Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tiger! Tiger!

I received this deeply disturbing note from a friend. For security reasons I am not naming this individual. However, I decided that I will publish it as is. If, after reading you feel that this is an important issue and really want to help in any small way, do share it with all your friends and comment on what you are really willing to do. If you are in the media, do think about publicising this point of view. And if you want to get in touch with this individual on a personal level, do let me know.

------------------- A note to worry about -------------------------------------

Just saw comments on Bhandhavgarh by a great naturalist and friend - Anand. Frightening! Combined with the news that Corbett [national park] also lost a tiger recently!! The amount of comments that Corbett's tiger loss has received has really astounded me.It really is heart warming to see so many people crying aloud about our state of wildlife and also heart wrenching to know that most of these people will stop with just that.

Things I believe that many of us, (people who care for the enviironment/wildlife) forget are:

a) Most of the youngsters, interested in wildlife do not join the forest department, since it is not [apparently] a great job! Since this is the case - how in God's name are we going to save any of our species!!

b) Blaming the forest department, without even knowing the kind of issues involved does not do any of us any good. Like how many of the enthusiasts know that in most of the Indian states there is only one vet for monitoring/protecting et.c the wildlife in the [entire] state ? Some "Project elephant" reserves in this country have to wait for a months time for the reimbursement of fuel expenses!!

c) The above brings us to the question as to why dont vets or youngsters join the forest department? Try and change the system by working within it! It is a fight which might not result in any win [immediately] - but then atleast there is a start and you set the battle for change rolling!!

d) Running campaigns, creating awareness is all great, but at the grass root levels what changes occur within the machinery? Like it is a known fact that 70% of the forest department staff is made up of temporary workers (like the gaurds, anti-poaching watchers etc). While their salary is a pittance (about one evening's spend for many of us) their duty calls for risking their lives day in and day out. Jokes apart, in many states their salary is about roughly about 60-120 rupees a day, and that too paid after a three month delay.

e) These same temporary workers are the people who pit their lives day in and day out. Like you would understand and agree with me, meeting a [wild] bull or lone elephant in any of the jungles in the western ghats is the most frightening encounter. To protect and safe guard themselves, the guards (in certain conflict prone areas) have rifles with blank catridges to scare off [wild animals], when absolutely necessary. Now before someone makes a cry about [the] scaring off [tactic] and taking the above in an alltogether different context, guys, these blank catridges are for the old, purana .303 rifles which most of you would have used during your NCC training. And these catridges have to be accounted for IF used!!! And the replacement for the used catridges when will it come is a question? And these are the same weapons the guards have to use for saving our wildlife from poachers !! So it is a great feeling to having to meet a poacher armed with the most sophisticated weaponry :)

f) The forest department's funding is a very funny thing and mostly incomprehensible to sane people. To do a independent survey of an established tiger/elephant reserve, the ministry would spend in crores, but would not give funding to a particular reserve to staff it well! When the morale of the grass root level worker, who has not recieved his salary for three months is at the lowest ebb, what is the purpose of survey, green cover increase etc, when it is the same guy who has to do the job?

Another thing on the funding front, none of the anti-poaching camps are properly equipped to do their primary duties. Like the men have no torches, clothing against natural elements like rain or cold weather, no chargers available (for charging their equipment like walkie-talkies, torches if any, their gps if any etc). Solar panels and their batteries are as usual like most government stuff the cheapest you can find, thanks to corruption at various levels.

g) Questions like why are we not rewarding those men who risk their lives to protect our green wealth are unanswered? Personally I know of men (temporary workers) who have fought bare handed against poachers and have almost lost their lives, rewarded with about 10,000/- !! What a great motivation !! In a few other cases, where some of these men have been showered with awards, nothing has been done to elevate their financial conditions! They CONTINUE WORKING AS TEMPORARY WORKERS FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS !!

