Life of Mushroom- From dust to dust, a Micro vision to the Human story?

Come rainy season I wait for a chance to devour wild mushrooms.. my favourite dish which I can never resist that too with a generous dab of butter and otti (rice bread -like peta bread-, staple breakfast of Kodavas). Mushroom foraging, harvesting and eating is a risky job; a tiny error could cost your life or you might end up in mental asylum! But quite instinctively we knew which ones (8-10) were edible by sight, a knowledge just slipped into our system somehow. The taste and flavour can only be experienced and cannot be described:while growing up mushroom hunting was a delight to us as we got to wade barefoot on the rainwater, collected on the clean grass splashing all around, carried an umbrella yet fully wet, an time which can never be relived. Yet just a ray of hope in the distant horizon, teeny-tiny chances, if, Kasturirangan Report is implemented.

Mushrooms are fungus that grow almost everywhere, on every natural material imaginable (tree, logs, soil, decomposing leaves, dung, mulch, compost, etc.) in different shapes, sizes and colours. Even ants and termites grow them as food. It’s hard to delineate the shapes, mostly with a domed cap on a stalk with gills on the underside of the cap. It’s something like the fruit of a plant with millions of invisible seed called spores but it’s hard to say if it is Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian food!! Who cares… I am a gourmand when it comes to wild mushroom!

Without leaves and requirement of sunlight, it pops up magically without any clue within a week or more after a good rain (rains) right in front of your eyes if you happened to be around. It also returns to its point of origin within no time if left in nature.

Recently, I had the unexpected privilege of recording it in the span of 3 – 5 days and that’s when I realized how close it is to our own life cycle! If one can compare this process to 5 days of human life then cycle of our life process say 100 years could be few days of the life of Mother Nature. Creation from dust to dust, the disposal technique of Mother Nature is unbelievable. No wonder the Rishis of yore opted for cremation over burial…

Mushroom decay process depends upon the condition around. I remember Oprah Wimfrey telling, with the makeup, fan and light anyone could be made to look gorgeous not just models or film stars.. Similarly with the sun, rain and air in control, the entire creation could be altered!! I have seen mushroom drying naturally in warm climates like Mysuru in the absence of rain.

The first reaction from my Son when he saw the pictures, whose opinion is very important to me, was yukkk… yukkk Mamma… can’t imagine…did you really photograph it? How could you?!? I joked, yeh I did, everything happens for a reason, I was supposed to that’s why the process cycle was very small. The decay was accelerated as the results of hot day temperature and rains in the evenings. I left the place on the 5th day… letting nature’s recyclers enjoy the remains.

The mushroom had bloomed on 27/05/2017 on the mud parapet at my sister-in-law Shanthi Somanna’s house in Mythadi, but unnoticed till 28/05/2017 evening so by the time it was plucked, it was unfit to eat. My SiL is a sweetheart and was very sad that I did not get to eat it, and to make me happy, kept it in a plastic tray in the coffee drying yard for me to photograph it. I spent quite some time with the mushroom (almost till the end) until by mistake my husband drove over the tray breaking it in the process.

The pictures are self-explanatory… inspite of all the activities the stem standing firm almost till the end is in par with the bones staying for a long time to tell the tales.

Day one was missed out in the wild.

Day Two

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Day three

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Day four

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Day Four evening..

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Final chapter of Mr & Mrs. Mushrooms

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Manhattan – Fishing and Rats (Part 2)

When we entered the park through the south-east corner, the same drama was being enacted inside too but the crowd was mixed. Being Saturday, the park was crowded. A young lady was painting the stone bridge & I peeped from the side to see the work. She was good. We walked little further & sat on the bench opposite to the lake overlooking the bridge. A Youngman was catching fish with simple hook & some plastic looking bait, while 3-ducks stood close to each other on a small rock popping out of the water. Another man from across was capturing the beauty of the natural stone bridge with his camera. At least they were aware of the what they were doing!!

