Archive for February 2009

Celebrations Galore!! Shukriya!! Gracias!! Merci!!

February 27, 2009

image

light1

light1

light1

light1

light1

Flowers

FlowersWhen I started this blog, I did not start it with any intentions of achieving anything, nor did I have the slightest inkling in my mind to get the love, encouragement, wishes and blessings of so many readers.


Empowering Roots has reached it’s Milestone of Crossing 10,000 HITS. Thank You for making this happen and being what you all have been to me all this while.


Shukriya – Gracias – Thank You – Merci!! Cake

Dance
DanceDanceDanceDanceDanceDanceDance

image

image

Advertisements

It’s Pain… It’s Silence…

February 26, 2009

This was something I had written quite a while back…The state of mind was in ruins to be able to even think of posting it. Now it’s plain pure thoughts and words for those thoughts 🙂

It’s Pain
It’s Silence….

The heart hurts,
The mind is in constant pain…
It’s probably for the better,
But still I have nothing to gain.

The decision was made…
As I wasn’t happy,
Thought you would see me through…
Or maybe felt the same too.

If you did,
I am sure you would have acted…
The sound from you was passive,
And I couldn’t just be the one active.

Didn’t see the passion to fight…
To keep us alive,
Nor saw any light.

The mind turned into turmoil’s…
The burn within the heart threefold,
My heart has now gone silent…
Its story can no more be told.

It’s Pain
It’s Silence….

 

Living With A Difference…

February 26, 2009

This blog is continued from my previous blog of Melghat Tiger Reserve – An Eye Opener. An experience that I know I will never forget. All those who have read and commented on Melghat Tiger Reserve – An Eye Opener, must have understood the impact that a trip like this can have on one’s life. I must say that feeling, that experience is still existent within me even today as I continue to write about my adventurous trip. Back to my story…

The first night all I did was kept tossing and turning as it was something that I wasn’t particularly used to. I was sleeping inside the tent which was shared between four girls on just a cotton type of a mattress – which was very thin and just had one blanket over me which I thought would suffice. None of us decided to open our sleeping bags as that would not leave us any space to move. However in the middle of the night I realized my folly that I should have asked for couple of extra blankets and should have opened our sleeping bags. Nevertheless, the first night taught me a lot.

Our second day started with me waking up at 5:45am and rushing for a nice hot shower. Though you may wonder if me having a luxurious hot shower in a place like that meant that I was still sleeping and dreaming, ah! Well No! I wasn’t. One of the volunteers had promised the night before that the LPG cylinder that is used in the kitchen would be27012009615[5] attached to the only geyser that was attached in the ladies washroom just outside the shower cabins. This LPG cylinder was carried by the boys from the kitchen at 5:45 in the morning using torches to the Ladies washroom and connected. The best part was that they would need to take back the cylinder exactly after 30 minutes to ensure that the breakfast is served on time to ensure that the group leaves as per the scheduled time of 7:30am. Now, the challenge was for the men, who would need to bring their empty buckets to the ladies washroom and carry it back if they had to enjoy the Hot water. 🙂 Talk about womanhood and its privileges. Also, all the 20 people who would have really preferred to ensure that their buckets would be at least half a full within that 30 minutes would have to ideally master their strategy of getting up really early. In that freezing cold we would avoid even a drop of water touching our hands, let alone having a nice shower in them. I was the first one to wake up {not to mention, I hadn’t slept a wink in the first place}

Wrapped a nice shawl around me, took my torch and the necessary toiletries and headed to thank god for at least that one bucket of hot water for a shower in comparisons to my luxurious time at home. As my bucket was getting filled up, in no time there was a queue of buckets lined up after mine. LOL yes, it surely made me giggle as it was something that I would have seen straight out of the movies in villages where people would rush at 5pm with their earthen pots to fill water and if need be get into a nice fight with their pots as well. Incase you thought the same thing happened here as well, Na it didn’t. Some of the volunteers realized that they would not get ready in time if they waited for so long so they had a screaming cold water shower. Kudos to their courage as I would surely have awarded them gallantry awards for their bravery.

After we were done with our breakfast, we headed to the spot where the first village of Kund used to exist. This village was primarily re-located to ensure better growth and space for the wild life habitat. We were to go there and camp for the day and study signs to see the wild life habitat has increased after the entire village was moved. The Satpuda Foundation from 2001 till now has successfully relocated three villages. The three villages of Bori, Koha and Kund constituted by Korku, a forest tribe and Gawlis, a pastoral community, were relocated from the Melghat Tiger Reserve so as to provide undisturbed space to the tiger in the core area of Melghat. They teamed up with the State Government of India and provided the necessary options to convince them to move. The relocation was affected after a series of consultations and preparations under the backing of a 19 point utilities package provided by the Govt. of Maharashtra under its amended Project Affected People’s Act, 1986.

