Monday, January 29, 2007

Moving away from green

I've been mostly on the side of environmentalists and keeping my surroundings clean and green. Most everything they said would help, I've done (or am doing). Dont use plastic? Ok, I'm trying. Sort your rubbish and recycle? I do. Dont use more power than you need to? I'm trying to cut down. Dont waste water? That's easy enough from a former Chennaivasi - the water conservation gene is inbuilt! Dont fly? ... EFF BLOODY OFF!

I'm beginning to dislike environmentalists now. They're saying that because of the emissions from aircraft, people should stop air travel. The people they're targeting is, but of course, ordinary folks who travel economy. And the government, bless its greedy little heart soul claws, is only too willing because it can hike taxes in the name of environmentalism and everything green.

Okay, so there are carbon emissions every time a flight happens – hundreds of kilos of emissions from hundreds of flights. But isn’t it true that these emissions happen whether the aircraft is full to capacity or carrying just a few passengers? In that case wouldn’t an aircraft full of low-budget passengers be more justified to take to the air than a private jet that carries just one mega-rich person and a few cronies?

If us common people are to curtail air travel (or have it curtailed by increasingly burdensome tax hikes) because of the carbon footprint, so should the super-rich. Let the enviconmentalists take away the private jets from movie stars and stop heads of governments from taking private chartered flights to other countries. Will that ever be an option? Will it hell. All that will happen is that travel will become even more expensive for those who find it difficult enough to afford now. And those who leave the largest footprints will continue to swan around in private jets.

I’m not about to stop air travel. It’s not a fun thing to do, flying economy, but it IS the best and quickest way to get from one country or continent to another. Not just for tourism purposes but because my family and friends are in different countries. I'm not likely to give up seeing them just for the sake of the environment.

It makes me so ANGRY when I think of those vociferous environmentalists who more than likely don’t practise what they preach. And guess what, Prince Charles is my most apt example for exactly such a breach between practice and preaching, flying to Philadelphia to accept an environmental award.
Environment Minister David Miliband said that he should have accepted the Global Environmental Citizen award via videolink. Yes, he should have... except that of course, video link means using electricity and suchlike things, and we're meant to cut down on power consumption. By post, then. Oh no, that uses paper and paper is made from trees, plus it would have to be delivered here by air which brings us back to that carbon emission issue. Hmmm... maybe by carrier pigeon? Yeah, until some animal rights activists start protesting about "wild" birds being used by man, endangering their little lives for our own selfish communication purposes.

I guess what we should all do is stay home, find work only as far away as we can walk or bicycle (or perhaps swim), and give up any idea of travelling anywhere further than a few miles away. Sounds like a fun way to live...

If at all this "saving the environment" effort is to work, the governments of all the countries in the world - and I mean ALL - need to follow the same set of rules.And perhaps environmentalists and governments should put more genuine effort into finding viable alternative fuels or modes of transport, thereby actually being of some use to man and beast!

Anyway, arent we overdue a huge climate change anyway? When was the last Ice Age? If Ice Ages (and more kinder climes) have been taking turns over the last few thousand million years, who are we to try and stop Nature from following her course? Even if, supposedly, human beings have brought on that inevitable course. Que sera sera, and that's how things have always been.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My two bits on Jade (or - let me onto the BBBandwagon!)

I'm probably going to be pilloried for this, but I've gotta say this anyway, despite all the hate towards Jade Goody.

I kinda like her. And I feel more than just "kinda" sorry for her.

There. I've said it. I'm ready for the barrage of rotten items from the vegetable/fruit family. (One request though - no eggs, please. I dont need any olfactory flashbacks to chem lab.)

Seriously, though, when I read this article, and especially this bit quoted from a columnist in The Sun - "She shrieks racist obscenities, her piggy eyes bulging as she struts round the house like a demented toad"- I couldnt help thinking Hey hold on there, buddy. Jade doesnt have piggy eyes and she certainly doesnt look like a toad, demented or otherwise. Actually I think she's quite pretty - a very nice smile, nice eyes and dimples to die for. (Ok, I'm a sucker for dimples almost every time... Almost. If George Dubya Bush had 'em, I'd have had to boycott 'em.)

