Ananthoo's updates

When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bar closed!

The man
I had referred “the man” a few times earlier. He is well known esp among the desis(diaspora)..i did propagate about his fiasco as a reality check here sometime ago and some blogste(a)rs also gave more mileage to it..
GNI used to be a fav site of mine and many of u knew about that from those days of mass mail in CH.
Most of us were maha thrilled and happy when ever we saw a new story as another incredible story unfolded. I have not seen a better designed informative site. The flair and style is inimitable. So no wonder he was there high up in my list of people to meet after returning. (its another matter it took so much time to get hold of him, thanks sangeetha)

The Meet:
So it happened atlast last week -a very productive week for me..We all somehow thought may be India was better off and started believing the numbers thrown by CII, finance ministries and MSM on us..add to that what GNI/DVSridharan had additionally to tell us all..and somewhere he thought things were not really as rosy he was he is on a New mission. Firstly to convince himself and then the world of his new paradigm.
One can get some early snippets from point return.
For those who were always wanting to know, like me, how he covered so many fantastic stories here is the answer: he travelled in person to each of those projects/sites – either back packed or in his vehicle..stayed there, studied and documented..In spite of his enlightenment, disillusionment, the new mission – he gave us all lots to be happy about. And I thank(ed) him on behalf of all u(s).
I shud admit it was a long interesting meet. For all his views, bombastic statements, vision and observations, oof I just cant relive them all here..but believe me I mean the article “The” in all these titles.

The Mission
The new mission of his is outstanding. After spending some time with him one learns that’s what u expect out of him. He has bought a barren land, that has never been occupied or cultivated since time immemorial, at a foothill near maduranthakam (some 100 kms from madras) and is gonna get it to its natural best- with trees, ponds, some organic agriculture, more flora n fauna and what not...the point is to return as his by line says..return to mother nature? return to our roots? these r questions in my mind.
My op is replication of his self sufficient, nature respecting/reviving campuses wud stop the world from ending up in point of no return!

Bar closed
Ladies and Gmen! This exotic place on the net called GNI will not serve us all any more kick causing magic potion. It shall not have the rare success stories which were getting us all drunk and hence keeping us in dark from the perils that are overshadowing these small accomplishments in India. So u can’t drink that concoction any more. Rather return to point return folks!
I know what that means to many of us: the optimism his great work generated and the mileage it gave to such not-well-known-but-great-achievers will not be around. But may be its real that optimism is really low today..lets all wish for a point of return, soon.

PS: for those of u who skimmed and reached here fast, pl don’t miss that point return
Keep going there (on net or in person) and enrich urself.

Some quotes from the meet:
“All typos and flair are mine and mine alone- u see am a loner, not a team man..but the best part of that is I have myself to ridicule for the mistakes.”
“The biggest folly is failure of primary education. If a nation can’t give proper primary education to its citizens what else can it really bring?”
“what ever u do as a nation ignoring primary education, any number of IIMs and IITs is not going to solve”
“save water where it falls, its that simple..”
“it requires just to harvest water in 10% area and it shall sustain the rest 90%”
“Did u know- we have an average rainfall pf 1100mm i.e. a solid 1meter and more..imagine the whole length and breadth with 1 m water. And what we do? Ok, that falls in 100 days, but what shud a prudent nation do? Save it, simple ain’t?”
“at (age)65 the perspective is totally different. We check for options to ‘currency convert’ time with money” (the last one I thought was prophetic!)

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Friday, June 22, 2007

and then serendip...

This is an old post of mine (few weeks back) somehow missed the bus..
so here it is:

In one of my first visits to CMC vellore I hit on this lady (or girl??) and we just exchanged some pleasantries and some what u dos' and some what u likes and some interested projects etc..and talked for some more time..and when i mentioned iam meeting some interesting people and people who I think have done so much for the society..and she asked me for some names as sample..and then asked me for sample names of '(yet) to visit'..and surprise - she knew most of them- visited and to visit category..and so she helped me with contact details for those i didn't she wud help me in more areas-educate me as she has deep knowledge of organic farming/farmers..
and that's serendipity, ain't?


