How annoying it is to walk on our Kerala roads when it is raining heavily. Most of all are the big potholes and ponds that form during monsoon, which makes travel difficult for all (especially pedestrians).
Now imagine!!…You are on your way to office dressed all tip-top, and happen to be near a pothole filled with dirty water. A vehicle (It is best if it is a private bus or a private car, especially Omnis) passes by at a 100 kmph. Now have a look on yourself, once the vehicle moved off. You look more attractive now, don’t you? With a dress (no need to say if you have worn a light coloured one) now designed in innovative yet natural way. The person who made you look beautiful anyway is not going to see you, but if any onlookers are nearby, they can have chuckle themselves or pity you. But you are at freedom to curse that driver, but all to yourself. Most of the pedestrians are sure to have experienced this at least once in their lifetime. So, the next time you are going to be more careful when you happen to be near any potholes.
When it comes to drivers, the bad conditions of roads will make them feel they have driven 500 kms after just driving 50 kms. If you need only just 30 minutes to reach your destination, now it takes over an hour for travelling.
Of the 160,944 km of roads in the state, 28,203 km fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department, and around 67 percent of roads fall under jurisdiction of various village panchayats. Over 70 per cent of the roads in the state are damaged and unfit for vehicular traffic. Though the government has taken to repair works on a war footing, the monsoon almost always washes it off.
Every year a lot of money is spend on road maintenance and the roads are tarred every year. But as soon as the monsoons arrives these tarred roads gets torn apart and great pot holes develop which make the roads look really pathetic and are a real nightmare for travellers. Who is to blame the corrupt politicians or contractors or both? A lot of major accidents occur every month due to the bad state of the roads in Kerala. Although Kerala is a major tourist destination in India and is given the title ‘God’s own country’, the pathetic roads in Kerala has not done justice to this self-styled name.
Ayurveda has been a regular feature during the monsoons of Kerala. Scores of tourists and health watchers from all over the world throng the shores of Kerala to indulge in the natural goodness of the rejuvenating therapy of Ayurveda and experience health and vitality. Dating back to over 5000 years, Ayurveda is the oldest medical system in the world. One of the therapies that is closely linked to Ayurveda in Kerala is Ayurvastra, which involves the use of garments for health solutions. These eco friendly garments made from natural fibers and herbal dyes is easy on skin and is well suited for hot and humid climatic conditions.
Ayurvastra helps the human body to shed toxins and to improve metabolism. The cloth is woven with special herbs and is permeated with oils that can cure various ailments including diabetes, skin infections, psoriasis, arthritis, rheumatism, hypertension and asthma among others and are found to enhance the immune system of the body. For best results Ayurvastra is recommended while sleeping or meditating.
No chemicals are used in any stage in the production of the cloth, which is bleached with cow’s urine, which has high medicinal value. The fabric is dyed using herbal dyes sourced from around 40 to 60 medicinal herbs, depending on the ailment. For instance the herbs used in the dye for arthritis are curry leaves and apocynceae, while persons suffering from skin ailments should wear clothes dyed using turmeric, neem and sandalwood. Developed by Charaka’s Kudipraveshika Chikitsa, this ethnic system is developed by the ancestors of the Kuzhivila family in Kerala. Trendy outfits like skirts, shirts and pants made of ayurvastra has many takers. This wellness fabric also includes home linen, shawls and yoga mats. The best part is that the herbs are long lasting and will not run if the clothes are washed with mild soap or shampoo.
A clinical trial initiated by the Ministry of Health at the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvananthapuram has proven that Ayurvastra is effective in managing certain diseases. There are retail outlets in many places including Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. The products are also exported to the US, Italy, Germany, UK, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Mangrove Forests are lately in the news in Kerala since CPI (M) got involved with the establishment of a Mangrove theme park in Valapattanam of Kannur district. The theme park is now shut following a controversy. The Kerala Coastal Zone Management Ministry ordered its closure on the charges that it was functioning in violation of Coastal Regulatory Zone(CRZ).
