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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Indian Wife's Poem.....

This just came in the mailbox....and I really just had to share it here... All thoughts and ideas expressed here, the entire poem, is someone else's work and what you see here is merely a copy of that...nothing related to my views or thoughts, just a few funny lines...

He didn't like the curry
And he didn't like my cake
He said my biscuits were too hard,
Not like his mother used to make....
I didn't prepare the coffee right
He didn't like the stew,
I didn't mend his socks
The way his mother used to do.
I pondered for an answer
I was looking for a clue.
Isn't there anything I could do
To match his mother's shoe
Then I smiled as I saw light
One thing I could definitely do
I turned around and slapped him tight....
Like his mother used to!!!!!

author unknown...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's Help Them....You Know You Can

Remember the last time you went past that red signal on the intersection? The little boy peering in the window, trying to convince you to hand him some coins so he could have some food, so he could give some to his little sister who was standing with him, holding on to the thin hand with little thin fingers. Remember that look?

Remember that young woman, poor and helpless, standing at a side of the road, waiting for the light to turn red so she could walk up to the many tinted windows and ask the people sitting inside in the cool air to give her something, some loose change, some money, so that she could buy some milk for the little infant who was hanging from her saree end, tied up in an old rag around her reed-thin body, the little head dangling dangerously from side-to-side. Remember the way she was wringing out water from her wet saree, the cloth that had got soaked wet in the rain, the same cloth that she was using and would use through the day to tie her little infant in? The wet cloth that the infant would be strapped in the whole day?

Remember that old woman you saw sitting on the pavement, too old to get up and come to your window, but looking out at you nonetheless, waiting for some hand to roll out of a window and hand her some change that could buy her next meal maybe.

Maybe you remember,
Maybe you don't
Maybe you'll help them,
Maybe you won't.
Maybe you will look around for those coins after all
And hand it out without a second look,
Maybe you will shrug and call it all a fraud
"They don't need any money, they are all just crooks.".......
Maybe they really don't need any money
Just a little smile and a little help still could do,
Why not a pack of biscuits,
Or some fresh food or fruits,
Why not a bottle of milk
Or the old clothes you know will never again be worn on you.......

We all say these children begging on the roads, these women with the infants strapped to them and even the old people who look so helpless, are all just a part of a criminal activity going on, that this is all a sham, that none of this is real, that they are all just acting.....

And of course I do not advocate handing them any money...coz who knows where the money will go, and more often than not, they will only be passing on the money to the many 'dons' and beggar-lords who run the no help for the real ones in need....

So why not help them a little tiny bit by giving them something that will really help? A little tiny gesture from our side that would mean so much more to them. Next time when you head out in your car, why not make it a practice to keep a few packets of biscuits in the glove compartment, so that when the little one comes up to beg and ask for money for food, you can hand him the packet, some real food.....Believe me, they really need it....So many times I have handed out packets of biscuits to these little unfortunate ones, and they have grabbed it with a big smile, tearing it open and finishing off the contents, showing it off to their friends who then have been directed to me, and I have handed them out more packs, so they all could eat.....I cant tell you how it felt to see those smiles for some time. Who knows, maybe it was the only decent food they will have in the whole day, at least they had something then...And maybe someone else will think likewise in the evening and give them another packet in the evening....

Your closet desperately needs some cleaning and the old clothes are spilling out, with you constantly in a fight with your cupboard and its contents, trying to keep them under control while they threaten to revolt....why not take them out and sort them out as per age and wearability? Why not make piles of clothes that are sorted out based on who can use them, like infants, kids, women, men. Then you can easily take the bundles and hand them to the local beggar kids and women, even the old people who sit begging on the streets. Don't tell me "I wont do it coz they will only go and sell it off..." You know its an excuse, it sounds unreal and unconvincing even to yourself. And even if they do sell it off, what would you have done with those clothes in the first place? Never worn them again, keep pushing them at the back of your cupboard, and then maybe sell it off to a guy who buys old papers and stuff? Wouldn't you be selling it off too? Come on, you dont need those any more, so why not give it to someone who will definitely use it some way or the other? Old shoes and sandals (but please, only the ones that are wearable...not ones that are beyond repair!!) old sweaters, caps, mufflers, socks, handkerchiefs, napkins, towels...basically anything that you will not use....why not share it with them?

On birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, we all go out and celebrate, throwing lavish parties and spending big moolah..... great.... but why not add a little bit more joy to all these good times by sharing that happiness with some of our less fortunate friends? Birthday...why not go to the nearest orphanage and give them a birthday treat...a birthday cake and some chips and food maybe. Or why not share some food with the beggar kids near your place? Why wait for occasions? If you can, why not make some extra food once a week, or once in a while, a proper meal, even something as simple as noodles if a meal is too much...and why not head out and just hand it out to them? I have handed out full meals to these kids....and mind you, not to the adults who roam around, but only the kids, and I have waited to see that its only the kids who sit and eat the food, and have left after they have had their fill..This way, atleast you can make sure that what you are giving to the kids is not being taken away by the adults who are always nearby. Some days I have given them noodles and they were so happy, some days I gave idli-dosa and that too is a different food item than what they usually get. Even sandwich...they love that...

But almost always, we have started keeping packs of biscuits and cornflakes in the car, so that whenever that knock comes on the window, we are ready to give back something to that endearing smile that hardly has any reason to smile.....

You can do that why not start today and feel the happiness within? Thanks a million if you decided to do so too........And if you still will not do that little bit, well what can I say.....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Delhi Monsoon - The Way I Remember It From The 'Then'....

I was a little off the news scene for the last couple of days and had missed many a headline. So it came as rather a shock and surprise when I called up my parents in Delhi to ask them how they were and the response I got war – “Pretty difficult this time, given that it is a first for Delhi to get flooded.” What??!!! Had I heard that right? I thought they were confusing things with Mumbai getting flooded in the monsoons or something - at least it sounded more normal. I shared my confusion and they told me it had rained heavily for a few hours and that all the roads and lanes and places were flooded. Was I not watching any news or reading any paper? I admitted I wasn’t.

So the next thing I did was to leave the phone and switch on the television. The TV screen now is flooded with images of a flooded Delhi!!!! There is water everywhere and people are going about with a dazed expression – ‘how did this happen in Delhi’ - they seem to be thinking. Not that it is a surprise though. Delhi’s roads and drainage system are not made to handle so much rain, actually hardly any rain. As it is more of a dry state, the little rainfall it has always received has been enough to keep its citizens happy. And the drains and roads have only got used to that till now. Till now…………now the rain gods seem to have finally changed their mind.

I have lived in Delhi for 25 years. That’s a long long time. And for all those twenty-five years I have experienced monsoon in Delhi as a mere trickle, now that I compare it to the monsoon in Mumbai. Not that I felt that way earlier, when I lived there that is. I have never seen Delhi this wet, grappling to come to life after the rains have flooded everything around, even the Metro tracks as well as normal rail tracks and other routes have been flooded and thrown out of gear and East Delhi cut off from the rest of the capital. It’s a really different experience for me, to see this chaos in a Delhi that has hardly ever received so much rain in any monsoon previously. Almost all news channels and papers are reporting the Delhi monsoon in the exact same terms – waterlogging, traffic snarls, stinking garbage, outbreak of water-borne diseases………. But I remember the Delhi monsoon in a totally different picture frame…..the rain drops on my forehead, the smell of wet earth filling up my senses…….

When we were small and the rains would approach, even a little amount of that water from the skies was enough to make us shout ‘monsoon’. Delhi was always the place of less rainfall. Its people complained about the heat and the dust and the lack of rains, and just as it would begin to seem there was no end to the sweaty torture of those pre-monsoon days, the clouds would break and the rains would arrive to soothe our burning skins.
A shout would go out in the lanes and by-lanes, with mothers running to pick up the clothes hanging on the clothes line, and grandmothers and aunts scurrying about, collecting the pickles that had been kept out on the terrace in the sun.
Children would begin to scream about in the gully, with young boys gathered to play cricket enjoying a match in the rain.
Students returning from school making a splash in the puddle.
Girls returning home from tuition would scamper for cover, their heads covered in dupatta, the ones in jeans trying to shield themselves with their books and hands.
Mothers would quickly return from the terrace with the pile of clothes in hand, dumping it on the bed and running to close the windows if there was any wind with the rain, else they would let the breeze fill up inside the house, and proceed to check where the children were, often finding them getting wet in the rain and bringing them in with a scold and a tug at the ear.
On the road, people driving the scooters would scamper for cover, huddling together at bus stops to escape getting wet.
On those wet evenings when the fathers returned from work, they would always bring a brown paper bag of hot and spicy pakodas, samosas and juicy sweet jalebi, handing it to the mothers who would keep it in the kitchen, to bring it back a little while later with a tray of steaming hot cups of ‘adrak chai’ (ginger tea) and a warm glass of milk for the kids to gulp down the sweet jalebi with.
The lights would invariably go off even with a little rain and some thunder, and families would sit together around the flickers of a candle, talking about the day, complaining about the electricity board’s inefficiency, mothers scolding children for not finishing homework before it became dark, and amidst all this, a cry going out through the neighbourhood again as the lights would return back to life……..almost always the kids from the mohalla would shout ‘aa gayi’ to announce that power supply was back again…..

