Monday, 13 May 2019

Simple Steps to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle




Everyday, you and I throw away shopping receipts, plastic containers, and used sheets of paper without giving them a second thought. But though these bits of trash seem trivial to us, they are drastically increasing the amount of waste on our planet. To stop our garbage from consuming the Earth, we need to begin changing our lifestyles as soon as possible. One way to do this is by joining the Zero-Waste Movement.

The Zero-Waste movement is a lifestyle where people aim to have no trash output so that no garbage is sent to landfills, oceans, or incinerators. It began with a book written by Bea Johnson: Zero-Waste Home. In this bestselling book, Bea explained how her family reduced their annual waste to one jar of trash!

Now that more people are joining this eco-friendly movement, maybe it’s time for you to join, too. But where do you start?

You could begin by counting each and every object you throw away. Then, find a way to replace those things with reusable alternatives so you don’t end up dumping them the next time around. This is an easy way to start and soon, you’ll find that you hardly have any trash to take out!

If you have enough time on your hands, you can make homemade products, too. This is a great idea as it stops you from throwing away the plastic packaging, which store-bought products come in. You can look online for simple recipes using beeswax to make lip balm, body butter, lotion bars, etc.

However, if you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time, you can use different methods to go zero-waste. Here are some small changes that make a big difference.

1. Make homemade gifts. When you make gifts for others, you can use resources that you already have, instead of buying something new. For example, you can make origami gifts out of old magazine paper. Remember to only wrap your gifts in newspaper!

2. Replace your plastic toothbrushes with bamboo ones, which can be planted once you’ve used them.

3. When you step out to buy takeaway food, carry your own reusable containers. If you are buying a takeaway drink, check if you can have it in your own flask with a metal or bamboo straw. And the next time you go shopping, carry a cloth bag with you and avoid buying a plastic one.

Bring your own bottle! 

4. You can also visit zero-waste stores to buy items without plastic packaging, and products like shampoo bars so you don’t end up throwing away used shampoo bottles.

Products sold without packaging at a zero-waste store

These small changes can be implemented in every household. As you dive deeper into this movement, you will realize that you’re not only saving the Earth, but safeguarding your health too. Organic products from zero-waste shops are much safer to use than normal products. And drinking from a metal bottle is healthier than drinking from a plastic one.

If you begin living a zero-waste lifestyle, don’t get frustrated when things go wrong. Just remember that everyday, you are making a positive impact on the world.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Black Soldier Flies: Troops that Protect the Earth




Did you know that an average human generates about two kilograms of waste per day? Yes, it’s true!

By waste, I mean the things that you and I throw away, like sheets of paper, plastic packaging, leftover food, and so much more. But waste never really goes ‘away’. Anything that goes ‘away’ actually just goes somewhere else. So how do we dispose of things without creating too much waste

You have heard of Guardians of the Galaxy. Have you heard of the guardians of the Earth? 

There’s a method of reducing food waste, which I’m sure will amaze you. My cousin, Aparna Sundar, who I recently met, has been experimenting with different eco-friendly recipes and methods. This is how she gets rid of her household’s food waste without adding to the amount of garbage on our planet.

The first step in this process is refrigerating. Once Aparna eats a meal, instead of throwing them away, she mixes the food scraps in a large box. She then puts the box in a freezer or refrigerator. After about a week, once the food waste has broken down sufficiently, she takes it to a farm for composting. 

This farm harvests an insect that plays a critical role in this process: the black soldier fly. These flies’ larvae feed only on manure, garbage and rotting vegetable matter. They eat much more as larvae than at any other stage, and their hunger is insatiable. 


After approximately 14 days of feeding on the compost, they reach their pupa stage. This lasts for two weeks.

Finally, the black soldier flies become adults. They then die and decompose quickly, acting as natural fertiliser. In this way, black soldier flies reduce the amount of waste on the earth and even when they die, they continue being valuable to the environment.

