Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: CONSERVATION

SAVING MOTHER FROM PLASTIC SMILES

SAVING MOTHER FROM PLASTIC SMILES

 

I was watching a programme on environment day and saw mountains of plastic all over the world. Statistics were alarming. Suffice to say, no one would have ever thought that it would reach such monstrous proportions over the years and threaten our very existence.

Like a ritual every year we too plant trees in our company on this day. Pits were dug and a water sprinkler made of “plastic” is kept handy for the ceremony. Lot of discussion on one time use plastics & their harmful effects on health and environment took place. I just pointed out that the bag in which the sapling has been sprouted is also “one time use” black colour plastic. There was a furore and instructions were passed that next year we will bring saplings in gunny bags only.

Then there was a photo op with “plastic smiles” and customary distribution of “peras”. A worker quickly pulled out a box of sweets from a “plastic carry bag”, threw it on the road side and wrestled with the thin cling film over the box. He tore it off and threw it at the same place. Everyone thanked the organiser & started walking off. Concern for environment also got over moment the sweet was in the mouth. I waited and picked up bits and pieces of plastic strewn and deposited them in a dust bin. People said why you do it; the safaiwala is paid to do it. I plastically smiled and walked off.

Last month, it was talk of our town that state government will come very heavily on plastic carry bags. They are called “PISHVI” in this part of the country. The rumour around was that anyone carrying a plastic bag will be fined 5000/- irrespective from where he got his hands on it from. Panic struck and suddenly cloth bags were on sale. They charged 10 rupees extra for it. Today, all kinds of plastic carry bags are back in vogue in all shapes and sizes.

I pass by an adivasi colony on my way to office every day. I see small boys and girls waiting to cross the road with one cup of tea “parcelled” in a pishvi from the local tea shop. Another child is holding 20 ml plastic milk sachets. Sometimes, I find them holding the same amount of cooking oil. They buy what they need and as much they can afford. How do they carry those small quantities? Pishvi is the only answer.

This Sunday we went to the beach. It was good to see lot of hustle and bustle and tourists’ thronging that place. It’s a pity that no one really cared for the environment. People had thrown plastic bags all over. Mineral water bottles were bobbing up and down with the waves giving such a shabby look. Cans of beer and empty plastic liquor bottles were strewn all over the place.

One fine day we will get a call from the Collector’s office, let’s do Swach-Bharat. T-shirts and caps will be given; school children will be involved with media coverage and press releases. The contractor will lift up the garbage and dump it in the mangroves on the other side. Garbage is actually never cleared; it is transferred from here to there.

This reminds me of the illegal dumping going on for landfills. All debris of construction sites and garbage of the village is brought and dumped at a particular place. This happens under the eyes of God as there is a temple next to the dump plus under the local Gods, as a Police Thana and Customs office isn’t very far. Dumping is known to everyone, police doesn’t get involved as it is matter of the gram panchayat. Customs department are meant for bigger things and life goes on. It may not be long when a new shopping or housing complex comes up in that area.

Worst is that when someone lights that garbage up. If you have your windows rolled down to enjoy the surroundings and fresh air, the whiff that will hit your nostril with that stinky smoke will get onto your brain. The whole impression of the place is turned upside down in that one second when the smoke fills your lungs.

Environmentalists’ are doing their bit I am sure but the biggest dilemma they face is when they visit a wash room and can’t decide whether he should save water or save paper.

Be that as it may. I as a citizen will do my bit for “my mother”. I am worried about those people who have no idea on the damage a pishvi can do. Then there are those who know about it but just don’t care. For them this is Sarkar’s job. Can we stop those “plastic smiles” and get down to save mother earth? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FUEL DUELS

 

 

Fluctuations in fuel prices have become a kind of joke these days. Moment news comes that from midnight tonight the prices are going to increase; long queues are bound to be seen at each and every petrol pump. Price hike is like dooms day has come that tomorrow all petrol will finish. Hectic parleys, scuffles, traffic jams, and the same old syndrome why is my line not moving can be witnessed. Petrol pump staff starts acting pricey and the man who used to politely ask you “kitne ka” tells you arrogantly “line main lago”. The same chap who would come and clean your wind shield will tap on your windshield to tell you to back off.

The “ghar ki grahni” starts calculating return on investment on petrol. Loud thinking starts that auto wala will now charge me five more means I will have to leave the dhaniya and ask for whatever my sabzi wala will give free. The frequency of consuming andas will now reduce to Sundays as the chain of supply starting from the bird feed would have gone up. The quantity of aloos in egg curry would increase to compensate for the eggs.

Pati dev is told that come back with the petrol tank full. He tells her darling I did it yesterday, she shows him those eyes and says, do liter to daal lo, pati wonders for those two litres I will stand for two hours in the queue. But hukum hai home minister ka so better stand in line. That’s a different issue that while waiting he would have consumed two packets of pan parag, went around the corner and puffed a few cigarettes, sitting in the car chabaoed a few ten rupee packs of chana-mufli, bought a spray gun and a yellow cloth from the road side vendor. By the time you reach the petrol dispensing area you find petrol has finished. You come back home and tell your wife bharva liya. What else do you say when you want to see that smile on your better half’s face which gives you the licence to tell her that while returning you picked up a whisky bottle, she says never mind at least our tank is full.

Life goes on and the sarkar drops the rates by one paise. Today there is no hustle and bustle at all. No queues and no tension. You do not have the provision of going back to the pump and returning the fuel and claim the difference of price. Two things happen, one that everyone just feels happy, chalo daam gir gaye, two politicians make a mountain of a mole hill on every debate that see we slashed prices by one naye paise as if they are doing a big favour.