CPI (M) is very keen on developing Kannur, don’t know whether their sole intention is development or is it a mere political agenda hidden behind it? Their first initiative was the Parassinikadavu Water Theme Park. The Mangrove Park is under the Pappinisseri Eco-Tourism Society in which CPI (M) Central Committy member E.P. Jayarajan serves as the advisor. The park is located in the 12 acres close to the Valapattanam Bridge and towards the east side of the Valappattanam River.
The park was beautified with a walk-way through the Mangroves, bright lamps that’ll make the night to look like a day, colourful water fountain, special zone for children’s entertainment, fish tanks, conference hall and small food huts. Bridges, two jetties and an observation tower in the river were also built along with it. The owners have already spend a sum of one crore for the park and is expecting 5 crores as expenditure in the next five years.
Although they have established the park saying that it was for the development and protection of Mangroves and the different species live in it, it’s clear that the park is in no way going to help it. Not only won’t the park help in the Mangroves protection but it can completely endanger the ecosystem of the living species here.
How mangrove forests help our environment?
Mangrove forests are naturally resilient, having withstood severe storms and changing tides for many millennia. Mangroves have specially adapted aerial and salt-filtering roots and salt-excreting leaves which enable them to occupy the saline wetlands where other plant life cannot survive.
- Mangroves’ protective buffer zone helps shield coastlines from storm damage and wave action, minimizing damage to property and losses of life from hurricanes and storms.
- Mangroves have been useful in treating effluent, as the plants absorb excess nitrates and phosphates, thereby preventing contamination of near-shore waters.
- Mangroves absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon in their sediments, thereby lessening the impacts of global warming; and help in the protection of associated marine ecosystems
- Sea grass beds and coral reefs depend on healthy mangroves to filter sediments and provide nursery grounds for resident species.
Mangrove Forests are largely facing deforestation. However, mangrove forests are treated as “wastelands,” or useless swamps. This mistaken view has made it easier to exploit mangrove forests as cheap and unprotected sources of land and water. Mangrove Forests were largely destroyed in the name of unsustainable developments like:
- Shrimp aquaculture
- Charcoal production and logging
- Oil exploration and extraction
- Urbanization and urban expansion
- Ports and roads
Continuing heavy loss of mangrove forests represents a real tragedy for our oceans and the extensive life-support systems mangroves engender. With climate change and sea level rising upon us, we must look to the mangroves to help turn the tides which these forests can do through their ability to control erosion by buffer against storms, and sequester huge amounts of carbon. Mangroves may in fact be one of our last defenses against the perils of climate change and global warming.
If the authorities stick on to the decision of the closure of the park, this may well contribute to the survival of our environment and in turn the species live inside it.
Gone are the days when the croaking sounds of frogs were always associated with the rains in Kerala , simply because these days we hardly see any frogs around. Rains and frogs share a close relation. An amphibian, which also breathes through its moist skin, frog needs water for its survival and this could be the reason why frogs wait for the rain clouds. Even today, in many villages in North India, frog marriages are held to appease the rain gods. However, with the change in the climatic conditions and the destruction of wetlands, frogs are facing a serious threat. I was surprised to note that for the last many years not even a single frog was spotted in a pond near my house, which was once the spawning ground of bright yellow frogs. Till the recent past, we could hear the loud croaking calls in various intensities all night and the whole pond would take in an yellow hue!
Things are equally bad for snakes as well. A poet of yesteryear had sung that ‘snakes have burrows, birds have skies and man alone does not have a place to live‘ in one of the most popular songs of a Malayalam movie. However, now the lyrics of the song has lost its meaning as man has invaded the whole of ground, sky, water and even space as his home, leaving all other animals homeless and distressed. As the pressure on land increases by the day, conflict between man and animals is assuming alarming proportions. Last week a fully grown viper got into the sitting room of a posh villa, luckily the inmates found it in time so a tragedy was averted. The residents are now using poisonous chemicals to keep off the snakes , knowing fully well that these highly poisonous chemicals could be carcinogenic if used continuously.
In the olden days, every homestead had a sacred serpent grove where these slithering creatures were revered. I still remember my vacations which I used to spend in my village in Trichur district. A visit to temple was something that we all cherished as kids. A stroll along the embankments of the paddy fields at dusk, often under the guidance of our grand mother was fun. Very often we’ll come across snakes in the paddy fields and the bushes nearby.
