Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Indian Litter Problem

It is very easy to recycle in India. Basically, everything wrapped in plastic or glass is used again and again. I remember my Indian mother-in-law washing out plastic baggies and hanging them to dry when I visited over 20 years ago. You would not guess this though due to the amount of litter and garbage strewn pretty much wherever you turn in the city.

My neighborhood, Besant Nagar, in Chennai has regular trash pick up, but you have to walk your garbage down to a dumpster located about a block away. There is no such thing as residential curbside pick up service for your trash.

The other evening, I walked along the beach near where I live just off Coastal Road in Chennai. The beaches are littered with trash as far as the eye can see. I was getting pretty depressed about it, wondering what it would take for this country of over a billion people to start taking better care of the environment, when a young woman wearing a sari with two kids tagging along walked past me and put a bag of garbage right on the water's edge. She waited while the tide swept away what looked like her family's daily garbage accumulation, before walking back to her makeshift hut further up the beach.

In rural Tiruvannamalai, (the town I stay at on weekends) the school down the road from us has put on 'rallies' for the environment in the hopes that educating this generation of students might help the problem. I think it's at least a start to solving a problem so huge that one sometimes feels a sense of despair for the planet.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Krishnamurti Foundation - Chennai, India
 This week has been over-the-top hectic with work. My counterparts in the US work on components for cell phones and there is a new release of some new doo-dad or another every six months. We have just gotten through the documentation for these products, and I am wiped out from looking at technical specifications on components so small that you wouldn't even noticed if you stepped on them.

This weekend, however, I will stay in Chennai for the first weekend in months. I am doing some research at the Krishnamurti Foundation just down the street from my office on Greenways Road. I find it remarkable to be working very near some of the places I have read about for years like The Theosophical Society, and The Krishnamurti Foundation. Krishnamurti spent his last years here and gave many talks on the neatly kept lawn surrounding the main building. Both places are like a serene refuge from the crazy, pulsing city of Chennai, which seems to be on high volume 24/7.

I am feeling very elated this morning as I just got notification that an article I wrote for www.elephantjournal.com was published today online. My hope is to publish my book about my experiences in India - blending the spiritual with high-tech, Indian style. It is the first bit of good news I received after many submissions to a variety of publishers. I think I will bask in the feeling of being considered a writer today by someone other than myself...

Here's the link to the newly published article:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/07/sipping-chai-in-chennai-blending-spirituality-and-high-tech-in-india-elizabeth-huesing/

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Weekends in Tiruvannamalai

Weekends in Tiruvannamalai make up (almost) for a week in chaotic smoggy Chennai. Yesterday, it rained lightly in the evening; the first time in months that we have had any marked precipitation. The hot season is supposedly officially over but the monsoons of Kerala have only brought dry winds to the state of Tamil Nadu with little to no rain.

This weekend was marred by me burning my left hand somewhat severely on the stove yesterday. Our coffee pot fell off the burner and I grabbed it, but it is made of metal so trying to catch it in my bare hands was not a smart move. I ended up with my hand in the freezer for a couple of hours until the pain had subsided. Today my hand it is just a patchwork of small blisters and my left wrist looks sunburned, but the pain in no longer an issue. This gets added to the 'Never a Dull Moment in India' category.

We are planning to go for a hike on Arunachala (holy mountain of Tiruvannamalai) later in the afternoon if the sun goes under a bit. This would have been unthinkable just three weeks ago but the oppressive heat seems to have lifted. We had been retreating into one room in the house with AC in the afternoons and napping till the worst of the heat of the day was over.

I head back to Chennai as usual at 5 am tomorrow to be at my desk by 9 am. In three weeks we are off to the UK and the USA to visit family and friends. It's hard to believe but tomorrow will be my one year anniversary of living in India.