Invite the wilderness into your garden

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Somnath Paldas liked catching butterflies as a child
and capturing them in a jar, but now he and his four-year-old son Daiwik Paldas together set these butterflies free. Daiwik accompanies his father whenever
they release a newly emerged butterfly. “On weekends he spends time in the
butterfly garden and is also an enthusiastic butterfly watcher”, said Paldas.
Daiwik is in nursery in Indira Gandhi Memorial High School near Airport and his
father works as a Supply Chain Executive. “He got interested in it after
watching me work in my garden. Now he not only comes along with me but also
helps me when visitors come and visit our garden”, said Paldas.

Paldas has his own butterfly garden in Sodepur, Kolkata. There he also has
a caterpillar rescue and rehabilitation centre where people bring caterpillars
from various parts in and around Kolkata, where they take care of these
caterpillar and release them once they emerge into a full grown butterfly. “Daiwik
just loves releasing the newly emerged butterflies and has slowly developed it
as a hobby”, said Paldas. Paldas started studying about butterflies from 2005. He has
also started butterfly consultancy in 2010 which helps people in setting up
their own butterfly garden.

A butterfly garden is just like a normal garden
that we see at homes, parks, hotels or residential complex. The difference is,
it has some extra plants that attract butterflies. Attracting butterflies is
not a difficult task, all you need is a long term source of food, water, and a
place of safety. “Number of native plants are coming down in the cities as the
developers cut the old trees, do their construction and plant fancy trees in
their place. Butterfly garden requires native plants. So the indirect benefit
(of butterfly garden) will be ‘ Native Plants Conservation’ ”, said Paldas who has
been into butterfly gardening since 2005. “Butterfly garden can also be
small step towards saving our environment as it is part of the food chain of
ecosystem”, said Paldas.

“I got attracted to these beautiful butterflies at an abandoned corner
at Alipore Zoo in Kolkata where hundred of butterflies of different species
were fluttering around unnoticed. I came back to the zoo after some days to
meet them again but the zoo authorities had cleared the bushy area for winter
picnic parties. After this incident I really got interested and started
studying about them (butterflies) to know the cause which makes them, gather at
a particular abandoned corner whereas there were so many beautiful flowers
blooming at various places in the zoo”, said Paldas.

Paldas advises others on how to start a butterfly garden but as a starter
he committed a silly mistake. “While I was gardening, I got bitten by ants,
ants had covered on whole plant. I quickly sprayed kerosene on the plant, which
is not only harmful for the ant, but also the plant and the butterflies as
well. One should take care of such stupid mistakes”, said Paldas while sharing his
experience. Spraying of pesticides, insecticides and kerosene is not advisable
for such gardens as these chemicals repel the invitees.

Butterflies needs host plant to lay eggs and nectar plants to feed
themselves. Few nectar plants that can be planted to attract butterflies are
Ixora, commonly called Jungle Flame/ Geranium, Cosmos, Lantana, Marigold,
Sunflower and Pink cockscomb. Host plants provide food to caterpillars. Some
host plants that you can plant in your garden are Curry leaves plant, Lemon
plant, Cassia, Giant Milkweed, Kalanchoe Pinnata(also known as Air plant),
different kinds of bamboo plants and variety of grasses. Caterpillars mostly
feed on grasses, common weed and wildflowers. Generally butterflies require
fresh flowers and fruits to feed, whereas some of them feed on overripe and
rotten fruits. The male butterflies have mud-puddling behaviour. They sip in
moisture from mud puddles, which provides them salts and minerals from the
soil.

Butterfly gardening can be taken up by anyone at any age. From a school
going kid to a working professional to a retired person. Maximum it takes is
two hours of work for a big size garden and only once a week along with daily
watering of the plants. Students can easily maintain butterfly garden, which
gives them a practical study on the subject. “There is no hectic workload or
daily maintenance in butterfly garden, so any student can easily maintain a
butterfly garden of their own. All they need is love for these fluttering
creatures”, said Paldas who is a Procurement Executive.

