World Farm Animal Day

Ever thought about this, before the first supermarket appeared on American topography, apparently in 1946 …and in India maybe a decade ago… where was the food? The food was at home, in the garden, local fields or forests, backyards, pantry, food bought from the vendor vending peddling it door to door, or at the weekly market. Most of them fresh off the farms

There were the backyard kitchen gardens, I remember we had tomatoes, lemon and eggplant in or kitchen garden, Baiyamma next door, had a brood of chicken.  There was a whole biologic activity happening. The backyard kitchen not only added to the landscape, it was a living organism, the mushrooming engineering colleges and the Business management courses have turned these, we have little Kitta who is Akshay these days, working in a mall as an attendant, the farms lay barren and the average farmer is over seventy.

There were farms that raised pigs, chickens, and other farm animals, some of them became food, and others became family. Animals that are aware of their feelings and emotions are called sentient animals, this could be negative like pain, frustration and fear, it could be positive like comfort, enjoyment, contentment, and perhaps even delight and joy. Some interesting abilities farm animals.

  • Sheeps can recognize up to 50 other sheep’s faces and remember them for about two years.
  • Cows get excited when they discover how to open a gate leading to a food reward
  • Mother hen teaches her chicks to choose food

Sentience becomes essential as it allows the animals to cope with the world. The animal is able to sense a predator. It also helps animals handle social interaction both within its own species and the between other species.

This becomes relevant, because the evolution of animals occurred to cope with the wild, and domestication has altered the basic motivation and behaviour pattern. When animal husbandry has got institutionalized then many sentient animals are subjected to pain and deprivation. Commercially farmed animals are caged, and are in overcrowded sheds this confinements does not allow the natural animal behaviour.

May be it is in the perception, I mean animals that are eaten are probably not looked on like living, may that could explain why people love dogs and eat cows and not because cows and dogs are fundamentally different.

Here is a quote from the Buddha I think it is pretty interesting…. “Jīvaka, I say that there are three instances in which meat should not be eaten: when it is seen, heard, or suspected [that the living being has been slaughtered for oneself]. I say that meat should not be eaten in these three instances. I say that there are three instances in which meat may be eaten: when it is not seen, not heard, and not suspected [that the living being has been slaughtered for oneself]. I say that meat may be eaten in these three instances.”
― Gautama BuddhaThe Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya

Anyway this attempt at musing basically because today is the world farm animal’s day an international campaign for the farm animal rights movement. The idea is to resources and awareness and animal advocacy campaigns. This is apparently in honour of Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi.

world vegetarian day

October is the month of vegetarian awareness. This was established by the North American vegetarian society in 1977, and the international vegetarian union endorsed it in 1978. The idea is promote joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism, and whole halo of things.

A vegetarian way of living is definitely beneficial.

No I am not one of the wise-ass intellectuals who is going to tell you that eating meat is bad for your health, we are a sovereign democratic republic country we all have the choice of the rate in which we can kill ourselves, and method, contaminated vegetables or unhealthy meat, the choice should be available, as long as somebody’s cold dead body is not blocking my drive way.

Somewhere the biologist in me acknowledges that a human body in no way resembles other meat eaters, we are devoid of the hawk’s bill, or sharp talon, no roughness of teeth, neither does the stomach have the strength to bear the heat of digestion and convert or alter heavy meats. People  contend that they have an inclination for carnivorous food, but unlike other carnivorous animals, they do not eat right away, the kill is brought to the heath, knives and mallets are used instead of bare hands and teeth, the prey has to die, then its flavour masked by boiling, roasting and addition of other spices, changing and quenching the slaughtered gore with sweet sauces that the palate is deceived…isn’t it a hint that it is against the innate nature of humans to eat animate thing?

I still insist that being vegetarian is a personal choice, what I shared above is just random thoughts that float in and out without really devouring my energy.

In the Indian context of course I think meat eating should be banned due to sheer paranoia of the hygiene and health factor. I have seen too many food poisoning cases due to unclean or unhealthy meat.

Scientific studies and government records suggest that virtually all chickens get infected with E.Coli, about 50 – 60% stored in retail stores are still infected, around 8% are infected by salmonella, and many other such microbes are found in various alarming percentages.  Chicks are chlorine bath to remove, slime, odour and bacteria. To ensure that the chicken have that “chicken ” look they are pumped with broths and salty solutions,  may be the same goes for other meats, now you know where the paranoia comes from.agrawala (4)

Meat or no meat.. Vegetables are a must. Jim Davis gives an excellent menu carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie. If we want to go sanskaari, then we go with carrot halwa, lauki parathe, and kadhu ke kheer. But I am a respectable southie so my diet remains, rice –rasam-poriyal.

