THE ART OF WASHING HANDS: Sultanat Kazi conducts a hilarious session for schoolchildren on sanitation rites of the personal kind, the Vidya Probodini’s LD Samant Memorial High School were very entertained!
THIS whole of last week I’ve lived with horror, my dears, and I am guilty just as much as you or anybody out there on the street is! Plastics may be a by-product of the petroleum industry but they’ve become so pernicious that all of last week I was glued to this series of video clips on how whales in deep oceans are turning up with all kinds of plastics in their belly; and there are groups out in the countries of the West who are actually chasing ocean currents and diving down under water to clean up the beds of whatever oceans and seas they can of huge mountains of plastic bottle and package waste degenerating in surreal carpets — a testimony to what a killer consumerist urban and industrial civilisation we have become in our greed to play at being top honchos on the pyramid of life. The pyramid is crumbling but how many of us see it and along with our indulgent governments (busy doing gau raksha and dumping polluting idols in water bodies and missing the point altogether)?
It’s a story of let’s not rock any boats and carry on merrily drinking out of plastics, eating out of plastics,
and last week I found myself sick to my soul sitting at this street-side outlet relishing a rather over-spiced misal-pau out of a flimsy plastic tray with pathetic plastic white spoon! I cursed myself anew for being a party to the petty usage of plastics out of doors when again and again I try not to buy food and drinks packaged in plastics, use plastic bags less and less, don’t drink with ordinary or extraordinary plastic straws in five-star hotels, not even water out of so-called pet bottles. Hey, everything is going into plastics from food to medicines to furniture to all kinds of futuristic artefacts and what not. Ours is a killer mod con plastic civilisation putting away most everything into all kinds of plastics…and where are they all going, we don’t know and don’t want to know and don’t care.
Once I packed up an entire meal from Fidalgo’s Bhojan and came home to uncover a dozen little plastic containers packed with savouries, rice, dal, kadi, sabzi, pickle, papad, gulab jamun, etc, etc. I washed out the containers telling myself the next time I go there I’ll take the very same containers, and between the maid and me we cleared my kitchen off all the plastic containers and bottles lying around to put out in the
bin. It is not the wet compost waste but our dry plastic garbage which is a very serious garbage disposal problem because we do not where it’s going — much of it to the bottom of all our life-giving water bodies and into the stomachs of our marine life. In some degenerated carcinogenic form it’s all coming back to us on our fine dining tables. Kid you not, and we deserve it.
Somewhere in our Sanskrit scriptures there’s a line about how if we see the diversity but not its unity we’re doomed from generation to generation and this applies to us like nothing else does — NOW. Our plastics are sowing the seeds of death and destruction and we still do not see it with any anxiety or caring. We deserve to die, not live. I’ve decided from now onwards there’s no shame in carrying around my own cloth bag and set of stainless steel dabbas if I want to buy back food from somewhere or the other! Join me in this resolution — shun plastics in the food industry, local or national, in all the ways you can. Boycott, boycott, boycott!
WHICH reminds me Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was waxing lyrical about being eco-conscious at Kalakirti’s Goa Environmental Festival inauguration at the Kala Academy on Sept 8, 2017 and spoke about wearing the same shirt, and using the shopping cloth bag in his family for years on end…wish he could persuade his Cabinet colleagues to observe some old-age eco-friendly practices too. I wonder how eco-friendly his government is for all the talking about it! Anyway for whatever it is worth he preached his mantra of “Reduce consumption, reduce your wants and don’t create waste.” He quoted Mahatma Gandhi on how there’s enough for everyone’s need but not greed …if you’re asking me, my dears, real eco-friendliness would be to ban Ganesh idol visarjan in water bodies come Chovoth!
It was a very engaging three-day festival organized by key people Prema Pawaskar, Dharmanand Vernekar,
Rita Mody Joshi, Pravin Sabnis, Harshada Kerkar, Richard Dias, Sadashiv Sirsat, Manoj Joshi. Reportedly the late advocate Satish Sonak played a role in setting up this group to highlight our appalling manners when it comes to respecting our environment/ecology at micro and macro levels.
The festival decided children are the key players in educating adults at home and several sessions were dedicated to competitions in which schoolchildren came up with pretty neat ideas on how we may recycle waste into useful/ornamental artefacts.
Most of the three days my heart was with the goings-on at the Kala Academy, but I managed to listen in to the talk by Chennai-based wildlife filmmaker Shekar Dattatri. Dattatri puts common sense above all else in eco-friendly practices, and confirmed our civilization of plastics is the main cause of large scale poisoning of our environment, ecosystems, environment…affecting global rise of temperature, contaminated oceans, struggling-to-stay-alive marine life.
We have only one earth, he said, it’s smarter to give right of way to Mother Earth than to gradually ravage, denude her, to fit into our artificial, consumerist urban, industrial lifestyles of too much. Nirmal Kulkarni presented the amazing world of pythons and said in no uncertain terms how if we dealt with our garbage there would be no snakes biting us in urban areas (the venomous Russell’s viper or non-venomous rat snake come looking for rodents foraging in the garbage heaps dotting the Goan landscape — his presentation on pythons was fascinating and he said don’t fool with them as pets please, or abuse these gentle giants. Study the exciting world of creepy crawly fauna in our own homes, he urged, don’t be so scared and go all out to exterminate it!
I missed the films and what must have been a most marvellous talk on the Goan matoli tradition by Rajendra Kerkar, and much else; but the CII Yi Goa symposium on “Making Businesses Greener” was truly educative with key panel speakers Prof Dipankar (chief scientist, TREELabs), Atul Pai Kane (past chairperson, CII Goa State Council & MD, Power Engineering India), Richard Dias (GM, Hindustan Waste Treatment) and many others. It was all about how industry can be more energy efficient, conservation-oriented and Goa can show the way to the rest of India if it wants to.
Alas, to quote Prof Dipankar, although we need to develop and adapt technologies for local environmental conditions and needs, engineers out of our Indian institutions are less than competent. Many of today’s plethora of engineers may find problems with fridge or fan but can’t fix them for love or for money…in short, many come endowed with fancy qualifications, but are useless, as also in a hurry to mint fortunes on their ignorance of a subject matter they’re supposed to have mastered. With lots of sarcasm in the Q &A session Prof Dipankar confessed he was disillusioned by our IITs and IIT-ians and he actually goes to pick up his staff raw but morally sound at rural level where at least they have commonsense and can be trusted to do what they are taught to do – even if they are not IIT graduate engineers!
I’ll leave you with all that insight into our life and times, my dears, and on that note it is avjo, poite verem, selamat datang, au revoir arriverdecci and vachun yeta here for now.
— Mme Butterfly