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  Home » Melange » Feature
Career Option in Development Studies
BY RANJAN K BARUAH

We have been talking about development in many aspects. Development is more common in a developing country like India. There are many issues and problems which need to be addressed for development. The government of each country is committed to the growth and development of the country. Apart from governmental agencies, there are many other agencies that focus on development. Now, let us explore how development can be a separate subject of study and how it can be another career option for us.

A development study is a multidisciplinary branch of social science. A development study is offered as a specialized master's degree in a number of universities, and, less commonly, as an undergraduate degree. It has grown in popularity as a subject of study since the early 1990s, and has been most widely taught and researched in the third world and in countries with a colonial history, such as the UK, where development studies originated.

Development issues include community development, development communication, development theory, ecology, economic development, environmental studies, gender studies, human rights, human security, international development, international relations, migration studies, peace and conflict studies, population studies, public administration, public health, rural development, social policy, social development, social work, sustainable development, urban studies, women's studies, etc.

The emergence of development studies as an academic discipline in the second half of the twentieth century is in large part due to increasing concern about economic prospects for the third world after decolonisation. In the immediate post-war period, development economics, a branch of economics, arose out of previous studies in colonial economics. By the 1960s, an increasing number of development economists felt that economics alone could not fully address issues such as political effectiveness and educational provision. Development studies arose as a result of this, initially aiming to integrate ideas of politics and economics. Since then, it has become an increasingly inter- and multi-disciplinary subject, encompassing a variety of social scientific fields.

Some of the institutes that offer courses related to Development Studies include Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, apart from some other IIT, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, MIDS, CDS, etc. International Institute of Social Science is one of the leading international institute offering courses related to development studies. Admission in all leading institute is through All India Entrance and followed by interview.

Students of development studies often choose careers in international organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), private sector development consultancy firms, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) bodies and research centers. Students are also selected for government departments apart from NGOs and other international agencies. United Nations is focusing on Agenda 2030 which is focused on achieving Sustainable Development and it brings opportunity for the young people to take up this course.

Apart from academic qualification one need to have other employability skills for getting job after they finish their course.  One must try to enhance their communication skills and networking skills from an early age. Preparing a good CV is helpful for the entry level jobs after passing the course. Individuals may also become development consultant apart from joining jobs.

International Scholarships:

Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship:

Aspirants may apply for Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme for the academic year 2017-2018. Scholarships are available for pursuing undergraduate (BA/BSc), master (MA/MSc) or doctoral degree programme. The aim of the programme is to promote cultural understanding, economic and political relations between Hungary and other countries. The core mission of the programme is to increase the number of foreign students in Hungary and to encourage Hungarian higher education institutions to attract top foreign students.

Applicants are eligible to apply only if they meet the minimum language criteria set by the chosen host higher education institution. For study programmes in English language students shall have a level of English proficiency required by the host institution. Provisions covered by the Scholarship: tuition-free education, monthly stipend, etc.  Aspirants may send application through online mode before 5th March.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Postgraduate Fellowship

 This Postgraduate Fellowship is announced in honor of President A.P.J. Kalam. President Kalam was a strong advocate for young people and a passionate supporter of clean energy and energy Independence University of South Florida. The student award will be offered to a student who graduated from or is about to graduate from an Indian University and is seeking to pursue a PhD degree in the following subject/discipline at the University of South Florida: Applied Anthropology, Applied Physics, Business PhD programs, Cell Biology, Microbiology & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science & Engineering, Engineering, Criminology, Integrative Biology, Marine Science, Psychology

The deadline to apply for the Kalam Postgraduate Fellowship is January 15, 2017.  Candidates are strongly encouraged to apply to their academic program as early as possible. Admissions dates vary depending on program; be sure to check online for your prospective program. Fellowship decisions will be announced in mid-May 2017.

Scholarships in India:

Girls Scholarships: To provide encouragement and support to girl children to pursue technical education, "Pragati Scholarship" has been launched by the MHRD from the year 2014 -15 and implemented by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Pragati is a scheme of AICTE aimed at providing assistance for Advancement of Girls participation in Technical Education. Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skill and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. This is an attempt to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future by "Empowering Women through Technical Education".

