Category Archives: Environment

Looking Up

I LOVE this picture. This angle wasn’t a random experiment and when I took this picture, this is EXACTLY how I wanted it to look. I have added watermark for the first time. It might be too presumptuous, but I’d not want this image used freely.It also reminds me of my last long vacation – how I had enjoyed it!

Looking up

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‘Animosity’

Not Cute?

To tell the truth – I’m not that much into animals.

Ok. That was not entirely true. I’m NOT AT ALL into animals…or birds or insects…(or reptiles or fish or amphibians and all the other categories that I can’t remember)….

Yes, I’m all for wildlife preservation and I’m totally against cruelty to the animals, but the maximum that I can contribute to this cause is by sending money to PETA, WWF etc.  Besides, apart from sporadic spraying of mosquito repellent, thrashing of a stray cockroach and setting up an occasional mousetrap, I’m ‘mostly harmless’ towards other living beings of non-human variety (not that I’m other than mostly harmless towards beings of human variety – thought it was better to clarify).

As a policy, I avoid purchasing anything made out of leather, fur etc. Additionally, being a vegetarian, how much do I have to lose in supporting campaigns against meat?? – ‘none at all’ . That’s pretty much it. Sometimes though, I find it strange that I have such an apathy towards animals, while I flaunt my love for the nature all the time. But its true. One cannot be always appreciative of ‘life, the universe and everything’. I cannot make myself love the animals. To me, animals looks great / majestic/delicate (insert whatever adjective) only from a distance – like when they are in forests / oceans / muck / tree – whatever is their natural habitat. Nevertheless, by some ‘strange coincidence’ (Yeah, I’m a fan of the Hitchhiker’s guide  in case it was not apparent) I have been thrust into the company of animal lovers and pet-keepers all the time since my childhood. Does it indicate my destiny / karma etc to take up a pet or something? Nah, I don’t think so.

Growing up, I had to cope with those periodic visits to my various aunts’ place whose houses had members of quadrupedal variety (and sometimes non-pedal variety, otherwise known as ‘Fish’). There were birds even, at some point. Not that I was particularly afraid of these animals. What I always found tedious was to pay compliments. I mean… these animals came and licked you and you were supposed to find that cute. Or they just landed on your lap and purred and then left like a huge hairball on your new clothes and you were supposed to talk about how these beings ‘exude’ love while trying not to sneeze!!! …..or when some of these beings chittered and chattered suddenly for some reason exactly when you were trying to nap, you woke up and excitedly proclaimed (instead of shouting with annoyance) that they were trying to predict some natural calamity or something!!!  There were times when you hid into a corner and ate something for the fear that it will be pounced upon and snatched away….

So far so good.. a pup wags its tail and looks with those puppy eyes, a cat purrs and all, so there’s definitely something to talk about there. Birds usually would be love-birds and would have various colours so  despite the nuisance value of each of these there would be things to talk about. But I would be stumped the moment I’d move on to the fish…(those beings which couldn’t even hear the names that my cousins had kept for them and those that made the fish-tank and the surrounding area utterly stinky). For sure, some had nice colours, but I could never go beyond  ‘ I think this fish is trying to kill this other fish’…(which was all the action that was happening in that fish-tank). I thank my stars that they never ventured to keep some pet tortoise or even lizards or something!! What would I have said then? my head hurts  from the lack of imagination!

All I noticed over all these years was the lengths that the owners were required to go, to feed, clean and train these animals and yet remain friendly with people like the next door neighbours, people within the locality, the mail-man and sundry delivery men etc. I wonder at the enthusiasm of my cousins who have survived several such pets of various variety and their generations…

Having seen much of the pet (keeping and maintaining) world I  eventually (that wasnt really a gradual process) decided to maintain minimum contact with these beings concluding that I don’t understand them. Surprisingly, most of the friends that I made in my adult life were animal lovers. So I am from time to time subject to the discussions about the antics of their pets, where I have to laugh, nod and indicate that I am listening!!

Of course it’s not exactly like I’m totally away from animals… they have made a place for themselves in my life in their own way…

…like those pigeons that are currently in their nth generations on the loft above my house and occasionally set up a makeshift nursing home in my window-grill, enter the house just to perch on a fan-blade and then fly helter and skelter within house when chased, instead of returning the way they came ( through the wide window in the room!!).. I was once told by my brother that pigeons are actually related to dodo birds – which I have come to believe

…that stray bitch which has made the passage on the first floor of my building as her permanent home and is always positioned outside this out-of-town neighbor’s door. Doesnt wag tail or anything when I pass by, but lets me (and other residents) pass by quietly and barks at any newcomer. 🙂

…or the Myna (a.k.a. Salunki in Marathi) which has set up its neat nest outside of the bathroom window and sometimes acts as vocal accompaniment to any random bathroom singer from our house 🙂

….or a hitherto unidentified bird of spring that has been amusing itself by repeatedly pecking on the wind-shield of this car which we can always see through our drawing-room window,every morning around 8.30 – 9.00!! – cannot understand. Why? why only at specific time? Why only that car when there are numerous others parked next to it?  Is it trying to break in? long way to go pal… or maybe its trying to check itself in glass-made mirror or it sees itself in this mirror and thinks there is another of its kind…or its eating some insects stuck there …where exactly? on the glass?? maybe there are invisible bacteria like insects there..

