Mightier than the Sword!

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Recently my company gifted its employees personalized ballpens in an elegant case marking the 5th anniversary of the firm. Immediately I recalled the famous remark from the movie “Three Idiots”, when the professor proudly narrates the invention story behind the ball pen and our protagonist from the film could not resist asking, “Why did the astronauts not use a pencil, and went all the way to invent the ball pen as an answer to the fountain pens?” – It was indeed a very interesting point he raised, as it directly coincides with the line of thought preached, followed, and praised in today’s world. Nevertheless, let’s keep that aside for now, and return to the story, so the next moment I stood saying to myself, Oh no, not a ball pen please. I have stopped using ball pens completely since a few months, and possessing one now intrigued me to peek into the intricacies of the modern disposable pen.

The disposable ball pen is formed of either plastic or metal. The body plastic is mainly hardened plastic or different varieties of metals. The refill though a plastic is more elastic in nature and the ballpoint is made up from brass metal or like-wise.

As tiny and innocuous as it may seem, the present day “Pen” or the “Ball Pen” surely possess enough power to kill. If we safely consider alone India’s estimated usage of pens, it stands around 1500-2500 million pens per year, out of which 70% account for ball pens. On an average a person ends up consuming a dozen pens an year. Multiply it over a lifetime and extend it to number of literates in India and world over. It would sky-rocket.

These disposable pen are used and discarded, sometimes when the ink is exhausted and at times when they still have life, but out of habit, convenience and carelessness the used/unused pen are thrown everywhere from office desk drawers, garbage bags, sideways etc . Once thrown, its recycling is a lesser-known truth due to the varieties in its composition, from tiny pieces of metals, different types of plastics that requires distinct processes of recycling depending on the nature of the material and type, this eventually makes it economical unviable. The ultimate destination of this cheap and convenient commodity is again landfills and eventual pollution of Earth matter.

Alternates to these pens are huge and one can consciously examine his/her usage and make the change. Pencils, Fountain pens, buying refills for pens and not discarding pens that can be refilled. Importantly valuing the cheap valuable, you will be surprised to know but fountain pens can last generations. The nibs almost never wear out when used normally during a person’s lifetime. I have a silver color 8-year-old fountain pen, still running and now I plan to make it history :).

References here

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Chemical Free Hairwash

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After a month of experiments, I am happy to share another change towards chemical free living, the homemade formulations for hair wash.

No beating about the bush, here are the few recipes to choose from to have a hair wash, with a personal name for each, please bear with my lack of creativity here 🙂

A. Black Sunshine Hairwash

Ingredients: Reetha (Soapnut), Shikakai, Amla dried pieces, Tap water

Quantity: One wistful of each

Preparation:

  1. Separate the reetha shells from its inner seeds.
  2. Soak all the ingredients in a small vessel with enough water, approx 300-400 ml, use an iron vessel if u desire extra black shine for your hairs.
  3. Keep it soaked overnight.
  4. Boil the preparation next day.
  5. Allow it to cool, leave it overnight again.
  6. Next day squeeze it well so as to extract maximum pulp using a soft cloth, or bare hands are equally good.
  7. Filter this liquid through the cloth or sieve.
  8. Preserve in a bottle.
  9. This mixture lasts for two washes if you have long hairs.

Usage: Wet your hair, if your hairs are dry in nature, a light oil massage before a few hours from taking a hair wash may be a good idea. Use as you use a shampoo.

Results: If only I could show you the pictures :). The scalp and hairs are cleaned well, it gives volume to straight hair.

In case you have curly hairs, use as my friend Diksha from Bangalore does: Reduce the portion of reeth and shikakai, to half fist and equally increase the quantity of amla.

Preserves the natural moisture of the hairs, does not dry up like normal shampoos, and has treated my scalp dandruff too.

If you want me to ask, does it give the same look like the shampoo with foams and chemicals, hoax herbal products, No it doesn’t, because it’s better not to have that superficial effect which reduces the hair strength and quality 🙂

B. White shine hairwash

Ingredients: Urud dal, water

Quantity: 2 tablespoon urud dal, 1 -2 cup water

Preparation:

  1. Soak the udad dal in water until it softens, best is to soak overnight, but 1 hour is also fine if you are in a hurry, I have tried that and it works just fine.
  2. Grind the dal with the water, until it becomes very frothy.
  3. The liquid is ready, store in a fridge if you want to.

