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. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

When Will We Stop

However many times it takes for us to realise, I shall say this. The Government gives us the garbage bin. But if we do not use it well, it is not the Government's mistake! They get it cleaned everyday, but that does not mean we can dirty it beyond human tolerance. What caused this, I do not know. A load of bricks, maybe dumped carelessly, made it topple. Maybe a dog jumping off the bin tipped it. Maybe a human, while dumping the bricks, couldn't care to do it more carefully enough... But the result is this...! And till someone clears it, it will remain thus.

Monday, December 7, 2015

For a Rainy Day

I am just an element,
I was in my elements.
I know nothing of joy and anger, 
Nor indeed of safety and danger.

I fall from heavens without bias
Equally on the evil and pious
And on the ground when I fall
I seek new paths ignoring all.

Make way for me
Room to flow to the sea
If you place obstructions
I flow around constructions

Don't the poets admire?
My overcoming situations dire?
Oh you thought I had given up?
And abandoned you to a dry rut?

I thought you will enjoy
And not call me killjoy
I poured hard to make up
But you had no deep cup

To unite with my mother I seek
Flowing through concrete streets
To sink in her arms, is all I desire
But she is lost amidst muck and mire

I go away to distant lands
Will you ever want me back?
I am but one of the elements
Sometimes ruthless, sometimes clement.