Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Getting my kiddie story book ready!

Its been years of faffing --- I will write a book, I will collate all my stories published and get a book done- till suddenly, snap, just like that, I have decided to get my kiddy book on the road, since Yatish the man with all the talent -- cartoonist extraordinaire says the magic words-- the cartoons are ready.

I had to write to Yatish and say, just pray that the book is not done after I am dead. Yatish has been taking YEARS to finish my cartoons so I had to use emotional black-mail. Not worked yet, the cartoons are still coming---! BUT if you look at the two I have loaded you will understand why I love his work.It will make ALL the diff to my book.
Lets hear it -- anyone like them or HATE them? Remember-- its a kids book!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Comfort Garden Nairobi

The Comfort Garden Pool was so sparklingly clean, I was tempted everyday to swim in it. I did take my costume and cap but as usual, there just wan't the time. We ran from early morning to late at night, sitting through talks or writing stories. On the last day it was a toss up between going to see the elephant orphanage or swimming.
I guess I can swim in Bangalore, but I could never see the Elephant Orphanage ever again.So teaming up with Vasnathi to share the cab fare we went together to both the Orphanage and the airport. Worked out to 3,500 shillings which was worth every penny. I know I am going to write several stories about the visit.

Take a look at the pool then you will understand why I wanted to swim in it that bad! It also had Golden Orioles and Cape Wagtails flitting around its edge. Wow! no great shakes of a pool but it was sparkling clean and that was the draw!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Presentation on World Water Day in Nairobi

The group of journalists who went to Mombasa together asked me to present on the World Water Day Celebrations in Nairobi. Having done presentations for two years in the Mundus and now with college and speed presentations, I downloaded my pics on the 23rd at 6am off my brand new pink camera and decided to make a quick presentation in my room incase no one else had. Did not take long, maybe 10 mins, but I wish I had more time.
Anyway I made the big mistake of asking a radio journo to take pics of me presenting with Archiem Steiner and the Prince of Orange in the audience no less and he took TWO pictures. TWO digital pictures, I almost cried! One was too shaken to keep and just this one.
Anyway, this gives me the experience to make a better presentation next time and anyway it was a good feeling that all that experience paid off!
By the way -- the white speck at the podium to the left of the screen is moi!

Passion Fruit --- musical

Last evening I went off to see the preview of a musical called Passion Fruit. Bored Stiff Productions of the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology had teamed up with Evan Hastings, an American theatre artist to stage this.It was a fun show,produced by the kids and everyone had a good time for around an hour. It was held in the fabulous home of Renu and Sharukh Mistry.(architects)

After the show, everyone was provided with what I consider the greatest fast food on earth --- dosas, vadas, pongal the works, all made piping hot right there. Dont give me pizza or KFC, I am no fan of those, but show me our southie 'fast food' and you bet I tucked in, all diets forgotten and promises of being more energetic at aerobics on Monday was made!

Met a lot of old pals including Judy Roby and Joseph Ollapally and enjoyed my evening minus the very heavily laced fruit punch which def had a lot in the crowd slurring pretty soon!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Curios in Nairobi

How could I come home to Bangalore without masks and curios from Nairobi? So we asked our driver Charles, to take us to a shop which sold African art and craft before going to the Elephant Orphanage.
What a shop, I went crazy as usual.
The masks just got picked up in a jiffy --- one for me, one for John, one for Linsey, one for David.
Then of course how could I get away from the soapstone plate with its gorgeous coloured etching of Giraffes and the famed flat canopied Accacia trees? That went into my hand luggage!
For Andy and Annika I bought a set of napkin holders, which were carved animals into which serviettes could go. After all as Docs they will have fancy sit down dinners and these will make great conversation pieces!
Curios and me! I love them!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My beautiful Hoskote!