A long snake with a pale yellow tinge that seems to be in no hurry to reach its home- it is a harmless , ‘chera, it wont do anything’ grandma would whisper as we walk past. She used to make sure that the kids are well acquainted with the different types of snakes so that they can distinguish between the poisonous and the nonpoisonous varieties. The slender, medium sized snakes that swoosh past the water in the brooks and paddy fields are also non venomous snakes. But watch out for the short and stout snakes with dark bands over it. These could be highly poisonous viper or cobra and it is better not to mess up with these- she would add hastily. Not even once she urged us to kill the snakes the moment we spot it! This sharing and caring attitude is missing now and this could be the root cause for all problems. So it is high time that we lend an ear to the age old sayings and practices of our forefathers to make sure that we ensure a fair chance to live in this universe for the future generations!
The rain woes in Kerala continue to hit the headlines day in and day out with many people succumbing to fever and other diseases, which was dealt upon in an earlier blog in this space a few days back. As pointed out in that blog, all these chaos are only man made and is not something that should be associated with rains at all.
Kerala enjoys a tropical climate with plentiful rainfall and sunshine and never before have we heard about the strange diseases like dengue, rat fever and the like! So what could be wrong? Blame it on the poor sanitation, lack of cleanliness and non existent drainage facilities that add up to the monsoon miseries of the common man. The disease transmitting vectors like rodents and mosquitoes multiply in the filth and waste generated by cities as their natural predators are fast vanishing.
The natural predators of mosquitoes like frogs are facing extinction due to the rapid destruction of wetlands and poaching by man. Gone are the days when the arrival of the rainy season was heralded by the echoing croaking sounds of large frog colonies. When man decided to fight the vectors with chemicals, mosquitoes that are immune to chemicals emerged throwing open serious challenges for the health sector fraternity.
With the disappearance of paddy fields, snakes, which were the most dreaded predators of rodents are also facing serious crisis. Many newly developed residential colonies in Cochin are constructed by leveling paddy fields and marshy lands. Even today , during monsoons, poisonous snakes like vipers are spotted here, which underscores the gravity of the man Vs nature conflict.
When will man learn to lead a life without interfering the rhythm of nature? When the going gets a bit too much to handle, nature reprimands him with tsunamis, dengue, H1N1 and what not, which we have never heard before in this tiny state of Kerala a decade or so before! If the alerts remain unheeded, the end result could be catastrophic for sure. But as usual the public and the administrative machinery fail to wake up from their slumber until a serious calamity strike us all!
Rains form the lifeline of Kerala, which depends exclusively on the monsoons to replenish the power grid and the drinking water sources. So instead of asking the ‘rains to go away’ to get temporary respite from all these problems will it not be better if we try to solve the sanitation and waste disposal issues to make sure that mosquitoes don’t breed in the stagnant rain waters and the rodents multiply in the stinking garbage on the roads. Organic farming and wetland conservation would bring back the natural predators like frogs and snakes to fill in the missing links of the food chain and this could bring a noticeable change in the situation. Last but not least, let the humans not meddle with the laws of nature, because, he after all is only a small link of a complex interdependent ecosystem of this universe!
Rains in Kerala are always beautiful, especially the monsoon that’s lashing all across the State right now. Even now, as I am writing this article, sitting at my desk at
Karmakerala, it’s raining outside. Indeed, I love the rains…
Sharaz, our software programmer here at Karmakerala, who is also a popular television anchor too, was asking callers, all of them working abroad, in his TV show a few days back, “So, you like the summer or the rains?” The unanimous reply obviously was ‘The rains”.
Yes, we Keralites love the rains. With so much of greenery, paddy fields, rubber plantations, streams, rivulets, hills and hillocks etc, rains can’t be anything but beautiful in Kerala.
These days anyhow the scenario is different. Don’t we sometimes hear ourselves chanting away, like a mantra ‘Rain rain go away…’, trying to wish away something that keeps things ticking for us, something that keeps the bulbs burning and fans whirring and televisions blaring, something that provides us with the much needed water that we don’t know how to use judiciously and wisely.