International Day Of Charity

International day of charity,

I remember seeing this beautiful posters of Audrey Hepburn in sepia tones  one that said,

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone

And another that said

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others
.international day of charity

I wonder, when I organize a langar, people say “bless you” oh! You are just like your father, between you and me, my father was kind and generous but he valued energy exchange it is my mother who is does charity, but when I ask why is there a situation where people have no food, then I am either a communist, or an anti-establishment.

Where I stand if I give something out of choice because I feel so then it is charity, but if it is demanded of me, then it is a polite word for extortion. Charity to me comes with a subtle hierarchy,  I prefer the word share.

Anyway the UN commemorates the death of Mother Theresa as the international day of charity. Mother Theresa born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, came to india in 1928, became an indian citizen in 1948, began the missionary of charities in 1950 and died in 1997, she was awarded the Nobel prize.mother theresa

the event was conceived as a Hungarian civil society imitative in 2011, this was supported by the Hungarian government. The idea was to increase solidarity, social responsibility and public support for charity.  On this day the United Nations invites all member states, national and regional organizations as well as civil societies both NGO’s and individual to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner.

The charity includes monetary, education and public awareness-raising activities.

Somewhere I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert when she says —  “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

#InternationalDayOfCharity, #AudreyHepburn, #ElizabethGilbert, #MotherTheresa, @UN@UNinIndia

World Refugee Day

#WorldRefugeeDay,  #WithRefugees

 The United Nations observes World Refugee Day on June 20th each year. This event is to honour the courage and strength and determination of women, men and children who were forced flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

World Refugee Day is celebrated,  to courage of the refugees who face lot of problems after losing their homes to conflict or violence, I do not like to use the word celebrate, but would call it observation, since it is meant to remind people about the failure of the international community of home conflicts that forced these people to leave their homes and go to another place, just to save their life.

It is observed to eliminate all the horrific violence from the countries and community which is the main reason for people’s displacement and formation of refugee.

World Refugee Day can be observed with sharing the stories of Refugee’s, requesting government organizations for better management of the asylum seekers, and see as an community we could do it. ensuring the availability of basic amenities in their base shelter.  shares lots stories, like Maryam Babar, who grew up in Hyderabad Deccan, the largest princely state of British India, and it was a given that Hyderabad would stay independent but for the conquering Sardar it would have. from 1947 to 1949 their life was unchanged, but in 1949 the police actions that took place triggered unrest, and 1951 the family migrated to Karachi. She says, very categorically “I am from Hyderabad Deccan, but I am not Indian.”

Mr.Om Prakash Gullani from Khyber Pakhutnkhwa, in Waziristan grew up there speaking Saraiki, a language with influences of Arabic, Persian and Urdu.  His childhood memories are of Afghan traders selling fruits and nuts and purchasing tea, sugar and cloth. During 1947 partition they travelled to Delhi through Lahore and Faridkot they were rehabilitated in in a one room apartment. Refugees he recollects worked as daily wage labourers, carrying heavy sacks to make a living.

Geeta Nayyar’s childhood memories are rooted in Sindh, born Nawabshah Sindh, she travelled with her parents until 1946 after which she stayed back with her maternal parents to school. But when the rumours of partition showed signs of turning a reality, they had to move, their first experience was Ludhiana refugee camp, which she reached after walking on food under police protection, and then boarding a bus. The memories of unhygienic living, scarcity of food, clothing, medicines disease being on rampage have left scars on her.

If these are the memories of first generation refugees, the second generation grew up with conflicts of a lost culture and trying to assimilate into the new, A sindhi friend of mine used to say, if she went out with locals, particularly since they had come down to Manipal which was far away from even Bombay the pseudo sindh recreated by the migrant community, her grandparents would look at it like betrayal of the sindhi community. while she could not really connect to the stories of Nawabshah or any other district of Sindh, for her reality was Bombay and Manipal.

Another friend who is a gynaecologist at UK sent her son for a trip to Sindh she says after he returned from visiting their ancestral village and viewing their ancestral home the boy is dealing with rage issues.

We need to stand by the first generation refugees, and ensure that their self respect is intact and their courage is lauded. We need to stand by the second generation, while they accept and emerge from their trauma, and find their way into the new community. stand by them and support them as they heal their trauma and resolve their crisis.

