Saunter Along

To Saunter is to walk about in an idle or leisurely manner,  or more specifically a verb describing a a style walking. It is simply to walk slowly with a joyful disposition, and has been spoken of by many naturalist . Julia Cameron the creativity guide, swears that sauntering opens up the creative blocks.

Henry David Thoreau says he has met  one or two people in the course of his life who have understood the art of walking, that is of taking walks who had the genius so to speak, for sauntering,

These days we live in a series of interiors, disconnected from one another, but when we walk we are measuring and connecting to the earth, then we connect with everything unlike walking through the spaces- that we occupy, then we are walking only those interiors. Sauntering out in the open is about living and connecting with whole world rather than in the interiors that we build against the world.

June 19th the world acknowledges the right to saunter, as World Sauntering Day or International Sauntering Day  its just to remind us to take it easy, connect with the greenery, gaze at the sky, it is taking some quality time with yourself, maybe like taking yourself on a date. In 1979 when Jogging became a rage, W.T. Rabe created the sauntering day so that one could relax and enjoy oneself.

Everyone has the right to walk from one end of the city to the other, in secure and beautiful spaces. Everyone has the right to use the public transport, view a unhampered clean street and not be obstructed by two wheelers dashing on the side walk or cluttered with railings, signs and rubbish.

It is quite essential to do nature walking, that is any kind of  walking we can do in natural world, be it strolling, striding, sauntering, stepping, treading  whatever….Here is what Julia Cameron suggests, go outside, don’t tell anyone, don’t take your phone. Start walking and keep walking till you longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same road each day, to work back from work we stop seeing it actually. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to function without being aware, which we cannot do when we are walking a new terrain. Of course we cannot get anything out of, one cannot utilize it for anything either thats the basic idea saunter  park when you feel  like just be with whatever you are and whatever you have,  we will actually discover a whole world out there, it would be just out there out of our familiar window, and we would foolishly miss it.

My own experience in sauntering is when we go out to saunter, really aimlessly maybe right till sundown, it was really going in.

“Walking is the only form of transportation in which a man proceeds erect – like a man – on his own legs, under his own power. There is immense satisfaction in that.”
― Edward AbbeyPostcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast

The World Migratory Birds Day

Their Future is our future

This is the theme of the world migratory bird day being commemorated on May 13th.

Avian migration is one of the most wonderful events of nature. Birds fly distances to find best ecological conditions and habitat for feeding, breeding and bringing up their young.

Migratory birds are birds that travel distances for various reasons, but primarily reason being food and nesting. birds move between the northern and southern hemisphere in search of food, and safe and comfortable nesting zones.

Migration could be short distance that is in the geographic range from high altitude to low  or it could be of medium order within a reasonable radius and  then there are long distance ones that are across continents. A bird like Red knot travels 16,000 km twice a year.

These birds fly year after year with very little deviation in the flyway corridor. The first year birds often make their first migration on their own, it is almost as if the flight chart is memorized by the DNA. How the birds do this is not really understood. However it is known that they orient themselves with the sun during the day, the stars guide the navigation at night and geomagnetism can be tapped on any time. Olfactory sense seem to play a great role when it comes to navigation in the case of the homing pigeon.

Many birds have a preferred pathway for their annual migration, these usually involves important stop overs that provide food supplies that are critical to the birds survival.

These flights are dangerous and ardours. It challenges the physical and mental capacity of the bird. There are predators that threaten the bird. In the recent years, the land reclamation and poaching is eating into the natural habitat disorienting the avian migrations. Many birds are attracted by bright lights while some are confused resulting in collisions with structures. The latest hazard being the tall communication towers.

Role of migratory birds in economy.

Migrant birds are biodiversity indicators of the state of our environment, as their migratory patterns match their feeding and breeding needs. With change in climate there is a change in the timing of the elements of their life cycle too.

Migrating birds act as eco-wardens, and health wardens as they feed on insects and rodents. Vultures which are almost non-visible these days are natural scavengers they can dispose large carcasses rapidly , thus playing a critical role in nutrient cycling. Vultures west Africa to southeast Asia are declining partially due to poisoning of their prey.

The migrant birds follow the food trail, this feeding pattern leads to flower pollination and seed dispersion.  This is part of natures ecological regulation.

Project UNEP Siberian crane wetlands were about sustaining Siberian cranes and millions of other migratory water birds. This restoration not only provided the migratory birds like Siberian Crane to rest and feed it also helped to provide millions people water. The wetlands act as carbon sinks and help in combating climate change. The wetlands are flood defences and help to sustain productive fisheries.