Total number of scholarships per annum is 4000 and 'One Girl' per family and it can be extended for Two Girl Child per family where the family income is less than Rs. 8 Lakh /annum (In case of married girl child, the income of parents/ in laws whichever is higher is to be considered). The candidates will be selected on Merit at the qualifying examination to pursue technical education from amongst such candidates. The candidates should have been admitted to 1st year of the Degree or Diploma programme in any of the AICTE approved institute during the academic year 2015-16 through centralized admission process of the State/ Centre Government. Aspirants may apply on or before 10th January.

Readers Feedback:

The future prospect in event management has been strategically highlighted by Ranjan K Baruah in his article "Event Management as a Career option". With less investment and high gain, event management is a career of respect and fame. His article elucidate the courses related to event management which is of great assist for the readers as it educate them on a field which is yet to gain momentum in the North East. The way he bought to light a career option which is still in the dark is really inspirational for fresher around the State. After going through it, I am left wanting for more article which throws light to various career options that are still in the grassroots level.

Abinash Das, Guwahati

I would like to thank mélange for publishing your articles. In every article, you unveil different career options. Your every article gives a new ray of hope for job aspirants of our society. The article 'Event Management as a Career Option' was very informative and I like reading it.

Kongkona Tamuli

D R College , Golaghat


(Ranjan K Baruah is a social activist and career mentor who has conducted career awareness programme in different parts of Assam and Northeast India and can be reached at bkranjan@gmail.com  or 9864055558 for any career related queries )

Desert Rain: The Music of Indian Ocean
BY ANURAG RUDRA
More than a decade back, as a gawky school going lad leafing through the Sunday supplement of a newspaper that used to be delivered two days late, I first came across Indian Ocean-the band, that is- and their music. The writer waxed eloquent about their distinct musical oeuvre- fusion, as they called it, was anyway in vogue at that time- and how they had persevered and established a name for themselves at a time when the concept of the Indian band was quite nascent, almost fictional.
Y2K as we called it then and the years that followed were bold, beautiful times. Indipop had peaked and fizzled out. Indian Ocean, however, had been around for much longer. And little would I know, they would continue to hold stage long, long after. And even today, they aren't exactly over, in the true sense of the term.
Sushmit Sen, Rahul Ram, Amit Kilam and Asheem Chakravarty together gave birth to and carried on one of the most sustained and stupendous acts in the annals of modern Indian music. Coming from diverse backgrounds and regions, with diverse heritages and almost no training, they gave rise to a unique musical act that has created one of the most enduring repertoire of music- Indian in soul and construction, yet with a global, nay, glocal feel. Go ahead and listen to their most iconic composition- an ancient Aramaic prayer, Kandisa.
Fast forward and in 2012, my steadily growing fondness for their music received a shot in the arm. On a warm October evening, I got to witness my first and only Indian ocean concert-live. The venue was the newly opened Blue Frog in Delhi and in attendance were about 500 or so of the band's diehard fans. It was a magical evening- from the band members strolling around the venue and speaking to those who were trooping in to the actual concert itself. They played for an extra hour, the audience singing along to their most iconic compositions. The band, true was short of Asheem Chakravarty as far as the 'original' line up was concered (he had passed away a few years earlier) but it was as original as it could get. What an evening it was.
Sushmit Sen, one of the founding members of the band has left to start his own project. Of course, highly talented musicians have come in to fill the places left void by Sushmit and Asheem. But the question here is not if they are capable of doing so, the question is if it is even possible? They were two unique individuals, their decades of collaboration, their chemistry, if we may call it so. Indian Ocean, right now, though musically still going strong, has been emaciated as far as the soul is concerned.
And why is the soul so important here? Please allow me to illustrate.
Indian ocean was formed at a time when the commercial prospects of trying to earn a living or even acceptance from an Indie band was almost fictional. Yet they persevered, jamming for years and years and slowly going from strength to strength. But it was not merely the musical development that was at the soul of their music. For years, they practiced at an old, rundown bunglow in Delhi's Karol Bagh. It became their home, their fortress where they created their most enduring compositions. They were connected to their surroundings, derived sustenance from it- the genius loci.
Once they had to moved out of that iconic building, well, symbolic as it might be, it wasn't the same.
However, on the other side of the coin, we do have a stunning repertoire of a a few, but brilliant compositions that Indian Ocean has bequeathed to us. From their respective cultural heritages- Bengali and Kashmiri, Punjabi and from all corners of the country, they created some of their most enduring compositions. Philosophy has always been the strongpoint of their lyrics as one can see in songs like Bhor. Then there are beautiful folk based compositions like Maa Rewa and of course, the Bhatiyali inspired Bondhu which still leaves me in a trance everytime I listen to it. Every single time.
However, their biggest success was being able to make fusion truly rooted and not an exercise in hideous, forced artifice. For years, Sushmit listened to only Indian classical music so that he could internalize the rhythm structures. And he did a commendable job, playing his guitar with layered, Indian rhythm structures. Amit Kilam, the drummer, incidentally used to play the guitar and his finesse with the drums and percussion comes is self taught. And last, but not the least, Asheem Chakravarty, who was the voice of the band-he came from Imphal- was raw, earthy-just like their music.
And while I, like many of their fans, may mourn and crib the decay of the band, the truth is they have been around much longer than anyone in their vicinity, exploring the full potential of their chemistry, their music and most importantly, their relationships.
And that is why they stood out and will continue to endure. To delight and celebrate like the title of the column which is also the name of one of their most iconic compositions-Just like them- Desert Rain.
(anuragrudra@hotmail.com)
The UP Fiasco and My Neighbour..!
BY ROBERT CLEMENTS

