Thursday, December 18, 2014

Random Musings:Part 1

First of all right over there, you are special. Your big specs , that extra weight , those braces, And nothing… nothing will take away your beauty from you. Beauty is not always about having dimples , not having pimples , 6 foot height , or slim out of Size 0 diet. Instagram filters can hide your ugly face but not your ugly personality. Stop caring about what people say or what they think about you. Because their feelings will change according to their priorities. People spend their whole lives trying to live up to other peoples expectations and being told what to do. But rather, be free. Do what you want to do, when you want to do. Reach for the sky cause life has no limits or boundaries. Boundaries are just other peoples fears or other peoples limits and expectations. We have only one life, have no regrets, no enemies and no fears.
There are going to be days when no one will call you up or bother about you or your problems. It doesn't matter. Because what goes around comes back around. Stop feeling sad or disheartened when you hear or see your once close friends now enjoying or have learnt to live without you, there will always be something that you will be having and they don’t. We all have one thing in common. Our greed is endless.
You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we’re ready to see it. You may regret opening up to some people and there’s a few out there who didn't even deserve to know you like that, but do. Of course, you never really forget anyone, but you will certainly learn to release them. You will stop allowing their history to have any meaning for you today. You  will let them change their haircut, let them move, let them fall in love again. And when you see this person you have let go, you realize that there is no reason to be sad. The person you knew exists somewhere, but you are separated by too much time to reach them again.
You have to let your heart break at least a few times and learn everytime.
Do not let small things affect your decision. Whatever happens – happens for good. If God gives you clay , make lot of arts out of it. Your college , Your degree , your marks won’t mean a single thing if you are not a nice person. And remember you are not alone. Somewhere someone is there who is dying to help you out . And there is solution to every problem, all you need is to keep your mind open wide and your eyes wide.
Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Rain of Fire and Gold

Every city has its own history, and the history of each city is marked by a catalytic event, just as each ones life has a certain central event around which it is organized. For New York, it is now the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. For the Mumbai of my time, it is the floods on July 26th and then the terrorist attacks in 2008. But there was an earlier trauma in the psychic life of the city, which marked the before and after for old-timers..

Fort Stikine

"This is not acceptable", protested Alexander Naismith, "Such a mixture of Cargo is nothing short of suicide". But the authorities were reluctant and Capt Naismith had no choice but to follow the orders. It was after all a time of war. And so it was not within his rights to refuse this mixture of cargo. He had to bow to the inevitable.

The world was at war in 1944. The Japanese had already crossed into India from Burma, and the British government was directing all efforts into holding them back. The war also had an adverse effect on the British economy. The demand for supplies was also at its peak, be it war material or food.

The city of Bombay, was the jewel in the crown of the British empire. The city of 7 islands had become an important trading center in the east. When the Suez Canal opened, the trade via Bombay boomed, so with it, its importance as well.

The SS Fort Stikine was in the second year of its service. It had left from Birkenhead and was on its way to Karachi. The cargo in carried ranged from, spit fires, lubricant oil,timber etc. It also had gold bars worth £2 million, sold by the Bank of England to the Government of India, which was intended to help stabilize the Indian rupee which had crumbled due to the war. There were 31 wooden crates, each crate containing four bars of gold, and each bar weighing 28 pounds, but the most importantly ,it carried 1395 tons of explosives. On its way to Karachi, it barely survived a raid by German focke-wulf's. Throughout the voyage, the subject of the dangerous cargo was banned among the crew.

Altaf was a 37 year old man living with his wife and children in Bombay. He had shifted to Bombay from his village 7 years ago, in the hope of finding a job and feeding his family. He worked as a clerk in a school and managed to collect enough money to buy space in a chawl near Back bay. Like Altaf, there were lakh's of others  from various parts of India who had come to Bombay for a better living and more opportunities.

In Karachi, the Fort Stikine had unloaded some creates gliters and spitfires and the empty spaces filled with iron scrap, fish manure and rice. This sort of Cargo one has to accept but then the ship was even loaded with lubricating oil, bales of raw cotton, sulphur and risen. This inflammable material along with the explosives was just not acceptable to Capt Naismith. "Did you forget?  This is wartime, there are no excuses" said the authorities. For all he knew, such a cargo was seldom,if ever exported. But the transportation of cotton though sea route was inevitable for the merchants as during that  time, the transport of cotton from Punjab and Sindh to Bombay was banned. "This is just about everything that would either burn or blow up " said the captain. The deck officers voiced their concerns over the stowage of cotton with lube oil in the same hold as explosives but couldn't find any reference books on the ship or ashore and so it was with a great deal of misgivings that the cargo was loaded The entire crew were not to talk about it, and on 9th April First Stikine headed to its next destination, the port of Bombay.

Burjorji Motiwala was a 70 year old retired Parsee Civil Engineer residing in Bombay. He lived in his third floor appartment in Kukana House in Girgaum, South Bombay. The Parsees were immigrants from Persia who fled the arab invasion in the 16th century in order to keep their religion of Zoroastrianism alive. Many of the Parsis had immigrated to Bombay, and played an important role in the city affairs for many years.

