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Bird of the Day: Brahmani Kite (Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore, Karnataka)

August 28, 2015
Brahmini kite by Pawan Ranga - RAXA Collective

Photo credit: Pawan Ranga

From the Soil to Homes and Hearts, this Onam

August 28, 2015
Vamana, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, places his feet on King Mahabali.

Vamana, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, places his feet on King Mahabali.

Kerala was once ruled by Mahabali, who was an asura (Demon). Now being a demon, evil and sinful practices were expected of him, but he was completely the opposite. Mahabali was a mighty king who worked for the prosperity of his people. During his reign, everybody was happy and prosperous. But the Devas (Gods) were jealous and felt that he may surpass them and so they urged Lord Vishnu to help them. Mahabali was about to perform a ritual and he had announced that he would fulfill everyone’s wishes. Vishnu decided to use this opportunity and disguised himself as a dwarf, poor Brahmin called Vamana and went to Mahabali. He asked Mahabali to give him a piece of land which he could measure with three footsteps. Generous Mahabali granted his wish. But everybody was in for a shock when the tiny Vamana grew into a giant. He then took his first step and covered all land, and in his second step he occupied the whole of the sky. He then asked Mahabali where should he keep the third step. Unable to find any more land, the noble king then asked Vamana to keep the third step on his head. Lord Vishnu was pleased with Mahabali’s dedication and so he granted him a wish. Mahabali, who unconditionally loved his people, asked for permission to visit his people once a year. And so Onam is celebrated in his honor and people believe their Mahabali visits them on the day.

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The European Who Gave India its Railway Book Stalls

August 28, 2015
A vendor attends a customer at a railway platform at Mumbai, India. PHOTO: Reuters

A vendor attends a customer at a railway platform at Mumbai, India. PHOTO: Reuters

You remember railway book stalls as being there since eternity. Being in the business of making arduous train journeys a pleasant affair in the company of books and newspapers. It’d be easy to assume a well-meaning civic body put them up. But as far as India goes, the country and its people owe their reading on trains to Emile Edouard Moreau, a European businessman.

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Bird of the Day: Greater Flamingoes (Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat)

August 27, 2015

Greater Flamingos by Sudhir Shivaram - RAXA Collective

Solar Comes Home!

August 27, 2015
Kerala, India, has the world’s first solar-powered airport. PHOTO:  CIAL

Kerala, India, has the world’s first solar-powered airport. PHOTO: CIAL

For five years now, RAXA Collective has called the state of Kerala, India, its home. Over the years, the ‘three magic words’ – community, collaboration, conservation – have guided our work here. And every story in these three spaces has us glad for finding another believer. Now we’ve found a believer who puts his thoughts into action in the Cochin International Airport. Welcome to our land and the world’s first solar-powered, power-neutral airport.

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Bird of the Day: Dickcissel – male (Herman, Nebraska)

August 26, 2015

“Holy Crab,” Bulbman

August 26, 2015

For most of August Xandari has been operating at full capacity. Since this past weekend the hotel has had fewer guests as families prepare for the new school year in Europe and the United States. In a way, it’s a relief, not only for me and my unrestrained desire to sing when I’m alone, but also for the auditory senses of the guests. I no longer bump into hikers during my treks along the waterfall trails and I avoid the embarrassment of having to “justify” my discordant singing. All in all, at least for a few days, no one has to put up with my singing…except maybe for an unexpected creature I found at “river view 2.”

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Nature’s Wisdom The Only Teacher

August 26, 2015

The Marudam School in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. For starters, it’s run by an NGO – The Forest Way – a registered charitable trust involved in education, afforestation, environmental education, organic farming and more. Also, it receives no funding from the government. The school, set in an organic farm and powered by renewable energy, teaches its students about conscious living that respects the environment.

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Bird of the Day: Peacock (Bandipur National Park, Karnataka)

August 25, 2015
photo credit: Pallivar Kaiwar

photo credit: Pallivar Kaiwar

What Does That Song Mean?

August 25, 2015
The chickadee makes at least 15 different calls to communicate with its flock-mates and offspring. PHOTO: Nature Mapping Foundation

The chickadee makes at least 15 different calls to communicate with its flock-mates and offspring. PHOTO: Nature Mapping Foundation

Chickadees have one of the most unique and varied vocal repertoires. Few backyard birds are as beloved as the Black-capped Chickadee. The boldly patterned chickadee is perky, trusting – and it seems to introduce itself by calling its name – chick-a-dee. But when a chickadee voices its namesake call – using a host of variations – it’s most likely maintaining contact with its mate, scolding a predator, or announcing a food source. These chickadee calls, distinct from songs, are uttered by both sexes and may be voiced year-round. What do they communicate?