This method of composting is just one way of giving back to nature. There are many more, which I hope to research soon. If we don’t start disposing of our waste in the right way, the earth will soon become a giant landfill.


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Five Things to Do this Summer


Hey everyone! I’m thrilled that the summer is finally here. There are so many books to read, videos and movies to watch, friends to hang out with, and new games to play. But sometimes, the holidays can get boring. So here are some exciting things to do to make this summer a memorable one!

1. Organise a pool party

Organising a pool party is pretty simple. All you need are a group of friends, some light snacks and an apartment or club with a swimming pool. You can borrow and share floats and pool toys. Dive right in and enjoy!

2. Explore a unique hobby
Leil Lowndes, a renowned psychologist and communications expert suggested that knowing about a variety of hobbies helps people communicate with each other. This is simply because one person would be able to talk to another about a specific hobby if they have experienced it themselves.

And this is just one benefit of having many hobbies.

This summer, try out a new hobby. Maybe learn to write haikus, or choreograph dances, or learn a new sport from a friend. Indulge in whatever activities you’ve always dreamed about or wished you could do!


3. Bury your own time capsule
Have you ever watched a science fiction movie where a bunch of scientists bury a capsule that’s found millions of years later? Well, it actually isn’t that difficult to do. Take a plastic box (so it doesn’t decompose) and put newspapers, books, a board game and other trinkets into it. Bury it in a park and cover it up with mud, then wait for someone from the future to travel back in time to meet you!

4. Have fun with messy artwork

Do some messy crafts like pot painting, pottery or slime making! Wear old clothes and maybe create a Craft Corner in your house so you don’t make a mess everywhere. Just get completely into whatever craft you’re doing and don’t worry about getting dirty! Be creative and crazy!

5. Get crafting and scrapbooking
Scrapbooking is an interesting way of recording memories, using photos, captions and colours. Take any blank notebook and wrap the book covers in white paper. Now you can decorate the cover however you want!

Next, take pictures of anything exciting you see or do. Use these pictures to fill up the pages. You can draw designs and add captions too. Remember to add dates to the photos so when you look back at them later, you’ll know when they were taken.

I hope you liked my list of ideas for the summer. Whatever you choose to do, put your heart and soul into it, don’t get scared of getting dirty, hurt or injured, and most importantly, have fun!

What are some activities you like to do in the summer? Let me know in your comments below. Happy holidays!

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Malleshwaram: Myths and Memories


Sahapedia is an online resource on arts, culture and heritage. It also conducts programmes and events. It recently organised the second edition of the month-long India Heritage Walk, with walking tours in over 35 Indian cities.

I had the pleasure of participating in one of these walks conducted by Sujata Balakrishnan a few weeks ago, and here is a description of my experience along with some intriguing facts I learnt from the walk.


Image source: https://thinkbangalore.blogspot.com/2015/05/kadu-mallikarjunaswamy-temple.html#.XIFJISgzbtQ


The walk I went for was around Malleshwaram, a well-known locality of Bangalore. The walk was named “Down Memory Lane” and it began early in the morning on Sunday, 24th February. You probably think I’m a loser to wake up early on a Sunday to do something educational, but this wasn’t just a tedious tour from which you come back full of unimportant, monotonous facts. In fact, some of the things I learnt would really impress and excite young readers. For example, did you know that the fictional town of ‘Malgudi’ written about by R K Narayan, was named after Malleshwaram and Basavangudi combined (‘Mal’ from Malleshwaram and ‘gudi’ from Basavangudi)? I bet not!

Malleshwaram was created in the early 19th century for a unique reason.

In 1898, a deadly plague affected Bangalore’s city-centre, spreading rapidly because of the town’s unsanitary conditions. The British (who were ruling India at the time) began to worry about the plague spreading to their cantonments. Hence, they built the new hygienic suburbs of Malleshwaram and Basavangudi.

