Sunday, 28 February 2010

(M)eri (J)aan Library

The May sun it shined. Rumble of colonial fans were distributing cool air in the big hall. All around it smelled of sweat, and in the front desk area, about five of them, middle aged to elderly women sat in a group chatting. One turns her head unemotionally as she tells the gentleman –

"You get mamber-ship forms outside.”

The rains were delayed when September came. The monsoons had made the Town Hall library moist, and the front desk drenched because the roof leaked. The place smelled of nice decay. The Library staff arrived late because the flood waters had logged in the city. To them, the permanency of this permanent job and this shelter has always been a relief. Also, the gentleman is roaming in the library looking at some shelves. I notice him buying membership forms again - two this time.

January - the cold wind from north and the summers of the Arid west, seems are scuffling for their rights in the city. A kid in his early twenties just asked about becoming a member. As always, I told him – “Outside” - it seems he purchased two forms.

A month has gone by. The gentleman passes the front desk, smiling at me, and the kid comes to me with his question. I say, “Why a doctor you got it signed from? It has to be a government officer or a college professor’s signature. And who seal is this? Ok, I will make it work. Got xerox proof of your address? ”

“No, I did not know I had to get one.”

“Ok! Go back, and come next time with sign photocopies. No mamber-ship until then.”

March is pleasant. Only, some gentleman sneezed loud at the far end. Must be the dust, it is all over the shelves.

“Hm, seems all done. A hundred twenty rupees. Hey, why don’t you begin your membership with a new financial year? Looky, if you want a mamber-ship now, you uselessly pay for a whole year when it is ending. Know what I mean? Can you come in April?”

Thursday, 18 February 2010

What is an EIA?

It is not surprising that many would ask what an EIA is.

The answer is simple - EIA basically expands into “Environmental Impact Assessment”. A self explanatory term, is a big paperwork and many-a-times a bureaucratic hurdle where the project agency itself quantifies your human project’s impact into the larger environment where it is intervening.

The paper news of ET, Gujarat (the most ambitious of the Indian states), version reported that now the time required for carrying out EIA’s has been increased from 13 months to 18 months. The current total investment of about 25,000 Crore Rupees - which if directly converted to US Dollars is about 5 Billions USD, and in terms of spending equivalence is 50 Bill USD. Most are tourism or trade development related projects. And the delay has sent the developers of the state, they are who have stake in it, run helter-skelter in various government offices to find relaxation from this new clause.

Well, everywhere in the world, the Great EIA is known to be a mere paper exercise conducted and thereafter checked by people or companies or their consultants like you and me. The farmer or the fisher man who understands his own natural habitat and protects it since ages is nowhere in the damn picture. It is now left to the people, incompetent people (in all fairness and allegedness in the case here) who haven’t lived in any natural environment in their own lives. How can one conduct EIA properly if the word environment itself is not clearly understood to them?

Projects struck here may amount to 100Million USD only, and their crudest manifestation can be pictured as some ten thousand people grouped together like ants digging a hole and building something in some 10 hectares of land for next three years.

Surely, nothing like this or collective many may affect the environment, because environment or nature is much larger than humans itself. What one human can do is to cheat the other, or cheat oneself for making his petty ends meet.

One example of an EIA is in a protected reserve along the A92 road in the beautiful eastern highlands of commercial Scotland, where the intervening agency was forced to improve their noisy underwater drilling technology to a noiseless one, so fishes were not to be impacted. Since the bridge was to be built it has to be built -but, please do it quietly. British people are sensitive to construction noise, so are their fishes too.

Untouched parts of Scotland are as similar barren as of Gujarat in India, and both want to attract monetary investment for their local prosperity, and this is how some parts of the world are goin’ to be. No one at these places is ready to hug mangroves and fishes.

Monday, 15 February 2010

About a Neighbour (Neighbor) -

Once one a beautiful post told me how a short story strives to become a word. Quite similarly, this issue manages to become a one liner.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Deadly Trap!

A few posts back
I had written this -

Heart-attack is a world-wide disease and event, phenomenon only to be underestimated in most parts of the world; with so called developed ‘west’ being the worst biggest victim, and emerging economies like India walking into the same booby trap.

Booby trap!... trust me, deadly it is.

Hey Banjo

Naming a dog is tough if you become thoughtful. Three months old, he looked like ‘Gromit’ (Wallace and Gromit fame) - didn’t bark much, just turned his head staring at you in question. For a Labrador pup he looked weak and thin, collapsing under his tiny weight when in pup-like excitement he ran and skidded about inside the house. The local friends and relatives, opined, getting older he was becoming a burden to the kennel. They fed necessary little and caged him; this got him malnourished and stiff. A good deal against a few thousand bucks it is good he has come to live with us. When I first named him ‘Gromit’, all desi neighbors and acquaintances tended to call him ‘Gaur-ment’, or ‘Grow-min’.

This irritating re-occurrent calling of this name and in between a cool Solo in the movie ‘The Dog Problem’, not deject but rather inspired me not to give him any name at all. But, the dog is supposed to grow big, so I thought he is supposed to have a name. What should I call him? Call him - ‘Jack’ the dog?

The dog owners, modern-time world travelers, Pete Seeger’s and Woody Guthrie’s fans too, applied our minds to the best of our abilities, gave up, and finally named him ‘Banjo’ – in resemblance or in tribute to the musical instrument.

Then, we figured out Banjo is a pronunciation free name – If you are frustrated call him Bancho, if you are wanting to feel sophisticated, call him Banyo, and if musical you can hum, Bannn-j j j-o. In affection you can also call him ‘Bunjo’.

Six months old now, ‘Banjo’ is literally double the size when he first came to the house. A cool natured pup - sensitive and careless, is now big enough for local standards. In next six months to come, he is estimated to grow double. When his owners leave him alone in the house, Banjo probably knows he has to keep guard, but he prefers to take sound naps. Sleeping, probably he loves his dreams which are full of innocent smells and games.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Disabled to horns and honks

We know Indians in India get in a honky-tonk mood when on the road. Newspapers available in English here funnily call it a horniness problem’, of otherwise mostly whom I find purty mild and sober and modest kind of people - either off or on the road.

To me, to a certain level, honking on roads is energetic and lively, and makes a city and perhaps India so vibrant. But loud ones, especially persistent ones, right on the ears when walking on the road aren’t so amusing. Nerves pulled, it also makes me think of people with disabilities who are sensitive to high decibel noises. I guess, a problem of bad road sense and indifference.

A possible solution comes by in my mind reading the satirical book - not much I agree to, but at times very insightful because perhaps it is liberating- is “A Beginner’s Guide to Political Economy” by Sauvik (available at his blog). Owing to these idears of political cum economic liberation, perhaps one can suggest to the Great Office in Delhi of MORTH (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) to initiate a file - that to initiate a process of taxing vehicles on the basis of how louder their horns are. Louder we want to honk on the road, higher we pay for the car or scooter we buy! Simple! Also the exchequer will get some money; or at least some one may attempt this for the sake of less-able. One possible democratic regulatory answer so as to somewhat control too many a liberal people.

Further, on similar thoughts – since government loves and its people don’t mind ‘Subzi-dees’, perhaps bicycle ghantis (bells) can be made available cheaper. Subsequently, one can imagine cacophonous streets of low volume horns and trin trins. Picture a late evening, when the dying traffic does not sounds that bad.

And on highways we may allow the Tata’s dusty-desi trucks to keep their old signature sign “Horn Please!” as they were, because they kind of ring nice to our innocent ears.