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Showing posts from 2008

Listen to the Hoolock gibbon as he mopes...

A Hoolock gibbbon at the Delhi zoo. He is depressed, no doubt.
Is he just waiting for delayed keeper-supplied meals?
Or is he feeling claustrophobic?
Or is he tired of indifferent onlookers?
See more Wordless Wednesday posts.

The Tamizh month of Margazhi (Dhanu in Malayalam)

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Just marking this very special month 16 Dec to 13 Jan - my efforts at briefly collating several aspects of the month.
# Krishna says - (Gita, 10/35)
बृहत्साम तथा साम्नां गायत्री छन्दसामहम् ।
मासानां मार्गशीर्षोऽहमृतूनां कुसुमाकरः ॥
Meaning: "Among the hymns also (I am) the Brhat-Samna; among the meters I am Gaytri; among months, I am Margasirsa; and among seasons, I am the flower bearer (spring).

# Gita Jayanthi (birthday of the Bhagavad Gita) was observed on 9 Dec ("Agrahayana (Hindi: अगहन agahan) is a month of the Hindu calendar. In India's national civil calendar, Agrahayana is the ninth month of the year, beginning on 22 November and ending on 21 December. In Vedic times, this month was also known as Maargashirsha after the nakshatra (asterisms) Mrigashira.")

# Then we have the Thiruvaadira festival for Siva, also observed as the Aarudra Darshan. (10 Jan 2009)
(In Tamil Nadu, the day's speciality, after due worship of Siva, is the combination of the offering Thiruv…

For those who appreciate Carnatic music

The December Madras music season has begun in Chennai. I will be content to catch glimpses of artistes' brilliance on the small screen, and read reviews by experts and critics in the newspaper. Raji gives the perfect preview of the ethos - complete with all the factors that make the festival in my home town so unique.

That's not all. For a further treat, Carnatic music buffs can also look out for Markazhi raagam, a first of its kind project that will present classical concert by Bombay Jayasree and TM Krishna in theatres. The worldwide release is slated for 18 Dec 2008.

Here's the link to the trailer

And these are the firsts that this project claims
"First ever classical concert produced to be played in Cinema halls.
First ever alternate content from India for Digital Cinema Theatres (Non feature programming).
First ever Classical music content to be shot and post produced in 4k resolution
First ever programme in the world to be shot with 7 Red 4k cameras.
First classical mus…

Dear Dr Kalam...

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Greetings and salutations from an alumnus of your Alma Mater.

In 2002, you brought a whiff of change to India's topmost office. As President, you represented Change in so many ways - as an apolitical figure, as a Net-savvy technocrat, as a writer and most of all as an Indian citizen who felt as one among the masses and understood only too well their sufferings - in fact the perfect QRs of a leader of a democracy.

If only the position of India's President had had teeth, instead of being a mere trinket in India's political and governance framework. You would have set the precedence for the kind of Change that Barack Obama hopes to bring about in another democracy. It is not a waste of time to imagine - wistfully now - the possible changes that could have taken place from grassroots right up to the Executive in those five years when the entire Indian defence services proudly saluted you as their Supreme Commander.

A few days ago, I tried to put together my list of Ideal 552 for…

Ideas for Change, post Mumbai 26/11

Among all the rhetoric and hyperbole overdose, it is refreshing to see some meaningful debate here and there in the media, e-mail and in other forums.
Can we ordinary citizens believe that this time, since the rich have been hit, it is likely that the Government will lend the ear that was hitherto deaf to the masses' cries? Let's hope so - CII, FICCI, and corporates have a huge responsibility and can easily make use of this opportunity to revolutionise political thought - something that middle class citizens and NGO's can only hope for.

It is easy to get emotional, and rant on the ills that have befallen our social and political space, and one needs some effort to moderate one's thought. Here are some of them.
1. Using the services of ex-servicemen for the purpose of bringing about societal change.
Being one myself, I know for a fact that there are several others, who pursue new careers post service-life. Every six months or so, there are considerable numbers of men from …

An open letter to Barkha Dutt and her ilk

To BD (and others of your ilk who live by, for and off TRP)

I wonder how you will feel on reading an outsider's view of the immaturity shown by Indian channels - Attack Coverage Tests India's Nascent News Channels "Live Showings of the 60-Hour Siege Get High Viewership and Mixed Reviews; Hyperbole, Security Among Concerns"

Your TV coverage of the events of last week have shown that you and your ilk may feel for the public, but your ultimate interest is to cause sensation and improve your TRP ratings. Where once you were worthy of admiration - now one feels pity that you, who can form and lead opinion, gave in to publicity of the cheap variety. Where once your (BD's) 'We the people' was expectantly awaited- now the channel is heartily skipped, let alone your programme.