h) The officials in the forest department are a breed altogether different. They should probably be classified as a different species. Totally corrupt and interested in getting their promotions and money, most of them have zilch interest in wildlife. And many of them are old timers who have no proper education in wildlife or training. They are more trained in social forestry and timber harvesting than wildlife. Why? that is how the entire ministry and the country have looked at forests so far! Though things are changing, it could be late !! It looks that the ministry / government are neither concerned nor interested in protecting this nations wealth.

h) As far as corporate funding for wildlife is concerned, it seems that all they are interested in is media exposure! Rather than run a media campaign about saving our wildlife/tigers, they could spend one tenth of that money and adopt a tiger reserve/wildlife sanctuary. Given the way our government works, this would be a herculean task. But if there is serious interest in really doing something constructive, i am sure they can work their way around and find a solution. After all we are talking about saving this nation, and if it means no media exposure and thereby no publicity - so be it. Again on a personal note - when I approached some of these corporates - the one question they want answered is - what does our company get in return ? Sorry - but being an ex-media person - I really don't think that I have an answer for that!! So - if a telecom giant sponsors a rehabilitation of say, a sloth bear or a leopard, should the animal in particular be wearing a sign board saying "rehabilitated by so and so"? Would love to see that if it happens!!
All put together , unless something drastic happens or a miracle, things look very bleak for India's eco-wealth.

-------- End ------------

Monday, 22 February 2010


Sitting at home, waiting for some important documents to arrive - which can let me lead my normal life... led me to think about one rather important aspect of us humans: patience.

I believe that patience with a combination of decision making capability, or lack thereof is what has led us to where we are right now. For example, if early humanoids had not been impatient and decisive enough to move on from their place of origin, the world today might have been quite different.

A few million years to today... think about it, what has become of us? We are mighty impatient and fairly indecisive. A sort of moronic state of development, isn't it? How did we get here?

Today, technology has progressed to allow us the benefit of reaching the world by sitting on our butts and equally it has ensured that we feel disconcerted and disconnected if we are unable to 'know' what is happening - be it in someone's life, think Facebook; or be it in a political environment, think SRK V/s SS so delibilatingly covered on the entire Indian media spectrum. We have to know. And know it right now. Why wait to boot up the computer? The mobile handset is already on, is capable of delivering the information, right? However the next link of decision making - what do we today? Pretty much nothing.

We like to know, but do not want to do anything. Not all of us. But a majority of us. An ad campaign, part of the CSR agenda of a large corporate organisation, is made at a cost that could have actually saved many more than the purported 1411 tigers left in India. Think about it, how many of us have actually done anything other than 'enjoy' the ad in which superstars and prominent personalities of various categories drum in about how they are supporting the 'save the tiger' campaign - but on ground what is really being done?

I visited the Periyar Tiger Reserve recently. Talking to the people on the ground in the forest, I discovered how pathetically ambivalent the real decision makers sitting on top are. I wonder, how many people actually would ever muddy their feet, trekking through a forest and getting leech and tick bitten, just so that they could see how beautiful the wild animals are and how harmonious nature really is? Most people, just want to get into a boat, trawl the lake for a bit, bawl away so loudly that every single animal in the vicinity makes a run for a safer, quieter place and then everyone just cribs about how they didn't see any tigers! How many tigers were saved?

In my opinion, mother nature is very patient. She keeps things in balance, most of the time. She has sustained a million years of humans raping, pillaging, bombing, nuking her - she has not given up on us. Yet. The day she runs out of patience and decides to re-balance, we will learn, really how pathetic we are in our ability to do anything to save ourselves. Each of us are on earth for a short period of time... I hope I can make it count for something. Will you?

Monday, 18 January 2010

The Differences Between Men and Women

I came across this interesting set of insights and thought, it would be good to share. I am not sure who the author is, but all due credit to the person who wrote this in the first place...

First of all, a man does not call a relationship a relationship - he refers to it as "that time when me and Suzie was doing it on a semi-regular basis". When a relationship ends, a woman will cry and pour her heart out to her girlfriends, and she will write a poem titled "All Men Are Idiots". Then she will get on with her life.

