H for Horse

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day eight and the alphabet is H.

H is for Horse. 

These days, the only horses we see in Pune are the ones at Parks that take kids on joy rides. Or the pedigreed ones that are raced at the Race Course. I am going to take a liberty and extend the word Horse to Khacchar or Mule.

A Mule is the offspring of a male donkey and female horse (wisdom from Wikipedia). I have never really given much thought to this animal till I went on the Hampta Pass trek. On that trip, the mules were the most important part of our support team as they carried all our bags, tents and other logistical materials. 

The unsung heros

In fact, our trek was amazing because of these silent mules that plodded along never protesting. Here are some images with my thoughts …

Every morning, the mules were assembled and then sacks loaded up for the journey

The mules always started after us and easily overtook us every single day. They could easily and quickly navigate the moraine unlike us two-legged creatures!

At the end of the day, they were left free at the campsite. 
This glorious looking place was a very challenging descent from the Hampta Pass to Shea Goru campsite. 

These silent hardworking heros made our trek the wonderful experience that it was. I simply had to dedicate a post to them!

G for Grass

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day seven and the alphabet is G.

G is for Goat. That is what I distinctly remember being taught. 

But then, goats eat grass. 
And grass was one of my theme ideas. So I sort of took the liberty and replaced the goat with grass.

Grasses belong the Poaceae family which a very large and very economically important family of the plant kingdom. Important because this family provides the staple foods that we eat, material for construction etc. Grasses are found almost everywhere and are generally annual or perennial in nature. My teacher cautioned me that grasses can be properly identified only when they grow flowers and that too using a hand lens or under a microscope. Which means, many of the grasses I have seen will remain unnamed.. 

Not to worry folks, this will not be a botanical post.

Here are some of the beautiful grass flowers. 

And do watch out for them the next time you go out for your walk!


Lophopogon sp

Chloris sp
Chrysopogon sp
Apluda sp

Themeda sp

Pennisetum sp
Setaria sp

This is just a glimpse into the great world of grasses.. 

Tomorrow is our first holiday of the blogathon. We return on the 9th with the alphabet H.


F for Fitbit

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day six and the alphabet is F.

Well, I had learnt that F is for Fan but currently for me, F stands for Fitbit! And its great Fun!

That’s right… The activity tracking, bluetooth enabled device that counts footsteps, heart rate, sleep pattern etc. 

My first one was actually a hand-me-down when our daughter changed the Fitbit she used. Seeing how much I enjoyed the device, dear daughter and son-in-law gifted me brand new one for my birthday! 


Hence, I have taken up the #2019in2018 challenge that I had read about on Twitter. What is it? Quite simply it entails having to stroll/walk/run/sprint 2019 kms in the year 2018. Sounds intimidating right? Actually its not considering it is spread over 364 days and 52 weeks. Simple Math breaks it down to a very doable daily or weekly target. I can happily I can report that I am on track as of now.
Wish me luck folks! 

Even at the risk of sounding like an advertisement for wearable health trackers (and there are several brands in varying price ranges), I can confidently say, that I totally enjoy my Fitbit. I am quite addicted to analyzing my sleep pattern, heart rate, activity patterns. If I end up sitting continuously I get a gentle tapping on my wrist to remind to walk around to complete my 250 steps per hour. That will hopefully reduce the sedentary phases during my day.

Of course, it is possible to customise weekly goals and alerts so one just has to figure all the options on the app. It even puts up fun messages when a goal is achieved Yay!!!

Aaannnd… my activity tracking wrist band also shows the date and time! 

Since I began with F for Fan.. I will not disappoint you…  
Here is an exotic folded paper fan that adorns my home…

Fan, summer, wall decor

We are almost at the end of the first week of AtoZ. How are you holding up folks? A holiday is coming up and I plan to use it to catch up on blog hopping. 

E for Elephant


We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school?

Its day five and the alphabet is E.

E is for Elephant. The first thing that will come to our minds (especially those from India) is the Elephant God Ganesha.

But today I want to share some images of elephants that we saw on a trip to the famous Corbett National Park. Here it is possible to view them living in free and in the wild. Its a common site to see herds of the gentle giants walking in the plains…

At times they do block our path and at such times, there is nothing to be done except wait. Patience is what is needed and tons of it! Sometimes they turn aggressive as they perceive the vehicles to be a threat to their calves
Obviously the elephants have right of way in the forest!

