Birding in Nandi Hills with the Amstutzes )

November 27, 2007

This whole post is about the Amtutzes. Uma..thank you for introducing me to Karen, and then the whole family. Prashanth and Deepak also enjoyed their company, and it was a great group to spend the day with….

Here they are, in these two photographs:

deepak,karen,deepa,prashanth,paul,eliza,lupin,sylvie amstutz



(You can see the three daughters rolling around on the rocks!)

Paul Amstutz is here with his family for six months, teaching Science and Maths (Math!) to the children of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ulsoor, in exchange for Raji, who has gone to teach for the same time in Yosemite, on a Fulbright Exchange Program. He used Craig's List to find himself a house to live in at Malleswaram 15th Cross. With three children under 10...not once, through the day, were there raised voices ( I am excluding the howler monkeys tourists at Nandi Hills over the weekends)...and the 3-year old cried, once, when she tripped over a rock and fell and scratched up her little elbow..and then she cried for a minute or so. The parents allowed them to stop and enjoy everything....a trailing liana vine became a swing....a colocasia leaf became a pixie umbrella for two of the girls...when there were birds and the parents said "Sh!", the children did shush...and Sylvie's bird-spotting skills are well-above average; she spotted so many birds in advance of us all, especially the elusive Paradise Flycatcher... And the parents occasionally tested them, too. On seeing the river of plastic near the repeater tower, with the sun shining on the throwaway plates, Karen remarked, "Oh, girls, don't you think those rainbow colours are beautiful!" And the girls said, "No...we think that's trash..." and Karen smiled contentedly, and remarked, "I tested my children, and they passed..." The children were NOT given sweets or aerated drinks...they drank water or ate fruits, and had buns and then idlis from the local Darshini near their home, with the sambhar the excess of which was ultimately given to the Tiger Sambhar Dog (more about HIM later)...the only chocolate they ate was what I gave them! They kept up with us with the parents carefully allowing them to stop when they felt they were tired. Paul told them really wonderful stories about the various travels the parents undertook...there was one story about the Yeti which wanted biscuits that had me QUITE as absorbed as the girls! He and Karen explained SO many facts to the children...I heard Paul telling them why it was good to drink so much water, it diluted the toxins that the kidneys filter out of the body...and every now and then, he would pause, and ask them, "Does that make sense to you?" At various points, Eliza, Sylvie and Lupin made: Funny faces in the ice-cream: The ice-cream face....251107 (here's Sylvie who made it, quite shy of the camera!) Sylvie Amstutz the ice-cream artist A neat pile of leaves at the side of the steps (Lupin): Lupin sweeps up... A lovely twig picture of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Eliza) which Paul said was what brought the original, finally, close enough to be photographed...(no, couldn't take a pic of that!) And they created the Sambar Tiger Dog, because there was this stray dog with (see it for yourself) STRIPES instead of spots. And when they fed him the extra sambar leftover after their idlis, he became the Sambar Tiger Dog! Sylvie and Lupin with the Sambar...the Tiger Dog is in the background... and here's the STD, lapping it all up.... the Sambar Tiger Dog I wish we had been parents like Karen and Paul are...they have calmly gone on with their lives, careers and travels and included the children in all of it...see their latest Bangalore blog at Here's a pic of our group sunning ourselves on the rocks...we can all be called "Bhaskars"!....Thanks for a great time, Karen, Paul, Eliza, Sylvie and little Lupin! We are all Bhaskars...that is, we are basking in th sun!

Let me close with this picture of some balloons for sale:

balloons for the children...

Karen and Paul….like those red balloons, our hearts go with your little daughters!

Anyone who wishes to has a standing invitation from the Amstutzes, to visit Yosemite National Park where Karen is a wildlife warden.