It was a nice time as I remember it, those Delhi monsoons, filled with so many memories of those lovely days of my childhood. Now things are changing….Delhi is flooding!!!! I still find it unbelievable!!!!
But every time I will think of the monsoon in Delhi, it will always be about those cool green days, when the aroma of the earth would drift inside my pores, when life would feel so magical and poetic yet again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Few Lines From 'The Last Mughal' by William Dalrymple

I am in the midst of reading one of the most impressive and wonderful historical texts that has ever been written - 'The Last Mughal, the fall of a Dynasty. Delhi. 1857' by William Dalrymple.

I had heard so much about this book, especially as it is about my homeland, and one of my ever-and-most favourite cities, Delhi, that I was more interested in reading it. And as I began turning the pages I realised this would be one of the most precious books I will ever own, not in a monetary sense alone, but more because of the priceless information that lies between the 550-odd pages.

More on this book will keep appearing in other posts as I keep reading, but for now, I simply had to share these lines from the book, these lovely lines that talk about my city, Delhi, and bring back beautiful memories, of a city that has raised me and made me fall in love with it despite its many pitfalls.

Excerpts from the book, describing William Dalrymple's first encounters with the city of Delhi:

'I would take a rickshaw into the innards of the Old City (Old Delhi) and pass through the narrowing funnel of gullies and lanes, alleys and cul-de-sacs, feeling the houses close in around me. In particular, what remained of Zafar's palace, the Red Fort of the Great Mughals, kept drawing me back, and I often used to slip in with a book and spend whole afternoons there, in the shade of some cool pavilion."

"I have now divided my time between London and Delhi for over twenty years and the Indian capital remains my favourite city. Above all it is the city's relationship with its past which continues to intrigue me: of the great cities of the world, only Rome, Istanbul and Cairo can even begin to rival Delhi for the sheer volume and density of historic remains. Crumbling tomb towers, old mosques or ancient colleges intrude in the most unlikely places, appearing suddenly on roundabouts or in municipal gardens, diverting the road network and obscuring the fairways of the golf course. New Delhi is not new at all; instead, it is a groaning necropolis, with enough ruins to keep any historian busy through several incarnations."

"I am hardly alone in being struck by this: the ruins of Delhi are something visitors have always been amazed by........
For miles in every direction, half collapsed and overgrown, robbed and reoccupied, neglected by all, lay the remains of six hundred years of trans-Indian Imperium....hammams and garden palaces, thousand-pillared halls and mighty tomb towers, empty mosques and deserted Sufi shrines - there seemed to be no end to the litter of ages."

"One of the most enjoyable aspects of working with him (referring to William Dalrymple's colleague Mahmood Farooqui) on Bahadur Shah Zafar has been gradually piecing together the events and shape of this book over a Karim's kebab, a Kapashera biryani or, more usually, a simple glass of hot sweet National Archives chai."

"...Delhi has always been quite clear about its superiority to the rest of the country. It was the seat of the Great Mughal and the place where the most chaste Urdu was spoken. It believed it had the best-looking women, the finest mangoes, the most talented poets."

And here is a look at the treasures that lie hidden in the National Archives in Delhi:

"Yet all this time in the National Archives there existed as detailed a documentation of the four months of the Uprising in Delhi as can exist for any Indian city at any period of history - great unwieldy mountains of chits, pleas, orders, petitions, complaints, receipts, rolls of attendance and lists of casualties, predictions of victory and promises of loyalty, notes from spies of dubious reliability and letters from eloping lovers - all neatly bound in string and boxed up in the cool, hushed, air-conditioned vaults of the Indian National Archives."