Usage: Wet your hair and use this liquid as you use a shampoo.

Results: The scalp and hairs are cleaned well. Do not worry if you find some tiny white particles in your hairs, it’s the tiny granule of the dal. It goes once you let your hairs dry and comb them. The result is equally satisfying.

C. Golden sunshine Hairwash

Ingredients: Dried meethi dana, water

Quantity: 2 tablespoon meethi dana, 1 -2 cup water

Preparation:

  1. Soak the meethi dana in water for 2 days for best results.
  2. Grind the meethi dana with the water, to a fine paste.
  3. A slimy paste, golden yellow in color is ready.
  4. Store in fridge, and it lasts for 2-3 washes.

Usage: Wet your hair and use paste as per your requirement. Scrub in your scalp well, rinse and your ready to shine.

Results: A clean scalp and clean hairs. Meethi has deep conditioning effect and a very cooling one too. Very good in the summer time.

This recipe was prepared and share by my friend Bindu, jointly used by both of us.

References: A Holistic Approach to Hair Care

I prefer the first one, from all the three, as it does not require grinding and i don’t want to use a fridge, also one can avoid heating also, soaking and keeping in sun(if desired) may serve the purpose.

How good is Feel Good?

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What is this “Feel Good factor? An emotion that brings joy to a person, elevates his self-esteem, gathers personal acceptance from others. Then, how much of feel good is actually good. Is there an upper limit? Is the amount of feel good one can attract in life a counter to depression, low self-esteem, emptiness, loss of purpose, incompetency to deal with personal life? Why does this feel good runs so high these days?  

This flood of questions surfaces from the fact that I have been surrounded with people who are hungry for feeling good in their life, a little less feel good makes their faces awful. Sometimes I just dread them. Something seems amiss with the generation whose motivation to be selfless or free is instilled from how much feel good they can derive. Can such feel good factors hold on for long.

This feel good is an over-exercised mood element, from advertisements that tell us(esp. children) how great it feels to eat coco chip filled ice creams and cakes, to, how philanthropic deeds makes us compassionate humans. Certainly, the feeling of joy in watching a child at play, or observing the serenity of nature at times is indeed pleasant, but steamed from personal endeavors; let us scrutinize the feel good factor that rules the nerves 24*7.

Undisputedly feel good is a driving force for a lot of actions in life, and it deserves its credit to set the ball rolling. Lot of present generation people who “volunteer” or associate with “xyz groups” for social causes are highly motivated by feel good.  The high on feel good individuals are also the best bet to drop off when things are not as hunky dory as they imagined it from their fairy tale beliefs :).  The belief that everything they do in life is supposed to make them feel good, and if it doesn’t something is wrong somewhere puts them in a vicious circle. Thus, the only emotion that is selectively preached and accepted is that of optimism, exuberance or jubilation, and feel good is the underlying factor here.

The chasing of this emotion sometimes leads some of our folks to donate money, used clothes, books, new blankets in winter, and so on.  This philanthropy sometimes goes unexamined.  One a winter night in Delhi, a group of docs and paramedics who worked for the rehabilitation of street dwellers and homeless in the city enlightened me to the fact that they do not blindly distribute the blankets and have replaced the practice with bubble sheets. In disbelief, I enquired, and we saw for ourselves that most of the homeless refuse the free shelters, because some great soul will distribute the blankets each night, which they sell off in the morning to fetch themselves a day’s food or rather drugs (addiction runs high in them). It revealed the foolishness of the act, which gave positivity to some of the ignorant souls sleeping in their quilts, including me. It also questions our learning: “to do the best you can to help someone” but what is the actual impact?  Does it fulfill the purpose? Thoughtful deliberations strengthen my belief that the act of change should emit from a thorough check with realities. The fanciful preaching needs to be undone, and for that our feel good factor has to be kept in check and detached from the act of service, else this trap will keep expanding.

In the same spirit the fan following of “xyz Guruji’s” is exploding today. People are very comfortable in listening to a preacher, who makes them feel good, asks to change others, often overlooking at the consequences of their own actions. So it does happens that a vegetarian gang compares his food habits with a non-vegetarian and feels great about itself. He fails to see the realities of his own act.

Now, because schooling system has made a handful of citizens achieve their materialistic fortunes, they pay homage to schooling system and consider the utopian view of 100% literacy as their best bet to crown India as a shining glory and will go blindly behind it.