Position of Ships Before Explosion

Three days later, on the 12th of April 1944, the SS Fort Stikine reached the port of Bombay. No-one within the dock area was aware of her dangerous cargo because the flying of the 'Red Flag' had been discontinued for the duration of the war,as the ships flying the flag were always the 'Target Ship' in the event of an air raid. Under normal conditions ships carrying explosives were not allowed alongside other ships and were discharged into lighters,however because of the war this prohibition had also been lifted. At the time, explosives were graded as Category A, B, or C. Category A explosives, were the most dangerous. The SS Fort Stikine , along with all the other cargo, carried 1395 tons of Category A explosives. Unloading began by Indian stevedores on the same day itself, first the fish manure because the stench had plagued the crew ever since Karachi, then some of the timber and scrap iron. It was not until the following morning that the foreman of stevedores was told about the explosives. The less sensitive categories, B and C, could be unloaded straight on to the dock. Category A were only allowed to be offloaded onto lighters, and not directly to the quayside. But the lighters did not come alongside until midday just before the lunch break and in the afternoon only half the stevedores worked on the explosives. The result was that by Friday the 14th most of Category A was still in the hold.

On 14th April 1944 around 12.30 p.m. smoke was noticed coming from a ventilator of the Stikine. As people saw the smoke billowing, they immediately called for help. Capt. Brimley Thomas Oberst, an Ordnance Officer in the British Army and in-charge of ammunition and explosives at the Bombay Docks, was informed of the ship on fire and he rushed to the site, at the same time Fire engines from the Carnac Bunder Fire Station were charging on their way towards the dock.It was now a race against time, unfortunately for them, they were unaware that the ship had explosives on it.

 Norman Coombs, Chief of the Bombay Fire Brigade, was in his office listening to the radio, as he always did during his free time. "Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic" said the announcer, "The luxury liner which had been declared "unsinkable" was carrying more than 2,200 passengers and crew on its maiden voyage to America. As the ship sank off the coast of Newfoundland, 1,500 passengers perished and only 711 survived." At around the same moment, Norman Coombs received call about a fire on a ship at Victoria Docks, it was an emergency said the caller, Norman immediately left for the docks in his slacks and jacket. He had had no time to change into his uniform.

Capt. Oberst, rushed on board to meet Capt. A.J. Naismith,"There is enough explosives here to blow up the whole of the docks," he said. The Bombay Fire Brigade section leader realized only while on the deck that the ship was carrying explosives and immediately hurried to make a call for more back up and more pumps. "The only way out was to scuttle the ship" Said Capt. Oberst. However when consulting the Chief Engineer, the plan was disagreed and suggested that the only safe action was to take the Stikine out to sea.Colonel J.R. Sadler the docks General Manager agreed to this,he wanted no harm to the docks. However the ships engine was disabled due to the repair work and the only way Stikine could vacate the dock was with the assistance of tugs, which were not available at that point of time. The Chief Engineer indicated that the ship could not be sunk by flooding its holds as the valves were designed to let out water, and not to allow any water in. Fort Stikine was destined to blow up. As for the captain, he still believed his ship could still be saved.

When Norman Coombs arrived, thirty-two hoses had already poured 900 tons of water. He tried to assess where the origin of the fire was from the deck, but the smoke and the heat made it an impossible task. Captain Naismith wanted to save his ship, Sadler his docks and Coomb's wanted Stikine to stay where she was so his crew could concentrate on extinguishing the fire. Oberst however doubted that none of the men could comprehend what was about to happen, for in his opinion, he was sure that the ship was about to blow up any moment.. Meanwhile, crowds of sightseers were gathering at the dockside in blissful ignorance that at any moment the ship might blow up. There was still no red flag at the mast that might have warned them.Around this time there was a sudden belch of yellowish black smoke and flames started to lick round the. hatch coaming. The fire fighters fell back, then with great courage surged forward, grabbed their hoses again and played the jets towards the ammunition boxes. But it was too late. The order to abandon the ship was given.

The city of Bombay was going about its afternoon business. Office goers were returning to their place of work after lunch, and getting down to their routine. Ladies were shopping near the Crawford Market. Children were busy at study in their schools. At 4.06 p.m. the S.S. Fort Stikine exploded

Picture of the harbor after the first explosion

The clock in the Dock Yard Tower was stopped when the first explosion occurred, and remained so for many months. Oberst was flung up in the air by the blast and landed on a pile of dunnage, as he surveyed the scene around him in the gloom he observed bodies lying all around, most with their skin burnt off. Of the firemen in the immediate vicinity forty were killed outright. Fort Stikine was blown in two and her boiler, still intact was found a half mile away.A huge tidal wave swept across the dock and ripped ships from their moorings At 4.33p.m. as Coombs stared across the dock surveying the scene of destruction the second explosion occurred.. This time much much powerful..

At Shimla, a city located at a distance of over 1700 km from Bombay, Sensors recorded that the earth trembled. The seismographs at the Colaba Observatory began showing readings. The sound of explosions was heard as far as 50 mi (80 km) away. Flaming drums of oil shot up into the air. Blazing cotton bales followed and came down on neighbouring ships pouring fire, igniting warehouses and buildings in Bombay city. The 11 other ships in the docks were reduced to scrap iron, which in turn devastated 300 acres of the dock itself. Docks were gutted. Fragments of blazing steel, weighing up to 100 tons, travelled laterally at incredible speed, spreading death and destruction on the way. It seemed all hell was let loose in Bombay.

