Thursday, May 24, 2007


Yesterday, while having my lunch, I was watching 'The Terminal' on Star Movies. It is a wonderful movie and Tom Hanks has portrayed his character amazingly well. A man, stuck at an airport because his country is involved in a coup and the government derecognized, who does not know English, and being stuck at an airport without knowing where to go and what to do. The expresssion on his face, his reactions, his handling of the situation is simply amazing.
It was then that it hit me. What if it happens to me? How would I react in such a situation? Will I be able to 'jhelofy' this? I mean, I am ok if I end up with a beautiful lady like Catherine Zeta Jones. But I am already married. And so is Catherine. So what would I do? I guess I would take her as a bride for some of my eligible bachelor (or spinster) friends. Kisi ka to bhala hona chahiye. Atleast 1 person will not complain ki main 'foren' se kuch laaya nahi.

What if it would have happened to some near and dear one? How would he/she react in such a situation? And how would I react in such a situation? Despite the panic that would ensure in the household, I would try and keep everyone cool and try to defuse the tension. And if I got an opportunity to talk to the person who is actually caught in this manner, I would surely tell him to catch a beautiful/handome (whatever is applicable) spouse and come back, so that we would not have to run around searching for a suitable partner for him/her. However, if the person caught up in the 'Terminal' situation is already married (not to forget that I too am married), I would have asked him to get a beautiful/handsome spouse for one of my eligible bachelor (or spinster) friends.

Overall, its not that bad a situation to be in... What say guys?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


There are quite a few adjustments that one has to make in life. And adjustments at all places - work, home, studies, while travelling and many more. I too have had to make many adjustments in life. But there is 1 adjustment that I am finding very difficult to make. And that is sharing my bed.

There was a time, when I used to sleep in the drawing room, on the floor. The whole floor belonged to me. I could sleep wherever I wanted to. I soon had to make an adjustment. We moved to a bigger flat, where I had a room of my own. No doubt, the floor space reduced, and I could feel the pinch, but I got adjusted. The room had a double bed, where I could spread myself the way I wanted and sleep peacefully. I was enjoying my life to the max - a room of my own, a double bed to sleep in. Can there be anything better? Oh yes, there can be many more better things, but I was happy with what I had.

This was not to last long. Unknown to me, more adjustments were on the way. I went about making all those adjustments peacefully. But the biggest was yet to come. I got married... And the biggest adjustment has been sharing my double bed with my partner... Once a king of double bed, now I am sidelined to my half of the double bed. Believe me folks, sharing a double bed is not easy... I hope my wife does not read this!!! Let me go into hiding quickly.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Trek To Preserve Our Heritage


Come weekend and its time to unwind and relax. Especially if you reside in Mumbai, weekends are the time you would want to get out of the humid surroundings into a more refreshing outing. I think nothing can be more close to nature than a trek to a nearby place with friends for a day or two. Being in Maharashtra gives you the benefit of being surrounded by more than 300 forts conquered by Shivaji Maharaj. These forts make trekking the best sport to indulge in.

Just imagine a site of two ancient and beautifully carved historic temples at a height nearing 5000ft on a fort plateau. In the vicinity exists a pilgrim destination with a 10 ft Shivling in the water inside a cave! The caves have beautifully sculptured walls of Lord Vishnu and Ganesh. Running your imaginations a little ahead, picture that the topmost point of the fort has a massive cliff with an overhang giving you a breathtaking view of Konkan valley down below. Do you want to experience this imagination for real? You just have to visit the fort of Harishchandragad, one of the various picturesque forts of the Western Ghats. Oh such is the beauty of every fort of Sahyadri! The verdant Sahyadri Mountains run down the west coast of Maharashtra like a velvety carpet of green. They serve as the climatic barometer of the state and the repository of the state's rugged history, religious thought, cultural resilience and spiritual energy. These craggy mountains hold historic forts and high-plateau forest houses which bring vitality to this land.

Current Plight – Lets accept it!

It is saddening to see the current plight of these historic resources. We call ourselves the educated lot. We enjoy visiting these places for our own enjoyment. But do we really care for this wealth of our ancient history? Do we ever give a thought on improving the current scenario? The forts are depleting due to various reasons for which I think each of us is responsible.
A number of heritage sites in India today face grave danger due to a number of human activities. These causes are very diverse and include danger due to vandalism, irresponsible human actions and pollution.

We all love taking eatables to such outings but we forget to carry garbage bags for the same. We are the first ones to crib when we see plastic littered around. But do we do anything to clean the place? No. We just crib and blame the authorities. The plastic waste remains buried in the soil for years together & chokes the roots of the vegetation. It kills animals from the forest that swallow the plastic waste. The plastic floating on the water tanks blocks oxygen, causing poisonous gases to mix with the water. The tanks have all kind of wastes dumped into them. Can you think of drinking even a sip of this water? But the fact remains that this serves as the only source of water to many of the local residents around. I am used to seeing obscene writings and graffiti in Indian washrooms and Mumbai’s local train compartments, but it was shocking and shameful to see the ancient caves dated 6th century, with carvings of Shree Vishnu and Ganesh, covered with graffiti & obscene writings.

