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Posts from — March 2015

The Cycle of Life Workshop on Composting and Container Gardening

If you are into Organic Terrace Gardening and live in Bangalore, one of the names you’d hear very often is Vani Murthy. Vani is a treasure trove of information about composting and gardening.

Vani started out with composting and garbage segregation a few years ago. It was the compost she made that led her to gardening. She is a compost queen, there is very little Vani doesn’t know or hasn’t tried in the arena of composting.

I’ve been meaning to go for a workshop with her leading for a over a year now but something always comes up. This time when I got an email from the WCFM team, I scrambled to get things in place so I could attend. I didn’t want to miss out again.

Of course I didn’t know that my khambha was turning one in the same week or that I had been composting for over a year. Quite a coincidence wouldn’t you say?

The workshop had sounded great, a session with Vai on composting and a session with Hariram on terrace gardening. That’s two fish on one hook!

I got Devisri of Urban Dawg to sign up too and we arrived at the workshop destination in time to grab the front seats. In such things I’m a front bencher. 😀

The workshop started with an introduction to garbage and it’s problem. Uma, Claire, Vani and Shyamala walked us through the different types of garbage and how they can be managed and segregated. The stats are mind boggling when you realise how much waste we generate. And how much we can do by simply separating and sending the right junk to the right place.

Now that we understood types of garbage, Vani took over on her speciality – wet waste. She started out with explaining what wet waste was and then delved into the aerobic method of composting. It’s process and do’s and don’ts.

Vani then talked about the aerobic method, also called the bookish system and how it worked. This is a great method for indoor composting. This method also works better for meat and leftover food. And the leachate generated is an awesome payoff not only for plants but also drains!

Then she got to what I have been wanting to know about for a while now. Earthworms!

These little benign creatures can make for the fastest and best vermicompost. But they are also really delicate and fussy creatures. They need a lot of love and care!

That completed Vani’s session and we headed down to for Hariram’s session which was to be both theory and practical. Harris started out with telling us about his background in gardening.

He talked about how his grandma grew vegetables and how he outgrew the fascination of it as a child. But when his child commented one day that vegetables came from the fridge, he knew it was time to go back to the garden.

He started out small with 3-4 pots and today has over 140 pots. Over the last couple of years he has grown and documented a variety of herbs and vegetables – from sweet potato to corn.

After telling us about the types of soil, climate, sun, etc. Harris took a break for lunch. It was a simple wholesome lunch of bisibelabath and curd rice. This was followed up with the practical sessions.

The first thing we got our hands dirty with was mixing and preparing soil.

The bunch of us were split into groups and each group did one activity. Group two got on their knees to filled pots and grow bags with the prepared soil.

We then learned about planting seeds in seedling trays. How many seeds for what type of vegetable/herb and what depth.

After that it was time to transplant saplings. All the know how about removing and placing a little plant into a new pot.

All the practicals complete, we headed back to the presentation to learn about crop rotation, pests and friendly insects. How to discourage pests with organic methods and tips on encouraging the good insects.

And that completed our session. We’d exceeded the time limit and would have gone on I think, if we’d had a chance and choice.

I learned a lot in one day. The program was packed with knowledge and information. And the chance to pick the brains of experts like Vani and Hariram was an opportunity I’m glad I got. 😀

I’m so looking forward to getting my own Bokashi system set-up, making my composting more robust and getting my kitchen garden started off. Hopefully if all goes well, you’ll see me soon asking for help to eat all the veggies I grow. 😛

If you are into composting and/or gardening and would like to attend one of these workshops, please write in to cleangreenworkshops@gmail.com.

March 20, 2015   No Comments

Book Review: One by Richard Bach

 
Title: One
Author: Richard Bach
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Dell (October 2nd 1989)
Genre: Philosophy
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

 

Summary: (Goodreads)

Under the spell of quantum physics, Bach and his wife Leslie are catapulted into an alternate world, one in which they exist simultaneously in many different incarnations. First they encounter themselves as they were 16 years ago on the day they first met. In this version of their lives, they do not marry, and never achieve the happiness Bach assures us that their real union has produced. Bach once again displays an inventive imagination and inspirational zeal that will have readers examining their own lives.

My Review:

Note: This review was first written way back in 2000, for a website OyeIndia.com that existed way back then. 😀

Cover: I loved the cover. THe blue and the simpleness gets me every time.

Paper and font: Smell-worthy!

Readability, language: Easy on the eyes, Deep on the mind.

Why did I choose this book: After ‘A Bridge Across Forever’, this one just had to be read.

I gave my life to become the person I am right now.
Was it worth it?

‘One’ deals with the choices we make in life and where they take us. The choice we make today, the turn we take, the idea we implement or even the stranger we smile at will affect our lives years from now.