By the way, the word ‘Malleshwaram’ comes from the Kannada word ‘male’ meaning hill and ‘eshwara’ for the Shiva temple there.

After we learnt about the fascinating history of Malleshwaram, we were taken to a temple called Sri Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyani Kshetra. This temple too has an awe-inspiring story behind it.
When the temple was first discovered, it didn’t have much except a Nandi statue in it. One special thing about the statue was that there was a continuous flow of water that dripped down from its mouth and onto the ground. Anyway, the residents of Malleshwaram assumed it was just a Nandi temple, and contained no other deity.



However, in 1997, there was attempt to grab the temple area and use it for some development. The residents were very indignant and protested passionately. They dug the area around the temple claiming that this was temple area and should be protected. Everyone was shocked to find that below the existing Nandi statue was a large Shiva lingam and an entire temple complex that had been lost all these years! The water from Nandi’s mouth was actually falling onto the lingam and constantly bathing it!

The community was allowed to keep the temple that way, but to this day, nobody knows the source of the water that flows from Nandi’s mouth.

Next, we visited a temple that had a rock with Shivaji’s inscriptions on it. The rock was inside a temple whose maintenance he funded. It has an inscription on it in Old Kannada saying “Anyone who damages or defaces this temple is akin to a Muslim eating pork in Mecca or a Hindu slaughtering a cow in Varanasi.” The powerful words ensured that nobody damaged the temple in any way.

The last temple we entered – Kadu Mallikarjunaswamy Temple – has another myth behind it. It goes as follows.



One day, a betel leaf merchant, tired out from a day’s work, decided to rest under a tree in a forest (kadu). He felt hungry, and lit a fire to cook some food. As the fire began to kindle, he heard an angry voice shout at him to stop. It told him that he was about to commit sacrilege. He looked down, surprised, and saw that what he thought was a stone was actually a Shiva lingam rising out of rock (swayambhu).

He decided to build a temple around it, and to this day, the temple is still standing with the swayambhu lingam, surrounded by tall, green trees. It is calm and peaceful, with the only sounds around being the crunching of twigs and the rustling of leaves.

I certainly learnt a lot of interesting things about Malleshwaram that day. At the end of the walk, we had a hearty breakfast at New Krishna Bhavan. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and am looking forward to more such walks organised by Sahapedia.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

In the darkness


Image source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiIXLKWXmBw

Aeons ago, long before time itself existed, lived a clan of miserable beasts: the damonians. The damonians lived in a world of nothingness. All they felt was hunger, exhaustion, sorrow, regret and depression. There was nothing around them but darkness. No land, no water, no food, no other living beings… they survived by killing and eating one another – or they starved to death.

For a long time, their kind searched and searched for something more, all in vain. Most died of hunger and exhaustion, while some even took their own lives.

They gave up hope that there was something beyond this loathsome, rebarbative world. Soon, they reached the brink of extinction. Their race might have been wiped out completely if not for Wolvian.

Wolvian, a young damonian lived in constant terror as he knew that if he wasn’t alert during every waking moment, he would be killed by his own relatives in an attempt to satisfy their hunger.

After a long time span of this miserable existence, Wolvian, not unlike his great ancestors, desperately longed to change his way of living. He had willpower and ambition, and he sincerely believed that there was more to life than what his clan knew, and all he had to do was discover the right lens to see the true picture.

He searched, walking in a single direction for a long period of time, though he grew old and weary.

Finally, he found something he had never seen before. It was stunning and at first, he couldn’t move, frozen with shock, surprise and so much more. What he was looking at was huge. So huge, in fact, that he couldn’t see its end. It seemed to go on forever and ever. He used the last of his energy to run towards it.

It was in a colour similar to his fur, but lighter and more beautiful. Slowly, cautiously, he dipped a paw in it. It felt wonderful…. It was cool, and it left little circles of itself on his paw. The circles disappeared quickly but he could still feel them in his fur.

