Monday, September 29, 2008

Live within your means...

Live within your means and save for the rainy day.. used to be the Indian Maxim...

..until Credit Cards arrived with rosy promises

..until one found installments facilities for every product that was beyond your purse

..until self made financial gurus harped on spending rather that saving..

and all this was to bolster the economy and who was the hero to be looked up?

It was the American economy.

But then we saw the same gurus with crestfallen faces looking up to see if the sustainers of the great economy (a minority actually, and one can find some of them in the Forbes List)will be allowed to maintain their status quo.

The world saw Mr. President begging to let the bail-out pass through.

We also saw the US treasury secretary Henry Paulson begging Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House.

Will this save the average American? I personally don’t think so and I feel it is not fair to have used the public money thus. Those hardworking ones who refused to speculate but spent what they rightly owned will continue to feel the pain.

But when it has been done Barrack Obama takes credit too...

Obama also took credit for proposals by fellow Democrats that added protection for families in danger of losing their homes and limited pay packages for Wall Street executives to the plan.

Whatever this bail out will do, the next President has got a lot of problems in his hands. His headaches have already started.

But for now, we better sit tight and hold on to our purses and listen to our elders. (I better listen to my Father’s advice!)

Check out Plan

Just came across an innovative site to help Bihar Flood victims. Shows how one can contribute without actually spending anything or being physically present by spending 60 seconds of one's time. Just have to answer simple questions, and sponsors will pay to the NGO on your behalf. Kindly spread the word. ( Please visit www.helpbihar. in and answer 4 simple questions.

: Plan

Thursday, September 25, 2008

International Day of the Girl Child

Yesterday, September 24th was celeberated as the International Day of the Girl Child without much fanfare..

Unlike other “International days”, there is nothing much in this day for creating any fanfare.

No cards nor gifts to gift anyone and hence none to sell them.

Many of those girl children who survived in this world still live a life with not much recognition.

But then there are many who never saw the light only because she was meant to be born as a girl.

We let a caring sister, wife, mother, grandmother die a premature death.

The world saw in 2005 through the eyes of Dr. Hoa Phuong Tran(one among many) the below:

A study in India of seven hundred pregnant women undergoing a genetic amniocentesis test revealed that less than one in twenty of the women who were informed they were carrying a daughter actually continued with thepregnancy3. Female foeticide is a direct result of deep-rooted discriminatory attitudes and women’s perceived low worth. When I first went to India some years ago, I was shocked to discover that even though the Government had banned the payment of dowry, in poor areas, the practice still dominates the life and the mindset of virtually all poor families. Hence the belief that girls are a burden of little worth.

An excerpt from Gender - The view from below*
Prepared by
Dr. Hoa Phuong Tran

And we continue to see it not only among the poor but also among the affluent and from one city to another it is spreading like cancer.

Report says girl child not wanted in Bangalore

24 Sep 2008 02:51:00 PM IST

BANGALORE: As the world observed International Day of the Girl Child Wednesday, India's IT hub presented a poor picture of itself with a Karnataka government report indicating declining child sex ratio.

The ratio in Karnataka has fallen drastically from 960 to 946 between 1991 and 2001, when the last census was conducted.

The ratio stood at 954 in rural areas and 939 in urban areas. Bangalore has a ratio of 941, much lower than some poorer districts like Kolar, in its neighbourhood and Bidar in north Kanataka. The national average is 927/1000, according to 2001 Census.

Is it not time to wake up?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Religion, thy name is strife.....

Started writing on the Delhi blast the same day but was instead lost in a few blogs &newspapers.

Roop in her post has expressed her anguish well and has raised valid questions too. The comments on her blogs should be read with openness. I had already read Nimmy’s post along with many other blogs and newspapers trying to seek answers. I have also been reading blogs and sites upholding “Hinduvata” and did feel that something is indeed simmering in our country. The Delhi blasts painfully reminded me that a stage has reached where even the Indian Muslims have succumbed. Earlier it was easy to blame it on Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Violence is never the answer for anything. No one has the right to hurt anyone for any cause, especially since we claim to live in a democratic country. Sadly the police and the governments that order them fail to bring justice. Those lives are lost just because they chose to be at those spots and will never ever be an answer to any cause.

I read what lallopolo has commented on Roop’s post and he has raised a valid point. This is not the time to isolate any community. I being from another minority community (I am now forced to call myself this name I so abhor) can understand it very well, especially upon seeing the growing animosity towards Christians in the name of “conversion”. While I do agree that there are name sake Christians who have lost all good sense, I will not accept if the entire Christian community is blamed. I have read blogs where videos of Christian conversions and senseless acts by preachers have been posted and I myself squirm on my seat helplessly. In a state like Kerala where Christians have existed for almost 2000 years (if history should be believed), one never felt the pangs of being a minority and hence never gave that word a second thought. I am a proud Indian and I never chose my friends on the basis of religion and still have friends from all religions.

