The waste land

Sunrise in Bhandup pumping station was spectacular. The vegetation dripped with water; either there had been a short shower late at night, or the ground was saturated with water and the vapour had condensed through the night. A shot against the rising sun gave the golden photo that you see above. The light changed rapidly, and part of the fun in photography was seeing the change.

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,

Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell

And the profit and loss.

A current under sea

Picked his bones in whipers.

The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot

When I walk through the waste lands inside Mumbai, where nature has reclaimed the space abandoned by people, I do not quite feel as if I’m in a forest. You cannot forget the ghosts of the city: the boisterous boys cycling by in a rush, the distant infrastructure of ports, the paved roads falling into ruins. I am constantly reminded of the short fourth section of T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land.

Two hours later the light was beautiful, warm, and full. Perfect for catching this hovering honey bee (genus Apis). From its small size and colour, it was probably a red dwarf honey bee (Apis florea). With an exposure of 2.5 milliseconds, my photo sees an invisible blur of wings! Wingbeat frequencies have been recorded for several kinds of bees and flies; the wings beat slower in hover, and the records say that there would be around one beat in about 2.5 ms for bees. Clearly that is not true for this one; that blur indicates a significantly faster beat. Human muscles cannot move that fast for that long. The biochemistry of converting sugar into energy is the same in insects and mammals, so it is the actual muscle which is different. Fascinating thing to follow up on.