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Redefining Disabilities Through Organic Farming

August 25, 2015
39-year-old Mahadev Charokar is vision impaired but has got amazing hearing, olfactory and tactical senses. He can differentiate between various denominations of currency notes, can walk up to his farms 1.5 km away and even lead a bullock-driven plough on fields. PHOTO: The Alternative

39-year-old Mahadev Charokar is vision impaired but has got amazing hearing, olfactory and tactical senses. He can differentiate between various denominations of currency notes, can walk up to his farms 1.5 km away and even lead a bullock-driven plough on fields. PHOTO: The Alternative

The adoption of the World Programme for Action concerning Disabled Persons in 1982 laid the foundation for a new approach to disability, with the goals of full participation and equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. The World Programme of Action has time and again reinforced the role of persons with disabilities as both agents and beneficiaries of development. The onus is on taking action so that persons with disability do not end up being referred to as a “vulnerable group” but rather, that disability itself will be considered as a cross-cutting theme in any emerging goals on sustainable development. In Madhya Pradesh, India, a unique experiment with organic farming is mainstreaming people with disabilities.

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Bird of the Day: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Pinckney Island NWR, South Carolina)

August 24, 2015

Going Back to the Melon

August 24, 2015
The watermelon has long inspired artists, such as Giuseppe Recco's Still Life With Fruit (1634-1695). The first color sketches of the red-fleshed, sweet watermelon in Europe can be found in a medieval medical manuscript, the Tacuinum Sanitatis.  PHOTO: Dea, A. Dagli Orti/Deagnostini/ GETTY

The watermelon has long inspired artists, such as Giuseppe Recco’s Still Life With Fruit (1634-1695). The first color sketches of the red-fleshed, sweet watermelon in Europe can be found in a medieval medical manuscript, the Tacuinum Sanitatis. PHOTO: Dea, A. Dagli Orti/Deagnostini/ GETTY

Watermelon may be the best picnic dessert nature ever created with its sweet juice cleverly bound inside that spongy red (sometimes yellow) matrix, and fully protected by psychedelic green rind. And no matter how you slice it, this green cannonball of nutrition is attracting scientific attention as an elixir that reduces muscle pain after workouts and a whole lot more. And the myriad ways it lends itself beautifully in the kitchen. But what about its history? Read more…

Of Books and Travel

August 24, 2015
What might be the perfect holiday retreat has just been listed on AirBnB: the opportunity to become a bookseller for a week or two. PHOTO: Colin Tennant

What might be the perfect holiday retreat has just been listed on AirBnB: the opportunity to become a bookseller for a week or two. PHOTO: Colin Tennant

Quotes on travel abound. And chances are you’ve read this some time: The world is a book and those who do not travel read only page. St. Augustine immortalized those words and now, AirBnB has literally taken it to heart. Always believed in the many worlds that exist between two ends of a book? Then, imagine a library. One that you run for a week. Or maybe two, too.

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Bird of the Day: Bar-headed Geese (Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan)

August 23, 2015

Bar-headed Geese by Sudhir Shivaram - RAXA Collective

Designing the World

August 23, 2015
It took a long time to make one that was perfectly balanced and approx. 2 years before Bellerby produced a globe that I could sell. (Photo by Stuart Freedman)

It took a long time to make one that was perfectly balanced and approx. 2 years before Bellerby produced a globe that I could sell. (Photo by Stuart Freedman)

When is the last time you looked at a map? No, we’re not talking GPS-powered imagery and guidelines but a physical entity. Like a globe. Like the collectibles Peter Bellerby and his company painstakingly churn out. In fact, they are one of the only two workshops in the world still in the business of handcrafting globes.  And in the business of preserving a dying craft.

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Bird of the Day: Swallow-tailed Gull – adolescent (South Plaza Island, Galapagos)

August 22, 2015

Introducing Taxi Fabric

August 22, 2015

In Mumbai, India—a city of nearly 19 million people—over 50,000 taxis pick up at least 25 to 30 people every day. For the majority of Mumbaikars, the iconic black and yellow taxis are the most convenient form of transportation in the city. And now a new vehicle of design, dialogue, and a sense of belonging – thanks to the Taxi Fabric project.

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Bird of the Day: Indigo Bunting – female (Herman, Nebraska)

August 21, 2015

Because Every Vegetable Deserves Love

August 21, 2015
"Cosmetically challenged" farm produce make for tons of  food waste globally. PHOTO:  JCPestano/Shutterstock)

“Cosmetically challenged” farm produce make for tons of food waste globally. PHOTO: JCPestano/Shutterstock)

If you live in Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville, often find yourself complaining about high pricing of groceries, this is for you. Above bring fruits and vegetables to you at economical rates, this start-up is concerned with the noble business of minimizing food waste. How they do it – by collecting rejected asymmetrical farm produce and shipping 10-14 pounds of oddball deliciousness to your doorstep, and it’ll only cost $12.

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