Truly, just the first few pages and this book is already such a revelation !!!!!

I have only just begun, but if you have not read this book yet, really, it is time you do so. For this is the first book ever that has impacted me so much into reading on history and reliving all those events and memories that happened at some era in the past.....Thanks Mr. Dalrymple....

A Few TV Sitcoms I Am Watching These Days

Been watching a couple of great TV series on my laptop these last few days. Always find it more interesting and of course, more convenient, when things go as per your beck and no surprise here that I am not as much a fan of TV as I am of a few TV series....

The new one that landed my way is called 'Royal Pains', right now both hubby n me pretty hooked on to it in a big way. The series is about a young ER doctor, Hank Lawson, who, after being wrongly blamed for a rich patient's death, moves to the Hamptons and becomes a concierge doctor, or a 'doctor for hire' for rich and famous patients. Curious and weird cases come up as one after the other interesting and sometimes funny incidents happen that call for his attention. Though Hank is reluctant to have joined such a service which clearly clashes with his regular idea of what a doctor needs to be, he soon begins to love and enjoy the work he is doing.
Currently in its second season.
Main characters are: Dr. Hank Lawson, Evan Lawson, Dr. Jill Casey, Boris, Divya Katdaria

Royal Pains

The TV series by HBO, Entourage, is another one such series that has managed to interest me in recent times. Though it is now in its seventh season, I am still in the earlier seasons. Initially I was not much impressed by the begining, but as I began to watch it regularly, the storyline as well as the characters began to grow on me and I am now quite hooked on to what these guys are up to.
The series is about a young actor Vincent Chase who is slowly making it big in Hollywood. The plot is loosely based on Mark Wahlberg's life, one of the series producers, whose experiences as an up-and-coming film star have been used in the plot.
The series revolves around Vince and his 'entourage' - his best friend Eric fondly called 'E' by the group, who also works as his manager, Vince's elder half-brother Johny 'Drama' Chase, and another of Vince's childhood friend, Turtle. The last in the entourage is Vince's agent Ari Gold.
Watch the series for many special appearances by many Hollywood biggies.

(From L-R) Johny Drama, Turtle, Vince, E, Ari

One series I had really started loving and looking forward to was Joey...Remember Joey from FRIENDS? Once the FRIENDS team split, Matthew LeBlanc had been part of a new series which took his character Joey from FRIENDS to the next level. Many people felt it was a wrong move to start it after FRIENDS, but if seen apart from FRIENDS and not as a connecting series, I think it was going really well. The series was stopped after the first season without any ending, so maybe they will bring it back again sometime.
Main characters are: Joey, Alex, Michael, Gina, Bobbie, Zach

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When Budget For A CommonWealth Is Important Than The Life Of A Child

The planned budget for the Commonwealth Games was a whopping $1.6 billion, which went up by at least 06-10%. The scams that came to light recently revealed how much of that money went into the pockets of the senior management responsible for planning the games in New Delhi.

India is a rich country, with lots of moolah to spare, lots of moolah to pocket…

But when it comes to the real causes, the ones that really need some money and help, how much is being done really?

The first news that hit me in yesterday’s Mumbai daily was the story about the death of five children in the state-run orphanage at Shahpur, Satkarm Balgriha, about 70kms from Mumbai, which is used as a shelter for mentally-challenged kids. And that was not all. The picture that accompanied the story was even more heart-wrenching – that of a severely under-nourished boy of five, whose arms had turned as thin as sticks, clutching desperately at a pack of biscuits that the reporter from the newspaper had offered him. The reporters were shocked to find that all the children in the orphanage were severely starved and had not had a proper meal in days. Many of them were suffering from skin and other infections and had been locked together in a room where they ate, slept and defecated.

The children jumped on the few packets of biscuits that the reporters had to offer them, lunging at the food in a desperate measure to curb the hunger. But the Administrator had a different story ready ‘they were fed eggs in breakfast and mutton for lunch” he had the nerve to straight talk of eggs and mutton!!!

When asked why the children who had died of infection and starvation had not been taken to a hospital for treatment, Administrator of the orphanage, Jitendra Chavan, claimed they had not received any funds from the government in the past couple of months, nor was there any help from any NGO or other source. They also stated that the cost of maintaining the orphanage and looking after so many sick children was very high. “The ambulance charges Rs.3000/- per trip to Thane or Mumbai and we don’t have that much fund. So we lock them up in a room to remove them from the other kids” is what explanation they had.