People searching for cover after the second explosion
Altaf was at his job in school, when suddenly the tremor shook him of the ground, as did it with everyone, in a matter of seconds, the roof next to him collapsed and down came a huge peice of metal shard. Crashing the floor on its way. The children and the staff all began making their way out. As Altaf came across the street, he looked to the direction of the smoke, bellowing on the skyline of the city, everyone on the streets were running away from it, trying to get as far as possible,searching for cover as debris from the skies came crashing down killing people at random, but Altaf in a state of panic, ran towards the direction of the fire, he lived there and he has his family to save.

In that split second almost everything around a mile away was devastated.Flaming oil drums and blazing cotton bales shot up, then fell on ships, sheds and houses to start yet more fires. Of twenty-four ships in or near the Victoria Dock eleven were set on fire and four sunk or badly damaged. A further 25 firemen had been killed in the second explosion with 83 injured leaving the fire brigade all but decimated. Many people were killed outside the dock area by falling shrapnel and shells which exploded on impact, many buildings collapsed and others were set on fire. Buildings as far as Dadar shook and swayed. Partitions in offices came crashing down. Glass windowpanes were shattered and slashed people to pieces. Hot metal from several ships had flown more than a mile and slashed pedestrians into two. People were lifted off their feet and deposited elsewhere.

Position of Ships after explosion

The explosion produced many freak effects,The sky over Bombay was filled with gold and silver, masonry, bricks, steel girders, and human limbs and torsos, flying through the air as far as Crawford Market. A jeweler was sitting in his office in Jhaveri Bazaar when a bar of solid gold crashed through the roof and arrived in front of him. A steel girder flew through the air and crashed through the roof of Victoria Terminus, the main train station. A plate of iron landed on a horse and neatly decapitated the animal. Stray limbs and fragments of bodies were blown all over the docks..White-hot metal picked out victims at random. Captain Sidney Kielly, strolling with a friend, was cut in half by a piece of metal-plate. His friend was unhurt. Buildings were ablaze, trapping men, women and children in their homes.

Mr Motiwala, was at home when the earth beneath him shook, he suddenly heard something smash through the corrugated iron roof, bounce through his living-room and end up with a clang against the balcony. When he picked it up he found it was a gold bar.

The total number of lives lost in the explosion is estimated at more than 800, although some estimates put the figure around 1,300. More than 500 civilians lost their lives,and a further 2,408 were injured many of them residing in adjoining slum areas, but as it was wartime, information about the full extent of the damage was partially censored. In all some 50,000 tons of shipping was destroyed with a further 50,000 tons severely damaged.  Some of the gold disintegrated. Some of it melted. Some of it sank. Some of it flew high up in the air and landed in people’s homes, making them rich overnight.

Altaf ran  as fast as he could, pushing away people in his way and trying to avoid those running in the opposite direction, jumping past the fallen debris, As he moved nearer , he felt the heat growing stronger, When he finally arrived at the entrance of the colony, all he could see was a giant burning blaze towering high, blocking the entrance and burning everything past it.. Altaf could go no further..

The exact cause of the Bombay Explosion will never be known for sure, although many different theories exist some say that the initial fire was due to the cargo of cotton bales which had been loaded at Karachi. Cotton is capable of bursting into flames all on its own and it is possible that just such a "spontaneous combustion" was the cause of the fire which led to the two terrible explosions aboard Fort Stikine. Others talk of a fallen cigarette that was lit on board by a stevedore, Whatever the cause, there is no doubt that the Bombay Explosion was one of the greatest disasters of the Twentieth Century. The Bars of gold from the ship were being found as late as the 2011, But there was a mountain of more base debris from the explosion, and the British municipal authorities chose to create land out of it. They started filling in the Back Bay, where the mangroves used to be, cement over the debris and the land was reclaimed, in what is now know as Nariman Point.

Burjorji Motiwala took the gold, valued at Rs. 90,000 in those days to the Police. For his honesty, he was given a reward of Rs. 999. But the Parsi donated the amount to the Bombay Explosion Relief Fund.

2)The Great Bombay Explosion- Lawrence Wilson
3)Explosion in Bombay-Merchant Navy Officers
4)Maximum City-Suketu Mehta
5)Godrej Magzine

Monday, September 29, 2014

You Are Not Alone

Image Drawings by- Solar-citrus

You would be surprised with how many people in your life could be going through depression at this very moment.  People hide it like a paper bag over their heads out of fear of being judged, made fun of, seen as weak, or just not taken seriously.  Depression should not be taken lightly, it holds us down from our purpose and potential in life.  Those who tell you that it doesn’t exist have never experienced depression in their life, therefore not understanding the symptoms and how it’s something that cannot be fixed in a day! 
From my experience, depression arises from the gap between truth and perceived/wishful truth. When things don't look the way you expect or want it to, you feel helpless and when you feel helpless, you give up, fade away, despair.
Your feelings are real, your feelings are shared upon millions. Don’t hide it, talk to someone about it. With the right help, you can rediscover your confidence and begin life anew with our undying love and support!

