On the August 7 2022, more than 1500 Punekars made their way to the Hills of the city and came together to protect “Tekdi” from multiple shortsighted developmental pressures. Hills of Pune are the last bastions for urban wild spaces and are also the watersheds for several streams flowing in the city, now bundled under the misnomer of Nallas or drains.Continue reading “Celebrating 30 years of protecting a Spring in a City”
Rivers & Love are magical, transcendental. One has always been fascinated by the old love songs from Hindi films, some of the lyrics actually include rivers. The normal word used for river in Hindi is Nadi, but there is another beautiful word used for rivers in Hindi: Dhaara.
Once I heard a song that used both the words Nadi and Dhaara in the same line: “Tu Dhaar hai Nadiyaa ki, mai tera Kinaara hu”. That was fantastic. I have since been trying to find other instances where both these words Nadi and Dhaara are used in the same song. I ended up finding quite a few songs in the end! And believe me, each discovery gave so much joy. I soon realized that the words Kinara & Majhi also get used in most such songs. Sounds natural, how can Kinara be far away from Nadi! And only a Majhi can take you from Nadi Majh Dhaara to Kinara!! Continue reading “O Majhi Re, Apna Kinara Nadiya ki Dhaara Hai!”
In the ongoing Covid crisis, accessible green, open spaces are a dream for many city dwellers. And yet, there is burgeoning work on the profound positive impacts of urban green spaces on the physiological and psychological health of city dwellers.
Despite being polluted, dammed, encroached and thwarted, rivers continue to be free and open public places. Today more than ever, rivers, riverbanks, floodplains and bridges are an invaluable resource for any Indian City. This momentous service is ignored in our riverfront development projects, metro and road plans and city development plans which encroach upon rivers. Continue reading “Of Peace and Pollution: Urban Rivers as Public Spaces”
“Sao Joao, Sao Joao, Viva Sao Joao!”
The shouts were followed by unbelievably loud splashes in a red laterite well. The well itself was decked up like a bride. All along the way to Siolim in North Goa, on the banks of river Chapora, the road blossomed with people wearing big smiles and bigger floral wreaths, ‘Kopels’.
At Siolim, flows a tiny river called Anjuna. The ivory white church of St. Anthony overlooks a small bridge across Anjuna which was festooned extravagantly with ribbons, balloons and flowers. On the grassy riverbank, hundreds of chairs were laid out and a makeshift stage creaked under the weight of musicians, dancers, announcers, and impromptu performers jumping up from the audience. Continue reading “The magic of 24th June: Water Worship around the World”
(Part 1 is here)
Anna Akhmatova, who translated Rabindranath Tagore’s poems into Russian in the mid-1960s, described him as “that mighty flow of poetry which takes its strength from Hinduism as from the Ganges.” [i]
Although he explored the beauty of Upnishads and revered the “sacred current of the Ganges”, Tagore was not tied to them. A beacon of Hindu-Muslim unity, his poetry took strength from myriad precious details.
While he talks of Padma’s might, he also returns with a sense of belonging to smaller rivers like Kopai and Ichhamati. Continue reading ““Padma, I have seen you many, many times.””
My son is twelve years old and a voracious reader. His favorites include series like Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Spy School and Space Runners. In short, nothing of the sort I read as a kid. I do not know these books and am frankly, a bit bewildered at the mix of mythology, science fiction and middle school dilemmas.
And hence, when I kept a copy of Neeraj Vagholikar’s “Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes” in his hands, I was a bit unsure. There were no kids here with gadgets, but a youth in robes studying to be a monk, his friend from Tawang and a wildlife biologist! Continue reading “Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes: An adventure, swift as the river!”
Again I shall return to the Dhansiri’s banks, to this Bengal,
Not as a man, perhaps, but as a shalik bird, or a white hawk.
As, perhaps, a crow of dawn in this land of autumn’s new rice harvest,
I’ll float upon the breast of fog one day in the shade of a jackfruit tree.
Or I’ll be the pet duck of some teenaged girl — ankle bells upon her reddened feet —
I’ll spend the whole day floating on duckweed-scented waters.
Once again I’ll come, smitten by Bengal’s rivers, fields, to this
Green and kindly land of Bengal, moistened by the waves of the Jalangi.
Perhaps you’ll gaze at buzzards soaring, borne upon sunset breezes,
Perhaps you’ll hear a spotted owl screeching from a shimul tree branch,
Perhaps a child is strewing puffed rice on the grass of some home’s inner courtyard.
Upon the Rupsa river’s murky waters a youth perhaps steers his dinghy with
Its torn white sail—reddish clouds scud by, and through the darkness, swimming
To their nest, you’ll spot white herons. Amidst their crowd is where you’ll find me.