May 31, 2010

Child brides of Afghanistan

Here is the video released by the Human Rights Commission after the government has not be able to do anything worthwhile or take any action against these criminals. 
"I was shocked when I watched the video," said Mohammed Munir Khashi, an investigator with the commission. "I thought in the 21st century such a criminal incident could not happen in our country. It’s inhuman, anti-Islam and illegal."

If an investigator thinks that this is the first time it is happening, I am not sure what he is investigating! Why does he think the policemen at Herat return these two girls to be hands of the waiting warlord? Did they think they were doing something completely human, or completely in line with Islam preachings?

And now it seems there is another option too to threaten these girls with - forcing them to be suicide bombers

Sumbol, 17, a Pashtun girl, said she was kidnapped and taken to Jalalabad, then given a choice: marry her tormentor, or become a suicide bomber. “He said, ‘If you don’t marry me I will put a bomb on your body and send you to the police station,’ ” Sumbol said.
Forced marriage of Afghan girls is not limited to remote rural areas. In Herat city, a Unicef-financed women’s shelter run by an Afghan group, the Voice of Women Organization, shelters as many as 60 girls who have fled child marriages.  

May 28, 2010

Conserving water and efficient usage

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Everyone says this is what will be the situation in some days, unless something is done about the water usage today. There are innumerable sites and resources to read up on what and how things can be done to save water in a daily routine.

Mohan has hosted a contest on his blog on this topic, and this post is my entry for it.

I would like to list a few items which many a times are not thought of, and unknowingly many waste water through these actions.

  1. How many of us think of water saving when you are out looking to buy a washing machine?

If you are out, I would suggest that a front loading one would be any day lighter on the water usage as compared to the top loading kind. They might seem more expensive at first, but using less water also means using less electricity to heat the water etc.

  1. Many families I have seen wash clothes every other day, irrespective of the quantity of clothes. They decide its best to wash soiled clothes as soon as possible rather then keep them till a full load of the machine. And here they use the ½ load option to wash their cycle. What is not known is that a ½ load usually consumes around 65 % of the water as compared to the full load. This should not be too difficult to understand, considering the equipment was optimized for the full load capacity.

  1. How many of you drop the cigarette butt or toilet tissue into the toilet bowl?

I have been told by many that, the toilet tissue should disintegrate and not cause any issue to the drainage network. But, why is it that we have never thought of the water that this extra bit of matter requires to be pushed around. And, this water does come from the same source that we are trying to conserve.

  1. Many of us love gardens, so ensure that you water them during the early hours of the day to ensure the roots are able to absorb the water with least amount of water evaporating.

  1. While wet cleaning any premise, watch out never to use the water hose as a replacement for a broom. We often face maids employing this method while washing out the bathrooms.

  1. Another interesting aspect is many of us tend to wash vegetables and fruits under a running tap as opposed to filling a deep container with water and proceeding to washing the fruits and vegetables in that.

  1. A friend of mine had an aquarium, and what he used to do was whenever he cleaned his aquarium, he emptied the water into a bucket and he would proceed to water the plants with it. The water in the aquarium is nutrient rich, and this being used to water plants, I thought, was a great idea!

  1. In relation to pets, many a times when we give our pets fresh water, we throw the old water down the drain. Why? Why not use the same water to water plants!

  1. There are numerous times we are sipping on the aerated drinks or cold coffee and all that’s left is the ice. We promptly chuck that into the closest dust bin. That’s great, but what would be greater is if we chuck the ice into a planter and then the cup into the dust bin.

  1. In the garden, try to leave the dry leaves on the surface of the soil in the pots; this keeps the soil cool, prevents evaporation and over time will serve as manure too!
These are many things which I try to follow, not very difficult stuff, but I think on doing this, it shall certainly make a difference, in my small way. I hope there are some small things which you would have come to know in this post, and I hope you shall also try to do your bit!

May 25, 2010

My Name in Red by Orhan Pamuk

A few months back, I was looking out for some good reads in award winning fiction, and that is where I came across My Name is Red.

For 6 pages one holds a conversation with a corpse at the bottom of a well. It is telling us how it wound up there and it hopes for someone to come along and discover it, and also avenge the murder. These pages created a deep confusion in my mind, but it also brought about an interest in the style of writing employed.