"Everything will be okay in the end, If its not okay, then its not the end" - John Lennon

Everything will work always does.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wherever the Road Leads Us

Over the last 4 years, I have traveled to multiple places, mainly South of India. From Manglore to Silvassa, from Hyderabad to Matheran, from Kashid and Alibag to Malsej Ghat etc. To add to that, the multiple amount of videos that I used to take during my trips. A few days ago i came across a wonderful travel song by Mickey Mccleary. I was very inspired by the video concept as well as the lyrics behind them, so i decided to make a small video compilation of the places I've been to recently, using the same background score that inspired me to make this.
And so this video was made.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Danke King Klose

I couldn't hold back my tears. The joy of watching him score. The record was broken. 16 World Cup goals and Ronaldo was finally beaten. Miroslav Klose had officially become the World Cups all time greatest ever goal scorer. How long have I dreamt of witnessing this moment. 12 years ago the same legendary Ronaldo broke Klose's dream of winning the WC when the mighty Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the finals. And now 12 long years later, Klose had his revenge, by not only beating Ronaldo's record in front of him (Ronaldo was present in the stadium) but also against his country, a perfect icing on the cake. What followed later was a complete annihilation of the Brazilian national team. Brazil lost 7-0 to the Germans. Their biggest ever defeat and Germany had its revenge for 2002. And as usual Klose's feat submerged to a much larger headline. But that itself is so typical of Klose. 15 years of playing at the highest stage of world football and yet Klose has somehow always manages to stay away from the lime light. Few days later, Klose fulfilled his biggest dream when Germany became World Champions. Miro Klose finally got his hands on the one thing he most desired. He is now a World Cup winner. Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in the finals. The perfect long awaited ending had finally borne its fruit. All the arguments of having a non WC winner as the tournaments highest ever goal scorer was put to an end.

My dream of witnessing my childhood hero lift the the most important trophy of world football was complete. King Klose had not just become a World Cup winner, but also it's greatest ever goal scorer. The most perfect ending one could ever dream of, as a fan and for the player itself. 
There were many times in the past when i used to think that Klose too would end up being a part of the unlucky generation of German footballers to retire trophy less on the international stage, unlike so many half decent footballers of the past who had their names associated with WC victories playing aside real legends. I'm glad it didn't end that way.

But all good things come to an end. A few days later he announced his retirement.I wont say that I was surprised, Klose's retirement was long due, yet when it was official, it felt like a thousand swords piercing me all at once. I cannot even imagine watching the German NT without King Klose being a part of it. For me, It was not just the retirement, but also a realization that my childhood had officially ended. I grew up idolizing this man, watching every single national team game, just to see him score. A few days before the start of the 2014 WC, Klose had also surpassed the legendary Gerd Muller 's goal tally for Germany. Thus becoming Germany's all time leading goal scorer. With 137 caps to his name, Klose ranks second in the number of appearances made for the German National football team. Who would have ever imagined this year's ago?  if someone would have pointed out to a then 21 year old boy working as a carpenter, playing football during his part time. Miro Klose has come a long way.
I'm glad that this fairy tale had a perfect ending.

Thank you Miro for letting me witness your feats, thank you for the amount of joy you gave me every time you had the ball back of the net. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to. Thank you for being the perfect role model. Thank you for making me a fan of the German Bundesliga. Thank you for making me a Bayern supporter. You will always be my idol, my childhood hero, my legend. And most important, a God like figure to me. Danke King Klose

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I wish life to be as simple as words,
Just like a sky full of birds. 

I wish every one could follow their heart,
And make their life happy and smart. 

I believe good things comes to those who wait, 
And trust me it will be the best you get. 

So fly high with invisible wings, 
And enjoy life's unexpected swings

--Pooja Naik

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Trip to Malsej Ghat

It was freezing cold, the night was dark, and the fog so thick it made us almost blind. I lay down on the floor, outside a roadside shop, trying my best to manage atleast a small power nap. Besides me, Prince and Denver lay asleep. I was surprised that they could even manage to get it, despite the harsh conditions.  It was 3 am in the morning, pitch black all around, we had finally reached our destination after a long bus ride, Malsej Ghat. I had long wanted to go to this place, but never knew it would come at the most unexpected of times.

3am midst the fog and darkness

Malshej ghat is situated in Pune district near the borders of Thane and Ahmednagar districts. It is a mountain pass in the Western Ghats range. Malshej Ghat is one of the developing hill station in Maharashtra. And a monsoon destination.
10pm at Dadar station, the 3 of us were headed for a trek to Harihar fort with a group of other trekkers in a totally planned pick and drop trip. As we were waiting we discussed the beauty in adventures that lies in totally blind unplanned trips. In a sudden change of heart, we decided we rather head out on our own. Malsej Ghat was the destination we chose.  We took a train to Kalyan, and reached there around 12am. We had expected that we may have to spend the night sleeping at the Kalyan ST stand, but fortune favored us, and the was one last bus at 12.30am heading towards Malsej Ghat. The journey was much longer than we anticipated. It took us 2hours in the bus to reach our destination.  We were dropped of one stop ahead of the MTDC resort.

We were glad we reached finally, although we were completely clueless as to where we were. All we could see at a distance was a small light flickering  , and in pitch darkness we headed towards it.  It was a small roadside shop; fortunately for us it was open at 3am. We had tea there and decided we take a small stroll ahead. After a little while, we found a closed shop , which had a roof. So we decided to wait there until the sun rises.
At 5am we headed towards a dam that we could see from our shelter. It was a really long walk, probably 5km or such. But the view was awesome, and totally worth it. Its there where we witnessed the early morning sunrise. The dam was known as Pimpalgoan Joga dam, which is an earth fill dam. At times, you really felt as if we were in heaven itself.