Anyhoo, Jade. I've never watched a single episode of any Big Brother, whether Celebrity or normal (if that word can ever be used to describe the BB contestants!). Reading about Jade's incredible stupidity was enough. And somehow that very same stupidity that made me despise her every time she opened her big gobby mouth also engendered a sneaky sort of affection in me. You gotta feel sorry for someone THAT dumb, dont ya? In fact Jade almost seems like a very large, very clumsy, terminally stupid child trying to get on in a world where everybody is streets ahead of her in terms of intelligence. Her lack of awareness of her own stupidity is almost a form of innocence, in a way.

So yeah, I think what Jade said about Shulpa/Shupla/Shoopa/Shilpa was stupid, not racist. An intelligent, educated person would have been discriminatory and disparaging in a much, much less obvious way. Jade's "racism" was of the my-god-she's-just-one-step-short-of-losing-her-only-brain-cell-when-she-opens-her-gob variety. In other words, very, very stupid. But that's Jade.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Creepy or not?

Is this really creepy or really touching?

I honestly cant decide. On the one hand, the parents' grief over the death of their 20-year-old son is understandable. But to actually have the presence of mind to extract the sperm from the dead man (how soon after he died? and when exactly did the parents come up with the idea anyway?), and then advertise for someone to bear a child from that sperm... that is definitely well on the side of creepy, as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ammani's "I Ask You Write - 15" - My Story

Read the other entries to "I Ask, You Write - 15" here

She was born in 1940. The second of five children born to Vedaranyam Seshadri and Rajalakshmi ammal. She passed away after a brief illness in November 2006. How will Jagada be remembered?

Jagada, the second of five children born to Vedaranyam Seshadri and Rajalakshmi Ammal, will probably be remembered by nobody outside her family. Her life was one of perfect normality to her dying day, and she died loved and respected by all who knew her. However, despite her sterling character and qualities, the thing that Jagada will always be remembered for is an incident in her early childhood.

She was just about 5 years old at the time of Partition. Her parents were forced to flee Karachi, and they left, like millions of others, with nothing but the clothes on their back. At Karachi port, the melee was indescribable – the noise, the confusion, the sheer weight of traumatised humanity that was fighting its way onto the refugee ships which were bound for Calcutta.

No wonder then, that while they were shepherding their four children ranging in age between 7 years and 4 months, Jagada got separated from them by the crowd. Vedaranyam and Rajalakshmi only discovered this when they finally managed to get on board the ship, and words could not describe their despair as the ship finally set off. There was no way to get off and no question of even trying. They thought they had lost their Jagada forever.

When Rajalakshmi was finally able to sit down, wedging herself, the two older children and the baby into a corner, Vedaranyam decided to see if, against all odds, he could find Jagada. Perhaps she was on board, on one of the other decks, a lost and terrified child among strangers, believing that her father and mother would come and get her. It was a faint hope, but one that Rajalakshmi and Vedaranyam were desperate to believe.

As Vedaranyam made his excruciatingly slow way around the ship, fighting for every inch of space in which to move, he heard the sound of laughter. Laughter? On this ship of misery, at a time of such horror? He thought he was hallucinating, but he still made his way towards the sound. Finally he managed to squeeze through – to see his daughter Jagada in the midst of a few children, dancing merrily for an appreciative audience of somewhat bewildered but smiling adults.

Family legend has it that Jagada was none too pleased to see her father, and in fact made an unholy fuss at being taken away so arbitrarily from her new friends.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ammani's "I Ask You Write" 14 - My Story

Read the other entries to "I Ask, You Write - 14" here

Ramanathan’s coming, said Amma not taking her eyes off her brother’s letter. On the 22nd, she added once she had finished reading. Ramu mama was Amma’s youngest brother who left for America back in the early ‘70s. You had only seen him once in your whole life and you were a toddler then. He threw you up so high in the air, Amma told you once, you hit your head against the ceiling.
What happens then?