He put his paws into this strange miracle again, and it splashed up against him. At that moment, he felt something he didn’t understand. It made him want to screech, jump, and run around wildly. It was tingling sensation, so lovely he didn’t know how to describe it. It was a feeling that none of his kind had ever experienced before.

Joy.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

My View on the Sabarimala Controversy


Image source: http://mattersindia.com/2018/10/sabarimala-all-one-needs-to-know/


Sabarimala is a temple for the worship of Lord Ayyappa. It has been visited by pilgrims for more than nine decades and is now one of the most controversial topics in the news.

 For a very long time [maybe even since the temple was built], women between the ages of 10 to 50 did not enter the temple. This is what most people think. However, it is partially incorrect. There was an informal ban on women entering the temple but it wasn’t always strictly followed. There are records of the Queen of Travancore entering the temple in 1939 when she was around that age, and many more such records of women of this age entering during important festivals. This proves that the ‘ancient traditions that must be upheld’ aren’t that ancient after all. It was only around the 1970s that women were really banned and now people are using this tradition as yet another excuse to put down women.

The next point I must make is related to the argument most people I speak to about this use: It’s a tradition, and breaking it is offensive to Hinduism. Just because something is a tradition, it doesn’t necessarily have to persist. Not every tradition is right. For example, untouchability. This was a huge part of Hinduism, but now it has been forbidden, according to the Right to Equality in our Constitution. There is one story about an ‘untouchable’, which I think is very relevant to our topic.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanaka_Dasa


When the Udipi Krishna temple was first built, Saint Madhvacharya had originally installed the Govinda idol facing east, as was the custom. Kanakadasa, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, visited the temple. However, as he was from a low caste, he wasn’t allowed to enter from the main eastern entrance. Kanakadasa ran to the western side of the temple and pressed his eyes against the holes in the wall, begging Krishna to appear before him. The idol of Krishna, impressed by his loyalty and dedication, slowly turned to face him. Thus, Kanakadasa was able to see Udipi Krishna.
The reason I have written this story out for you is that I feel that history is repeating itself. A few decades ago, we didn’t allow Dalits into our temples. Now, aren’t we discriminating against women in the same way?

While women around the world are fighting for equality, I find it surprising that we women ourselves are protesting against our own right to enter temples. Take the time when Trupti Desai tried to enter Sabarimala for example. Hundreds of people blocked her at the airport – and who were most of these people? Women.

However accomplished we imagine ourselves to be, we are still close-minded and backward in our thinking if we deny simple rights like these to equal human beings.

I do not mean to offend in any way by writing this blog. I’m only expressing my opinions on the subject and hoping that perhaps a few readers will rethink their stance and maybe even agree with me. Thank you.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

The Legend of Egypt’s Sacred Family


Hi everyone and welcome back to my blog.

I recently visited Egypt, so I have written the story of the Sacred Family. The Sacred Family consisted of three deities – Osiris, Isis and Horus, father, mother and son respectively. They were worshipped by the ancient Egyptians in numerous temples and monuments. Here, I have written their story from Isis’ point of view.

Image source: https://www.mygodpictures.com/osirisisis-and-horus/

How did Isis feel when her husband was murdered, when Horus trained for the most vital battle of his life and when the time finally came for him to fight?

Read on to find out.

Isis’ Records

A terrible loss has befallen me today. Because of this, the whole kingdom shall suffer. My brother-in-law, Set assassinated my husband! How dare that traitor just barge into our beautiful palace, kill my husband Osiris, and sit on the royal throne?

I immediately rushed to draw my sword, but a woman is not permitted to fight a battle, especially against a man, in the kingdom of Egypt.

Osiris has been blasted into millions of pieces by that renegade Set and I have been banished from my position as Queen of Egypt. I must seek guidance from Amun-Ra, God of the Sun, on how to resurrect Osiris.

I can only hope that he’ll help me save my husband, and consequently, all of Egypt. 

