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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jack pot!

For years one thing that has not changed in me- admiration and awe for this man: Kamal Hassan! His movies were always what I used to wait for and a group of us would pore over it, the nuances, the hidden messages, comedy and what not.. To talk of his extraordinary and multifaceted talent is to discuss the very obvious- for the nth time..which is what some of us have been doing for years when ever we meet..
He was and is a genius actor..IMO not even Dustin Hoffman could have brought out the ‘obsession’ to screen like he did in Guna..i can go on about anbe sivam, kuruthipunal, hey ram, rajapaarvai..(hey the list is never ending )
In the social side too one knows how he impacted the society. He redefined blood donation and the trend of donating blood on his b’day is huuuge in TN and continues even today after more than 3 decades.  He busted many myths around that..then in eyes- by donating eyes and helping so many 1000s of blind get to see again! In the recent past about organs donation..
We from our organic movement would keep thinking- if only he would voice about organic food, posion free food or farmers’ freedom - the impetus would be enormous..
And personally I have been wanting to meet him- for obvious reasons to talk on various things that one always heard about him..but how and why will he have time..
That happened! Meeting this man- in flesh and blood and discussing almost everything..including food, agriculture, safe food, our recent campaign "India for safe food' and all that..more than 3 solid hours..
Profound…is his knowledge on almost all things..what do I thank? For not only I got to talk about organic food, restore and convince him to consume organic for his health (‘you have a social responsibility of ur health for the sake of many fans like me  and even more to consume ethical, safe and healthy food’ )..yes, he will be restore’s one of the esteemed customers. He will ofcourse help this movement and help take this forward! So my usual learnings and sharing about them on food, agri etc invokes so much interest in this man..but he is deeper..he even quotes ‘ahaaara Nemam’ of Vedanta desikan  (asks me if I have read that; then says read it though I I don’t accept some of the things said out there and ofcourse not any religious stuff mentioned, he clarifies) he has even written a white paper on ethical eating it seems..he has read, written so much..what all he will pull off..with ease – the year or the original name of veeramaamunivar and how he freaked out in tamil in (he went on to quote the original name- Constanto Beski, then  his 1st entry name then how and why it became veerama munivar and the year when he arrived etc casually)
As we talk – we meander in to various things including some of my ‘best of his movies’ to medicine, allopathy, food, history, inhuman caste system, his childhood, old tamil classics, vegetarianism, shivaite-vaishnavaite fights and jokes..
In the process this man would suddenly turn in to miming or acting some thing and almost perfectly..he showed how the ceremony around death would be carried out. He would talk about how they would all drink and swagger carrying the dead body..oh man! What a walk and in a second his eyes and face turn in to a ‘drunkard’..why he was and is the ‘nayagan’ still..
There were many ideas he threw to take the organic movement forward and offered some areas of his personal help and am elated..thrilled..and genuinely happy about meeting my hero..but more bcos of his sincere interest, courtesy, ideas for the organic movement..
Finally as I wanted and took a photo with him I pulled my regular stunt: I will post this in my blog and he shouldn’t be offended if people mistake me for kamal..smiles all around;-)
As I was above to leave Gowthami  walks in and as I get introduced she claims ‘wow, restore..i have been wanting to contact you and ..’ I almost think she is just being courteous..does she mean she knows our restore? And then she says ‘ you guys had this terrace garden workshop na few days back? I also wanted to attend it..last minute got caught else would have attended..’ she said..oh man! She has been following us really and close. That good..and she is in..sold for restore, organic, composting, growing ones food and what not..Iam sure she will go a long way, for I could see the interest, excitement and commitment.
Day made X 2
(and it would never be complete if I don’t mention his man Friday- mughil who participates, observes, aid kamal with some names/places, pitches in with his really made my day..and was absolute fun to be talking to such people of intensity in almost all that talk and do)

(yes the great Kamal reading our thalanmai;-) u thought I will spare him?)

the inimitable ulaganayagan!

identify me in this and get a free organic beer:-)
ok, wait for more info later..
for now identify;-)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lakshmi Lokur- shaking the mane In the den!

The first rains had just arrived! All of Belgaum and its outskirts was rejoicing. As one crosses the town Bailhongal to reach village Belawadi to meet Lakshmi Lokur, its all beautiful  green along the road sides and as far as one could see it was Oxen ploughing..yes almost all the way one could see only 2 tractors! That itself was a rare sight- an indicator of how great my day or the meeting was going to be!
It can only be imagined, not put in words..the series of ploughing with ox all over and as a result sort of dark lines across red expanse and peppered with green all was magical, all the way.
And we miss the I stop by to enquire about the village and Lakshmi, the person doesn’t know and then suddenly jumps and asks if it is the lady organic farmer with lots of buffaloes! Bingo..
So, u-turn and go..