After the long walk , we headed back to the main highway, where we had our breakfast and decided to explore the surrounding places. Malsej Ghat is best explored in a car or a bike. Walking is not the best option , as places are situated Km’s apart. During proper monsoon, the road is filled with waterfall views every few minutes apart.
We headed towards the MTDC resort , from there towards the many view points that were available. There is not much to do at Malsej Ghat, except admire nature at its best. The vews were beautiful, the climate just perfect.

The best way to get to Malsej Gaht from Mumbai is Mentioned below:
1- Take a train headed towards Kalyan on the Central railway line
2- From Kalyan head towards the ST stand on the west. There are buses every hour.
3- Take any bus headed towards Ahmednagar. Malsej Ghat is a stop in between.
4- The duration of the Journey will be around 2 hours from Kalyan.

There are buses from Malsej Ghat every 30 minutes heading towards Titwala or Klayan. But what you really need to brace yourself for, is a really long 2 hour ST bus journey. Ofcourse unless you have your own vehicle.

Monday, June 2, 2014

I am a Forest Hero

You don't need super powers to be a hero. Every time you make a difference for the better good, rather than sinning in silence, your being a hero.
The following video is from a Greenpeace app. That's me being a Forest Hero ;)

Real heroes don't have supernatural powers, they just achieve supernatural feats with simple acts of courage.

The Agent of Change

Monday, May 12, 2014

A New Blog

Following Bayern's exit from the champions league, there was a lot of flak being aimed on the team. The coach and players were criticized to a great extent. Even Bayern fans were in a panic mode and a lot of thrash talk was seemingly becoming quite a routine on the Bayern facebook groups. Adding to the dismay, Bild and were in the forefront in daily aricles being published on the topic of discontent amongst the players. From Javi Martinez to Goetze, From Thomas Muller to Shaqiri, from Kroos to Mandzukic, apparently everyone were on the verge of leaving Bayern. Dismayed by the constant bullshit , i wrote a satire article, that even Bayern's official mascot Bernie, wants to leave the club. Little did i know that the article would turn out to be a big hit. Within 24 hours the page already had 400 plus page views. The response i recieved was overwhelming.

Following that, i also created a new blog, which was to follow on the same trash talk satire bullshit that usually hits my mind on gloomy days. I certainly would have wished to add it all to my current blog , but as i do not post such stuff here, decided that it was finally a time to create a new blog for football. And so Berni's blog was created.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Berni the bear wants to leave Bayern

A dejected Berni and Dante try to console each other

The mascot of FC Bayern Munich, Berni has admitted that he is unhappy with his current situation at Bayern Munich.

"Of course I am not happy with my current situation," Berni was quoted as saying by Bild.
"Everyone seems to be unhappy nowadays, everyone wants to leave, so how can i stay behind?. So even i contacted Bild and to inform them that i have had enough. My time at Bayern has come to an end, so to write a story about me aswell"

Berni took over from his  predecessor Bazi back in 2004 and has now been with the club since the last 10 years. "When i joined back then, everything was so good. i was an instant hit. Everyone loved me, but things are different now. Even the players feel the same, everyday new bandwagnors  join in and try to be a pundit. I have had enough of football itself"

The versatile mascot is no longer an undisputed star under Pep Guardiola.
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has suggested that the Bundesliga champions would consider letting go of Berni this summer if the mascot were to demand a transfer. 

"If anyone does not feel well at Bayern Munich, he should come to my office," the FCB chief was quoted as saying by Bild. "We will have to talk about things like that."

Berni now joins Kroos, Javi Martinez, Shaqiri, Goetze, Muller etc in the list of players willing to leave the crises hit Bayern.
Manchester United are supposedly closely monitoring the mascots situation as a potential replacement to former coach David Moyes

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Video Diaries

Finally I'm up and kickin with my own video blog posts. College has ended, the AMP crew no longer exists. That's an end to the brilliant Amal Baiju magic that was always a part of this blog. here's wishing him all the luck and success for his future endeavors. However if by chance he does come up with a new one, it will feature here for sure.

On a brighter side, i have got 2 lovely movie maker software's at my disposal. I may not have have the creative genius of Mr Baiju, but learning is always the part of the trade. Now to actually wonder how far this fad will go. The first movie that i had made was back in diploma days, about a fight in my class. Lol. I had uploaded it on youtube , although i had to take it down later due to the violent and vulgar abuse content in it.

So here is for a new beginning. And new video memories for the trips i undertake or all the memories worth reliving.

The first and foremost, the most memorable trip of my life. It was undertaken the same year i began this blog. I still regret the fact that i didn't write a blog post on it back then. Although faint memories remain, the post will be just too long to write about. For starters it was almost a 10 day trip to the south of India. the first stop being Chennai Central, followed by Vailankani and Nagapatnam in Tamil Nadu, and later on further south towards Kerala, first stop being Angamaly our base, then Kochi, and finally the most beautiful place i have ever been to, Munnar. A trip with too many memories and adventures to ever try and fit into one single blogpost. So here is a small video teaser. the least i could manage. Just a start for many more to follow

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Water Crises of Vidharba

It was a vast stretch of dry deserted land. It had already been 4 hours since a young Krishna had left his house. The Sun was scorching hot, burning through is frail skin. The weather humid. He could feel pain throbbing down his throat every time he tried to swallow his saliva. He was not alone in his journey, there were others too. Women and Children with buckets in their hands, mapping the vast deserted land in search for water. It was one of the worst droughts they had ever faced.
Not far across in a nearby village, Kishorelal stood near the tip of a cliff, weeping for what could happen to his wife and kids after he was gone. It seemed to him as a last resort to get out of his troubled life. The debt he had accumulated was too huge for him to ever repay back. He had gone into huge losses. The money borrowed from money lenders could not be repaid. His farming had not provided yield. And how could it? There was not enough water available to him for irrigation. With no water, there would be no crops, and with no crops to sell, there would be no income for his family. Just debts being accumulated to repay. For Kishorelal, this was a lost battle. For him, just like many others before, there was no way out. Taking his last breath, he jumped. He was just one among the many hundreds of aid starved farmers that had committed suicide in that region.

