Archive | December 2012

Hopey New Year

No, you aren’t reading it wrong!! Today, is the last day of the year. Normally, I’m planning to go out partying with friends, deciding what to wear, where to meet up, etc. But this year somehow that new year cheer is absent. The incidents of last few days have left me shaken up. During the last 15 days I wrote two or three posts that are lying in their respective folders. I’ve been unable to post them because I felt that no words  of mine could fully do justice to all that I feel after that heinous crime against that young girl in Delhi.

A young ordinary girl, who had simple dreams for her life, was savagely brutalized. A young life snuffed out. But what made me happy was the way the common people have taken up her cause, taken up the fight for justice. I’ve always been very skeptical about the people of my country. They’ve seemed to have very short memories, in the past. Surely, this isn’t the first case where a woman’s honour and her right to live with dignity has been brutalised? But once the hub-hub of the case died down, they forgot all about them and went back to their lives. But this time, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The people aren’t letting up, not even with all the attempts to put down the protests, by our insensitive politicians in the parliament and elsewhere in the country. In fact, they are the ones who have shamed me the most. Shamed, because I’ve been party to electing them.

So I usher in this new year with great hope, despite the sadness in my heart. I hope that the un-named girl and all the other girls/women who have suffered the brutality on their bodies and minds, get the justice they deserve, swiftly. I hope we grow into a nation who is more sensitive towards their women-folk. I hope that our politicians and lawmakers will treat  the people, protesting for a just cause, as the citizens of this country who elected them to power and not as terrorists. I hope that we become a nation where a girl will be safe in the womb AND outside it. I hope that my daughter will be safe in this country.

Hopey New Year to everyone!!

Some links about the incident

wikipedia

hindustan times

reuters

the hindu

the guardian

Nilanjana roy

going bananas

 

Stop Polluting The Rivers

A few weeks ago read an article in the newspaper, with the headline -‘Ganga now a deadly source of Cancer’. The holy Ganga; Ganga who washes away all our sins; our mother Ganga- it is a poisonous river today.She’s a dead river and who does she have to thank for her sad demise? Her own sons and daughters- the people of this land, who on  one hand give her the status of a Goddess, performing puja and Maha-aarti and on the other hand dump all the poisonous wastes, garbage, and worse, dead bodies, in the name of religion- have murdered her. And this is not the condition of the Ganga alone. Take any river of this country- they are either dead or dying a slow painful death.

I have an incident to narrate. Soon after our marriage, my husband and me, along with my parents-in-law, went for the customary pilgrimage to the holy lands of Lord Krishna- Mathura, Vrindavan and Mt.Govardhan. Holy river Yamuna- beloved of lord Krishna- flows through these lands, and is revered by the people just as equally as the Ganga.

One day, after performing puja on the banks of river Yamuna, the priest asked us( hubby and me) to take some river water in our hands and put it in our mouth( Aachaman). Looking at the water infested with floating garbage, plastics, mosquitoes and other insects, I was horrified at the idea. All the pious feelings flew out of my head. I could not put that water in my mouth and on the other hand did not want to look bad in the eyes of my in-laws so early in the marriage. I stole a glance at my husband and was relieved to see him equally disgusted. We both made an act of putting our hands to our lips and completed the puja. And this was 22 years ago. I dread to think what its condition might be now.

Not going very far- we live on the banks of the River Sabarmati. As I mentioned here ,(its looking clean in those pictures because that was just after the monsoons when the river had a lot of water flowing. Now with the lower levels of water the garbage has all come to the surface), its being developed as a river-front, and that’s where I go for my morning walks/jogs.The cool morning breeze, the variety of land and water birds that I get to see, all give me joy, but the condition of the river distresses me. The other day just as I was warming up for my jog, I saw two polythene bags filled with garbage land in the river, thrown by someone on the bridge.

Now, people of my country believe that anything that has been used for puja must not be thrown into the garbage bin but into a river or a major water body. So the river is full of floating flowers(at times, neatly packed in plastic bags), coconuts,pieces of fabric and all other kinds of materials- all in different stages of decay. making the river look like a giant dumping area.

I don’t claim to be a scholar of our holy texts, but I would really like to know where our religion tells us to use our rivers as a refuse dump.

During the last occasion of of Ganesh Festival, the government initially put a ban on immersing the Ganesh idols( mostly made of poisonous and non-biodegradable POP) into the river.Immediately all the Hindu outfits rose up to protest, to allow them to exercise their religious rights. The government had to relent but thankfully they prepared huge tanks on the river banks , filled with river water, where the idols could be immersed without causing too much damage to the river.

But I ask, is it also not the duty of the Hindus to take care of their rivers, to keep them clean and pristine, so they can really be called ‘Holy’.

And we can’t just leave the responsibility of keeping our rivers clean on the governments or the civic bodies. They can only do so much.We, each of us, as the sons and daughters of the rivers, have responsibility towards them. They give life to people,they nourish and sustain us. If all of us do our little bit towards keeping them clean, they will once again regain their glory. I have vowed never to throw anything into the river again.

So this Diwali, I simply collected everything after the puja and instead of throwing them into the river (as I did every year), I threw them into the bin. Feeling satisfied having done my bit, even if that means I have to burn in hell for eternity.

