Monday, May 30, 2016

Killing of Zoo Animals - Protection or Crime ?

Two incidents of zoos which killed animals to protect intruders is disturbing.  For different reasons :  one, why are the animals killed when the intruders are at fault and two, who is primary in a zoo ?

The reasons these questions need to be asked are in light of the following.  First, a wild animal being brought to the zoo and kept there for public display - the idea itself is wrong.  Why do we have a zoo except in cases where protection of the animal/species is at stake.  

Second, given that intruders are human beings does not change who has the first right in a zoo.  The right place of animals is the forest, which we eat up by the minute in the name of advancement.  

Third, a visit to the zoo is sickening many a time.  The size of the cages, the stink because of poor upkeep, the minimal area demarcated to each animal, and more agonizing is the way human beings treat the animals.  The squeaks, calls besides throwing food and calling names.  The above reasons call for removing zoos except for keeping old animals that attack human beings in conflict areas, abandoned animals and endangered species that require protection for survival.

Umpteen are the cases where animals are caught to be taken to a zoo.  There are cases of elephants being caught to be trained to be kumkis and where the court has accepted the same.  Using abandoned calves is one thing, but catching grown elephants from the wild and training them to be kumkis is nothing less than traumatic.  Ask any wildlife expert on behaviour of elephants and they would substantiate.

I, personally, side with the animals and their right to atleast live in the confines of a man-made prison into which they are thrown.  Read the below links and it will make you wonder, whether we, mankind are on the right path when it comes to animal rights.

Human beings who try to proselytize a lion needs no mercy.  It is the lions who need help.  Is it not enough that we wage wars in the name of religion ??  Is it not enough that we brew hatred among ourselves trying to convert one to another religion ? Do we need to convert and teach the same stupidity to the rest of the animal kingdom too ?

A drunk man who climbs to a lion enclosure and tells the lioness Radhika, “Please come to me my darling. Please.” can only invite Krishna, her husband's wrath.  

A suicidal man caused the death of two lions who were just being lions.  Feel bad for the man's condition, but the lions did not have a clue, did they ?

And yesterday, the case of Harambe, a 17 year old handsome gorilla because a mom did not bother to watch her kid carefully.

Do we have the right to kill or should we leave it to nature to battle it out in such cases ?

What is even more painful is the words of the Zoo Director and the statement of the family as quoted in the news.

Zoo :
Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard said: “The choice was made to put down, or shoot, Harambe, so he’s gone.
“We’ve never had a situation like this at the Cincinnati Zoo where a dangerous animal needed to be dispatched in an emergency situation.”
-> dispatched - it is not a product that your ordered/bought on an e-com site.
Family :
"We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time."
The family is granting no interviews, and this is the only statement that will be issued. Thank you."

-> the gorilla is theirs, as is the loss but I want my privacy.  Does not matter to them, I guess.

I am reminded of the laws in the Eravikulam National Park, Munnar, India where the Nilgiri Tahr is supreme - a park we visited in 2002.  The park spans across hectares of wild where the Nilgiri Tahr can be seen in its own home.  One is constantly reminded not to touch the animal or move out of the road nor pick a stone or leaf.  It is an offence that is punishable.  Further, you are told that the animal can touch you but you cannot touch them.  The park has made a name in the area of conservation by enforcing strictly the above rules - there is a story of an officer who arrested/fined a set of students who broke the rules despite repeated warnings.  The Tahr which number a few hundred was brought back from extinction to a healthy population of 10,000 today.  One can only hope that the rules are followed in letter and spirit not just in Eravikulam but the world over to ensure wildlife protection.  It is not their survival that is at stake, but our own.     

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Signature Campaign

Nearly twenty years ago, when we were on the last leg of our post-graduation, someone came up with the idea of signing up with our birth dates.  What we found we could write on was just a set of tissue papers.  So, we started signing up on tissue papers.  It is one of my most treasured possessions.  Miss you all, my friends.  What is it about school and college friends ?  No matter how much time goes by, you can be just you, confident that they will understand......    

Friday, May 27, 2016

Size Zero - not natural

After seeing advertisement after advertisement portraying perfect bodies as though they were sculpted, the following one in today's newspaper was a refresher.  Maybe, I am noticing it only now.  

Still most advertisements are the stereotyped ones.  Despite many stores, normal/chain/boutique, having clothes for all sizes, advertisements will show only perfectly sculpted bodies, whether men or women.  Even children are not spared.  One wonders what it is about the human psychology that wishes to have perfect figures.  There are brands catering to the mentality too.  When in the US, a friend told me how the particular store we were standing in front of, in New York, catered only to the young and thin.  Not just to the young.  The owner of the line conformed to the idea and had no qualms about publicizing it either.  

