Children Activity and environment

I have a nephew with whom I love to spend time. Already a Recycle-reuse-environment pro, he loves if any activity is for nature and importance of environment conservation.

This summer vacation I taught him few things at regular interval. First was a small act of decorating a waste glass bottle and using it for money plant growth. We clipped a money plant sapling from just below one of the node of the full climber. We placed this sapling in the bottle filled with water and changed water after 10 days. In a month time, we had nice roots in this bottle money plant sapling. Now was the time to transfer the sapling with roots in the soil.

We went to Chaayos a tea parlor where we get tea in nice mud cup. My nephew asked the shop lady’s permission to take the used cup back home. The lady happily wrapped it and gave us the used cups. Our money plant now has a new home! least cost maximum happiness in kiddo.

Our young environment warrior. The next task he wants to take up is the preparation of paper bags and spreading awareness about not using plastic! A bit of guidance is necessary for these kids to think big about the environment.

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bird encounter

Look what we have on 1st June in Delhi! screaming and shouting the beauty red-naped Ibis as it is were shying away from my camera and mating behind the

pole. The pair landed on pole, with loud noise and immediately mated behind the pole. Post that one individual moved in front of the pole and was pecking on the metal stand for whatever possible reason.

Dating exotics (talking about the environment)

“A very well designed airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport” so I am told by maximum Indians. Yes for shopping (which were duty-free) and the 24×7 crowd in the airport, I agree it presents itself as one of the most happening airports in the country. Yet what is very well planned means for maximum people? I came to know that the artificial garden and plantation of trees of another habitat categorizes it as very GREEN and planned airport. Honestly, I can tell you it is a huge wastage of space, especially seeing date palm trees in Delhi gives me a sad feeling of being in a middle east city and not my INDIA.
Why do we Indian prefer exotic so much? Delhi is a city of many trees but Date palm. Those wastelands outside the airport are not used for landing flights then why are they covered with finely manured grasses and the stupid small size date palm which doesn’t even provide shade to any human being or car? Why this land was not used to plant many native trees and area be used for parking cars too? We had been a sustainable country so why are we so happy to imitate Dubai kind of cities which give importance to money and malls? And when the government wants to do green planning who decides to plant date Palm?
I worked in Okhla Bird Sanctuary which had a very nice extended and porous habitat on many sides of the wetland. Apparently a park was being built in its vicinity by our Chief Minister of that time where illogical damage to habitat was done. On Honorable Supreme Court direction, the government was asked to plant many trees to overcome the cost. Now the government brought many saplings and thousands of laborer to plant “Ficus” trees in the closest possible vicinity. The poor plant which needs space to breath and thrive died a very sad death. Our loss? We could have had a big patch of forest which would not only provide habitat to birds of the wetland but would have reduced the air pollution and heat dominating that part of NCR. Inside the cemented park (which i never visited) it is said that over 37000 date palm trees were purchased for many thousands of rupees (one date palm was bought for 25000 rupees!) from Middle East. The government invest such huge amount of money and don’t even feel like asking an ecologist for pro and con of it? Not spending a single penny they could have easily planted pipal which is native and acts as soil binder. The romance of Government authorities with Date palm is obnoxiously high priced as well as present least contribution to environment. Some journalist wrote that date palm serves as host tree for Baya birds. Honestly any bird or animal need habitat to survive not an exotic plant sitting in middle of nowhere! Now also we have green expressways everywhere in NCR. Planting exotic trees and not taking care of the nutrient and water for these trees, they present a stunted growth. The weak root and shoot break off easily when the tornado comes. Also the wide lane and small trees on the side does not prevent the fog too. Native trees in large quantity is the need of the hour. Far gone are the days when trees were needed just for aesthetic purpose. I sat in garden space of Amity University and felt the grass not natural. I realized that it WAS ARTIFICIAL. The poor kid sitting next to me and having a bum which was quite acquainted to the grass realized on my insistence that he had been sitting on artificial grass all these while! So much for the aesthetics…….
But this is not about keeping your feet devoid of the feeling of touching the grass. This is not to enjoy bird chirp while you sit below the shade of the tree and enjoy life. If you want no ground breaking tornado or earthquake, if you want to prevent the car from burning in direct burning sunlight, if you want to breathe clean air, if you want fewer accidents in fog then plant native cheap priced trees. If you don’t want any of these then keep dating an exotic.
Personal venting out of a frustrated Indian ecologist”

the tree of our ancestory

I used to be amazed to see pipal tree growing from a crevice of the house. My mother would say one should remove it else it has the power to break the wall because its roots are very strong. However, she would neither herself uproot it nor let any of the family members do it too. According to her a potter who works with soil or an agriculturalist should uproot it. I realized that the tree has some religious significance and uprooting it is a bad omen.

