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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

1 picture = 1000 words!

(from some fwd mail)

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rajasthan bans plastic carry bags

Yay! Thats a great news!
We have seen this in many touristic places like Kodai, Darjeeling etc.
As a state Sikkim had implemented this long back! But that’s more or less like a touristic place.
But for a bigger state to seriously pursue this is a great news.
With time the whole state would become sensible in handling plastic and that would show up on road side garbage, water percolation and how easily people can cope up with its absence!

Wish more states go this route soon.
Till then lets encourage and bless such daring rare moves!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Extraordinary couple!

How would u like it if some one or other comes
-to charge a battery
-to get some medical attention (one days medicine and attending cost is Rs2/- yes, two rupees!)
-Asking for some local/nattu medication for some ailment
-to take some traditional farm equipments on rent (ofcourse nominal rent)
-to get some seeds
-to get some advise on value additions or to plan next crop etc
-to get some electrical or electronic repairs
-to get some minimal lathe work (like welding or minor repairs) done for free or low cost
-to ‘buy’ some value added products like bringraj thel, tooth powder, herbal golis, etc
-some kids come regularly asking for the free notebook, pens, pencils?

Reading all this what do u make of this place?
By any chance an organic farm??

That’s Dhirendra Soneji’s and Smita Soneji’s fabulous farm!
This is one extraordinary couple who were professors in an Engineering college at Ahmedabad. When they were in their early 30s (25 years back) they asked themselves this great question ‘whats important for/in life?’.
They quickly arrived at ‘health’ and so the question of ‘what are we doing here in a city then’ came up.
They decided there was no sense in making money as that could’nt get them the required health nor satisfaction. The city or the urban life style will not help it too. So they decided to take it in to their hands, literally.
So they decide to buy a piece of land in some rural corner and practice agriculture and to take care of their health. So all in one shot. Health, simple living, controlling own destiny, healthy n tasty food, happy living.
Man! They are having all that now and its only increasing:-)
This 2.5 acre land that they bought from their total savings (actually they had to postpone their decision of moving by an year to save that much funds) was near Rajpipla, a quaint village called Saakwa with some 100 households (total population 500 in this predominantly adi vaasis village). From there on their journey is so interesting. They build their house with minimal stuff but beautifully, use Humanure and Gobar for cooking and lighting,
Some solar was added later and in the recent past one point electricity connection is taken to support the sons’ computer requirements. Their acumen and learning help them plan everything they wud need for their food and so make a great sustainable plan. All the prudent multi and mixed cropping and half acre of fruit trees is only for self consumption. They don’t even sell milk.
Many organic farms are sustainable and out of the grid, but this one has stretched that beyond all imagination. They even grew cotton and hand weaved and made their own clothes too. That’s why they are rated so high. They reached 60% self sufficiency in the 1st year and now they are at 90%. In a place with 14 inch rainfall they harvest 8 grains, 8 pulses, 25 types of veg n fruits, 5 tubers and spices (like turmeric, Dhaniya, methi, ajwain). 200 flora species in all that invite some 70 brid species. All this in a 2.5 acre farm!
But Wait! There are more facets that make them soar even higher.

The fact that such a decision was taken when they were just 30 years old is incredible.
They also decided not to send their kids to school but educated them, themselves. Every thing that the kids wanted was given. Plus these 2 were always there to teach them farming, other basics and languages. The kids are now grown in to well groomed adults who not only have mastered farming but are also well equipped in to many facets like computers (ofcourse social networking too), alternate energy and lots of other skills. I could meet only Vishven who in my opinion is gearing for future articles to be written on him!
Dhirendraji, as I told earlier, is a maverick who is muliti talented. He not only learnt agriculture but also was a king of many other skills like lathe, machining, design, all round knowledge. Smita ben would not only freak out with her cooking but in many other areas lke traditional medicine, preparation of many new/traditional stuff, preserving seeds and ofcourse participates in farming activities too. So between them they cater to a village! Talk of being self sufficient, within a family!
Dhirenji would also make lotsa implements, tools useful for farming and hence many farmers who cant afford buying or making, rent it from them. Yes, they do plough their land bcos there is more Calcium in the soil and hence hardens and doesn’t allow water to seep in. the roots do not get to grow well, he said and hence they need to plough. So more areas for him to innovate and design tools and implements!
While there are many things he has designed and made (manufactured) himself, the unbeatable stuff IMO is his handy oil mill!
It’s an amazing machine which has an efficiency of 35% for the seeds like Till, Groundnut etc (meaning if u mill 1kg, u get 350ml of oil where as the industry norm will be 400-450ml!). so whats amazing, eh? The normal output apart from oil is the oil cake (punnakku in tamil) but in his case u get the seed -a bit crushed- but can be used as a grain (for cooking ofcourse not as seed!). I was lucky to try 1 kg of till (sesame) and we got 350ml with our hand power and the till that was got after the process was very much in shape and Smitaben stored it. (will be used for chutney powder and in some dishes!)