Why such a sudden resentment? Wherefore this dislike? Every year as the rains set in, diseases like H1N1, Dengue etc too spread out, causing the loss of lives all over the state. This has been the case with us for the past few years, with the sway of these diseases and the death-toll too increasing rather than going down. The rains subside in a couple of months and the lives that have been lost, of course just statistics for our media and administrators, are forgotten. And forgotten is the fact that it’s we ourselves who are to blame. Is anyone doing anything? Discussions, debates and seminars take place; a big budget is outlayed and even spent (Don’t ask where and
on what!!). I remember a friend of mine making a documentary on one of these contagious diseases with alloted funds a few years back. I wouldn’t wish to reveal as to how he got to make it and all; I too got some money and of course credits too. But I just dont know what good that film did in containing and controlling the disease. The papers carry features, photographs, statistics, comments etc. And then, it’s all forgotten. We all sit back and let it happen, as if it’s all happening in some other world, in far away Mars or Pluto.
So, who’s to take the blame? The government? The politicians? The bureaucrats? Yes of course. All of them and all of us. No one is concerned and no one does anything. How many of us are repelled by the enormous amount of garbage that’s found heaped over? We avoid going to such places; but do we think of how to avoid such places coming to swallow us all? How many towns and cities in Kerala have waste management plans working properly? You won’t be surprised to find people in Kochi carrying bags with garbage and waste at night, only to be dumped in desolate places, drains and all. They can’t be blamed? “Where else can we put it all?- they’d ask. What do we do about canals and waterways dumped with natural and synthetic waste? These and many such questions face us as we still tend to love the rains that preserve us and all the other birds, animals, trees, plants, flowers and all those things that make this earth what it is. So, what’s the solution? Do we want a dictator who can command the rains to stop or a magician who can, with a flourish of his magic wand, make the rains stop? We’d even think on those lines..So selfish we have become that like Kalidasa in the story, we tend to cut the very same branch on which we are sitting.
Where there is a will, there is a way, says the adage. So, it’s the will that matters. As long as we are not bothered, we are not going to find a way, a solution to this menace, this real big menace.
Just remember…there were people who were living here, on the face of this beautiful planet when this monsoon began a few weeks back and who sadly aren’t there now, to enjoy the rest of the monsoon or the showers in the years to come. My heart goes out to them…Who killed them? All of us, perhaps…
So, now it’s time for atonement…Let’s pray for them and for their departed souls to rest in peace, let’s join hands to drive away this menace of contagious diseases that spreads as a result of our negligence. It’s not medicines and mosquito repellants and hollow shams of speeches and all that we need. It’s sanitation that matters. Each one of us has got to do our bit, each one of us. It’s awareness that matters; spread it the way you can. It’s sensitivity that matters; nurture it and care for others….
Hope Sharaz shares this concern with his callers and his viewers when he goes to host his popular show this week….
Now, what I am going to reveal you is a ‘public secret’. If you are a person who wants to live more and that too with good health, you have only one option – choose to live in the countryside. This is based on a recent research conducted in London by Office for National Statistics (ONS). The research report states:
“Living in countryside will make you live longer. Those born in village and dispersed areas could expect to live longer than those in town and fringe areas. Even the poorest people fared better in the countryside. Rural poor men lived for a year longer than their urban peers.”
The difference also examined among the older, wealthy migrants from the cities had demonstrable health benefits compared with the life of their urban peers, living in more crowded, less green spaces and served by more pressured public services.
Now, speaking of our Kerala, It’s a state with green luxuries and is now turning to a state that may face extinction on the same. The hot weather Kerala is facing today despite many showers of rain is an after effect of deforestation done by man to nature’s greenery. The cities are getting crowded and more polluted and, every morning we spot a new building sprouting up on another side of the city.
The accommodation business is now foreseeing a new possibility into the countryside building resorts in acres of land. Another painful factor is that the people living in countryside sell out their land for the price that do not even comes close to 1/4 of the price of land in a city. The people living in countryside find it very difficult to maintain acres of land that consists of coconut trees and other crops that are sources of income.