Posting some pictures of the river. I did not want to, because I felt it was like showing my ugly side to the world that is normally kept hidden away.DSCN0163

DSCN0168the garbage becomes a perching site for the pond heron

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DSCN0174floating coconuts

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Weekly Travel Theme: Circles

This week’s theme sent me looking up my travel pictures to hunt for the right circles. Found one,that is part of great many stories and folk-lores, that I hope you will find interesting.

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The above picture was taken from our trip to ‘Chittorgarh’. A fort in south Rajasthan. It is one of the largest forts(in area) in India and at its peak was also considered unconquerable. Rajput rulers ruled from here. Some very powerful and famous kings to rule from here were ‘Rana Sanga’; the king who had lost one arm, one leg and an eye in the battles he fought. There was ‘Rana Kumbha’ who brought glory to the region .And then the famous ‘Maharana Pratap’; the brave king who spent his life in the jungles trying to get back his homeland from ‘Akbar’.

The women who have attained folk-lore status from here were-

Mira bai- A great devotee of ‘Krishna’. In this fort you can see the temple that was built for her to pray and to worship her beloved because as a child she had opted for Lord Krishna as her groom.

Rani Padmini- Story goes that she was the queen of Rana Ratansingh. The then Delhi sultan Allaudin Khilji, after hearing of her great beauty, wished to see her. And since the women then observed purdah, he was shown a glimpse of her reflection in a mirror. He was so taken in by her beauty that he attacked Chittor. The Rana’s armies were no match for his huge army so they committed ‘Saka’ that is – donned saffron clothes and went to the battled field to die with honour while Padmini and the other women of the fort committed ‘Jauhar’ that is- threw themselves into fire to avoid capture and dishonour at the hands of the enemies.

Panna dai- she was the foster mother of prince Uday singh- son of  Rana Sanga. After the Rana’s death, his brother Banbir Singh wanted to kill the prince in order to get the throne. Panna sent Udai singh out of the fort safely and sacrificed her own son by placing him in Uday Singh’s place, who was then killed by Banbir.

It is a land of warriors and so, the swords and the shield.

A Morning With The Birds

There are many things, I believe, that we did not do, when we were kids. And that wasn’t because we had any problem, or there was a lack of resources. But simply because we were unaware that such things could be done. I have been introduced to many such activities, by my daughter, much later in life. One such activity is- Bird Watching.

A few years ago, she attended a four day camp for bird watching. She came back bursting with enthusiasm and with a lot of information related to birds. She had been taught to identify birds by their plumage, their calls or any other characteristic feature. As she rattled off her newly acquired knowledge, some of her enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I started looking out for birds and along with my daughter, I have also learnt to identify a few species.  In fact, now whenever we go to any place for vacations, we are on the lookout for the avian species found in the region. We ask the local people their names and then try and identify them from a little bird book that we carry with us on all such outings. I can assure you, we look really funny, craning our necks up as we walk down the road, trying to spot that elusive bird and at the same time to avoid bumping into anyone.

And we are lucky that we have not one but two bird sanctuaries within a distance of 70kms from the city. These are two really big lakes and during winters the migratory birds arrive here from far off lands to nest. The one nearer to the city is the Thol Bird Sanctuary and the other one is the Nal-Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. We had been visiting Thol for the last couple of years so this year decided to check out Nal-Sarovar.  So last Sunday armed with our cameras, caps, sunglasses, some refreshments  we took off early and I mean, really early, in the morning to watch the birds.

It took us nearly an hour to reach there, even with no traffic. The dawn was breaking when we reached and the air was filled with the cries of the birds.DSC_0578

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DSC_0589The Sunrise

DSCN0020sunrise on the lake

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DSCN0031sea-gulls in the morning sun

DSCN0099kids selling bird-feed for the gulls

DSC_0757Purple Moorhen

DSC_0765A Cormorant

DSC_0776still searching the name so any info, let us know

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DSC_0808Large Egret

DSC_0827common cranes

DSC_0814common cranes in flight

DSC_0840Saurus Cranes- the world’s tallest flying birds- in flight

DSC_0897bay-backed shrike

We also spotted Grey Heron, Ibis,Brahminy Shelducks, Comb Ducks, Stilts, Lapwings, Common Iora, Minivets,etc. but couldn’t capture them on camera.

The morning sunrise series and the birds’ pictures have all been taken by my daughter. Seeing her enthusiasm for bird-watching we’d brought a zoom lens for her DSLR camera last year and she has made good use of it. The rest, that is, the sunrise on the lake, the gulls, the little boys, were taken by me by my small automatic Nikkon camera.

Well, pictures taken or not, its beautiful to watch these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. When they taken flight in flocks, you can only marvel at their beauty. It was a morning well spent.

 

This week’s weekly travel theme from Ailsa is- Hot

My country is known for its heat and dust. We as people also prefer hot-spicy food, so here’s something that adds that zing to our food.hot chillies

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

“Because you are a creation of God, you reflect the Divine qualities of creativity, wisdom and love”- Doreen Virtue

CSC_1022A pond heron waiting patiently – at Thol Bird Sanctuary

kashmir beauty (99)A flower seller on the Dal Lake in Kashmir, just as the sun rises

DSC_0461Night lights at Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad