THE CRAWLIES WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS BEFORE GETTING WINGS

Eew! Eeks! Boo! Spooky! Scary! Aaa…!

We usually utter such words whenever we spot a creepy crawly around us. As I start writing on this topic, I feel the tickling sensation as if a bug is going to hop upon my arm or I am going to step on those wiggly worms!

In spite of the petrifying feeling these little creatures give, they are fascinating, at least for the kids. That’s why there are so many children’s books written on these creepy crawlies.

Lio Lionni’s Inch By Inch depicts the story of an inchworm who tries to measure the world around him and avoids being eaten by predators.

There’s an interesting book by Jane Yolen, Bug Off which is a collection of creepy crawly poems, which in fact are very inspirational, eg.-

An army of ants, in their working class pants,

They don’t sop for movies, they don’t stop to dance.

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman is about how the bees who apart from sharing the nectar, share the load also.

The crux of the matter is that there is a lot to learn from nature, even from the teeny-weeny organisms.

One of the favourite books of children is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My kids love it so much that I read it to them almost every day, especially to my 3-year-old. It describes the journey of a caterpillar who starts his journey from an egg and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. It is such a fascinating book in which the caterpillar eats so much that he becomes big and fat from tiny.

That’s one of the most important jobs of a caterpillar- to eat. They eat as much as 27,000 times the weight of their body during the life cycle. Also called the eating machines, caterpillars have the fastest growth rate than any animal.

(Preeta, with her tiny friends)

Another distinct feature of caterpillars is that it may have upto 4000 muscles in its tiny body. No, I am not kidding. It’s really strange that nature has made us such- we humans with just 650 muscles in a huge body might suddenly start feeling so small!

Caterpillars outgrow their skin and also shed it 3 to 5 times. After the final detaching, they stick themselves on a tree branch and enter the pupa stage. After the process of metamorphosis, they become moths or butterflies.

Sometimes, I also wish I could develop a cocoon around myself so that I can have a “me time” and transform myself, shedding all the pessimism inside me!

One typical trait of caterpillar really surprises me is that despite 6 pairs of eyes, it has poor eyesight and relies on its antennae for searching food. In order to be safe, caterpillars group themselves in a row, mimicking a snake and fooling the predators.

Some caterpillars also associate themselves with ants in order to seek protection and provide them food as a reward. Now, that’s I call business!

We all are vulnerable, yet unique. We feel inferior, yet are beautiful inside. So, keep the faith, just hold on and fly high.

“Just when the caterpillar thought “I am incapable of moving,” it became a butterfly.” 
― Annette Thomas

MOON INSPIRED

Oh, dear moon,
send me a soothing hymn
for my melancholic tune.
Tell me how you manage to be so
tranquil while you brew
in the concoction of
serendipity and misfortunes,
tell me how you keep your glow, so soothing,
while you spin around a world so fictitious and phoney,
which finds satisfaction in destructions.

Oh, dear moon,
send me a hint of your flavour
so that I can bloom.
Alone you are yet sufficed with valour,
send me your courage,
send me your calm for I am filled to the brim
with malice and rage.

Oh, dear moon,
send me your aura, so pure
sans deceit,
lit the spark in me now
for I am dead on my feet.

Overview:
God’s creation is so beautiful and sometimes it teaches us invaluable lessons for life. And as I was pondering about a shining moon in a darkened night, I came up with these inspiring thoughts that soaked my heart and mind which I expressed through a poem.

Friends! Never stop getting inspired and motivated looking at God’s beautiful creation.

SLENDER LORIS – TINY YOGIS OF THE RAINFORESTS

Inhabiting the tropical monsoon forests of Sri Lanka and the inter-monsoon forests of the Western Ghats and Tamil Nadu are the demure creatures, the Slender Loris. As prim and proper as they may be, they are well known for their bizarre habits and at the same time are known to be one the most threatened beings of the animal kingdom. Having a height of about 7 to 10 inches and weighing just about 350 grams this creature beguiles the spectator (read animal lover) with its out-of-the-world flexible manners and social behaviour skills. One cannot but wonder how these beautifully designed creatures thrive so close to yet are on the verge of extinction.

