Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, September 28, 2009

WTF - chate gores carroll

the TOI (dassera edition - 28th Sep 2009) of today has a 4 page supplement of Chate classes. they run a behemoth of a tuition academy.
it is headed by a Prof Matchindra Chate (btw - all tuition center teachers are called 'professor' or XYZ 'sir'). i think he is a charlatan of the nth order.
in page 4 of the supplement is his personal letter to students (this was covered by dcubed couple of months ago), he writes:
In Ravindranath Tagore's poem, 'Alice in Wonderland': Alice soaks beauty of the nature while merrily wandering. She abruptly stops at some distance, since there are two pathways in two different direc-tions. She is confused to choose the correct path. Suddenly a cat arrives. She asks the cat the query she has. "Which way you want to lead?" the cat asks. Alice says, "I haven't yet decided." The cat reply's "Then follow any way, it doesn't make any difference."
and so it continues in manner which is more fantastical than lewis carroll ever imagined his wonderland to be.
it is remarkably WTF that Chate and his outstanding team at Chate classes is unable to track down such an elementary gaffe.

Friday, September 25, 2009

getting off the grid

the grid is the one that supplies a home with water, electricity, gas, sewerage.
in mumbai, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Mahanagar Gas limited and BEST Undertaking form the grid.

getting off the grid would then mean to be able to live without external provisions of these facilities and utilities. implying self generation and usage minimisation.
i got introduced to this concept indirectly through the beautiful story of dhirendra and smita, evocatively chronicled by nipun.

treehugger interviews abe and josie, who have moved off the grid. their website chronicles their experiment. with a lot of pointers to aspiring 'off the gridders'.

we hope to get there soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

city farming workshop

this sunday, we are attending a city farming workshop.
the natueco city famring blog should become an important part of the mumbai webspace. and of course, the concept should become an important part of the mumbai space.

this mail which i got yesterday, assures me that it will be a wonderful workshop:
We would also like to reduce garbage generated at the premises and so request you to carry your own plate, a glass and a spoon for breakfast/lunch and herbal tea. MNP (Maharashtra nature Park, Dharavi) has the facility for you to be able to wash these. Please also carry your own drinking water so as to avoid "buying' the same.
Kindly bring a notepad and pen for taking notes, we will be providing you our booklet on natueco farming.You may also need napkin post the hands-on session.
this is a lesson to carry our own things wherever we go. simple and elegant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

won't stop fighting

one of the most beautiful songs depicting the fight of the tribals and adivasis against the tsunami of 'development'.
गाँव छोड़ब नहीं (gaon chodab nahin).
watch and enjoy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


yesterday (friday 18th sept 2009) was alvida jumma (अलविदा जुम्मा).
it is the last friday in the holy month on ramzan.
it is a very special day as it also indicates that Id-ul-fitr (ramzan-id) is around the corner.

on the suggestion of one of my friends, i kept a fast (रोज़ा) from dawn to dusk.
this was my first time ever. to stay over 14 hours without food was going to be quite manageable, but i was not sure about staying thirsty for the same time. it goes against my standard 2-3 liters of water/day.
so i decided to stay in the office the whole day (in air-conditioned environments) so as to prevent loss of water by sweating.
so i had a full stomach of water and a cup of coffee in the morning and that lasted me through the day quite well.
i could observe that life and time seemed to have slowed down. i kept looking at the time more frequently than before.

the breaking of the fast (रोज़ा खोलना) aka Iftaar (इफ्तार) is a pretty process.
we had gone shopping to Md Ali Road, which is a remarkable place most of the year, but during Ramzan, it is just moves up many notches.
if you can stand crowds (mumbai trains its citizens well in this regard), this is a must see. especially on alvida jumma.

i am considering fasting right through ramzan next year. but that's 11 months away.

now i wait for Id.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

changing names

marriage, numerology, weird names, and a few other misc reasons are why people change their names.
as per the rules, one needs to apply for this name change with the appropriate government department and after a period of time, the name change is notified in a gazette.
also the name changers are supposed to advertise this name change in the newspapers.

so here are a few interesting ones i read on way to pune yesterday.
"i have changed my name from Banarasi Abdullah Banarasi Bismillah Baba to Khan Mohammed Kasim Bismillah Baba".

"i have changed my name from Mohammad Naushad Mohammad Aqil and Shaikh Naushad Akil to Shaikh Mohammad Naushad Mohammad Aqil".

"i have changed my name from Vilas Karamanbhai Domania to Vaishali Ashwin Kumar Panchali".
i maybe forgot to add sex-change as one of the reasons.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Common School System - some exchanges

i had started endorsing the CSS since i read about it a couple of months ago.
first post was here and then a full fledged endorsement here.

in this week alone, i have had 2 chances to engage in direct discussions with groups in defense on CSS. one was initiated by purvsoutlet and the other was over email.

the obvious exchanges over free markets, parents choice, egalitarian society, etc. were thrown around and in a healthy spirit, the discussion ended without any judgment.

the email exchange, however, went into uncharted areas.
the critical points from the exchanges follows:

nm said

So I am feeling pretty confident that the high school agenda will come back with a bang. Also, there is a popular backing for it. There is a huge unemployed rural middle-class, middle caste youth, which will die to become govt. teachers – unlike upper caste, upper class doctors who don’t want to work in govt service. These guys can mobilise votes too.

csm response

I would like to believe that, if they did not press ahead with the RTE bill in its form. The speed at which Sibal pushed it through, is clearly an indicator of him getting major brownie points with MMS (which he has got in truckloads).