When I am stressed, a trip to Hoskote puts my life back on track. There is something about the place that immediately acts like a balm on my mind. Maybe its the way the plants and trees look changed every time I come. The little Pomogranate saplings fighting for survival against the hot sun, the chickoos just groaning with fruit, the Mangos all in bloom now and some even have tiny little mango fruit, the bougaenvillea and their gem like colours, the hibiscus, huge and colourful. I let my eye wander over them all, go out and pick a bag of chickoos to bring home and share, collect some fresh green chillies, or even spinach, washing the warm red soil off their roots and I am back to being relaxed and myself again.
Today was the Ugadi holiday so Narsimappa brought almond flavoured milk and large bananas for everyone. Very dissapointed that I ate nothing!
I did however stop the car and have my favourite fresh tender coconut on the road going back.
The value of the farm is huge but I dont like that massive 8 lane highway they are building to it.Its rather scary. The old Hoskote we came to when the boys were babies seems to be getting lost in all this 'development.'
If I had the internet I could stay there for weeks now. There is so much vegetation and its nice now, but with work still on maybe I'll wait another few years to really go there for longer stretches of time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wangaari Mathaai - Nobel Laureate!

In Bali there was this African Woman who floored us with her drive and ambition. Her name was Professor Wangaari Mathaai.
While in Swansea I had an African flatmate who drove me nuts.All she did was eat and bring men home and she was as huge as a baby elephant. She drove me to losing my cool and finally telling her to hold her peace for 3 weeks till I was done with my dissertation and then she could go back to all the noise she wanted to make.
Professor Wangaari changed my idea of African women in a trice in Bali.

In 2004 Professor Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her contribution to, “sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Today she is the UNEP’s messenger of peace. In a combination of science, social commitment and an active role in politics, Wangaari is a huge champion of women’s rights in particular and human rights as a whole. Famous for founding what is known as the Green Belt Movement, Wangaari explains during an interview held in Bali during the 11th Special session of the governing council/ global ministerial environment forum Bali, Indonesia in February 2010, how she mobilized the help of poor women to plant 30 million trees as her fight against the desertification of Africa.
I have done several stories on Professor Wangaari. If she could do what she did in the '60's whats stopping us women in the 21st century? Hers was single minded determination, she did not need any spineless man to support her.

I have a test on the 18th. It's for a job I am dying to get. Professor Wangaari, wave your drive and determination my way. It's 2010 and if I dont go for what I want now, I will never do it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Opera in Bangalore?!

This weekend is going by in a haze of the conference in college called the Emergence of New Media held on the 12th and 13th March and assignments for The Hindu.But I would not change the way my life is taking me at the moment for anything. I get to interact with agile young minds and whatever I learn on my trips I pass on to them and they grasp it all like sponges. Makes me more alive on the trips cause I am looking and checking what might interest these young minds back home!

Then the great assignments I am so grateful to Mini of the Hindu for giving me. I throughly enjoy them and they keep me connected to my western classical music training and help me let my hair down enough to write different stuff from just science and climate change stories.They also give me that oppor to write entertainment or I'd be bored just doing science stuff.

Thats where the Opera in Bangalore happened last evening.It was a great experience, though I am not an opera fan!Salu was open to coming and so we had a great evening scoffing cheese and red wine(not diabetic old me)but I scoffed the cheese!And the opera had an auditorium which was PACKED from end to end.

Aren't I glad I am one of those early birds always.It seems to be a disease from Bonny and Steve's looks when I push going for Mass on time, but I cannot bear going late.
So half an hour early and we had the best seats in the house!

Chair person duties!

I dont really enjoy doing this chairing thing, but having attended so many conferences over the past so many years I realise someone HAS to do it! The BEST chairperson I have encountered is Satwinder Bindra Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information from UNEP. Wow! he is a star and probably is a throw back on his CNN days.A chairperson is meant to facilitate good interaction and guide the direction of the discussion, amazing the way he does it. He also throws in statements to stir up the pot incase of a lack of response. Its a gift where he does not project HIMSELF but is the conduit for great discussion.I am a total and abject fan and hope to learn a lot from him whenever the opportunity arises.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An ode to women on Woman's day?

It was in Dubai that I first saw this large group of very young women being shooed and silenced and made to sit on the floor. It was a very disturbing sight for me to see this huge group of really young women being literally herded together by two red necked men. On checking I was told that they come on contract to work in Dubai and then return to the villages they come out of in Indonesia and wait till their next call.

