mysterious effect on a still evening’ – W. H. Hudson (1919). You might have heard continuous trrrr-trrrr-trrrr during damp, dark nights in your backyard. Have you ever wondered how these little beasts call all night? Well, the answer lies in their wonderful and functional three-unit “noise-production-system” inside their body cavities. This system consists of trunk muscles, larynx and vocal sacs. Trunk muscles give power, larynx helps in the production of the sound, and the buccal cavity and vocal sacs together transmit the sound to long distances. Sounds are either produced for attracting mates or for dominating other males in the area.

This clip by Ramit Singal tells you how interesting the music can get –

8. Highly intelligent- These tiny wonders are extremely intelligent. They are smart enough to manipulate their sounds and signals according to different needs. Some frog species, considering the habitat they live in (torrential streams), call at different pitches and manipulate their frequencies.
The ones living near heavy flowing rivers might give “click” sounds with long breaks to stand apart from the continuous background sounds. And there are frogs that have evolved to give ‘visual signals’ to convey their message. Foot-flagging is one such visual signal. The genus Micrixalus (endemic to India) is popular for their foot-flagging signals. They are popularly nicknamed Dancing Frogs. There are about twenty-four known species of Dancing Frogs in India.

This video by Dr Gururaja shows how a frog dances –

These are only but a few facts that I have listed due to time and space constraints. If I sit back and start to mention each hard-to-believe fact of these slimy creatures, I could write an entire 100-page magazine dedicated to frogs. Now I’m sure you understand – why I’m crazily in love with frogs <3

I would also like to tell you, that I am starting Part 1 of my campaign #NotJustFrogs in India. All you have to do is click pictures of frogs (add date and location) and share them with me using the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.

You could also join this facebook group!

Also, if you would like to take one more step towards saving frogs then click on the link below. You will be asked to make your profile and then you can show your support towards my project with Roots&Shoots by Dr Jane Goodall.

https://www.rootsandshoots.org/project/notjustfrogs-part-l

Don’t forget to tell me your reasons to love (or hate?) frogs in the comments below 🙂 

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Travel lessons- Find your soul, what are you?

The beautiful blue sea at Kodi Bengre- A small town on the coasts of Karnataka, India
The beautiful blue sea at Kodi Bengre- A small town on the coasts of Karnataka, India

The sea is so gorgeous. When you stand in front of it, it shows you what space you occupy in this huge world. You’re a tiny speck lost in yourself, difficult to find and constantly fighting with the numerous external and internal factors. Who knows what you are, who you are? No one, but you yourself will find the answer one day.

Some say you must meditate, maintain relationships, listen to your parents, follow your elders/mentors, explore and travel to get there, to lead a happy life. But I doubt! I don’t think anyone can answer it for you.

No one but you will know whether you need meditation, exploration or a relationship! It just takes one moment, one thought, to realize and find your soul. Although when will that thought trigger, no one knows. It isn’t age dependent or time dependent. It just happens, like you fall in love but it is still a mystery.

And whether you have the guts to let that thought run your life defines whether you sail successfully like what a ship is suppose to do or are tied to the shore, which is also what some ships do.

The choice is yours of course!

PS: Show love in the comments, by sharing this with your friends and by helping me fund my travel.

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