Such inane acts, if dealt with minimal rationality and an urge to investigate a little about the cause as well as what I as an individual is looking for may actually lead to some reasonable impact. Feel good may not always be good.

Irrationality rules the roost

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An upwardly mobile, YouTube and Facebook addicted ignorant progressive Indian remarks: “Osmania varsity student groups (ABVP and Dalit) tactics gains unprecedented national media coverage”. The act is indeed a commendable attention grabbing strategy!

A hot-blooded self-proclaimed judge of human rights applauds the bravery of the Dalit students, sympathizes with them and calls for more beef celebrations.

An unknown face chooses to remain mute.

The above categorization carries no intent to associate the readers with one of the sentiment, rather an attempt to introspect their opinions at the level of human consciousness.

The discomfort with the silence over the matter reverberates inside and irks me to express my cerebration. Today, as a civilized society we have reached a juncture wherein we witness greater emphasis to individual existence, freedom of expression and practice of constitutional rights of equality.

This modernity is very disconnected when it comes to religious beliefs, traditional practices, cultural patterns that are inherited and adjusted with changing time. Our food choices are also made to fall under the purview of these cultural and traditional elements. The ABVP clan proclaims its ownership to a hapless animal owing to their inherited mythological and religious sentiments; the Dalit clan chooses to hit the ABVP clan where it hurts the most. Very politically thought. The same ploy initiated the practice of adopting beef consumption in ancient times by their ancestors.

The eye wash in the media that the Dalit clan was innocently registering its protest to freedom of food choice is too holy to hide the agenda behind it, when there are reports that it was supported by the campus academia . There is no doubt that a right cannot be demanded through a dialogue process or a meaningful and responsible protest.

Also, it is high time that the milk drinking (including ABVP) clan should get their sentiments aligned with current facts about their Mother Cow.

Today’s dairy industry is supply hub for Slaughter industry. The rise in milk and its derivatives fuel the demand for increased milk production. More pressure on milch cows, thereby more antibiotics, artificial and growth induced medicines to turn them faster into milking machines. Extract every drop and throw them away when they are no more producing milk. The painful life of the modern cow is horrifying.

A video is worth a thousand words. See for yourself. Here

Today, the cow is slaughtered, because we have believed that we will die without that glass of milk. Its slaughtered because we all want leather, its slaughtered because it’s of no use to us once it cannot produce milk. So grotesque.

Hence, blind worship and consumption of torture go hand in hand, and reduces all holiness to hollowness. It invites serious deliberations by the community at large. Demanding a ban on slaughter does not free your responsibility. Nothing less than a life of dignity for these animals must be the demand of the hour.

Moreover, it is equally unthoughtful of people who shield behind some innocent creäture and use them as a pawn to exert their right.  An oversimplification of food as a personal/cultural/traditional choice needs to mature as it holds no ground in times when one chooses to ignore the realties associated with the way his/her food reaches the platter.

Animals do not deserve to be treated as tools in the hands of political goons to proclaim their rights. Such victimization of innocent animals is inhuman and must not be tolerated by the society at large.

If your food is a personal, cultural, holier issue, please confine it to your dining rooms, and not demanding more food festivals.  If your rights are at stake, demand them with dignity, do not stoop as low as the foe .

Compost meets the Soil

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Last weekend I added the nearly ready compost to the garden soil. As I am a beginner with composting the resultant compost was not as granular as it ought to be, but it gave a nice earthy smell. The color and texture of the compost may improve with subsequent cycles of composting as I enhance my skills :).

The experience was indeed exhilarating, watching and smelling the kitchen waste turn from the stinky stuff to a nice smelling mixture. This came after 3 months of negligent home composting :), as for the past 2 months I have shifted accommodations, and found it difficult to pay needed attention to the composting pots. But it turned out better than expected.

For the next rounds of composting I am contributing the home waste to the pile of garden waste that my landlord compost, so pot composting is on hold.

But composting is damn easy, convenient and fun, I wonder why our educated urbanites have turned away from composting. Pause a second when you pick up that dreaded black colored polythene bag and mix all the waste into it, turning away from your responsibility towards your city, neglecting your part in planetary care. Tidiness is not cleanliness. Break away from pessimism and take ownership towards reducing environment degradation.

