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, October 24, 2007

Kittens in my cupboard

"A dog has a master but a cat has slaves". If anyone still doubts the meaning of this maxim, it's likely that they have never been close to a cat.
They were born on September 1. The mother was a frequent visitor, having smelt a cat-adorer in the house. This cat-adorer (CA for short) was thus delighted to find three kittens in the cupboard among the household linen. A box with comfortable bedding was prepared and the babies instated. Father and son proudly showed off the litter to visiting friends, of course, if the feline and human moms were not around.
It’s said that cats shift the litter seven times during the nurturing phase. In this case, though, the shifting was done by packers and movers. Father and son moved the litter-box from cupboard to kitchen, kitchen to Room 1, Room 1 to Room 3, back to kitchen, a few days more in Room 3.

The babies opened their eyes when they were a couple of weeks old. They now had a play-box and a bed-box, each with suitable cut-outs for easy movement.
Have you seen kittens playing? – That’s a real sight for sore eyes, and you have this from a Cat Tolerator. On the store room floor were - a cobweb remover, an unused water can, and an empty PET jar. The three of them would climb, pull, push, bite, tumble over as they played with each other and these toys. And have several play sessions before falling all over mom to draw much-needed sustenance. As they fed, she would lick them clean in turn, and then all four would be peacefully asleep, with not a care in the world.

One morning I noticed tell-tale feathers around, and CA helpfully explained: “you see, she brings them things that they should be familiar with, to let them see, feel, and understand that feathered creatures are potential palate-pleasers”
That was time for the next shift. At Room 1, it was a squirrel's turn to serve as an example. During all these weeks, even as the kittens grew, another cat-lover was also developing…my son. After school every day he would visit with the family first before washing and changing for lunch. Usually one to pinch nose and turn away at such things, he picked up the broom and dustpan, and collected the squirrel’s remains and disposed of them – not before showing me the sight.
By this time, the knowledgeable CA had installed a third box filled with sand. I wonder if the mom-cat appreciated the fact – when I mentioned it to her - that such care had not been lavished during the son’s potty-training 8 years ago. [For a quick lesson on potty training for cats, see 'Litter-Kwitter']. Father and son meticulously change the sand every two or three days. But lessons in cat-rearing some other time.

A few days at Room 1, and the babies became tired of the same toys and scenery. It was Room 3’s turn, and my son was happy, he now had room-mates. Here they no longer needed boxes…there were plenty of places and corners and niches to run around. The laundry bag and several school project props were ample distractions. After play, the three would cuddle in the narrow space between the PC’s tower cabinet and the monitor, never realizing that a mouse was close by.

This time, I only heard that it was the turn of a chameleon, and thankfully I never got to witness the third lesson. But the domestic help who had remained mum till then, mildly told me… ”Madam, pl get them removed from the house”. She did not know that I had tried several times, and had always given in to two pairs of entreating eyes – if we don’t take care, who will? - and four pairs of liquid green ones…

I had my way when I got to actually see what the cat was bringing in…a dead mynah clutched in her jaws. The garage was warmed and the family ensconced. That was a Monday. On Wenesday my son said accusingly. "Because of you one kitten is missing”.

The (equally sad) CA explained to him that cats are naturally curious, B&W kitten must have ventured out to explore and may come back eventually. After a sober evening, when all was quiet that night, mom-cat called out, and CA opened the door for her. A customary few minutes of scratching followed, that was when they heard the distinctive meow from somewhere. Up jumped CA, and ran to the road, with mom close on his heels; the sound came from a house across the road. Feet flew thither, and mom reached baby first. Comfort feeding, warm milk, soothing words later, the house and garage settled again for the night. Absolutely no marks for guessing who was the happiest and most relieved of the threesome who came back ‘home’….

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why not non-consumerism or anti-consumerism?

We hear about sustainable development and green technologies that try to positively impact on global warming and climate change. From vulgar market-mad-media-driven consumerism and mindless material acquisition, some enlightened elite few are moving towards green ideas, both elsewhere and at home...because they can 'afford' it. The emphasis is on changing the consuming habit from mere material acquisition to material that is a product of green thoughts, actions, and technologies...be it green homes, green AC's, green fridges, green clothing...green luxury!

Why do people hesitate to talk about anti-consumerism or non-consumerism? I feel I sound quite 'green' (meaning both naive as well as eco-conscious!).

Am I more eco-friendly if I reduce my consumption, or just because I switch to green stuff?
In India, we need to go ahead with radical efforts on sustainable development in every sector...even if it means slowing down the so-called economic growth rate. What is the growth rate after all? It is only an index of production, of buying power, in other words, of market-driven consumerism.

Instead, sustainable economic development would be a much better term on which to base all future Government policy and corporates' social responsibility efforts. That's when we can look forward to better quality of life (better literacy rates, life expectancy, lower poverty rates, well-utilised leisure time, better environmental quality, freedom, and social justice). Easier said than done utopic ideals? Optimism always helps...

Gavin Edwards of Greenpeace spells out what is already evident logic to the eco-conscious. "...you can have development and you can have action against climate change as well."

One way to do that is...let the powers that be squaggle over percentage emission cuts at international fora ... on our part, we could train ourselves to be sane users, not mindless have-money-will-buy consumers.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Nabha Sprusham Deeptam - Salutations to the women & men in blue

Touch(ing) the Sky with Glory - a phrase from the Bhagvad Gita (Ch 11, Verse 24) is the motto of the IAF, which celebrates 75 glorious years today - October 8, 2007. As the men and women in blue mark this day with parades and parties, their families continue to support them with happy homes, and contribute to 'blue skies' through community welfare activities.

I am proud of my batchmates who continue to serve in the Air Force, since their commissioning among the first batch of 25 women engineers in the IAF on 06 April 1993. They have served a good career span of 15 jubilee years - diamond to platinum - true value addition!

These professionals continue to be pioneers and set examples of the right kind for other aspirants to emulate. A good number of women have been commissioned later in other branches of the IAF [Education, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Meteorological, Flying].

What will the morrow bring? Here's wishing you - Wing Commanders AG, BS, PKA and VG -the best, and all that you wish for, as you prepare yourselves for another career, and further satisfying balance at home. The best is yet to come!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ganesha idols

Ganesh Chaturti is celebrated with much fanfare and devotion every year. In most places (Maharashtra) idols of the beloved diety are immersed in available water bodies (sea,lakes) on the Anant Chaturdasi after the Chaturti. Not any different this year; except that the number and size of idols is sure to have gone up.
There is a mail circulationg with gory pictures of the revered idols washed ashore.

We need campaigns in Mumbai (besides other places) against this kind of practice.
Possible solutions:
1. Limit size of idol
2. Ban painted idols
3. Ban immersion in public water bodies.

One possible solution. In houses in Chennai, the idol - usually a small one, and never painted is always immersed in the well that is located in the premises (this is done on the assumption that the clay used for the idol was just that).

Another possible solution, which quite a few families I know have been practising: immerse the idol in a big bucket / tub, and pour the water after a couple of days to plants.

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