Written by Richard Bach, One is a journey of self-exploration. Some of Bach’s outstanding works include Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and A Bridge Across Forever. Bach’s writing is usually about himself and his experiences.

One is not an adventure story, thriller or suspense novel. It is a journey Bach and his wife Leslie make into their life, the past and the future. They go back to meet Atila and forward to meet a robot that’s trying to protect the earth. It is a trip down life’s twists and turns to see what would have happened if you had taken a different turn.

There will be a lot of times you will stop to contemplate and think for a lot of reasons. You may find a situation parallel with one in your life or maybe pleasantly surprised that someone can think so much like you. Essentially it is a journey into your self.

It is a thought provoking book and so obviously for the thinkers. It is not a book for light reading, read it only if you have the time, I suggest you take this one to bed.

About the Author:
A former USAF fighter pilot, Air Force captain and latter-day barnstorming pilot, Richard Bach is an avid aviator-author-philosopher. He enjoys the joys and freedom of flying and writing about it along with delving into deep philosophy and thought experiments. You can find out more about him at www.richardbach.com.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

March 19, 2015   No Comments

A Year of Composting

Time flies quickly, maybe very quickly. I got reminded of this yesterday when I received an email from the DailyDump.org team. I know a year has gone past, it is now 2015 but I hadn’t noticed the time going by.

I’ve completed a year of using the Khambha they said. That’s one year of not throwing any wet waste out of my house. That’s nearly a 100kg of waste kept away from a landfill according to the DailyDump guys. And that’s something to celebrate!

Che and I don’t cook so much and yet we generate a fair bit of waste. I used to feel really guilty about this but after the Khambha came and I started composting I don’t feel so  guilty anymore. At least not about wet waste and kitchen waste.

All my kitchen waste like vegetable peels, vegetable discards, egg shells, bones, and even left over food goes into the composter and comes out as black gold.

I must have made about 5 or so batches of compost until now and have used the compost too. The plants seem to love it and thrive on it. The whole cycle makes me smile and feel so satisfied.

I’m giving back to nature in a way, becoming a part of a natural cycle and in the whole process I’m contributing less to landfills and my dustbin doesn’t smell anymore. I don’t care if the garbage collection guy doesn’t come daily for with only dry waste, there’s no smell or insects to worry about.

The process of composting itself isn’t very intensive. It’s simple to do, takes 5 – 10 minutes daily and maybe an hour or so once in a few months when the compost is ready. And even though all the veggie stuff you put in is decomposing, the compost while it’s getting done does not smell bad.

I love the smell of my compost, it’s an earthy rich smell that fills me with joy every time I stick my nose in there. I started out with composting as gift to myself last year and what a gift it has been. :)

Do you compost? Where did you get your composter? What’s your experience with composting?

March 18, 2015   No Comments

Let It Go…

‘Let It Go’ are words I have heard often, been told often. But letting go is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I tend to hold on to stuff, not physical stuff but rather emotional stuff, I mull and mull till I get to mopping. And at the end of it all, I’m mind-fucked.

Let me give you an example. This morning like most other mornings I found some stuff in the garden that didn’t belong there. Unlike other mornings though, today my neighbour was sitting out too. So, what do I do?

I call out to her holding out my hand filled with used elastic ripped off some clothes and ask her if it was hers. She promptly replies saying ‘no, not mine’. When I confront her saying it isn’t mine either, I get told that her two year old must have accidentally thrown it.

When told that he accidentally throws a lot of stuff everyday into my compound, I got told that I must adjust because she cannot teach her son not to do it. I tried explaining the risk of these things to my dogs but the only reply I got was that her kids were more important than my dogs, so I must adjust.

You can imagine how I was fuming. Gawd, thinking of it I’m still fuming. Che awoke up to all this and came and pulled me away saying it was a pointless exercise saying anything to her. In all my fuming, I knew what he was saying was true, yet I couldn’t unclench my fists.

I set off on my walks with the dogs and it took me 4 out of 5 rounds to get it out of my system. I knew talking to her was pointless but I was emotionally overwhelmed, and super pissed. It was only halfway through round four that the amusement showed up, and I started to laugh at her silliness and my own.

I’d wasted 4 precious walks over my neighbour and her silly son. You see now, what I meant about letting go. I find it difficult to do and this one was one of the better cases, one that resolved faster.

I need to learn to get over things fast, let go more easily and not hold on for long. Not doing this just tires me out so much more and faster. It leaves me feeling like a wet rumpled rag. I rationally understand all of this and yet find it difficult to implement it when required.

I’m been trying for a while now and yes, I’ve gotten better but it’s not good enough. I need to get better at this. How do you learn to let go quicker? Disassociate faster? Step away sooner? And not kill yourself and your day over trivial stuff?

Understanding this and getting to doing it will make me a better person. That’s the person I want to be, the one whose feathers aren’t ruffled easily. I want to be a stronger person, more self-involved than involved in all this other stuff.

