Someone STOP them!

First things first, my thoughts extend to Japan where they have been hit by the brute force of nature and their scale of devastation is still incomprehensible to me. But of all the positive and heroic abilities and the strict earthquake policies that the media has been raining praises about, one significant announcement went unnoticed. The Government of Japan has ordered that all “unclaimed” animals rescued from the debris would be gassed or “disposed” off asap. And then all my sympathy and praise vanished. How CAN they?

So various private organizations are making a race against government agencies to rescue as many animals as they can before the government finds them. This is the WORST attitude that anybody can show for animals. You “dispose” them? Like a tissue? How about “disposing” “unclaimed” children then? Why the difference in life? If you saved one, save the other also. Is it the poor animal’s fault that it survived only to be killed in a worse fashion? How can you even think of taking more lives in the face of such tragedy when the death toll is rising steadily like some stock market price? Every animal that survived has done so miraculously and should be regarded as a miracle of nature. Instead here we are planning to dispose them off. I am so livid right now that I feel like hurling the choiciest of expletives at the Government. I am sure they are “unclaimed” because their owners who brought them up so lovingly couldnt make it. So now instead of honouring their memory by carefully handling their best friend, you are insulting them by GASSING them? !@$@#%@#$%

Whatever logistical reason you give me I am not going to accept it. Every life that lived is a miracle. An animal more so. I hope all the private rescue teams get all the animals that survived and nothing gets to the government. It cannot even protest to your actions. I can imagine the joy it would probably have in being rescued only to be killed by those very people later. CRUEL. If you cannot respect animals in your country, ban people from having any. That way atleast they’ll live a happy and respected life elsewhere.

To those interested: check this out.

God bless those people rushing to help the poor animals.

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To the moon and BACK!

This post is long due. By long, I mean its more than a month late. Early last month, I took off on a fun weekend to Florida, my first visit to the Orange State. Apart from a super fun road trip that lasted 7 hours with a break at a mexican restaurant where I was so fraught with laughter, that I dont remember what I ate at all, I got a chance to explore my favorites – animals and space exploration. ( NASA was a dream once upon a time). Now, I hadn’t been to a beach in the east coast of US till now. I wont say Atlantic coast since I spent my summer of 2006 basking in the Bahamas beaches. I drove past Gainesville (where a lot of BITS-Pilani, Goa is) but didnt make a trip down there for lack of time. Only 2 days and so much ahead!

If the road trip wasnt fun enough, the night got even better as we got tickets to the IMAX screening of Endhiran. It was the day of the release and my! the movie brought the entire tamil community of south florida together!. Such a large crowd with no space to walk and all tamil words floating around prominent among those being “Thalai!” Now, call me a traitor if you will but im not exactly a Rajnikanth fan. Infact, Im not a fan of anyone in particular with the exception of Kajol and Johnny Depp but again that is because they deliver such consistent performances. I like performances, movies not the people. In short, in my opinion, the movie was an utter waste of time and money and when the super-awfulmax climax began, I was only squinting at my watch to calculate how much time remained. Shee! What choice man!

But I think the movie was the low point of the trip. After hardly sleeping for 3 hours, all groggy eyed but full of excitement we headed from Tampa to Orlando’s Sea World. It was my choice to go here instead of DisneyWorld because of obvious reasons. Once into the park, it was a delight of sorts. I saw all sea animals I had been wanting to watch. The first one and my favourites (I made the folks go around it twice) was the penguin enclosure. It was amazing. There were two huge enclosures – Puffins and Penguins. The penguins HAVE to be the cutest little birds out there. I saw all varieties and was trying hard to match images with Happy Feet (movie). It was fun to watch them do what they do. We went to the Clyde and Semour show which was performed by Sea Lions.I saw all the possible sea animals – Manatee, Sharks, jelly fishes, smaller fishes, fed dolphins and also caught a lot of shows that day, the best being the Dolphins, the Cats and Dogs and the obvious spectacle – The Shamu ShowThe Shamu of the Shamu Show performed by Killer Whales or Orcas. It was infact the same shamu that had killed the trainer a few months ago. It was amazing to see their size and marvel at nature. Really. Only when you are sitting feet away from a full grown Killer Whale which is the largest predator in the entire biosphere, do you realize how small we are. The interaction between the trainers and the orcas was significantly reduced because of the accident but it was spectacular nevertheless. And then my favorite exhibit – The Arctic circle animals. I thought this was wonderfully done with the lighting and temperature inside the dome mimicked to match the Polar regions. My favorite since childhood was the Polar Bear and I saw it! Beluga Whales, Polar Bear and the Walrus. Polar bears are HUGE. Period. They are really bigger than what you imagine them to be. The Walruses! WHOOOOOAAA..that is the reaction. They are SO HUGE. Almost everyone there is awestruck by its size! They are mammoth creatures, fat and one can only ogle and the zeros describing their weight. After a tiring day, we headed to cocoa beach which was our next destination. Space coast!