The story is set in Istanbul, and opens with Black coming back to Istanbul after he left the city when he was a young boy. He returns, meets his miniaturist master, his fellow students at that time, who have become masters and full fledged artists now. The story moves through the lives of those linked to Black and his past, their present and then we walk through the years which were in between throughout the entire book. There are two stories which we see moving simultaneously; one is the love story between Black and Shekure (the master’s widowed daughter with 2 kids) and the murder mystery of one of the miniaturist (the corpse at the bottom of the well).

Another interesting aspect of the book is the chapter names and how each chapter is written in a first person narrative of one of the characters in the book. The history content is not too high, though there is a great deal of culture and society details which have been extensively portrayed. It’s a very refreshing read, and very different from any fiction I have read in a long time.

May 19, 2010

Big cats are a beauty to behold!

And, with today's human lifestyle, there is very little they can do to keep away from us.

Is confining them to small reserves the solution? They were free roaming cats and they might move beyond the reserve fences which you have built.

Cheetahs live in open grasslands which many at times serve as grazing land for livestock. The farmers tend to shoot or kill them in any other manner, when they are found to be attacking the livestock. The Cheetah Conservation Fund, works for a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between these farmers and the cheetahs who share the same environment. CCF started its work in Namibia and has now started to extend to other parts of Africa too. They try to educate, and also provide feasible simple solutions to the farmers to try, such that they do not have to resolve to kill the cheetahs in case they are seen to trespass on private property.

Panthera is another organization which was set up with an aim to protect and enable symbiotic relationships between large cats across the world and the people who live near their habitat. Lions are the least affected amongst the cats, maybe because they are not seen to be of any great aesthetic value to the homes of the rich and famous. Good for them, they were spared.

In India too, I believe we need to understand the concerns of the villagers who live in and around the reserves. There has to be a reason why they do not care of the jungle and the animals that live in them, and I think a reason more than money should exist for it. At their position, money can be only a driving factor to an extend, I think there has to be a low understanding of how these animals are useful to them, and how they being in the jungle will serve to be more monetarily beneficial in the long run. 

I would not suggest that the monetary aspect alone be highlighted, but this can be a factor to create an urge within the villagers to protect the animals from poachers. I have seen in Kenya that there are many Masai villages just outside the reserve, and they charge a fee and take the tourists around their village and explain their way of life. This ensures an income for the villagers, but the tourists come in the first place all because of the wildlife in the Masai region. I am sure that every Indian village has abundant information to offer to tourists. Ours is  a country with varying practices across the states, and many of these draw their roots in practices in villages, which would be an interesting aspect for a traveller. These need to be cashed in on for the sake of the villagers and also the cats which live around these villages.

May 14, 2010

Cruelty to children: Child marriage in Yemen

I have been reading about Elham Madhin al Assi, a 12-year-old Yemeni girl who died from internal bleeding just three days after her March 29th wedding to a man who is a minimum twice her age. And this happened as part of a bride swap, where in the brother of the bride marries the sister of the groom, and this happens irrespective of the age of concerned individuals. I do not know what to feel when I see something like this.  Elham Madhin al Assi's mother is said to have told reporters, that the criminal killed her. What criminal? What did you expect? A man who is marrying a 12 year old is marrying her to shower her with dolls!!! I wonder if she is really bothered with her daughter not being alive anymore, and does she feel any remorse of what she did? Or even better, did she have a say in the matter? Maybe I am being too harsh on her, and the mother's role is just to explain to the daughter what is expected of her, and that sex is a subset of marriage, so please oblige!

This custom has been there since ages, and it is said to be acceptable as per Islam, where a parent has the right to determine when their children ( read daughters) are ready for marriage! It is also said that one main reason for the girls to be married off early is that, in many cases young girls are abducted and married by force, which leaves their parents not knowing their whereabouts ever again. The average age of marriage in Yemen’s rural areas is 12 to 13, a recent study by Sana University researchers found, and even more shocking is that the country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. And, I am sure that the mothers are also of the age group,  12 - 15 years.

How many of these kids can be expected to come out of their captive, abusive, illegal marriages and say that they want to study, and lead a life different from what they have been forced into without being asked. They are children, and not many of the children I see have it in them to stand up and say I shall not do this or to ensure that they are not made to do something which they are not interested in, especially when done so by their parents itself. Children see parents as the ones they trust the most, and believe, then how can they expect that a marriage, even if done without their consent, can be a disastrous life changing turn in their lives? Isn't it cruel to push them towards something which has seen only bad days, and to top it when they trust you so much!?

