Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fight for the North Pole

Here I am, worrying myself sick about global warming, climate change, and continued indifference of the Average Earth Inhabitant, and there they are - the five countries (US, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Canada) around the North Pole sitting smugly satisfied to see the melting ice, and ready to fight each other to get to the bottom! Not right, to say the least, and frankly speaking - vulgar!

Why this greed for control? Despite being fully aware of the short and long term effect of burning and depleting fossil fuels, why do these states seek even more?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Of bread, biscuits and (embedded) foreign things

Kanpur, 1999: One morning my husband was about to bite into a sandwich, and stopped in time…he stared at a black embedded object in the slice that had, well, several legs. After initial appalled reactions, we decided to call the (well-known) baker. The local telephone directory helped. We called, and were assured that utmost standards of quality were always maintained. A seasoned marketing person came pronto, collected the offending piece, deposited two crisp fresh loaves of very special milk bread, and left.
Bangalore, 2001: Same brand, same product, this time a different foreign object, but just as firmly ensconced and baked to perfection. Out went a call to the Yeswantpur source, history repeated. This time a young, enthusiastic and well-coached marketing person turned up to convey the ‘we-have-high-standards-and-quality-checks’ USP. This time we said ‘no, thanks’ to the replacement loaves.
Bangalore, 2004: It was the turn of a packet of sweet corn soup. My all-vegetarian family sat down to enjoy bowls of hot appetizers, when I noticed strange shapes and figures in a spoonful of liquid, that ought to have held clear soup with known additions. On closer examination, we decided that they looked like down (fine undercoat of birds). This time, all we needed to do was call the toll-free number. Person came, gave assurance, collected suspicious object (we had painstakingly separated and dried them), presented complementary soup packets. We were also invited to visit the factory and ‘see for ourselves the high quality scenario’.
Coimbatore, 2006: In the very last biscuit of a pack of internationally popular butter cookies was a piece of human hair (an assumption, of course). You now know the routine. Finger dials toll-free number, finger-owner answers queries as to when & where from the pack came and gives details of the product name and batch number. This time, we were honoured with the visit of no less than the head of marketing who happened to be touring from headquarters. I will not retype the rest of the familiar sequence.
Coimbatore, 2006: Black object in bread, local baker, assurance, invitation. (Baker said he’d send special wheat loaves, thankfully they never arrived)
Coimbatore, 2007: Object in the same brand of biscuit, international brand, toll-free number, only this time they sent the local agent.
Coimbatore, 2007: Black plastic tube 5mm long in slice of bread, same local baker, no response to phone calls. This time I know that Mr L of JMB, can easily place (on his mobile) the originator of the incoming call…

If one household has had so many occurences over this 8 year period, imagine the number of occurences that go unnoticed / unreported/ unactioned / ignored!
We all spend time watching and talking about the number of US recalls of 'Made in China' stuff, if only we used those hours to pursue our rights as consumers...

Delhi, 2009: When we found a half-portion of a metallic blade - yes - embedded in a well-known brand of butter, representatives visited promptly. (Veta butter) 


Friday, August 17, 2007

When I hear the Anthem…

When a breeze rustles the tricolor
When all eyes look to the chakra
When the overture begins
My heart fills to the brim

To attention I stand
But let the mind travel
Back to the glory that was
And to the Future in our hands

Sentiments they may be,
Sentimental too,
Not wrong, not amiss, surely?
Don’t you feel as I do?

As the last strains fade in the ear,
I stare - to burn away the tear,
Add to history I may or not
Blur or change it – I dare not.

Will my son feel for the homeland?
If that doth lie in my hand
He will shed a tear or two - be assured
For the country - and his son will, too!


Mind your Language

A P and a Q
Brighten a day
Hold open the door,
Give another a say.

A civil word here,
A kudos-pat there
The place lights up,
And dark clouds beware.

Put U before I,
And reverse a Nay,
For a tap of your heels,
Could make the floor give way.

A sorry for a wrong,
Does not pinch you,
Check it out right away - do
And smile your way through!


Grow out of my arms

Grow out of my arms - my son - my baby,
Grow up a man well loved to be,
Go out into the arms of the wide-wide world
Grow out of my arms - my son - my baby.

Stride ahead with firmness of step,
Put forth your hand to aid and help,
Be it a friend, be it a foe,
Jus' remember - goodwill - it needs a hoe.

Take out the venom, put in the honey,
Lay the sweet open, for all to see,
Water a plant, pick out a weed,
Look to the sun - and place a seed.

When I could gather all of you to me,
I knew - the day will come early,
When your eyes and mind are ready,
To go out of my arms- my son - my baby


Thought for the Environment

What prevents educated persons from being environmentally conscious? What blocks their mind from seeing the consequences of their everyday actions?
Of late (I mean as long as 6 years) I look at tings through a waste-management eye - trying to answer the question “Where will this go once its useful life is spent?”
And then in my mind loom pictures of stinking landfills and rag-pickers rummaging through certainly toxic garbage.

Let’s take a few items of everyday use for starters.

1. The alkaline battery that toys, clocks, personal gadgets use: When you buy a pair of these cells, do you ever spare a thought to their after-life? A few years ago, Bangalore civic authorities had a scheme by which spent batteries could be deposited in a receptacle on MG Road for safe disposal later. (I wonder what came of that.) I had changed over to rechargeable batteries (not that I have shelf-loads of them) to use at home in toys, clocks, the camera and the remote. That's also the time I stopped buing battery operated toys as gifts. Admittedly it’s a merry musical chair kind of scenario. The clocks stop if my son wants to show off his toy car and its remote to his friends (and yes, the battery guzzler was a gift from a foreign-returned fond relative). You need to think more than twice before you decide to drive to the mall to pick up a few cells. If at all you have to use battery operated stuff, you will do well to resolve never to buy the non-rechargeable kind. Admittedly a higher cost now, but believe me, we have not even begun to fathom the ecological costs of our actions. And most likely, you have not heard of PES (Payment for Ecosystem Services) yet

2. The ‘carry-bag’: On every visit to the friendly neighbourhood grocer, I stare at shoppers taking away vegetables in white ‘carry-bags’. My perpetual entreaties / suggestions to the grocer fall on attentive ears – I am a regular customer! – but she expresses helplessness while also agreeing that she could save as much as Rs 2000/ per month if people brought their own bags. If I find myself at the shop without a bag? I come away as empty-handed.

3. The cups that crinkle: At meets, parties and social gatherings, stacks of this cup can be seen, meant for cool and hot drinks. They are crinkled after use and disposed of in and all around the 'Use Me' bins. Wonder who termed these 'disposable'. Of late use of paper cups can be seen, perhaps when the gathering is elite, or relatively small in numbers?

That's just a few of the items we all need to reduce / avoid using. The list is agonisingly long. Let's start somewhere, sometime...at home and now?
Spare a thought for the environment, it's never too late, or so I'd like to believe...