BLEND IN IS WHAT THEY SAY …

I cannot stand snakes. I hate them so much that even a picture of them makes me sick in the stomach. Lizards are very close in resemblance to snakes, but I somehow developed an interest in them. I might have been very young when I started reading articles and watching national geography documentaries. They can stick to any surface and crawl. Lizards are very interesting to me 🙂 

Lizards are the most common species on earth, found at every possible place including our houses. Antartica is an exception. They live in rain-forests, deserts, ponds, rivers, and even on trees and shrubs. There are more than 6000 varieties of lizards. Of all these, I am very fascinated by Chameleons. Chameleons are the variety that changes color in a jiffy. pink, red, orange, green, blue, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple. If you won’t get scared of watching lizards, then please watch this.  

There are certain interesting facts about lizards. Broadly, lizards are characterized into three color groups. I believe they are yellow, blue and brown/black. Each of these colors means compassionate, playboy, loyal. Interestingly the females mate with the species that are low in number in their vegetation to prevent extinction. By doing this, they preserved all three species successfully for the last 200 years. 

Lizard is the species which has the highest tensile muscle among all living species. It’s their tongue. Like snakes, lizards also smell with their tongue and do not have ears. To catch the prey, lizard lets out a small portion of its tongue to smell the surroundings. Once it finds the prey, it releases its tongue at a speed of 225mph. I would recommend watching that in slow motion 🙂 Lizards come in various sizes. The ones that are larger in size are the ones considered to be harmful to humans otherwise lizards are harmless. 

I can go on and on writing about them, but, let me tell you a funny encounter with lizards. I am not sure if it’s funny because it is going to have a sad ending. End of last year I went on a holiday for two weeks. By the time I returned home, there were not one, not two but three lizards in my kitchen. I was not scared when I saw them, somehow it felt very weird to be cooking in the kitchen where lizards are moving freely. How many days can I go without cooking? I had to find a way to get rid of them. I have no idea how to get rid of them. What’s the one thing that usually saves us? Google. Yes, I started googling to find out how to get rid of lizards. There were several remedies like peacock feathers, camphor etc. After failed trials for two weeks, I had no option but the forcefully send them out. I cleaned up the entire kitchen counter, placed back all jars into the cabinets. I tried using the broomstick and duster, but it was another failure.. 

Unable to find out any remedy, I contemplated if I should kill them. This fight went on for two days. I had no clue how to kill them either. Trust me, I tried various cleaning solutions, sprays possible. At last, what worked was cockroach spray. It worked but I had to see the lizard suffer. The tail portion of the lizard separated from its body and just like octopus tentacles it was moving even after it was separated for more than a minute. Trust me, it wasn’t easy killing those. I couldn’t sleep for a few days but I had no other option. 

If any of you are petting a lizard, please excuse me for killing them. I feel sorry for them as well. As much as possible I am not going to do this again. From next time I would be careful to not let lizards than having to get rid of them later. Any ideas for this would be appreciated. I like lizards but I don’t think I would ever pet one. Though what I could learn from them is to adapt to situations around. It makes a lot of sense considering how bad the world around is now-a-days . Either we should stand out or blend in. By this, I do not mean that we have to do bad things to fit in. Lizards only do that to not get noticed and become prey to their predators. 

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” 
― Raymond E. Feist

WISER, GREENER AND PEACEFUL CREATURE – FROGS

From my childhood whenever I think of the biology class, I remember the time I learned about the Amphibians. Interesting it was to learn about the famous amphibians -Frog. Little did I know then, that one day I would end up writing about them as a life lesson giver.

Yes !! You read it right, – they are indeed one of these creatures, who will overwhelm us, with their incredible teachings through their simple lifestyle.

Every night during the monsoon. in my native, I was kind of accustomed with the lullabies of these frogs all nights while I was put to sleep. Then as a child, I used to wonder, what exactly they might be saying or discussing. It was indeed a soothing way to sleep then, better than the honking sounds of the cars.

Often now, I do think the same- as I have never learnt their language…  It just goes Ribbit …Ribbit…Ribbit…Ribbit…

It seems that those little creatures have a lot to tell us. Let me put a quite few of them here:

Adaptable 

Being called amphibians, born in the water, swimming across in the water like tadpoles and then becoming a toad and leaping onto the land and living without any hesitation. Don’t’ you think they are brilliantly adaptable. Put them in the water they swim, put them on land, they just hop on. Being Adaptable to any situation whatever it might be the situation, is something one needs to learn from these slimy green toads.

