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

Community composting method-3: Byobins, these two make a right pair!

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Paired up to perform: Two Byobins is all it takes to process wet waste from 30 houses.

Two unassuming bins sit in a corner without any posters, scary timetables or paraphernalia around them. No muttering of a shredder. No hustle and bustle of an army of workers either. A few perforated plastic crates filled with the compost taken out of these bins have earthworms going about their business without giving two hoots to what the city is getting all worked up about. 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

This is how black it gets at Mavallipura

This is how polluted the water is in one of the spots near the Mavallipura landfill. As written in a previous article, the streams starts with yellowish water and a few minutes later, black water begins to flow out. When you stick your nose to it, you will find that the stink remains the same irrespective of its colour. The Zilla Panchayat has put up a notice and shut down this borewell.

But the crisis does not end here! Continue reading

Condemned to highly polluted black water stream, villagers in & around Mavallipura landfill cry mercy

Water bottles containing samples from the polluted borewell.

Water bottles containing samples from the polluted borewell at Subedar Pallya near Mavallipura landfill.

The sound of raindrops is perhaps the most bewitching interplay of natural elements on this planet. It is the sound of reassurance that life is going on normally. A note of reaffirmation that billions of life forms will thrive, seeds will sprout, buds will bloom, little birds will grow wings and leave their nests, kids will giggle and play with muddy water, so on and so forth. It also tells us that there have been millions of rains before we came and there will be millions more after we go—reminding us of the infinitely minute role we play in this universe. To put it simply, it’s one of the most important links in the chain of life that has no beginning or end. 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

Drizzle at dawn, over-peppered pongal, a cup of tea and some random thoughts

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Modern comforts in the midst of a rural setting… Nothing beats it.

Our search for a home in one such setting ended in Yelahanka in a complex that has plonked itself amidst three villages. There are some aged green giants like peepal, banyan and neem settled on roadsides and also small strips of vineyards and coconut plantations. Two tiny lakes on either side of the building sparkle in sunlight but lose out to the heat during summer. 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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Continue reading

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

Deleting non-recurring older calendar items in Outlook 2010

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Deleting/Archiving older outlook calendar items in Outlook 2010 is a bit hard to find. Of course, you want to delete it as the expired appointments end up taking a lot of space on the folders. Especially, when people attach large files in the meeting request (which is extremely annoying!). 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

GOING ORGANIC-7: Large-scale effort, large-scale failure as vermicompost experiment #1 goes haywire

Pic source: ca.safestb2b.com

Pic: ca.safestb2b.com

Any experiment diligently executed can fail due to some silliest of the mistakes, mid-way.

Soaring mid-April temperatures called for frequent watering to ensure proper moisture levels in the bed. The roof laid with plastic sheets was emitting a lot of heat inside the compost room. As advised by the expert, we sprinkled a few buckets of extra water on the bed, shut it with the lids. 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

GOING ORGANIC-3: It begins with waste management. Let’s dump it right first.

A series of articles based on my personal experience of turning our manicured garden, used to synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, into completely organic with the help of like-minded enthusiastic volunteers.

The real behind-the-scene warriors are our housekeepers who toil away silently, not knowing how valuable their work is!

The real behind-the-scene warriors are our housekeepers who toil away silently, not knowing how valuable their work is!

Those of you who have been following my blog, Facebook updates and media coverage might have come across the efforts that went into planning and executing a successful waste management (WM) in our apartment. Here’s a quick look at this ongoing mammoth exercise. I sincerely believe in this: Unless we know how to segregate, we will not know how to compost. If we are not ready to turn unwanted kitchen or garden waste into that beautiful organic manure, we will not go organic. Continue reading

GOING ORGANIC-2: Outsourcing lung space

A series of articles based on my personal experience of turning our manicured garden, used to synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, into completely organic with the help of like-minded enthusiastic volunteers.

Frangipani Flowers

In a majority of cases, apartments sprout on what was a cultivated land or a lakebed or both, previously. Thousands of trees get uprooted to make way for a gated community. This is happening at an alarming pace especially in green areas like North Bangalore. Relatively greener, that is. Continue reading

GOING ORGANIC-1: How dumb can we get about deadly pesticides?

A series of articles based on my personal experience of turning our manicured garden, used to synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, into completely organic with the help of like-minded enthusiastic volunteers.

 

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Sometime ago, a friend of mine recounted a heart-breaking tale involving her housemaid who had suffered massive crop damage in her hometown located in a neighbouring state. It was nothing to do with untimely rains or drought or any other vagaries of nature. But something purely man-made—a guided tour of disaster, planned and sponsored by agriculture experts who swear by deadly cocktails of pesticides. 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