They are primarily arboreal using branches of trees to journey through the forest as they seldom leap or jump which are made possible with the kind of toes they are born with, helping them to grip on branches easily. Being nocturnal creatures they hunt during the night, alone in search of insects or birds’ eggs, and are known to consume every part of their prey for that added boost of protein that make them so dexterous. However, their only social activity includes sleeping during the daylight in groups on branch tangles, at times curled up in a ball with their head between their legs. It wouldn’t be harmful to christen them as “tiny yogis of the rainforests”. The more you come to know these forest babies as they are nicknamed by the natives, the more intriguing they become. Their clan has dominating females and promiscuous males who engage in mutual grooming and wrestling for sport, while both the sexes tend to the infants of the clan. The females do not interact much with the other females except for the ones within the family thus giving them an exclusive status quo.

Their skilful hunting and consuming of the prey concludes with a quirky habit of using their own urine to wash off their face and hands that reek of the sting of the insects. They also use the scent of their urine to communicate and advertise their reproductive status to others. This animal is a gifted defender and is gutsy enough to stare at its attacker with its large glowing-in-the-dark eyes, emitting an obnoxious odour from its armpits thus confirming the existence devilish charm that hovers around it.  

Overwhelmed are you? I was too. Mind-boggled was I when I comprehended the reason of their extinction. Devastatingly a hundred of them are left in the wild. And why is that so?  It is solely because of Man’s barbaric nature. Man’s submission to the chains of slavery to the ever-compressing system of civilization. The continuing cycle of hate and vengeance has cost many a lives of the Slender Loris by sacrificing them in black magic rituals. During the rites it is believed that whatever is inflicted upon the creatures, will in turn happen to the enemy. Ironically, the animal is crushed brutally and all of its body parts are eaten and used to make traditional Asian medicine and tonics (to the natives of course) to cure leprosy, gain strength after childbirth. Its tears, used in love potions and teeth removed to avoid toxic bites to quench the thirst for illegal pet trade (for the so-called civilized masses).

Rousseau’s words echoes through my ears, “man is born free and everywhere he is in chains”. It sets me to thinking if civilization has brought out Barbarism in us or if we were more civilized when we were barbaric. I guess we were created on the same plane wrapped up in innocence, living in harmony with the animal kingdom till we rose to our Fall from righteousness and freely indulged selfish exploits. How can we let innocence die for our immoral lifestyles? If this is what civilization is would it be right to say that we were better off living uncivilized? There are no compunctions for what we continue to do as we just do them just to stay slaves to our system. We deplete our ecosystem, making the lovely creatures existing in it bear the brunt of our iniquities.  Our earth is a family. We are the caretakers of the lesser mortals constituting the animal kingdom. It is peak time we behave the same.

AYE-AYE MADAGASCAR

Aye-Aye! No, I am not talking in naval language, but talking of the world’s largest nocturnal mammal- Aye-aye. Found in the East Coast of Madagascar, these lemurs have some key distinct features. 

When you think of the nature’s bounty, you get spell- bound by the unique surprises it has  in store. Nature has made vivid creatures, each distinctively​  featured. Some creatures have long legs, some have long tongue, some have long tail, some change colors, the list is endless. 

Aye-Aye lemurs have a typical elongated middle finger. They tap on the tree trunks to find chambers. They use their sensorial powers  to listen to the sound  echo inside. When a chamber is detected, they nibble a hole in the trunk, similar to a woodpecker. With the help of their skinny long finger,  they pick out grubs from the holes. 

It is believed that aye-ayes spend most of their time in hunting food. And we humans skip meals, hunting for money for our entire lives!

Though I found these lemurs to be cute, there are many people who believe Aye-aye as a bad omen. They are killed instantly the moment they are spotted. I wonder why people are still living in the stone age. All the creatures are made by God. How can any one of them bring bad luck to others? If the poor lemur points it’s finger to any, it’s believed that the person will die soon. How obnoxious can this belief be! The finger which provides the Aye-aye it’s food, is considered as a bad omen for the people.

Because of this superstition​, Aye-aye was declared an endagered species in 2014. 

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere”- Groucho Marx.

PiFr2tA

It’s high time we should wake up and save the beautiful creatures of nature, because without them, our ecosystem will also be endagered.

Live and let live. Till then, Aye-aye!

PUFFER – AN ARTIST ON SEA BED

According to the 17th March 2015 Business Insider publication, there are 228,450 known species in the ocean and as many as 2 million more that remain a total mystery. Among this there is small number of a small looking scaleless fish which grows up to 3ft is commonly known as “Puffer Fish” (Tetrodontidae). Puffer’s are widely known for their excellent eyesight with highly defensive mechanism against predators and they are also nature’s greatest romantic artist. Puffer fish has also given a significant identity to Japanese Culture and Cuisine.