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Organic farm and retreat

The organic farm that we went to in the kerala TN border that I spoke of 2 posts back, remember?
An amazing place in the rain shadow area of the western ghats, close to chuliar dam on the foot of a small range. Interestingly that area falls exactly in the break that happens to the western ghats range before palghat.

That is a neat 10 acre land where the rare rain is the only source for the plants and what a heaven he has made of that! A man made pond with very intelligent irrigation channel and very well planned out blocks of flora diversity. One could witness most of the tree and plants we generally associate to our younger day's memories (or prolly not seen as the case may be with some of u city bred). what an ambience! tranquility is the right word i guess.

Suman who owns the place is amazingly humble and says he is still learning from the land and trees. He is also involved in translation of J.Krishnamurthy’s books in to Malayalam! He has experimented with permaculture and is constantly modifying his methods..Current market demands being what they are, his organic produce (especially mangoes) get sold along with the artificially ripened mangoes. This postpones the sustainability of the organic farm by itself. (more details on the sustainability and organic farm’s perils are reserved for a later post- that’s more in general!)

Then he has this – sradha : There are a couple of cottages for visitors who choose to stay so close to nature and can also opt to volunteer at the farm. He has had quite some foreigners who gladly took part in the perspirations in the farm and rarely have the desis been part while they did talk lots about putting in the ‘work’. Anyway he caters to both types of crowd, the talking/non-doing ones can use the library more and the others can have lotsa activities in his farm.

His son, 7 years, was a revelation for me. He does not go to any school ( infact the school near by picks him couple of times a year to fill the number requisite during the visits of some officials, so that the school exists – for the benefit of his neighbours). The ease with which the kid does various ‘field jobs’ and the ease with which he climbs a tree or the way he plucks the ripe ones or the way he struts around- all were sheer pleasure..

One of these days- do that..go live in communion with nature, organic farming, may be yourself and also get the hilly terrain, water falls etc as freebies.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Education, an industry

We all know that, whats new- is it?
From the cooler climes of B’lore I went to rasipuram where my sis moved (from salem, 26kms away that is)..enroute to madras, thought of dropping by to check her new was a small colony a typical village setting and so I was very impressed..before I can talk about the hills surrounding or the impressive cool breeze in this summer days or the hi oxygen level or the cool village neigbourhoods there are a few other things that caught my eyes..
This is a small colony that thrives more on the school near by (something like the US types- small towns that thrive out of the schools..ok they are actually universities, but here it was just a school up to +2)..
To give a small back ground, namakkal another 20+ kms from here and salem have this great obsession for high percentage and outputs from school and not to mention about state first, district first, 4 centums such school is SRV in rasipuram.this was a huge campus like an university and houses so many students..for eg. 1200 students took +2 (twelfth) exams last year out of which some 1100 students scored more than 1000 upon 1200; the average total for this school was 1048! Some x numbers scored centum in 4 subject..and their stats keep growing on us..NO! am not impressed with the stats..but was amazed at the schools that behave like industries that throws up so much of stats and so many students whose careers are made jus bcos our system is such..
there are many such schools in that area..and namakal is more or less the big ‘study area’ in TN! The whole area their style did not amaze me for I come from such a school where our principal was known for his ‘hitleresque’ histrionics..he used to squeeze us for marks so that his (and school) name wud dominate news(papers)..he even banned sports and other extra curricular activities for 10th and 12th..oh my god..