So this connects with the hypocritical concept of Woman's Day. Why do we need a Woman's Day the women of Bangalore ask? We the educated do not see these women, the marginalised, obviously not educated, obviously being used by their families to send home 'gulf' money.The group was on their way home to Jakarta.Woman's Day I guess is their day!
In Jakarta there was another group waiting to go to Dubai on my flight. All sitting on the floor again, heads covered with veils, but dressed otherwise in jeans and tee shirts.Talking to them once again, I got the usual giggling response. They were going to work in Dubai and make money for their families.More than half the Emirates flight was full with them.
I wondered, what dreams would these girls have on Woman's Day. Will there ever be an equal world out there for them? Ever? Our city women think they are liberated but, wearing skimpy clothes and going to pubs or having a live in relationship is NOT being liberated. Can I walk home from anywhere, alone in India after 10pm at night? Can I come home from the airport in a cab safely when international flights land early morning ? What a question and I am no spring chick. Yet it took me six months to relax and realise that I was totally safe travelling across the length and breadth of Europe or the US at any time of the day or night. There was no fear of being attacked ever.Never mind the fact that I am brown makes me doubly uninteresting!
The day our country and men can ensure total equality for our women, then, and only then we will not need a Woman's Day in India.
Check out in the UK or Europe or the US if they have a Woman's Day and you will be told - its a developing, third world concept.
For my life time I KNOW this will never change and India will always be third world.Let's hope the Women's Bill gets passed tomorrow on Woman's Day. After years of waffling, lets hope those insecure male leaders of ours do pass it.
It is a shame and lets hope we can change the attitudes of our sons if not our husbands!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Balinese welcome!

Every time there was a dignitary -- read minister- come to speak at the conference in Bali, the pretty Balinese girls stood out the door in traditional welcome. Had to get a picture of them before going in to auditorium.
They do look very lovely though they are NOT your average Balinese girl on the street. Like one of the journalists from India very matter-of-factly said, I am yet to see a nice looking Balinese girl. The men too are very mediocre, but they are a lovely warm, non agressive people, such a change from Bangkok.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yvo my Climate Change hero!

For a whole year I have watched Yvo de Boer handle the tricky issue of Climate Change with great elan and panache. A brilliant man, very clear about what he was talking about and a journalists delight with his 'empirical examples' at every press con.Strong and sure he worked with great hope to see his work culminate successfully in Copenhagen - but it was not to be.
Yvo has resigned from being the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC after the Copenhagen debacle. However it was such a great feeling to hear him very clearly elucidate that Mexico can be a success if the 'architecture' is in place while at a press con in Bali.
Hopefully Cancun works and the world has a 'legally binding' agreement for the future of our planet in place.
The heat is unbelievable in Bangalore, isn't that enough for us to realise we are all roasting ourselves alive?

Ferns & Heliconiums of Bali!

I had to get out of the claustrophobic feeling enveloping me in the media room. Not that the Media room at the UNEp conference was as noisy and overpowering as the Copenhagen one, but still the smell of the uneaten boxes of lunch kind of got to me. Indonesian food is yummy but the smells are like our Indian stuff, and in the airconditioned splendour of the Westin, phew! I needed a break, outside, in the sun and humidity - alone! So off I went with my new pink camera, past the curious guards and the security at the gates onto the lovely green roads with the HUGE lawn covered pavements to oggle at the ferns and the heliconiums which seem to grow so effortlessly in that wet and humid weather. Take a look at them, they are beautiful and maybe to me looked nicer than the snow white orchids on every table inside the hotel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Aston Bali Hotel

I thought for some goofy reason that Bali would be like Copenhagen and so I booked at the 105 $ a day Aston Bali as it was only 5 mins from the conference centre. Booking from India I asked for 5 days not realising that these guys dont cancel that easily. They wanted ONE whole days rental if I cancelled! There were other hotels - granted further off where my colleagues were staying for 85$ and 65$ a day. However they were half and hour from the venue.Darryl and Zarine were at my hotel and I was so sad neither Bonny nor Steve could come as an extra person in Bali does not cost anything more.Large airy room, with a fabulous jaccuzi bath. I lived like a queen for 5 days!
The breakfasts were so huge, no one could go through all on offer.Tons and tons of food and all sorts of stuff. I tried diff things on diff days -- the glass noodles and the grilled fish was fabulous. I KNOW, for breakfast, yuk you will say, but I did try some one day. Though my first course was always and shamelessly Rambutans.
Even their coffee was good which is strange as most times I never like hotel coffee.
Look at that pool, it was a dream AND I never got in ever. Would you believe it? But I did loll on those beach chairs and just stare into the waves for an hour before going to sleep every night.
The Aston has its own private patch of beach-- yeah right! Worth the 105$ in the end!