Saturday, August 21, 2010

When I see a tree being cut!

When I see a tree being cut, I go ballistic. As an environmental journo I KNOW that by doing that we are inexorably killing ourselves. In our ignorance we only see the tree as a block to the city's so called 'development'. Boader roads, cut the tree, Namma Metro, cut the trees, turn a bungalow into flats, cut the trees, electric lines being 'disturbed' by the branches, hack the tree branches off, dig for cables, dig for drains. Its a never ending scenario where we are sounding our own death knells.

In a recent Climate Change meeting of the UNFCCC in Bonn, an organization called the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) from the UK explained that “ old trees go beyond carbon sequestration and storage, and act as giant utilities providing vital ecosystems services to the city. They generate rainfall, buffer the climate, maintain biodiversity and also stabilize the soil. Although we all benefit from these services, nobody pays for them, they are for free. Therefore keeping them safe, keeps us safe.”

There is no policy in place which promises that these trees will be replaced.It is upto us, let us plant a tree on our pavements, two or four if you have the space, and nuture them like children till they reach maturity. We need to help ourselves or soon not only will pollution levels spiral out of control, those of us with lung ailments are sure to get worse and the old and infirm will succumb to the dust and dirt.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's a stunner - the Doumo in Milan!

It was my first trip to Milan and this time there was the internet at my finger tips. The amazing internet which in minutes told me what were the best places to see in Milan. The Piazza del Doumo was the main piazza of the city I was told, which is dominated by the Doumo di Milano or the Milan Catheral.

As you climb up the stairs of the metro to come out into the sunshine, the Duomo made its breathtaking and stunning appearance. I love churches in Europe for their grandeur and their intricate decorative scultures, but nothing had prepared me for the marvel of this cathedral. It took five centuries to complete and no wonder -- take a look at the detail which is found all over the exterior of the massive cathedral.

I loved the flooring too - take a look at the picture. For someone who is crazy about stone, these churches used them to the fullest extent and they have held through the centuries to give us pleasure, so many hundreds of years later.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Water colours!

Across Europe I have found the most amazing water colours being sold in all the little tourist gift shops. Whether is was Copenhagen or Amsterdam,Bonn or Rome, Florence or Madrid, these water colours beckoned and beckoned me to buy them and then have the hapless hassle of lugging them home!

In Amsterdam, I had to get a HUGE one 3 feet by 2 feet from the Van Gogh museum. Apparently thats the most bought touristy souvenir taken across the world from Amsterdam--- a copy of a Van Gogh masterpiece! You bet I have one and it was such hell lugging it home. Every painting comes in its own tube, but its only out of Amsterdam they are very understanding of you carrying such a big bazooka looking tube! If you have the hapless luck of transitting through Paris or Frankfurt, you will get suspicious looking security almost making you feel like a leper, no, actually more like the Taliban when you go through security.

This time I just looked the other way every time I saw a gorgeous water colour. Whether it was Torino or Milan, Venice or Rome, I assidiously looked away refusing to be hijacked yet again. The fact that we were back packing too helped, I might add! However, it was in Florence, finally the the sinuous arm of desire clinched its hold and by the scruff of my neck dragged me - albeit very willingly towards the stand. It took a minute to choose and two to pay for them and then- I stood totally and completely at peace with myself in the warm Tuscany sunshine!

I felt like the cat that had got the cream, as they were not that large, just a foot each in height and it was just one train back to Torino I told myself. Then they would be safe in my back pack along with my notebook computer. There is no need to plan with me - impusiveness is the name of the game!

Albert the frame man on King Street, smiled indulgently when I walked in with them. He encourages my weakness by saying wonderful things about the pictures I buy. He even tells me with pride, how many people come by and ask to buy them. That helps vindicate my fetish for water colours! And the house, I promise looks great with them, almost in every room.