Patience 

Frogs – Whenever we think of it, the first picture that comes to our mind is a hopping one. But to catch a prey, it just stays still for while access the surrounding and then waits for the right moment to catch it. It is not easy. Trust me, winning over with patience is the hardest thing one can ever do. And here also frogs excel us.

Enjoying serene space

Most of the time they just wait and be calm. It looks like as if they are relishing the serene beauty of the surrounding- like the mirror-like still pond.  We as humans prefer all the hustles and bustles of the city and we forget to appreciate the beauty of stillness. The frogs, step on to the lotus leaves and watch the beckoning stillness of nature.

Cherishing the simple joys

Gone are the days, we see kids playing in the rain and enjoying it. Look at the frogs, when it rains, it just doesn’t stand in the shade, but take a leap into the pouring rain. Relishing the simplest moments in life is something we need to do, and it stays forever.

Observant

Frogs stay still for a longer time and then observe the surroundings quite well. One can see, with the slightest movement, frogs tend to jump away from the leaf into the waters. Their observation power is far more efficient than the radar system I believe.

Even though they seem smaller just fitting into our palm, they teach us lessons worth a lifetime.  If you bound to explore the hidden nature, then you get to learn many obvious things to learn from it. Spending some time with nature itself makes life worth living.

Walk away into the luscious greenery and be bound to the fullness of being one among them. Let the creepers recite you the tales of their bonding with the trees they are creeping on to. Let the birds teach you the virtue of flying and let the ants teach you the efficiency of teamwork.

Keep your eyes and ears open, let nature communicate with you. 

APPEARANCE CAN BE DECEPTIVE

Earthworms – Ketchuain (Hindi), Vaanapaamulu (Telugu), we used to call them. Have seen a lot of them during my childhood and their sticky, slippery, slender structure sent jitters and made me go Ewwww 😖. I have a few memories too associated with them.  My mother used to compare noodles (not the instant ones) to earthworms, especially when we used to demand during the rainy season. Creepy isn’t it? And when we kids used to spot them in parks we used to huddle around them just to ascertain the direction they were moving – coming or going 🤣🤣. Their bodies are such.

That was some nostalgia. Nostalgia because now it seems as ages have passed when I last saw them.  Not enough time for me to spend outside as well as no more open spaces available for them to thrive (at least in my knowledge). Connect the dots please 😁. So when the weekly topic was tossed I thought why not remember “Earthworms” in this week dedicated to “Creepy,Crawley creatures”.

Some Wikipedia Information as to what are Earthworms:

An earthworm is a tube-shaped, segmented wormfound in the phylum Annelida. They have a world-wide distribution and are commonly found living in soil, feeding on live and dead organic matter. An earthworm’s digestive system runs through the length of its body. It conducts respiration through its skin. It has a double transport system composed of coelomic fluid that moves within the fluid-filled coelom and a simple, closed blood circulatory system. It has a central and a peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of two ganglia above the mouth, one on either side, connected to a nerve cord running back along its length to motor neurons and sensory cells in each segment. Large numbers of chemoreceptors are concentrated near its mouth. Circumferential and longitudinal muscles on the periphery of each segment enable the worm to move. Similar sets of muscles line the gut, and their actions move the digesting food toward the worm’s anus.[1]

Earthworms are hermaphrodites: each individual carries both male and female sex organs. As invertebrates, they lack either an internal skeleton or exoskeleton, but maintain their structure with fluid-filled coelom chambers that function as a hydrostatic skeleton.”

(Source: Google.Inc)

That was some basic information, anatomy you can say.  Now coming to the point that out of innumerable tiny little creatures what made me choose this literally two-dimensional reptile – my choice was simple considering the amount of good they do for the ecosystem, in short for us.

  • Earthworms help improve the drainage system of soil. When they burrow deep into the soil, they aerate the soil thus helping it to retain more water and hence enriching it.
  • Earthworms eat the dried up leaves, dead roots and break down the organic matter leaving behind the casts that work as natural fertilizers for the soil.   They are rich in minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium. They are farm friendly, to say the least.
  • Their digestive juices and even dead bodies are a rich compost for the soil.

That was a bird’s eye view of what enormous amount of good these tiny creatures do. And I hope there’s no need to explain how soil is related to plants and farm and how they, in turn, are related to the balance of the ecosystem.  Basic science folks that we all have learned in school 😁😁.

