October 30, 2007

Tears for the trees? Why?

I have been getting a lot of mails from people all over the world talking about how indiscriminately 'the government/local bodies" are cutting trees in their area, killing dogs... what not... Sometimes I wonder what people are trying to do by protesting against the tree cutting...

Some people recently went and 'hugged the trees' during the road widening on the IT highway (Old Mahabalipuram Road) disrupted traffic for a few hours and then went home to 'eat lunch and sleep'... lot of time, energy and resources wasted.

If they really want to do something... and if I was in their place - I would have spent time negotiating with the bodies responsible for the tree cutting - Transport and Highways departments, CMDA, The Traffic Police and the Corporation - in return for this tree, you will have to plant and maintain 100 saplings within a 10kms radius of this place, move up the timetable on the order for all public transport buses, and autos to run only on CNG and other such effective measures. With each tree felled in the city... you have new demands that are practically workable.

The environment is not going to become better if the tree is blocking traffic and people are taking 20 minutes to pass it... and dumping tones of carbon monoxide and other such grasses around it ...

In the big picture - The last few million years were the 'time of the tree/plant/nature'... today it is the 'time of man'..... soon we will all die and it will once again be the 'time of tree/plant/whatever'.... nature/earth has a way of taking care of itself...

Just like the BSE SENSEX goes thru a correction every so often... nature has them too.... all the tsunamis, earthquakes and cyclones are proof enough...

To all those people who say that we should save the "earth for our children"... please wake up to the fact that the reason the earth is what it is today is because people indiscriminately "had children" and they are all adults now ready to have more "children"... indiscriminately!

Pray tell where is the space? We have but only one planet... and the available area is finite on this planet... The Moon and Mars will not be available for 'relocation' till at least 2020

Wake up... let the world go the way it is going... let the next few generations live like they want to ... and then let nature take over...

If your karma is "right"... you might just be back here (on earth... in this dimension) and enjoy life as a cockroach, spider, squrrel, dog or maybe even a tiger...

October 28, 2007

Blind Leaders

Last year we took part in the Ucal Rally for the Blind. It was truly an 'eye opener' for me.

Every time we help the blind cross the road, they put their 'faith' in us ... I think it was payback time and this rally was designed to ask us to put our blind faith in their 'navigational skills' ... using a braille navigation chart.

The Ucal Rally for the Blind was held on 28 January, 2007, organised by MMSC with the support of the National Association of the Blind. There were 3 people in each car, the driver, the blind navigator, the time keeper and sometimes, one more person who played the role of the writer. The tulip was given in brail which a sighted person could not read. So the blind navigator read out the instructions on the speed, directions, etc which guided the car to a finish.

A very interesting rally which covered about 70 kms in Chennai city and helped several blind people 'see' how we 'sighted' people react when we get lost or clueless as to where we are going. It was their day and we did our small bit to make it happen.

Epilogue: I read somewhere that the main reason most people get 'sick' while traveling is that the mind gets confused by the message (on it's current position) from the eyes and the 'balance' from the inner ear... But that should not be a problem for the blind.. right... but we disproved the theory... my blind navigator was throwing up all the time.... and still reading the braille chart!

I won the first place in the Novice category along with my navigator Sundaramoorthy. Prabha, who has been my navigator for numerous rallies was navigating me based on Sundaramoorthy's 'reading' and Hareesh (from the Swift Club) was the scribe.

Lab Tests

A year and half ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. Things have been a whirlwind since then. We have had hardly any time to spend with Yoda (our four year old Labrador).

While my wife Prabha tries to make it a point to take him for the evening walk (while I take care of the morning installment) we have not had enough quality time with Yoda for a while. The play time is almost non-existent, the 'fetch' games, the cuddle sessions... all sidelined.

