Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunfeast 10K - Third Edition

I finished the Sunfeast 10k in 55:07. The good news is that my rank was 447 for the category I ran in. The bad news was that I was at least 3 minutes slower than last year. And then the deeply humbling news was that the winner of the competitive format completed the circuit in half the time that I needed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Zenrainman Museum

Zenrainman's house qualifies for a sustainability museum. It looks radical enough from the outside, and then the inside wows you further but the rooftop finally drops your jaw and temporarily stops your breathing.

Here's the living room; the suspended lights are all powered by solar energy. Notice how well this room is lit without the lights being on. Notice also, that there are no ceiling fans. Having visited the house on a hot forenoon, I can testify that you don't really miss the fans.

We then move into the kitchen area. This piece of groupie-gloating-trivia has nothing to do with sustainability, but that sturdy little cycle you see in the pic was presented to Z by Angela Merkel.

And finally, the roof holds all the, if you'll excuse the cliché, pièces de résistance. This is where all the water is harvested and reused in ways I hadn't imagined was possible. On the roof is grown vegetables, chillies and, hold your breath, rice. Hold your breath again, 40 kilos of it, in a year!

The water runoff from the washing machine is caught here and purified using a plant called cattail that captures all the phosphates from the detergent and leaves the water pure enough for irrigation. Notice in the picture below, a glass bottle in which rainwater is being UV-treated (naturally) so that it becomes potable in a day or two.

There are other ways in which the water is stored and reused. Each of the containers has a story to tell. This one for example houses guppies so that mosquito larvae don't breed in the stagnant water.

If all this strikes you as an extreme way of life, you should thank your stars that I didn't feature the lavatories. As for me, I think I just saw what my dream home would look like.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Malleswaram goes Tirupati

"Bangalore's decade old dream is realized" says the head priest. We are getting our own version of the Tirupati temple, right in my own neighborhood. I would have had no major problem with this development if not for how badly this new construction is going to affect the quality of my own life, especially the traffic situation around here.

I shudder, because Malleswaram has been victim of this kind of indiscretion quite often in the recent past. First was haLLimane, a restaurant that made life hell for the residents on 3rd cross. More recently, it was that monstrosity of a mall that made traffic unbearable in a radius of at least a kilometer and is almost certainly going to cost the lives of all the beautiful rain trees that line Sampige road. Now it's this temple on 16th cross. But I don't want to be irreverent enough to mention a mall and a temple in the same breath. They are of course different. One of them is a symbol of splurged money, disregarded building codes and a harbinger of horrible traffic jams, and the other is Mantri mall.

Notice how these always seem correlated, that in countries with abject poverty and pitiable infrastructure, there live gods with obsessive compulsive disorders. This particular god apparently loves gold. He's just been established here, but I'm sure that in no time, he'll have a throne, crown and a sanctum all made of gold. I guess, if I overlook the ecological cost of digging out gold, you could say that a deity's lifestyle choices are none of my business. But what justifies the problems of traffic in what was thus far a peaceful residential area? Those truly awesome laddoos, perhaps?

Football World Cup is here!

Picture source
The football world cup is here. I'm thankful that there won't be HSBC Corner Kicks, no British Petroleum Slick Goals, no Goldman Sachs smart Substitutions. I'm glad there won't be advertisements while players are writhing on the pitch. I'm marginally pleased there will be no cheerleaders. I'm happy that there will be no stupored population so thrilled with the gladiators that they'll excuse the basest and wilest of their masters' orgies. I'm looking forward to not having to spend every lunch break of mine talking about the previous night's game. Most of all I'm relieved that Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar won't be getting wet in their panties and squealing "There's the boss!" every time the camera spots Sepp Blatter in the stands. And I'm glad that after the mayhem we won't see the circus again for another four years. Ah! Innocent times. Relatively, at least.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Masinagudi again

I visited Masinagudi for the fourth time. Thinking about the other times I've been there almost made me shake my head in disbelief about how different life turns out from what you imagine. It would have felt like four different births if I hadn't chronicled one of them right here on this blog. But some things don't really change. The wildlife still looks very healthy


This black mongrel called Goonda still stands sentry at Jungle Retreat.


...and this weird tea maker that you will not find any where else but in Tamil Nadu still rules.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Auto Wisdom

Social commentators have relied on several indicators to get a taste of the zeitgeist; google search trends, metro-station graffiti, twitter tags, lavatory engravings and so on. I think there's another neglected source that gives a pulse of my city; the slogans at the back of auto-rickshaws. Social indicators or not, they are bloody amusing and here's the first of what I hope to be a series.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Solitary Reaper

He lives alone on a faraway farm, hedging his bets on an obscure system of agriculture called Analog Forestry. He's not quite a Christopher McCandless in his rejection of civilization as you're likely to find him bent over a laptop in his cozy little house that was built a full 150 yrs ago. His social isolation is also not total, for even today he was visited by a bunch of students that wanted his counsel on various projects that they were doing. Moreover, he's got a pet too, and a very unusual one at that; a charming old stray horse! Yet, there is some uncomfortably melancholic wisdom that hangs around him that almost makes me scared. The feeling is a simultaneous hybrid of "this is how it's meant to be" and its exact opposite. I have a feeling that my friend, LCN, is going to turn into a legend.