Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Long Walk Home....

I shot this picture when I was trekking in a rural locale about 60 km from Bangalore. The picture was obviously shot from atop a hill. This image shows how this villager has to struggle to lead her life. She is ok with the risk of walking along the railway tracks for long distances to collect firewood from the forest. Life is so easy for us in the city and yet we still complain that government is not doing enough. Here is this lady who has to walk long distances over uneven ground just to survive... It is time we appreciate the good things we have...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Ganesha Chaturthi

Wish you all a very Happy Gowri-Ganesha Festival!

This statue of Ganesha was created in the Myso...Image via Wikipedia

Most of my readers from India would have celebrated the festival with devotion. Here in the US I am pretty sure only a minority of the Hindus would have celebrated the festival at home. Most would have gone to the temple, some would be scheduled to celebrate over the weekend. Whatever your plans are, I wish you a very Happy Gowri-Ganesha Festival.
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Wildfires ravage homes and wilderness areas in Texas

News reporting is mostly about scams, crimes, and other negative aspects of the human society. When I hear about political scams, businesses exploiting workers, etc I just nod and go on with myself. It is only when I listen to news about gruesome crimes and harm to the environment that I get deeply affected. Since the past couple of days I have been listening to the news about wildfires that are burning several pristine wilderness areas in the State of Texas, US.

Nature, wilderness, forests, wildlife, and birds have so little left after what we humans have consumed, and now even their shrinking habitats are being threatened. The first threat is from the ever-greedy human being and then the next threat is mother nature herself, who rears up as floods, hurricanes, thunderstorms and sometimes as wildfires.

Every year during summer bush fires are common in rural Texas but this year it has been extremely severe. Texas has been suffering from drought which has limited water resources drastically. As a result the vegetation and forests have become extremely dry and susceptible to fire. This summer has been extremely severe thanks to the drought, temperatures have been constantly over a 100 deg F. I remember three years ago when I came here new if summer temperatures rose only to about 102 or 103 and that too only for a day or two. Unfortunately this year has not been so, triple digit temperatures have burned down for the past month or so.

Earlier this year in April 2011 Possum Kingdom State Park was consumed in a wildfire that devastated several thousand acres of pristine forests. Now in August, 2011 it is a repeat incident in which 6500 acres of wilderness areas have been consumed and the fire is spreading. Hundreds of firefighters are working hard, day and night to combat and contain the fire but in vain. Several residences close to the fire have been evacuated and now the residents are not sure whether their homes will be safe when they return.

What caused the fire? It is the dry wood from dead trees, twigs, and dry grass in the forest that easily catch fire in the heat of the sun. In countries like India where there are several hundred poor people who live by collecting firewood for cooking and sometimes to sell to others, the forest wastes are effectively used. In America there are no such abjectly poor people. Even the poorest of the poor drives a car and lives in a home with central air conditioning and heating, so nobody collects or uses the dead wood in the forests.

Moreover the state parks officials consistently maintain the park very well in such a way that insects and pests that eat dead wood and compost it can't thrive in state parks. This adds to the problem of dead wood and fire-susceptible state parks. The result is wildfires summer after summer.

I feel sad for the people affected and sadder for the animals and plants in the park that are now homeless, and perhaps lifeless too. Anyway I hope this fire doesn't happen ever again anywhere in the world and we can Save our forests for the future.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Favorite Places around Bengaluru

I have been living in the US since the past nearly 4 years. Life has been pretty good, the roads are better, traffic jams are almost unheard of, I drive a pretty nice car, and enjoy lot more luxuries than back home in India. I have traveled the length and breadth of the country and have my favorite spots everywhere. Living in the US is like staying at a luxury hotel, how much ever comfortable and luxurious it maybe it can never be called home. When I was living in Bengaluru it was common for me to take off every weekend for a short or long trip. Here are pictures of some of my favorite spots around Bengaluru.

Old fort in Devanahalli
Devanahalli Fort

Gokak Falls, India\'s Niagara
Gokak Falls in Karnataka is beautiful

Gokarna a beautiful beach pilgrim location
Sunset at Gokarna

Massive sculptures in Veerahbadreswara temple, Lepakshi
Sculpture of Serpant and Lord Shiva in Lepakshi

These beautifully designed pillars are every art lovers delight
Intricately carved temple pillars at Lepakshi

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Millions of Americans left without Power

Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast over the weekend and has wrecked havoc on that part of the country. When there is a storm of this magnitude the first thing that happens is power outage and that is precisely what happened in the US. It is funny when I was in India every time it rained there would be power outage and the telephone lines would go dead, we would go into a frenzy calling the electricity board and complaining. Everything is privatized in America and most of these large corporations have their service desks in India, Philippines or other country to address their customer complaints. I wonder how effectively these service desk people will be able to support the customer at this time.

Except for TV and news reports and the internet the call center employees would not have any access to information about situation on the ground. The reassurances they would provide for the consumer would probably be shallow and not rooted in reality. Moreover news coverage of Irene is not so extensive in India as it would be elsewhere in the US. This is quite expected, because priorities of each nation varies. While the news is top headlines in every news channel here, it would be just another story in the international news in India.

I wonder how Americans so accustomed to extreme comfort of centralized air conditioned, lots of space, and nice furniture living now even as the storm passes. It will take a week or two for life to return to normalcy. And for some it will never return to normalcy because they have lost one or more of their family members.