26 March 2009

Barbie eeeeeee

Another reason (as though I needed one more) why I don't want to buy or even see Barbies in India…or anywhere in the world. Ugly as!

P.S: I am confused. Is the new Barbie face that of Aish or Kat? Either way, plastic.

18 March 2009

Cheesed out and grossed out!

Yes, yes, yes, I am rabidly vegetarian and normally enthusiastic about promoting vegetarianism without actually shoving it down people's throats, but this is taking things far too far, methinks… This is completely disgusting.

And technically, isn’t human sweat a non-vegetarian ingredient? And again, Clooney being a meat-eater, can his sweat be classified as vegetarian sweat? Go figure.

In any case, I am devoutly thankful he said ‘no’. Talk about bizarre thinking outside the square marketing!

17 March 2009

Santalam Album fini

Take a good look at the photo of this tree photo (below). This photo was taken when I was in India recently, in a heavily forested area in south India..

I took this photo because I wanted to record the sandalwood tree for posterity. Because, in the next few years, the last of the sandalwood trees will be gone. South India, home to the best quality sandalwood in the world, will have none left.

Long before Mr Moustaches aka Sandhana Kadatthal Veerappan came on the scene, the sandal snatching had been going on with great vigour and with the active connivance of many top government honchos and well-known public figures. They were the ones that benefited the most from it. We’re talking very big bucks here.

After Moustaches came on the scene and sandal smuggling came under a very bright spotlight, most of the sins were conveniently blamed on him. Not that he was any angel, he certainly did his bit to rid the earth of Indian sandalwood and other Indian fauna as well. But he came in after more than half the tree population had already met their ends. And he hastened the process with those trees that were left.

And now, even after he is gone, there are many who devoutly follow in his footsteps.

Here’s something that happened late last year, in a small hamlet in south India.

Taking centrestage is a 100-year-old sandal tree (the older the tree, the more the wood, the costlier it is etc). It is consistently and actively protected by government officials, as they know the danger it is in.
But obviously a lot of work went into the background planning for Operation Treegrab, for all this protection was for nothing. These new age Moustachios in charge of Operation Treegrab brought with them padlocks for EVERY house in that hamlet and locked all the residents in. They also brought with them a cellphone frequency jammer (yes, such things exist) which meant that NO ONE in this small village could use their phones to summon extra help or aid. And they chose a day when the officials were out on business. Before the officials could get on the scene after getting the information, the bandits had successfully brought the tree down and sawed it into manageable bits. They had even loaded the wood onto their vehicles.

They were chased by the officials with great vigour. But the officials’ old-fashioned weapons (almost antiques) were no match for the state-of-art weapons the bandits had. The bandits finally escaped by the simple expedient of throwing out blocks of sandalwood in the way of the pursuers’ vehicles and then crossed the state border triumphantly. End of chase.

The retrieved sandalwood was stored under lock and key. Questions were asked, but there were very few answers. Inside connivance (of some of the villagers) was a given but when you are dirt poor, what does the survival of a species of tree mean to you? Solid cash that will feed you for a few months means more.

Even small trees are not safe, the officials I spoke to said. People can’t be bothered to wait till a tree is mature, even if it 10 years old, they chop it down and sell it for whatever they can get. The situation is so bad that any remaining sandal tree probably needs personal and one-on one protection…..the situation is the same or even worse in all southern states that still boast a few trees.

Hence my photo here – take a good look at the tree. You won’t have any more left in a few years.

2 March 2009

Kirikutt match…after

Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, V.V.S. Laxman, Zaheer Khan and Sachin Tendulkar
'walking' on the edge of the Sky Tower in AKL. Pic courtesy: The Hindu.

It was wonderful, a nailbiting finish, fantastic carnival-like atmosphere and lots of good cricket. I was surprised that I didn’t feel sadder that India had lost…

And the girls got so completely into the game, it was amazing. S was totally absorbed, but no surprises there. As for me, I was yelling and screaming and clapping and booing and waving my placard just as wildly as anyone else. It was almost as exciting as watching a cricket match in India. Almost, but not quite...but hey, no worries. It was a great evening, even if India lost.
The highlight for us was when one of Yuvraj's sixers landed amongst us - into the hands of a teenager sitting one row before us. Way to go.