Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Thursday, July 30, 2009

mumbai phrases 3 - Boomaboom

means to lambast/blast away and is mainly used in a negative context.

तू कैको मेरे पर बूमाबूम हो रहा है?
why the hell are you blasting me?

and such like...

earlier- mumbai phrases 1 and mumbai phrases 2.

Monday, July 20, 2009

common school system

CSS is a must for our country and societies.
kapil sibal has been making a lot of noises over the last weeks over education reform, but not he not anyone even comes close to tackling the real issue.
this is the main crux in this article by latha jishnu.
The debate on reforming the system, too, is skewed and dishonest. Those who advocate market-based solutions to the lack of schooling in India refuse to acknowledge that the common school system prevalent in the US, UK and other developed Western countries was vital in nation-building and building egalitarian societies. While the liberal economics of the developed world, specially the G8, is constantly touted as the way forward, the schooling system of these countries is never held up as a model worth emulating. To admit that the developed world grew and prospered on the basis of strong government-funded schooling which provided quality education would undermine their arguments for privatisation.
the common school system is central to every concept of equity and freedom and democracy.

chapathi-wali bai

this was a new one for me.
i am told that this phenomenon is quite de-rigeur in thane and other places.
the chapathi-wali bai (CWB).
a maid to exclusively make chapathis for the family meals!!

the classic kam-wali bai is one who does the regular house work is an ubiquitous presence in most upper middle class families.

but the CWB is quite a specialisation among the working class bais.
remarkable... this city is.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

prices - haywire

some random purchases from today...
6 green bananas - Rs 20
6 little yellow bananas - Rs 12
1 kg cucumber - Rs 35
1 kg toor dal - Rs 100

and they say inflation is at all time low levels!!

p.s: today's TOI carries this story reinforcing dichotomy between inflation and real prices.
...official data shows that prices of cereals, pulses and vegetables have gone up by more than 12% to 20% in the last one year. According to finance ministry data, while the overall inflation rate has been constantly coming down since November 2008 and is currently in the negative domain, prices of essential commodities have been rising sharply.
In the last one year, prices of cereals, pulses and vegetables — as indicated by the wholesale price index calculated on year-on-year basis — have gone up from -1% to 7% in June 2008 to 13-
20% in June 2009. The price rise of cereals registered 7% in June 2008 when the overall inflation rate was 12%. When the inflation rate started climbing down in November and registered a single-digit figure of 8%, the prices of cereals went up by 9%, pulses 11% and vegetables by 24%.
In March, the inflation rate touched the 1% level but that of cereals went up by 12% and pulses by 11%. Though prices of vegetables were in the negative domain bringing some respite to the common man, they again rose to 20% in June 2009 when the prices of cereals were up by 13% and pulses by 17%.

Friday, July 17, 2009

DK Pattamal - RIP

one of god's angels - DK Pattamal - passed away on 16th July.
her wikipedia page.

as always - her music will continue to enthrall and inspire generations to come.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

water supply - mumbai

i grew up in madras for around 22 years, a water scarce city. pumping water was a daily affair.
the last 10 years, i have been in bombay, a water surplus city. bombay residents are 'water wastrels' - not only in comparison with madras, but even absolutely.

here is a great diagram which explains bombay's water supply.
courtesy hindustan times july 14th mumbai edition

the current situation is certainly unsustainable - getting water from 100+ kms away.
am sure that the locals there are cursing us - the city dwellers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


i was acutely pained when they called me obtuse, but they were right.

26 july - 4 years ago

vitalstatistix's fear were founded (is this opposite of unfounded?) on this floody day.

so what did i do on this day?

at abouts 200PM, abodh and i were watching the downpour from just outside of our office.
it was a spectacular sight.
the intensity of the rain was truly spell-binding.

what caught my attention was the water overflowing from the roof-top drain channels (i.e., the water flowing down the roof, is trapped in a channel from which many drain-pipes take it to the drain.
this meant that the water was collecting into the channel much too faster compared top the draining rate.
has never seen that before. knew that this did not bode well for the city.

half an hour of this downpour, i advised all colleagues to head home.
i had then decided to stay put until i was sure that the trains would run .
many heeded my advice and headed out, but came back in a jiffy as the entire exit/main road was in knee deep water.

in the meanwhile, a 'temporary' false ceiling roof-tile had broken and water started pouring into the office.
30 mins of patch up and clean up.

we then assembled all the telephones we had (MTNL, Airtel, BPL, Orange, Tata Indicom) and started calling colleagues and friends and community contacts to take stock.
within no time, except for the MTNL landline, all other systems shutdown.
and the suburban rail system had ground to a halt.

many of my colleagues had to get home to family, etc and they headed (plodded/waded) out.
most of them had a lot of intersting stories to share the next week.

finally, we were 6 of us who stayed back in the office.
then the fun started.
the office complex in which our office is situated had a canteen. and thankfully, ample emergency rations to feed the many people who were stuck at work.
we were treated to a sumptuous snack at 630PM and a hot dinner at 830PM.

sporadic 'we are safe' messages trickled in. not that we were in any position to do anmy kind of rescue act.
one of us had a serious flooding situation at his home, but there was no chance in hell he was going to be able to reach there.

we stayed dry and slept at office.
next day dawned and we did a little shopping for tea and bread.
the situation all across was still bad and getting out of office was not an option at all.
around 10AM, we got a surprise visitor.
taking pity on our 'poor' state, a colleague sent food and 10 DVDs!!
we set up the LCD projector and did a mini movie marathon.

by the evening, things had eased up and trains had started running and by 6 PM on the 27th, we exited after a 32 hour office stay in.

the city was jack-hammered.
the time we spent in office, thousands spent trapped, exposed to the might of the rain-gods.

Monday, July 13, 2009

honey i shrunk the sea

the aral sea is disappearing.

the wikipedia images iteself shows the dramatic alteration over 20 years.

nasa images tells this calamitous story over a 9 year period.

the shrinking apparently has speeded up over the last 3 years.

well, now, 96 months seems a tad optimistic!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

96 months left

i am not a big fan of prince charles and would treat his 96 month doomsday scenario with skepticism.

but there are enough signs that something is going very wrong. and many of the prince's points are valid diagnosis.

may be a 'scare' tactic may jolt a few out of their insensitivities? i don't think so...

in the 11th hour, david suzuki mentions a study which costs the services rendered by nature at $33 trillion per annum. and that economists assume that these services (i.e., pollination, CO2 to oxygen conversion, etc) in their models and think that these services are free and will be available forever.

Monday, July 06, 2009

favorite people

i grew up on this rivalry.

photo courtesy - rediff

Saturday, July 04, 2009

federer in flight


photo courtesy - and reuters

Friday, July 03, 2009

citizen vs consumer

this comparison is essentially what i would call the government school vs private school.
my rights in a government school is made available to me as a citizen.
my rights in a private school is available to me as a consumer.

in theory (and potentially implementable practice), the rights of a citizen are far superior to the rights of a consumer.
so any move which facilitates privatisation of education in intrinsically converting citizens to consumers.
the oft repeated argument is the poor quality of the government service being the key driver necessitating the provision of better options to the public.
i trust that this quality enhancement is majorly doable if we work on building a participatory/democratic framework in the schools which allow all stakeholders to play their 'roles'.

in a related theme, in a discussion with sampat, a valuable point he raised was - "who will do the labour?"
more on that to follow.

earlier posts on such topics are "state of education", "more kids in private schools" and "dichotomy of activists"