and here this whole area was looking like princi wud have been maha thrilled at this place! .this colony where my sis was in was dependant only on such folks, who come to stay here for the 2 years (11th n 12th) they put their wards in this school or for 3 months around jan- march every year. Funny ain’t? the whole colony and each house behaves like an accessory unit of the school..every aspect of the house is planned for such “tourist”- long term though..each house has a well planned mottai maadi (terrace) exactly to suit the study hols and every house in that colony has a well lit tubelight strutting out in 60 degrees to just suit the students..and for people who come there and study is the only thing in their mind..and this is just to help the small percentage of people who choose to stay there in that colony..most choose the hostel option for the kids and hire houses in jan-mar period..
funny as it may sound, its just unbelievable how a whole village/area is tuned to just generating 95% and above students..and my sis has joined that band wagon and wud spend her next 2 years co-studying with her son and manufacture a bright future! Her hubby shall drive to salem from here everyday!
A visit to that school can amaze one to a great extent but our system is such right? And to think of what jinan has to think of education as told I witnessed the 2 ends of our education system in a matter of 2 weeks..

(note: another noteworthy thing that cud not be included up there was- the whole colony does not have motors to pump water up but just the pressure built from the colony’s tank is enof to force the water to the house top tanks. Funny place that!)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cooler climes..

It was such a pleasant thing on reaching Bangalore, the weather was cool..a wanted change from the hot oven that madras was..though long timers of blore wud crib about hot days here, its pleasing for one who came after being fried at madras..those of u there at Chennai, if u have an office at blore, rush, fix some meeting or appointments and enjoy it..and when the traffic gets the better of u here, any ways u have madras to lean back on rit:-)


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Jinan, knowledge experiments and kumbham murals

How wud u react if someone u meet has this to say as his 2nd sentence after intro “knowing is being”..”Knowledge is existence..”. That was Jinan! I was flabbergasted and then recovered slowly as he spoke of knowing as a natural process, how we, esp with western influence, curtailed natural learning and imbibed wrongful methods and disturbed the original authentic ways of ‘knowing’. So with a couple of other very interesting folks I had this opportunity to visit his project(s) in kerala.

That trip to Nilambur, kerala I mentioned last week was memorable. There I was to witness 2 very interesting projects of K.B.Jinan, an activist designer. One was his experiments on children from the rural artisan settlements and another his experimenting with crafts esp potters. An engineer from REC,Bhopal and an output of National Institute of Design this man has all the credentials and brain to head any large commercial design venture. But he was disturbed by the fact that education is infact depriving us, the society. His views on education, knowledge are all beyond description esp for some one like me and visit here to know more..He strongly feels we deprive kids of instinct with education and screw up a natural learning process. He has tried lots on the kids from the poor artisan village near nilambur and the results are outstanding. It was great to see the output as well as his experiments. How they create various shades of colors with just 3 pimary colors that he gives them (no tutoring here) or the many outstanding pictures with just dried leaves! There were other simple but extraordinary stuff like that! it was all remarkable.

Then the designer in him did not let him free to just work on the new paradigm of knowledge. He has worked with various artisan communities (esp potters) across India and has been trying to add value to them and their dying art – not only by reviving their art but also helping the whole community like the one in aruvancode where the impoverished artisans pushed their women in to flesh trade. These are arts that had collapsed due to invasion of cheap substitutes and he with his ingenuity started Kumbham thru which he has not only turned around the artisan communities but also an art that was lost. His involvement and guidance meant presentable and saleable terracotta household wares, architectural products and more. He also has lotsa mural paintings and terracotta wall tiles decorating many resorts and corporates. All this is fine till now. Unfortunately we are talking kerala, so he is not without problems. Some folks have raked up some labor probs and he is struggling to meet the orders. Some artisans are stopped from participating in turn affecting their own income and so he is hurt more than anything else. But as he has worked with many such communities he can turn around and continue all this from another place and go on with his sales and activities. But he is trying to come out of the issues there still for their own good. Lets wish him luck there.
hats off to him.and hope some of u are impressed with his works (u can get to see lotsa his works in or ) pass on some orders. Let some deserving artisan folks benefit.