BOB’S BANTER

The family feud that has begun 'twixt father and son in Uttar Pradesh seems to have had strange effects on others all over the country. I looked out of my window this morning and was surprised to see my neighbor pacing up and down outside his gate, "Waiting for the milkman?" I asked politely.

"Paperman!" he whispered.

"Something important happening?" I asked, curious to know what it was that was giving my neighbor such an agitated look.

"I don't know!" he said.

I looked puzzled, "If you don't know then why wait for the paperman?" I asked, "Go back to bed and read the news later."

"And have my son see the headlines?" asked my neighbor, "Looking at me as if I was also part of some conspiracy, "We are all not like you, blessed to have only daughters, people like me have to safeguard our sons from the evil floating around!"

"What evil?" I asked, looking all around me and fearing to hear some hollow eerie sound from a lurking monster, "It's a good Sunday,the sun is up and from the look of it, telling us it's going to be a glorious day!"

"Ssshhh!" said my neighbour, "All's well till the newspaperman comes!"

I looked at my hassled neighbor as he paced his compound staring out of his gate every once in a while, jumping up whenever he heard the sound of a cycle bell and looking at first with disappointment then relief when it was someone other than the paperman.

"Look!" I said kindly, "Maybe you need to go home and rest awhile!"

"That's what that poor Mulayam did and see what happened?"

"Mulayam?" I asked a little flabbergasted but found my neighbor was again listening intently to the sound of tires coming down the road. It was the paperman.

"It is the paperman!" shouted my neighbor as he raced to the gate, and hurriedly tried to beckon the man not to throw the newspaper onto the doorstep but to give it to him, but the paperman hadn't noticed and instead threw the newspaper onto the porch of my neighbour's house, and it seemed as if my neighbors son had been waiting for that throw as the boy sprang from inside, caught the newspaper and ran away.

"I am finished! I am finished!" shouted my neighbor as he tried to chase his son, who had run to the back of their house, his eyes red with frustration and anxiety, his pajama string a little undone. I tried to warn him not to allow the knot to untie but his mind was on anything other than his pajama strings. He ran after his son, and his son ran around the house and seemed to be quite enjoying making his dad sweat for his paper. 

"Listen!" I shouted, "Leave him alone! You will kill yourself with your exertion!"

"That's what he wants to happen to me!" shouted his dad, "He wants me killed! But I am not finished!"

The fiasco ended with my neighbour's pajama's nearly falling off and he tripping on them and sprawling onto the ground. His son stood at a distance jumping up and down with the paper.

"Look how he's acting!" whispered my neighbor, "He must have already read the news. Now he will demand all that I have worked for and built up all my life! Look at his face, there is no gratitude for his father. How many days I have been trying to prevent him from seeing the UP news, but today that stupid newspaper boy was too quick for me."

"I don't think he's had time to read the paper!" I told my neighbor, "Firstly, he's been too busy trying not to get caught, in fact he seems a bit puzzled why you've been chasing him around!"