Dhirendra soneji and Smita ben are so cool about all this and only think any one who admires them only has to try it and thnk it’s the right way ahead.
Dhirenji infact asked me in all seriousness “ if u think so high of what we do and of organic farming, why are u going around and not doing it yourself? Don’t u think the farmers will feel, why this fella who is not practising it himself is telling us? Don’t u think there are enough NGOs to spread this awareness”. Right! That’s the best thing to do and that’s where W & me wud head finally..but for now, I wish to use my networking skill and energy to popularize it and spread the awareness. Like how I changed for good and realized the benefits of organic/natural farming, health aspects, traditional practises, etc I wish I can help some more convert.

some fotos here!

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

The best anecdote

One of the benefits of the wide travel and meeting people of varied interests and achievements is that you get to hear so much about many nice things. U will infact be loaded with anecdotes.

Gandhi is one special area in that, bcos of the enormous impact he has had across the country, nay globe. I always ask people (mostly farmers and other elders) in every village I go if they have met Gandhi. Lotsa old folks always have something interesting to say in that regard. Even in remote south TN town I have heard stories of how people have walked dozens of miles to have a glimpse of this man when he travelled that part. That is, when Gandhi went by in a train, they walked miles to have glimpse.

When I was talking about this to Jayesh Bhai, he gave me an anecdote which I rate as the best of what I have heard in a long time.

He was mentioning about an octogenarian who visited Sabarmati ashram the previous week (from my visit) and when asked what he was doing, that elderly man said he was running a school in some rural area of interior Gujarat.
For how many years? For some 60+ years now! How did it happen?
He was one of those who walked miles to have a glimpse of The man who was apparently crossing on a train. By the time this gentle man (then in his 20s) reached the station, the train started to move. So in a whiff our man shouts:
“ Bapuji, mein kya karoon” (What shall I do?)
And from the moving train in a sec the answer is “ shiksha dedho, school banadho” (give education; run a school)
And since then till date this old man (that young man) has educated scores of folks.

Talk of impact!!
What a man he shud be to deliver a telling idea in a fraction of a minute and what an impact it could create!
Amazing aint?
I cant think of another anecdote beating this for some time to come.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jayesh Bhai - unparalleled Hero!

When Sri told me about Jayesh Bhai my antenna didn’t go up that much. I was still a bit skeptical about how one man can so easily spread love n affection ( as sri says) and lead/guide people of different walks of life to do something extraordinary. Ofcourse all of that very useful to society.
I have met many people who have spoken about love, compassion etc earlier, but have been shallow. They have been delivering such words for the heck of it, without any deeds on the floor. Its easy to just sound empty rhetorics and steal the lime light (for a short while) or genuinely sound them thinking for one’s self that they are doing wonders, where as the reality wud be silly.

Here with this back ground I go and meet Jayesh Bhai and with my own skepticism about love conquering people/deeds etc.
What a pleasant surprise. What a man he is!
I don’t think I can enumerate his association in various fantastic projects. I cant get a hang of the number of people he has influenced and guided, no. of projects he is associated with and the ease with which he just throws info/ideas and coolly carries on 24x7.
His eyes and body conveys so much love (I have never believed that cud happen) and he is so casual about all his feats. Infact he hides his part in almost all the projects and acts like they are happening by themselves and its just a coincidence he is there.
Its just unbelievable.
After all, his father has been there from Gandhi’s days and has dedicated the last 6 decades on his pet area- sanitation. I was told about the passionate way Ishwar Bhai patel has been doing this for years and the story goes that when jayesh bhai was in teens and said he wanted to take part in community service (its in the blood u see), the first thing his father told nay gave him was a broom and asked him to go clean toilets! Since that initiation Jayesh Bhai has gone miles. But not without his school and college mates ragging him of being a toilet cleaner. Iam sure he stands tall amongst all of them.
One has to listen to him talk about sanitation. The father and son combo have toilet museum in the Sabarmati ashram as well as in the new campus of Environment Sanitation Institute, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Their research has resulted in various types of toilet, various workable models and most importantly various villages and public schools with eco-friendly toilets.

