Friday, July 14, 2006

About the Mumbai Blasts

A poem and some random musings. Read the post here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Moving to Wordpress

Constant renewal is important. And with a renewed spirit comes a new Blogging interface. For a long time I have wanted to move my blog to Wordpress, primarily because I believe in open source. But I am so attached to Blogger that I have decided to keep both blogs alive.

My wordpress blog '26 letters and a talkative hand' is at . That blog will contain my reflections on life, society, work, and my passion- writing. Blogger will contain all posts with a personal ring to them. Hmm, I hope to keep blogs distinct and yet I know some postings shall overlap. So those who do read my blog, time to update your RSS.

I am also making my own website. The link shall be included in this blog soon.

Cheers to me and to new beginnings.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And not a drop to spare

22nd March was World Water Day. And though I wanted to post on that day, I was so caught up in reading the vast amount of information available on the net, that the post never got written. Today this finally post makes it on the blog.

Does it really make a difference if one day of the year is designated as Water Day? Must not the thought of conserving water, avoiding waste, be a constant everyday activity? But in reality we don’t sit and think about the water we consume, bathe, wash our clothes and vessels in. But what if a day comes when the gurgle of water as it flows down the tap is only a memory?

I attended a conference two years ago, in which Sushma Iyengar, social activist ( Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan), pointed out that the wars of the future would be fought over water. It is a grim possibility. Water Wars; that is what people are talking about, studying, trying to avoid.

States are fighting over river waters. Fishermen aren’t allowed to fish in rivers which have been their source of livelihood for years because a company runs a hydro-electric plant downstream. Many localities in many cities do not have constant water supply. Drums, tanks abound at homes; people bicker and snigger about others who own two sintex tanks in their houses.

At my in-laws place in Pune, everything from big stainless steel pots, to drums to even large glasses are used to store water. My aunt in Bombay prides herself on having a bathtub in her home. Her joy is not because of her ability to soak in it for long hours but the utility it serves to hold litres of precious water. Water is rationed out to family members. “Only a mug to brush your teeth in mind you”. There is dissatisfaction all around.

How can a layperson learn not to waste water? How can we be more careful about not exploiting something that belongs not only to us but to all other life-forms on this earth and also to upcoming generations. It is ok to build big dams and interlink rivers as an option to harness and harvest water? Can these be avoided? Are there more ecological friendly options? Here are some websites which speak about those options:

Celebrating water for life: The International Decade for Action 2005-2015 - An advocacy Guide

Rainwater Harvesting -

Development Alternatives- building small checkdams instead of huge big ones.

Water Conservation Portal and Search engine -

Monday, March 20, 2006

Electricity woes & Alternatives

Its just March and Vashi ( Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra), where my family lives, already faces upto three hours of power-cuts everyday. My friend who lives in nearby Khargar announced that power-cuts would be further increased to 6 hours, as it currently is in areas such as Dombivili. Folks who have big homes and the budgets are putting in invertors. But what about people who cannot afford them?

My grand-parents are in their 70's and 80's. Sairam, the baby of the house is one. My grandpa uses the plastic hand-fan for about hf hour at times to ensure Sairam naps undisturbed during the power cut. And my heart-aches that they suffer so. I have been ruminating about this whole thing for a week now. Today I found this article in BBC.

Do I see things getting better? Yes, but not through the big power projects. I feel strongly that alternative sources of energy and electricity are the answers to our woes to a great degree. Bio-gas may not be a viable solution for cities but are a fantastic option for small towns. The answer to cities though lies largely in solar energy. I do feel its potential is not fully explored. Recently when looking for solar fans I found scores of websites to buy products in the US. The only website I did find for India was this Solkar one. But there is no mention of where it can be bought in India. They do have an option for people in the US to buy and gift a solar table fan and light to their folks back in India. How about letting people here buy one on their own? Why aren’t more such products marketed actively in India?

Anyways here are a few interesting solar energy in India related weblinks:

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Those Jamun days I

Everything seems mammoth; the streets, the backyard of the building, those adults that frowned when we made noise and the Jamun tree whose fruit we waited with bated breath for. Memories trickle by slowly as I recollect those innocent years, untouched by pessimism, free from greed, malice or ego.

Ghatkopar a small bustling suburb of Bombay, where I once lived, today is a overburdened suburb, buckling over with the weight of its inhabitants. But back then it was a small locality one that let us kids run amock on a empty road near our school where during school sport events, races were held.