"Puzzled?" asked my neighbor, "That's not a look of puzzlement, that's one of ingratitude."

"And secondly," I continued, "I don't think he knows how to read! He's only four!"

"They learn fast!" whispered my neighbor, "he may be four but anything can influence a young mind, and once corrupted, it is the end. Have you seen any son making his father eat dust like what I am doing now? Isn't it exactly what that Akhilesh is doing to his father?"

"You tripped on your pajamas!" I said, "Don't blame your son, and like I said, he hasn't read anything from the paper and he's too young to read!"

I looked at the four year old as he looked at his father lying on the ground with his pajamas rolled a tad too low and saw my neighbor cautiously looking at the paper the boy was holding in his hand. He waited for a moment and then made a grab for it, but the boy was too quick, and held it away from his father.

"Exchange! Exchange!" the little boy shouted.

"What's that?" I said smiling at the little fellow as I glanced at his father, "What exchange?"

"I will give daddy his paper if he will give me an exchange!" said the four year old.

"What do you want?" asked his father grimacing as he tried to get up from his fall.

"Cycle!" shouted the little fellow, "I want a cycle!"

I watched as my neighbor swooned and went into a faint. It took his wife and me a few minutes to revive him and make him sit up. His little son was crying in a corner, he had never seen his dad so sick, "What did he say that made you faint?" I asked as my neighbor opened his eyes.

"Didn't I tell you that theUP father son fight would influence our sons?" whispered my neighbor as he pulled the newspaper and pointed the caption to me, "Mulayam and Akhilesh stake claim to 'bicycle' symbol' the headline read.

"It's creating havoc!" wept my neighbor as he fell into another dead faint.

bobsbanter@gmail.com

Millennium Kids and Social Media
BY SANHITA SAIKIA
The new digital age has brought about extraordinary developments in technology and has an indescribable power to influence, connect and mobilize the current population of Millennium Kids. Teens today, also known as the Facebook Generation or digital natives, live in a fast-paced, technologically evolving society and are connected to one another and to the world via digital technology more than any previous generation. Overall, children between the ages of two and 18 years spend an average of almost five-and-a-half hours a day at home watching television, playing video games, surfing the Web or using some other form of media.
Social media has and is changing the way teens live today. It is no longer just a part of a teen’s world; it’s their world now and is affecting who they are and what they do. A decade ago, if our kids were at home, we felt comfortable that our children were in a safe and secure place. That’s no longer true. Now that kids have smartphones and tablets, they can hang out on a dangerous street corner without ever leaving their room. Social media is a kind of drug that we don’t ingest; as a result it seems far less nefarious than it really can be. By exploiting our desires for connection, acceptance, and belonging, social media can turn us into strung out, addicted rats if we don’t properly develop and nurture a healthy and resplendent sense of self that doesn’t need the glittering lures of social media to thrive.
Millennial kids are interacting all day but almost entirely through a screen. They are constantly texting, tweeting and posting pictures via Snapchat and Instagram. Some teens are so emotionally invested in social media that they even wake up at night and login. Teenagers use social media to stay connected to friends and family members, meet new friends, share common interests and promote causes they believe in. This type of media can also help teens expand their creativity and ideas by sharing artistic and musical projects and creating written content and podcasts. In healthy, inclusive environments where sufficient guidance is provided about how to live well with others, social media can amplify and reinforce positive messages and attitudes.
While today’s teens may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and life experience can quickly get them into trouble with these new social venues. When children make a bad choice online, it’s public and permanent. Armed with cell phones and a dizzying array of social media choices,one-half of middle- and high school students in a recent study admit to social media abuse — from bullying schoolmates to spreading rumors to pressuring others to send sexual texts or pictures.
Bullying is a worldwide epidemic that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. For children who are bullied it’s a constant daily struggle for they are the victims of teasing, taunting and name calling. Bullying is no longer a harmless rite of passage and has become one the most common form of violence in our society. Cyber-bullying is commonplace online among teens and it causes emotional trauma and sometimes even leads to suicide.
While on the surface it appears social networking brings people together across the Internet, in a larger sense it may create social isolation. As people spend increasing amounts of time on social networks, they experience less face-to-face interaction. Smartphone apps now send an alert when they detect people nearby with whom we can share interests. As this phenomenon intensifies, our circle of friends will increase but those friends will come from a narrower cross-section of society. We’ll become more tribal and less exposed to people with interests or beliefs different from our own. Scientists have evaluated social isolation in many studies, and have determined that it can lead to a host of mental, psychological, emotional and physical problems including depression, anxiety, somatic complaints and many others.
Children are growing up now in a world where they expect immediate response, gratification and notification. Their brains no longer have time to evolve; they must adapt to change in an instant, and the results are distressing. Teenstoday are more comfortable doing stuff behind their screens than they are in person. Social media has made this easier for them to embrace stuff they would not otherwise embrace because they can do it safely behind a screen. It’s no secret that media has had an increasingly negative impact on the way teenage girls measure their personal image and beauty standards. The sizes of supermodels and actresses often influence teenage girls — who are actively seeking to find an identity — to believe they have to be thin to exemplify beauty. The difficulties of growing up have never been so public.
When it comes to online safety, social media has its’ own unique set of problems for teenagers and it can go far beyond the online predator horror stories.Many users feel their personal data is safe on social networking sites because they have set high levels of security settings, research suggests this is not the case. In fact, there is so much personal data on the web that Eric Schmidt, the co-founder of Google, has warned that teenagers might be forced to change their names one day in order to escape their cyber past. Social media is just one of a gaggle of contemporary trends contributing to teen stress, it’s especially insidious because many teens look to it as a stress-reliever – but get the opposite effect.
It is imperative that we talk with our children of all ages about the pros and cons of social media and help them navigate the online social world. But it’s not just the risk of premature exposure that makes parenting in the age of social media challenging… it’s how social media changes us, reconfiguring the way we value and perceive ourselves and others. As parents today it’s a challenge walking the fine line of respecting our children’s online privacy while looking out for their well-being. We need to be the guardrails on the superhighway of online information. Keeping technology away from our children isn’t the answer, and fear-based education doesn’t work. We have to let them make mistakes and learn so that theycan build confidence and competence in the real world.
In a technologically mediated world, life is bound to be complicated. There will always be a technology and culture divide between parents and children. But with a little extra effort, perhaps it doesn’t always have to be so big.It’s also important to create a relationship of openness and sharing without the harsh judgment,criticism and shaming that cuts off communication between parents and kids.They need to know that we are not clueless and are there for bouncing ideas, helping them to solve problems and yes, setting firm limits when needed.
sanhitasaikia@yahoo.com
The 'Hunt' for a Bird
BY DR. NANDAN PHUKAN