From a young age, children are brought up to think that size 'zero' is the right and perfect body size.  Same with skin colour.  Many of those who do not have, grow up with a feeling of imperfection and consciously or unconsciously aspire to have one.  Isn't this an unnecessary pressure to add to the pressure of growing up, giving exams and trying to follow your dreams.  

Many a time I find young bright minds, being cowed down under the pressure of the physical.  They wear loose clothes, dark clothes, long clothes.  Many put on weight due to health issues over which they have no control.  Some do by eating unhealthy.  Skin colour on the other hand is definitely not in our control till 'Automatic Genetic Modification' as a technology gets built into a person who wishes to have a child.  Either way, societal pressure to reduce weight or become fairer is something that is unnecessary.  

If you have interacted with many people, you will find that those on the heavier side are generally jovial, happy, helpful and are better in taking a joke compared to those on the other side of the spectrum.  So, when personality inside is good, why is there so much focus on the outside ?  

Every time I hear a normal person complain about putting on a few kilos, or find someone on a diet, I think of how hard I try to put on weight.  Being thin is lucky many think.  They do not understand how unhealthy it is or how it feels to be called a skeleton or close to that.  At home, there is constant pressure to eat more.  Doctors have given up on me putting weight, after trying all kinds of medication.  Friends and well wishers give me recipes to try - and I have tried many, including eating curd rice at night, only causing sleepless nights.  Tablets, tonics, cheese, butter and so much more have been tried.  One fine doctor told me to just let it be.  To not be bothered.  To exercise regularly, check if I am healthy and if yes, be happy.  It might just be genetic.  To relax and enjoy life.  Today, when someone asks me to try something, I have started hearing a 'click'  in my brain meaning that it has turned off.  The pressure of putting on weight was getting too much to carry, besides others.  And, there is only so much one can handle.  So, I reset my 'settings' related to health advice.

The above I write to tell those having pressure of loosing weight, that there are people like me who have the pressure of putting on weight.  Both types are distressing, to say the least.  There must be only one mantra to health : 'Eat healthy, smile and live life to the fullest'.

In the above regard, thanks is due to the business who have ventured thus.  Hope that every store will become an all inclusive store and every advertisement will have all kinds of people - fair-dark-skinny-fat.  The person inside is valuable, health is valuable, body is valuable, but definitely not the type or size of body.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Seakings Ice Cream

Somethings don't change, get better with age and makes you want to go back in time.  Like those connected to childhood.  One such is Seakings Icecream.  Trichy, in our childhood (school days) had only one ice cream joint.  If it had any other, it just didn't exist for us.  Besides, the ice creams offered at Seakings were lip smacking.  The 'Fruit and Nut' was my favourite, rather favourite of us three sisters as with many of our friends and acquaintances.  There was the Double Sundae, Choco Nut, Tutty Fruity,......... and last the 'Falooda'. While the 'Falooda' was a favourite among many, it was least liked by the three of us.  A sunday outing to the bridge over the Kaveri river followed by Seakings was a perfect evening for the three of us.  

Somethings don't change, get better with age and makes you want to go back in time.  Like those connected to childhood.  One such is Seakings Icecream.  Trichy, in our childhood (school days) had only one ice cream joint.  If it had any other, it just didn't exist for us.  Besides, the ice creams offered at Seakings were lip smacking.  The 'Fruit and Nut' was my favourite, rather favourite of us three sisters as with many of our friends and acquaintances.  There was the Double Sundae, Choco Nut, Tutty Fruity, and last the 'Falooda'.  While the 'Falooda' was a favourite among many, it was least liked by the three of us.  A sunday outing to the bridge over the Kaveri river followed by Seakings was a perfect evening for the three of us.  

During my college days, an additional ice cream parlour opened in Trichy close to Seakings, called 'Michaels'.  They provided a basic ice cream at Rs.5 per scoop which was a hit among the public.  However, we refused to go there for a long time owing our allegiance to Seakings.  After a year or so of its existence, we visited Michaels and tried the ice cream.  Voila !  it didn't taste like ice cream.  Our belief in Seakings reinforced.  Nothing can beat Seakings - and so it stands even today, for middle aged me as for my sisters.

