Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Living on love and fresh air

that's the dream, ain't it.
naysayers and their ilk are likely to gurgle and do allied guttural exercises, roll their eyes and do occular calisthenics when confronted with such titles.

but a wonderful couple are treating money like it should air. free to come and go.
such brilliance is feet-putting level. read and smile and plan to do the same :-)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

courage against all odds

the agro-crisis in the vidarbha region of maharastra has been well captured.

in the midst of this, there is a story of rare spunk and belief.
of bhushan 'baba'
In 2003, after his father’s suicide in Wardha’s Umri village, Bhushan was forced to quit school while in the sixth standard and take over the reins of the family. “I was the eldest; my two brothers were very small. I had to take up the responsibility,” he says simply.
“I’ll prove my father wasn’t wrong when he took up farming, I’ll bring my family out of debt,” says Bhushan, who took over the family farm at barely 13 years of age when his father committed suicide in 2003.
heroism or fool-hardiness?
whatever be the answer, bhushan is from the breed of heroes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

train mania

i love travelling by trains. the good man, ludwig, is another avid train traveller.
but i found a whole bunch of people who (love travelling by trains)^n.

sample this trivia from them:

Q. When did the first train run in India?

The customary answer to this question is 3:35pm on April 16th, 1853, when a train with 14 railway carriages and 400 guests left Bombay's Bori Bunder for Thane, with a 21-gun salute. It was hauled by three locomotives: Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. The journey took an hour and fifteen minutes.

That, however, was just the first commercial passenger service in India. In fact, a steam loco, Thomason, had been used for hauling construction material in Roorkee for the Solani viaduct in 1851 (it began working there on 22nd December 1851, to be exact). The Solani viaduct construction was a part of the Ganges Canal project, started in 1845.
welcome to the site of the month. the indian railways fan club.
the trivia page is (fascinating)^n. sample this.
Currently, the trains with the most locomotive changes are the 6381/6382 Mumbai CST-Kanniyakumari Express (CST-Pune is hauled by an electric loco, Pune-Renigunta by a diesel, Renigunta-Ernakulam by an electric again and Ernakulam-Kanniyakumari by a diesel) ...
and so much more on the main navigation page.

am travelling on Indian Railways over this weekend and the over 3 hours on this site has left an indelible impact.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2 cities - 2 book meisters -same story

in what i consider a staggering connection, 2 iconic bookmen and keepers of the literary health of the the city move on.
Mr. TN Shanbhag of the Strand Book Stall in Mumbai passes away.
Mr. TS Shanbhag of the Premier Bookshop in Bengalooru closes down.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

more kids in private schools

at least in TN and Mah, reports the TOI.
i think that the govt is tacitly allowing this to happen so that they have one less item to bother about.
Between 2002-03 and 2007-08, Maharashtra started 1,874 new public schools.
The Tamil Nadu government set up 3,139 schools between 2002-03 and 2007-08 under the SSA.
But simlutaneously, they have allowed the setting up of many private schools as well.
this shift is quite prevalent and strong in the cities, but now the trend has moved into the villages.
this is a trend which bothers me. there are several proponents for privatising education, but i don't buy that line.
the other bothersome trend is the shift in population from rural to urban.

Monday, March 16, 2009

dharavi slum?

no, say the residents and the airoots team over the slumdog/dharavi issue.
The Indian media widely reported popular outrage at the word ‘dog’. But what we heard from Manju Keny, a 19 year - old college student living in Dharavi - was something else. She was upset at the word ‘slum’.

We could not agree more.

it is a "user-generated" city
Dharavi is the ultimate user-generated city. Its urban and economic development relies on the intensive use of social networks and communities. Each of Dharavi’s 80 plus neighborhoods has been incrementally developed by generations of residents updating their shelters and businesses according to needs and means. This organizational logic is neither new nor unique to Dharavi, but we have never been in a better time to understand it. Just as the development of open source software requires guidelines and coordination; all Dharavi needs is some support from the government – mostly in the form of giving its functioning some legitimacy by providing the same services as in any other part of the city– and then trusting its inhabitants to continue from there.
the urban typhoon and are other fabulous places to be to learn more on dharavi.
the population density stats are just staggering
Dharavi is an extremely dense environment. A recent survey by the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA) established that a central area of Dharavi (Chamra Bazaar) contained densities of up to 336,643 people per square kilometer! Assuming a population of 700,000, the population density in Dharavi would be around 314,887/km². This is 11 times as dense as Mumbai as a whole (the most densely populated city in the world with 29,500 people/km²) and more than 6 times as dense as daytime Manhattan (about 50,000 people/km²).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

kanji - soul food

Kanji in Tamil, Kaanji in Hindi (Porridge) is a healthy, nutritious breakfast.
there are millions of different ways of preparing it.
we have always had this mix prepared and sent by our parents. this time we decided to prepare them from first principles.

here is our recipe.