Currently the orphanage has 18 inmates, out of which 05 are in immediate danger of death due to starvation. These are 08-year-old Gopal, 08-year-old Ameya, 09-year-old Sunny, 12-year-old Deepika and 05-year-old Hitesh (in the picture). The little ones who died without given a chance of a rescue were 14-year-old Sameer, 15-year-old Pawan, 12-year-old Divya, Deepak whose age was unknown and Ramu, whose age is unknown but what is known is that in addition to being mentally challenged he was deaf and mute.

Today’s paper reported that after yesterday’s story on the sad state of the shelter, the Child Welfare Committee has ‘rescued’ these kids from the orphanage, only to send them to any orphanage in the city that will accept them.

The fate of these kids is unknown. Like the reporter very rightly mentioned, by tomorrow, we will all have moved on to some other ‘new’ story, but what will remain unchanged is the fact that the government today has not only turned deaf and mute, unable to see what wrongs are being committed and unable to stop what injustice is meted out, it has also turned into a useless piece of liability – a government that is repeatedly elected by the biggest democracy in the world, only to make a fool of its citizens each time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Navi Mumbai Mangroves - More Than Just The Oil Spill

Ever since the oil spill happened, people have been talking about the harmful effects of the oil on the mangroves and how the green belt needs to be protected. Of course it is a good thing that people, and also the media and government, are realising the importance and value of our precious mangroves and discussing steps that may help its cause.

The oil spill has happened only now. But there is much that has been going on for a long time without being reported or being looked into. And even if something has been reported, no action has been taken in the required direction.

Mangroves are unique trees that can grow only in saline conditions. These not only help bind the soil and prevent flooding but also provide shelter to marine life, innumerable species of insects and certain reptiles (remember the 07-foot reptile that caused a ten-car-pile-up on the Palm Beach Road), as also birds and many migratory birds that visit us each year. And of course the fact also remains that these mangroves provide us with such a vast belt of greenery.

People who live near the mangroves are aware of the fact that the authorities have been turning a blind eye where there is definitely need for action. It is common knowledge that locals from the nearby slums as well as labourers living nearby have been chopping away the branches to use as fire for cooking. Not only that, the mangroves are being mercilessly hacked and even though the authorities have been informed about it many times, they simply choose to ignore the complaints.

One of the main functions of the mangroves is to help bind the soil and prevent flooding. This basic natural phenomenon has been blatantly put to shame as a concrete road (built illegally of course) now runs inside the entire length of the mangroves. And to add more insult to the face of those who claim to be a part of the authority, even a gate has been built on the main Palm Beach Road in Vashi, leading inside the mangroves – a gate without any walls around it!!! Granted, the authorities may not be aware of the other illegal acts going on inside the mangroves (though local residents will tell you much about it), but how can someone not see an entire gate and a proper functional road that came up all of a sudden inside the greens?

If - and they have been informed about it - the authorities would care to turn an eye towards the same, they would know that on this road many cars and tempos make forays into the mangroves in the dead of the night, or in hours when most of the world is asleep, only to return after some time, fully loaded, and moving away in different directions (there is always at least a group of three or four cars or tempos if not more, and also a few labourers) once they are out of the mangroves and hit the highway. Who knows what all comes in those tempos apart from the wood? Your guess is as good as mine.

Garbage is being slowly dumped in the mangroves, threatening to turn it into a huge garbage belt. Also, sudden fires have been seen erupting in the mangroves belt. Residents inform the police and fire brigade, but many times, as no one turns up, they have to take the initiative of trying to douse the fire on their own, while other times, it is left to die out on its own, leaving behind a trail of burnt residue. Also, the area near and around the mangroves is being illegally used for fish farming.

All this might not be such common knowledge among the general public as is the news about the oil spill and its said impact. Of course these things have not been so vigorously reported.

Thankfully, the younger generation and the various residents’ associations have been actively trying to do their bit to preserve our greens. Many schools have launched plantation drives. Ryan International in fact came up with an environment week where the students took part not only in plantation drives, but also marched to create awareness about global warming and citizen’s role in preventing it, and also collected signatures from people in support of saving our mangroves.