A small piece of land is enough to start a butterfly garden. “One can
start a butterfly garden is any size of land but needs a big size space for
butterflies in their hearts”, said Paldas. Rs500/- is more than enough to start
your own butterfly garden.“A butterfly garden does not need a proper garden,
one can even attract butterfly on their terrace and balcony. Just grow few
nectar and host plants like marigold, curryleaves, cassia and cosmos. One can
even plant them around their building, office and in Municipal gardens”, said
Rajendra Ovlekar, the founder of Ovalekar Wadi who has recently been asked by
the Thane Corporation office to convert their garden into a butterfly garden.
Ovalekar Wadi Butterfly Garden is a home of 109 species of butterflies that are
seen throughout the year. It is an open-air butterfly garden located in Thane
(w) in Maharashtra. Visitors are welcomed on Sundays from 8am to 12.30pm. Best
season to visit is between October to November. They also organise workshops
and special sessions for school students to come and study these colourful
creatures and their life cycle.

“Butterflies are excellent pollinators. They help in increasing
your flower, fruit and vegetable production. The secret to successful butterfly
gardens lies in providing a wide range of flowers and shrubs. By adding a few
new plants in your garden you can attract varied range of butterflies”,
said Ovlekar who was inspired to start a butterfly garden after attending the
first butterfly meet held at Bombay Natural History Society at Goregaon in
Mumbai.

Life Cycle of a
Butterfly

Every butterfly goes through four stages of development i.e. egg,
larva, pupa and adult and the scientific term to this process is metamorphosis.
A butterfly can live for one week to nearly a year depending on the species.
Many of them have long larval stages whereas others can stay dormant in their
pupal or egg stage to survive winters.

Butterfly eggs are fixed to a leaf with special glue produced by the
butterfly itself, which hardens rapidly. As it hardens, it contracts to take
shape of an egg. The egg stage lasts a few weeks in most butterflies and can
take longer for eggs hatched in winter and they hatch only in springs.

Butterfly larvae, which is commonly called caterpillar, feed on the
host plant on which the egg is laid. The caterpillars spend most of their time
in search of food. When the larva is fully-grown, it transforms into a pupa.
The pupa is incapable of movement. The pupa transforms into an adult, which is
also called imago once the wings emerge. But a newly emerged butterfly needs to
dry its wings before it starts flying which may take up to three hours and in
some cases only an hour. Most of the butterflies and moths excrete dye after
hatching which can be of white, red, orange or blue colour.

Tips to attract butterflies

 

Plant wildflower plants (Wildflowers are a good food source for
butterflies and caterpillars)

Grow sun-loving flowers.

Plant wide spectrum of flowers with colours like red, orange, orange,
white, purple and blue as butterflies are attracted to them.

Butterflies love flowers with abundant sweet nectar. Make sure to plant
them.

Vegetation planted around running or dripping water is great for
attracting butterflies (butterflies like to take a drink, too)

Butterflies get attracted to native plants. Make sure you plant them in
your garden.

Organic gardening attracts more butterflies.

Do not use pesticides or insecticides on plants, as they are harmful
for the butterflies.

To know more about butterflies

The Butterfly museum at Riatsamthiah in Shillong gives lot of
information about various butterflies across the world. It was started in 1930
by Mr Sikdar and has collection from different parts of the world. At present
Ms. W. Wankhar runs it. It is the only museum in India devoted to moths and
butterflies. Shillong is 1181 km from Kolkata. Borjhar Airport in Guwahati is
the nearest international air link of Shillong while Guwahati railway station
connects the city with other parts of India through rail. You can reach
Shillong from Guwahati through NH 40 that links these two cities. The museum is
2km away from Police Bazaar of Shillong.