I request readers to avoid messing with nature and stop dirtying the walls.

Good Samaritans – The go-getters!

Thanks to the few who distinguish themselves from the lot and contribute to saving the national heritage.

In March this year, a team of 50 people from TCS conducted an EcoDrive with 4 activities: Garbage Collection, Graffiti Cleanup, Tank cleaning and Placard installation. It involved proper planning & a lot of research on the best possible techniques available for these activities. ICPE (Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment), BMC & BNHS were contacted for advice about latest and safe techniques.

Dirty Tanks

Clean Tanks

Its fun when constructive work is done in teams and with the spirit of competition. TCSers divided themselves into four teams, one for each activity. The team leads started investigating the areas to identify how to go about each activity and planned the best possible strategy. The participants started with great gusto knowing that they would witness a beautiful sunset from Konkan kada if they finished on time! They were the real go-getters!

Harishchandragad hilltop gave these enthusiasts enough work and over a period of an hour, the associates armed with garbage bags, accomplished the whopping task of cleaning the area near the caves, the plateau and the downstream area. Meanwhile, another team cleansed all the water tanks in the plateau. Huge amounts of plastic litter, biodegradable garbage, glass bottles etc. were collected.

The next task in-line was not an easy one. Graffiti cleanup was new to most of the lot. One needs to ensure that the clean up does not damage or erode the underlying cave structure or carvings. Based on the research, 2 eco-friendly techniques were identified; one was to use turpentine & cloth to wipe out the oil-paint or plastic brush to gently scrape off the paint layer and second to apply a coat of gum and red-oxide over the paint which did not get erased by the first technique. That was something new and interesting!

Graffiti on the walls

Clean walls

It’s the visibility that counts everywhere? Doesn’t it? Spreading awareness is the buzz word. People need to be told what needs to be done and what should not, despite both being very obvious at times. And so the need to display placards was felt. The teams put up 2 placards - 1 near the Ganesh Gufa and 1 outside the temple. These placards are general notices and are aimed at spreading awareness about conservation amongst the others who visit the location. It is the duty of every citizen to protect the heritage structures and ensure their cleanliness.

After witnessing a beautiful sunset from Konkan kada, the group enjoyed a bonfire of the bio-degradable waste that was separated out of the collected waste. Wow, what an innovative way to dispose off the unwanted!

Good things don’t always finish in a day’s work! The group was up and working early in the morning again the next day. Kudos to the spirit and enthusiasm they had in common. The team tried the second alternative technique on the stubborn graffiti that had not been removed the previous day. The tanks near the caves were cleansed with the same enthusiasm as before. All the nearby water bodies were cleaned thoroughly and the water again looked like water in its natural colour.

The garbage collected was compressed and packaged into smaller bags to make it easier to be carried down. In the end, 100 small garbage bags, 10 large garbage bags and 3 sacks of broken glass were collected. The non-biodegradable waste was to be carried back to Mumbai and appropriately disposed off. Glass waste was deposited in the cement garbage enclosure. The filth at the downstream area was set on flames so that it does not decompose & contaminate the accumulated water.

Garbage cleaning

This team left for Mumbai making Harishchandragad a much cleaner and better place again. I feel proud to be a part of an organisation where people realize the need to improve and safeguard our ancient historical resources in the best possible way.

Time to awake – What else can be done?

Do you believe that such one or two eco-drives done by any groups once in a while will help save the numerous ancient strategic places of National importance that are in ruins. Yes, but only if they are supported by the visitors to these locations in ensuring that they do not litter these places.
April 18 is observed as the ‘World Heritage Day’. The day is observed to raise public awareness about the world’s heritage and the need to conserve the same.

What can we do? Every action by each of us can affect the surroundings. Do not litter any heritage site that you visit or vandalise the site. Try to gain information about the site and encourage others also to do so. Join hands with teams like Kshitij or other community organizations that protect and enhance these forts.

Plant trees, shrubs, grasses, or other ground cover to help filter out pollutants and reduce run-off. Sponsor a tour to identify potential causes of and remedies for non-point source pollution and ancient structure deterioration. Develop and use safer chemicals. Abide by water pollution laws. Support and develop ways to recycle and use wastes. Support research and education programs related to national heritage management and best practices for land and water resources. We all can together make a difference. Time is running out for saving or restoring the ecological integrity and functional values of these forts. There seems to be absolutely no easy, sure-shot technique of dealing with these problems.

Corrective actions are needed to restore and protect these structures. Governments, industries, citizen groups, concerned individuals, and all other responsible sectors of society need to come together and realize the importance of valuable assets that enrich our lives and are worth sustaining for present and future generations as part of our state and national heritage.
We hope that this publication will enlighten readers on the importance of safeguarding these historical treasures. If you know of better and/or innovative ways to save our heritage structures, including ways to improve the activities that have been mentioned above, please feel free to spread the word across.


We ofcourse do not to spend more weekends in the humidity of Mumbai and pollution of a Metro. But we may not be left with any other alternative if we do not address the above issues on high priority. Awareness along with a little bit of effort on the part of each individual to keep the surroundings clean can enable everyone to experience the beauty and the rich heritage of our country. Come weekend again and you all now know how to utilize it in the best way.