We were split into two groups. One group would be studying the bio-diversity signs of tigers and mammals and the other would be studying spiders. We were all armed with our trekking sticks, caps and a good supply of water in our trekking bags. I was a part of the Tiger group and we had the head of the Melghat Tiger Reserve along with his25012009541[8] dedicated Team of Forest Officers guiding us through out the way. We were looking at the scats of the sloth bear, the jackals, sambhar any such foot signs of any of these animals to understand that they may have been wandering around depending on how fresh their scat was and what they must have eaten. In no time my entire group became very proficient in understanding the signs and marks along the way of our trek.

We were a really amateur group in comparison the dedicated team of the forest officers. We were walking on dried leaves making so much noise that not even a bat would sit still on the tree, let alone a tiger staying in his tracks. On our first day, we really didn’t realize that there would be ideally some do’s and don’t while walking such core jungles if you really wanted to spot a Tiger first hand or any such animal. First would be to avoid stepping on those huge leaves shed by the Teak wood trees, keep the noise decibels to a minimum, avoid wearing any fragrances and keep your ears wide open to hear even a spider breathing.

During our group treks we used to get a lot of first hand information about the characteristics of these mammals. The tiger after killing its prey, hides it, eats in three installments and wanders around the jungle scatting all over the place. We studied scats and were able to identify if it was the scat after his first eating, second or the third; judging the same by its colour. Therefore, if the scat is completely black in colour, it signifies that blood is the major component in it and it therefore gets labeled as the “Tiger’s First Eating”. The scat can be identified being in the third stage when it contains a lot of bones and hairs {which ideally means our dear friend has burped and savaged his final eating}. Tigers are known to be very territorial as well, they love to scratch and leave their claw marks on trees and preferably slanting trees as they can that way try and reach a maximum portion of the tree itself. Statistics identify that Tigers can eat about 8kg of Bio Mass per day and Melghat Tiger Project Stats estimate that the tiger eats about 4-5 kg per day.

The bio mass is calculated on a Prey – Predator Relationship, so therefore we are analyzing a Tigress with cubs, she is sure to keep killing and hunting and storing her food at different places in order to have a good regular supply for her cubs. The evidences for sloth bear were in profusion. Bird life was just amazing and we spotted several species like Crested Serpent Eagle, Hawk Eagle, Honey buzzard, Shikra, Iora, White Eye, Wagtail (Grey and yellow), Munia , Kingfisher (White breasted, pied crested), waterfowl.After lunch the groups had to swap their study modules, so I was now a part of the Spider Study group. The technique they use for finding the spiders was amazing. The Amravati University students would keep the umbrella upside down near the branches of the trees.

They would then strike the branches hard with a stick, which lets the spiders fall on the overturned umbrella. They would then catch them cautiously in a film roll box. Upon return onto the camp, they would again let those caught spiders loose on the overturned umbrella and take magnified pictures using the SLR cameras. The show of beautiful colors and tattoos in the tiny bodies of the spiders would be exhilarating experience especially for those of us who thought didn’t think any better of spiders except for being really creepy and crawly. We held discussions on various species and families of spiders by a senior Professor from Amravati University. We were given to understand on how spiders contribute to the ecosystem by way of keeping the soil healthy and maintaining the balance of insect population.

My organization works with the 135 households through Basix, a micro-finance and livelihood organization to set up community based organizations, build capacities among villagers to make optimum use of the compensatory land and cattle resources so as to produce surplus and realize market prices. Essentially, our project helps these forest villages to earn a better livelihood in the mainstream society and economy. We conducted these bio-diversities studies in all the three villages of Bori, Koha and Kund spread over five days. While I mastered my art of sleeping in tents, I also was learnt the art to pay attention to how one of my colleague from the group could open up and re-light the dim lantern again. It just made me feel like a typical villager myself, who would be so keen to ensure that his hut aka tent is well lit. The underlying scope of this kind of initiative is huge though from the outset it may just feel very minuscule and time consuming. The impact to help change people’s lives and at the same time to make a vast difference to the existent wild life habitat and to help it nurture and grow would be defined as “living with a difference” which was an experience of sorts.

Twins…

February 15, 2009

This so had to Hilarious to the core. I just couldn’t stop smiling at this one. 🙂 So Funny!

Someone in the IT industry gave birth to a set of twins.

Guess what they named them?

image

Happy Velan Tine Day!!

February 12, 2009

hearts In spite of what you have been told by everyone, the truth is that Valentine’s Day originated hundreds of years ago, in India, and to top it all, in Gujarat !!

It is a well known fact that Gujarati men, especially the Patels, continually mistreat and disrespect their wives (Patelianis).

One fine day, it happened to be the 14th day of February, one brave Pateliani, having had enough “torture” from her husband, finally chose to rebel by beating him up with a Velan (rolling pin).

