The mishmash series

I started dabbling in writing a little while ago, initially in the form of snippets on Facebook. There was no name or aim to it but ‘Random Ramblings’ has become quite fun and it has progressed from FB to FB page to a blog! The mishmash series is simply an effort to keep all my posts in one place. So here’s the first rehash of a couple of my earlier writings with a tiny bit of tweaking!

I think of these few lines from 23/11/2019 as my first ‘Rambling‘.

Looking after our Blue planet is so topical at the moment, hence sharing a few changes I am attempting and hope you will add your efforts as individuals to this post: 1. reducing at least one car journey every week 2. reducing single use plastic- have replaced several cleaning products and also gone back to good old bar of soap and shampoo, chucked out all wipes.3. trying to ensure not ALL my fruit and veg is flown in from other end of planet.4. setting the thermostat to 19-20

Exactly three years on, what has changed? There is more public awareness, more noise from governments, organisations and in media, we have had another COP summit and Attenborough in his 96th year having made hundred plus documentaries, continues to educate us in his inimitable style and voice. Nature herself has been giving not-so subtle hints about the crisis point we are in.

At an individual level, of the four changes I mentioned, I find reducing car journeys the toughest. But we must keep trying, for ‘eco’ is the buzzword and we all have to do our bit; be it printing less, using LED bulbs, unplugging appliances, reducing packaging or carrying water bottles.

And the latest plight to hit us is of course the energy crisis. I heard on radio about ‘planned power cuts’ this winter in UK. This may be a shocker for some but coming from the subcontinent I feel quite prepared for this, I say! I remember many an afternoon when we would use newspapers or magazines to fan and cool ourselves in the sweltering heat and the instant when the blades of the ceiling fan start moving again- oh! the ultimate bliss. But we must not detract. As a species, we must focus on looking after the planet and use the ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ mantra, in that order, on a daily basis. I suspect the ‘reduce’ part of it will be the toughest for the more fortunate ones as needs and wants blur quite seamlessly when affordability is not an issue. We could start with the recommended 4-minute showers and build from there, while the movers and shakers work out ways to stop using fossil fuels!

The iconic ‘Earthrise’ by William Anders, during Apollo 8 mission

‘Pullaai piravi…’, a more recent one from 26/03/2022

“Pullaai piravi thara vendum” (grant me life as a blade of grass) …so begins this lilting melody, verses of which were penned by a great Tamil composer of yore. A recent conversation in my WhatsApp group reminded me of this song. I have listened to this several times but now I made the effort to learn the meaning of each verse. Oh! What a beauty it is. Sheer beauty of poetry and creative genius of the poet- definite mood elevators.

The poet beseeches Lord Krishna to grant him life as a blade of grass in the holy town of Brindavan, but quickly changes his mind saying, “grass will not last long, hence make me a stone so I can live forever”. The song goes on to describe the joy the stone would feel listening to Krishna’s magical flute, how lucky it would feel to be a seat for the child-God and would also make room for his consort Radha and blissfully witness the divine dance of the Gopi’s. The melody, the sprightly rhythm, the vivid verses– oh! So beautiful.

Now, what made me delve into the song was a chat about the cruelty in the dairy industry and how cows are used as milk machines for us humans. But the alternative plant sources are not entirely nature-friendly either. Almond uses vast amounts of freshwater, soy and rice farming affect soil and water quality. All of these produce greenhouse gases, are more pricey and also less nutritious. Thinking further, it is not just dairy farming but every activity of humans harms the planet in one way or another. Be it driving or flying, mammoth levels of single use plastic, use of gas or electricity, ever increasing manufacture of clothes by the fast fashion industry, food waste, meat consumption, micro plastic in tea bags and cleaning cloths- the list is endless! And the solutions are non-existent and/or so difficult that it is not practical. And that is when my mind wanders to “pullaai piravi…”

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Shaun the sheep

Shaun the sheep is back in the news having been given a seat on the Orion and launched into orbit in the latest NASA mission. Lucky Shaun (or not, if you prefer the terra firma). Plans are to send humans to the lunar surface again nearly seven decades after that historic first landing. What is this unending fascination with space? The vast expanse of the skies has always fuelled man’s imagination. Early man weaved intricate stories about Gods and deities residing in the clouds and watching over us. Our ancestors created stories of celestial dramas unfolding amidst the feathery clouds with great clarity and detail.