And one dreads to read and see news that you and your channel have won (or should it read 'gave yourselves'?) this award and that for covering these sad events. Indian visual media jour…

Leadership in short supply - Let the wind of Change blow East!

Thursday's events have thrown up a humongous demand for LEADERSHIP. Not only in political space, but in the media as well - while all channels relayed events as is, many of them did not refrain from one-upmanship brownie points with claims like "our reporter was the first...", "these are exclusive pictures..", "we are bringing these to you live...".
Several bigwigs had their bytes prominently relayed by starved reporters. A few channels left their ad space and time intact - the viewer is a consumer after all!
Media gave themselves a free hand, and have assumed that they are beyond regulation.
The watchdog is actually a giant rat greedy for a large piece of the cheese.
(The exception seems to be a series of meaningful discussions moderated by Omkar Goswami in a business channel )
We need leaders who can inspire and innovate, and we need change!
Since November 4, I've been trying to compile a list of 'IDEAL 552', and find myself very far fro…

Stop the bail-out - Let them wake up!

Magsaysay award winner P Sainath writes that "The New York Times notes ruefully in a lead editorial: “Just weeks after the Treasury Department gave nine of the nation’s top banks $125 billion in taxpayer dollars to save them from unprecedented calamity, bank executives are salting money away in billionaire bonus pools to reward themselves for their performance.” Other bailout bandits have held meetings at resorts costing hundreds of thousands of dollars." Read The Jurassic Auto and Idea Park

Auto giants, related sectors, and other oversized Inc. have, over decades, "destroyed both existing and potential public transport. The ‘American Dream’ so far as the automobile went was an imposed nightmare. In Detroit itself, you can see the skeletons of a once alive transport system. All across the country, for decades from the 1920s, they bought up public transport systems and shut them down. Trains were shifted from electric to diesel engines. Sometimes, they were simply done aw…

HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY - to the child in you

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If today is Happy Children's Day, I wish you 365 days of happy children, and childhood!

"Headphones for deaf Ears"- buying what you don't need!

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An illustration of how many people end up buying what they don't need (can't use?!)
Foreword:
You may have received this forward, attributed to 'an old man with old thoughts'. (If you have, please skip to bottom of post).
"LATELY, I have been thinking a lot about the Lehman crisis. Spending money that they didn't have and going beyond their means is one of the main reasons for their situation today. In fact that is the cause for the current economic crisis in the US.
When I see all this happening, I can only remember the good old days. Then, karz was bad. People looked down upon those who took loans. Parents would not give their daughter's hand in marriage to a man with loans.

But of course, the times have changed now. Everyone I know has a loan. The buzz word is EMI (equated monthly installment). Today, you can buy everything on EMI - a house, a television, an i-Pod. In fact I know of someone who just bought a fancy BMW 3 series on EMI, instead of buying a che…

November Medley - Bharat Ratna, National River, Half-White House

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A decade from now, this is how I wish to remember November 5 of a certain year.
"1. The Government announced the award of Bharat Ratna to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The newspapers gave him a 1/2 inch space. No channel resounded with his music. A kid's voice could be heard - Who is he, mom?(Image from India Today site) Salutations to the Maestro.
2. The Ganga has been declared as National River. Best wishes to the Ganga River Basin Authority - may they work with sincerity of purpose to stop pollution and degradation. The newspaper allowed Ganga to take up a little more space. Perhaps one can feel much happier when listening to Bhupen Hazarika's Ganga behti ho kyon
3. (The thought occured that)  the White House in a certain Nation could be renamed a Half-White House. The newspapers and the channels went disproportionately overboard." Image from infoplease.com

1. Deepavali sights. 2. What does शुभ लाभ mean?

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Sights are aplenty, sounds have been rather muted this year.Serial lights - readymade rows of flames!