May 12, 2010

A few things about e-businesses

There are some things about the internet businesses which I see, and I am just listing them down.
  1. One can not expect a concept to catch on very quick, esp if its new, it requires the right kind of marketing. ( Twitter existed in 2007, but did anyone know about it? )
  2. One can not expect a bad looking webpage to attract any 'eyeballs'. This also does not mean you need to make it a artistic stop also, it just needs to be attractive. It cannot be always different from every other website out there, but it should be pleasing and help in getting the message you are trying to drive, across.
  3. If you say you are any kind of creative firm, your creativity should, rather must, be shown in the way you present yourself to the world wide web. if you are design firm, a typical client would base his decision on how your corporate webpage looks!
  4. Internet does not really have a first move advantage, but it does have a first impact advantage! So it is all about what you offer, and i believe its also about how it appeals to the eye.
  5. If you do not have what it takes to be a part of the present, then you really wont get anywhere. The world will determine your worth through your website. ( Images and HTML are so 90s )
  6. In terms of design, copying a single website usually does not get you anywhere, if you want to copy, make an impressive, intelligent copy! ( Rectify their errors and implement changes)
I am sure there are many more.. so would love to hear additions

May 7, 2010

If I were....

Loved it at Monika's and decided to whisk it away from Chandini's

If I were a month, I’d be February

If I were a day of the week, I’d be Friday

If I were a time of day, I’d be 10 pm .

If I were a season, I’d be  winter.

If I were a planet, I’d be Venus

If I were a sea animal, I’d be a dolphin

If I were a direction, I’d be South

If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a Bookshelf!

If I were a liquid, I’d be Vodka

If I were a tree, I’d be a Apple tree

If I were a tool, I’d be a wrench

If I were an element, I’d be Ag

If I were a gemstone, I’d be emerald

If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a Congo

If I were a color, I’d be purple!

If I were an emotion, I’d be love

If I were a fruit, I’d be an peach

If I were a sound, I’d be the sound of chirping birds

If I were a car, I’d be an Jaguar

If I were food, I’d be a chocolate

If I were a taste, I’d be tangy

If I were a scent, I’d be that of water lillies

If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be Ankle cuffed shoes

If I were a bird, I’d be a pelican

Interesting don't you think??
Now its your turn .. leave a link to your blog if you're gonna be taking it up !

May 4, 2010

Food Labels: What we do and not read?

Today I came across a LinkedIn question posted by a user asking, ' Would warning labels on food make people eat better?' This was very interesting to me, as I wonder how many us read the nutrition facts table on the food packaging when we buy a product. Are we swayed by the claims which are made on the front of the pack? These package designs and writings are usually not approved by the government, and we as buyers usually accept the first thing which is staring at us, rather than making the effort to read the detailed ingredients and nutritional information.

Marketing products, coming up with new and innovative techniques, has been seen to be what every FMCG is looking to do. We find every product has a tag line which will vouch for taste, health or an international flavour. And these being in eye catching lovely colours do not make things any easier.

A new entrant in the vocabulary of shoppers is trans fat. Many products claim to be 0 % trans fat, but do they mention the saturated and unsaturated fats which are there in their products, and that too in substantial quantities. They conveniently put trans fat out there and claim it to be a dirt product.

Now the question is whether you will blame them, or would you blame yourself for not knowing what goes into your gut? 

May 3, 2010


Many a times, some of my married friends have told will learn with time that men just do not get the concept of gifting. They will take you out, spend money, all with no thought or issues. But, will they get something for you and surprise that's something which they inherently are maybe scared of doing ( fear of us not liking it), and that is something which has an appeal to every girl, and that is something any amount of shopping together can never bring.

When these thoughts cross through my mind.. I feel maybe I am just being unnecessarily pesky and demanding. What is it that I can not walk and buy and feel good about it? There is perfectly nothing. I enjoy the surprises, so I should be the one planning and doing the needful to give a surprise... why wait for one! 

So, all said.. I think it is going to be a better tomorrow with less feeling bad and just happy about making him smile with my surprises.