Vidharba is a region in the eastern part of Maharashtra. A home to 11,800 villages is currently facing its worst drought in 40 years with around 29,500,000 families being directly affected. The situation being so bad that families travel long distances only to get access to a bucket of water which is supplied just once in 7-10 days in the nearest districts. That too, which the villagers allege of being polluted unsafe water. The is no water for basic sanitation needs as well. But for them, they have no choice. There have even been deaths due to dehydration. From the years between 2000-2010 there have been around thousand reported suicide cases in the affected regions. Some due to debt, some as a mark of protest fighting the system. A suicide every once in 3 hours at the peak of the crises. Reports of even drinking sewage water have been reported. Such is the plight of the people living I the worst affected areas.
For the state government, its just another issue to play politics on. While some politicians come out with absurd statements, some are using this opportunity to fill their pockets. It’s a common knowledge that false bills are being generated on the pretext of tanker water being provided. Crop failure is the major region amounting to the rise in debt suicides by farmers.
While the lack of rainfall does play a part in the current crises, it does not tell the whole story. This drought is not just a natural calamity but rather a man made one. Its not like there is no water at all in the region. A major contributing factor to this is the water diversions that take place. The water from the dams are being diverted to coal based Thermal power plants and other profit making industries. This being a direct outcome of the Maharashtra State Water Policy, which priotizes use of water for industrial purposes  above agricultural purposes between 2003-11. Coal based power generators are extremely water intensive. The Thermal power plants alone consume around 65% of the available water. To generate 1MW of electricity, 5-7 cubic meters of water is needed every hour. What’s worst is that 71 such thermal power plants are in various stages of approval with a plan to generate 55MW/year I.e. 2049 MCM water required would be needed. Making the situation even worst in years to come.

 While the rainfall may help the farmers cause to a certain extent, such droughts in the Vidharba region will continue to come and go if the current reliability on Thermal power plants as a source of electricity will increase. And if the remaining thermal power plants are given approval, on e can only imagine the amount of more farmers waking on the same path as Kishorelal or Krishna did. Last year following a sudden cloud burst, massive irregular rainfall in turn caused massive damage to crops. Many local and city based NGO’s continue to monitor the situation, conducting studies as well as pressurizing the government to make changes in the water allocation system. One can only hope that whatever the government does, meets the needs of the farmers. A coal based source of electricity is not the answer to India’s demanding need for power. It’s a source that takes more than what it gives.
What’s needed to be done is to halt all water diversions and allocations. Conduct a water Impact and availability assessment in river basins of Maharashtra so that drinking water and irrigation needs are considered. And most importantly, a call for promoting renewable energy technology. A clean and sustainable source of power.

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Too Late To Be a Pessimist

Home: A Film By Yann Arthus-Bertrand is an inspiration. The film is almost entirely composed of aerial shots of various places on Earth . It shows the biodiversity of life on Earth and how humanity is threatening the ecological balance of the planet. The manner in which the narrator puts across her message is absolutely mesmerizing. I came across this documentary during my time at Greenpeace. I was fascinated by the stunning aerial images. Yet, most of all, I was drawn in by the beauty of words, chosen to contrast ideas and tickle the mind, a feeling that left me spell bounded.

Climate Change
We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.
The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort
  •  About 20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of its resources.
  • The world spends 12 times more on military expenditures than on aid to developing countries.
  • Over 5,000 people a day die because of dirty drinking water. One billion people have no access to safe drinking water.
  • Nearly 1 billion people are going hungry. Over 50% of grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or bio fuels.  Forty percent (40%) of arable land has suffered long-term damage. 
  • Every year, 13 million hectares of forest disappears.
  • One mammal in 4, one bird in 8, one amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction. Species are dying out at a rhythm 1,000 faster than the natural rate.  Three quarters of fishing grounds are exhausted, depleted or in dangerous decline.
  • The average temperature of the last 15 years have been the highest ever recorded.  The ice cap is 40% thinner than 40 years ago.  There may be at least 200 million climate refugees by 2050.