So if there are those among the minorities and the majority who wants to forget what India really is and give it up all for their religion it is up to the law of the land to take immediate measures instead of resorting to cheap politics. It is also up to each of us to pass this message within our own community and to point out those who err.

I also liked what Siddusaaeb wrote…

What could we, Indians, do?

1. Remain vigilant and report suspicious objects/persons at once.

2. Use tools like the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find out about the measures being taken by the administration to improve security, besides publicising security lapses when we come across any.

3. Stop voting for parties that incite, promote and/or actually organise communal violence in the form of riots, so that there is no incentive for these parties to organise such violence in the future. That can, in turn, prevent terrorists from getting local support in the name of extracting ‘revenge’ for the communal riots.

4. Campaign for the perpetrators of communal riots/bomb-blasts to be brought to justice at the earliest possible, so that, once again, the number of local recruits available to terrorist organizations can be reduced.

But then again succumbing to cynicism, are our governments capable of doing so? Although a major section of Indians trusted this government on the nuclear deal, I don’t find the same trust when it comes to resolving this issue.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Onam

A very Happy Onam to one and all…

Since Onam has come on a weekend for us here in Gulf, one can celebrate at ease. But it is also in the midst of Ramadhan and all the hotels are closed during the day. I do hear that food can be ordered but it will surely be at an exorbitant price to make up for the loss in business.

Have not decided as yet if I should attempt to test my culinary talents or succumb to the packed sadhya. To think that a Sadhya used to have 64 mandatory dishes makes my head reel. In the present times they say one can be pardoned with just 11 items but it is still not a consolation for people like me. The only item that I can guarantee right now is the “Upperis” (fried bananas) that we bought from Calicut and which I managed to hold on. Wish I could just close my eyes and ask Mahabali to fill the table with all that 64 items.. yummy...that would be a tasty sadhya indeed.

Thankfully we are invited for dinner so a real Sadhya can be had then.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

At Eravikulam National Park - Munnar

Having grown up in the high ranges amidst tea estates, I was not that eager to see Munnar. Call it being snotty or maybe I just couldn’t bear to let anything replace the beautiful memories of the place I grew up – Peerumade.

But I have to admit that Munnar is beautiful and we were lucky to have visited it during the off season. The monsoon this year being sparse did not in any way hamper our trips.

(But as I write this the Monsoon has finally gained strength in Kerala. There are mudslides on the roads that we travelled.. and the dams are being filled finally)

The visit to Eravikulam National Park to was too good. Only the State run buses are allowed to ply inside and one is left to climb a kilometer of the mountain.

On your way one is sure to meet the Niligir Thar as we did.

We also got to see a few late bloomers of the “Neela Kurinji”.

This only blooms once every 12 years and should cover the mountains again in year 2018.

We saw the majestic Anamudi, small streams, clouds.....

I had the time of my life since it reminded me so much of those walks we used to have as kids.

Let the pictures talk….

P.S. More pictures are posted here

The show continues....

Sadly most debates on the Nuclear Deal always ended the same way; those who opposed it were branded either a leftist or a BJP. And for those of us who were neither, started doubting if we really had joined the communists or the BJP! (I am not saying that the Communists or the BJP are any worse than the Congress)

Yesterday’s revelation did not come as a surprise since throughout the entire drama, even the Congress at one did admit that it was a commercial deal and not a deal which will miraculously do away with our current energy crisis. As for a commercial deal, anyone with common sense can decipher that it would be the US who would benefit more than the Indians. And as for the Indians, we all know where the wealth is going.

But then the Congress managed by hooks or crook to stay in power irrespective of the fact that there were more pressing issues at home. But if this said letter had been revealed earlier or if our PM was not so na├»ve (I don’t want to call him a liar as yet), the Congress Party would have been taught a much needed lesson.

The answers were considered so sensitive, particularly because the debate over the agreement in India could have toppled the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the State Department requested they remain secret even though they were not classified,” according to the Washington Post which quoted a spokesman for Berman as saying he had made the answers public because the US Congress must have “relevant information”.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Year 2012

Why in the world am I stuck with year 2012?

It all started when I accidently switched channels (infringing on the exclusive rights of dear Hubby) and landed on the History Channel. I found that I was in the midst of a documentary on Year 2012 (December 21st to be precise), the Mayan Calender, I Ching, The book of Revelation etc etc. and was stuck.