But unless and until the authorities wake up and get back their conscience, nothing will be as good as it should be.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

PAWS works actively to rescue animals, birds and plants that are in any kind of distress or are being misused by others.

If you see any creature or plant in distress, please do your bit by contacting them in the following manner:

09920777536 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              09920777536      end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 09820161114 (Nilesh Bhanage)
09882016114 (Manasi)
HELPLINE: 09833480388


NOTE: Donation to the noble cause of Jeevdaya are exempted under section 80G of Income Tax Act, 1961
(PAWS is Non-Profit, Charitable registered charity which is Affiliated with RSCPA, UK and member Society of WSPA, UK and recognized by Animal Welfare Board Chennai)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wishing You Independence Day, Still Waiting For The 'Happy' Part Of It......

Wishing you all Independence Day for now,will be 'Happy' one when:

1.we can provide a smile, an education, proper nutritious and fulfilling meals and a safe shelter to all the children... And when we can protect our young ones from those perverts and paedophiles who hide behind the mask of a neighbour, a relative or a friend...
2.we can save and keep intact our flora fauna and earth for our next generations
3.we can get rid of every politician and corrupt person forever and never ever have to face the disgrace called 'corruption'
4.when the people of J&K (and similar affected areas) can again, for a change, remember the meaning of the words 'safe' and 'happy' and know what it means to be the citizens of a free country
5.when humans stop becoming animals and abusing beasts, using and misusing them for their own shameful benefits
6.when India can still manage to save itself from the international debacle called Common Games and hope to get back some respect and dignity in the international circle
7.when the poor dont have to freeze to death in winters while sleeping under trees and on pavements, with just an old newspaper sheet to use as a blanket
8.when women and children dont have to walk barefoot for miles each day just to get one small jug of water
9.when the errant and the spoilt brats learn to respect the value of a human life and dont randomly crush living humans under the wheels of their fancy rides
10.when women in our country truly realise the full meaning of the word 'freedom' - freedom from infanticide, freedom from 'male' pests, freedom from lewd comments and gestures, freedom from groping and touching, freedom to travel on their own without a male to accompany, freedom to walk on the road without the stares and the catcalls, freedom from the fear of a male stalking at a deserted spot, freedom from the demands of in-laws, freedom from the death-trap of dowry, freedom to be married and yet remain a daughter to her parents, freedom to expect the same love and dignity even when she has not produced a baby, freedom to show the world her own identity, freedom for the girl child to demand education and an equal treatment as that of a boy, freedom from all those taboos and superstitions that still bind her growth....

There are still so many points to our freedom clause.....I just wanted to talk of these ones first...but I know you too have your own ones, so please feel free to share the same here......

Thursday, August 12, 2010

As We Push Mother Earth To Her End........

The oil spill that happened in Mumbai now is just another step towards man’s destruction of our home – the abode we call Earth.

I have been to the Uran beach before – it is a beautiful place with clean water, where you could sit with your friends and family, look out at the beautiful ships that sail ashore, the flames from the refinery reaching up to the sky.

I live on a lovely expressway, with the sea spread out in front of my windows, the green carpet of mangroves spreading out right in front of my rooms. The migratory birds are always flying about in the mangroves, we are lucky to never face any flooding or water-logging during the peak Mumbai monsoon months thanks to the mangroves again, and there is always a fresh and cool breeze gushing through the house.

After the oil spill, many things have now begun to change.

The Uran beach that was once blessed with clean and pristine water is now a mess – a garbage dump to be precise. As the containers continue to spill goods from a different continent – tea, coffee, biscuits and many many more things – locals have not spared a minute to snatch the loot. And now, the same people who hauled all the loot are complaining of various problems, caused by the various chemicals. After the media kept flashing videos of the grabbing spree, the authorities have finally issued a warning, asking people to stay away from the beaches for the next few weeks at least. Of course this being India, anyone would hardly give it a serious thought – you see, the ‘sab chalta hai’ attitude is far too strong here in this country.