I remember putting dus rupai ka petrol in Dad’s scooter. We used to get more than two liters with mobile oil many moons back. Today for ten rupees you won’t get ten drops. A joke is going around that the cost of a liter of petrol and a bottle of beer would be the same very soon, so we have to decide, “ghoom lo, ya jhoom lo”, I would prefer the later kyon ki ghoomte to Modi ji hain. People are also telling to invest saved petrol money in Mutual Funds, sarkar ki neeti aur neeyat sahi ho na ho, mutual fund sahi hai.

I was thinking that what is the cheapest thing in the country today? Petrol-No, Diesel-No, Gas-No, then what is cheap? I think its human life. It has no value actually, who cares, who bothers, who is actually interested in the fellow citizen, parents are neglected, children are being molested, and ladies are insecure; besides life is lost daily at the borders and in encounters with terrorists. All of us are loggerheads with each other for no reason.

Yes one thing is cheap and manufactured in abundance by all those people who are never affected by the rise and fall of any prices. That is H2S. Like Methane is produced deep inside the belly of the earth, this gas is produced deep inside the belly of our most honourable and respectable people. These people can inflate, manipulate, influence, control, stage manage anything and everything for votes. They have the authority, wisdom and expertise to play with the common man. Fuel prices are nothing.

Be that as it may. I use my scooter instead of car to office, I never had a car for five years while I worked in Mumbai; suffice to say I am doing my bit to save precious fuel for the sake of the country. Will the people who take a fleet of cars with protection and escorts now start walking to understand the pain of the man on the street for each paisa increase in petrol price? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

WATERY TALES

 

 

 

WATERY TALES

 

I was watching a programme on water scarcity where I saw long queues of residents waiting to fill water in Simla. India may see a water crisis soon. Does this strike a chord somewhere? War for oil is passé, the next World War is going to be for water, I reckon.

Hills do have a peculiar problem where water freezes in pipes in winters. In summers tourists flock the area and consume water in bucket loads, in rainy season every drop gets washed away. So how to sustain is the question. My place has an average rainfall of 2500 mm plus per annum and all goes to the sea. Villages around are crying hoarse for drinking water but nothing is being done to harvest a single drop or address their perennial problem.

Be that as it may. I remember in the deserts I was lucky to have served in a battalion which had no dearth of vehicles and had many bowsers of 1000/3000 litres capacity. We were also fortunate enough to have our Engineer Regiment friends who used to go in advance to establish water points for us in midst of nowhere. I must also thank the Indian Government and their vision to construct the Indira Gandhi canal from Harike barrage in Ferozpur to deep inside Rajasthan, teeming with fish and delivering pure water from the confluence of Beas & Sutlej Rivers to the parched deserts. Fresh canal fish, fried to perfection with rum and “thanda pani” was ultimate during exercises.

I remember a place called “Dharmi Khu”. It was a deep well very close to the boundary of India and Pakistan. Shepherds of both countries used to water their cattle from this common well. I for the first time saw two camels pulling a huge leather bucket (MASHAK) made of one piece camel skin out of the well from a depth of about 1000 feet for water to reach the surface. The communication between the camel operator and the man at the well used the typical one finger whistle. It used to be fun to see the irritated camels come back in reverse gear grunting and blabbering their frothy tongues. I have tasted that water, it was very brackish. Normal people will spit it out like a shower but man and beast in those far off lands had to drink it. I hope “Sagarmal Gopa Canal” water has reached there by now.

The chaggal (water canvas small) and the pakhal (mule tank) were the ultimate Army water carriers. As a Mech Officer I never carried a water bottle but had chaggals tied all around my open jonga. The thin crust of ice in the chilly desert winter on canvas buckets was common. How can one forget, beer bottles were chilled in deep pits left overnight, sprinkled with water in the golden sands of Jaisalmer.

In Ladakh fetching water was fun. Though we had an engineer detachment but they were left to run the boat in Pangong Tso with a modified one tonne engine. The water point was between Lukung and Phobrang village. My “Pinja” buddy in a 3 Ton with my wife and our post dog Rambo used to hop on with a small working party to fetch water every second day. Wife, I & Rambo used to get down at the fishing point to catch Brown Trout. Rest of the party used to go to fetch water. I used to wonder why they didn’t carry water tanks. They used bring back frozen blocks of nice clean transparent ice. This also solved the mystery of why these guys carried crow bars instead of rubber hoses. Later I found this a common site in Ladakhi villages where ladies used to carry ice in baskets.

Water both in High altitude and the deserts was rationed. Our unit water bowser used to pump water in our over head tanks once a day in married accommodation at Jodhpur. Jaisalmer was equally bad where we lived off pakhals. While one was deployed in the deserts for exercises and operations one had the privilege of having an exclusive bucket of water as an officer. Men generally took a dip in the canal in case it was in the near vicinity. In my whole army life it was rarely I would have taken a shower. Today, in Jodhpur one has to store water in underground tanks and it is 1000 rupees for a tanker these days. All our lives we lived with water timings and never complained.

Most of us would never have witnessed dry cleaning of utensils. Let me tell you about a typical desert village where the utensils are rubbed clean with sand and we too did it in various exercises to conserve water for the days ahead. I haven’t seen “BARTANs” cleaner and glistening like gold after dry cleaning with sand. They will beat Vim bar any day.

A man can live without food for weeks but maximum three days without water. If water is so important, then what are my countrymen doing to preserve it? I think fauji’s can manage with rationed water can the rest of India too? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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