October 23, 2007

In a small village in Gujarat...

We walked down this lane in a small village called Sankheda in Gujarat. This village is famous for furniture. We walked past the small houses looking at the process of how the wood was shaped, polished, painted and fitted to make swings, sofa sets, chairs, stools, and other articles.

Then suddenly, a bandi wheeled into this narrow lane. On it was a PC, yes, our very own Personal Computer --- monitor, CPU, keyboard, et al. We watched in disbelief as it was carried into the home of one of the artisans.

He told us he would use it to do his accounts, advertise his wares over the internet, write letters...

We listened dumbfounded.

October 10, 2007

Oh, the magic of nature!

I found this beautiful green caterpillar on a crape jasmine plant (Tabernaemontana divaricata; nandivardanam in Telugu) in my balcony. He had finished half of the leaves on my plant, and was still eating hungrily. I had always wanted to watch the life cycle of a butterfly/moth. Here was my chance! My friend Kobita had successfully reared this very caterpillar recently, and I thought I’d do it too. If I could pull it off, it would be the best botany lesson for my children, and the other kids in the building.

I put him along with the branch into a bottle with holes on the lid. We named him Bakasura...the rate at which he was eating inspired the name! There was a steady input/output, actually...he ate and he pooped seed-like black droppings, sometimes simultaneously! (I had earlier sowed these droppings, thinking they were seeds!) This went on for one whole day.

The next morning, we were startled to find that Bakasura had turned into a brown-black larva, with silvery white dots. This amazing transformation happened overnight! He continued the input-output, but not as much as the previous day. After a day or two he stopped eating completely and stopped moving too.

Bakasura became a familiar name in my house...he was our pet. My children’s friends came to see him, my friends and family called to ask how he was! On day 10, I gave him a ride to my children’s school, where I showed him to a group of children I work with once a week. They were excited and I promised that I would show them the moth after it hatched. Over the next few days, the outside seemed to harden, and became more black than brown. He also shrank and curved somewhat.

Well, Baks stayed like this about 14 days. I was beginning to get worried that something had gone wrong...I hate to interfere with nature, and just didn’t want him to die. We watched him on and off, for signs of change.

On the 16th day, around 8 pm, he came out of the pupa. Suddenly, there was the pupa shell as usual, AND this green moth with a lovely pattern on it. We were overjoyed..it was like childbirth! The next morning, after showing him to the children in school, I left him on the Oleander plant (Nerium oleander host plant for this moth; ganneru in Telugu) in our backyard.

Our Bakasura is now an Oleander Hawk-moth. Isn’t he gorgeous?

October 01, 2007

Practice, don’t pray

One thing that people do regularly every year, in the complex I live in, is to install a Ganesha (a NON-ecofriendly one that contributes to the pollution of our Hussain Sagar). Every day one or more families do a puja, and serve prasadam, which actually defies the definition of this word, and constitutes our dinner. We also make polite conversation with people we see in the lift every day, play games that the children of the building conduct, eat and go back home.

Which is okay, maybe.

But it is not okay when there are things we don’t do. Such as meeting to clean up a certain mess that surrounds us, to improve facilities, to plant trees, to find more parking space so that everyone has one allotted, solve problems bothering us since years...

What I would love to do is to meet to have a discussion on the necessity for 2 or more than 2 cars per family, especially because several cars are not even taken out once a week...they just occupy valuable parking space, that could well be used for a table tennis table or a play area for children, or even a gym.

All kinds of complexities have prevented me from doing something about this. So I come to this space and scream. And sprinke quotations here and there...such as this old African proverb.

"When you pray...move your feet"

Isn’t this so true? Doesn’t real prayer lie in service, in being able to help oneself, and others?