It was on a Holi Day in March last year, when finding out suddenly that next day was a gazetted holiday, I decided to call up Aiyushman, a journalist and a writer with whom I shared good bonhomie to visit Nameri National Park in Sonitpur district. By the time I picked him up we were three people hurtling down the NH 37. Tulika, his friend, joined us in my endeavour to search and locate one of the most reclusive and shy birds in the world. We had not made any reservations in any hotels or campsites but a few calls here and there put things in place and it was not long before we had an accommodation. Stopping only to pick up the bare essentials we headed to the woods of Nameri.
It was late in the evening when we reached the road towards Nameri and Bhalukpong and almost missed the "blink and you will miss" signage towards our lodge. Our lodge was behind a popular campsite of that place and although winter was almost gone, there was a bite in the air and the boys had arranged a small fire in front of our cottage. As I sat around the fire sipping on my burra peg, my mind went back almost 8 years back to my daughter who was just 2 years old when we took her rafting as we arrived at Nameri for a stay.
The fire crackled and hissed as Tulika poked and added more wood to it. Sparks levitated up from the bonfire dancing in the dark of the night and the sky was filled with a million twinkling stars. We decided to have a rafting experience and take a chance with the 'Ibis bill' next day rather than rising up early for the trek. For sighting the more elusive white winged wood duck, not only do we have to get up early at around 6am but we also have to be the first to arrive at its roosting place as the bird was highly sensitive and shy.
It was a cool morning as we got ready for the rafting. Life jackets put on; our journey down the river from 12th mile began. The river had its origin in the mountains of Arunachal and as with all rivers closer to the mountains it had a rock strewn bed along with silvery silt deposited by its side. The water was clear, cool and clean and there were small rapids downstream of the river. It was this very nature of the river which led to a gem of a fish, the golden Mahseer which thrived here in plentiful back in the past, but with angling which was pursued as a hobby by many, the Mahseers were dwindling each year; even a catch and release principle was not working and the forest department had to step in and halt angling 'for good'.  
The Jia Bhoreli which is known as the Kameng in Arunachal is a fast flowing river where the force of the water leads to boulders being displaced and deposited downstream. In winters as the water level decreases the stony riverbed stands out at some places and this is where one can find the Ibis bill. The Jia Bhoreli makes an ideal habitat as it has pebbles and silt and sand.  As we drifted down the river, the elder of the two boatmen stopped the raft and started paddling upstream and sideways towards a rock strewn area. He pointed towards the area with his fingers and said to me, "there on the rocks". All I could see were the rocks, round in shape moulded by the constant friction of the running river when suddenly a movement in the scope caught my eye. In between the rocks of grey, silver and ashy colours sat a bird camouflaged, as it blended perfectly with that of the surroundings even though it had a distinctive curved beak and red legs. It was facing the other way and was picking up under the stones for food.
The boatman who also converts to a guide said we were pretty lucky to see the bird as it was missed by birders the previous two days. Feeling grateful and contended that God was on our side this time, we slowly paddled downstream to the pickup point back to our lodge.
 I shall be back in a year and a half for a glimpse of the highly endangered 'white winged wood duck'.
One of the greatest dilemmas I faced was whether I should go for a digital SLR, another prosumer camera, a mirror less one or go for a mobile with enhanced camera effects. I had or still have a Nikon F 55, a Sony DSC H1 and didn't want to go for a digital SLR and waited it out for almost 3 years but then succumbed to 'peer pressure'. I waited it out till I had an offer lucrative enough to fall for. The Nikon camera I purchased not only had more FPS and a wider ISO range but also had a free 70 to 300 mm VR lens thrown in. I did a little bit of birding having visited Sariska, Dibru saikhowa, Mishimi hills and Namdapha shooting with my Sony camera but then for birds who hardly stood still or posed for the cameras, it became useless. The birds at Mishimi hills were very fidgety, chirping around from branch to branch. Restlessness must have been ingrained into the genetic code of these birds as a survival instinct from years of being hunted down by the natives.
A few years back some of the nature lovers of Assam had formed a society called 'Brahmaputra Nature Society' which was later renamed as 'Birds of Eastern India'. The group consisted a few avid and devoted birdwatchers and lovers and gathered in strength year by year and now has a membership of three hundred individuals of which fifty are very active members. I was also a member of the group, but a bit laidback in my attitude. So armed with a digital SLR and proud to join the elite group of birders who flashed around with their 400 and 500 mm lenses, I became the new 'kid on the block'.  
We arrived at Nameri NNP one fine evening for a birding tour of the park and the 'search and capture', on camera, the highly reclusive and shy 'white winged wood duck'. Bonnie, my partner in this journey, was also an adventurer at heart and together we would move around in the weekends travelling 'here and there' searching and exploring out new areas of natural splendour. Asking around for a guide at Nameri Eco Camp, a reputed tourist destination for birders, a young polite lad arrived.
Susil Ngate was a lean, clean shaven man in his early twenties. He was studying in a local school and worked part time as a local birding guide, which enabled him to earn some pocket money. There were not many youths around in that area willing to take up the livelihood of a guide and to us it was good news that besides the foresters, a few local youths were good at spotting and identifying the various species available in that area. Susil explained to us that night about the nitty-gritty of finding the 'Deoh hahn' and the rules of the forest and told us to be ready by 5:30 in the morning.
We woke up to the sound of birds chirping around in the woods nearby and were by the riverside waiting for the country boat to take us across the 'Jia Bhoreli' river to the forest. Nameri is a woodland forest with grassland running up the banks of the river. Besides being a National park it was also a tiger reserve and one of the few, if not the only one, in India to allow trekking in the jungle. In the stillness of the morning and oxygen-heavy, pure, unpolluted air the sun rose over the distant hills of Arunachal. The river crossed, and then walking for a distance along the dried riverbed of pebbles and silt, I saw a Forktail, a sand martin and a sand lark. Moving in a single file into the narrow track leading away from the bank, with Susil in the lead, we stopped only for an occasional moment when he pointed out at the tree tops.