Youngman’s fishing became our discussion for a while as many passersby looked at him with critical eyes. I was wondering if the fishing is allowed inside the park pond? There were a whole lot of fish in the pond… some coloured ones too… meanwhile he got one & he showed it to two kids saying it’s a trout… & released back the fish as an asian woman watched them all. I commented it’s nice that it was released, I know it is to teach his kids but he also should tell them that the fish gets hurt like us & feels uncomfortable deprived of oxygen nearly expecting death too. In the meantime, the kids pointed towards the back & said see Dad there & ran towards him. Oh boy it was not his kids! Was it fair to catch the fish? What was the purpose?

Then the Youngman took his fishing rod & walked to the other side of the lake. I wondered if he was maybe re-living his childhood or maybe making it up for the lost childhood? Now our mind moved towards the stone bridge where many women sat & some kids crawled along it’s the ledge of the bridge, which gave us goosebumps.

My husband and son talked about the buildings around. And I pointed to my daughter in law the Rats racing & scurrying from both sides… with full speed ignoring the presence of humans on their mobiles! There were so many & one was just behind us on the tree watching us. I started telling them about an Indian National volleyball player’s unprecedented accident, when she had rats feasting on her raw flesh right in front of her eyes while she lay unable to move between Two railway tracks. Actually my talk was not about the rats but the human mental endurance but my husband & DIL quickly got up to move… & on the other side of the lake there was a father & son duo both equipped with fishing rod… besides them was the same Youngman!! Same old thing repeated yet I was thankful for they were releasing it back to the water… we moved on fearing their hook might hurt us from their behind while throwing.

Outside “Zombie Oasis” was getting larger & the lights were on. NYPD vehicle which I had seen earlier was still there & I joked what would the Zombies do for Uncle Sam to wait on them… eat each other? Glued to mobiles, they were almost dead to reality, no one spoke or laughed.. thank God they still seemed breathing!! Only casualty was the Psyche Crash!! While the passing cars rolled smoothly & sounds of horse’s hoop reminded of a bygone era, there was an eerie silence among the packed homogeneous sardines..

Inedible dates

08.08.14: I convinced my husband to take me to the beach for a walk on a Friday morning… he agreed reluctantly with a condition that it will be only for half an hour & if it is very hot we will leave. 5:45 am & at 30+ Celsius we headed to beach. There were quite a few people in the beach already. A lovely couple, who had to spring out when the sprinkler suddenly came on…some fully clothed women enjoying a dip.. speed boats & ski boats dotting the water. The air was fresh & I could smell the ocean.

The beach is lined with scores of date trees; almost all of them loaded/pregnant with bunches & bunches of dates but sadly it is not edible. There was a solo tree with red dates. Not again! Red & me get into trouble, was my thought.

Luckily we stayed longer than half an hour thanks to the stray cats having bath in the sprinkler that had charmed my husband & sadly I missed the sight!! Meanwhile, red did not bring any bad luck to me after all.

I was trying to get pictures of the inedible dates which hung in bunches as well as to get shots of some birds like sparrow, etc… I already have plenty of pictures of the dates but somehow it always attracts me. This time it was a different thing. There were some yellow dates, smooth as a baby’s butt, smiling in-between the hundreds of green, cutely shaped, & wall-paper dates…it seemed like the dates were teasing me & inviting me to try them. Out of curiosity I plucked two yellow dates covered with plenty of dust. Against all the odds, I pop it into my mouth after cleaning with tissue. Wow! It tasted so yum… better than the box of dates I had picked up from the super market the previous day. It brought a smile to me, I thought it’s the other side of the midnight & every rule has an exception. Thought I would give one to my husband to check his reaction.

Then the thought of smiling yellow dates brought the memories of those unlucky children & the hundreds of children who never grow to be normal, robbed of their childhood due to so many reasons like poverty, human trafficking, raping, etc. so sad indeed.

It also remind me that even though the world might see one too many cruel things happening, there will always be some good left in the world no matter what.

I tried the red date too, but it was bland, slightly hard & simply did not taste good. Even though I did not get any lesson, I still thanked God almighty for teaching me so many things in my life in such short period. But colour red has something to do with everything around… perhaps because each & every human being has the invisible red colour within making it the prime colour of creation!!