Note: When I went the first rains had just arrived, still kerala was lush green n beautiful everywhere. Esp the route all along from palghat to nilambur (via perunthilmanna) was fantastic. Just that scenic route made my trip. Or so I thought till I got to see these 2 projects here and the organic farm in Govindapuram- kerala TN border right under the hills. So the trip, scenery all took a back seat and may not be mentioned beyond this note. As for the organic farm, wait till I have time to write about that special feeling in detail, soon.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


So BCCI in search of the new coach- as the norm these days most issues are going on like the serials that have become a part and parcel of our citizen’s much tension built up on nothing, suspense maintained, new theories crop short no professionalism nor u know why u don’t get to see more posts on cric..hey these old farts have all got together and managed to screw up even my interest! See here for a good one by Rajanbala in Deccan chronicle about kids picking their own teacher!

Joshna chinnappa, the squash force from Chennai is moving to UK to get trained there..its an ordinary news here..hey, she is not mirza and doesnot not get that attention..but a better player. What we miss out totally in the process is, be it any game we can never get trained to be a world beater being in India. What a shame and we will never realize that for ages to come.

In tennis fedex-nadal final is a surety..wish fedex gets for sharapova, she has all my support- I need to move on right, with my darling hingis nt to be seen much. So its sharapova days for me;-0

Meanwhile I did a 3 day trip to kerala, to see an unique project with kids by activist designer Jinan and to see and spend some time in an organic farm in govindapuram – TN, kerala border. Awesome that was..

Monday, June 04, 2007

World environment day!

I know all these fathers day, rubberband day, aaya day have become a joke..
still, it doesnt hurt to take some resolutions this day!
u may choose to take up one or all these this year..
1. Will reduce use of plastic consciously and recycle as much as possi. (eg. i shall always carry a bag myself when ever i go for shopping. esp i will never ask one plastic cover for chillies and another one for ginger and so on..)

2. Will support planting trees in my house, colony. road,area, city (in any order)

3. Will try and support organic farming by buying organic products (it helps ur health firstly and for a good environment/ecology secondly)

there are more we could do, but lets add them up in the coming years..

Update: Just thought I should add the lines that impreesed me the most- always present there on the top of this blog right under the name/title.
for those who missed that or tgoo lazy to browse that, here it is:

When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy


Mudichur project!

There is this village (panchayat) near tambaram, on padappai route that shud count itself so lucky. Its on the outskirts of the city but still has village looks and feel- yes, so much oxygen, so many trees, so much of culture and tradition alive! For eg. a 150 year banyan tree still is the big meeting point in the centre of the village.

The village panchayat president Damodaran is a very energetic and excellent man, one of those very straight guys who uses all the funds for the right jobs as they are meant. What more, he does lots more. He has revived 3 lakes and was on the job of reviving 3 more on the day of my visit. He pointed to the oldest 'ery' that was done up in to a big lake now and proudly claimed – " every pair of hand of this village has shaped this. Every single indiv had something to do here and Iam proud for that than just the conservation of the lake" how true? Then he took me to his office. Office, did I say? Oh no, one cant believe..that was a beautiful park packed with so many trees and plants, bloomed flowers and tidily maintained. So such people still exist, pl note folks!

As for the project itself, it's a joint work of the panchayat, an NGO called hand in hand, womens self help group and Exnora . remember? I had told u about Indrakumar here and here. He is the techincal consultant for this project. So, no wonder, they are marching with pride as a zero waste community, well almost. They have the house to house collection (by SHG) and the segregation in place and compost yard is set up where they turn the organic waste in to vermi compost. The only area to achieve more expertise is the inorganic handling/recycling and then it shud become a zero waste managed village in toto. That's not far and it shall be a model village for many.

The village itself looks so cool (yes in the peak summer that I went, the compost yard bcos of many vacant sites had nice cool breeze all day) and the oxygen filled lake sides, the temple campus, the big old banyan tree which gave shade a football ground size are all a great attraction for a days picnic.

Note: Those of you interested, send me a personal mail, lets go as a group. We are also looking at a possibility of hooking up a hands on organic farm experience in the near future. Add to this the great many nurseries nearby in the padappai direction, prolly u wud have had a one of its kind get away.