Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reaching Up

The dry limbs
Reach up to the hot skies
Mercy they seek
On deaf ears fall their cries

The hot sun beats down
Seeking rivers to dry
But only the riverbed
Meets its pale eye

Monday, October 24, 2016

This Diwali...

Every diwali, I can see awareness campaigns asking people to abstain from crackers. Yes, the smoke, the noise, the pollution...

This year too, I got a mail. " Diwali no more a festival to allay darkness. It has turned into a festival for thickening darkness. With one more bout of fire crackers, the killer pollution, engulfing life in its vice like grip, would only become more lethal."

It talked of the risk to children, the old and the vulnerable. No doubt, even the healthy get affected.

Any debates? None at all. I don't even believe that we should sustain that industry just for those employed in it. They suffer as much, and though it may help them make ends meet, they are probably better off finding alternative employment rather than continuing in that industry.

But something in me protests still. 

That same mail went on to say, "According to a Report by Save the Children, every 4th child in India lives in urban areas and they fall sick every month on average. They fall sick because of lower immunity. What affects their immunity? Essentially, ground water and air pollution damage immune system of children. Doctors associate high levels of suspended particulate matter and sulphur dioxide with increased mortality, morbidity and impaired pulmonary function."

Every month, the report says. But diwali is not celebrated every month. It is not even celebrated for one month. Just one day. So where does the pollution come from the rest of the year? 

"As per International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, our daily intakes of vegetables contain 21 times higher metal content. So apart from air and ground water pollution, our eating pattern also impact immunity. Having exposed to such conditions, a kid is prone to catch respiratory, liver and kidney problems.”

Daily intake - not just around the time of diwali but every day...

I will not labour the point. Is this post in favour of crackers? No? Is this against? No, again. 

Instead, I am just confused. I have a host of questions.

We have despoiled earth in the name of development.
We have polluted air in the name of progress.
We have even pierced the sky in the name of travel.
We have dried up water sources to satiate our thirst for wealth.
We are burning cities in the name of hate and fanaticism.

The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the space we aspire to conquer - they all bear the brunt of our indiscriminate exploitation and insatiable greed.

Fight against crackers by all means. But if the rest of the year, we are going to continue to destroy this world, then this is mere tokenism. Meaningless and empty.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Models for Clay

Clay and some products
When Chennai reeled under the unprecedented rains last year, one of the causes was that the riverbeds in the city had not been cleaned in eons; all the muck that we had generously donated to the river built up into a mini dam at the point where the ocean and the river met; and the river started flowing back into the city, flooding its many streets and low-lying areas; many of which were built on beds of water bodies such as ponds and lakes.

It brought on discussions about how once upon a time, communities around the water bodies took it on themselves to clean them periodically and prepare it for the oncoming rains. The beds were desilted, removing extra clay and clearing the spring/fountainhead so that the ground could soak in the water and hold it for the communities to flourish around it.

The clay then - what happened to it? Why, it went to the potters and apart from the regular products made of clay, and during religious occasions idols of various sizes would consume a large part of the clay. Natural colours would embellish it and flowers and cotton garments would be draped around it. It gave a temporary boost to businesses and also gave people cause for celebration and hope before the harvesting season later.

When the time was ripe, these clay idols would go back to their source, the river, where they would dissolve easily without polluting the water.

Last year, a magazine ran a story on how Ganesha idols immersed indifferently in shallow waters are a potential environmental hazard. They are made of artificial materials, draped in polyesters. It is tragic to see a wonderful tradition, which was also introduced to synchronise with the natural cycle, slowly becoming a threat to the ecology.

Last week, I was heartened to see a video of clay Ganesha models with seeds inside them. Keep it in the garden after the puja and watch plants sprout. Yes, with care and thought, we can keep the tradition alive and enjoy the season without harming the environment. There are many rituals that are pointless. And many that have great depth and understanding of the natural cycle. If we can separate the grain from the chafe, and strengthen meaningful ones while discarding the rest, we can once again revive our national pride even while doing our bit for our culture, tradition, environment and the small scale industry.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Controlling Pests Or Being Controlled?

It was a horrible, yet familiar sight. My kitchen counter invaded by baby cockroaches.
Photo Credit: Srikant Ranganathan
Unable to stand the sight, I got the pest control people to 'clean' up my home. I was assured that the pesticide being used was not harmful and that it was safe for humans.

Since then, since so many years ago, I have been 'clean. I get periodic pest control done and have been cockroach free. Then when I got termites, I did termite control too done.

As a consequence, I do not have lizards in my house either. Or the one or two that come go away on their own due to lack of sufficient nourishment.

But am I happy and content? No! The king of pests, the mosquito, seems to have taken over my house. As I read and think more and more about the food cycle and human interference that is disturbing it, I am wondering if the same is not happening with regard to the mosquito menace as well. Who are their natural predators? Whom have we eliminated from the insect food cycle because of which we have such an overload of mosquitoes? We either have to keep all our windows and doors closed, cutting off all natural breeze, or have chemical means to reduce this nuisance.

A hard question to answer. I dread allowing cockroaches to invade my home. But I hate this forced self-caging to protect my skin and that of my near and dear ones from the mosquito bite!

Oh yes, my pest control service provider has something for mosquitoes, but that is effective for two months only! There was a time I was told cockroaches can survive even nuclear bombing. But I think someone overlooked mosquitoes. They can survive much more!

Who is smarter, finally? These tiny pests or man?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Lasting Impressions: Better Quality of Life - And the Price

Lasting Impressions: Better Quality of Life - And the Price: The tiger walked at a leisurely pace, unmindful of a jeep right behind it, dogging its steps. The people inside were enthralled to catch ...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

No Clean Slate: A Short Story

Gods pondered, looking at the earth. They were dismayed at the non-destructible debris that could be seen everywhere. Their calculations were right, and yet horribly wrong.

They had created man, expecting him to be the cause of destruction of the world in this cosmic-cycle. And he was behaving just as they expected he would. The sixth sense was a boon and a bane. He created, he innovated, he improved; but in the end, he destroyed everything around him in the process. Trees were gone. Waterbodies were gone. Air was polluted. Earth was polluted. On his own, he had created devices that would lead to the end of the world.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A New Leaf

The music troupe that had met at Anandam Old Age Home in Ambattur was invited to a sumptuous lunch prepared by the inmates - all destitute old people.

I saw this leaf placed on the table and thought it was a place mat. But this is the leaf! Shaped like banana leaf, this is in fact recyclable paper. Very light, it is water proof and does not tear though we had the regular south Indian meal.

Apparently it has been available in Parry's for sometime now.

I like the idea of pakku mattai plates and cups also. But they look solid! Still, this was an interesting concept and thought of sharing.