Guano in Quechan language means droppings of the sea birds, this is considered one of nature’s best fertizers.  The Incas considered it so valuable that access to was restricted any disturbance to the sea bird incurred death penalty. Guano allowed improved soil texture, clearing of toxins and speedy decomposition.

The bird dropping result from a complex process starting with the living plants eaten by insects, which in turn are consumed by the fishes that are eaten by the sea birds and digested by the sea bird.

Falconry is another economic activity that uses avian migration, the roots of which lies in Asia dating back to 2000BC. Falconry has been recongnized by UNESCO as global cultural heritage since 2010, it is an art of hunting with trained birds of prey. The decrease in the demand has brought about 60% drop in the species over the last 20yrs. Falconers however are working at conserving of raptors and their prey through preservation of natural habitats and captive breeding. Recently the falconers have reintroduced a species that had totally vanished.

Bird hunting is a major socio-economic activity around the globe, and billions of birds are hunted each year. This along with land poaching has resulted in a decline of migratory bird population. The flyway of these global avian, run across nations and their decline effect globally.

At the end of the day it is for us, to sit up and ensure that these health wardens, natural pollinators, biodiversity indicators , natural scavengers and soil doctors are safe. for their future is also our future, we need to re-commit to sustainable development.

UN migratory movie

 

 

 

 

International Nurses Day

May12th is the birthday of Florence Nightingale who gave dignity to the nursing profession.  This is commemorated as the international nurse’s day to mark the contributions nurses make to the society.

In 1953 Dorothy Sutherland an official in the department of health, education and welfare proposed this, and the then president Dwight Eisenhower did not approve it. but the international council of nurses has been celebrating this day since 1965. Each year the ICN, prepares and distributes the international nurses day kit with educational and public information materials for the use of nurses everywhere.

One thing I realized is that lot of people are not really clear of what a nurse’s duty is all about.  A nurse is very much like a doctor, their roles and responsibilities are based on their experience and specialities. The roles include

  • Nurse unit manger – known sister’s in the Indian hospitals, they run the ward.
  • Associate nurse unit managers – help the nurse unit manager to run the ward and act as the manager when the nurse unit manager is out of the ward.
  • Nurse practioners are highly skilled nurses with advanced level of training.
  • Specialist nurses are nurses trained in specific specialities like emergency, labour, etc.
  • Registered nurses, provide high level day- to- day care and perform some minor procedures.
  • Enrolled nurses provide basic medical care under the supervision of more senior nurses.

Then there is the concept of community health nursing, these are nurses who bring healthcare to the impoverished people in the rural and urban settlements. They address the local migrant community and impoverished community with immediate medical assistance and then guide them to the appropriate medical center. These nurses deal with patient and may have to extend the care to their families and community.

The community health nurses are also known as public health nurses, they are classified as Para-medical faculty in india, and work in health care settings like homes, ambulatory care centres, schools, and residential institutions.  They are not only care provides but also fulfil the roles of

  • Health educator
  • Health advocate
  • Collaborators
  • Preventive care leaders

It is the community nurse who focus on the vulnerable members of the society such as the elderly, homeless, shut-ins they counsel the mothers to be, and educate the community on healthy eating, and basic health care.

This service sector is largely untapped in India, and many a times untrained informal players step in.

nurses day --1The theme for 2017 International Nurses Day focuses on this aspect of nursing,  “A Voice To Lead Achieving Sustainable Development Goals” it can be practised only by community nurses a branch of nursing that is hardly visible in India, yes of course part of their duties are dispensed by the anganwadi workers, but it is really insufficient.

It is necessary for us as a community to ensure that we have these community nurses who can step in as caregivers, educators and health advocates.

 

Honoring the Victims and Preventing the Future

Honoring the past victims and preventing the future,

Is what the international day against chemical war fare is there to remind us.

Serious efforts towards preventing chemical warfare were launched a century ago. When the world first witnessed the disaster of chemical warfare.

France was the first country to use chemicals in warfare, ethylmoboacetate and chlorbromacetone.

However it was Germans who used chlorine and mustard gas who brought home the horror of it all. it was the 22nd of April 1915.  This was despite the agreements of no chemical warfare, the loophole that the Germans used was very legal, they did not deploy a explosive or weapon, they just opened the canister and let the fumes waft.

1,124,000 were used in the first world war and the race for the deadlier chemical weapon began.