During my college days, an additional ice cream parlour opened in Trichy close to Seakings.  They provided a basic ice cream at Rs.5 per scoop which was a hit among the public.  However, we refused to go there for a long time owing our allegiance to Seakings.  After a year or so of its existence, we visited Michaels and tried the ice cream.  Voila !  it didn't taste as good, we felt.  Our belief in Seakings reinforced.  Nothing can beat Seakings - and so it stands even today, for me and my sisters.  

So, you can imagine my surprise and happiness when I found an ice cream shop with the same name in Coimbatore.  Despite many visits, we couldn't confirm whether it was really the Trichy one or a namesake.  On one of our recent trips we met the owner and found that she hailed from Trichy and was a regular at Seakings having studied in a college that is walking distance.  Given her love for ice creams she convinced the owner of Seakings to open an outlet in Trichy.  Trips by the place invariably end up in a visit and reminiscing of old times.  By the way, my favourite still is 'Fruit and Nut'.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Whatsapp and Anonymity

Till a few days ago, I thought I could read messages on Whatsapp 'Anonymously', meaning no one would know I have read the message.  However, this assumption was proven too to my utter surprise and mortification.

Many a time, given the deluge of messages that pile up on some groups, keeping up is a difficult task.  We have often spoken about how reading 200-300 messages causes another 200 to pile up and then, one gives up.  Also, by the time you catch the thread and try to respond, time has flown by as has the conversation.  Sometimes, my husband and I help each other out.  When one is driving, the other reads out the messages so that we are in touch with the group.  While in some a response goes back, in other cases, we wouldn't have even got halfway through messages by the time the destination is reached.   Such is our case.

The other day, over dinner with friends, one revealed that you can find out who has read your messages and who has not.  Thankfully, no one else in the group knew about the feature.  We, minimal whatsapp users, of course did not know about it.  The revelation surprised everyone to say the least.

Click on the message you have posted, and on the top bar appears an 'i' symbol (information).  It lists who the message has been delivered to and who has read it.  

Out of the dinner and back in the car, the first thing we did was to check the feature.  And us being us, tested it out.  My acquisition of a smart phone is only ten days old and we put the 'i' feature to test.  In the case of whatsapp, the information provided is generic.  I just have to open and scroll a bit, and it will say the messages have been read even though I may not gone back so much in time.  Even if I scroll back randomly, it will say that I have read the messages.  Which may not be true, as all of us know.  Whatsapp is thus putting us groupizens in  serious trouble.  Or is it their way of forcing groupizens to use Whatsapp and keep it going ?  

Seriously, now you just can't read messages.  You are forced to read and reply, especially in high energy and highly prolific groups.  The expectation is that if you read a message, you better reply or at the least acknowledge.  So much pressure.

I for one would like to go back to snail mail.  One has the liberty of holding a letter, procrastinating, ruminating and letting the message sink in before replying, maybe the same day, the next or a month later.  Good old days.... No one writes a letter the old way nowadays, and I for one keep waiting.  The only ones I receive are rare, from my dad where he sends one liners and these, I treasure.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

No Parking

There are many ways to enforce 'No Parking'.  The most common one found is the legal way where the authorities, ready Police, enforce 'No Parking' on roads and areas that might lead to congestion. 

The other one found nowadays is where people think that space outside the compound wall is also their own. For owners like me who drive their own car, the search for legal parking space is so difficult due to the increased number of vehicles and the minimum available parking spaces allowed by the civil authorities, especially, if you wish to stick by the parking rules.  Those with drivers have it easy as they do not have to bother about it, though the matter rattles the drivers brains too.  Drivers usually park on the road and move their car on sight a policeman or a patrol car.  Further, they are treated better by the police authorities as they are not owners.  We owners who have to do it all have a tough time. 

However, added to this is the problem of people who enforce 'No Parking' in multiple ways near and around their compound walls.

One such is the above.  On a sunday, when everything was closed, we found this.  There was no parking space around and when we tried parking in front of the building, the watchman started questioning us as to whether we can't see the board.  We did question back as to how they can stop people from parking on the road, but to no avail.  

On working days, the people who work in such commercial complexes park their vehicles through the day in front of the buildings - the reason for cordoning off the area.  Law requires that building complexes have underground/basement as parking areas.  While on paper this is very much present, once approval is obtained, the basement also becomes commercial.  In some cases, only two wheeler parking is allowed.  Authorities are well aware of this practice,  but they do not take the effort to enforce this for various reasons.  

This is not the first time we have faced such an issue.  On earlier instances, I have had a war of words about how they are curtailing our rights as citizens and so on.... On asking a policeman who was nearby, how civil authorities are allowing such unauthorized 'No Parking' areas, his only answer was to file a complaint and he will check it out.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  A policeman never requires a warrant or anything to pick people.  However, to enforce law he writes, he needs a warrant from a common man.  This inaction by authorities has led to common occurrences of such cases in many of the main roads.