To begin with being you own waste manager, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Understand home waste
  2. Segregate the waste
  3. Compost

Here is a link to assist: Click

More individual attempts at home composting:

  • Using old buckets to work as compost pots. Click
  • Composting in plant pots. Click  (I took the idea of using pots from here and customized it to my preference)
  •  An older post when I began composting, Click

Handling clutter wisely

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Nine months ago when I moved from Noida to Pune, packing the stuff that I had gathered in 4 years was a huge task at hand. I wanted to make sure that the least lands and ends into landfills.

Although my habits don’t generate much waste and I do dispose it properly from time to time. Here an approach I used during shifting, the packing and segregation of things began 1 month in advance.  As I intended to carry only the basic stuff with me, here’s are some tips to dispose your leftover stuff.

Principle 1: Resale to Reuse

Online reselling worked wonders for me. Sulekha.com came very handy.

I sold my old study chair/table, 1 bed, 2 cots, cooler, fridge, Tv trolley, a small-sized cupboard through online sale completely hassle free.

Principle 2: Donate to Reuse

Clothes that were no more required to be used, but in usable condition were washed and neatly packed, donated to Goonj collection center in Noida. Contact person: Sandeep Bhudiraja, Tel.- 9818270305, 9717270305 Address: Sector-33: R/O B-58, Sector – 33

Utensils/kitchen items/boxes that were not required were packed off for my maid as she asked for it.

Blankets/mattresses, pillows to my maid and her daughter again.

Principle 3: Recycle

The stuff that was in no reusable condition required safe disposable and assured recycling. Finding out a reliable recycler in Noida proved very tough.

Here are some breakthroughs:

Worst kind of waste: E-waste – batteries, chargers, old phone – Attero (http://www.attero.in/) a recycling company in Noida, seemed reliable as STMicroelectronics had set up Attero drop boxes in their premises to collect e –waste. I deposited the E-waste in the office Attero drop-boxes.

Newpapers/ old bottles/scrap : Sold to local kabadiwala

Confusing waste : Permanently damaged water heater, some old shoes, chips, hangers that the kabadi wala refused were difficult to dispose, I tried two recycling companies in Delhi and Noida

Noida:  Eco wise: http://www.eco-wise.biz/ I had a tough time dealing with them, as I had to adhere to their collection timings, dropped the idea as their noon timings did not suit me.

Delhi: Kabadiwala  http://www.kabaadiwala.com/ Not a friendly experience, as I had less quantity of waste, so they were reluctant to collect if from home.

Finally, I myself went in search of local scrap dealers in Khoda basti, next to the sector I lived. I had doubts if they really recycle, after some hankering, they gave a contact no. of a person Rizvan Mallik in some  Noida sector, and he collected the stuff from my home.

With this, I eliminated the possibility of 90-97% of the waste being dumped into landfills.

I ran out of time and steam otherwise, if you live in Noida and looking for recyclers do try Eco-wise they will be more reliable.

Book Review: The Food Revolution

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“The books connects the choice of our food with the environmental degradation by factory farms that pollute river streams, release massive air pollutants and exorbitantly consume water for rearing, maintaining, and, processing meat products. It gives us ample reasons to choose a low carbon plant based diet and better serve the planet through our food choices…..

Read the complete review here : http://punevegans.org/2012/03/30/the-food-revolution-book-review/

My First Book Review

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An inspiring tale: Jonathan Living Stone Seagull

“The tale emphasizes that human beings can learn a lot from these wonderful creatures on earth, and the author has drawn such awe inspiration from these birds making us re-think………….

Read the full review here: http://books.quickflickk.com/jonathan-livingstone-seagull/

Bogged down with frequent incidents of sinusitis

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Last 2 months have been a nightmare with hardly a time when I am free from sneezing, nose and throat irritation, followed with cold, body aches, chills.

It all began last year when I moved to Pune, I had frequent viral infection with high fever for 2 consecutive months, Initially I decided against medication, but considering my deteriorating condition, I finally went to consult several allopathic docs in Pune, who prescribed one antibiotic after another.  These treatments didn’t help and I went to see Dr Damle in Shainvar Peth, a good lead provided by one of my acquaintances at office.

His diagnosis about my condition was well grounded, and he ruled out the possibility of antibiotics giving me a permanent cure for sinus infection. He was frank enough to inform that a dosage of antibiotics pills followed by some 3 set of injectable can be 90% successful in curing this infection. The 10% was an alarm bell and good enough to convince me to opt against the treatment.  With time the frequency of cough and cold normalized but seems it manifested itself into something different.