Biologists think Puffer fish, also known as blowfish, developed their famous “inflate-ability” because their slow, somewhat clumsy swimming style makes them vulnerable to predators. Puffer fish use their highly elastic stomachs and the ability to quickly take in huge amounts of water (and even air when necessary) to turn themselves into a virtually inedible ball several times their normal size. Some species also have spikes on their skin to make them even less palatable. There are more than 120 species of Puffer fish worldwide. Most are found in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, but some species live in brackish and even fresh water. They have long, tapered bodies with bulbous heads. Some wear wild markings and colors to advertise their toxicity, while others have more muted or cryptic coloring to blend in with their environment. Almost all Puffer fish contain tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes them foul tasting and often lethal to fish. To humans, tetrodotoxin is deadly, up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. There is enough toxin in one Puffer fish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.

(Watch how Puffer fish puffs up)

Amazingly, the meat of some Puffer fish is considered as Japanese delicacy called as Fugu in Japan. “Sashimi” and “Chirinabe” are the dishes in which Fugu is served. It is extremely expensive and is prepared by well-trained, licensed chef who knows that one bad bite can cost their customer’s life.

Another interesting fact about Puffers is, they are the nature’s greatest romantic artist and skillful in parenting. To grab a female’s attention a male Puffer does something which almost unbelievable. With his two fins and perfectly tuned mathematical brain, he ploughs the sand breaking its particles and designs an extremely beautiful and finest art deep down on the ocean bed. The biggest challenges for him are to design this finest art, attract the female partner, guarding the eggs until they hatch as soon as she releases them by fertilization, carefully blowing water over them regularly to keep the eggs healthy and his time limit to do all these things and produce the next batch of generation within 7 days.

Isn’t it so amazing and intrinsic to us?

Every great design has an intelligent mind behind it…”

The Bible says,

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

 Keep thinking…

(Source of Information: Wikipedia, National Geography & YouTube)

THE WONDROUS BEAUTY CALLED LEAFY SEADRAGON

Australia is popularly known as Island Continent as it is surrounded by water from all sides. And the coastal area of Australia has wondrous treasures of oceanic beauty. Each and every species has its uniqueness as created by God.

There is one species that is seen exclusively in the southern Australian waters, from Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria at the eastern end of its range, westward to Jurien Bay, 220 km (136 miles) north of Perth in Western Australia. The scientific name of this species is Phycodurus eques.

This species looks like a miniature dragon and it is covered with long, leaf-like protrusions. And that is why they were commonly known as Leafy Seadragon. The adults grow up to 20 – 30 cm long.  

The leaf-like protrusions serve only as mask to disguise its predators. They are lobes of skin and give the cutie dragons the appearance of seaweed. To propel itself, the leafy seadragon uses a pectoral fin on the edge of its neck and a dorsal fin on its back, closer to the tail end. Both these fins are very small, almost completely transparent and difficult to see as they undulate minutely to move the creature sedately through the water. Leafy sea dragons can change their color to blend in. They are usually yellowish-brown to green in color. However the ability of changing colors depends on the seadragon’s diet, age, location, and stress levels. Because of this ability and the physical appearance of the Leafy Sea Dragon they don’t really have any natural predators in their environment. They blend in to the surroundings so amazingly well that they aren’t detected as a food source even when predators are right there in front of them.

The funny part is the males are usually the ones that will be carrying the young until they are born. They are usually isolated and timid but when it comes to mating they become aggressive searching for a female. They fight with each other for the right to mate. When a female is ready to mate she will spend several days with the male and mate in between. The tail of a male leafy sea dragon will turn bright yellow when he is ready to mate. During this time the female deposits the eggs into the pouch on the male’s abdomen with well timed movements between both the sexes. The eggs are usually of light pink color and they are very small. There can be as many as 200 of them that she places into the pouch of the male. He will carry them for about 9 weeks till the baby Leafy Seadragons take birth out of those pouches. The young ones are very small when they arrive and they have to care for themselves. That is a startling feature in this particular species. They don’t get any help from the male or the female parents leaving a lesser chances surviving till the age of maturity. Most of them will become prey for various other creatures that live in the same bodies of water.

The real threat for these species comes from humans. The fact that there is so much pollution in the water makes it very difficult for them to survive in their natural environment. In many locations they end up in fishing nets and captured for commercial use. The goal is for them to be sold in the pet trade. Due to the great unique look of the Leafy Sea Dragon there is quite a market for it.