Over the years the world has seen really scary effects of chemical warfare, like 1919 British deployed adamsite through a summer to village in Russia that was held by the Reds, the civilian causalities are not accounted.

1988 saw the Iraqi’s deploy mustard gas on the Kurds of Halabja, it was rather scary, the day had begun with routine rocket barrage that sent the civilians into hiding into the basement, allowing the Iraqi’s to achieve their target for the poisonous gas is heavier than the air in the atmosphere and sediments bellow causing death, and maiming people.

In 2011 when the fights in Syria took to streets the Assad commenced the use of tear gas and chlorine, from there they eventually graduated to mustard gas and nerve gas in 2013, the US and Russia then stepped in threatening to take action.

Which is why Organization for the prohibition of chemical warfare has classified it as customary international humanitarian law?

Chemical warfare agents are classified as per their potency, there are persistent agents are added to ensure persistency.  Choking, blisters and effects on blood and nerves are the intensity of these chemical agents on human body.  they are dispersed through air, thermal activation.

India declared a stockpile of 1044 tons of sulphur mustard in 1997, and entered the chemical weapons convention formed in 1993, India is one of its original signatories. By 2006 about 75% of the weapons were neutralized and May 14 2009 India declared to United nations that it had completely destroyed its stock pile of chemical weapons.

Could we take a minute honor the dead, and hope to prevent future deaths by chemical warfare? More importantly can we visualize an India where chemical warfare does not turn domestic?

Earth Day

April 22nd it is Earth day again.

Each Earth Day we faithfully put out the power for an hour, I really wonder who we do this farce for.

Anyway let’s get back to the “celebration of the day” I was looking up the events, it is an absolutely America oriented climate law. The theme for the year is March of science, and science has become euphemism for Pharma and computers, gone are the days when Science emcampassed the botany, zoology, and the bio-cycles.  Oh! Yes it is also about climate literacy, maybe we should start with climate defining climate, then go with the factors that influence climate, once we reconnect to the roots we might take stock of the damage and go for damage control.

By the way if I were to quote the Earth Day 2017 theme and event then it is March for Science, Climate literacy, to create Green Voters, this to me creates a image of a humoid with chlorophyll in the their cells, green technology, green environment.

Let’s start with greenery, green leafy vegetables, well nature has leaves of various hues, if you doubt me, have a look at the crotons, and the Bougainville’s you will can see the hues for yourself.  This entire Earth Day was created in 1970 as a peace vending event there are 193 countries today negotiating loopholes through the climate laws, and America safe guarding her interest.

Let’s look at Goa, this entire creation of fly-over’s which is unnecessary we are only going to have more tourists zooming and more accidents, trees have been mercilessly chopped, the Goankars who keep talking about “Indians ” have not bothered about the massacred trees, which was one of the things that brought people to Goa. There is not a single PIL or RTI about this issue, Goa as has very little agriculture land, the existing little has been grabbed by the Land sharks from Delhi and Bombay the land being pimped by Goans. We will be dealing with increased Pepsi bottles, coke bottles, and lays wrappers.

Airtel has popped up its towers all over the state, this disturbs the birds, their flights and even their very existence, I do not know who authorizes these installation, neither do I see any RTI or PIL with regarding to this, all the environment groups seem to happy that their Airtel network is working.

Turn on the television, and you have the over-exposed irritatingly monotonous Mr.Bacchan talking about composting… well Mr.Bacchan that has also been your way out of dealing with Shit…yes the biologic waste because that is the carrot dangled in the rural areas for building toilets. While I do agree with this, my point is simple,

Earth or nature has what is called as a chain, the bio-waste of one species feeds another, when it comes to seed dispersion the bio-waste is a vehicle, it no doubt also disperses pathogenic components like maybe worms and cholera, we were so focused on those that we forgot about this. Now with compost it is not the natural one, we talk about collecting wet waste and processing it, when we go overboard what next? Someone has come up with a bus that runs on Human-waste and I thought Naravahana was the epithet of Kubera the chancellor of the Gods.

With all this anguish vented, I wonder if

  • we can plant more trees than people for a change,
  • if we can do away with the concrete layer around our buildings and quench the earth’s thirst
  • If we could revive the old rainwater harvesting instead of ripping the ocean and river bed?
  • We could go back to those architectural techniques that did not violate the environment?

I guess to this we need to be Earth citizens who in their mind and heart know the Earth is the foundation of everything they do, and they care for the earth like they care for their own bodies.

