US House passes a bill to reduce climate change impact

The recent Bill passed by the US House towards reducing impact on climate change is likely to be a HUGE step if it goes through in the Senate.

If this Bill is passed it has a chance to impact much of the climate change problems of the world.

The US is basically saying it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of the century, progressively, starting with the goal of 17% by 2020. Its a tough goal indeed considering the US is the largest producer of greenhouse gases.

All in all, if the Bill is passed in the Senate also, I for one will definitely rejoice that we are taking this Climate change thing seriously. And with the largest economic power in the world changing its ways, there is hope yet for a Green Earth.

How they will do it is something that is not clear from the reports. Through investment in cleaner energy seems to be the answer – simultaneously reducing the US’s dependency on fossil fuels and fossil fuel producing countries. Initially, permits will be issued to emit greenhouse gases and these permits would become more pricey over time. Which means items will become more expensive. There are many who are crying hoarse at this.

I am of the opinion that finally, finally, we are maybe starting to put a right price ( environmental costs duly included) in the things we are consuming. So when we turn on that AC for longer than necessary, we are paying the right price for it.

From here, it could go two ways – companies figure out cleaner energy instead of fossil fuels – people continue to consume as much if not more. New environmental issues come up later that we had not foreseen  from use of wind and solar energy.

Or we are not able to find viable alternatives and the cost of everything goes up. People consume less than they do today. We restore some sense of balance to the natural world.

Which way will things go – I wonder?

Simply walking; or fashionably reducing Carbon footprints

Yesterday was a no-car day for the family. The car stayed where it was, in the parking lot, can you believe it – for the entire day. And still we went to office and went to school.

We did it the old-fashioned way. We just walked.

Appapappa walked for about 45 minutes to his office, trying it out as a saving fuel + exercise routine ( his cycle was in office, and so was the bike). Me and N decided to walk down to her school to enjoy the nice weather. I underestimated how much time it would take to walk down with her – because she had to stop and examine every pebble and leaf on the way, and we made it barely in time. But it felt nice,  and I was mildly surprised to observe new things I had not noticed in my neighbourhood earlier – the small tea shop behind our apartment complex, the plants growing in front of the apartments, the details of the lone single house in the area, hemmed in by the complexes.

It is so much fun to walk, I wonder why we do not do it more often. And in the process help reduce some of the carbon footprints we are leaving all over the place on our planet, that can, after all, only take so much abuse.

When faced with the option of walking instead of motorized transport, most of us, including me, would think twice. Our lifestyle is such that this seems entirely infeasible. How do you expect me to get those huge bagsful of groceries home, or for that matter, to reach my gym which is about 5 kms away from my house? But still – there are ways, if you think about it hard enough. Even for the grocery problem. Really? Yes – what about buying on a daily basis your supplies – enough that you can actually carry it home, instead of doing the entire week’s supplies as though it is a chore you need to complete?

The more I think about this the more convinced I am that going green needs to be a change in perception, and attitude of wanting to make a difference, and caring enough.

Are there enough people who care? Or is everybody too busy to even think about this? My guess is the latter.

Until we all think about it, we will continue to live in concrete highrises hemmed in by other concrete high-rises, drive in AC cars to avoid the dust and pollution ( and sometimes smell that dust and pollution when it cannot be avoided, though, as the eminent historian Ramachandra Guha writes in the book How much Should a person Consume , it is not us but the poor who have to suffer the most from environmental degradation since they have little means of insulating themselves), eat food with pesticides, and drink water that has chemicals.

There are winds of change blowing – if the indication of coverage on environmental change by popular media like newspapers and TV is any indication. But the winds of change are not strong enough ( yet) to counter the carbon-laden air and the lead-filled chemicals-soaked earth.

Doing up our house and buying a four-poster bed

I have my heart set on a four-poster bed for our bedroom.

Something modern, interesting looking like this:


Or this, with pencil-posts, as they call it:


Or even a little traditional looking,


Now that we have set up our guest-room with the old Ikea bed, done it up with new curtains and a nice bed-spread waiting for our guests ( little sis, this time its a royal treatment), our bedroom is empty!

Appapappa got this idea that we will buy dhurries and sleep on the floor – and we did. For two whole days. Good as it is for the back, I do miss sleeping on a bed and a mattress.

Its an indication of our craziness I think that we are oscillating between sleeping on Rs200 dhurries for the next one year, or indulging on a four-poster bed that will set us back by 40 K. Can we just decide one way or the other and be done with it? No, we have to discuss this thing to death – so while it is practical for us to not have a bed at all ( that way N can roll all around the floor and we don’t have to worry about her falling off), we do want to upgrade our lifestyle to one where we at least sleep on beds like other normal people our age.

These four-poster beds do give a lot of character to the bedroom. Should we indulge, inspite of the risk of N painting our new bed over with her crayons? Or should we wait a year or two, let her grow up, and until then – its good old-fashioned dhurries?

< New update: And ours looks like this. Yes, finally got one, made of Mango Wood. Love it now. It has a matching mirror that I’ve put up on the opposite wall>



Poem inspired by the torrents of monsoon rain

The peasant lady bathes,
Rivulets of cool water washing away
The dust and grime
Of hard toil.

The white sun was unforgiving
The black earth, cracked and dry.
Like her palms covered in tiny scratches,
From the weeds she pulled with bare hands.

As the water runs,
Trickles through her open hair,
Makes it gleaming black again, like her bare back
She is soothed.

The dust is washed away and yet,
She draws more water from the well;
It is as if she is trying to wash away
A Thousand years of toil.

Useful tips for doing your bit towards reducing climate change

Tips  from the United Nations site published on World Environment Day,  for how each of us can reduce our carbon footprint and maybe contain the damage that has been done, and that is being done continuously to the environment. Admittedly, these are small steps we can do as individuals, and there is much more that needs to be done to contain the damage, but hey, this is a beginning?

