DIY composting in Kashmir: CRPF HC Krishna Murthy follows heart, dirties hands & churns out humus

CRPF Head Constable Krishna Murthy (left) and his colleagues succeed in their first kitchen waste composting experiment in J&K.

I have had the privilege of guiding scores of volunteers from across India in kitchen and garden waste composting over the decade. Never once did I witness the enthusiasm and the spirited follow-ups that CRPF Head Constable Krishna Murthy exhibited from start to finish. He belongs to the 82nd battalion, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and is posted in Bishamber Nagar, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.

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‘Endlessly Green’ the book is a story, an SWM playbook. Not a rehash of my blog

‘If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in, the chances are very high that you will interest other people as well.’ – Rachel Carson.

Several months rolled by in sweet anticipation of seeing my first book in its physical form. It’s finally here!

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Into my 5th year of blogging & indebted to your support

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Blogging doesn’t come easily to print media journalists. At least that’s what has been my observation over the years. In my case, it all stemmed from the need to create my own space to write whatever I thought was relevant. “If it is indeed relevant, it will be read,” I told myself when I registered with WordPress. Continue reading

Mandur & Mavallipura won’t let garbage trucks in after Nov 30, ready for protests

M Ramesh of Ramagondanahalli and Srinivas of Mavallipura tell they will not let a single garbage-laden truck enter the landfill.

DSS activists M Ramesh of Ramagondanahalli (in grey T-shirt) and Srinivas of Mavallipura (first from right) tell they will not let a single garbage-laden truck enter the landfill.

Hope floats in Mandur

“Yes, we are hopeful that the Chief Minister will stick to his word and we will see the end of it on November 30.”

If “Hope is a waking dream”, we saw it come alive in all its vibrant hues when V Srinivas and Mukund Rao of Mandur spoke at length on how earnestly they are hoping for an end to the agony that’s simply beyond human endurance. Continue reading

Let there be Deepavali here & may it never end…

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If Deepavali is all about dispelling the darkness, it must first arrive in the corridors of power, enter the corrupt vaults of bureaucracy and annihilate the callousness towards those living on the fringes in Mandur and Mavallipura. Let this light filter out into the streets, roll between the huts and the high-rises, and settle over the sidewalks. Continue reading

Swachh Bharath aftermath: Burning of plastic & landfill dumping worries activists

Picture source: 1group903.blogspot.com

Picture source: 1group903.blogspot.com

“Today, we were driving past this scene in a busy traffic junction near an underpass. Around five-six men were burning garbage and they had around six-eight big black bags and it looked like they came from an early morning Swachh clean-up job. Cleaning up, but creating environmental damage by burning or dumping of garbage is something that is bothering us…” Continue reading

In this little republic, change is inevitable

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(Clockwise) 1. The grama sabha ‘katte’. 2. The change-makers led by GP president Mahadevi Vali. 3. The GP office in Gummagol.

Waste-wise, water-wise, solar-powered roads, a composting yard, a nearly foolproof sanitation scheme and willingness to achieve a lot more by involving everyone in the village, especially children. To top it all, its Gram Panchayath (GP) is headed by a woman.

If I ever want to live in a village, this would be it. Period. Continue reading

Devastated by floods, but drowned by corruption

“When we tell them that the ration card was washed away in the floods, they say, ‘what can we do? If you want rice and kerosene, you have to show the card’.”

Bureaucratic response can be so downright callous! No wonder the scene was awash with such experiences when North Karnataka suffered the worst ever natural calamity in 2009.

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Everybody loves a good flood

The torrential rains battering Shimoga district have had parts of Hampi and surrounding towns and villages submerged. The Tungabhadra is in full flow. So is the suffering of the poor. It brought back the bitter memories of covering the 2009 North Karnataka floods. For those interested in reading first-hand field reports, here’s a series I wrote for ‘India Together’.

Cooking must go on even in this messed-up, roofless kitchen in Hiresindhogi of Koppal district.

Cooking must go on even in this messed-up, roofless kitchen in Hiresindhogi of Koppal district.

When all hell breaks loose, make merry.

This is exactly what some flood victims in Koppal district resorted to once they were distributed compensation for partially damaged houses—not because it was plenty, but too paltry to be put to good use. In the worst-hit Hachcholli of Bellary district, many poor people hit arrack shops or gambled away the relief fund. Paradoxically, amid its ruins stands a wine shop—all intact. Continue reading

The pleasure of an image called ‘Roger Federer’ & why it ain’t over yet

fed3Wimbledon is over and hard court season has set in. The ‘write-off Roger’ brigade seems to have suffered a setback after his heroic 4th set comeback at SW19 a few weeks ago. It will resurrect itself if he fails to float above the fray in the upcoming US Open.