Yes, the same Velan which she used daily, to make chapattis (Indian Bread) for him, only this time, instead of the dough, it was the husband who was flattened. This was a momentous occasion for all Gujarati women and a revolt soon spread like wild fire, with thousands of housewives beating up their husbands with the Velan.

There was an outburst of moaning “chapatti-ed” husbands all over Anand and Amdavad. The Patel men-folk quickly learnt their lesson and started to behave more respectfully with their Patelianis. Thereafter, on 14th February every year, the womenfolk of Gujarat would ceremoniously beat up their husbands, to commemorate that eventful day.

The wives having the satisfaction of beating up their husbands with the Velan and the men having the supreme joy of submitting to the will of the women they loved. Soon, the Gujju men realized that in order to avoid this ordeal they needed to present gifts to their wives. They brought flowers and sweetmeats. Hence the tradition began.

As Gujarat fell under the influence of Western culture, that day was called “Velan time” day. The ritual soon spread to Britain and many other Western countries, specifically, the catch words “Velan time!”. Of course in their foreign tongues, it was first anglisised to “Velan time” and then to “Valentine”.

And thereafter, 14th of February came to be known as Valentine’s Day! Three Cheers to the dear Gujju Women for starting the Valentine’s day!

Happy Veeelann Tine’s Day!!!

Melghat Tiger Reserve – An Eye Opener.

February 8, 2009

Drive To Melghat

I am back!!! The Melghat trip that I mentioned about in my previous blog was an eye opener of sorts. I have never felt so wasted in my life. There are so many issues that prevail and exist in this world which we are completely ignorant about or rather I have been ignorant about. It’s so easy to get caught up in ones own personal life and come to a conclusion that ones own personal issues are the world’s biggest and the most difficult of all to deal with. This trip made me realize that the days I would actually feel low are so trivial in comparison to the issues that villagers living in these conditions would face.

Nature Conservation Society

The Satpuda Foundation along with Nature Conservation Society of Amravati run various initiatives to help in the cause of socio-economic development. These organizations are tied up with my workplace and we have committed to assist them in any way that we can. This was the first batch of volunteers that were selected to undertake a Bio-Diversity Impact Study in the absolute core jungles of Melghat. Here, no common man is allowed to tread or visit as a tourist. Our organization along with the Satpuda Foundation and the Nature Conservation Society of Amravati had to get a special permission to allow this group of 20 volunteers to tread and walk these jungles to collect bio samples and signs of existent diversity of the habitat existent there. I must mention, that nearly 60 employees from my office sent in their interest to participate in this study, however only 12 of them were selected and I was the lucky one amongst them.

Dedicated Cooks

This first batch of 20 volunteers were assigned to study two modules. The first module was a study of Tigers and Mammals and the second was of Spiders. We had the assistance of some really amazing Zoology and Botany students from Amravati University, Professor and Head of the Department of Amravati University, Head of the Melghat Forest Department along with his capable team of forest officers and an an absolute indispensable group of volunteers from the Satpuda Foundation itself. Even though my trip started on a really dampening note when my train departed nearly three hours late from CST and the wait early in the morning was really annoying, I had nothing to complain as I also connected with this wonderful lady with whom I really had some really interesting conversations with onboard. A new friend and the train ride with my fellow volunteers and my first meeting with the other volunteers on reaching Melghat lifted my spirits in no time.

Basic Lunch

The first day in Melghat started with Mr. Kishore Rithe – Head of Satpuda Foundation welcoming and introducing us to his team along with showing us the only abode of resting our heads – the six tents that was shared by nearly 15-20 of us. They introduced us to the entire background of the developmental work that they undertake through various presentations and speakers that they had invited. After a really down to earth lunch, we were taken for a nice tour around Harisal – the place where we were camping.

2401200946516

The first itself was an interesting day to begin with. The Harisal Resource Center of Satpuda Foundation generates its own electricity from their own bio diesel plant which is run by Mahua Seeds. Trust me, that first day itself increased my knowledge three fold. We were shown the Plant Nursery where they grow nearly all the basic greens and also generate the fertilizers for the soil. Everything is so self sufficient in this place. Everything that is grown is either consumed or probably sold in the markets.24012009470[4] There is no waste from any of the processes of cultivation that is undertaken here.

At home, I bet none of us would go to sleep without ensuring our main doors are securely locked. We sleep in a safe and secure environment. We are so used to knowing at the back of our mind that inside the four walls of our house there can’t be any threat to us. My very first experience in staying right in the middle of the core jungle, inside a tent whose entrance and exit can just be tied with a mere rope with a very dim lantern hanging outside of it was again a thoughtful process for the very first night. The sounds of the barking dogs in the night, alerting that there was a predator lurking around, the calls of the barking deer along with the shivering cold getting added like an ice cream topping to the eeriness of the silent wild … Oh Wow! Surely made me lose my sleep the first night completely.

{To Be Continued – Sorry folks, have been really caught up after the trip. More coming soon}