Pretty and colourful decor for the puja areas
Mud lamps of all sizes and shapes, that will form the 'aavali' (row)
Pretty hands will be prettier - these hands will perform Lakshmi puja and will also prepare and distribute sweets.
Boxes that are used for distributing sweets and dry fruits - this is one of the simpler ones.
HAPPY DIWALI!
शुभ लाभ - These words are evident in small and big business establishments. What do they mean? In these days of unbridled private greed (as against public purpose), it will be certainly worth your while to look at what 'Shubh Laabh' means, sourced from a Feb 2004 TOI Speaking Tree article, by K S Ram.
"Good accrual or shubh laabh, is bound to impact your life positively. The important point, therefore, is not quantity but quality: Not 'how much' but 'how'. On the Scales of Life, less profit acquired in a fair manner is w…

Coming to terms with a dialect of English

Perhaps I should call it the national language of USA, and even term it a dialect of English if I felt charitable enough. Or I could coin 'Amenglish' - on the lines of other thriving, 'cross-fertilized' tongues like Hinglish, Pinglish, Binglish, Minglish, and umpteen more commonly heard in India. Here are a few objective, light-hearted notes on the pros and cons of language evolution. You'll agree that they are just(ified).

Long ago, my English teacher had marked "Expression!" in red on the margin, while checking a certain phrase in my shool-level essay. I realised that the phrase did not read quite well, and that's how I learnt about "expression" in written language. Now of course, I go by the maxim "Does this phrase or sentence sound right to the polished ear?", and then continue. And I find that I prefer the language in its form that stayed back home on the east side of the Atlantic!

- You need to be politically correct only in th…

Chandrayaan - launched

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That's another stride that India has taken.
Kudos to ISRO family and all of India.
Visit ISRO's website for information and images such as these.(The news channels overdo, with too much added masala, one feels)
**********************
What else was evident during the countdown over the past few days? One could hear professional-sounding amateur news persons talk about 'colonising', 'moon real estate development' and more -
Now for some hilarity:
- A major news channel devoted several bytes to a gentleman who has bought land on the moon as a gift to his family, from a website. Lends credence to the word 'lunatic'.
- The domain name BUYLANDONTHEMOON.COM seems to be available. Any takers?
- Read about the hoax at Museum of hoaxes
- Hope you feel reassured after reading Legal Loopholes Help Man Sell the Moon

'Gate-pass' for Baby Manji Yamada

Glad to post a sequel to an earlier post (August 2008).
Baby Manji Yamada finally leaves for home in the care of Dad and Grandmom. Read details of the legal hassles that ended with the issue of a certificate of identity by the Jaipur passport office.
Here's a wish for Baby Manji - Bon Voyage! And have a happy childhood - the rest will follow...
PS: Want to bet if any of the 'ollywoods' find 'inspiration' in Baby Manji's story?

Providence issues visiting cards!

Today I'm convinced Providence hands out visiting cards, drives a car, and if required, even takes detours on way to work. Read on...

The errand - to drop middle-aged visiting relatives at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Station in time for a south-bound 11 am express.
The plan - Leave home (25 km from station) at 9 am, allowing for 50 minutes commute time, possible traffic delays and time to settle in reserved berths.

Leave we did at 9, and drove out the gate ... right into traffic Snarl No 1. It turned out that a tipper truck had overturned two km ahead, and the line was that long. A good 20 minutes later, we got past the culprit, and went breezing along, with occasional hiccups at Snarl Nos 2, 3 and 4.

At 10:30, we were short of the target by about 5 km, and held up in SNARL No 5, which was actually a stagnant sea of multi-wheelers. With the clock ticking away uncontrolled, I politely honked to catch the attention of the neighbouring driver.