I pride myself in living in one of the best areas of Mumbai, with one of the best views the city has to offer. Now that may be in an imminent danger. As I tuned in to one news channel yesterday evening, I was shocked and sad at the same time to see the condition of the precious mangroves that are such a natural gift. The Uran beach is very near my place and the oil and chemicals from the spill from the ship has reached the mangroves, resulting in the trees being charred and left as a standing burnt heap of black. I could not believe the picture as the media flashed it on the screen. The huge green belt of mangroves stands quietly in the background, a mute spectator to the destruction, while the entire section of the trees in the front has been charred. As the spill will continue to make its way in, environmentalists have said the entire mangroves will be charred and finished – I don’t want to see that happening ever. As there is no other barrier between our homes and the sea, apart from the mangroves, this will further lead to a massive flooding of the areas situated right next to the mangroves, that is, where I live now.

The fish is already gone – dead by now.
The clean water is gone – black and oily and a floating bed of chemicals and poison.
The trees are gone – charred to death.
The flora and fauna in the mangroves is about to go – dying, or the ones who will be lucky to be alive, fleeting.
The sea and all aquatic creatures are already choked or choking to death – the oil and the plastics and the chemicals all set to kill them.

This is just a tiny picture – less than even one percent of the damage and havoc we all are so serious about creating. We, the human race, have already set out to finish off all that is good about our mother Earth. We have all vowed to make sure not to leave any specimen of nature around for our children and their children – provided the planet will still be there when they are born. We are doing good, the Earth will surely be destroyed, it has already begun, and we are going in the exact direction of extinction, as we have planned for our next generation.

Are we even ashamed of what we are doing? Of course none of us is, coz if we were, we would start doing something about it...

Now the only thing left to be seen is, how much longer will mother Earth be able to bear this pain?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Birthday Candles - When More Is Beautiful

Last week was my hubby’s birthday. I decided to surprise him by arranging a surprise birthday and all our friends were sweet enough to wait till midnight and then come over to our place with a big birthday cake, all lighted up in the glow of the many candles.

Two days earlier when I was in the shop ordering the cake, the man at the counter had asked me the age of the birthday boy so he could give me those numbered candles, the one that are so in fashion now. I told him specially to give me the simple candles instead. I would put the exact number of candles equivalent to the age and then light them up, the candles spreading the birthday glow. The shopkeeper asked me again if I was sure I didn’t want the numeric ones, and then, after a glance at me shaking my head, proceeded to hand me a small packet filled with pink-and-blue small simple candles.

I remember my own birthday get-togethers, the birthday cake being brought in and everyone stopping whatever it was they were doing, to look at the cake being brought to the table, surrounded by a special birthday glow. And when the birthday boy/girl bent over the candle, the glow would get transported to their face. I remember how excited I would be to see the candles increase each year, I was growing up and slowly getting an entry into the ‘big’ world – it was something to look forward to in all those childhood years.

It’s my daughter’s birthday next week and I have already arranged for the tiny number of candles she needs. She had a numeric one last year, but this time she will have more fun blowing out the simpler ones.

I also realised one thing now. If you go for the numbered ones, all your life you will only have one or two candles to blow….imagine someone having three numbered candles on their birthday…well, you would have to complete a century for that, a very long story there……

So, in complete compliance to the birthday spirit, I will continue to use these simple and regular candles. As the years progress the glow will grow, as will the cheer and the blowing and whistling …

Monday, August 2, 2010

Enduring Friendship Day In Your Late 20s

Okay, so officially it is still Friendship Day, its 10 minutes to 12 so I can still safely wish all my friends a very happy friendship day. Not that I really celebrate this ‘special’ day anymore. I don’t. Not since I passed out of my college days have I actually celebrated friendship day with too much zeal. These ‘marked’ days don’t really work for me that well, I cant remember all of them for starters, and it is a real pain and embarrassment when you go about these ‘special’ days doing your regular own thing and someone calls and wishes you, or maybe it’s some-or-the-other of those ‘relationship’ days and the relation calls you and you end the conversation without even wishing them. That could very well be construed as rude, isn’t it?

I remember it was a really big thing when I was in school. We would be planning the day weeks in advance and there would be a festive feel on the special day. Even when I had my college friends the same feeling persisted. It was always a lot of fun going out together with your friends and doing the same things that you did with them on all other days – hanging out, talking, chatting, fighting, teasing, doing all those things that you do at that giggling age, that are so annoying for everyone else but you and your group. Of course I did all that too and of course I think that each kid should go through that phase at that time in their life. Its another kind of fun after all.

Now things have changed. The years have rolled by and some format of maturity has started to settle in.