Ever since amma told me that Ramu mama was coming back from America, I’ve been as high as a kite. Ramu mama’s been a constant presence in my life, albeit from another continent.

To tell the truth, I don’t really remember Ramu mama throwing me up so high in the air that I hit my head against the ceiling. I was nearly 3 years old then, so I’m informed. What I do remember – or maybe it’s just my subconscious that remembers – is that lovely feeling of flying through the air unsupported, arousing in me a lifelong fascination for anything that could fly.

I guess you can say that it’s thanks to Ramu mama that I discovered my life’s calling – planes and flying. His support and encouragement from across the world saw me through to becoming an aeronautical engineer. I design safer, better, faster aircraft. And always, all through my life, in all my dreams, I’m flying. Free as a bird, to coin a new phrase.

I don’t know why I never dream of falling, why my subconscious doesn’t realise that my physical self is earth-bound. Because in real life I can’t even walk, much less fly. I’ve been paralysed from the waist down since that fateful day when I “flew” for a few seconds. I live life in my wheelchair… and to tell the truth, it’s a fantastic piece of equipment, an all-singing, all-dancing, state-of-the-art affair thanks to Ramu mama. I can do almost anything from my wheelchair – except fly.

Monday, January 01, 2007

First post of 2007 - 5 Things You Didnt Know About Me

And wouldnt you know it, it's a tag! :) This time thanks to one of my favourite babblers - er, bloggers :D - Witchy Angel. She's so right when she says that tags are a brilliant way of talking about your own self and your own likes/dislikes... but the even more fun part is getting to know more about other bloggers! It makes things that much more "real" when they talk about everyday stuff.

Now we've established all that, let me get on with the 5 Things You Didnt Know About Me:

1. The song "Kurai Ondrum illai" - written by C Rajagopalachari and sung by M S Subbulakshmi - always reduces me to tears because of the throbbing emotion in MSS' rendition. What a song, what a singer. Still on the subject of music but on a somewhat different track, I dont listen to all my old favourites (old Hindi film songs, Carnatic classics by the older generation of performers - MSS, Maharajapuram Santhanam, etc) as often as I used to when I lived in India - they end up making me feel sad and homesick, not necessarily for India itself but for the memories of people and places and life associated with those songs. Doesnt mean I never listen to them, it's just not as constantly as I used to. And never when I'm blue.

2. Nowadays I find that given a choice, I almost always settle for Indian food. Specifically, South Indian food, preferably home made - if at all possible, by my mother or any of my aunts. Not that I dont eat food from other cuisines, because I do, and I enjoy it too. But more than a few days of non-Indian food fills my (waking and sleeping) dreams with really basic things like "thayir sadham and narthangai".

3. I didnt have a proper "best friend" all through school. One girl who had similar tastes in books and movies went to another school after a year, and things were never quite the same thereafter, although I tried my best to "be normal". There was one guy I admired because he was the only one who could match me (ok, beat me - sometimes) in English and general knowledge... but I didnt get to know him properly until after he'd left for the States! Long-distance best-friendship. Talk about irony. It was in college that I finally found a friend who seemed like my twin in terms of likes and dislikes, and even then it was she who made the effort at first. I wasnt lazy, just introverted.

4. I sleep with a light on if I'm alone at home at night. I have a very vivid memory of waking up in the middle of the night (this was quite a few years ago) and getting completely disorientated because it was pitch dark. I literally couldnt see my hand even though I was staring at i. I didnt know which direction I was facing, I couldnt find the light switch, I kept bumping into unyielding walls and furniture that shouldnt have been there. It seems silly in retrospect, but I got quite panicky because everything was so different in the dark. It actually felt like a nightmare from which I couldnt wake up.

5. When I'm woken suddenly in the middle of the night, I am capable of being perfectly lucid, can answer questions and even carry on a normal conversation - none of which I remember in the morning. Strange but true.