Each one, plant one

What better day than World Environment day to write the post I wanted to, since a long time now. Being a nature lover, I was quite disturbed when the Ridge forest was cleared up majorly, for the Dhaula Kuan flyover. It was clear that the trees felled were not being substituted for, by planting new ones, once the flyover was completed. Finally I chanced upon some public service ads in the newspapers about a year back which mentioned that the public can get saplings of trees, free of cost from the forest department nurseries in NCT Delhi (this is to encourage plantation of trees). What they did not mention was the location, phone numbers of those nurseries or even how to go about the whole thing. The most intuitive way to find out was to google it. After some searches I did land up on the phone numbers and locations of the nurseries (with most of them being wrong numbers) but it wasn’t very useful since by that time I already knew about my 6 month stint in Finland and hence planting trees at that time would have been futile.

Some time back I resumed my search again and finally got in touch with some nurseries. The people there confirmed that free saplings are indeed distributed (which is so unbelievable because this is something that’s very likely to be exploited big time). But they were going to distribute the saplings only from June onwards. This weekend I went to one of the nurseries and got myself 11 saplings. I was quite embarrassed to ask them for such a big number (lest they thought I was going to sell them) but my thoughts were put at rest when I saw a couple, stuffing sacks with saplings. I later learnt that they had taken 60 saplings with them. Various plants like the saplings of Neem, Jamun, Mango, Peach, Gulmohar, Kanner, Peepal, Alstonia, Kachnar, Arjun, Bombax, Papri, Philkan, Jungle Jalebi, Sheesham, Amaltas, Rose, Bougainvillea etc., are available with them.

I also learnt from the forest department webpage that I had landed on, that felling any tree, anywhere, is illegal and one needs to obtain permission for it, according to the Delhi tree preservation act. I certainly think that hardly anyone is aware of this rule since tree felling is as common as pest control! Even for lopping off some branches, one needs to fill up some forms and seek permission. Come winters and everyone is lopping off branches of the bare minimum trees in Delhi (of course without permission)! Only in the case of emergencies when a tree is hindering life, traffic or property, can the tree be felled first and then reported.

What’s more, there’s even a tree helpline. One can even complain against the illegal felling of a tree. Now that’s precisely what I was looking for. This FAQ may be useful for fellow enthusiasts.

Talking of tree helplines, and world environment day, is anyone aware of any bird helplines? There’s a family of house sparrows living in a verandah in my house. Every day one or two chicks drop down from the nest and die (probably because of the rains). Some of them break their legs and face a slow, painful death. Apart from trying to give them some grains, water, milk and a makeshift cardboard house, I couldn’t do much. If anyone is aware of some such thing like bird shelters (one the lines of dog/cow shelters), please let me know. Let’s contribute back to our environment before we are left getting nostalgic about how things were “back in old days”!


Home alone

It’s been quite some time since I have been staying alone now. When I shifted out 3-4 months back, I was practically spending 75% time with my parents and 25% time in my own house. On every festival I would be back with them. In case of every slight (and major) ailment I would be back in Delhi. But for now the balance has shifted. At least now since 1-2 months the %age of time that I spend at Delhi has come down. But then even after so many months I am still “settling down”. I still feel like a vagabond, living out of plastic packets (not even suitcases). There are ‘n’ number of unfinished jobs pending. Lots of things have changed in the meantime. I have my own emotional battles to conquer. Some new decisions have been taken and some really old ones are finally being implemented. It’s yet to be seen whether they were good or bad. I still need to come to terms with some of my decisions. I am at that point in my life when I know that destiny is playing a game with me and I can do nothing except flow with it. Life is but a combination of choices and if I made the wrong ones, I am doomed. It scares me to no end.