….A crow that regularly visits us every 10 – 15 days. Whenever this happens, my mother mentions the death anniversary (what is it called in English though? we call it Punyatithi in Marathi/Hindi) of some close relative which is coincidentally approaching etc and believes that the ‘Kauva’ wants to remind us of it – and then offers some food and water.

I think I already have my hands full with these pseudo pets. So if someone wants to question my animal-love or lack thereof, I can definitely point out these pseudo-pets and claim that there’s no ‘animosity’ between the animals and myself. 🙂

Diwali and few related thoughts… maybe a few unrelated too..

Now that Diwali is gone, all the newspapers are full of columns where writers exasperatedly comment on what a ritualistic and noisy affair Diwali is… streets bustling with people, vendors shouting, sale-venues overflowing even in the face of economic slowdown, crackers disturbing people in the middle of their peaceful slumbers etc etc etc. .. and people smsing / calling to wish happy diwali, some of whom they didnt even know! the typical poojas, wasteful expenditure of lanterns and electric lighting etc etc. all in all they were happy that it was finally over…

At the risk of sounding ‘unfashionable’ (for it is fashionable these days to talk about environment and general misuse of resources and the economy while fashionably using fancy Cars and multiple air conditioning arrangements in the house, imported branded wares, exotic food  which are atleast high end even if they all are polluting the environs and affecting economy …), I’d say that it wouldnt be ‘Diwali’ anymore without all the noise and the hoopla, the friends and the frenzy!!

I want to know what is it of significance to these rich columnist ladies, who buy a Versace every month, that a lower middle class clerk working 12 hours in a private company thinks of buying new clothes for her entire family, furniture for her house or buying jewellery for herself?? its once a year or biannual event for her to shop on such a scale… for these so called concerned-for-economy women, shopping does not require a special ocassion!

These ladies probably spend lacs and lacs of Rupees organizing social dos/ events at plush hotels to help run their burgeoning businesses or atleast attend such events and write columns about them…. for them the neon-glitz of a nightclub is more economical than the twinkling electric lighting and the glowing lanterns that people hang/ hoist for 4 days of Diwali… waste of electricity in the era of load-shedding indeed!! I think probably what they consume for brunch in a five star on any given Sunday should cost more than the electricity bill of the watchman of my building of six months taken together…

It is even more hypocrisy to talk..er write about how endless smses troubled them with Diwali wishes and their fingers hurt having punched in replies to all of those messages… I wonder how their mouths dont hurt blowing air-kisses and from all that fake smiling at all those social parties… Its a sad reality that people are getting apart from each other and sms is one indication of it…rather than meeting, people text message each other, but Diwali is essentially about family and friends, celebrating together… perhaps, most of us cannot celebrate Diwali with our extended clan anymore, but their smses remind us of the good times spent together… and its good to know that they remembered to message us during the happier time of the year…

Bustling markets my foot! of course people who gather and shop on streets cant afford to shop in classy malls and designer shops… of crackers, I agree, that the sound pollution isnt good, but thats the only thing I agree with … though I am used to be awakened by someone bursting crackers bang at 5.00 am every year, and I havent yet taken the pains of knowing who it was this year, I admit to having done the same thing years ago myself!!  Yes, Diwali is ritualistic with all its poojas and abhyangsnaans at the dawn etc… but without these, it wouldnt be Diwali anymore…

Lastly, something totally unrelated to Diwali as the topic of this post, but very relevant to ‘hypocrisy’ -which I thought was the underlying theme of this post… I recently ran into someone and the topic somehow turned to society and social norms … eventually he stated that he was against his father who lit a zero bulb in the mandir that they have at home, when there were so many poor people starving in India… somehow I wasnt convinced with the notion that his father was squandering and it had direct impact on the poor people of India. I should probably have advised him to curb his meaningless long talks on the cellphone and donate the difference to some charitable organization… or maybe save some money by not smoking for a period and donate that money…. Probably this is not hypocrisy…its more of misconceived ideas about resources and the meaning of saving resources and making a good use of them!!