A man has a little more trouble letting go. Six months after the break-up, at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday night, he will call and say, "I just wanted to let you know you ruined my life, and I'll never forgive you, and I hate you, and you're a total floozy. But I want you to know there's always a chance for us". This is known as the "I Hate You/I Love You" drunken phone call, that 99% of all men have made at least once. There are community colleges that offer courses to help men get over this need; alas, these classes rarely prove effective.

Women prefer 30 - 45 minutes of foreplay. Men prefer 30 - 45 seconds of foreplay. Men consider driving back to her place as part of the foreplay.

Women mature much faster than men. Most 17-year-old females can function as adults. Most 17-year-old males are still trading baseball cards and giving each other wedgies after gym class. This is why high school romances rarely work.

Women look good in hats; men look like dinks.

Let's say a small group of men and women are in a room, watching television, and an episode of "The Three Stooges" comes on. Immediately, the men will get very excited; they will laugh uproariously, and even try to imitate the actions of Curly, man's favorite stooge. The women will roll their eys and groan and wait it out.

To their credit, men do not decorate their penmanship. They just chicken-scratch. Women use scented, colored stationary and they dot their "i's" with circles and hearts. Women use ridiculously large loops in their "p's" and "g's". It is a royal pain to read a note from a woman. Even when she's dumping you, she'll put a smiley face at the end of the note.

A man has at most six items in his bathroom - a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of Dial soap, and a towel from the Holiday Inn. The average number of items in a typical woman's bathroom is 437. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

Men's magazines often feature pictures of naked ladies. Women's magazine also feature pictures of naked ladies. This is because the female body is a beautiful work of art, while the male body is hairy and lumpy and should not be seen by the light of day.

A woman makes a list of things she needs and then goes to the store and buys these things. A man waits till the only items left in his fridge are half a lemon and something turning green. Then he goes grocery shopping. He buys everything that looks good. By the time a man reaches the checkout counter, his cart is packed tighter that the Clampett's car on Beverly Hillbillies. Of course, this will not stop him from going to the 10-items-or-less lane.

Going out:
When a man says he is ready to go out, it means he is ready to go out. When a woman says she is ready to go out, it means she will be ready to go out, as soon as she finds her other earring, finishes putting on her makeup...

When preparing for work, a woman will put on a Mondi wool suit, and then slip into Reebok sneakers. She wil carry her dress shoes in a plastic bag from Saks. When a woman gets to work, she will put on her dress shoes. Five minutes later, she will kick them off because her feet are under her desk. A man will wear one pair of shoes for the entire day.

Leg warmers:
Leg warmers are sexy. A woman, even if she's walking the dog or doing the dishes, is allowed to wear leg warmers. She can wear them any time she wants.

A man can only wear leg warmers if he is auditioning for the "Gimme the Ball" number in "A Chorus Line".

Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

Men are vain; they will check themselves out in the mirror. Women are ridiculous; they will check out their reflections in any shiny surface--mirrors, spoons, store windows, toasters, Joe Garagiola's head.

Women use garages to park their cars and to store their lawnmowers. Men use garages for many things. They hang license plates in garages, and they watch TV in garages, and they build useless lopsided benches in garages.

For women, their favorite movie scene is when Clark Gable kisses Vivien Leigh for the first time in "Gone With The Wind". For men, it's when Jimmy Cagney shoves a grapefruit in Mae Clark's face in "Public Enemy".

Women look nice when they wear jewelry. A man can get away with wearing one ring, and that's it. Any more than that, and he will look like a lounge singer named Vic.

When a woman reaches menopause, she goes through a variety of complicated emotional, psychological, and biological changes. The nature and degree of the changes varies with the individual. Menopause in a man provokes a uniform reaction--he buys aviator glasses, a snazzy French cap and leather driving gloves, and goes shopping for a Porsche.

The Telephone:
Men see the telephone as a communications tool. They use the telephone to send short messages to other people. A woman can visit her girlfriend for two weeks, and upon returning home, she will call the same friend and they will talk for three hours.