A lone Peregrine Falcon sat on a branch high up in a tree scanning the ground for prey, a flock of green pigeons fluttered around the canopy of the trees, a Lineated Barbet sitting on a bare branch a little bit ahead and a grey capped Pygmy Woodpecker doing what he does best. We followed the river for a while and saw the thick knees standing motionless on the dry riverbed and a Pied Kingfisher hovering over the water. A Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher hopped along from branch to branch while an Asian Fairy lurked behind the leafy branches.
But our destination was getting closer and the 'Muniram beel', where the hallowed bird would be roosting, was a just few paces away. Susil silently led us deeper into the jungle through dense foliage into a heavily wooded area and motioned to us to remain silent and tread very carefully over twigs. He glanced furtively at the beel from a corner, as I looked on in excitement at him for a reaction but there was none from him, and he beckoned to us to follow him as he took a track on the right side of the beel. Two hundred feet ahead he peered from behind the branches and creepers at the Bali Pung Nala and gestured to us to stoop low and pointed a finger through the gap in the tree.
Bonnie was in front of me and as he fidgeted with his camera to take a snap, somehow the highly sensitive ducks felt our presence and with a sudden quacking flied off into deep jungle. I had a flicker of a view for a second or so of a white and black bird flying off and yes, it was one of the largest ducks I had seen in my life. There were two of them sitting on the branch of a tree and were either found wading in the beel or sitting on the branches. We were plain lucky to see the bird on our first outing but were unfortunate enough to take shots of the birds. Susil told us they would be back only in the evening and as both of us had work back in the city, we had to be contended with a three hour trek.
The White Winged Wood Duck is one of the largest species of ducks on this planet weighing up to 4 kilograms and is identified by the whitish head and neck speckled with black in comparison to its dark body. It is an endangered species according to the IUCN, a conservation body and has a population of only 800 left in the world of which around 450 to 500 are found in India, Bangladesh and Burma. In India it is mostly found in Dibru Saikhowa NP, Dehing Patkai WLS and Nameri NP in Assam and therefore, has been named as the State bird of Assam. Its habitat is dense tropical forests, swamps and marshes near rivers and its roosting as well as nesting places are holes in trees which are a peculiarity by itself.
As we walked back through the trail we saw thrushes, a shrike, white wagtail, warbler and rudy shelducks, cormorants and an osprey as it glided over the river. I counted out the species of birds as we sat back in the boat, and found that in our two and a half hour trek, we had seen an astonishing 30 species of birds. But I swore and promised to myself that I would be back within a couple of days and with a bigger lens in hand. I would rather have that one 'bird in hand' at Nameri!
GROOMING & ACCESSORIES:
BY MANJIT KASHYAP
Leica's Special Edition M-P Grip Camera:
Leica is no stranger to one-off special editions. The German camera manufacturer often releases new variants of current models with a refreshed look. But the company's latest special edition is one of the rarest yet: The M-P Grip by Rolf Sachs will see just 79 units produced.
With such low production numbers, the camera must be finished in platinum or some other rare material, right? Nope, it's rubber. In fact, Leica says the material is based on that of a table tennis paddle! The trim is made from the same rubbery material as you'd find on a table tennis bat, so between that and the bumpiness of its surface, this should be one camera you shouldn't find slipping out of your grasp. Leica says the camera offers an "extraordinary visual and tactile experience that inspires the passion for photography in an entirely new way."
Along with the new grip, the camera gets a few other unique visual touches. The buttons and function wheels are all finished in black with red engravings, the Rolf Sachs name is etched in the back, and each camera bears a unique special edition number. Other than that, the camera is identical to the standard Leica M-P (Type 240).
The camera will cost you $14,950 and anyone with butter fingers and a lot of spare cash, can try his/her luck in photography, with this gadget.
Puma Speed 600 Ignite 2 and Ignite 3 PWRCool:
Is signing up for marathon on your 2017 resolution list? Then Puma has some new sneakers that'll help get you ready and one of them is a favorite of speedster Usain Bolt.
On New Year's Day, the German athletic brand is releasing new updates to two of its popular performance running styles. The Speed 600 Ignite 2 and the Ignite 3 PWRCool are both intended for men and women and boast Puma's latest technical innovations.
Speed 600 Ignite 2 has a new and improved upper, made with a lightweight engineered mesh that could help shave seconds off your time. It also features a dual-layer midsole infused with Puma's proprietary Ignite foam and comes with a molded EVA Supreme sockliner for immediate step-in comfort.
When the weather starts to heat up this spring, Puma suggests slipping into this new technical shoe, built especially for running in warmer temperatures. TheIgnite 3 PWRCool features Dri-Freeze technology in the collar lining to instantly cool feet on contact, and the Dri-Freeze also extends to the sock liner for maximum ventilation.The sneaker also is equipped with Puma's Ignite midsole and an ultra-grip outsole. It comes with Usain Bolt's seal of approval. The Puma-sponsored athlete said in a statement, "Living in Kingston, I'm used to running in really hot weather, but there are days when the heat is just unbearable. The Ignite 3 PWRCool can handle this, no sweat. Tried and tested!"
TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01 Full Black Matt Ceramic Watch:
The TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01 Full Black Matt Ceramic is new for 2017 and the latest addition to the tirelessly expanding range of Carrera Heuer-01 watches.
TAG Heuer calls the Carrera Heuer-01 "the brand's current best-seller," so it is no wonder they keep releasing yet newer iterations, and it must be said that a full ceramic model is not something we see often - or at all, come to think of it. The case, bezel, lugs, and case band are all made from black ceramic with a micro-blasted finish, with all these being wrapped around a stainless steel core. The steel core is present because ceramic would not allow for such precision fitting of screws, gaskets, and threaded components as does steel. The case-back, just to spice things up a bit, is in satin-finished black titanium carbide with, but of course, a transparent sapphire crystal in the center.
Despite the new material and overall design, TAG Heuer has kept this new piece relatively competitive. Available in two variants, the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01 Full Black Matt Ceramic reference CAR2A91.BH0742 with the full ceramic bracelet will be priced at $6800, while reference CAR2A91.FT6071 on the rubber strap will retail for $4800.
CRACKLING MUSTARD

