Thursday, April 10, 2014

We don't need one more government complex do we?  Not in Pallikarani for sure.

Pallikaranai marshland: Concern over wetland development - The Hindu

Pallikaranai marshland: Concern over wetland development

Officials say a government complex will come up on 11 acres, classified as ‘tharisu’ (unassessed dry waste) land, on property that belongs to the revenue department — Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
Officials say a government complex will come up on 11 acres, classified
as ‘tharisu’ (unassessed dry waste) land, on property that belongs to
the revenue department — Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

PWD conducted soil tests near Pallikaranai marsh, recently

Environmentalists are up in arms against the public
works department (PWD) for conducting soil tests in Sholinganallur, near
the Pallikaranai marshland, for the construction of a complex to house
government offices.
According to members of Nature
Trust, PWD has begun testing soil near Perumbakkam Lake opposite the
special economic zone (SEZ) on Perumbakkam Main Road, close to
Sholinganallur intersection.
“Many NGOs have been
fighting for several years, urging the State government to protect
whatever is left of the southern-most corner of Pallikaranai marshland.
Perumbakkam wetland serves as a temporary home to several migratory and
rare birds,” says K.V.R.K. Thirunaran of Nature Trust.
officials say they are not destroying the protected wetland and that
the government complex will come up on 11 acres of land classified as
‘tharisu’ (unassessed dry waste) land, part of 70 hectares that belong
to the revenue department.
Even the 377 acres, on
which the SEZ located on the opposite side stands, belongs to the same
classification. Only rainwater stagnates there during the monsoon and it
is not part of the marshland, says a PWD official. The soil tests were
taken up only after a government circular was issued, he says.
initial estimated amount of Rs. 2 crore has been allotted for
constructing the building that will house the office of the
Sholinganallur tahsildar (now functioning from a rented building), a
sub-treasury and other government offices.
There is
hardly any vacant plot along Rajiv Gandhi Salai (IT corridor) for
constructing additional school buildings, say officials. For instance,
the Panchayat Union Primary School in Perungudi was recently upgraded to
a middle school, but there is no space to build any structures further.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A parental goodbye to the Valley

Our last visit to the Valley, home to our son these last two years, but a connection that began in the Deepavali of 2010.

A place we instantly fell in love with as a family, a place where everytime we visited my faith in humanity was recharged, a place where gentle positive energy flowed. 
Scrochingly hot and dry, the trees stood like skeletons.  Did they miss the sound of the children I wondered, or did they heave a collective sigh of relief as peace and quiet descended on the campus?!
The siris seemed to enjoy the weather, or did its roots have a secret supply of water?
The birds had nowhere to hide, and even the shy white browed bulbuls were exposed.
And then I saw this Jamun tree (Syzgium cumini) full of leaf and flower!
A Tickell's Blue flitted about in this oasis of green, as also a Chloropsis!
The beautiful flowers
The weaver ants were busy colonising a tree.....
...while the Jacaranda near the dining hall was in full bloom....
....and a whole family of hoopoes hunted for lunch.
Spied a pair of Malkohas at the guesthouse.The owlets were there too, on the copper pod tree near the senior school.
And then we left, our connection as parents done with.

But we will be back I am sure, to this place where, quietly and without fuss, experiments in education and sustainable living go on, and where I learnt to let go and watch.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alamanda beauty

From my mother's garden she came.  Now happily settled and blooming.
Lifts my heart from the mundane every morning.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

China Diary - Beijing and Xi'an

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

New developments stretched for miles
11th June 2013

We headed northeast from Beijing to see the Great Wall at Mutianyu on our friend Danny's advice.  Badaling, closer and to the northwest of Beijing is the more popular, crowded and touristy bit we were told.

So, the plan was to check out of our Beijing hotel and head out to the Great Wall and then return to catch the evening train to Xian.

Turns out that it was the Dragon Boat Festival weekend, and as we hit the highway, there were several others heading out as well!

Our driver, recommended by Danny, knew English, but was not loquacious by any means.  Probably did not want to put his English to the test!

But it was a great help having him as he took us door to door, and also pointed us in the right direction at every step of the way.

We stayed on the Jincheng Expressway, and it felt like forever before we truly left Beijing and entered the countryside.

Suddenly, there was farmland all around
Rolling farmlands growing unrecognisable crops, interspersed with patches of trees, all looking nice and green.

Bohai is the township where Mutianyu village is located.  Reportedly Mutianyu gets tourist income, but the rest of the township is not in great shape.

We arrived at Mutianyu and found that it was raining and the thought of walking up made me rather miserable.  We had toyed with the idea of taking the cablecar up (it meant less time taken) and the weather sealed it.  For 80 RMB a head, we got ourselves cable car tickets.

There are not many pictures of the village because we did not take the cameras out in the incessant drizzle.

The cable car works with super efficiency and cars keep coming and taking visitors up, so there was no real waiting period, and we were up and out in some fifteen twenty minutes, all rather painless and untiring.

A good thing, becuase this is what stretched ahead of us!

Enjoy the pictures

So, here we were, on the Great Wall of China.  Remember the Billy Joel song?

Imagine the Chinese soldiers of old patrolling this, and keeping a nervous eye out for the marauding Mongols.  And now, a happy giggly bunch of tourists walk the ramparts!

The Mutianyu section has been restored as recently as the 1980s, and was also worked on during the Ming dynasty

What a fortune must have been spent on building this and then maintaining troops on it.
The Wall stands right on top of the mountain ridge, and from above, there seems to be miles of forest

We were lucky with the rain and drizzle, which held off when we were atop.  It also cleared the air, and improved our visibility.  A friend of mine said that when she visited, thre was so much mist/fog that they did not have a clear view from above.

We spent a few hours climbing up, and then down the length of this section.  At some places, the steps were steep and treacherous.  I was glad to have negotiated this when my knees were still intact.

It was made of stone in the early days, and then the Mings replaced sections with bricks.

Thrilling and breathtaking.

My only regret was I saw not one bird despite that extensive greenery and forest cover.  I scanned the skies and looked hopefully into the foliage but even the magpies of Beijing were not to be seen.  

Was it the rain?  Was I not looking in the right place?  One blog said that the unrestored bits have more bird life than the restored bits. 

And then just as we decided it was time to go, there was a rumble, and a thunderstorm broke over our heads.  We were at the head of the queue going down in the cablecar, but had to wait for the storm to abate, before they allowed us on.
If you please, we were in this car going down!
A last view from the cablecar
A walk through the only bit of stalls, filled with koala bears, and great wall t shirts

Old Chinese saying:  "You are only a hero when you climb the Great Wall."  I wonder if cablecars qualify!

And then before we knew it, we were back on the expressway.

An Elantra cab!
The driver had a gprs map of the city, with traffic levels on different highways.  So roads that were marked red were heavy with traffic and to be avoided.

I was totally impressed.  He kept changing direction and roads to get us to the station on time. 

Our ride seemed never ending, and we were int he outskirts of the city for what seemed like forever.

Beijing has several stations, and we were headed to Beijing West.  Our cabbie had never been to this station, but he found it with just that electronic map of his, and dropped us at the gate, well in time. 

Read about the station and our travels in Xian, as Sekar writes.