Now, I have a highly sensitive throat,  left nostril is permanently blocked and once the flu sign surface, the complete cycle of cold, chills, light fever, body aches, extreme tiredness along with dry mouth, heaviness take more than a fortnight to go away. Though this does not hamper my daily activities, but it leaves me drained and exhausted at the end of the day.

I have opted for homeopathy, and as my diet and lifestyle pattern are beyond correction, a fact that my doc also concurs, I am hopeful for some long-term relief. But some factors that are beyond my control such as regular exposure to ACs in office place and Pune’s thickly polluted air add to my misery.  I hope my patience to deal with infection does not wear out and soon I can see an end to it.

How holi lost its color?

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The march of 2000 witnessed my last frenzied Holi. It’s been 12 years, and to most of the people disbelief, I was a Holi fanatic. Holi was the only festival that topped my list of festival likes, with every other festival a big turnoff, this seems to draw the influence from my north Indian roots.

The events that unfolded in from of the tremors and the aftershocks felts due to shifting of tectonic plates in Kutch on January 2001 brought shock and trauma followed by a wave of human solidarity. Our town lies in the district next to Kutch, the earthquake spared us, but we had continuous pouring of relief material, medical supplies to be sent to the affected areas, volunteers (including my family members, neighbors and kith and kin) brought stories of pain and horror. The misery failed to abet for months. The empathy ran high in the common man, spirit of volunteerism wherein common people used their own means to help others, some went ahead to adopt kids who lost their families. The after months were equally mournful, and the effect lingered and something sank in my heart after knowing, feeling so much of pain, suffering, and our own helplessness in front of nature’s fury.

The aftershocks continued for months, almost daily or alternately, we slept in communities outside our homes for those months. In midst of these times of a tragedy there was no zeal for a festival like Holi, nobody even wanted to think about it. I felt guilty to do something like that in this hour of tragedy. That marked the first year of abandoning Holi.

The following year’s month of Feb. was even more traumatic, the bloody riots of Gujarat, the ruthless massacre of innocent women, children and men and the height of human hatred for their fellows was shocking for a 16-year-old girl. Palanpur, my town and the adjacent small towns of kanodar, sidhpur have a good presence of the minority community, the more safe I felt for being a Hindu equally horrified I was for my Muslim friends. We always had a good Muslim population in our school and that led to some long and intimate friendships. Thankfully, to the vigilant collector of our district we did not witness any untoward incident, apart from few Muslim commercial establishments being burned down. My friends were safe and their properties were insured, that gave me a relief.

Living amidst curfews and rumors running an all time high, and in a condition of house arrest, the private channels like Aaj Tak, Zee News, Start Plus News were our only means of knowing what was happening out there. The images and news that came in, were frightening. Even remembering today, a chill runs through my spine of those horrifying events. I was too young to understand how could people take videos and not save people who are being killed in front of their eyes repeatedly every night.

The drawing discussions of our homes where majority joined in to parrot the RSS and VHP filled me with hatred for them, these were the same people who were demi gods in the last year’s natural massacre. The stories they brought and the hand of the high command they talked, it was all very clear to us, that this is happening because the govt wants it that way. And the common man decide to either keep mute (like my family did this time) or go gung- ho, like the RSS sevaks and supporters (same ppl who were heroes an yr back) who marched our streets and glorified these shameful acts.

With so much of human blood that flooded the state for two consecutive years right before the Holi time, and the stark difference between people attitude made that 16-year-old distasteful for the red color and those whom she shared the Holi day. Then on, Holi seems to fade away from memory.

Today when I rationalize, I have ample reasons to shut off from a festival of madness. The usage of harmful, toxic chemical combinations in colors, if not, then the sheer wastage of a scare resource like water is reprehensible. There is enough outrageous behavior in the name of Holi, such as artificial rain dance parties hosted in cities, and citizens blindly submitting to these gimmicks without a second thought.

With that, the indiscriminate Holi bonfires that further choke our lungs.  (A report on Gujarat cites, that it takes around 100 kg of wood for one single bonfire; add it up for 30,000 such known bonfires in the state).

We have enough reasons to ponder at our festive celebrations and the feeling of goodwill and kinship (and when do we actually need to put it into effect) we associate with such events. It is for each one of us to challenge the widely accepted norms and habits that have gone unchecked and are rendered irreverent in changing times.

I have enough reasons for my mind and heart not to go back into another folly. But, for those who can’t resist at least innovate constructively to celebrate such events.