The Community Garden at Taleigao

devancha bhaat (1)
Community Garden at Taleigao

It is such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth to feel at one’s finger tips the possibilities of the new seasons. Growing up in rural west coast, between fields and kitchen gardens we pottered around, it helped us connect and the single greatest lesson that we learnt was that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that  as the sun shines and people can still plan and plant, think and do, we can, if bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

With  habitat growing aerially, and earth being entombed in cement, we seem to create quite a havoc.

But sometimes there are small hopes that pops up like this patch of garden field at Taleigao, it is marooned by aerially rising buildings, but yet holds like hope. I am not talking of the fields that the farmers own, there is a patch of field where there is a community garden.devancha bhaat (3)

This is an movement spear headed by the late dada Panduranga Athale of swadhyaya, where people come and work with the earth, they grow and tend to the garden. The proceeds can be taken by the people who contribute or they are sold and the money goes to the movement.

There are couples who want to re-bond, who take to working in these patches together.  They are not allowed to get their kids along on these time schedules, the band of swadhyayees are so committed that they walk or cycle around to villages creating these community gardens.devancha bhaat (4)

There can be no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden if he/she is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.

I was thinking of my grandmother Kitta-doddamma, who used to tell us that garden, “hitla-thota” as she called it, called for a lot of dedication, sacrifice, which why the agrarian India worshiped Bali, the spirit of sacrifice. She used to tell us that being with plants one learnt patience and the power of sacrifice, the seed in sacrificing its skin, the soil in sacrificing its nutrition, the nematodes of the earth they contributed too, the rain with the water to the soil,  finally when the plant came up it was moment of celebration the bringing in of abundance in every way.

devancha bhaat (5)
sweet potato

The Real Heroes

sparrow 2
Enter a caption

A lofty call, how will I teach my kids to press Ctrl+S   for nature?

Well I will not, teach them. Simply because kids cannot be taught, they learn through imitation. They imbibe values that we can hand them.

We are destroying forests, we are destroying wild life, we have come to a stage where we are destroying anyone who walks on the road… we have no place for the man who walks. We could call this destruction of nature, but it is not destruction it is change. Nature cannot be destroyed; it is too powerful and is on its own rhythm and pace. No doubt humans will do a lot of damage before we ultimately destroy ourselves.. But life will continue without humans, newer forms of intelligence will emerge long after this human experiment is over. It is not about saving the nature, it is about acknowledging and repaying the debt owe nature.yugadi (2)

See the crevices of a cemented footpath, you will find greenery emerging from it. like the ants and lizards that co-habit our living space. Sometimes rats come it too.  so Noah’s arc or nature ensures things survive. We create plastic nature gets the bacteria in the Amazon forests to eat the plastic, and the rodents of Goa relish good Tupperware!!

Like I said before children learn by imitating, growing up I saw my paternal grandmother Singari, wake up in the morning, sweep the yard and ensure that all the debris went to the mango tree each day it was a different tree. She would then put out some grains for the birds, and keep a stone bowl of water for the birds.  As a rule we never plucked flowers, we always picked what fell down.  Every   atti hunnime that is the full moon between July-August we set a float a coconut, later of course I understood and appreciated seed dispersion, but we did it.yugadi (1)

When I set up home, I do the same, I have pots where I grow few vegetables, I have a bowl where keep water for the birds and everyday I put out a slice of bread for the crow. It is quite interesting to watch the crow perches on the ledge quietly until I finish drying the laundry, it then picks up the bread and flies away, if I am late it caws, it refuses to eat if my husband puts the bread out, it will eat only what my daughter or I give. We do this because we are part of the eco-system.

Traditionally if we cut a tree, we were to plant another one its place. Do we do it?

If we pay attention nature speaks to us, when we are in commune with nature it is difficult to disrespect her.

adivaram angadi (5)
adivaram angadi at secundrabad, that barters home grown stuff.

If it is activism you are asking then you would need to understand that the task of the activist is not negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible, it’s to dismantle those system.


Here are some people who are human beings, and are doing their bit without armchair activism or claiming to be intellectual revolutionaries.

Tavleen who felt if she was not part of the solution she was part of the problem, so she has come up with this. .  There is Col.Kohli of   Empower camp who has an outdoor camp to sensitize people to nature.   (  they let the kids do gardening and take care of the domestic animals.. There is the Purva Venetia Bangalore’s residents society that has come up with an excellent waste management system. (blog link to be put on Wednesday) .  The is a socio-religious group that promotes community farming, on a voluntary basis, the stuff grown is sold at nominal price and the money is reinvested into the farm.

Tavleen with her vision for work to drive.

