The last days of Kokkrebellur.

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Once upon a time, there was this happy place called Kokkrebellur. Once upon a time.

Now, this age-old nesting site for the endemic Painted stork has become another casualty of human greed.

In Kannada, the word “kokkre”  means stork. The very name of this village is derived from the storks that come here every February to breed. It is believed that this location has been the nesting ground for the Painted stork since a thousand years.

kbellur-02763It has taken Homo sapiens less than a decade to ruin it.

What else do you expect from the most destructive species on the planet? Microwave towers, loudspeakers blaring, massive old trees chopped down, waterbodies gone dry, illegal sand mining, heaps of garbage  – no effort has been spared to screw up Kokkrebellur as only humans can.

Once, there was a grove of Mahua trees that was three centuries old, and housed dozens of mating Indian grey hornbills and a hundred other species. Now there are charred stumps. And an illegal function hall in its place. Littered with discarded bottles, plastic, rotting food and all the usual shit that humans like to throw around. DSC02601

I’ve written at length about Kokkrebellur in an earlier blogpost, written in the days when there was something to write about this unique village in Maddur district. But now there’s nothing left at Kokkrebellur to write about. The storks and pelicans have arrived this year too, but each year their numbers dwindle.

The Kabini river that provides sustenance to these great birds has gone totally dry. There are fewer trees to nest on, more vehicles, much more competition for what little space and resources are available.

Eventually, the storks will simply fly off to a better place.

When the Kokkre is gone from Kokkrebellur, then what?

SKS

Neralu. Only questions. No answers.

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For the third time, I set aside a weekend to attend Neralu, Bangalore’s annual tree festival. And for the third time, I came back with some nice pictures – and little else.

neralu-1-9Neralu, like other such “celebrations” of Nature, has a lot of passion, enthusiastic volunteers, energetic workshops, the usual collection of grey-headed academics and assorted “experts”, and the mandatory music concert accompanied by lusty applause and thunderous foot-stomping.

The primary reason for carting myself across the city through all the traffic (even on a Sunday) was the talk delivered by Dr Harini Nagendra. Turned out to be a disappointment. The title of the talk was itself misleading, the content was nothing new and its conclusion was hardly inspirational. One expects a lecture by a qualified ecologist of her repute to be considerably better than what one can learn from Wikipedia.

That Bangalore’s current state is alarming, is already well known. Bangalore’s ecological history is also well known, at least to me. And I’m not even an ecologist, mind you. What one is really concerned about is Bangalore’s ecological future. This was the one question that I posed to her that Dr Harini would not answer.

Her evasiveness on the question served to confirm what I have long known – that Bangalore’s doom is all but inevitable. To my mind, Doom is already here.

The cyber-talk on plant evolution that followed, delivered via skype (or whatever) by Pranay Lal was equally pedantic. It may be fascinating to learn that dinosaurs once ruled the Deccan and feasted on cycads during the Mesozoic, but the questions that trouble those of us who live in the Cenozoic remain unanswered. DSC00613.jpgNothing wrong in an author trying to promoting his book through a lecture, but in this instance, I do not think the purpose was served.

What I did like was the tree-walk at Krishna Rao park conducted by Narayan, Divya and Srikanth. And I did enjoy the workshop conducted by Charumati Supraja. These are nice, unpretentious folk with a genuine fondness for trees.neralu-1-4.JPG

The evening musical performance was, well, passable. One cannot doubt the musical know-how of Bindumalini Narayanaswamy and Vasu Dixit. What one looks for though, is clean melody, a sweetness of voice, that sincerity of sound that pleases the ear and thrills the heart. The raucous support from their fans in the audience notwithstanding, this rare quality is missing from their music. This is what separates the good from the great. One hopes that this singular quality will develop in this couple’s music over time.

A professional music critic I am not. I am not even a bathroom singer, I am that bad. But I did learn a thing or two from a lifetime of listening to real musicians (like my mother) and I did learn something directly from Dr Balamuralikrishna himself, whom I once met in my childhood, that all music is Carnatic music, because Carnatic music is nothing more than “Karnau madhura”.  That which pleases the ears, that alone is Carnatic music.

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Passion, enthusiasm, concern, anguish, energy, so much youth.

But, no answers.

That is because Neralu, like other eco-movements in the city,  has all other emotions, except the one emotion that matters.

Rage.

Cheers … Srini.