But we have found one very strange behavior... every time my mother-in-law comes back from her chemotherapy Yoda makes it a point to lay near her bed. Being the 'tolerant' and strong person that she (my MIL) is, she rarely tells us about her pains... but Yoda's behavior is a sure give away. When he is spending more time at her feet we know that she is in some sort of discomfort, if not pain.
To confirm our doubts we usually ask the people from Lister Metropolis Lab to come over and take a complete blood count... and surely enough there is reason to worry...

For the last few weeks Yoda has been 'avoiding' my MIL... and surely enough the reports came back that her cancer is on the decline and she is getting better...

So, my advice my dear friends is, if you require a 24 hr health monitoring service, get yourself a good Lab(rador)

Elec-trick dog

I wrote this a couple of years ago...

A few weeks ago, Yoda (my four year old black Labrador) and I were on our regular morning walk. Reading 'pee-mail' and just sniffing around at his own casual pace... Yoda was having a good time. I had been working late the previous night and just wanted to get the walk 'done'... and get back to bed. But Yoda had other plans.

He stopped at a street corner... sniffed the ground aggressively and let out a small bark, tried to dig, yelped and jumped away... barked again at the particular spot, looked at me, and ran away... I wondered if he had seen or smelt an insect, or worm.. or something. I didn't give it much thought till I noticed something a few days later.

It rained. And, like any good 'rain affected' city, Chennai had its share of power-cuts and shutdowns.

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) people came to investigate the fault on our street... and I found that they discovered a burnt out cable at the exact spot where Yoda had barked a few days earlier. I was shocked... (emotionally, not electrically) and wondered if Yoda had been trying to tell me something the other day. Was he trying to indicate to me that the cable was faulty? The fresh rain water seems to have short-circuited it.

When it happened the first time.. it thought it was a 'fluke'... but the next time we had a fault I went and actually told the Elec. Board guys - who were digging all over the place... about another place that Yoda had reacted similarly... It turned out to be the faulty spot... and they even thanked us for it.

Did you know that dogs can sniff out a faulty electric cable?

When you have the next power breakdown and you are sitting at home with nothing to do... take you dog for a walk... it may just help bring the power back.

I learnt an interesting fact from one of the guys at the TNEB - they have no scientific fault detection method, they just use their nose. When they have a breakdown, the way they identify a fault is by digging small pits along the path of the cable, and smelling the mud 3-6 inches below the ground... if it has a 'burnt-musky' smell... then the fault is nearby. The stronger the smell the nearer the fault.

I guess, for dogs, they don't need to dig small pits... they can smell the fault at the surface.

Some reactions...
  • Yoda and many other pets must be rewarded. Millie
  • Smart lab! they are wonderful creatures. Have a good day! Chamu
  • interesting... Kartick P Sivaram
  • Hi harsha, this proves the point that a dog is the man’s best friend. can you imaging a cat reacting like this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Lalitha Rai
  • Quite interesting. Please let me know, i there is any development on this. Can this idea be used to.... Chenthi Kannan
  • i hope we had yoda with us last week ,we had pretty bad power cuts whole of last week. Gautham Rai
  • Good one. - Vijay
  • Interesting, I remember Prabha talking to me about Yoda’s behaviour on the day of the December disaster. Yes, animals do have a sense which we have lost. - V. K. Natraj
  • Not surprising. Jedi Masters are capable of many such feats. Anand Ramachandran
  • How well you write! Yoda is quite a guy, isn’t he? - Geeta Padmanabhan
  • That is very interesting... Maybe Yoda can get a job with the Electricity Department!- Sadhana

E tu, Brutus?

Everyone needs one... everyone has one... so I decided to get one for myself... no... I'm not talking about some new gadget or Ipod or something....

It's just this idea to get a blog for myself!

I remember years ago (more like 'decades' ago) when I used to write a diary every night... and it was a secret... even my parents did not know what I had written in it... it was something private, personal and secret... it had it's own charm.

I've been one to embrace technology easily and all that ... but this is the first time I've decided to put my feelings in this public domain.

In fact, when my cousin Sadhana (who was instrumental in inspiring me to write my first diary) got her own blog, I wondered if it was time for me to get one too...