Lets take a very practical call, how many farming, forestry, or fishery colleges do we have, every nukkad gully has an engineering college, so we are grooming people to destroy. There are libraries that allow kids to take come plants and look after it for a week; there are libraries that give out animals.

At the end of the day it is about what are we going to do to keep the environment safe for us.  for other caretakers of mother earth they are ordinary people who just go ahead and do what think needs to done, they do it with all integrity and faith

Do what you believe has to be done, your kids will imitate.

“I’m blogging about how I’ll remind kids to press Ctrl+S for nature for theShortcut Safaari weekend activity at BlogAdda.”



Mutation Not Evolution.

yugadi (2)
first rains of the season

An interesting prompt. How do we teach kids to keep environment safe? The answer is WE DON’T, the onus of keeping the earth safe, for human existence is on us and not the kids. Let’s  just take a deep a breathe, and connect with the environment, ever thought of it? Turn the television off, the air coolers and air conditioners off no room fresheners or perfumes for the day. We have walked so far away from where we were that we are no more connected.

On one hand I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We could stand a better chance of survival if accommodate ourselves to this planet and viewed it with appreciation instead of sceptically and dictatorially.

yugadi (1)Can man really destroy the planet? Maybe it is an intoxicating vanity. Just an overview of our planet. Earth is four and a half billion years old. There has been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first, then the first multicellular then the first complex creature in the sea, then on land. Finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing dying away – all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. The mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, commentary impacts, volcanic eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant violent changes colliding buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. if all the nuclear weapons of the world went off and all the plants and all animals died and earth was sizzling hot for hundred thousand years life would still survive somewhere, under the soil, frozen in the arctic circle. At the appropriate moment life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take another few billion years for life to reach the present state. And of course its manifestation would be different, the earth would survive our folly but the same cannot be said of us.

DSCN8317If the ozone layer was to think, and ultraviolet rays sear the earth, what then… well ultra violet rays are good for life, it is a potent energy that promotes mutation.. Change. Many forms of life thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. This ain’t the first time this has happened. Think about oxygen, very necessary for life now. But oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive gas, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, by exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life, nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the human  though being hundred years is a long time, but think about it a hundred years ago we didn’t have cars airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a different world, a different life, but to the earth a hundred years is nothing for that matter neither is a million. The planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms and we haven’t got the humility to try. We have residents here for the blink of an eye if we are gone tomorrow the earth will not miss us.

nagvem cha raya (8)
from a bygone era

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.  Think of this, smoggy skies, insecticide grains, pines hidden with billboard signs, from to oily sea… many call this process the destruction of nature, maybe, but more than destruction it is change. Nature cannot be destroyed.

Humans will do a lot of damage before we ultimately destroy ourselves, but life will continue without humans. New forms of intelligence will emerge long after this human experiment is over.

How do we educate remind our kids to save nature? How do we teach Ctrl+S for nature….WE DON’T TEACH THEM. children are never good at listening to their elders. But they NEVER fail to imitate them. the best thing to do for OUR survival is to kick butt and respect nature.

nagvem cha raya (3)
tunnel spider

We could confront our creature-hood squarely, how do we propose to educate? The answer I think is implied in the root of the word education, educe which means to draw out. What needs to be drawn out is our affinity for life. That affinity needs opportunities to grow and flourish, it needs to be validated, it needs to instructed and disciplined, and it needs to be harnessed to the goal of building humane and sustainable societies. This in turn would lead to a kind of awakening of possibilities and potentials that lie dormant and unused in the industrial- utilitarian mind. Therefore the task of education as Dave Foreman stated, is to help us open souls to love this glorious luxuriant animated planet.

We could stop fighting over who we believed created the planet, and work against destroying it, and this readiness to assume the guilt for the threat to our environment is deceptively reassuring. We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty it all depends on us. we pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives. What is really hard for us to accept particularly those influenced by the west is  that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be. To avoid this impotence., we engage in frantic, obsessive activities. We recycle old paper, we buy organic food, we install long-lasting light bulbs – whatever – just to assure ourselves that we are doing something. We make individual contributions like the cricket maniacs who support their team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat in the belief that he can somehow influence the outcome of the game.

the day ends.

At the end of it all we need to have the humbleness to accept that nature is constantly mutating and evolving. We are sorry outcomes of the same.

PS; — after playing the devil’s advocate and telling you to stop being so arrogant about mastery over nature, the best way to ensure our environment remains friendly to us, is by getting proactive in the maintenance phase. Will give you the link tomorrow.

, “I’m blogging about how I’ll remind kids to press Ctrl+S for nature for theShortcut Safaari weekend activity at BlogAdda.”