Category Archives: fauna


There’s something about Los Angeles. Could be the hog-wild people, the aggressively blue skies, the electrifying espressos, or the record-breaking September temperatures (113F a couple days ago!), but like so many dramatic narrators before me, I’m comfortable here. Gathering together my story of the On the Move workshops has been taking most of my writing time, but I’ve been finding worthwhile activities and uncanny correlations wherever I turn. Like these two :

slow loris on a telephone pole


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Filed under California, fauna, United States

Bees on a hot rooftop

My August 2010 (personally much-anticipated) workshop with Graze the Roof at Glide Memorial is on. After sessions with two student groups last Thursday, it was the right place and the right time to meet a few hundred live bees. Coincidence?

Graze the Roof is keeping bees now, to model an urban hive and further sweeten the generally wonderful education-on-top-of-a-roof deal. There will be an introductory class to demonstrate honey extraction on 12 September.

Bee hive high rise

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Filed under California, fauna, On the Move

Ta, ta

Dear geckos (and all the other personalities who have made my time in India so special),

I miss you so much. You add a little sparkle and pep to my day every time I see you. I love how you still manage to surprise me, like the time I closed the sliding door in my bedroom and you had been hiding on it inside the wall, or the time you were stuck in the kitchen sink when I woke up in the morning. I even love how everyone else thinks I’m totally crazy for adoring you so much.

I even love meeting your relatives. That’s got to be a sign.

So I’m writing to say thank you, really. I’m sure you’ve changed my life indelibly. I’ll be back to visit as soon as I can.



Travel Maven
Large Jet

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Filed under fauna, India

Traveling a final mile India-style while viable

I have a question for all of you. Prepare for a little soul-searching, because it’s a big one. Let’s say an opportunity came your way, to jump in a train for 10 hours, a bus for half an hour, an auto rickshaw for 2 hours… to see the biggest banyan tree in the world, recorded in the Guinness Book of 1989 world records if you’d like proof, named Thimmamma Marrimanu after a woman who committed sati 5 or 6 centuries ago and started the tree growing.

Let's say the landscape was beautiful, and curious.

Would you do it?

That’s how I traveled to a southern corner of Andhra Pradesh, and beyond. Finding ourselves only 6 or so hours away from Hampi, next we rumbled our way into a surreal and implausible landscape that sprouts arid stacks of boulders and steamy stretches of banana and coconut trees, welcoming friends and severe primates, ancient temples and rooftop cafes, charming children and holy men, like some unfeasibly diversified garden.

And whose company should I have for all this last-ditch effort to know a little bit of India before I leave? Lucia “two middle names” Graves, turning 25.

Ooops, I mean,


Filed under fauna, India, Karnataka

What happened next

My parents left, and I went to pick on some friends my own age. We visited a touch more of Delhi before we climbed onto that 17-hour train across the desert which gave me such a good opportunity to think.

Humayun's Tomb actually contains over 100 graves, which are mysteriously placed in small clusters throughout the grounds.

The Baha'i Temple in Delhi is surrounded by beautiful, precise landscaping and there is silence inside.

Once we reached double-walled Jaisalmer, out in the western reaches of Rajasthan where the desert turns into Pakistan just nearby, we hurried straight away to fill up our eyeballs with some havelis. These are – how should I explain? This is the front of a house, and it’s carved out of stone.

The haveli is pressed into such a narrow street that it's impossible to frame the entire stretch of carvings in a photograph.

We explored a warren of 7 Jain temples inside the fort, and were not permitted to use the bathroom.

Spiritual bathing only.

The 24 Jain prophets all have the same face, but sit above symbols to differentiate them.

The Bada Bagh Cenotaphs outside of Jaisalmer present an interesting confluence of Hindu pyramids, Mughal onion domes, and the slim windmills that currently power the city, neatly summarizing the shifting allegiances of Jaisalmer over time.

And we came to the camels.

Dream no longer deferred.

Camels are not a disappointment. Neither are Maharajas’ forts, palaces, or color-coded towns.

Can you think of a better city plan than "blue"? I can't.

Other colors are also allowed, though

Sorry about the photo-album format. You try being concise about a place where legends come from.

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Filed under cemetary, Delhi, fauna, India, Rajasthan

Compost to cow them all

So you’ve heard about the garden. Let me tell you, it is burgeoning.
Now all you victory gardeners, you composters, you champions of the local and the fresh, listen up. Because there was a time when I was planning to start a compost at Sphoorti. I was looking at places to put it, pondering containers to house it, and conducting a generalized survey to figure out if I could get any red bait worms in this unapologetically landlocked city. And one day I was talking to the director of Sphoorti about it, and he pointed out that it might be an issue to build a compost big enough to handle all the organic waste from the kitchen. Because – well, the organic waste goes to help feed the buffalo at the dairy next door. So if Sphoorti stops contributing to their feed, the owner might not be willing to give cow manure free of cost. And the cow manure – well, that’s what fertilizes the garden, of course.

Sphoorti has been quietly making use of a composting system so straightforward that it never occurred to me. Here it is :

I hope I remember to check out the neighborhood buffalo next time I’m trying to sort through a predicament.


Filed under fauna, flora, India, Sphoorti Foundation

3 dimensions of Maharastra : Second is set in stone

Fifteen minutes before I left Mumbai, I found out I had made it off the waitlist and onto the train that would take me to Ellora Caves, where who should I run into but…

You can't be serious! What are you doing here?

It's really too funny that we just happen to be here at the same time. And I have to say, you are looking very nice on that Nandi.

Of course you're right, it is a place worth visiting - it's still funny though. (You'll have to imagine the gecko in this one.)

I actually did run into someone I know at the Ellora Caves, a woman who I last spoke with at the Fulbright conference in Pondicherry, but we were both slightly too overwhelmed with this place or slightly too used to India to spend much effort being surprised.

Let me clarify something : “caves” is the wrong word for Ellora.

I don’t know a better word for 1600 years of history and 3 religions carved out of rock that would otherwise simply be a mountain, though.

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Filed under fauna, India