Thursday, July 31, 2008

The priceless - and the valueless!

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 boxes, (yes, we managed to meet the 10-box-challenge) of books, kitchen stuff, clothing, furnishing, and minimal showcase memorabilia, awaiting a move across the subcontinent.
As to other stuff, informative magazines (National Geographic / Outlook Traveller / Voyager) will reach a village library in Kerala, along with an antique but usable Pentium 133 Desktop. A few pieces of dated electronics will find their way to an electronics recycling mart in town. A variety of toys and other items should reach a children's home later this week.

Here are a couple of pictures showing one of the items from my priced possessions. Don't even attempt to tag a value to it! This is a handmade gift from a valued friend, who'll be reading this from somewhere in the globe, I hope...
(Please click on picture to understand it better)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

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…

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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!"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hearts in the right place

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.

Monday, July 14, 2008

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 - my latest option)
7. Pack the TV in its box.
8. Adult abstinence, leading by example - (my personal favourite)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A bright inflorescence - chethi flowers

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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

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 "physical, emotional, even temporal", 5 Steps to Clutter-Free Living may serve as a guide.
As to the present challenge, breathe easy. I'll leave an update when - and if - I complete numbering my boxes 1 to 10 (without having to insert the likes of 1a, 5j, 10z....)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Feel this veteran's pulse in his writing!

Justice VR Krishna Iyer's articles are always forceful, and his packed messages are fervent calls for immediate action. 'A bizarre nuclear deal pursuit' is one loud and mercilessly-worded wake-up call for Indian legislators. I wonder how many citizens (among law makers as well as the thinking public) will even be seized of the powerful mandate explicitly spelt out
- "Defend the people’s right now by rationing all essential commodities and services, petrol and electricity. Social and economic waste disguised as festivals, political, religious and other practices, should be banished through resort to deterrent penalties".
- "...abolish or minimise all avoidable expenditure, including the expensive perquisites of heads of state, Ministers, judges and legislators. Alcoholism during festivals, celebrations and flashy functions should be banned. All five-star establishments, public and private, should be abolished".
- "Limits should be placed on feasts, rents and travel fares. Consumer extravagance and showy expenditure should be banned on a war footing".
- "There should be a 10-year moratorium on any new foreign investment and any import of luxury items. No more should we have the bankrupting impact of foreign business. We must restrict the profit-grabbing car factories and the insatiably frantic buyers so as to sustain our economic self-reliance and solvency as a critically democratic mandate".
This, doubtless, is unpalatable food for most people's thoughts...
Take is as health food advised by a doctor who knows best!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On a road trip - pretty and not-so-pretty sights

Going eastward on NH-67 (Coimbatore-Nagappattinam route) from Sulur, we came across some sights which soothed the sore eye, and some others which instigate the mind to seethe...

Sunflowers painting a nice picture before the seeds reach oil-mills, to further sate man's needs.
A wide variety of mangoes cultivated by a family (karumburasam, banganapalli, alphonso, imampasand, rumani, kallamani...) We couldn't resist the inviting display, and had to stop enroute both ways to have a fill of the end-of-season pick.


Tanjavur dolls waiting to reach indoor showcases.
Food on wheels - 25 beef recipes traveling towards weekend dinner tables.

You guessed right. The road has to be widened as an aid to lopsided development, and we humans are ready to fell those stalwarts who have thus far been forming green and shady tunnels.

We humans insist on travelling even faster towards the 2 degree threshold of catastrophic climate change.

Shade - and shades!

Shade - and shades!

Lest we forget

Lest we forget

Think about it -

WISH YOU A RESOLUTION-FREE, CLUTTER-FREE, INWARD-LOOKING, LESS MATERIALISTIC, LESS POLLUTED, MORE EMPATHETIC, CONTENTED NEW YEAR