That's when Providence wound down the w…

US National Debt - Entropy in the 21st century

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(image: news.bbc.co.uk)
Ridiculous? Incredible? Mind-boggling? Flabbergasting? Indecent? There is probably no single word to help convey all that the obese(!) US national debt figures will eventually mean to humans alive now and to several future generations.
So the counter ran out of digits, did it?
Where did it all go? We should surely be able to see where -
- in glass fronted sky-high edifices? - And among the debris in Afghanistan and Iraq
- in over-obese consumers' frames? - And in the hollow eyes and malnourished, bloated underbellies of the world's poor children
- in vulgar luxury infrastructure? - And in dried-up, empty farm lands
- in over-stuffed homes? - And in laid-bare forests
- in gleaming and overflowing supermarkets? - And in grotesque landfills and toxic oceanfills
Entropy - even as the word occurred in the mind, I felt that this term fills in where other words fail. In the field of thermodynamics, Entropy is "a measure of the partial loss of the ability of a sy…

The Charkha

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"Take to spinning to find peace of mind. The music of the wheel will be as balm to our soul. I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life. The charkha (spinning wheel) is the symbol for nonviolence on which all life, if it is to be real life, must be based."
Mahatma Gandhi - Harijan, April 27, 1947, p. 122


If you are interested to learn spinning on a charkha, you can get yourself one from Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan. (This box charkha was sourced from the Chennai outlet)
Peter Ruhe of GandhiServe Foundation very kindly shares useful links for getting started with your charkha.
Assembling the charkha
Spinning tips
Instruction manual
To participate in vibrant discussions on personal experiences with spinning, you may like to join a Charkha online community.
Should we see some significance in this year's Oct 2? Gandhiji certainly may wish for that, as each Indian celebrates a festival that day.
About the Charkha: It's easy to assemble; th…

Happy Dusshera / Navaratri

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Season's greetings - it's festival time.

If you'd like one of these handmade (fabric paint on silk/cotton base), please leave a comment, or visit Kalasaras. These are offered as wedding or house-warming gifts.

For the country - different shades

"An ace shooter wins gold and the Govt gives over Rs 1 crore in awards. Another ace shooter dies fighting terrorists and Govt pays out Rs 5 lakhs."
Somebody initiated that thought through sms.
The two had similar skills; the targets were different. Each did his bit, contributed his might (mite) for the country. But how very different are the consequences and after effects!
Even as I pondered over that, I came across these verses.
Dear Madame President,

Should I severe the ties that are almost a decade strong?
Should I chew my words and call my decision wrong?
Should I return the trousseau that my mother chose?
Should I turn all the festivities into an affair morose?
Should I go and tell him that I love him no more,
Shattering him again and making his heart sore?

Whose fault is it, dear madame, that I decide thus?
Would you say that it's personal and I should not fuss?
Nothing, my dear lady, is personal about a soldier's life.
For when has he thought of his mom, dad, kid and wife?

'Green Earth Machine'

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The newspaper today featured the efforts of Foundation for Greentech Environmental Systems at providing viable sustainability solutions stemming from deep concern for the environment. To one who swoons from despair over fellow citizens' non-green attitudes, especially towards their own garbage, the services offered by Asit Nema's team are like the smelling salts.
Among several answers to problems of municipal and domestic waste management, the GEM 'Green Earth Machine' is one that can easily and immediately be used by bungalows, apartment complexes, and even eateries. All you need to do is "sow" kitchen waste into the bin, throw in a few dry leaves or pieces of paper; you'll soon "reap" enough manure to sell or to use in your own garden.
At about Rs 2000/ per bin, your enjoy several returns - you have taken care of your wet waste, you have produced organic manure, and best of all, you return good earth to the Good Earth.
Fingers crossed, I now proc…

Redefining Growth to include sustainability

Agricultural growth rate: 9%
Economic growth rate: 3.5%
How perfect, if the growth rates read like this, and not the other way round.
Across nations, economic gurus, governments, media, news-makers - all bask in an artificial glow assumed from the near-double-digit rates.
Over the last year, when the economic growth figures read upwards of 8% and agriculture sector just over 3%, one wishfully thought - "If only they were the other way round".
Today, finally, at least one major TV channel focussed on the issue of redefining growth. (Rohini Nilekani's 'Uncommon Ground')
It is time humankind redefined progress, prosperity and growth. Economic indices will have to include only sustainable development factors as asset-creators, in any and all spheres of human activity. Our very existence entails environmental costs, and add to this each person's (thoughtless) actions, the environmental costs increase several-fold. As of now, very few persons are likely to listen to, l…

Happy Onam - Onaasamsakal - ഓണാശംസകള്‍

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Onam - 12 Sep.
King Mahabali is welcomed warmly with colours and designs in the traditional Onam flower patterns - Pookalams.
Here's a visual treat of designs and colours.