It’s Too Late To Be A Pessimist

The cost of our actions is high, others pay the price without having been actively involved.
I have seen refugee camps as big as cities, sprawling in the desert.
How many men, women and children will be left by the wayside tomorrow?
Must we always build walls to break the chain of human solidarity, separate peoples and protect the happiness of some from the misery of others?
Its too late to be a pessimist
I know that a single human can knock down every wall.
Refugee Camps
It’s too late to be a pessimist.
Worldwide, 4 children out of 5 attend school. Never has learning been given to so many human beings . Everyone, from richest to poorest, can make a contribution.
Lesotho, one of the world’s poorest countries, is proportionally the one that invests most in its people’s education.
Qatar, one of the richest states, has opened it’s doors to the best universities. Culture, education, research and innovation are inexhaustible resources.
In the face of misery and suffering, millions of NGOs prove that solidarity between peoples is stronger than the selfishness of nations.
In Bangladesh, a man thought the unthinkable and founded a bank that lends only to the poor.
In 30 years, it has changed the lives of 150 million people.
Antarctica, is a continent with immense natural resources that no country can claim for itself, a natural reserve devoted to peace and science. A treaty signed by 49 states has made it a treasure shared by all humanity.
Geothermal Energy
It’s too late to be a pessimist.
Governments have acted to protect nearly 2% of the world’s territorial waters. It’s not much but it’s 2 times more than 10 years ago. The first natural parks were created just over a century ago. They cover over 13% of the continents. They create spaces where human activity is in step with the preservation of species, soils and landscapes. This harmony between humans and nature can become the rule, no longer the exception.
In the US, New York has realized what nature does for us. These forests and lakes supply all the city’s drinking water.
In South Korea, the forests had been devastated by war. Thanks to a national reforestation program, they once more cover 65% of the country. More than 75% of paper is recycled.
Costa Rica has made a choice between military spending and conservation of it’s land. The country no longer has an army. It prefers to devote its resources to education, ecotourism and the protection of its primary forest.
Gabon is one of the world’s leading producers of wood. It enforces selective logging. Not more than 1 tree every hectare. Its forests are one of the country’s most important economic resources, but they have time to regenerate.
Programs exist that guarantee sustainable forest management. They must become mandatory. For consumers and producers, justice is an opportunity to be seized. When trade is fair, when both buyer and seller benefit, everybody can prosper and earn a decent living.
How can there be justice and equity between people whose only tools are their hands and those who harvest their crops with a machine and state subsidies?
Let’s be responsible consumers. Think about what we buy.

Wave Power
It’s too late to be a pessimist.
I have seen agriculture on a human scale. It can feed the whole planet if meat production doesn’t take the food out of people’s mouths.
I have seen fishermen who take care what they catch and care for the riches of the ocean.
I have seen houses producing their own energy. 5,000 people live in the world’s first ever Eco-friendly district in Freiburg, Germany. Other cities partner the project. Mumbai is the thousandth to join them.
The governments of New Zealand, Iceland, Austria, Sweden and other nations have made the development of renewable energy sources a top priority.
I know that 80% of the energy we consume comes from fossil energy sources. Every week, two new coal-fired generating plants are built in China alone. But I have also seen, in Denmark,
a prototype of a coal-fired plant that releases carbon into the soil rather than the air.
A solution for the future? Nobody knows yet.
I have seen, in Iceland, an electricity plant powered by the Earth’s heat. Geothermal power.
I have seen a sea snake lying on the swell to absorb the energy of the waves and produce electricity.
I have seen wind farms off Denmark’s coast that produce 20% of the country’s electricity.
The USA, China, India, Germany and Spain are the biggest investors in renewable energy. They have already created over 2.5 million jobs.
Where on earth doesn’t the wind blow?

Wind Energy
I have seen desert expanses baking in the sun. Everything on Earth is linked, and the Earth is linked to the sun, its original energy source. Can humans not imitate plants and capture its energy?
In one hour, the sun gives the Earth the same amount of energy as that consumed by all humanity in one year. As long as the Earth exists, the sun’s energy will be inexhaustible. All we have to do is stop drilling the Earth and start looking to the sky. All we have to do is learn to cultivate the sun.
All these experiments are only examples, but they testify to a new awareness. They lay down markers for a new human adventure based on moderation, intelligence and sharing.

Solar Farms
It’s time to come together. What’s important, is not what’s gone, but what remains.
We still have half the world’s forests, thousands of rivers, lakes and glaciers, and thousands of thriving species. We know that the solutions are there today. We all have the power to change.
So what are we waiting for?

The Cursed Black Stone

"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain,something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange. In those days we really believed that to be the world's one and only truth."- said Edward Elric, the protagonist of the Full Metal Alchemist series, which focuses on the search for the legendary Philosophers stone. A stone of legends, that when obtained defies the principal of equivalence. To gain without sacrifice, to create without equal exchange. What legend doesn’t tell us, is the existence of another stone, so cursed and evil, that whenever used amplifies the equivalence that we end up paying more than what we get. A back stone that takes more than what it gives, a stone that has already put billions of lives at stake and continues to do so unless we change. That stone exists amongst us. That stone is Coal

Throughout history, coal has been used as an energy resource, primarily burned for the production of electricity and/or heat, and is also used for industrial purposes. Coal-fired electric power generation emits around 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide for every megawatt-hour generated. There are severe health effects caused by burning coal. According to the reports issued by the World Health Organization in 2008 and by environmental groups in 2004, coal particulates pollution are estimated to shorten approximately 1,000,000 lives annually worldwide. Coal mining generates significant additional independent adverse environmental health impacts, among them the polluted water.

How long will we be dependent for our energy needs on the cursed black stone? how long will we endanger our lives and the future of this planet? 80 % of the energy we consume comes from fossil fuels. Every week 2 new coal power plants are built in China alone. The average temperature of the last 15 years have been the highest ever recorded.  The ice cap is 40% thinner than 40 years ago.  There may be at least 200 million climate refugees by 2050

''When the last tree has been cut, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught. Only then we shall realize that we cant eat money''

 Its too late to be a pessimist, its time to move forward to renewable energy, a clean sustainable source of energy. The real philosophers stone is the Sun. Everything on earth is linked, and the earth is linked to the Sun, its original energy source. Can humans not imitate plants and capture its energy?
In one hour the sun gives the earth the same amount of energy as that consumed by all humanity in one year. As long as the earth exits the Sun's energy will be inexhaustible. All we have to do is stop drilling the earth and look towards the sky, learn to cultivate the Sun.
Its too late to be a pessimist..