Going by the scientific name of Elephas maximus, the Asiatic elephant now lives free and in the wild only in specific protected forests. SInce 1986 the IUCN Red List, has listed it as Endangered. They live in matriarchal society led by a cow. Males (called Tuskers) generally leave the herd when they become adults and often spend  time alone. In fact, one must be very careful when a tusker is sighted especially if he is in a state of musth.

The above clip is of a lone tusker walking on the edge of some trees. Here is close up of the same guy

Same tusker, that’s about as close as we could safely get. Naturally, the vehicle driver had the engine running incase we needed to make a quick get-away

These animals are herbivores and consume up to 300 kgs of grass,herbs,leaves everyday.

That’s right. Everyday. 
The figure itself tells us the reason why elephants are constantly on the move- to search for fresh food. One herd will quickly exhaust available plants in a particular area and all have to keep moving to get sufficient food to eat. 

Intelligent as they are, they avoid consuming mud that clings to uprooted plants. How? Simply by just swinging the tufts and tapping it on the ground!
Watch it on the video below. (Video Credit : Mr Alhad Lele)

In summer, they also ‘spray’ themselves with the soft loose mud using their trunks. Strange as it may sound, this is said to keep them cool! Obviously, the animals love to take a dip in the water too!

Have you seen elephants out in the wild? Have you visited Corbett?
If not, add this place to your bucket list ASAP. Its wonderful!

D for Dog


We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school?

Its day four and the alphabet is D.

D is for Dog. 

Today I am taking the easy way out, by recycling one of my earlier posts from 2008. The reason for doing so is not laziness but simply that the situation in Pune has not changed much. The only difference is that now I rarely see Pomeranians or Dobermans as pets. Labradors continue to be popular as are German Shepherds. There was a phase when almost every dog lover in Pune had a Husky – but I dont see many of them on the roads these days.

So here goes folk. Enjoy…

I was under the firm belief that a dog is a man’s best friend. There are umpteen stories of a canine’s bravery and devotion to his two legged master. Yet I am quite convinced that things are gradually changing. Yes I do mean that Man could soon be rated as a dog’s best friend! My belief gets strengthened daily as I watch the world with my presbiopic eyes! Let me illustrate…

Pouring rain or freezing cold one finds the master out on the roads to enable this family member relieve himself. Despite the recent extended unseasonal cold, hard core late risers in Pune sacrifice their cosy razai to troop out to the canine demands. I must add that the pet too is well protected against the chill with woollen garments of various types- just one more design for Grandma to knit when she makes sweaters for her grandchildren! It’s OK to dirty the roads but not the house; that’s their policy! I have counted at least 5 dogs who treat the compound in my building as their personal toilet while their masters and mistresses indulgently look on! Is there no way to properly potty train dogs? I am told that in the US, the dog owners have to clean up the streets as they walk their dogs along.

Being health conscious I try to make it a point to walk my daily 6kms but often end up logging just a couple of kms. Before there are any doubts about my sincerity or hints towards laziness let me clarify that all shortcuts are necessitated by friends. You may well ask, what’s wrong with meeting friends? 

Let me explain- it’s not the friend that I am averse to but his four-legged family member. Even before our greetings are complete, the hound has already got his two forefeet on my chest and is trying to slobber me with saliva. The experience of a close up examination of the dental architecture of a panting hound is most frightening, not recommended for the fainthearted. All the while my friend indulgently says, “Polly won’t do anything!” 
Anything? I would be the one having to take 21 injections in my stomach if any of those pearly whites as much as scratched me! 

Then there is a bull dog who insists on following me as I try to get to my target heart rate. I should not be bothering really, the sight of the dog is sufficient to get my heart racing as it is! 
So you can well understand how my resolve to stay fit is desperately challenged each day. Why can morning walkers not bring along their pets on a leash? Of course in some cases, the sight of the duo is hilarious as one wonders who is taking whom for a walk as the dog surges ahead, pulling his hapless master behind him!
Visiting such friends can also be a testing time. Pomeranians tend to want to contribute to the conversation in a manner that leaves one temporarily deafened with their high pitched barking. Honey is one pooch who is most protective of her mistress’s property. She doesn’t bother with troubling her vocal cords though preferring to keep a malevolent eye instead, pouncing forth if I as much as move a finger to pick up a magazine as my friend goes off to get me a cup of tea and biscuits for Honey. Believe me I am too scared even to reach into my purse to make a rescue call on my mobile. All joy of meeting my friend is totally overshadowed by having to sit erect and immobile for the entire period. To add insult to my injury, my friend waxes eloquent on some of Honey’s frivolous antics as I am forced to make appreciative noises as I watch the DVD of Honey’s birthday party!

Then we have these well wishers who feed every stray dog they can attract. End result being that the dogs soon assume food to be their right, the area becomes a flourishing maternity ward and the newest entrants end up snapping at the two-legged legal owners! I am all for feeding a hungry animal even offering some shelter but not if it ends up being a public nuisance.

Dogs are of tremendous aid to differently-abled persons and children. Dobermans and Labradors do an excellent job to supplement our Police Force, be it to track down explosives or thieves. I can understand the companionship a dog can afford a child or as a beloved family member. However, it should not end up traumatising people around them and being a nuisance to society in general. Postmen, newspaper boys will whole heartedly agree with me I am sure!

These are just some of my Pet Peeves. It is really immaterial who is who’s best friend. The Earth belongs to all of us and we need to coexist peacefully. Excuse me folks I have an important task to try to reform my neighbour and or his dog…. Hey, doggie that’s my freshly washed car you are heading for…


C for Camera



We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school?

Its day three and the alphabet is C.

C is for Cat. Or Camera! To be very specific cell phone camera.

Years ago, we were proud owners of a simple rectangular point and shoot. Moments were captured for ever and we eagerly waited for the film to be developed. Our joy knew no bound when we had perfectly beautiful people or landscapes staring at us from the paper. More often though, we had grainy images with camera shake or eyes shut or even worse… image captured just when someone was about to put a huge piece cake in their mouth! 

With tech progress cameras have kept getting better so much so that they are now small enough to be installed on cell phones. The initial devices had only rear facing cameras now we have cameras that look back at us! 

This is the one that has caught the fancy of people everywhere as it produces the famous ‘Selfie‘. Now we need not depend on anyone else to take a picture of ourselves. either alone or in a group (when it becomes a groupfie). According to this article in The Telegraph, an Australian man has claimed to be the inventor of the word!

One finds these selfies as Display Pictures, Profile Pictures and so one… mostly with a horrendous looking pout! And it does not discriminate between the young and old, male or female! It has created a totally new object called Selfie Stick! In fact, one particular phone is advertised as a Selfie expert! 

However, the craze to take ones own pictures has turned dangerous as people throw caution to the wind to take images in strange, out of the way poses. So much so that some tourist sites actually have warnings about taking selfies…

I must not ignore the rear facing camera.. They are now pretty powerful and my old cell featured a Carl Zeiss lens. I believe clip-on macro and wide angle and zoom lenses also available for the cell phone cameras.

The best part, is that one can immediately check the image. Eyes looking weary? A spot on the nose? Wierd background? Red eye? No problem. Just delete and Say Cheeese!

I have seen beautiful images taken on sophisticated DSLR cameras but I find them technologically challenging. Not to mention the fact they are pretty heavy too. 

The move to digital has possibly meant a decline of the old style film based cameras. I am not sure if they are still in use. I do know that the local shop has stopped selling films for camera. No one has the time or patience to wait for the prints to be developed.. Plus my old printed photos have gotten damaged with age. 

My vote for this alphabet goes to the cell phone Camera!
What do you think? Which type of camera to you prefer?

B for Ball

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day two and the alphabet is B

B is for Ball. 

That is the time honoured object that a child relates the second alphabet to. Possibly among her (used the feminine pronoun only for convenience – can just as well be him) first toys as well. As she grows up, the nature of earliest soft round colourful structure changes and possibly only the round shape remains. 

It can become either a football, cricket ball, tennis ball, table tennis ball and so on…

At my stage in life, ball only refers to a golf ball. Rather should I say, its the weird propensity crows on our golf course have found for golf balls. 

I am sure you are scratching your heads in confusion.

Let me clarify… Whenever someone hits a shot, no sooner than the ball lands on the fairway (or bunker) than a waiting crow swoops down and picks it up and flies away. All this happens as fast as one can blink their eyelids. Golf balls are not cheap and losing them on a regular basis can become stressful especially when the player may lose a stroke for the loss. To add insult to injury, the crows invariably steal the ball after a particularly good shot wherein it has landed in a wonderful position for a possible birdie. Suddenly, that word (birdie) doesnt sound funny!