Its no wonder Jayesh Bhai had a big role in Seva Café. The ESI campus is fully designed and built by him (again he wud never refer that. u get to hear that only if u talk to others out there). He is on top of most good projects, passionate efforts and almost all people around by name. I naively asked him if he was involved with some schools, then I reframed my question if he was involved with the Govt (rural) school children. NO! Manav sadhna and hence JB runs so many schools which is like parallel governance. He is a major influence for some 1000s of slum children by involving directly in the rural schools.
Amidst all this he played a terrific host, always seeing to it that we had breakfast or lunch on time where ever we were in Ahmedabad and also of our transportation. The royal steal was he took us around the Sabarmati Ashram explaining every bit of it, strewn with so many anecdotes and spent so much time. I have no words to express how fortunate we were to have been taken around By JB himself . Manav sadhna runs out of the same campus and he also runs an orphanage out there. Some 70 kids of varied ages live and school there. Ofcourse the toilet is his design and the waste is recycled. The gas is captured in a gas chamber and used for cooking (60% of the cooking needs of the orphanage’s kitchen is met with from this!) and then composted. But u wudnt find his name in that website. Infact not much about him can u find in the internet. So much for humility and under play. He is all of that and just doesn’t publicise not spells out big about all his work.
For more on him see here. (I know sri beat me to it, not only by time but by class too. Still my posts goes to print here.)
So all of us who complain about lack of time- laugh at (o)urself.
I was put to deep shame and severe inferiority complex. Not that I have done anything to even compare but the very fact that some one has done so much and coolly talks to us and spends so much time and doesn’t take a slight cognisance of his achievements is incredible. As he took us around the Sabarmati ashram, when ever some group of kids (mostly slum kids who come as a part of their school program) he is in full swing. Brushing their hair, making fun, showing them his nails and asking them to compare, talking about sanitation and cleanliness with such an ease, giving high-fives to the whole group..amazing man he is.

Sriram had this to say: when sri was working with slum kids’ education in Bombay, one visit to Jayesh Bhai by those students and they wud be totally transformed. I thoroughly believe this for I have seen so many puddings of Jayesh Bhai.

Long live Jayesh Bhai. I wish he trains a couple (or even better clones) and send south. We need many such JBs here

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seva Café

How would you like when some pleasant figure approaches you and says ‘Iam so-so, a senior executive at ABCD and I shall be the volunteer to serve you this evening”.
Volunteers like him serve, clean and cook at seva café.
After you have had your food, you get a list of what you ate but no value out there. (or was zero mentioned in it. I forget. I don’t remember seeing any value. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t see the bill properly. Che, silly me)
You are informed that your meal has been paid for by someone already and you can choose to pay (it) forward or leave even without paying.
That’s seva café for you! This is at Ahmedabad.Humble giving, joy of sharing and selfless service is the essence.It’s the gift economy in full flow. It means your bill has been paid for already and you can choose to pay it forward for someone else, how much ever you feel like. That’s the crux.
The food was really good. If not for any of the other special features I would still have gone here for food another day.
The kitchen is clean, manned by volunteers. There is also a shelf full of books, where one can just pick any book and go or leave back a book for circulation. It’s a just about giving everywhere.
They also have their accounts very transparent. The monthly accounts statement is displayed on the notice board.
Very interesting! So didnt they have any problems with people of wrong intentions? Yes they did, but overcame all that in style. The very same persons wud have a change of mind and choose to volunteer at Seva café.some fotos here.

Another interesting feature is there is a donation box kept out there. Wait b4 u mumble ‘so whats new?’. Here one can not only contribute by giving any amount, one could also take money for a good cause. (ofcourse u need to tell them, the reason for taking). Hozzatt?
see this video for more!

my 2 bits: IMHO, such a place shud host organic stuff. Very simply, a place that overflows with love, joy of giving, service and Gandhi has got to be organic. I was told they tried but couldn’t get consistent supply, since they need to have fixed menu for operational reasons. I did talk to them why its imperative that this place is organic and have assured them to give the coordinates of organic farmers that I know (& have visited) and offered to liaise. ofcourse they were very receptive. Then it shall be a deadly combo- selfless service, good food and organic:-)

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That was a nice old city! The roads were really broad and nice. Looks like it was well planned. I have no clue about that, but when we did travel once across the city during peak hour, most part it was smooth! We also travelled quite some distances effortlessly and heard people talk about getting to near by towns like Anand, gandhinagar in no time!
Am glad atleast in one town, it was not the same old cribs and cries.

The number of amazing people and great projects were stunning.Is it bcos of Gandhi's influence or something to do with this predominantly vegetarian nice people?
oh man! how many nice noble many amazing projects..