There as you enter the farm the diversity strikes. Yes, there is a stylish pick up van and near by buffaloes. There are so many weeds as much as variety of plants and trees. This 22 acre land that Lakshmi operates out of has almost everything and all in full bloom inspite of the 1st rains having arrived only the previous day.

A decade back she was in Mumbai, in bag manufacturing business. But her fathers health and her thirst brought her back to her village and she doesn’t regret that move a bit. Infact she relishes it.  It was not usual for women to take to agriculture nor was it supported by family and friends. But she had a great friend and guide in her father who allowed her to try in 1 acre first. And that stands at 22 acres today! She did a short term course in the KLE college in Belgaum and there she was more in the nursery and the farm than in the classroom. Thus picking up all important ingredients of farming and ready and raring to experiment.

She didn’t think of any other practice other than sustainable agri from day 1. After all she wasn’t ‘educated’ or ‘management student’ she didn’t see this as agribusiness but saw it as agri-culture. But her acumen brought both ecology and economy – sustainably!
So she started with raising buffalo, selling milk, making vermin compost and selling and then expanded her farming activity. Each of these self taught. There is something about her where one can trust her instincts to be right and am sure that is what helped her march ahead with all confidence and success. So everything was tried- mixed cropping, inter, trap crops like castor and then graduated to making these castor double up as trellises for creepers, even sugarcane is grown with various vegetables as many innovative and imaginative ideas..all executed with elan and success. Her jeevamrutha, EM, trichoderma all goes thru thr drip irrigation.
Lots of planning also goes…her vegetables, their cycles and what will be in the neighbouring plot- all are casually planned and executed. Tubers are planted along with mediums like onion, garlic and then greens there is harvest every other day and then when the onions & garlic is harvested the space is maximized for the tubers which are maturing then.
There are pits that run parallel to the fence and on one side of it are long term trees like lemon, teak etc and this side vines and climbers. The roots of the tress go deeper and so don’t affect these crops..her varieties include a black green gram to cow pea to channa to wheat to a full range of vegetables apart form a host of tress and ofcourse the welcome weeds allover!

One realizes she is a born leader. As she walks along with us showing the field, she would throw orders all round, suggest what to harvest for that day's sales and to some one else how to pack and when and where to deliver…to another what to cook for lunch..and all along she will also casually deweed or harvest and collect and put them all in to a temporary pouch that she managed to form stylishly with a cloth around her waist. After all she was in bag business.

Now to the most important part- her market! So what do you do for a market: ask any farmer, forget an organic one, and all you get is cribs and long winded story about how they are short changed (most of it ofcourse is true)..but from lakshmi one gets a smile..
'Come with me now..'
'Lets go..'
Where? ‘to my market’

So this multitasker takes us for a sumptuous local food and meanwhile instructs people what and how to pack and excuses herself and comes back ready in few minutes- to drive her pick up van to the market!
She drives to Dharwad, belgaum and sells her produce at earmarked locations each day of the week. Some of her produce is also sent to Bangalore and Mangalore organic outlets.

Today it was to be Dharwad. This cute little town known for its agri university- lots of us are anemic to such univs and campus bcos they are the breeding grounds for the industrial agriculture. Reductionist principles and mono cropping in thoughts,practice and agriculture.
So what will she do there?
She walks in to the Department of Agriculture first: and people- yes staff of the DOA come and line up under that tree and pick the greens, dal, jaggery and what not? The profile of the customers is very interesting. Her pricing is standard for a season and really low that  one gets to see employees of the lower cadre too coming and buying happily! Each one calculates themselves and gives her the money. One says that she didn’t pay for some stuff bought last week and pays up. Then suddenly I hear a small commotion and 2 of them arguing (or so I thought) with Lakshmi..and so I go there with my antenna up..and they are from the adjacent building and they are fighting that she shud come over there too and sell her organic stuff..they have taken permission and she shud turn up there ‘first’..howzzat?
Then she will go to the radio station and then the university- yes, agri university. Where many of us go to fight their wrong policies, sell out to MNCs, antifarmer practices..but This great lady goes there to the den – to shake the mane & beard in a different style! She sells them all poison free food! gives lectures about organic food and health! What better way to combat them?