I’m working at it and will keep pushing to get there. But if you know what I can do. Have advice. Tips. Self learned lessons. Please do share with me in comments. :)

Photo Credit: Cory Jensen

March 16, 2015   No Comments

The Week That Was: Week 11

I’ve just gotten back from a composting and gardening workshop, and though I’m tired I feel all charged up. It was a fun-filled awesome day with loads of learning.

I’ll tell you more about in detail in a couple of days but for now here’s the bunch of us posing along with some transplanting we did.

Che has planned a surprise trip and he hasn’t told me where we are going. All I know is the dates and the packing list. I’m intrigued and really curious but I like surprises and hence I’m avoiding finding out about it. 😀

But with the trip coming up (we head off on 20th for 9 days) there’s a lot that got done this week and there’s a lot still to get done next week.

I got a lot of work done this week in advance since I’m travelling but I’m not going to bore you with that. Here’s some other fun stuff I did. :)

We had Gubbi come over for a play date and Elu and her were at it, for hours!

It’s been quite a while since I had Maggi. I just had to satisfy the craving but we gave it a twist with egg and peas. Like a friend said, it’s Maggburji!

Cuckoo, Elu, Senti and Buddha had coconut oil massages followed by baths.All on one day! And like that wasn’t enough I went over to help a friend give her dog a bath too! But Princess is pretty cool with drying herself. Here’s a glimpse.

After Princess’s bath, Buddha got a summer haircut! He wasn’t so happy during the haircut but he seems to be enjoying it now.

Remember the trip I mentioned. Here’s the shopping for it. Psst… I bought some stuff not for the trip too. After all, hubby was footing the bill. 😛

The Fan!!! #decathlon #fans #Bangalore #InstaCool

A video posted by @freya3377 on

And have you ever looked up in Decathlon. They’ve got these awesome fans!

Saturday night drinking after a long time! This was sure fun, as the the wavy return back home and the mild hangover the next morning. 😛

And last but in no way the least is Cuckoo, who does this classic thing when she’s wiping her paws after a poo. It’s taken me a while to capture it. (She’s scent marking I know but come-on her method is hilarious.)

With that we end… I’ll see ya in two weeks with a combined update after we get back from our surprise trip.

Do good and be safe. :)

March 15, 2015   No Comments

Saturday Tirade: My Voice

I’ve been told I have a voice that is all my own, but I don’t seem to hear it when I write. I’ve been searching for my voice for a long time now.

I hear other people talk and long for their clarity of thought, I read writings, follow blogs and wish I had what they have. Somehow my writing doesn’t seem good enough. I keep feeling like I’m falling short.

And the hunt goes on. I’m constantly trying to find my voice. My niche. The essence of my blog. The truth of my writing. And it evades me, like a game of hide and seek, only I can’t seem to seek what’s hiding.

I started writing a long time back. In school I wrote a diary and kept it hidden. I have wacky dreams so in high school I started a new journal to track them. In college I wrote for a website. In the corporate world I dabbled with company newsletters.

Then I started this blog. Yep, I’ve been blogging for 10 years. I’ve also done some travel writing, some creative writing, some script writing, documentation and some other forms of writing I don’t even remember. And yet, I don’t always feel like a writer.

The other day as I was clicking around my hard disk I remembered my writing archives. I thought I used to write well, but reading what I wrote in the early 2000’s now, makes me want to laugh. Could I have been so simple, so naive, so green with words.

Looking back my writing seems to have come a long way. Yet I know there is a long way to go too. There is so much I must learn. Yes, there are a lot of ways to do this, and the list maybe endless. Just keep writing you say. Take a course. Read more. Follow other writers… and so on.

But I think aside from all this, I also need to start from the beginning. Or at least from the beginnings I have documented. I need to go back and revisit my old words. Read them, understand them, not change them and move forward.

It is with this in mind that I’m thinking of spending the next couple of weeks revisiting and posting my old words. I’m going to be sharing what I had written 10 to 15 years ago with my thoughts on them from now.

Do stop by and share your thoughts too. Do let me know how you think I could find my voice and make my writing better. And don’t miss out on having a good laugh at the writings of a young starry-eyed gullible girl. :)

March 14, 2015   No Comments

God Speed Sir Terry

‘DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING,’ said Death. ‘JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.’ – Good Omens

This morning when I work up I was greeted by the news of the death of Terry Pratchett. I’m still in shock, and filled with sadness at the loss.

I first came across Terry Pratchett in 2002 when a friend lent me a book of his saying I must read it. I’ll never forget the book or the friend, for it set me a off on a tangent.

The book was ‘The Last Continent’, a part of the Disc World series and Pratchett’s take on Australia. It opened a new world for me, a world of humour, satire and hidden meanings.