I believe that their social sector thrust will rest with the NREGA and stuff around those lines. I don’t believe that it will traverse to the main social sectors of health and education.

nm said

About the common school system. Come to Jharkhand – you can’t find a school, common or otherwise, in most of the villages there. The private sector is dominating the metros and the small cities, maybe. But where the law will really matters, there is nothing much and nothing at all but govt. I think, in principle, a common school is a good idea. But there is a history of progressive groups of the oppressed opting out of the common school system because they found it discriminatory – think of the Dravidian movement or the Dalit movement in Mah or the progressive Muslim groups in the Deccan and South. It will be hard to win these people over to a system which promises homogeneity, but not necessarily equality. Typical leftist problem of being unable to understand caste, culture – or see it as divisive and some kind of ‘false consciousness’.

csm response

The CSS goes hand in hand with local ownership. The latter has to be the lynchpin around which the CSS will evolve.

The govt school system in the villages have primarily failed due to this factor. As long as the government is “mai-baap” of society, no system will work.

Of course, it has to break through the rigid application of caste hierarchies. And I surrender that the last 60 years has not been able to dent this structure.

The progressive groups have moved out of the system and found their niches and school-ghettos. It has helped their social/economic progression, I agree completely. But it has further wedged apart society. If that’s the way it will be, I will not be any part of it.

To economically equalise society, the rich will have to give up their riches, along with the pulling up of the poor. In the very same manner, the upper castes have to get off their high horse.

I have direct experience in the former but zilch in the latter and hence am doing simple extrapolation.

And so far as all education continues to divide society on the basis of labour (in other words, demean manual labour), no system will eventually work.

Monday, September 07, 2009

definition of rich

in this article, gary north explains 'rich' as follows:

I have a peculiar definition of "rich." It is easy to understand. I know almost no one who has achieved it.

"You are rich when you quit your wage-earning job and pursue your life's top goal without ever drawing a paycheck again."

Note: I did not say "when you can afford to quit." I know lots of people who are rich by that definition. But they don't quit. This includes me.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof of riches is to unlock the golden handcuffs, hand them back to their owner, and walk away.

But what if you love your job? It pays a lot, you say, but you would be willing to do it for free.

Then do it for free.


To get rid of the golden handcuffs. Do not depend on them.

success versus significance

When men reach middle age, they face a decision point: success vs. significance.

If a man defines success as being different from significance, this decision point is a big one. Mid-life crisis is associated with it.

If he regards success as significance, he may have to make a career change. Most men's careers are not geared to significance.

The larger your allocation of time to significance, the better. The earlier you begin, the better. The justification for focusing on money rather than significance is that you need to accumulate a lot of money to finance your significance. When you reach your goal, turn in the golden handcuffs.

unlike gary north, i know a few people who are rich :-)
many write on this blog and many are somewhere in the fields of rural india.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

flaws in understanding the planet situation

i say "planet situation" instead of "planet crisis" as my understanding grows.
and this commentary accuses a lot of us (including obama) of not understanding this situation correctly.

(a) It’s us against the environment.

(b) It’s us against other men.

(c) It’s the individual (or the individual company or the individual nation) that matters.

(d) We can have unilateral control over the environment and must strive for that control.

(e) We live within an infinitely expanding ‘frontier’.

(f) Economic determinism is common sense.

(g) Technology will do it for us.

(Source: Gregory Bateson, ‘The Roots of Ecological Crisis’, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Ballantine Books, New York 1972)

read it. it is long but wise.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

the thing is, i really really...

the two phrases that slightly dumb down spoken language ...
1. the thing is....
2. ...really really...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

bangalore bombers

no, it is not a IPL/KPL team.
nor is it LeT's new attack plan.

it is a fantastic group of environmentalists who are bombing the city with seeds....yes with seeds.
Nine Bangaloreans of this group called Samraksha Dharitri are on a mission to make the Garden City green again by throwing seeds balls (see box) over barren lands of the city.

The group meets every Sunday to chalk out a strategy. Stephen Anthony, a techie and president of the group, says, “First we zero in on the location. One Sunday, we decided to go to Bilekahalli. Five sub-groups were formed and they were asked the survey the vacant land where seed balls can be thrown. By afternoon, the sub-groups were back with the report. They had identified 19 roads and 62 vacant plots. We handed over 600 seed balls and asked them to go ahead with the task.”
and our favourite natural farming god, fukuoka, is the inspiration.
Seed balls are a way for distributing and protecting seeds by encasing them in a mixture of clay and compost. Dry organic compost, seeds and clay are mixed together. Just enough water is added to the mixture while stirring to make the concoction bind together. The mixture is then rolled into small round balls and left in the sun for a day or two to dry. Once dry, these balls are ready to be dispersed. Seeds balls are an ancient technique re-introduced by Masanobu Fukuoka, an advocate of natural farming.