Yazdani Express – Delivering breads since 1951

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As you enter the Yazdani Bakery, you get the vintage feel. The wooden beams, the roof, the signboards, and wooden framed glass cupboards filled with cupcakes and biscuits tell us that this place would have been the same 50 years back. You can smell the freshly baked bread. On the counter you can see a 70 year old man in white shirt interacting to customers while receiving the payments. He is Pervez Irani, who along with his brothers Zend and Rashid run the place.

Recently there were reports which said that a supermarket in Brooklyn is using specialized scent machines which produce smell of freshly baked breads, mounted on its walls to entice customers to purchase more but Yazdani does not need to use such tactics to woo its customers. As they say ‘Bas naam hee kaafi hain’. But there is much more to it than just the name. It gets its name from ‘Yazdan’ which is a province in Iran. “My grandfather was a baker there, my grandma used to knead the dough with her hands,” said Pervez. Now Yazdani uses diesel baking oven but they also use the old wood-fired bread oven.

Remembering his initial days at the bakery Parvez says, “I joined the bakery in 1959 after graduating from St Xaviers College. My father Meherwan Zend started this bakery and restaurant in 1951. My father told me never to increase the rate of the buns as it is poor man’s bread.” Originally this place was a  Japanese Bank. In 2007 it was declared as an Urban Heritage site for its early 20th century building. After Meherwan Zend, the three brothers Zend, Pervez and Rashid took care of the bakery and now Pervez’s son Tirandaz along with his father and uncles are running the family business.

When asked about what he thinks about the place, as a liability or a prized possession, he quickly answers, “I am very proud of this place. The only difficulty faced is that, even to get the roof fixed, we require a permission which is a long procedure. . For us old is gold so we have not changed the structure of the place and we are very happy that Yazdani has been announced as a heritage building”.

Yazdani is famous for its brun maska , it is hot crisp bun with butter inside which is usually accompanied by a cup of tea. “Brun maska is in so much demand that by five in the evening it is over,” said Raghuraj Ram, who has been working at the bakery since 1991. “Since my office shifted to Fort seven years back,I have been coming here regularly.I like their brun maska and mava samosa,” said Ravi Mungekar who not only enjoys his snacks over here but also takes it home.  Karimullah Khan who has been delivering Yazdani breads since 1976 said, “Yazdani breads are in great demand. It is supplied to TheTaj Hotel, Café Mondegar, Leopold Café and others. The kind of taste and softness these breads have are incomparable”.

Along with pavs, brun maska, Yazdani also serves egg pop, mava pop, bread pudding, ginger cake, seven multi grain bread, Mumbai’s very own khari biscuits and other bakery products. Price rise has affected everyone, Pervez remembers the days when one pav used to cost just 6 paisa, “When I joined the bakery in 1959 one bun used to cost only 6 paisa which later was decreased to 5 paisa by my father when Nehru government gave subsidy to bakers. But the same bread now cost 1 Rupee and 25paisa. The specialty of this bakery is the poor man’s bread. That is why we are always called as poor man’s bakery” .Suddenly at the mention of price Pervez remembers an incident and narrates it, “Once a German baker had come down to our bakery, he had three brun maska and three cups of tea and the price came to Rs 30.While he was paying the bill he told me “You are charging not even a dollar for this? Then he turned around and told,” I think you are selling the cheapest bread in the world, nothing can be cheaper than this”.

Being an old eating joint, you will find lot of old people coming and having a chat with Pervez, Zend and Tirandaz, “People go down to clubs because they have nobody to talk to but the moment I enter this place I am busy interacting with people. What can be a better club than this? There are lots of people who long to talk; it is one kind of charity to talk to people and share their joys and sorrows,” added Pervez.