Cold comfort, but the Problem is Inexorable Warming

"Madam, you are the first person to bring your own bag."
This, as I buy a few apples from the fruit vendor and place them in my shopping bag.
To me, this 'award' / 'title' / 'compliment' has been frequent, from greengrocers for the past several years, through my stay in localities in Bangalore, Coimbatore and now Delhi.
As I walk away, a thought occurs, and I turn back to enquire, "How long have you been fruit-vending in this locality?"
"About 5 years..."
"And in all this while have not customers brought their bags along?"
"No madam, they start to argue if I do not offer the the plastic bag..."
To say I am appalled or aghast would be to overstate feelings... 'sad' better relates to what one feels. But the ubiquitous colourless p.bag is evident all over. At the weekly vegetable market, "Bhaiyaa, give me another carrybag...", can be frequently heard while grocery-shopping.
Sprawling malls, wide roads, an…

Aum Gurubhyo Namaha!

It's Teacher's Day today. (Read about Dr S Radhakrishnan, India's second President whose birth anniversary is celebrated as Teacher's Day every year in India)
When we were seniors in school, we always looked forward to this day, when senior students conducted classes for the rest of the school, while the teachers enjoyed the (much-needed) respite.
The Olympics just went by, and I remember one of my teachers - Mr MTW - the PT master of our fledgeling school in Chennai in the '80s. He is Discipline personified, and expected, encouraged and trained excellence in his students. He easily identified talent, and set up a morning regimen for atheletes, and his perseverance consistently paid off - the school performed well at several sports meets. He was also the teacher incharge of the Road Safety Patrol. Looking back after 20+ years, I wonder at the dedication of most teachers of that age, and earlier. (At that time of course, any kind of efforts at discipline seemed '…

Jai Ganesha!

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Can you make out 15 names?

Jean Webster's 'Daddy-Long-Legs'

Ever read this novel? You have missed something! When Indrani wrote about hand-written letters, I couldn't help but remember Judy (nee)Jerusha Abbott.
I was happy to get it back from a friend just the other day, and Judy accompanied me all the way from Coimbatore to Chennai.
Read more about the book here, and get a preview here.
Though you may be able to read it online here, courtesy Project Gutenberg, you'll know that it can't equal the feel of curling up cosily well away from the computer, with a favourite cuppa in one hand and a book in the other...
[Then you'll what inspired the title Mummy long-legs...]

Trees at temples

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A pipal tree is usually found in front of temples. Sometimes a combination of two or more species (pipal / jackfruit / mango) mark the entrance to bigger and older temples in Kerala. (In Tamil Nadu you are likely to find combination of pipal and neem trees). It's interesting to see the canopy of mixed foliage, and the different barks growing entwined from their respective roots.
The pipal-mango combine is sometimes called 'Almavu' (intended as a pun for the word for soul in Malayalam).
Pictures of some of them taken during a 'Nalambalam Yatra'. Please click on picture for better views.

The tree(s) at Bharata temple, Koodalmanikyam, Trissur District

The tree(s) at Lakshmana temple, Moozhikulam, Trissur District
The tree(s) at Shatrughna's temple, Payammel, Trissur District.
This kind of parallel coexistence with intertwined barks and roots is likely because the pipal grows easily out of crevasses.
Actual Marriages of trees, and marriage with trees are religious custo…

Mummy-Long-legs?

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This is a common house spider in South India, seen here with her egg sac. If I am right, she is H. venatoria - read about this species here.
Ever since I set eyes on them, though, I have always yelled out 'Tarantula!' and my wonderful M-I-L would deftly collect them within the bristles of a broom and encourage the leggy creature to set up camp in the garden.
Now I don't mind them - they are willing caretakers of a lonely house...

Afterthought - CC means camera-critters, not creepy crawlies! :)

PS 1. In case you are not yet spider-wise, Daddy-long-legs is actually a spider that does not look much different from the web it weaves.
PS 2. But another Daddy-Long-Legs is one of my favourite companions, and is put up in a shelf, too. More about that later!