Way to go lakshmi Lokur! You are different! And great..

For photos:see here

Saturday, August 25, 2012

hardy foxtail and my terrace..

in the recent past the travels have increased so much that a month back i removed all plants in the small pots in our terrace (bcos my parents find it tuff to come up the stairs to water regularly)..
so all pots were left high and dry..(ofcourse the ground level garden is intact)
and suddenly when i visited 2 weeks back, i find some life..just after one rain there had been some life..from what i thought was just soil i had left behind..
suddenly each of the pots had some green lives..
i pulled them all out and covered the soil and went again..
now when i came back i find one hardy looking blade of grass standing a bit taller than other weeds..just wanting you to notice..
this time one more rain that night and next day this grass grows taller..
iam inquisitive..wait for 2 more days and it shows up..

see here:
and that is Fox Tail millet! i prolly had dusted one of my bags after travel and that could have carried spilled over seeds..and see this picture!
what a hardy stuff this millet is..not even water offered except by rain!
isnt it a beauty?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

102 out!

My grand mother passed away today morning! She was 102!
Till 100 she was fully active..then slowly whe wud still wash her clothes but ask me or other of her numerous grand children to dry them..
last few months she had been bed ridden but still very active with her memory..
even last week i asked her some recipe on aloe vera and how to process at wise we have got many on millets before..

she was such a darling to all..every servant/maid of all her wards or any one who have visited her wud keep in touch with her..
as we were planning her last rites, when we were discussing the sea visit, one of my uncle's employee was asking me which route we will go..I told him he shud go from the gas cremation centre but he said- no way..for patti i will go any length..that is some one who had nothing to do with at all except seeing her when he visited my uncles home (and its rare she wud be there)..such is her impact on people..
which ever house she used to be (she wud take turns and move around till last) there wud be so many people who wud come all the way to just enquire or narrate some story or just peep..

absolutely non controversial and far too uncomplicated..even progressive than her wards many positive and easy..she was a great lady..

That was a full life she had..Glad she didnt have to suffer except the last 2 days..even when she was in such pain she wud hardly express it..last night when i was 'man'ing her from 12 till 3am, she wud suddenly wriggle in pain and look at me and change it to a smile..wudnt want us to know she had such pain..

good bye patti..u were a great lady..


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Safe Food Mela at Kodambakkam on 12th Aug 3-7pm

Safe Food Alliance & Kodambakkam Exnora Womens Guild,
and Anna Park Walkers Exnora
Jointly organise
Safe Food Mela

                          Organic Snacks, Sale of Organic products
Awareness Exhibition, Gardening & composting tips

3.00 P.M to 7.00 PM, Sunday Aug 12th 2012
 Anna Park (Chennai Corporation) United India Colony
Kodambakkam, Chennai – 600 024 Cell: 9840958713

Chennai citizens can look forward to an interesting and informative Safe Food Mela create awareness about toxic chemical residues in food and urging consumers to switch to safe organic alternatives, this mela is the combined effort of several non-profit organizations, youngsters spearheading the organic foods movement and organic enterprises. The Mela is expected to be attended by personalities from the film world, musicians, writers  and intellectuals.

The Safe Food Mela is part of a nation-wide campaign called INDIA FOR SAFE FOOD (, which seeks to promote chemical-free farming and alternatives to toxic technologies like synthetic pesticides and Genetically Modified foods.  India continues to use many pesticides that have been banned in other countries and many of these are known to be carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting or reproductive-toxicants. Many studies including in the public sector laboratories, show our food, water and soil, and even breast-milk are contaminated with pesticides.

The Mela in Kodambakkam will have organic outlets from around the city setting up their stalls with a variety of products (fresh greens, millets, traditional rices, honey, snacks etc.), as also food-stalls selling tasty ready to eat organic fare.  Awareness material about toxics in foods, traditional and safe foods, and urban gardening will also be on display.

The Safe Food Mela promises to offer fun for the entire family, and the opportunity to change the way you consume food. After all, as the saying goes, You Are What You Eat! Enjoy the joys of organic food, and join the India For Safe Food Movement. You can endorse the cause by giving a missed call on 022-3301 0031 and log on to for more information.

                                       For more information contact
     Mrs Meenakshi                         Ananthoo                          R.Govindaraj
           (Exnora)                         (Safe Food Alliance)                     (Exnora)
   Cell: 9840958713                     Cell: 9444166779                  Cell: 9941007058