Shweta Keshri

Lalbaugcha Raja within aam public’s reach

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Mumbai’s most revered Ganpati idol, Lalbaugcha Raja promises to be more accessible to the devotees. “This year both the feet of the idol is at the same level though earlier the right leg used to be slightly elevated to depict the grandeur of a King. The idol will be kept on a lower platform and the stage on which devotees and celebrities used to climb to perform puja has been removed. Now the devotees will be able touch the feet of the idol,” said Ratnakar Kambli, head of Kambli Arts which is assigned to make the idol of the famous Lalbaugcha Raja. This has been done to shorten the wait period of the devotees. Earlier the wait in the queue to see the idol used to take at least 15 hours because people used to perform special puja by climbing on the stage. But the lowering down of the stage will ensure a continuous movement of the queue as everybody will touch the feet and keep on moving.

Ratnakar’s father Madhusudan Kambli started Kambli Arts in 1920 and it has been associated with Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal since 1935. “This year is the 78th year of Ganesh Festival in Lalbaug. Kambli Arts has made the Lord Ganesh’s idol more than 50 times in these 78 years,” said Ratnakar. After his father passed away in 1952, his brother Venkatesh Kambli took the charge. And now he and his son Santosh Kambli run Kambli Arts.

The idol is made of plaster of Paris, adhesive, coir and is painted with oil paint. It is supported by Iron rods and pipes. Ratnakar has 10 employees who work with him in his workshop situated in Chinchpokli. The idol is prepared in the premises of Lalbaug itself as the idol is too big to be carried to the pandal. The artists have been working day and night to prepare the idol. They hand over the idol to the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal eight days before the Puja begins. Ratnakar does not visit the pandal even once after handing over the idol. To this he says, “There is huge number of devotees coming for darshan and it is very difficult to enter the place as it over crowded. So I prefer to see the idol on the last day from my house when the idol is taken for immersion”.

Ratnakar himself gives the final touches to the idol, like making of the eyes and painting the face as the eyes are the most important feature of the face. He has been making the face since 2003. Earlier his elder brother Venkatesh used to make the face of the idol but after his demise Ratnakar paints the face. Earlier he used to be actively involved in making of the idols but since 2007, when he suffered a cardiac arrest has been advised not to exert himself. Ask him about his experience with the Raja and he quickly tells us about an incident which took place four years back. He starts, “I suffered a heart attack in 2007, just a day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival and was admitted in Hinduja Hospital in Mahim. I went through angiography. Doctors were supposed to release me by Tuesday but the visarjan was on Monday and anyhow I wanted to witness the farewell of the idol as every year while taking the idol for immersion, the vehicle stops near my old residence. Because of the Raja’s blessing I was home on time to witness the immersion procession.

Kambli Arts has also been granted patent over their design of Ganpati idols. They not only make idols out of plaster of Paris but also with fibre which is long-lasting and is unbreakable. People from far off places like Ratnagiri and Latur place order for these idols. Ratnakar also claims that actress Shilpa Shetty also gets her ganpati idol from him. Chairman of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal Shri Ashok Pawar said, “Last year we had more than one crore devotees coming for darshan and this year we are expecting around 1.5 crore devotees so we have taken special measures to tackle the crowd”. Devotees will not only witness the lowered dais but also more security following the recent blasts in Mumbai city.

D K BOSE haazir ho !

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Mumbai: Aamir Khan Production’s movie Delhi Belly has landed in another controversy. After being criticized for the song D K Bose, and for the excessive use of expletives, this time a Mumbai woman has alleged that the burqa has been used inappropriately in the film which has hurt her religious sentiments.

Farah Ghani (24) has approached the Bandra court with a criminal complaint against the producers, director, and the writer of the movie.

Farah is upset with the way Islam and women were projected in the movie. “Burqa is considered to be very sacred in our religion but actors in this movie were smooching each other in burqa. They have also ridiculed the burqa by spilling water on it. Worse still, one of the characters is shown going to the toilet in burqa,” said Farah.