What Earthworms have taught me? Looks are not at all in relation to the good qualities and character embedded inside – this was basic and cliched but a truth nevertheless.  Well, that reminds me of one particular incident where I misjudged and feared a person, though just for a few seconds but I am guilty, no shame in accepting that. As I have already mentioned so many times in the past that my son is autistic and meltdowns are our daily visitors. I was out with him along with my daughter in a crowded area. And BAAM, meltdown knocked my son and he was lying down on road throwing his legs and hands here and there, not letting me get a hold of him and was very aggressive.  People were watching me, crossing by me, few stopped to inquire as well but no one lent a helping hand. And I was perplexed and perspiring. A homeless man, with his rugged dirty clothes, a beer can in hand, unkempt hair and nails, all sorts of tacky accessories all over him, swaying to the music walked up to me. I was apprehensive now “Why he is walking towards me?“. I just held my daughter, stood close to my son trying to relax at that moment. But it didn’t take me long to realize that he only meant to help me. He spoke to my son, caressed his hair, his presence calmed down the little one and he stood up and agreed to walk with me again.  I thanked him and left but this incident never left my mind. Appearances can be deceptive, period!

Parallels to be drawn: I always found earthworms repulsive for the way they looked – sticky and creepy, but that’s just the way they LOOK, meanwhile doing so much good for others in their short lifespan. In the same way, I  feared that man solely based on the way he LOOKED but he did come forward to help me. The flaw lies within me, simple.

For me, it’s more clear now – Appearance Can Be Deceptive. Think beyond that. And in the meantime let the earthworms grow 😊.

FREE FROM TRASH

Recently a famous Basketball player visited India and commented that how the Real India was very different from the India of his imagination. How there were cows and monkeys on the road, dirt lying around and the general apathy we have towards even heritage monuments like Taj Mahal. I was really upset. And so were a lot of Indians. And he tweeted an apology the very next day. The first thought that came to my mind was ‘How dare he say something like this about my country?” But if you don’t just react and sit back and think don’t you see some truth in his words? You don’t agree??

Ok fine he is an outsider why accept his words. Let me give you another example. During summer vacations my friend visited her brother in USA along with her two school going children. After a wonderful stay of two and a half months they came back to India. Their father went to the airport to pick them up. On the way back the elder son pointed out that how dirty the Mumbai streets are, how much dirt and filth is accumulated all around. His parents were amazed at how easily the child who had stayed all his life in India got sensitized to the dirtiness in just two and a half months. Have I made my point? Now how can you not accept the words of a 12 year old?

India completed 70 years of Independence on 15th August 2017. For me among other things, one major form of freedom would be the freedom from filth, dirt, waste, rubbish, garbage, trash or whatever you choose to call it from our streets and cities which has become so much a way of life for us that we seem to accept it as part of the landscape.

Next question would be ‘Whose responsibility is it?’ The general answer would be the municipality is not doing their jobs properly, what can we do? The system is not right here… etc. etc. I agree this is their job and they are trying to do it. I have seen the municipal employees working in inhuman conditions while collecting garbage. But the quantum is so huge that they can’t keep up.

I have another question. Who is increasing their job? For this let me give you a little background. We Indians love cleanliness a lot, our houses are kept spick and span. We don’t pray without taking a bath and in some household don’t even enter the kitchen without taking a bath. But this love of cleanliness is limited only to our house or compound. The moment we step outside it becomes none of our concern. I have seen people stepping out of a Mercedes car and carrying a Gucci bag and throwing the cold drink can nonchalantly on to the street. People not segregating the garbage before throwing it and expecting the sanitation workers to go through the muck and segregate it. Garbage getting accumulated around the garbage bins because someone is not bothered to go all the way to the bin and generally toss the garbage in that direction and move on. These are only a few examples but I hope you get the picture.

So the onus to keep our city clean lies with us. We as people need to learn to show a little more empathy rather than apathy towards our public property. Have a feeling of belonging towards your surrounding and don’t do anything deliberately to make it dirty. And most important raise the children is such a way that littering is not a way of life for them. My children carry empty packs of chips or wrappers in their bags or even pockets but never throw it outside. They have become so used to this that they stop even their friends from throwing trash out of the school bus and carry their trash back home to throw in the dustbin.

Keep our city clean. This is not just an official slogan it’s our duty. Remember way back when were kids we read in our civics textbooks that “Rights and Duties are two wheels on which the chariot of life and society moves forward.” If we take our rights so seriously we should be taking our duties also seriously.

When you stand on the road and look around and can’t see or smell garbage. Then according to me we are on path to true freedom.