Finger Millet






சம்பா கொதுமை

Broken Wheat




Pearl Millet




Soya Beans


मूंग दल

பச்சை பயிர்

Green Lentil

Moong Dal


மக்க சோழம்

Corn (Maize)




Horse Gram


Red Rice

चन्ना दल

போட்டு கடளை

Fried Gram Dal

साबुत दाना

ஜவ் அரிசி

Pearl Sago










table is under construction and needs some more gap-filling and verifications.
take equal amounts of all the grains and pulses. we did 250 gms of each item (except elaichi and badam - these are for taste and flavour)
the ragi and moong dal needs to be soaked overnight to allow for sprouting.
dry these 2 in the sun. ragi is the most beautiful grain.

dry roast all the grains/pulses separately (over medium/slow flame) in a thick bottomed pan. roast them till they become कड़क (crisp). test by popping them into mouth.
while roasting, do check out the smells. divine.
i added 4-5 badams and elaichi pods with each roasting batch.
cool the grains. mix them together and then grind them into a coarse powder. we did the grinding at a nearby chakki mill for a princely sum of Rs.10.50 (for 3 kilos). these mills were a wonderful part of our childhood (when there were no ready made flours in fancy supermarkets).

storage is best in fridgid environments. else likely germ infestation possible.

for making the kanji, dissolve 2-3 tbsps of the powder in cold/luke warm water. stir vigourously to dissolve the lumps (technically it does not 'dissolve').
then keep on low flame till it boils. keep stirring occassionally to prevent coagulation/lumping.
at the end, add little milk and sugar/jaggery.

healthy, nutritious and yummy kanji ready.

Monday, March 09, 2009

WTF - salaried home-makers?!

in one of the most interesting absurdities to come into our space:
Kerala housewives demand pay from govt

simply staggeringly LOL funny.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

volunteering at the local farm - 3 and 4

after day 2 and day 1 here at our service farm, i have some simple comments to share from our work from day 3 and 4 over this weekend.
1. eat a proper meal min of 4 hours before any serious manual work.
2. use both your sides equally to use/build muscles.
3. सफाई काम is a unmatched way to get kids energised.
4. cold water baths are better than hot water. especially after physical work. tough but it is good that summer is on us now :-)
5. practice does make perfect. my digging is now quite upto the mark.
6. allow kids to settle their disputes themselves. works very well indeed. do not interfere with your own value system. like tolstoy did as a headmaster. (superb book, please do read).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

life expectancy calculator

i know.
how can we do something like that??

but here is a good place to check it out:
there is another concept called virtual age - which is a reflection of your health and vitality. The lower it is, the better shape you are in. It is used to calculate the Life Expectancy of someone of your physical age.

My scores:
Biological Age - 34
Virutal Age - 12.9
Life Expectancy - 95.1

i moved the scales up and down to follow the impact of factors and found that genetic components contribute the most.

once you are done with all this, read the articles on the very same site.
some are truly special like "letting go".

hat tip: daily good

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gem from 1908

from the archives, atanu at deesha has dug up a brilliant old article - The New Nationalist Movement in India.

written by an british-canadian (guessing) in 1908 and was published in an American journal. it is long, but is a fantastic read and offers many insights which are quite relevant even today.

i tried to display parts of it on this page, but could not pick any part over any other.
it is a must read for its spread, its prose and observations.

Monday, March 02, 2009

sarang alternative school

a beautiful concept - The Sarang School- is:
...the practice of life of a modern species that can live and let live. Education happens everywhere, 24 hours X 365 days. Anything that we hear, see, touch, taste or smell, making a change within us, is part of our education. Movies, ads, news, speeches, performances, people; all that interacts with us is part of our education. In today’s fast-changing world a static system is not the way to real education.
their brand ambassador
Gautham Sarang (28) is the only child who could go through Sarang’s curriculum continuously. He has traveled extensively as part of his studies and handles six languages with ease. He has worked as a contract labourer, photographer, milkman, taxi driver, blacksmith, percussionist, actor, skilled labourer, web designer, and project coordinator, as part of his education and to support the large Sarang family. Anuradha (Inset) completes him.
in a beautiful location which they have nourished.

dreaming a lovely dream
Sarang is a rural university in its early infancy which dreams of a society of self reliant individuals. Sarang’s goal is to prepare the next generation to live fulfilling lives using minimal resources. We dream of a rural university, proposing no degrees or certificates, but offering a space to learn to cope with life and all its myriad hues and tones.
would i love to teach at Sarang?