A good shot lands on the green.. now possibly being eyed by a feathered foe sitting on a branch…

We first faced this in the North East many many years ago. However, I guess picking up golf balls from the course has become a very popular avian sport and its common in Pune now. Do the birds confuse the balls with eggs? But then these are pretty heavy and quite unbreakable. I wonder if they stash these in some convenient branch or trunk hollow but  we haven’t yet heard of the stolen balls being found. 

This is dear hubby’s stash of unopened new golf balls!

The above image is proof of the fear these birds have instilled in the hearts of golfers. They prefer to keep the brand new stuff at home …

So near yet so far..

Is this bird behaviour seen across India and maybe other parts of the world as well? 
Do share!!

The nasty me surfaces in the first question I ask hubby on returning, “how many pars for you and what’s the score for the crows?”


A for Apple

This is my first post of the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school?

Without much ado lets plunge right in. 

A is for Apple. 

This time tested phrase still holds the exception being that one is not necessarily referring to the fruit. 

One of my most memorable scenes in Forrest Gump, is when Forrest speaks of Lt Dan investing for him in some ‘fruit company’ … obviously referring to Apple Inc – the now iconic company.

As you may have guessed this post is about Apple products- rather what they seem to symbolise …

In India, Apple products – be they the iPhone or Macbook or the Apple Watch – do more that everything they are meant to do. They proclaim to the all and sundry that the device-owner  has ‘arrived’! So one finds that these folks invariably talk with their hands – extensively wave their hands (that happen to hold the iPhone X) to stress the points they make. Often words are sufficient to make a point which makes me sure, they just want to make sure we dont miss seeing the famous half eaten apple logo. 

I am told, that the email signature is also set to ‘sent from my iPhone’… 

Apparently once an Apple owner – always an Apple owner. Rarely have I seen people switch brands when changing their devices. So every time there is a new Apple on the market, these folks are seen queuing up. I dont think any other brand must have such fierce brand loyalty- at least in India! Its definitely an aspirational brand, something to be coveted. The company website itself has a list of Apple Authorised Resellers

Full front-page advertisement in the newspaper obviously indicates the iconic status and popularity of the brand

To cater to this huge demand, Apple devices are now launched in India almost at the same time as in the US. In rupee terms, the price is pretty steep. Thus, the new devices are objects of envy or pride depending on which side you are on! 

Do I own a iPhone you may well ask… 

Well, not a phone but yes I do have an iPad and its a gift from our daughter! So I proudly do show it off!


My iPad 

So, I guess, for me, A for Apple suggests a brand conscious person who has ‘arrived’!
I would love to hear your thoughts!

2018 April AtoZ Theme Reveal

Hello everyone! Welcome! 

I am a ‘veteran’of the AtoZ blogging challenge, if I may use that word, and have participated four times. 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 were amazing as I was able to focus and eventually get to theme based posts! This in turn led to me gaining immense knowledge of the Public Parks in Pune (theme for 2015) and Herbs (theme for 2016).

Hence having a theme for this year was almost a given. Let me tell you it has been a very difficult choice. After my experience with herbs in 2016, the plant kingdom was the the most obvious choice. 

However I realised that I needed to get back my spark in writing creatively so with a heavy heart, plants were put on hold. 

theme reveal #atozchallenge 2018 blogging

My search for a theme thus widened and almost literally, the sky was the limit. Then suddenly, I hit upon this idea of writing about a contemporary AtoZ , as seen from the eyes of half-a-century-old me! 

Ok… give or take a couple of years… 

The earliest memories of the alphabet are A is for Apple, B is for Bat. Does C still remind one of Cat? And what about D?

Do these time-tested alphabet-object co-relations still hold? 

I hope to put together 26 posts of some anecdotes, some observations, some experiences, some suggestions … 

So folks get set for a 21st century / middle-aged / Puneri look at what the alphabets mean to me now…

Fasten your seat belts, as this roller coaster takes off on the 1st April 2018 (and thereafter Sunday is a holiday on the April AtoZ blogging challenge).

2018 A to Z blogging challenge

Do stop by daily or as often as you can. 

I look forward to your visits and comments. 

2018 April AtoZ Blogging Challenge: 
Category: Personal (Journal, Diary, Musings)
Theme: What the alphabets stand for me in 2018