____________________________________

I finally met Amun-Ra and he gave me much hope. The possibility of saving Osiris, of bringing him back to life, seems very high.

As I have recorded previously, Osiris has been broken into millions of pieces and Amun-Ra has given me wings to search for them and put Osiris’ body back together.  I shall start today, and hopefully my work will be completed by the next feast of Opet.

Image source: https://isiopolis.com/2013/12/01/why-does-isis-have-wings/
____________________________________

Today is a day of joy and faith for the subjects of Egypt. After almost a year of searching, I, Queen Isis have found all the pieces of Osiris. Tomorrow, as all of Egypt watches, he shall be brought back to life. Nephthys, my beloved sister, who aided me while I was searching, shall accompany me to this delightful ceremony. I’m pleased that Osiris will finally be saved.

However, his resurrection will not be complete until his death is avenged. We must have a son who will take revenge on Set and restore harmony in Egypt. I have decided what I shall name him.
Horus, the falcon-headed god of protection shall be born this year to save us.

____________________________________

It has been a long time since I last wrote. Osiris’ and my son shall be born in a month’s time. Only 30 days left! Once Horus is ready, I will see to it that he is trained well enough to take on Set and defeat him. But for now, I must wait.

____________________________________

Horus is only a young and vulnerable boy now, not ready for training. However, I see a spark in him. He is brave and diligent and seeks a chance to avenge his father. In some time, he shall become one of the greatest heroes in history.

Image source: http://www.egyptianmyths.net/mythisis.htm

____________________________________

Horus’ training has begun. Maat, goddess of order, is teaching him the rules of warfare, while our best warriors train him in archery. I am personally training him in the art of the spear fighting and it won’t be long before he is ready. That despicable Set better watch out!
____________________________________

Horus has married Hathor, goddess of love, joy and music. She is sure to bring Horus luck when he confronts Set. She has already given us some vital news: Set knows that Horus is seeking revenge, and that coward has taken the form of a hippopotamus and is in hiding underwater to escape Horus’ wrath.

Image source: http://canacopegdl.com/keyword/horus-hathor.html

The time has come for Horus to fight what will be the greatest battle ever witnessed – a battle against Set to fully resurrect and avenge his father.

____________________________________

We are sailing down the Nile, searching for any sign of Set. So far, this has proved unsuccessful but we must persevere. Hathor and I are here with Horus, to help him. Hathor is polishing his spear and sharpening its blade while she watches the water below for any sign of movement.

Wait! Horus has spotted something!

In the distance, there’s a grey dot just below the surface. We are rowing as quickly as possible towards it but…. Amun-Ra please help us!

We are here, and yes, that is Set! Horus has grabbed his spear and is lunging at that monster… that was a deft blow and it hit Set’s leg.

Image source: https://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/leg/leg07.htm


Oh! I should have known that Set would not be defeated so easily. He’s beginning to fight back…. Horus is holding his own….aah! No! Horus has been hit in the eye – this can’t be happening! Horus is failing, letting Set gain the upper hand.

I have to help him but Hathor isn’t letting me go. I must do something!

Wait…it’s alright! Horus is fighting back, valiantly swinging his spear as Set trembles at his might. He has utilised a trick I taught him years ago and now he has managed to disarm Set. Set is trying to flee, but he’s cornered. Horus has struck Set’s leg, and Set is screaming in pain.

One more strike and he’ll be unable to move. Yes! Horus has done it!

Horus has a cut in his arm and an eye has been taken out by Set. But these are mere trifles. My son, Horus, god of protection, the falcon-headed one, has destroyed Set, completed Osiris’ resurrection and rescued Egypt from a tyrant’s rule!

Horus will return victorious from this struggle and the people of Egypt shall bask in his reflected glory.

All shall kneel before Horus, King of Egypt!




Simple Steps to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Image credit : Sonia Golemme Everyday, you and I throw away shopping receipts, plastic containers, and used sheets of paper witho...