But first I have to recount all I remember about home or rather homes, cause I had two. One was the home I lived in or rather slept in with my mother, father, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin and paternal grandma. The second was the home of my maternal Grandparents apartment in the building next door, where I spent my entire day.

These two buildings had a total of 14 children who were always upto something. But the season that stays with me now is summer. Summer was brown, the colour of my sun-burnt skin and the colour of the earth in the grassless garden of the school near which we friends lived and where we ran chasing one another. Summer is the only season I vividly recollect. All else lies buried in some dormant unimaginative corner of my brain.

Summers held us enraptured. Even when the day got exhausted and let night take over their job, we were still up and about. Nothing could damper our boundless energy. All we used to do was invigorating and enjoyable. Of course being the only girl among 13 boys was partly responsible for my memories being as thrilling.

Morning was when I opened my eyes and realized I didn’t have to go to school. Of course it wasn’t really morning because at 10 ‘o’ clock, people are usually well into their day. But that was my morning, the pleasure of knowing my grandma’s singing voice wouldn’t wake me up.

A quick breakfast later I would be off, playing till noon when it was time for us all to head home for lunch. After bolting down our food, we would all collect ourselves in a friend’s place and plays cards or play some lame games to avoid the afternoon sun. But on rare days we also took delight in watching movies. The 50 paise contribution of each one of 14 was collective power enough to accumulate the necessary 7 rupees that enabled us to rent a movie. Around 4 we would all head back home and tried to stay docile till 6 when we would all be let out from our homes. We would all scamper down and play.

We always had a variety of games at our disposal. Cricket, football (I was the goal keeper as they decided I was tiny and could hold the ball better), Lagori ( the game where you pile rocks and hit them with a ball and run. You have to pile the rocks into a stack again and avoid the ball which others are trying to aim on you), marbles (I still have a dozen or more of them to show off how good I was at them), and of course the regular game of hide and seek. At around 8, tired and hungry, we would all slouch off home, eager to get to bed.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dedicated to POL

Power of Love ( POL) foundation, has been one of the organizations I most admire. Of course it may also have a lot to do with the fact that I was fortunate enough to meet and know Suresh Subramaniam, executive director of POL. He is one of the most gentle and yet fiercely passionate person I have known. Today I just browsed the POL website after long and realised how much they have been doing. Their circle of love keeps expanding.

Suresh also is an amazing photographer. He photographs people's souls. I have always been moved by the pictures he takes. 3 years ago, I was moved by this photo and had written this poem and showed it to Suresh (I am glad he didnt laugh). In my own tiny way its my tribute to the children, AIDS orphans who still bring tears to my eyes. I so wanna do something for them.

Do my eyes seem different to you?
I feel they shine even now
All fear to come hold my hand
Are scared to come, sit by my bed
I wander into the streets and they scream
My HIV, they fear will catch them
I love to run, I want to play tag
Go to that pond and wash all the comments away.
But, I am banished from the pond
What if she infects it with her germs, they whisper?
I remember the shadow of my mother
Remember her smile
Her touch as she wiped my nose with her frock
The noise of dinner that were her songs
Today I wait patiently in this orphanage
Many my age, are too tired to play
I love the window, love the tree
Maybe tonight the fairy will come kiss me.

Return to innocence

Went to the balcony a few minutes ago when I heard high pitch giggles. I knew it our relative’s daughter. They happen to live in the same building as us. She and her best friend and other assorted kids her age (all of 6) usually run around the building during evenings, driving cycles, spinning tops, playing hide and seek or simply arguing with one another. Today these two girls were armed with a badminton and plastic cork. From my fifth floor view it was a fun event. Neither was able to strike the cork at first go. It took about 6-7 attempts to touch the cork (of course by chance) and for the thing to whimper a bit and fall not further than 3 feet away. As a result each tried to move closer to the partner. They argued and tried to tell one another how the cork must be hit.

I couldn’t help but smile the entire 15 minutes I stood watching them. And then the realisation sunk in that this was exactly how I was 20 years ago. My childhood memories are something I have always meant to write down in detail. I did make a beginning and start writing. Then I left it after 3-4 paragraphs. Suddenly I am posed with the urge to once again dig into the recesses of my brains. Like bees rushing to the comb to rediscover the honey, I reach inside for sweet memories.

Aspiring writer that I am (ok people who do read this, don’t laugh. Or wait. Go on, I don’t really care) I decided to call those childhood memoirs of moi, ‘Those Jamun Days’. And since I do want to set free those memories so I can enjoy the experiences again, I am going to post them here. As regularly as I can. Not that there are too many of them, but the ones that are, are going to be written.