Low Blows:
Let's say a man and a woman are watching a boxing match on television. One of the fighters is felled by a low blow. The woman says "Oh, gee, that must hurt." The man doubles over and actually feels pain.

If a woman is out driving and she finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings, she will stop at a gas station and ask for directions. Men consider this to be a sign of weakness. Men will never stop and ask for directions. Men will drive in a circle for hours, all the while saying things like, "Looks like I've found a new way to get there", and, "I know I'm in the neighborhood. I recognize that White Hen store".

Admitting Mistakes:
Women will sometimes admit making a mistake. The last man who admitted that he was wrong was Gen. George Custer.

Richard Gere:
Women like Richard Gere because he is sexy in a dangerous way. Men hate Richard Gere because he reminds them of that slick guy who works at the health club and dates only married women.

Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and soccer games and romances and best friends and favorite foods and secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Dressing up:
A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage answer the phone, read a book, get the mail. A man will dress up for: weddings, funerals.

Nudity in Movies:
Every actress in the history of movies has had to do a nude scene. This is because every movie in the history of movies has been produced by a man. The only actor who has ever appeared nude in the movies is Richard Gere. This is another reason why men hate him.

David Letterman:
Men think David Letterman is the funniest man on the face of the Earth. Women think he is a mean, semi-dorky guy who always has a bad haircut.

Men take photography very seriously. They'll shell out $4,000 for state-of-the-art equipment, and build darkrooms, and take photography classes. Women purchase Kodak Instamatics. Of course, women always end up taking better pictures.

Men love to talk politics, but often they forget to do political things such as voting. Women are very happy that another generation of Kennedys is growing up and getting into politics, because they will be able to campaign for them and cry on election night.

Locker Rooms:
In the locker room, men talk about three things: money, football, and women. They exaggerate about money, they don't know football nearly as well as they think they do, and they fabricate stories about women. Women talk about one thing in the locker room--sex. And not in abstract terms, either. They are extremely graphic and technical, and they never lie.

Women do laundry every couple of days. A man will wear every article of clothing he owns, including his surgical pants that were hip about eight years ago, before he will do the laundry. When he is finally out of clothes, he will wear a dirty sweatshirt inside out, rent a U-Haul and take his mountain of clothes to the laundromat. Men always expect to meet beautiful women at the laundromat. This is a myth.

When reminiscing about weddings, women talk about "the ceremony". Men talk about "the bachelor party".

Female cheerleaders are cute, sexy, fresh, and all-American. Male cheerleaders are scary.

Men wear sensible socks. They wear standard white sweatsocks. Women wear strange socks. They are cut way below the ankles, have pictues of clouds on them, and have a big fuzzy ball on the back.

Little girls love to play with toys. Then, when they reach the age of 11 or 12, they lose interest. Men never grow out of their obsession wih toys. As they older, their toys simply become more expensive and impractical. Examples of men's toys: little miniature TV's, car phones, complicated juicers and blenders, graphic equalizers, small robots that serve cocktails on command, video games, anything that blinks, beeps, and requires at least six "D" batteries to operate.

A woman asks a man to water her plants while she is on vacation. The man waters the plants. The woman comes home five days later, to an apartment full of dead plants. No one knows why this happens.

Some men look good with mustaches. Those men are Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds. There are no women who look good with mustaches.

With the exception of female body-builders, who call each other names like "Ultimate Pecs" and "Big Turk", women eschew the use of nicknames. If Gloria, Suzanne, Deborah and Michelle get together for lunch, they will call each other Gloria, Suzanne, Deborah and Michelle. But if Mike, Dave, Rob and Jack go out for a brew ridden evening, they will affectionately refer to each other as Bullet-Head, Godzilla, Peanut Brain and Useless.

Having laughed a lot, while reading this, I got to thinking that this stems quite clearly from the way we perceive. And may this continue to be the case, else life will get a bit too boring indeed.

The Chances We Take. Or Not.

Book under review: Ahmed Faiyaz,  Another Chance Grey Oak Publishers, 2010 ISBN: 978-93-81626-02-3 Rs. 195 We all know...