Despite of all this, it’s a fact that people who live in a city are now more on to buying lands in the countryside to spent their holidays. We can reduce global warming and the scorching heat of Kerala if each one of us can contribute by planting more trees and not allowing cutting trees that are already there. Let us also take care to protect the land we have in countryside and live longer!!!
The unexpected early onset of South West monsoon and the rains set off by the depression in Bay of Bengal, last week was a reason to celebrate for everyone in Kerala. From the banter sessions in village tea stalls to the social network sites like twitter and facebook, the common thread of conversation has been the rains for the last few days! As they say, we value things only when we are about to lose it! Is it the depressing thought that Kerala wont be getting anymore the bountiful rainfalls it once had , people have become more alert and anxious to environmental causes?
However it is too early to forget the hard lesson taught by the scorching summer this year. Kerala had become a cauldron this summer thanks to the short sighted deeds of its populace. As per a recent report, the summer temperature has recorded an all time high in Kerala mainly because of cemented and tiled courtyards of homes and apartments and the senseless construction activities and multitude of concrete structures, which has virtually sealed off the chances of rain water seepage and ground water repletion. The report says that if long term measures are not adopted now earth will become too hot and inhospitable for any living forms by as recent as 2030!
The only option to bring down the temperature is to adopt novel techniques of landscaping your backyards. Tiles can be effectively replaced by quarry sand or chipped metal, which would keep the backyard clean and easily manageable all the while allowing the rain water to seep into the inner layers of soil. Laying buffalo grass carpet is another beautiful option to spruce up the drive ways and walk ways. Make your choice now and switch to open grounded courtyards where rain water can percolate into the soil and replete the ground water level.
Planting more trees will go a along way in enhancing the green cover and bringing down the temperatures. In a novel venture,the leading Malayalam daily , Manorama has launched an innovative tree planting drive where families and corporates will be provided free saplings of fruit bearing, medicinal and flowering trees. It is indeed a laudable effort and if more people join hands in this effort, Kerala will be green and beautiful once again!
As the parched landscape of Kerala welcomed the first monsoon showers with excitement, let us all take a pledge to save every drop of rainwater instead of letting it go waste over the tiled courtyards into the Arabian Sea!
Shyama, my colleague, wants me to write out a post…..
Now, what shall I write? Confusion indeed…
It’s been cloudy since yesterday, with rains lashing out now and then. It’s a relief, from the scorching summer heat, but I’m feeling terribly sleepy. If given a chance, I’d simply shirk work and go have a nice sleep….Oh, no! I need to earn by bread n’ butter, nay, my Kanji and Curry. So better sit on and write on, after all I am paid to write….
I suddenly remember that the Kerala State Government had yesterday declared 2010 as the ‘Coir Year’. I ask Shyama if I may write about that. Pat comes the reply, over Skype, “Cottage industry, indigenous industry… wah bhai wah!”. Yes indeed. It’s good that the government has decided to announce the year as ‘ Coir Year’ and also has taken the initiative to launch various schemes aimed at uplifting people engaged in the coir industry.
Well, I happen to hail from the Thiruvananthapuram district. There are places near my hometown Varkala where dwell people who are part of the coir industry. But I feel the number of such people are dwindling, with more of our people looking out for making big money with not-so-indigenous methods.
Well, big money is no crime, if it’s not made in an illicit manner. But it’s sad to see indigenous industries going the wrong way. Anyway, kudos to the State Govt for taking the initiative and also for thinking of raising the pay given to coir workers from Rs. 100 per day to Rs 150 per day.
But, is that what I want to write about?
I look out and see vehicles ply on the road. It rained just half an hour ago; in fact it’s drizzling even now. My thoughts wander a bit….
The monsoons are supposed to arrive in a week’s time.
It’s this monsoon, known in Malayalam as the Edava paathi, especially as it comes almost by mid-Edavam (Edavam being a month in the Malayalam calendar), that’s made use of by farmers all over Kerala.
It’s this monsoon, the South West Monsoon that solves water-scarcity related problems and fills up wells, ponds, rivers etc.