Denmark has shown the way!

Hail the Danes!
Now we know for certain that those who continue to deny that global warming is real, and those who think that efforts to combat climate change should begin with the neighbour, are all lazy ignoramuses, acting like ostriches.
Political will alone is enough to bring about a positive change. This applies equally to economic giants and growing economies. Where one eagle eyes untapped oil wells as the solution for energy crises, others think that they should be spared the emission obligations because they are 'growing'.
By introducing more oil-related taxes, CO2 taxes, and building-and-appliance efficiency standards, Denmark has enabled its economy to grow, but also managed keep energy consumption levels almost the same. Since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, Denmark has systematically focused on energy discipline, and today they are energy-independent. Here are just a few innovations that Danes came up with.
- Lights that operate on energy-saving motion detectors
- Flus…

Redefine fatherhood, Mr Yamada

Dear Mr Ikufumi Yamada
Your daughter Baby Manji waits for you to take her home. It is likely that you are taking all efforts to work out the legalities, (your baby, born of donated eggs, delivered by a surrogate mother in India, and therefore Indian citizen by birth). "Indian law does not allow the adoption of a girl by a single father". But you don't have to adopt - whoever heard of adopting one's own?
So I await an update in the news, about how you arrived to escort Baby Manji back to Japan.I had read this poem long ago: "Why God made little girls"- you'll soon find out, when you take Manji home.

"God made the world with towering trees,
Majestic mountains and restless seas.
Then paused and said , "It needs one more thing...
Someone to laugh and dance and sing.
To walk in the wood and gather flowers...
To commune with nature in quiet hours."
So God made little girls
With laughing eyes and bouncing curls,
With joyful hearts and infectious smiles,
Enc…

A home, far from the madding crowd

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I have written earlier, and posted several pictures of this green campus. All day long birds sing, leaves rustle in the breeze, and branches sway to the wind, and this music more than makes up for the highway din, also filtering in through the window.
At daybreak and dusk, a real orchestra breaks out from a couple of generously-canopied banyan trees as crows, mynahs, cuckoos, warblers, sparrows and several other common garden birds of India exchange the day's notes, chirping nineteen to the dozen. You can't help but listen to distinct altos, sopranos and tenors as they blend to cheer even tone-deaf ears...
Those banyans must be the equivalent of dense urban neighbourhoods, for why else would a pair of mynahs choose a functioning street lamp to make their home? Have a look at this lamp that stands by our gate.
From where I watched them, the mynah's house looks quite inviting and cosy...





Note the inverted arch that serves as the threshold, and the warm glow that pervades by ni…

Coimbatore's 88888 campaign

Coimbatore city has its own share of do-gooders, Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore, Siruthuli, Exnora International are a few action groups that do their bit, and show others the way to better civic and environmental sense.
Following on the lines of the Earth Hour observed by several cities, Coimbatore district Exnora has suggested that lights be switched off for 8 minutes at 8 pm on 08 Aug 2008. Small beginning, but commendable nevertheless.
(The timing will coincide with the commencement of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, scheduled for 8:08:08 pm, on 08-08-2008)

The priceless - and the valueless!

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Sorting household goods into 'retain' / 'give away' / 'recycle' heaps is therapeutic, I find. Unearthing this and that, from shelves, cupboards, niches beneath mattresses and old trunks, what do I rediscover? Some certainly priceless stuff, several more valueless - but each single item worth one or more gray cells of memory. Some 'precious' possessions acquire even more valuable sheen over the years; art, antique and jewellery collectors will tell you all about that. Several more goods take on measureless sentimental value - things even the kabadiwallah may refuse to carry away. In the armed forces, you acquire a collection of mementoes that grows with every place of posting - these are things that (should) mean the whole world to the person whose name is inscribed therein...