The time I spent at Sabarmati Ashram is one of the highlights of my life. unparalleled I wud say.

one such extraordinary project shall be my next post.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sardar patel farm

This is a 150 acre organic farm following bio dynamic farming principles right on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. This is run by Dr. Dinesh patel and his ultra energetic, dynamic wife. Dr.Dinesh, a cardiologist by profession has a clinic the whole of morning session. Then in the noon he goes to his farm and from then on ‘lives’ there.
We (me, K & S) knew it was a family farm and some of his family members were active in the farm too.When we asked him how many members of his family were living in the farm, he just gave a smile and coolly said “some trillions! Including the 11 laziest that see time and work, unlike the rest that work almost 24x7” . his mantra is give love reap heaps. Hde kept repeating that the love one gives reflects in the land and the plants. Such love has not just translated in to flora there is much fauna too! some 80 bird species is around there we were told.
The first thing we did at their farm was have lunch with them bcos it was his mom’s 80th birthday! Hmm..what a feast it was. We shamelessly invited ourselves for next day lunch too;-) The threesome of Dinesh Bhai, Jagrutiben and Alfi ben are not only fantastic hosts but amazing workers as we saw later. His house is like a museum, so neat and decorated with so many stalks and grains apart from many artefacts.
For an allopathic doctor to realise the ills of chemicals and then go organic was amazing. Here he also is a big freak decorative plants collector. He has some 100s of varieties of cycas and many crotons. Also in the list are very different and rare tree species. He even demonstrated grafting. He moves around with a clipper and keeps pruning plants/trees as he walks n talks.
They have built a big awareness and hence have hosts of people coming directly to their farm to buy organic produce. lots of people (many farmers from all around Guj and Maha) visit their farm regularly. On the day we were there a big contingent of MBA students from Anand had come!
To give it a gujju touch, this is not only ecologically sustainable but economically sustainable too. Their prices are very attractive. They mix traditional and mechanized practices. The best innovation is flushing the packets with Nitrogen and then packing. This way there is no oxygen in the pack for worms and insects to survive. Also N2 being a cooler gas, grains last longer in theior packs! What a double shot! He can infact patent it! I have heard of some grain storage yards in south America fully filled with CO2 and hence people will have to go in with O2 masks:-) But this is far out.
They also have another winner! They have a special technology with which they make their fruits (Amla, Mango and chikkoo) as powders, without losing the nutrients. This way the fruits serve beyond their seasons. Round the year nutrition! One can make juice or milk shake or just stir in water and consume.
They sell tons (yes 1000s of Kgs) of puffed rice and pounded rice (poha). Their simple and numerous value additions add economical value.
Another valuable tip he gave was that the grains are dry on new moon days and hence the seeds harvested on the new moon will live longer. On full moon, water table rises and so seeds planted then will germinate soon.Fruits plucked on full moon will be more juicy.
Unfortunately now their website, is not working.
See here for some photos.



The whole world will sing eulogies on Muthiah Murlidharan and make u believe he is some (bowling) god!
Don’t get fooled/sold. Its humbug.
He was a cheat, after all..
Remember one used to get “medical certificates” from ‘doctors’ to ‘prove’ one was ‘rea;;y’ ill to save from punishment at school!
That’s what he did.. get a medical certificate and beat the rule. What a shame..if u r handicapped, go play handicap cricket is what the cricket admin shud have told him!
But unfortunately Dalmia was ruling..all he had was votes in mind, so amended a rule to help such foulsters like Murli, Shoaib chuktar etc.
The fall out is evident..
I see lotsa kids bowling with a big pause, literally side arm throw and trying to justify quoting murali..similarly lotsa younsters chuck for pace..
Anyways since its criket, I dont mind its detoriation..still it’s a shame..
So don’t get fooled..Its not worth all those paeans..
Just ignore..may be, something good can come from media sometime later.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bhaskar save - photos.

Thats a hatrick! already 3rd post in 3 days.
But this photo link is coming late bcos of some operational problems.

anyway see here.

This is Fukuoka's comments in the Kalpavruksha vistors book! he meant to say the conventional farming is on sea level, organic mid way and natural farming is right on top!


Monday, July 05, 2010

IFOAM Award to the legend!

Great News!
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the world’s foremost umbrella body of organic farmers and organizations, has decided to confer the global ‘One World Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2010’ on the outstanding Indian organic farmer, Bhaskar Save.
The ONE WORLD Lifetime Achievement AWARD acknowledges personalities who have pioneered and played an outstanding role in the organic world, who have big importance for the global organic community, and to whom we owe much respect and honor for their achievements.
He thoroughly deserves this (and any) award. I feel so happy for him and also that I met him and spent so much quality time with him!

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Next Stop!

Most of u in the west wud be familiar with the voice overs in public transport. In CH it was "nachster halt Olten; next stop--; prochain arret--"(oops try right pronouncement for thelast one;-))
I was in a BMTC bus (Bangalore local transport)y'day and suddenly heard this voice over: Next stop sangam circle; mundhina nilthana sangam circle!
Each time I come here,I see a new addition/improvement as for the bus system goes.Its really nice..Volvo AC buses are my favorite mode of transport here.
oops, never mention traffic to me..thats always deteriorating..
still its better to get stuck in a bus than a car or bike..
way to go BMTC!