It’s this monsoon that used to drench school kids on school re-opening day.
Hey, Did I say ‘used to’. Yes indeed! It no longer comes with that kind of precision, lament many of my friends. I too tend to agree. There was a time when the monsoon would unfailingly greet school kids walking past fields and through narrow village roads.
As a school-boy, when I used to visit Kerala during my summer vacations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, I used to enjoy seeing this, sitting in my grandfather’s shop, which used to be there by the side of paddy fields and from where I could catch the sight of a school by the road, almost half a kilometre away.
The school is there. But alas, the shop is not there. Many of the paddy fields too are not there. My grandfather is no more. And no more can I see those many sights that characterised the Edava Paathi. But still, Edava Paathi has its own beauty, its own charm in Kerala.
But I wonder how many of our people are pondering as to whether they would be able to till their fields and sow the seeds or not. Paddy fields are vanishing all around us. Why bother? We get rice, brought in from the other states!!
And what if the paddy fields and marshes disappearing is affecting the water-table? It’s going to affect the next generation only! And we can get mineral water, sold to us at Rs 10 or Rs 15 per litre. (Am sad indeed as I happen to drink well water, unprocessed and unboiled, even now when I visit my home-town, where the well is real deep and the water still pure, unpolluted and cool. But in Ernakulam, I am forced to shell out money and buy mineral water or else get the insipid water from the taps and boil it and gulp it down, to quench my thirst. It cools off the body, but not the mind!)
Hey…I am digressing! Better not…Shyama is our editor. She is also officiating as the team leader for our bunch of writers at Karmakerala. If she is vexed at me, all hell will break loose. She can put in a word against me with our bosses Thejal, Mark and Sholto. Oh no, Shyama is my friend….
God bless you, Shyama! But God knows, God only knows perhaps that I am damn tired…can’t write, er, type out one more line….
Will wind up with this…for today!!!
I love summer showers, so do many others but there could be some who prefer to turn a nelson’s eye to nature and its bounties. At least that is what I could find on the highways of Kerala on a day out in the rain, a few days back!
The sensuous smell of fresh rain soaking up the parched lands, the brilliance of the fresh sprouts of grass blades, the bright flowers and leaves around- the sights associated with rains are truly enchanting. I can spend hours together watching the rain beating down the Kerala landscape, turning it into a pretty portrait in no time. The progression of the rain is simply marvelous and for me it is like a perfectly orchestrated symphony ! The rain clouds gather with amazing swiftness, the rumbling of the clouds draws near and the streaks of lightning lit up the dark skies. Soon droplets of rain will start dropping down on the roof tops, on the puddle on the roads and on the passers by. The momentum of the rain picks up to a crescendo after which it gradually descends to a drizzle and a trickle. The dripping rain drops from the trees remain for some more time before the sun peeps in. On a bright day, you would see the marvel of a rainbow too .
I find it really exciting to drive in the rain with the windows rolled down and the droplets lashing against my face. But on any rainy day, you can see many cars on the highway, with their tinted glasses rolled up and people scurrying to reach home before the big burst; I pity those people who are badly missing out the smell, the sights and the sensuousness that only a spell of rain can bestow. Why would anyone need the air conditioner on when it is raining heavily outside? They are only adding up to the global warming unnecessarily
Let’s admit it; The neo- rich and the city dwellers have long shunned nature and its bliss. They live in air conditioned abodes that shut out natural air and light and travel in vehicles armored with tinted glasses that insulate them from the spectacles, the mood changes and seasonal shifts of nature. They live in a mechanized world and their life is nothing less than that of a robot , powered and controlled by GPRS and blackberries. They have long lost the power of perception and human traits and I wonder how they will survive if all these modern comforts were snatched off from them one fine morning!
Our irresponsible behavior has pushed this world into chaos and mayhem. With the green house effect on an all time high,the climate and its rhythm is badly upset and it is only a matter of time before we will be robbed off all these natural bliss. With the risk of acid rains looming high in the air,there might not be even a second chance. So, never miss out a chance to soak up the fun and get drenched in the rains.:)