Another indirect way of enforcing 'No Parking' followed by many is to grow a garden on the road in front of their homes.  It does not matter to many that their home stands on more than 50 cents of land and the road is so far away.  They have many an excuse - add to green cover, eco friendly, afforestation and many such.  The only excuse I care to listen is about people dirtying near the wall. To one such owner, I did have a question.  'Why have you cemented the area inside the compound wall totally ? Why didn't you grow plants inside too ?'  No answer, only a stare and a walkout telling they can't talk to people like me.  Seriously, I was asking a valid question - wasn't I ?   In Coimbatore, you can see such gardens commonly on Race Course and RS Puram.  Other areas are following suit.    Earlier, on Race Course with only bungalows doting the place and vehicular traffic being scarce, it was okay.  However, in the past few years, with rapid consumerism, Race Course is fast becoming a commercial area - restaurants, bistros, cafes, boutiques, showrooms.  However, the space for parking is limited forcing many to park wherever possible.  

Authorities and Coimbatoreans need to come together to find a solution for this.  Either the authorities provide permission to convert residential areas to commercial only after parking areas are demarcated or they ask the owners to provide for parking and then start a commercial venture.  Also, provide common parks where people who like gardening on the road can do so with wild abandon and nurture their interests.  If there is a mid-ground, then let's find it.  It needs to be done at the earliest.

All of the above is only to make the common man's life easy.  Authorities always have it easy - one will find official vehicles parked in the middle of the road with the driver waiting for his boss, nose up - they own the roads, so please do not ask them.  Doing so will be at your own peril.

Fishing and the Chavakkad Beach

A trip to Guruvayoor is usually filled with temples.  Given that our trips are one/two days, there is only enough time to go to the main Krishna temple, followed by the Mamiyoor temple, the Parthasarathy temple and the Sri Venkatachalapathi temple.  Many a time, the second day is for the Nallambalam visit - the Sri Rama temple at Tripprayar, the Koodalmanikyam Temple to Bharata at Irinjalakkuda, the Lakshmana Temple at Moozhikkulam and the Shatrugna Temple at Payammal.  On one of our visits to Guruvayoor we decided to make a change and drove one evening to the Chavakkad beach.

As with beaches in Kerala, there were a lot of people.  The sea had boats lined up and there was crowd congregation in one place.  Usually, we stay away from crowds both for safety and disinterest in unruly elements as well as the search for quiet.  This time around, we decided to explore.  

When we went closer, we found that fish was being brought from the boats and auction was happening.  That picked our interest. 

One boat at a time from the ones lined up was called, to what order we had no idea.  The motor was revved and the boat came full speed to the shore.  

Once near the shore, people pushed it and parked it on the sand.  Then out came the fishes in baskets.

The process of offloading from boats and the excitement of people around who saw a good catch coming up was infectious.  We decided to get into the crowd and watch it.  Just as we got interested in the goings on, people got interested in us and wanted to know who we were.  Once we said we were visitors to Guruvayoor and were professors in computer science, they left us to ourselves.  Maybe we should have told them we were journalists or book writers - dependent on people we might have been given more information or a thrashing.... we joked.  

'Aagoli' (name of fish in Malayalam), was the priciest of the lot.  Have not seen such big ones since my childhood, when I accompanied my dad to the fish market.  I was told the people around that the best catch is often exported.  The moment someone won a bid, his people took the catch in boxes out immediately.  

There were a lot of other fish like ayla, mathi and other small ones but the one that was surprising was the one below.  One of the people around told me it is 'kanava'.  I did not understand what it was till someone translated it to 'squid'.  Another fish we saw was the 'thirandi' or the stingray.

The auction continued.  We moved a little away from the hustle and bustle, to find some quiet time. Time to watch the waves lash the shore as the sun set in the horizon, time to listen to the roar of the sea and realize that this world we live in is magical.  The sea holds so much power and is at the same time is a source of livelihood for people, no wonder she is called 'Kadalamma'(Mother Sea).

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    Sunsets - a picture that nature never repeats

    Sunrise and sunset is magical time.  It reminds you of many things - of nature, creation, beauty, painting and more importantly, of infinity and how minuscule one is in the scheme of things.  One such series taken on an evening from home....

    The picture changes slowly, one instance blending with the next, bringing out emotions that are unrepeatable.

    At the end of it, as light turns to night, you are left with the feeling that you have been given a window, to see something amazing.