Sunday, January 15, 2012

Turtles of Sri Lanka


So in the short time between my last post and now I went and got married, and made a trip to Sri Lanka with my new bride. I don't think I'll get the time to blog about all the places we went to, but I couldn't resist talking about our most wonderful encounter with Green Sea Turtles at the Hikkaduwa beach.

This photo is of one of two turtles we saw at the beach. Both of them are apparently so regular that the locals have given them names, Rosie and Monica. The two seemed so comfortable with humans that they almost behaved like dogs, accepting sea-weed from swimmers, approaching humans and swimming around them. This one swam so close to me that at one point she propelled herself by pushing me with her flipper.

While swimming with the big turtles was beautifully life-affirming, learning about these turtles at a nearby hatchery was sobering. They are still hunted both for their flesh and because there are curious superstitions around them. People believe that eating turtle meat extends their lifespans and makes their skins stronger. However, there are a couple of hatcheries that conserve by competing in this market. They buy out the eggs from the locals and release the hatchlings into the sea. This one is a day-old Olive Ridley Turtle.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Reading in 2011

Here's the roundup of books I read in 2011. First the books that I would strongly recommend. "Brief Interviews..." has the most number of laugh-out-loud moments of any book I've read in recent memory. Cat's Cradle, even making allowance for the fact that I'm a Vonnegut groupie, is a must-read. Sirens of Titan, I thought, is among his most under-rated works. If you are a fan of Douglas Adams you'll enjoy the obvious inspirations for HHGG. If you are remotely interested in healthcare or medicine, you'll enjoy both the non-fiction recommendations at the bottom of this list.

  • Brief Interviews With Hideous Men - David Foster Wallace
  • The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Bad Science - Ben Goldacre
  • The Emperor of All Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee
Here are the second tier of recommendations 
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  • The Price of Civilization - Jeffrey Sachs
  • The Great Stagnation - Tyler Cowen
  • A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
  • The Woman who Walked into Doors - Roddy Doyle
  • How Much Should a Person Consume? - Ramachandra Guha
  • Gandhi the Man - Eknath Easwaran
While last year I deliberately went out of my normal picks to try some science fiction, this year I read my first graphic novel.
  • Batman - The Long Halloween
Then there were books that make too much of an impression
  • The Bad Girl - Mario Vargas Llosa
  • From Yeravda Mandir - M.K. Gandhi
And finally, the books that I, for various reasons, just couldn't finish
  • The Innovator's Prescription - Clayton M. Christensen
  • The Language Instinct - Steven Pinker
  • The First and Last Freedom - J.Krishnamurti
  • The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century - Tom Bower