Anyhow the “home alone” stint has been quite full of things. The typical reactions that I would get from ppl when I informed them that I am shifting to my own house (and leaving my “nest” at that) would be:

1. “Are you crazy?” – No, I very well know what I am doing. Just because you never dared to do it doesnt mean it has to be crazy.
2. “But why are u shifting? What will you do?” – Huh? Dont ppl live independently anyway when they are working away from home? There’re ‘n’ number of things that one does with ones life, and those are what I’ll also do!
3. “Get married.”/”It’s time you got married.” – GOD help all those overzealous (read poke ur nose in my private affair) souls around me. Thanks but no thanks. I already know it’s time I got married. Doesnt mean I get married just so that I dont have to stay “alone”. Or are you just plainly green with “grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome and hence want to drag me into your side of the pasture?
4. “Is it safe for a female to be staying alone?” – well what’s safe in today’s date? Nothing.
5. “Won’t you be scared?” – No.

and some very atypical reactions would be
6. “Wow! that’s cool!” – gee, thanks, at last someone identifies with me!
7. “Hey let me in on this real estate stuff too” – ok, I charge one month rent as brokerage for that.

After I did shift and spent some time at home, most ppl who said points 1-5 treated me like I am off my rocker and kept to themselves. Some would ask me what I “do” (as if I had suddenly developed some alien receptacles on my head which prohibited normal mundane activities) especially since I didnt even have a cable connection or a proper music system at home. Well to be honest I didnt watch TV for 2-3 months and I just didnt feel as if I missed *anything*. I read a whole lot (nothing technical though I had plans). I listened to a lot of radio (on my walkman). I attended my piano/guitar classes. I cooked. I indulged in gardening. I drove between Gurgaon and Delhi. I contemplated. And did they forget that I work for a living? Anyhow running a house independently is no mean feat. And neither is staying alone. Especially if all the houses above yours, behind yours, across yours are empty too.

So far I think it was good to shift out. There have been myriad experiences all of which I wouldn’t care to write. But some notable things are:

1. From no cooking (omlet/maggi/sandwiches don’t count), I have graduated to good cooking. And surprisingly I even enjoy it. I have made various dishes now including pasta and “love filled” rotis. No, I am not inviting you all for a meal.
2. There were some thefts around the colony. Some ppl lost precious stuff whilst some lost the gutter lids in their premises. I lost all the gutter lids in my premises one after another (10 in all). It may sound funny to those who haven’t experienced but it just isnt funny when someone trespasses through your area, climbs through walls/locked gates and steals gutter lids even when you are *inside* the house. The next thing as you know could be anything.
3. I have had the pleasure of calling the police at the spot of the “crime” twice. Haryana police or rather anywhere is full of useless bastards especially if you dont know anyone in the upper echelons. All that they can do is tell you that they wont go search the umpteen jhuggi/jhompdi clusters right across your house, because some poor “mazdoor” couple might be copulating! HA!
4. I am an employer now apart from being an employee. It’s not as if there were no maids working at home earlier, but then the employer was my mom and not me. I have already changed 3 maids so far. The first one would keep cribbing to no one in particular even when I wasnt around. Within 10 days she asked me for a raise even though I was paying her full pay after having spent 75% time at Delhi. The second one would keep telling me to get married (she should be employed at the places of those ppl who uttered these responses earlier). When it came to work, she would shy off from most of it. “It’s dirty/It smells” she would say. Does she have this choice if she’s chosen to be a maid? She wasn’t even clear about her scope of work, forget objectives. But she was very clear that she wanted “baksheesh” on Holi etc. The third one is just fine. She isnt gossipy/doesn’t crib. She’s proactive and does things on her own. She doesn’t require close supervision. In fact now I have started taking the liberty of promptly going back to sleep after letting her in at 6:45 am till the time she has to leave. So far so good.

As I wrote, staying alone is no mean feat. It sure gets to you when you have to unlock a fortress every morning and lock yourself inside a fortress every night. One of the standing instructions from my parents is to keep mirchi powder or some chaaku at hand. Egad! They should know, I don’t take kindly to unwanted visitors. Anyone daring to step past my doorstep without my permission suffers the consequences. I already have blood on my hands after having killed some 450+ mosquitoes so far in a span of maybe a month. Some ppl actually changed their stand and now tell me “you are very brave to be staying alone”. Yeah well right, now if only I would get a plaque for it too. May be I can cover up some gutter with it.