There is a scene in the movie where four characters try to run away from the police wearing burqas. Actors Imran Khan and Poorna Jagannathan kiss each other in the car in which they escape. Actor Kunal Roy Kapur, who has an upset stomach, goes to the toilet in a burqa, and while actor Vir Das tries to drink water, the water falls on the burqa.

Farah said she first waited for some organization to file the case as it has hurt religious sentiments. “When nobody came forward for this cause, I filed the case as this movie has hurt my religious sentiments. Also the portrayal of women in the movie is very upsetting”, she said.

Dhruvi Mehta (25) who was present in Bandra court to support Farah was also upset with the movie. She said “They have shown women in bad light and the movie is filled with abuses. I heard they are planning a sequel, you can only imagine how vulgar that will be.”

Farah’s advocate Prashant Pansare said, “According to section 292 IPC and 295(A)IPC, a case has been filed against Aamir Khan Productions Private Ltd, the producers , (Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Ronnie Screwvala), the writer (Akshat Verma )and the director ( Abhinay Deo) for displaying obscenity and hurting religious feelings.”

When contacted, Akshat Verma, the writer of Delhi Belly said, “I cannot comment on this matter as both Aamir and Kiran are out of the country.” The case will be heard on 27 July in Bandra Court.

My Railway Woes

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Commuters questioning the driver of the train of which the schedule was changed

I had to go to Deonar dumping ground for one of my stories. I reached Andheri station at 4.25pm. The next local train to CST was at 4.41 pm. The nearest railway station from Deonar is Govandi for which I had to take the train to CST and get down at Wadala and then get into train to Panvel.The In my opinion CST trains are as slow as snail. The other day one of my friend was telling that,” we should get down the train and push it, maybe then it would run faster.”

I had to reach Deonar on time as the light was required for the photographs that were to be clicked there.the train stopped at King’s Circle Station and did not proceed furhter for 20 minutes as there were some signal issue. There was lot of chaos in the train as lot of them were telling that Wadala is the last stop as there is repair work going on in Raey Road Station. I was not worried as anyways I had to change the train at Wadala. While getting down at Wadala one of the Lady whom I had earlier enquired about train to Goavndi told me that the same train which I had loaded at Andheri is going to go to Panvel. So I sat back. A huge crowd got up at Wadala. I was not sure if the train was going to Panvel or not. So I asked one of the women in my compartment,” This train is going to CST not Belapur”, was her reply. Me and the other lady who had given me the information about the train going to Belapur got down hurriedly. I was not carrying lot of stuff but she was along with her two kids and their school bags. We managed to get down before the train started. I tried to find the platform from where I could get a train to Belapur or Panvel. Platform number 2 was my next destination where the indicator was telling me that the train standing on it was going to Belapur. I got in the train. It was too crowded, I managed to get a space to stand.

But this was not the end to the miseries of the niether the commuters nor me. All of a sudden the indicator showed that the train on platform number 2 was going to Andheri. I did not want to go back to Andheri atleast not before finishing my work. It was already 5.20 pm. After a 15 minutes drama, there was an announcement which told that this was a special train to Andheri. Bad luck! . The derailment caused at Raey Road Station had affected all the trains’ schedule. But the derailment was not my worry at that time, my worry was the darkness encroaching upon the sky. I could have easily reached Deonar but it would’nt have been fruitful as I had to come back again to take the pictures. I went to platform number 1, saw the situation of the train and decided no to take the train, till thjen there was one more train on platform number 2 which was gogin towards Govandi. I rushed to platform number 2 sat in the train. Suddenly saw the time. It was 5.50 pm. By the time I would have reached Deonar, it would have been dark. Was not sure so called up a friend to ask the time taken from Wadala to Deonar. But the friend ditched me at the right time and did not pick up my call. Still I did not lose hope and called a up another friend of mine and was adviced to return to Andheri. I was too frustrated to think anything, so finally decided to go back to Andheri and Try My Luck tomorrow.

Hopefully tomorrow comes with new hope.

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