Monday, November 15, 2010

Diesel guzzling monsters!

Three cheers for Jairam Ramesh, our environment minister here in India.After hearing him speak in Copenhagen last year during COP 15, his new stance on diesel guzzling SUV's that are more a status symbol than a convenience, is like a breath of fresh air supporting our eternal rant, as environment journos. Never have we had a minister come out so blatantly to hit out on these vehicles that guzzle diesel which is actually heavily subsidized for the poor farmer by the government.

So to cash in to these subsidies, these huge cars run on diesel and clog our roads and crush all the smaller vehicles through sheer dint of size. Most often there is just one macho male in it, looking down on us 'lesser' mortals from his raised platform of a seat.

If the government taxes diesel now, I hope it throws these cars out of the country for good. In Europe most people have gone back to the system of one car per household, several cycles and public transport is used by every family including those with babies. In Stockholm where we were housed for COP 15, we took a really fast train which took us into Copenhagen in 20 minutes! We walked to the station but naturally,but we saw the locals cycle to the station on regular, ordinary cycles, lock them in the stand for the day, ride the train into Copenhagen to work and then returned later in the night to ride the cycle back home once again!But naturally the roads in Malmo were virtually empty!

Take a look at the pics I have uploaded of Malmo station where we caught our train. The hundreds of cycles are mind boggling and we wondered how people could spot their bikes in the dark esp since in winter it grew dark by 4pm!

I admired their determination in that freezing cold. When are we going to imitate them? Only by 2050?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My book reading in Bethany School!

On the 8th morning, bright and bushy tailed at 8am Bonny and I went off to Bethany for my book reading. There was a special assembly and I was the chief guest! Wish I knew cause I just went dressed in a sweater and jeans!Should have realised, Aakash Rayall the principal has been an old and valued friend and he introduced me to his school like that!

Felt so good and he also said my Mum had taught him English in FAPS and had been the best English teacher he had ever had! I sat alongside his Mum and Bonny in the large and well built school auditorium which was totally state-of-the-art!Instead of carrying a big banner, I can just take a soft copy of it and use their projector to 'throw' a large image of it on the screen already provided.

It was a great morning, all the kids enjoyed my cover story about the One -eyed ogre and I sold 100 books immediately.

My next reading for the junior school is slotted for the 19th November and that should be even nicer than the one already done for the older kids.

The head mistress said she LOVED the book and she was sure the kids would love it too! Yipeeee!

Hoskote in the rains!

We went to Hoskote or 'housecoat' as Andrew calls it to let him see how he trees and place has evolved. He was very pleased to see the chickoo trees loaded with fruit and a whole patch of chillies growing and full of chillies.

My brand new hibiscus which I took from home and planted there is naturally thrilled to bits to be in the ground rather than a pot and is flowering plate sized blooms as you can see in the picture.

I am very very happy that ONE croton from Hayes Road, which my grandfather had planted there has thrown new leaves and looks well. Picture shows the fresh new spotted green and yellow leaves. Bangalore always had great varieties of crotons which seem to have gone out of fashion in Bangalores gardens now!

Dads Rose apple plant which he had growing in an old bucket in the garden has grown rapidly into a tree and is full of the pretty feathery white blooms you can see. I am sure it fruits but we dont see any cause Narsimappas kids demolish them and the pomogranates before we get to see them!

Got him to dig around the borewell so the rain water percolates down and replen ishes the ground table.All along the property too he has dug pits to collct the rain and let it percolate into the land. " Not a drop that falls here can run off he says," with a huge smile, cause he knows how rabid I am about replenishing the ground table.

The village pond too looks quite smashing with lots of brown muddy water filled up and cows and buffaloes swimming merrily in it. I convinced them to dredge the pond during the dry season which has helped. Education is the key, otherwise the farmer just leaves his pump on and drains out all the ground water in his ignorance.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Black naped Orioles are here!

Isn't the bird something to look at? I remember a long time ago my Dad had shown me the bird and I was fascinated by its colour. Plus the fact that anything so beautiful was for real!

I particularly love this picture which has caught the bird in his favourite past time - eating fruit. Here it is definitely making a meal of the luscious mango it happened to get lucky to find ripe on the tree!

My Doc son Andrew says "Grandpa showed me the bird once or twice on Convent Road as he held my hand and took me to school." Guess at that time I was not so educated on the fact that these birds are migrants from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and can be seen mostly in the Western Ghats and South India at this time. That is why we get lucky and are able to see them in the less congested parts of the city and outside.

Ripe mangoes for Christmas?

It's been bugging me -- seeing the mango tree in VF David's compound out of my bedroom window covered with flowers from the beginning of October. Now at the end of October look at the pic -- the tree is loaded with mangos! Thats weird cause we all know mangos are seasonal and are a summer fruit available only from April to the end of May or early June. NEVER ever did mangos fruit in October!

Talking to a senior botanist, Mr Yellappa Reddy he explained that the trigger for mangos to flower is heat, and we can all see how hot it has become in Bangalore even in October. The trees nearer large arterial roads are affected more than those in interior residential areas with the heat of idling traffic during traffic jams.

If this is not a true pointer to Climate Change for all those sceptics out there then nothing can convince them, as they do not want to be convinced.