Warning – following these need a good bit of dedication.

  • Don’t go anywhere without your cloth bag so you can just say no to plastic whenever you shop.

< From me: Before you gloss over this, consider the fact that most the 60Billion tonnes of plastic that we produce every year remain littering the planet, mostly the oceans and seas, where sea creatures and birds eat them mistaking them for food. Very soon, the oceans and seas will start looking like the rivers of our major metros. We’ve all seen them, those nalas, the Yamuna in Delhi, the Musi in Hyderabad, the Hooghly>

  • Radical as it may seem, in today’s “the easier the better” society, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by avoiding driving altogether. Power down and Instead try biking, walking, carpooling, public transport or an occasional telecommute.
  • If you have no other choice than to drive to work, look for the most fuel- efficient car model for your next purchase and keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure.

Hmm.. I’d read about this a while back. Keeping the tyre pressures proper helps save a huge amount of fuel.

  • If you’re one of the lucky few blessed with clear stretches of road on your way to work, use cruise control, as it saves fuel and also helps you maintain a constant speed.
  • If you’re among the majority of drivers who spend their mornings stuck in traffic, consider turning your engine off if you will be idling for long periods of time. And plant a tree.

Shall do, shall do, I want to save fuel and some moolah in the bargain!

  • For those who suffer from road rage, remember that aggressive driving lowers your mileage, so if you want to save on fuel and save the planet while you’re at it, accelerate gradually– something to keep that in mind the next time that bad driver cuts you off! Just count to 10 and say the planet needs me!

There’s more on the site, go have a look and find out what what changes you can make to your lifestyle.

The good news is most of these also keep us fit and health – biking to work, carrying a cloth bag full of groceries 🙂

What N is watching these days & How to keep a toddler occupied

This cool video by Eric Herman:

I realised I’m in danger of getting hooked to Eric Herman songs too. Friend of mine who recommended this for N is already hooked, he admits.

“Lakdi ki Kathi”  from the old Hindi movie Masoom:

N calls this song “Lakka Ikki Akka”, I made the mistake of singing this to her once, ever since I am the Ghoda in this song, and have to  gallop about while I try to make up the words.

This old-time favorite of those of us who grew up with DD1 :

She found this one too slow – but I had to show it to her, it was the only animation I had ever seen as a kid for a long time.

Other N favorites are : “Eeee aaa Eeee aaa”, aka Old Mac Donald, and “Ot Xox Buns” aka Hot Cross Buns. I don’t  correct her of course, it sounds too cute.

While on the topic, let me tell you what led to this post.  A two year old has to be occupied with games, songs, running around, whatever.. ALL THE TIME. Take a break ( like I did today), and try to read your email.. and next thing you know.. the nice wine bottle you bought yesterday , and which still had half the wine left, and which you bought after considering the cost, which Sahyadri hill the grapes grew on etc etc.. is shattered on the floor.Thanks to extra energetic two year old. All my fault of course, how could I imagine I could leave her alone for a whole minute?? Thankfully, she was not hurt ..

So back to the topic of how to keep toddler’s occupied – one of my quiet time activities is watching these nursery rhyme videos. This is when basically I need to keep her quiet for a while, and somebody else do the singing and horsing around. Otherwise its poor old me, doing “Lakdi ki Kathi”.

While on the topic, I was looking online, and found this article on BBC site on how to keep your kids occupied. Could not help smile at the list – hey, isn’t this common sense? We need to read this article to know that we should be singing and dancing with our kids?

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Thanks you, and coffee is on us.. so is dessert.

Happy Birthday to Me !

Turning 33 is not so bad when you have lots of things to be happy about in life. Not to court the evil eye, but a little bit of counting one’s blessings is a good thing to do on a Bday, no?

Here’s my list, not in any particular order:

  • Appapappa, exasperating man who dresses like a geek at times and like a cool-dude at times, but loves me most of the times( dare I say maybe all the time)!
  • N, who made her first “Happy Bday Ma” card for me, and who is right now emptying all my lotions and powders on the dressing table.
  • Little sis, who’s been driving me up the wall ever since I tried to teach her some Geometry, or Algebra, or I forget what else. Oh yes, something about how to get guys, but thats strictly history 🙂
  • Gypsyfeet, the travel company we’ve started, and about which I dreamt last night that we had made it real big!
  • Under the Bogori Tree“, a set of stories from my childhood memories of Nagaon, – its manuscript in the publisher’s hands while I wait with fingers crossed.
  • The cousin Gitu, who shrieks “Majoni Ba” louder than anybody else when we meet!
  • Aks and S, best friends, who unfortunately live far away – in New York. and who i miss whenever there are really good times.
  • Trees, birds, mountains, clean fresh crisp air, train rides, hikes, walks, flowers
  • Hot spicy samosas, buffet dinners, stinky cheese, good white wines, Biryani, Ma’s cooking….

and parties, especially, surprise parties, thrown by AppaPappa on my Bday!

As a special Bday gift, N tells me a story today:
“Ma, ma, I tell a story.
Once upon a time, there was a… bed.
Bed’s name was Kuklakugoo..
Then, what happened.. ”
And so on, with the table, chair, books, lights, etc etc in the room all getting strange Afrikan sounding names.

And before I forget, here’s the list of books I got as Bday gifts:
2 Gerald Durrells – Rosy is my Relative, and Bafut Beagles
Ruskin Bond – Mini Bus, collection of short storiesin the Himalayas
Ray Bradbury – Zen in the Art of Writing
Kunal Basu – the miniaturist
Pallavi Aiyar – Smoke and Mirrors, an experience of China

These will keep me busy for a while now.