The longevity of leafy seadragons is unknown, but they may live 7 to 10 years but that also look grim when the crown of creation destroy these beautiful species for their pleasure.

The Bible says, 

God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds… And God saw that it was good.  God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas…”

But unfortunately we have failed to take care of them rightfully. How beautiful they look! How amazing its behavioural pattern is! We can’t even imagine of creating such a thing ourselves yet we never care for protecting them. Let’s be responsible to protect this species to be extincted from our beautiful earth, from our beautiful creation created by God.

Stay Blessed!

OH MY, I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN REALLY EXPLAIN THIS IN WORDS!

I am absolutely thrilled that I am writing this article today because today I really saw rather experienced something out of the world. I am an engineer who is working for Philips Healthcare. My job involves making various healthcare products like CT, MR, X-Ray, Ultrasound etc. to work together in the hospital. Part of my job also involves hospital visits and sessions with doctors they are our customers.

It was year 2007 when I saw the first surgery in my life. I was blown away when I saw the surgeon operating on a patient just by looking at the monitors. It was an angioplasty procedure where the blockage in Patient’s heart had to be removed which was causing a heart attack. It was minimal invasive surgery which meant that patient’s heart is not required to be opened up. Just a small incision on the thigh from where a catheter is introduced. It is navigated all the way to the artery that is blocked and a stent is placed there. All this by just looking at the monitors that gave him real time X-Ray images and guided him throughout the surgery.

Since then I have seen a lot of medical procedures and scans – MR, CT, X-Ray, Ultrasound etc. It amazes me how science has evolved to show the internals of a human body without probing the body at all.

Today I had a chance to meet one of the eminent Neurosurgeons of the country. It was interesting to see what he had to say about the devices that we sell to the hospitals and his challenges with them.

Today he was kind enough to take us very briefly into an Operation Theatre virtually through a 3-dimensional TV. What I saw completely astonished me. He showed us the inside of a human brain and how he very carefully with a skill of his hands removes tumors from the brain. With such a finesse, he uses the scissors, clips and other tools to take out what is unwanted in the body. He has to be extremely alert, his hands cannot shake, every millimeter of the patient’s brain that he touches can have a negative impact on the patient. Without trembling and with tremendous confidence he cuts the right part of the brain, goes deeper and deeper inside till all of the nasty tumor is out of the brain.

We watched various surgical videos for about 30 mins and for next 30 mins, I still had my heart racing. Somebody from the audience asked the doctor – “What if something goes wrong during the surgery?” Doctor said “You know it is only the thought of God that is on my lips when I am doing this surgery. And I find myself privileged that I get a chance to work on one of the most beautiful creations every single day – Human brain.”

My first reaction to that video was “Oh, it is horrible!” because I could only see the blood and some slimy looking tissues that did not look nice in the first instance. But as we progressed through the surgery, I could appreciate the little intricacies with which our brains are designed. The network of nerves and blood vessels flowing all across, the various layers of tissues covering each other, the intricacies of the membranes protecting the insides of the brain. Oh my, I don’t know if I can really explain this more in words!

When Edison invented a light bulb, he couldn’t have imagined how this light bulb will get transformed to what it is today. When Graham bell invented the phone – he wouldn’t have imagined these mini computers that we call smartphones could ever exist. When Wright brothers invented the first airplane – they couldn’t have thought of all the kinds of sophisticated fighter plane that are made today.

Human body is a miracle which is extremely well engineered, designed and executed. But the biggest miracle of this universe is the most important part of the human body – The Human brain.

Human brain that created this science, technology and skill-set to operate on another human brain. Human brain that can imagine something that is impossible and work tirelessly to make it possible in the coming days, months, years, decades or centuries.

When medical science and the technology is used to save a person close to you – that is when you feel the real blessing of it. When my dad went through angioplasty – I realized what a boon this technology is. When I first heard my baby’s heartbeat while I was 6 weeks pregnant and later I went on to see him nicely curled up inside my uterus – I realized how this technology actually touches people.

Lives are being saved with the help of technology and medical science. Millions of patents are filed all across the world to innovate better and more. Every generation is getting a better, easier and healthier life because of science and technology.

My Tayaji (Uncle) often say this every time he is amazed by technology – “Science da kamaal hai” (It is the magic of Science).

It truly is magical how human brain over centuries of work have managed to bring science and technology to a place where it is today.