Pratchett wrote with a depth that would be read at surface level or the reader could choose to deep dive and look into the dark abyss. He wrote stories that would make you sit up and listen, make you scratch your head and think.

I remember reading somewhere that he didn’t believe in chapters, he believed that stories have a beginning and and end. So, most of his books don’t have chapters, you just go through and through the book and then it ends.

Pratchett’s life and even his death doesn’t seem very different. He was diagnosed with a rare form of Azheimers in 2007. This didn’t stop him, it only made him fight more and write more.

It all ended on 12 March at the age of 66 due to complications from his Alzheimer’s and a severe chest infection. He passed away in his home with his cat sleeping on his bed and his family surrounding him.

Even in death he seems so him. Here are his last few tweets –

Good bye Sir Terry, you will be sorely missed.

‘Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?’ – Going Postal

With over 70 books, his name will be spoken for a long time to come. I’ve read a lot of his books, a lot of the Disc World series and yet I have so much more of Pratchett to read.

To assuage my sadness, I’m dedicating this year to Pratchett, I’m going to read all his works again. Wish me luck, Sir Terry. :)

Photo Credits: Photo 1, Photo 2

March 13, 2015   No Comments

Book Review: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding


Title: The Edge of Reason
Author: Helen Fielding
Paperback: 422 pages
Publisher: Picador, Macmillan Publishers Ltd (November 18th 1999)
Genre: Chick Lit
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

 

Summary: (Goodreads)

The Wilderness Years are over! But not for long. At the end of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget hiccuped off into the sunset with man-of-her-dreams Mark Darcy. Now, in The Edge of Reason, she discovers what it is like when you have the man of your dreams actually in your flat and he hasn’t done the washing-up, not just the whole of this week, but ever.

Lurching through a morass of self-help-book theories and mad advice from Jude and Shazzer, struggling with a boyfriend-stealing ex-friend with thighs like a baby giraffe, an 8ft hole in the living-room wall, a mother obsessed with boiled-egg peelers, and a builder obsessed with large reservoir fish, Bridget embarks on a spiritual epiphany, which takes her from the cappuccino queues of Notting Hill to the palm- and magic-mushroom-kissed shores of …

Bridget is back. V.g.

My Review:

Note: This review was first written way back in 2000, for a website OyeIndia.com that existed way back then. 😀

Cover: In keeping with the theme of the first book…

Paper and font: Good.

Readability, language: Easy and fun…

Why did I choose this book: I’d read the first, there was no way I was missing the second.

This is surely a brilliant piece of work. Helen Fielding’s ‘The Edge of Reason’ is a sequel to her earlier Bridget Jones Diary. It may not be better then the first but you will find the same style and flow here.

The book is based on a fictional character Bridget Jones, a modern woman in the modern world. She has her set of problems, men, jobs, friends, parents, etc. and has one hell of a screwed up time solving them. All women are sure to see a parallel here. She’s someone you can relate to, she feels so real.

The book is in the form of a diary and is as if she is speaking and being herself. So different from the usual detached form of writing a diary. There are parts where you will be rolling with laughter and times when you’ll be set thinking. At points you will be like ‘Oh My god! How stupid can someone get?’

I find the book beautiful. One anyone can read, simple language and so much fun. The style is so different from the usual. Her life feels like its mine and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one with those problems. The views of Bridget and her friends on almost everything are exactly what I feel but can’t put across so well. The definitions and terminology used are just too perfect and great to use.

This is a book that is “not putdownable”. It’s a must read for all and a must must read for all women.

About the Author:
Helen Fielding was born in Yorkshire and is the author of four novels. She worked for many years in London as a newspaper and TV journalist. She now works full-time as a novelist and screenwriter and lives in London and Los Angeles.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

March 12, 2015   No Comments

Video Wednesday: Qissa-e-Parsi | The Parsi Story

Parsi’s are an integral part of Indian society. They may have come to India only in the 8th and 10th Century but yet they have become a part of the fabric of this country.

Legend has it that when Parsi’s first came to India and asked King Jadhav Rana of Gujarat for permission to settle in his kingdom, he asked them how they would live here in the midst of people who were not their own, not like them at all.

The leader of he Parsi’s asked for a bowl of milk and sugar. When these were given to him, he mixed the sugar in the milk and offered it to the King, asking him to separate the two. The King looked at him perplexed and he explained – ‘Your people are like milk and we Parsi’s are like sugar. We will become part of your people and add sweetness to your society.’

Even today, this seems to hold true. Anyone who knows Parsi’s or has Parsi friends will vouch for the wonderful people they are, sweet natured, kind, gentle and with an great sense of humour. They are people who are not just great with numbers but also good at heart.

I came across a video about them them the other day and couldn’t help but smile with fond memories of my Parsi friends. Here’s to some wonderful Parsi people I’m met and dear friends I’ve made over the years. Salute.

March 11, 2015   No Comments