One of the oldest surviving reptiles seems ready for extinction. Having survived the worst of catastrophes, over the millennia, it meets its match in the human, who has devised ingenious ways to destroy all forms of ecosystems - land, air and water.
Already, only seven species out of 30 survive. The ancient mariner may become a 'Once upon a time' in no time.
When driving my children back from school, I would watch the children from government schools walk back, chatting, playing, enjoying themselves. I used the school bus till the eighth, from 9th to 12th, and I traveled by the public transport with my friends and remember the long chats, the jokes, the general fun. I started feeling sorry for my children. Though we do have our laugh sessions and jokes, I felt that that moment of childhood when they are on their own, without adult supervision, and enjoying their surroundings is an integral part of growing up that they seemed to be missing.
Almost every tree in our complex and in the adjacent land - trees that we had been seeing for the last 10 years of living here, had been bent and broken by the merciless Vardah in December 2016.
Today, on Republic Day, we not only hoisted the flag as we do every year, but men, women and children participated eagerly in a drive to plant trees and recover the green.
When walking around the complex, I noticed a canna and remembered why it was planted two-three years ago.
When we were renovating our complex, on advise from one gray water expert, Mr Indukanth Ragade, we dug a well - a traditional well. It is dug where there is spring underwater and is also connected to our rainwater harvesting system. Being shallow, it is easy to recharge and improves the ground water level. This well is then connected to the underwater borewell so that the harvested water is pumped back into the system.
The canna bed receives water from the bathrooms. It is apparently good at treating the chemicals and also retains water underground... Thus adding to the water table.
While we may have the money to buy water, it disturbs me that we do nothing to conserve water available to us and also starve other regions by carrying away water from there.
We may still not be completely independent, but I think our dependence of water lorries have come down tremendously. The beauty of the shallow well is that you don't need to live in an independent house or a large complex. If there is water under your car park, you can dig a well there and keep it closed with cement slabs. Just make sure that it is connected to the RWH system as well as the borewell and is not going waste.
Imagine if an entire colony undertakes to divert rainwater thus! How much water we can pump back into the ground and start becoming independent...
I am not an expert and have tried my best to convey it the way I have understood. Rain Centre in Chennai maybe a good place for those living here to find out how to do it. I am sure other cities has such experts too.
Where the solution is within our reach, let's try these small methods to contribute and flourish. Water is precious and limited. Let's use it responsibly.
That time of the year and that debate again - should Jallikattu be banned?
Not fond of violence of any kind, I have never been a great fan of this game. I am not a convert either now.
The bull is tortured during jallikattu, given arrack, scared with firecrackers and made to run helter-skelter, goring and killing people in the way...
Now, the counter question - what will happen to the indigenous breed if this game is banned? They will be slaughtered... that is the fear.
All these points and counter points are frustrating. It is again and again about human beings, how they use the animals and what they do when that animal becomes useless... If a bull is bred, then, of course, it has to have an ROI and that is jallikattu. If it cannot be used for that purpose, it has to at least become meat. Or leather.
In this god-given nature, no other creature has any place if it is not useful one way or the other to man.
It occurred to me that unlike stray dogs (which are also neutered and killed because they are useless...) we do not get to see any stray cows/bulls. Do we have free horses or are they bred only in captivity?
What animal rights are we talking about then? Are we the custodians of all creatures on this earth? If a bull is useless, why not just let it roam around freely?
Long back, when I visited the beneficiaries of an NGO, I was struck by the fact that the cows they owned, when in heat, are impregnated with frozen and thawed semen of Jersey bulls. Isn't the animal allowed to even indulge in that one act one season in a year while man needs no season or reason to copulate?
The frustrating emptiness of our way of thinking does not even shame us... We question, support or dispute based purely on the assumption that the decision is for us to take.
Let the animals lead their lives. Let us lead ours... Where our lives intersect, let us respect the animal. We have a need, let us use them with maturity and restrain. But beyond that, let's not presume too much on our intelligence. Time and again, it has failed us. It is doing so on this matter too...
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.