I am presenting excerpts from my writings for Bleacher Report and it will tell you why for fans like me, it ain’t over until the man hangs up his boots and calls it a day. Continue reading

Eid mubaarak, Khan uncle!

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“Long ago, I jumped off my ship which caught fire. Not a bruise or a burn on my body. I swam to the shore. But the land didn’t agree with me.”

As Khan uncle sat against the blameless blue skies on an extraordinarily beautiful sunny morning with that charming smile, it was difficult to agree with what he said. Continue reading

Packaging pollution: Taco Bell, can you reduce the burden on Mandur?

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Food overloaded with fat can be a put-off especially when all you want is a bowl of salad and a bigger bowl of soup on a rainy afternoon. With those very few relatively healthier eating options shutting shops one after another in Mantri Mall, I had no other go but to drag my friend to Taco Bell for a fill yesterday. Continue reading

Massive beehive built in 8 minutes: A gift on World Environment Day?

IMG_20131026_072702The buzz started at around 2 pm yesterday with a just few bees. In the next couple of minutes, the swarm grew bigger and bigger and the bees started piling up on each other. Eight minutes of manic activity, this massive beehive took the shape of black icicles and then, everything went silent. Continue reading

Mandur landfill crisis revisits: Luxury of peacetime over, let’s stop being deliberately callous

The reality in Mandur. (Pic: The Hindu)

The reality in Mandur. (Pic: The Hindu)

Recently, I made an early-morning trip to some nurseries around Lalbagh with a friend to buy plants for our apartment garden. By forenoon, we had done most of our work but couldn’t resist the desire to step into yet another large nursery studded with beautiful succulents. As we went around enjoying the fragrance of those green little beauties, especially gardenias, the nursery staff got busy loading the green ‘waste’ into a BBMP vehicle. Some 4-5 workers went on feeding the truck for at least an hour.

When we asked, they said it was headed to Mandur landfill. Continue reading

Delhi gang-rape: Before, now and forever…

Nothing can explain what drove those criminals to subject an innocent girl to such unimaginable violence in New Delhi last year. The nation erupted in retaliation, demanding the worst-possible punishment to the rapists. “Death to all” brought solace to some, justice to others. In some cases, both. In some other cases, neither.

English: Edited version of File:Indiagatelight...

But to call it “victory” or “justice” would mean belittling the brutality that countless women suffer at the hands of criminals who walk around guilt-free in every nook and corner of this country. How do we explain the oppression Dalit women often suffer? These crimes never even find a mention in the National Crime Report Bureau. They have happened before, they are happening now and will go on forever.

Rape comes in many forms. Here’s one that happened on August 29, 2001. A Dalit woman was paraded naked in her village for allegedly encouraging an inter-caste marriage between an ‘upper’ caste girl and ‘lower’ caste boy.

Nothing has changed in more than a decade. Not even the way we define rape and the degree of brutality. Because every case is “the rarest of rare” to those who have been subjected to it. Continue reading

We manage 21 types of waste in Sobha Althea-Azalea, every day…

How would you feel if a housekeeper trained by you gives back lessons on how to differentiate between many types of plastic waste?

This is what happened a week ago when I went down to the basement to check if things were in order. This is where secondary segregation of our dry waste collected from each household happens every day.

When I asked Lakshmi, our housekeeper, why plastic waste was lying in 3-4 separate bins, she said type A fetches more money than type B… She and the remaining 11 housekeepers know it better than perhaps I will ever know.

The result? We are segregating TWENTYONE types of waste every day at Sobha Althea-Azalea! Continue reading

‘English Vinglish’: Aren’t we permanently colonialised?

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A script freshly out of the oven, albeit peppered with its own set of stereotypes. A beautiful cast spearheaded by an actor with gigantic acting prowess. The coming-together of a debutant director and a comeback superstar…

English Vinglish was set for an all-out success when Gauri Shinde’s keen observation of her mother’s predicament of being a non-English speaking woman began to verbalise itself. It seems the rest was all bound to happen: Gauri’s meeting with Sridevi, the latter falling in love with the script and the resounding success that should shame half-baked, dim-witted multi-crore and multi-starred melodramas into submission. Continue reading