This time around, we have stuck to the decision that we would be ruthless - no room for things that were not used, not even seen, through 5 moves in 10 years. So here are the 10 box…

Catch them Young, this way

Have you been dreaming of seeing a whole generation sensitised to issues of Sanitation, Environment, Respect for Diversity and Individual empowerment? The Aseema Trust, Chennai is doing just that, through their novel project "Spin a Yarn.. Self and Society" in Ten schools of Chennai. With the support of Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust, Devika and her team have started to teach spinning of Charkha to 12-year-old students of ten local schools.
One wishes the team hurdle-free progress.
Aseema has found a practical way to perpetuate the spirit of self-reliance immortalised by the Charkha.
Look up the other projects of Aseema Trust here
Watch for a few seconds Gandhiji spinning at the Charkha here

Of Man Vs Nature - Dear Squirrel, a confession

If you are a frequent traveller on Indian highways, you are bound to have noticed carcasses, small and large, of birds and stray beings, that have gone under many a wheel. If only we were not always in a hurry, we could train ourselves to 'live and let live'.
This is in memory of a friendly neighbourhood squirrel...read on.

I saw and watched you everyday
In the balcony, the trees and the lawn
Scampering with your family and friends
Seemingly care-free and happy

Someone wanted more light
So they cleared away the foliage
Your home in distant trees was saved
But I lost your winged friends

Forever, it seemed then
Before new green life sprang out
Irrepressibly kindled a spark
in the eyes again

Then I woke to renewed chirps
could watch you, and flying colours
Till one day as I rode out
You, usually quick, scampered the wrong way

Were you in a great hurry? My reflexes
were not enough - the wheel rolled
over your sweet nose, but that was enough.
I feel for you, as I do for the green…

60+ kgs of gold, and growing!

When I wrote on the subject of gold in GIAS, I decided to recount a related story here.
There was this girl whose name meant gold. She forbade her parents from buying silks and jewelery for her wedding, and with the groom's consent (he also had a hearty dislike of pomp and glamour), the wedding was a 5-minute affair, (extended, regretfully, by the video-people) conducted in the sitting-room of her parents' house.
Her father-in-law, hailing from a traditional gold-amassing state, was happy - after a fashion. He let the bride know that Interested Peers in the Family Circle queried him about the amount of jewelery the new D-I-L brought along. That bride is still wondering if her answer was passed on - "Please tell them that more than 60 kgs of Gold arrived in the house, and is likely to expand further!"

Hearts in the right place

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Continuing from Raji's entry. Please help to spread the word, even if you have already acted on a mail forward.This last-page picture from The Hindu caught the imaginaion, so I posted it here.

Message from a mother to News makers and News breakers

The media tells me
You keep your child
We only want his innocence
The ads tell us
You keep your child
Here are things he needs to grow

The jingle shouts out
so what if he's young?
He'll soon grow up. he should know this and that
The shows in page 3
propagate artificial glitter
and tell imagination to lie low

To them I try to say, gently at times,
Please - let him be?
You and I know that there is a world
beyond pixels and bytes
Spare his senses,
let him discover its rights and wrongs.


Having said that, let me share some age-appropriate anti-TV measures I have used over the years, whenever mindless viewing overtook the edutainment aspect. (Some of the measures are impractical for daily implementation).
1. De-tune the addictive channels.
2. Help the remote get lost
3. Disconnect cable connection. (When that's no longer enough, remove cable out of sight).
4. Keep the TV in a locked room
5. Discontinue cable subscription.
6. Turn the TV to the wall, as close to it as possible (ingenious, I thought - m…

A bright inflorescence - chethi flowers

Image
Had brought the sapling from a neighbour's garden in Annanad (Chalakudy, Kerala). Blossomed after a year. This is the darker red variety of Ixora coccinea

The flowers immediately bring to mind the lyrics of the popular chethi mandaram devotional

My family's Only-10-Boxes Challenge

A transferable job is a boon and a bane. One gets to live in different places, but it also means ever-changing neighbourhood and schools, besides repeated establishment of home infrastructure. As part of a sixth move (this time to the great NCR) in a period of 11 years , I just started on the job of classifying household things into "needed" / "give-away-when-usable" / "recycle".
If you are a 'goal-oriented minimalist' trying to de-clutter sincerely, you will find good company in efforts such as The 100 Things challenge - "How to Live With Just 100 Things".
As for us, the single dominant motivating factor is the comfort that we (sincerely try to) practise anti-consumerism, and this alone should, I hope, help us meet the challenge of fitting all packable household stuff into ten 2X2X2 trunks. (I hear horror stories of some family's 75-box inventory - what a morale-booster!)
For those who need inspiration to declutter, whether "phy…