Cape Canaveral is the spot where NASA has its launching pad. It is the same place that shuttles land after their missions. Being a big space enthusiast we headed to the Space Coast , an hour and a half drive from Orlando. We dumped our belongings in the hotel, bought tickets to the Kennedy Space Center for the next day and headed to Cocoa beach where we ate Thai food like pigs. (Dont ask me why Thai, it was not my decision). The next halt was the Ron-Jon Surf Shop. It is the surfing mecca of the world being the biggest and most famous. It was a lot of fun to go around the store and invest in some nice beach towels! We also made it to Cocoa Beach Pier, which extends half a mile into the ocean and it was enchanting to sit at the very edge and listen to the waves. Without any energy left and sleep forcing our eyelids shut, we crashed at the hotel for a good night’s sleep knowing the next day was going to be longer with the whole return drive before us.

If Sea World was a humbling experience in terms of marveling at nature, Space Center makes you applaud and revel in the magnitude of human achievements. The most striking was the fact that we sent man to the moon using a slide rule! I saw the launching pads and the Discovery strapped on one of the pads( the launch was held on Nov 1st) and also saw the gigantic NASA crawler. Everything there is an engineering marvel. To watch the exact spots where the Apollo missions launched, to the marshy greenery filled with alligators, it was a wonderful experience. I saw the control room where people actually worked to control the missions and the reams of design papers and slide rules that designed the machines where there was zero tolerance of error. There was also one of the real Apollo mission rockets which had parts of it recovered and assembled kept as an exhibit. You wonder how they propel such humongous stuff into space! Moving it would be an achievement!One of the Apollo's. Apollo V. The real thing! More than anything, that place is inspirational. Infact, the motto that keeps them going forward is that Nothing is impossible. The last thing we did was enjoy a flight simulator which simulated the launching experience. In reality, you experience close to 15-g. They simulated only 3 g. It was not scary but the build up was! Overall an amazing amazing day!

The rest was all routine with dinner at Udipi, Tampa and a beautiful night drive back home. It was unusually cold at 5 degrees in Atlanta when we reached and that kept us awake for a while.
It was back to work on Monday but the memories of this trip are definitely here to stay for a long long time.

My precious solitude

I go for a 3-4km walk/ jog every morning. It is not something I am forced to do and I can easily afford the luxury of sleeping till a comfortable 8 am. But I do it because I love it.  Even back on campus, it was easily the best time I had. The quiet roads, the breezy mornings, the teachers with their dogs on morning walks…hmmm…it still brings a smile to my face.

I continue that habit in Pune. Though summer is easily my most hated season of the year (monsoon is the absolute favourite), there is something about a summer morning that you never enjoy in any other season. The cool air of the night before, the flurry of early morning activity,the bright sunlight at 6:30 am, the slow heat rays beginning to burn/tan your skin, the people scurrying to catch local trains, and the empty roads only to become unrecognizable a few hours later. I enjoy the walks with my ipod diligently playing my favourite collection of songs. Those few precious minutes (just more than an hour) give me the strength to face the day somehow. It erases the memory of the unpleasantness of the evenings before, the bitterness of words, the tensions, the deadlines. It somehow literally gives me a fresh start. It makes me revive my inner self and voice which gets drowned in the cacophony of the world everyday.

I am a nature lover. Big one at that. I enjoy walking around trees, looking at the various animals still surviving our brutalities on their habitats. The occasional chirping of birds, the bark of a stray dog, the cackle of hens, the roosters, the playful puppies in the gutter, the bird’s nest high up on the tree. I wonder how strong and resilient those creatures must be to survive in the concrete jungle, still keeping the traces of nature alive in our brick-and-mortar world. It has been my deepest wish to do something for these dogs and cats and all animals since I was a very young child. Brought up in lush-green garden filled homes and spaces, I cannot imagine my life without animals and trees and shudder to think of a future without them.

I stood silently watching a litter of puppies play with an empty tetra-pack of milk in the drain, smiling ever so slightly. I will do something for them,whatever little I can right now, but something  definitely substantial in the future.

I have decided.

Yes, I will.