Sunday, 17 April 2011

Myths about planting banana

My mom had been against planting the banana plant in our house for reasons as strange as Vaastu. I always thought (and still believe) that Vaastu is more science and less faith. Banana plants have been humbly serving as grey water filters for long. The outlet in almost all bathrooms in villages are redirected to a cluster of banana plants. People even pee in these bathrooms - I used to find it disgusting, until I understood the reasoning recently. Normally, even kitchen dishes are washed under the banana plant. The phosphates in the soaps and detergents are great for the banana plants and the Nitrogen in the urine is always welcome. Though this concept is being revived by people working in this area such as Biome, it is fast disappearing in villages, sadly.

I got around the first hurdle to plant the banana plant by getting one planted in my cousin's empty plot next door. No house yet, so no Vaastu complications.
I built a crude clothes washing area around this and slowly moved most of our laundry there.
Next, when I wanted to extend the filter to handle more soapy water, I wanted to plant more banana plants along with some Canna and reeds.

There is no dearth of banana plants in our locality, but another myth had to be broken. My mom tells me a banana plant has to be planted by an elderly person only. I thought hard but couldn't figure out why and she wouldn't tell. So, today, I went to a neighbor's place to pick up some saplings and the owner, an old lady also said the same. After much prodding, she said that there is a belief that people die soon after they plant banana, Banyan, Tamarind, etc.. I did not want to hurt her feelings, so came home promising her that I will get it planted by someone else.

My rather progressive aunt, who lives in a village, is visiting us and I asked her what she feels about this belief. She agreed that these plants and trees are planted by elderly people only, but the reason she gave was slightly different. She says it was more out of respect and the fact that elderly people would have done a lot of good work in their life and hence they 'deserve' the right to plant these useful plants. This was better. So, I went ahead and planted 3 of them (I think I deserve to).

Monday, 11 April 2011

Don't save the girl child

First, Women's day, and then the population census results. And all the analysis and the alarm bells and more campaigns to save the girl child.

I have started to wonder if we, as a society, really want the girl child. If marriage (and kids) seems to be the destiny for her, then why get her educated and why give her freedom in the first place? If the M word is the first thing that comes to a couple's mind when they get to know they have a girl child, I feel it is better to nip the 'problem' in the bud.
There is an advantage to not let the girl child come into the world, which may not be obvious immediately. Less girl children implies less kids and our population problem will be solved. We could just wrap up all the programs to save the girl child and divert all the money into making female infanticide official. My only worry is, the future ending up as depicted in the movie Matrubhoomi: A nation without women.
And then there is the so called progressive male who seems to have a tough time catching up, as this article (in Kannada) brings out crisply. Similar thoughts were echoed during a discussion with a high achieving woman from Bangalore.

I do not want to generalize or sound like a feminist, but I have to admit that I have come across very few progressive men (and progressive people, in general).
I wish the tribe increases.

Friday, 8 April 2011

To help or not to help..

I am faced with a dilemma..

The micro entrepreneur near my place who makes a living through her crude lunch/snack home now wants to expand her business to include cool drinks - of the aerated drinks kind. She has already thrust us with a significant amount towards the cost of the refrigerator and is banking on me to get her a good deal.
Now, first of all, I do not subscribe to all those aerated drinks - some of which contain 'natural identical flavoring agents'. Secondly, I feel it is a waste of power to cool these drinks which 'taste best only when chilled'. She has managed to get free power from the construction site where she has put up her shop. Nevertheless, why waste power to cool something that is not adding any value to one's health, but is only filling the pockets of stars in the name of advertising and marketing.
I did manage to tell her subtly to sell buttermilk cooled in earthern pots - she said she has already tried it and there are no takers.

I can't really give her gyan about health or environmental concerns when all she is worried about is making a few extra bucks that she can spend on her kids' education.

So, the best I can do is to get her a good deal by finding a used refrigerator.