What I found interesting is a citizens group in Hyderabad, has taken on the reforestation of a public park space, they do not have any architect or landscape person there, they have the urban re-forestation department, which educates children on the natural plant habitat they let the children choose the plant from the natural habitat and plant and nurture it, the child has to take the onus of digging planting and rearing the urban reforestation department does not assist in labour or they are the knowledge partners this is hands on learning process.

I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the earth, noticed exceptions, those who wantonly damage it and those do not, but the Earth is wiser, it has given itself into the keeping of all and that makes all of us accountable.

 

World Gypsy day

One of the dance forms we learnt in our Bharatnatyam curriculum was the gypsy dance, the costume would vivid, with gold spangles, and colourful hair tassels’, a tambourine in the hand and quick beats. Most of us loved it for the sheer energy it created. Gypsies seemed exotic.

Gypsies the Nomads..

Travelling in caravans, in their own habitat, camping at night the sound so romantic, authors I read be it Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle they all have gypsies the mysterious, mystics who listen to the soul.

Something very romantic, mysterious about them their closed lifestyle and passionate living, their constant run in with the laws of  the so called civilized society these community has fascinated many creative writers, the Banjaras of Hindi movies the Romani’s of Europe.

The term gypsy was applied to the Roma by outsiders, possibility assuming that they were Egyptian in origin.  Gypsies or Romani are nomads of Europe they are believed to have ethnic origin in the northern region of Indian subcontinent like Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. The exact origins are not really known but the history as retold by the clan family customs like singing and storytelling talk of a migration from India, the motives could be anything from famine, or military invasions from Alexander the great (356-323 BCE) or Mahmud Ghazni (971 – 1030 CE)

Though Kuntari or the Hindu based concept of universal balance is the fundamental of Romani spirituality, they tend to practise the dominant religion of the state.

Pope John Paul           II exhorted his followers to treat the Romanies with compassion and respect and proposed the dedication of April 8th to understanding Romani culture as part of international civil culture awareness.

2003 saw the Dalai Lama light a candle to commemorate the day.

2004 Adam Ereli of the US state department brought up the human rights issues on the abuses faced by the Romani’s in Europe.

2006 Maud de Boer-Buquicchio of council of Europe brought up the issue of antiziganism, and discrimination.

2009 Hillary Clinton spoke about protecting their rights.

2016 the external affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj wanted the Romani’s to be recognised as part of Indian Diasporas. Gypsiology or Romani studies are an emerging interdisciplinary ethnic studies field concerned with the experiences of the Romani people.  Terms like Zignology, Ciganology, Romology, Romalogy and Romistics are often used.  The focus, of these studies however includes the origin of the Romani people, the sociology, anthropology, linguistics, politics, the experiences of persecution, and political oppression. This study has its origin in the United Kingdom, and was designated formal in 1990.

Yet when one says Gypsies this how it resonates –“I have always considered myself a person with a gypsy heart, and I Surrender my dreams to my soul, for it’s a free sprit who believes in no boundaries of region and religion.”
― Megha KhareWrite like no one is reading 2

Until next March 8th

Can Women have some dignity…?

We have so many popular slogans and campaigns running, every Rotary club and any other club worth its salt is talking Women’s Day let’s not forget the feminist seminars and public debates, RJ’s screaming at the highest pitch that their voice about the greatness of women, lets look at ground reality through the eyes of  the PM’s banega swach bharat,

There are settlements where people can be forced to build toilets.

The group I am talking about is the labour force the woman working out in the fields, building your roads and houses, they work about 8hrs a day, having to leave their homes earlier than that, during the day they need to ease themselves, can we allow them the dignity of doing so?  people have offered to give them mobile toilets but labour contractors don’t want to take it on, people living on the flats and houses where these construction work is going on, look at these mobile toilets as contamination of their turf.

Then the women who work with garbage sorting, the non-biodegradable used sanitary towels are handled by them, rendering them open to infection, can we provide them safety?

Go to any women’s toilet most of them are dirty, with sanitary towels strewn and menstrual discharge around… it looks like the toilet came alive and regurgitated all over the floor and walls, the putrid water still trickling from the bowl.

We can talk about women’s rights, and dignity but where is it? unless we recognize that each individual is unique and valuable by the virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot really talk human rights, this includes the right to be born, as  many of us have, and many have not just because they were female, the accidental attributes we acquire, maybe our colour, intelligence, our physical and mental abilities, these should not be a barrier to our dignity.

So thanks for the women’s day’s saccharine messages but no thank you.