For some, this year predicts the end of civilization and for others the occurrence of some extraordinary events that will change the lives of the entire human civilization.

Here's what is known: The ancient Mayan long-count calendar — a calendar that spans more than 5,000 years — comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012. This coincides with a galactic alignment in which the sun will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, an event that occurs once every 26,000 years, which could have potentially catastrophic consequences. The galactic alignment has the potential to create a shift in the Earth's poles, which would cause disastrous environmental events.

On googling I realized that this Year 2012 concept was not something new and that it has been going on since many years.

They say curiosity kills the cat and it has killed a lot of my time!

I stumbled upon many other unknown realities of life and realized that ignorance is certainly bliss.

Are we for instance aware that a group of scientists are planning (or have they already done it?) to block the sun?

Political inaction on global warming has become so dire that nations must now consider extreme technical solutions - such as blocking out the sun - to address catastrophic temperature rises, scientists from around the world warn today.

For further reading ..

Coming back to Year 2012, I would like to believe in one of the concept, that there will be a great spiritual awakening over time and its culmination will be in Year 2012.

I guess it is easy to be spiritual these days with so many catastrophes already happening and waiting to happen all around the world.

But then being spiritual doesn’t mean going the VHP or the Jihadi or the fanatic Christian way. (ah.. now I come out clean since this is what is really bothering me these days…)

When will we raise our voice against pseudo-secularism which looks at only the vote banks and not the Human Beings?

As for Orissa, it is shameful to note that the Central Government will do nothing to stop the violence.

Does any means justify the end? Like for instance pairing with crooks to get the nuclear deal (still in confusion) through...

As for the communists, they are busy flaunting their wealth by the recent opening of a water theme park in Kerala. Even if they use rain water, is the fee of Rs. 300 affordable to the working class family?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Meeting the Elephants

Meeting the elephants was the one of those cherished moments.

We got to meet them twice at Thekkady; during the trip with my brother and family we rode them and when we went there again with our friends I was contend to just watch the mighty royals.

Just like how we still look up in the sky in all wonder and eagerness like a child, just to catch a glimpse of the mighty machines flying nimbly, so is watching the mighty elephants at close quarters.

Maddy as usual has given a detailed and informative post on elephants.

In Thekkady, they have many places where the tourist can take the elephant rides. Most of them will have more than 2 elephants and the ride of half an hour will be through spice farms. During the ride one gets to see coffee, cardamom, betel trees entwined with pepper vines and other spices and you can even pluck a few peppers, still green. They also arrange elephant baths where one can bathe the elephants and get drenched in turn, when the beasts shower water upon you with their trunks. We did see one couple opt for it even in the cold weather. Ours friends were also lucky in getting a few elephant hairs.

Quenching the thirst after a ride.....

On our first trip we got to see Akbar whom the Mahout claimed is the third tallest elephant in Kerala. It was a huge one! Unfortunately he had gone for log picking on our second trip. These elephants are normally on heavier duties and these rides I guess are the lighter ones.

Then there was Shantha whom we rode. Upon calling her name during the ride she used to lift her trunk and acknowledge. Son was riding Akbar with my brother and family and was all excited. Then there was Unnikrishanan and Lakshmi who was 21 months pregnant (they carry for 22 months and she should have delivered by now). Lakshmi was exempted from rides and hence one could watch her at ease. She is being taken care of well and I was told that a Vet visits her frequently, although the Mahouts are not that impressed with the Vets. They say one need to work closely with the elephants to know them and take care of them and no “book knowledge” can replace this experience.

These elephants are trained to “bless” the tourists and they in turn can gift them cash. On our second trip our guide Thomas advised Hubby to buy bananas and both of them managed to get a big bunch of it which we happily fed the elephants and the Mahouts. (The Mahouts asked to be fed first!) Though the bananas may have satisfied the Mahouts, for the elephants it was nothing, but the joy of placing the tiny bananas on the trunks of the elephants and watching them deftly shift it to their mouths was great. We even got to place the bananas directly into their mouths. While gazing at their tender eyes one cannot be blamed if one feels their magnanimity directed at the puny humans. But the mahouts do have to be firm with them and admitted that they have to occasionally use their sticks.

We did not have much hope in seeing the wild elephant during the boat rides in Thekkady but we did see them at Munnar near the Mattupatty dam. During the rainy season in Thekkady, wild animals seldom venture out into the open since water will be available inside the forests itself, but we did see a few deer’s, bison’s, boars, tortoises and plenty of birds.

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