I do not do any of those things any more. I do still have my own and lovely set of friends. But the best part now is that I can hang out and chill out and have fun as and when I want, I don’t really need an Archies outlet or a special day to tell me what is the right time to tell my friends know how special they are, or what is THE right thing to gift.

My daughter celebrated friendship day today with a lot of fun. She had her first friendship day last year when she was just about to turn 2. And this year, when she is just readying to turn into a lady of three, she had a great time on friendship’s day. After her friends left, we headed to the mall. And what a disaster it was…not that anyone is to blame, of course we knew it was friendship day, so what were we thinking?

Enduring these days when you are in your late 20s is a hazard, a scare, a pain in all the wrong places. Sorry about my choice of words but its just that I could not think of anything better to portray the way I felt today.

For starters, friendship day is always supposed to be on a Sunday. Which is even worse. You see, the messages on your cell start pouring in as early as Saturday evening, on the eve of friendship day! And of course your mobile is wide awake by the time the clock has touched the much awaited midnight mark. You can very well put it on silent and pretend that you are about to get lost in the world of sleep, but at the back of your mind you very well know that by the time you are up in the morning, your cell phone inbox will be overflowing and you will be required to delete messages in order to receive the pending messages. And before you delete those messages, you are socially obliged to reply to each and every message, no matter how close or not close you are to that person, since social etiquettes dictate that you respond in a similar or even better manner. Once you are done replying to all these messages, you begin to quickly delete them, only to receive more such messages and replying to them all over again. Forwarding the same message is also another risk, as you might end up forwarding a message to the originator, or you might miss seeing that the message had another friend’s name at the bottom, and once that is gone, you can only sit and think about what a goof-up it was – of course your friends will immediately understand what you were doing. Not that they don’t forward, that’s what all of us do, but at least they took care of putting in their own name or not putting any.

Once you are past that, if you get the chance of sitting on your comp, there would be another fresh batch of friendship day messages and wishes that you would be required to respond to. And if someone has sent you a card, you should really reciprocate your feelings by sending them another card as well.

As we headed to the mall we realised what a mistake it was. There was no parking and we had to wait in the queue for long. We did get space eventually but that wait was enough hint to let us know what lay in store.

Once in, the place was bursting with groups of giggling girls covered in marker pen messages scrawled all over their bare arms, showing off proudly to anyone who would care to look at them, those girl-women still not out of their teens and hence of the opinion that they are the hottest babes on the planet…ya sure! Its nice to be sweet and girly at that age, but trying to be hot and putting in too much effort to look grown up by wearing spaghetti tops and throwing about that fake and desperate attitude at that age is a little putting-off for me.

The boys seemed to be a little more level-headed, walking along with the girls, looking in other directions while the giggling continued on the other side, checking out stuff on their latest gadgets.

The lifts went out of control, what with so so so many people pressing the buttons simultaneously at so many levels. There were no queues anymore, it was a free for all, whoever can shove in the most gets a place in the lift first. The stores were packed with kids and their gangs looking around for gifts or just spending time together inside a store! The trial rooms were full and most of them had teenagers coming out with clothes they were just trying out for fun, with no intention of buying any. The food courts were filled to the core, with kids having taken over all the tables, loaded with burgers and fries and coke, the fine dine people cursing the invention of another special day. Too much noise and ruckus meant the infants were having a rather bad time of it all, so it was not long before all of them decided to pitch in their collective tiny voices that resulted in a jarring off-key orchestra. Infants crying made mothers hyper. So they began shouting at the fathers and telling them to leave, or to take the baby and soothe them. So many babies crying and women shouting made the toddlers cranky and jumpy, so they too decided it was okay to cry or show your displeasure. This resulted in more mothers getting irritated. And passed on the effect to the fathers too. So then again everyone decided to head for the elevators. Which were obviously too busy doing their rounds, and the queue that had formed had already lost its direction, so that it was again a shove and get in situation.

We did a little shoving, we did get in and we did get out.

Thankfully, tomorrow is a normal day, so I am already heaving a sigh of relief. Before you label me as anti-youngsters, I have nothing against them, in fact I enjoy these very same acts of theirs on other days. But I guess having too many of these giggling groups around me at the same time is a little too unnerving.

It was still friendship day when I started jotting this down, but now that I look at the watch, it is a brand new day…..good morning….