In the current generation,  we expect how many of the kids to actually recognize the traditional trees? These trees are native to India and not only helped the religion survive on it for various traditions, it kept our soil rooted, provided habitat for many birds and reptile alike. If we see around us, Pipal, Bargad, Neem, rudraksha seems very elusive to most of the colonies. The date palm, Gulmohar, silver oak or maybe the commonest thin Ashok tree seems to suffice most of the “greenery”.  Why are (especially Hindus) we failing in keeping these sacred trees survive even if it is just from the religious perspective? Hinduism is a sustainable practice and not just regular temple visitations and hitting someone on the head for the sole reason of proving ownership of mundane things of the past (I did mean temple position, cosmetic surgery, pushpak vimaan, evolution…….). How many of these Hindu extremists actually plant these significant trees or hit on somebody head for cutting the tree down I wonder? Well, I am not further drifting from the topic but I wish some of these Saffron (a color I love) clad people get enlightened by Tree and their God relationship. (A person not having religious and mythological belief can peacefully ignore)

Pipal treeashwattha/ Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosais said to have provided refuge to Lord Vishnu.Ashvattha is a name of Shiva and Vishnu (combined). Said to be the origin of Saraswati river in Puran and the same is mentioned in Mahabharata where it is called Plaksha Prashravana.its symbolic of fertility and protection hence women seen doing 7 circumambulations around it. (Even Budha attained knowledge below it).

Banyan/ Vat vriksha/ National tree of India ( Ficus benghalensis): Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurti (the teacher) sat below it. In pralaya, Lord Krishna is said to have survived on the banyan leaf. Savitri brought her husband Satyavan life back under this tree (Vat Purnima is celebrated in its honor).

Dhaak/Palaash: the trifoliate leaf represents Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma.

Bael: Skanda Purana mentions that it originated from the sweat of Lakshmi/Parvati. It is offered to Lord Shiva.

Neem: Associated with Sheetala Devi and cures smallpox (now gone 🙂 )/chickenpox

Ber: Shabri offered the fruit to Lord Ram

Ashoka: Sita stayed under this tree in Lanka

Parijata: Krishna gifted it to his wives. Lord Visnu and Lord Hanuman are said to be seated under the tree.

Mentioned here are just a few such trees who has the reference to Hindu God. Many of these trees are out of sight from most of the urban landscape. Some tree can be found in or near temples. But like most of the festival losing its significance for the dearth of right place and things for the offering similarly the religious significance associated with the sacred trees are getting lost very quickly. Some years back I saw many ladies doing chath-puja at a water canal near an agricultural field in Dehradun.Within few years the built up came up on the same agricultural field and the sight of ” Chath puja” is nowhere to be seen now. Many of us riding the religious bandwagon if actually respect the culture and tradition and really want to pray to our Gods then just planting and preserving the native trees would be the best way to worship. All the “Hindu” pro men moving with a “danda” to separate every young couple on valentine day just to prove the cultural and traditional values of Hinduism, should ask that couple to plant a sapling or at least water one! If one has to distract a couple better it should be the constructive distraction and in the process, I will have more tree around me and in turn more birds!

 

 

Of climate and mosquitoes

As the trip to a cooler place was something I was looking forward to, I didn’t mind reaching Airport on the only time of cool temperature in Delhi, 4 am. However, getting seated in the waiting lounge of high profile Indira Gandhi International Airport turned out to be a morning exercise. With so many mosquitoes hovering and biting us, we started the aerobics then and there. But to think of it you cant do aerobics everywhere and everytime of the day. Like inside the plane where the mosquitoes followed after developing a special affinity to us. One might say ehh you were at AIRPORT and INSIDE PLANE…were you in a “cheap” place where hygiene is not maintained? I would have said so! But as I speak the immune mosquitoes are becoming ubiquitous and in very near future they might be in cleanliest of the clean place of richest of the rich country.
I always had a feeling mosquitoes are at places where “still water” is found. For my work, I happened to travel in the far desert of Jaisalmer. Now we have very less shifting sand dunes and due to Indira Gandhi canal, greenery is not aloof to these habitats especially Neem tree.One of the officials in these desert said that now wherever soldiers have stationed for some time also, they plant “neem tree” over there. The reason was mosquitoes and not heat. Neem tends to keep the mosquitoes at bay due to its various medicinal properties. I met a soldier who belonged to terai area ( a more mosquito-malaria love story zone) of India and he said that he contracted malaria when he was in cold area of Sikkim. And he added he was not the alone case.
My perception of mosquitoes causing malaria and dengue are slowly changing. From unhygienic, stagnant water and not enough mosquito repellent reason, the notorious climate change is blamed. The dengue virus and other pathogen are temperature sensitive. A study reveals that a 10 degree Celsius temperature increase, generation interval in the virus is halved. So more infection per generation and also faster generation of virus. The change in climate lengthens the transmission season too. By 2080 an extra 2 billion dengue transmission (WHO)!
Well, but it is inevitable climate change. The government should do something about it. By switching off the light, banning plastics, using less electricity, planting less tree and cutting down forests, using excessive water and blah blah, we don’t affect climate. We would be just barking on the wrong tree. And if there is any disease prevailing then another person like Ronald Ross will come to our rescue. I should just relax and start practicing aerobics on the airplane 🙂

nepal currency and wildlife!

Nepal currency gives significant attention to large mammals. Animals like elephant, snow leopard , rhinoceros represent various denomination of currency.

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Its good to see wild animals on everyday interaction currency. Its the best way to reach out to people! isnt it?