Eating Out


In recent times, there has been a splurge in restaurants offering Bengali food in Guwahati. But one of them which stand out is Crackling Mustard. The inclusion of Mustard in the name of the restaurant gives an idea of what to expect, Bengali food that is. And when it comes to the quality of food, this restaurant does not disappoint.

Located in Beltola area of Guwahati, the restaurant fills the gap for a quality place to dine out. Although the area has been developing quite rapidly over the past few years, most of the popular restaurants are located in other areas of the city. This eatery does fill the gap.

The first thing that strikes one as he or she enters the restaurant are the tastefully done interiors. Although very clean and hygienic, the place tries to give a rustic Bengali feel to its ambience. Elegantly carved wooden chairs and tables make up most of the design. The interior is great with lot of Bengali accents added in the form of artifacts and furniture. It's in fact great to see the creativity put in. The table setup, however, is cluttered and people can overhead conversation of other diners in nearby tables. There is less moving space.

As Rabindra Nath Tagore is an unshakeable part of Bengali heritage, one part of the wall is covered with a big poster of the poet's famous composition, Ekla Chalo Re. Written in Bengali script, the wall gives a perfect addition to the overall Bengali environment.

When it comes to food, the dishes served here are of high standard and taste of authentic Bengali cuisine. The prices are also reasonable and don't hurt your pockets. Another plus point is the low preparation time for dishes. For those who don't like to wait much after placing their orders, this is definitely a good place to opt for. The management can however still do a bit more to improve their serving standards.

With a choice of various dishes of mutton, chicken, prawn, fish, one is spoilt for choice! One also has a choice of Kolkata rolls and Biryani along with a limited Chinese menu. One of the most popular items served here is the Luci with Kosa Mangso. While Luci is one of the most popular Bengali food items, it goes very well with Kosa. The lucis are white, round and very fluffy and proved to be a delight.

Another popular item is the Bangladehi Chicken curry. While we didn't have any idea of what Bangladeshi Chicken curry is, the dish was spicy. It had a slight tangy taste because of the tomato and cilantro. The chicken pieces were big and succulent.

All in all, Crackling Mustard provides a delightful dining experience. For those who love Bengali food, this place is another good option that one has in the city.

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