The Indian psyche too had its share of wildly imaginative tales about space and beyond. In addition, my forefathers theorised that the celestial objects somehow influenced human lives and life events. Astronomy and astrology were closely linked as far as the Indian thinking was concerned and still is to a significant extent. And so every Indian invariably has something called a horoscope– a chart drawn according to the positions of the planets and/ or celestial objects, at the time of one’s birth. Great amount of time and effort is spent trying to interpret the chart and thereby predict the future. Education, careers, marriages, business and many other important life decisions are often based on the predictions made by the astrologer. This is still a way of life amongst a significant proportion of the population. Is there any truth in this? Who knows? To those who believe; it is a science and gobbledygook to the rest.

another space buff i know quite well:)

Once the human intellect cracked the science, and technology and physics took over, man could explore the beyond and understand all about origins of the universe, the galaxies and life on the blue planet. The fascination and adventurous spirit continues to hold sway and another mission to explore our nearest neighbour in space has begun. The Artemis I mission has started with the first uncrewed flight but plan is to get humans on the moon not too far in the future.

“Houston, we have a problem!” The immortal lines are etched in the memory of movie buffs all over the world and rekindle the excitement even today. Apollo 13 was a drama which became very real for all of us in those one hundred and forty minutes, irrespective of whether we chose to be on the spacecraft or in mission control. Even today the thrill is undiminished; helped hugely by the handsome Tom Hanks, of course!

While Attenborough has spent his life teaching us about our current abode, Professor Cox has created several incredible documentaries regaling us with facts about the space and beyond. Perhaps there’s a reason why man continues to explore the space. Perhaps he knows he has wrecked the blue planet too far beyond repair and would soon have to vacate. And perhaps man hopes to create colonies on Mars to save the species from extinction! Who knows?

Turning 50!

Turning 50, for some obscure reason, feels quite momentous. I am reminded of what my Head once said in the famed Friday afternoon assembly at school about how one can learn so much by simply living on the planet. I suppose she was referring to that valuable commodity called life-experience, which I think still has a place in society despite what Professor Google would have us believe! Of course, it would all be much more enjoyable if the skin and hair (amongst other things) didn’t change. Alas, that’s not to be. And so much else changes too.

People make a lot of fuss about the 40th but I tell you 50 is the real deal. I have discovered muscles in my body I have never read about or knew existed. NHS which has so far been an acquaintance starts inching towards friendship. Exercise is not just that item recommended by experts we keep adding to our list of things to start/do but an essential part of the routine! Sleep and energy levels have taken a whole new significance and the wretched ‘brain fog’- let’s not even go there! I have also discovered that coffee is not the only elixir of life, so is oestrogen if you belong to the female of the species. (I can hear the loud groan of ‘not this again’ from my children at the mention of oestrogen, they have heard a lot about it recently and as my daughter put it Sid is probably the only 15 year old who has had so many lessons on the topic!).

A lot of clichés start to make more sense too. The one I have been thinking most is ‘life is too short’. Not in a morbid sense but how there’s just not enough time to see, do, achieve, learn, enjoy and experience all that the human heart and mind want. It is neigh impossible to satisfy all the wishes and wants which soar to the skies and beyond. And that’s perhaps why all philosophies extol ‘living in the present moment’, including the millions of messages we share on WhatsApp, what I refer to as the WA vedantam (Tamil for theology).

The 20s, 30s and 40s are the busiest and in a way the most productive years of our lives. They just fly by with us chasing and doing a myriad of things building our careers and raising families and suddenly it feels like 50 has come knocking too soon. We may well hide behind phrases like ‘ 50 is the new 40 (or any other number)’ but there is no getting away from the profound half century mark! Yet, ageing is not just about decay but also about growth (as Morrie Schwartz explains so eloquently on this and various other topics in the all-time favourite of mine ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’). And how can we not embrace growth? It’s all about moving forward, learning, gaining confidence and also liberation from self-doubts and FOMOs alike!