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bitch Please

I usually don't post such stuff on my blog but this one has to be an exception here. I somehow someway had to get this story out. It's been on my mind for many days now and I really didn't know how to frame it while talking about it with my friends.

It happened on 15th Feb 2014, a day after valentines day.I was sitting at McDonalds when the following event unfolded.

Scene: McDonald's, balcony.

Four girls sitting right beside me on the opposite table. Arguing about this guy who likes one of them. Me and a friend gorging on our French fries.

Girl 1: Shit I can't believe he likes me! How can he even think I like him back?! That nuthead.
Girl 2: See I told you stay away from him. No guy is good.
Girl 3: They all just want one thing. And we know what.
Girl 4: But how did he just like you all of a sudden! And how did he think you like him?! Weirdo

Girl 1: (At the top of her damned voice!) All I did was go out with him a few times cause he asked me. I used to meet him some evenings. Went for a movie once. Okay I held his hand just once. Okay yes, I pecked him on his cheek when I am happy. And I told him once that he was the best guy I ever knew. But how
could he think I like him?! Bloody dog!

Girl 3: Creep

And I'm just sitting there like, "Yes. All guys are the same. We usually end up the dog, because there a good number of bitches like you around the place!"

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Green NGO

It was the 12th of May, I had just finished my exams a day before, and here I was sitting nervously for my life’s first interview. The waiting room was a library, where books and reports of various issues were kept, after filling up the form; I went through a few books with eager thirst for knowledge. It wasn’t long before it was my turn. With a deep breadth, I walk in. I had no past experience, what I only had was knowledge and the confidence in my ability..

Fundraising is a tough job. It’s something that tests your skills to the fullest. It also helps you grow as an individual. I happen to work in an NGO. One that works for environment related issues particularly climate change. I was a part of a select group of 5 people, each with their own set of talents, skills and vision.  The first week of job was all about learning the trade. Realizing the purpose of me being here, realizing the purpose of why we exist. Knowing the campaigns, the causes that we work for. How we as individuals can be the catalyst to this change. Knowing our importance in things to come and most importantly to believe in what we do. It made me proud that I was a part of it. A member of one of the worlds largest NGO. An organization that had a lot of influence in bringing the change that was needed. An organization that is transparent, non violent and no matter what; it always stood by its ethics. An independent organization solely funded by individual supporters. An NGO by the people for the people.

When a group of like minded people sat sail for the island of Amchitka in 1971, little did they know that their revolution would give birth to a whole new beginning of environmental activism. Four decades later, and in 23 countries, Greenpeace has come along way. Established in India in 2001, Greenpeace strives to bring a paradigm shift in the Government towards renewable energy. Starting from the early campaigns regarding the water in the Ganges and the Bhopal gas tragedy and currently with a campaign named Junglistan, aimed at protecting forests being destroyed at the expense of dirty coal.

Greenpeace’s main goal is to ensure the ability of Earth to nurture life in all its biodiversity. The world is not made for human greed. It does so by promoting peace, Global disarmament by non violent ways.
What did impress me as an individual were certain ethics followed by the problem solving global campaigning organization that no matter what, every Greenpeace individual stuck by it. The core values of Non Violence, Bearing witness, Independence and Direct action.
Together with catalyzing an energy (r)evolution for climate change along with defending the oceans, protecting  ancient forests , supporting sustainable agriculture and working towards peace and disarmament, Greenpeace emphasis its role as a global watchdog towards governments and companies.
In India Greenpeace currently campaigns in the following core Issues-
1-      Coal and Water campaign (The drought in the Vidharba region)
2-      Coal and Forest campaign (Junglistan – Coal mining destroying forest land)
3-      Sustainable Agriculture (Promoting organic farming and saying NO to GMO’s and Chemicals)
4-      Nuclear energy (Against the Civil Nuclear Liability act)
5-      Cool IT (Keeping a tab on IT companies and their carbon footprint)

The money raised by us fundraisers is then utilized towards research, creative campaigning, mobilization, reaching out, lobbying with governments or cooperates. Hence trying to bring about the desired change.
Not everything in Greenpeace is perfect. Mistakes have been made, but what’s important is learning from them, and moving forward to on day realize our dream of seeing India totally powered by Decentralized renewable Energy. Thus being self Sustainable and living in harmony with nature.

Nine months later, leaving behind a thousand memories, my time had finally come to bid farewell. It was an emotional day for me, with the day ending with a farewell party in one of Bandra’s best Chinese restaurant. I had my good times as well as bad times. But the proud feeling of being a part of that change will always remain.

Its too late to be pessimist...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Join The Conversation

Well by now you must have noticed how active I am on social networking websites.
My profiles are available for you to see, unfortunately I cannot add everyone on my facebook profile. Since a lot of you are quite unknown to me.
You can follow me on Twitter - @Ervine11
Or me on instagram - @lester25
However if you do want to communicate with me on a chat basis,  then BBM is the best option I can think of. Go ahead
#BBMme PIN: 743CF8A9

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