Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jean Webster's 'Daddy-Long-Legs'

Ever read this novel? You have missed something! When Indrani wrote about hand-written letters, I couldn't help but remember Judy (nee)Jerusha Abbott.
I was happy to get it back from a friend just the other day, and Judy accompanied me all the way from Coimbatore to Chennai.
Read more about the book here, and get a preview here.
Though you may be able to read it online here, courtesy Project Gutenberg, you'll know that it can't equal the feel of curling up cosily well away from the computer, with a favourite cuppa in one hand and a book in the other...
[Then you'll what inspired the title Mummy long-legs...]

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Trees at temples

A pipal tree is usually found in front of temples. Sometimes a combination of two or more species (pipal / jackfruit / mango) mark the entrance to bigger and older temples in Kerala. (In Tamil Nadu you are likely to find combination of pipal and neem trees). It's interesting to see the canopy of mixed foliage, and the different barks growing entwined from their respective roots.
The pipal-mango combine is sometimes called 'Almavu' (intended as a pun for the word for soul in Malayalam).
Pictures of some of them taken during a 'Nalambalam Yatra'. Please click on picture for better views.

The tree(s) at Bharata temple, Koodalmanikyam, Trissur District

The tree(s) at Lakshmana temple, Moozhikulam, Trissur District
The tree(s) at Shatrughna's temple, Payammel, Trissur District.
This kind of parallel coexistence with intertwined barks and roots is likely because the pipal grows easily out of crevasses.
Actual Marriages of trees, and marriage with trees are religious customs in India.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mummy-Long-legs?


This is a common house spider in South India, seen here with her egg sac. If I am right, she is H. venatoria - read about this species here.
Ever since I set eyes on them, though, I have always yelled out 'Tarantula!' and my wonderful M-I-L would deftly collect them within the bristles of a broom and encourage the leggy creature to set up camp in the garden.
Now I don't mind them - they are willing caretakers of a lonely house...

Camera Critters
Afterthought - CC means camera-critters, not creepy crawlies! :)

PS 1. In case you are not yet spider-wise, Daddy-long-legs is actually a spider that does not look much different from the web it weaves.
PS 2. But another Daddy-Long-Legs is one of my favourite companions, and is put up in a shelf, too. More about that later!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Denmark has shown the way!

Hail the Danes!
Now we know for certain that those who continue to deny that global warming is real, and those who think that efforts to combat climate change should begin with the neighbour, are all lazy ignoramuses, acting like ostriches.
Political will alone is enough to bring about a positive change. This applies equally to economic giants and growing economies. Where one eagle eyes untapped oil wells as the solution for energy crises, others think that they should be spared the emission obligations because they are 'growing'.
By introducing more oil-related taxes, CO2 taxes, and building-and-appliance efficiency standards, Denmark has enabled its economy to grow, but also managed keep energy consumption levels almost the same. Since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, Denmark has systematically focused on energy discipline, and today they are energy-independent. Here are just a few innovations that Danes came up with.
- Lights that operate on energy-saving motion detectors
- Flushing cisterns with two flow settings
- Dedicated bike lanes, so more people use cycles to work, rain or shine
- Recycling waste heat for home heating needs
Hope our netas stop yapping about the 'energy needs of a growing economy', and get down to the real business of taking a few harsh decisions. They should of course impose those decisions on themselves first.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Redefine fatherhood, Mr Yamada

Dear Mr Ikufumi Yamada
Your daughter Baby Manji waits for you to take her home. It is likely that you are taking all efforts to work out the legalities, (your baby, born of donated eggs, delivered by a surrogate mother in India, and therefore Indian citizen by birth). "Indian law does not allow the adoption of a girl by a single father". But you don't have to adopt - whoever heard of adopting one's own?
So I await an update in the news, about how you arrived to escort Baby Manji back to Japan. I had read this poem long ago: "Why God made little girls"- you'll soon find out, when you take Manji home.

"God made the world with towering trees,
Majestic mountains and restless seas.
Then paused and said , "It needs one more thing...
Someone to laugh and dance and sing.
To walk in the wood and gather flowers...
To commune with nature in quiet hours."
So God made little girls
With laughing eyes and bouncing curls,
With joyful hearts and infectious smiles,
Enchanting ways and feminine wiles.
And when He'd completed the task He'd begun.
He was pleased and proud of the job He'd done.
For the world, when seen through little girl's eyes
Greatly resembled Paradise."


Best wishes to you and Manji,
from
Manji's wellwishers.
PS: You can use http://translate.google.com/translate_t?sl=en&tl=ja, to read the message in this letter.

Link to newspaper story: The Hindu, 07 Aug 2008

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A home, far from the madding crowd

I have written earlier, and posted several pictures of this green campus. All day long birds sing, leaves rustle in the breeze, and branches sway to the wind, and this music more than makes up for the highway din, also filtering in through the window.
At daybreak and dusk, a real orchestra breaks out from a couple of generously-canopied banyan trees as crows, mynahs, cuckoos, warblers, sparrows and several other common garden birds of India exchange the day's notes, chirping nineteen to the dozen. You can't help but listen to distinct altos, sopranos and tenors as they blend to cheer even tone-deaf ears...
Those banyans must be the equivalent of dense urban neighbourhoods, for why else would a pair of mynahs choose a functioning street lamp to make their home? Have a look at this lamp that stands by our gate.
From where I watched them, the mynah's house looks quite inviting and cosy...





Note the inverted arch that serves as the threshold, and the warm glow that pervades by night, and the comfortable shade by day. I should remember to enlist this couple's services when we decide on building a nest for ourselves.
If you feel like writing to them, or sending them house-warming or christening gifts, here's their address -
Lamp-post No 3,
SP-3, Main Road,
CBE-641401
Phone (pp) - 0422-268xxxx
You're also welcome to visit my winged neighbours any time...
Update: When I called the electrician and explained the dimness of the street light, I was warmed by the response. "Madam, why don't we wait till the young ones leave the nest?"


Camera Critters

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Coimbatore's 88888 campaign

Coimbatore city has its own share of do-gooders, Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore, Siruthuli, Exnora International are a few action groups that do their bit, and show others the way to better civic and environmental sense.
Following on the lines of the Earth Hour observed by several cities, Coimbatore district Exnora has suggested that lights be switched off for 8 minutes at 8 pm on 08 Aug 2008. Small beginning, but commendable nevertheless.
(The timing will coincide with the commencement of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, scheduled for 8:08:08 pm, on 08-08-2008)

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