Shopping with a purpose

Don’t consider Tanuja and I to be sensible shoppers.

If our trip to the nursery is anything to go by, we’re the sort to go to the supermarket for staples and come back with puddings, the exotic rather than the plain, the icing while neglecting the cake.

We’ve got a great selection of flowers but our eyes were distracted by the shapely coloured and aromatic roses.

The problem is, as we knew, but didn’t care, they’re not a lot of use for the new Manjula’s garden in the park.

Why? you might ask.

Because people pick the flowers in the morning for their puja rituals.

So I thought I’d create a mini rose garden inside our gate.

I wish I’d done it for Manjula a few years ago as she would have loved it.

I started writing this post in a light-hearted jokiness way, only to realise this…..

I placed some of the roses out the front door but inside our gate. Within less than one day someone had stolen the roses.

Clearly these people haven’t any thought that the flowers are there for the enjoyment of all, rather than the selfish ritualistic needs of a few.

We’ve yet to plant out our flowers in Manjula’s garden and I seriously wonder if any of the flowers will survive, if I don’t employ a 24/7 guard.

It’s even worse with the roses in the next park. They are carefully nurtured by the gardeners but people go in and steal the whole plant.

We need some English old fashioned park signs ‘don’t pick the flowers.’

Another case for the missing dharma detective.

Bloody typical

The virus situation goes from bad to — we’ve got rid of it, to —- disaster.

Leaving things until the eleventh hour, no … it’s more like one moment before midnight is not a sensible policy but it’s standard practice. No lessons learned from the first wave, infrastructure collapsing, shortage of beds, no oxygen in many hospitals, exhausted staff, people confused.

Indian politicians fail their communities. They have other, presumably more important things to worry about.

Now we have a lockdown in all but name and it’s piling confusion onto inconsistency onto chaos.

Is the instruction to close most businesses for all of everyday in which case it would be a lockdown or just when there’s a curfew?

The govt diktat is totally confusing. If it’s just overnight and weekends. What’s the point it’ll have minimal effect on the virus. If it’s everyday it’s a lock down a term they don’t politically wish to use.

The police statement adds to the confusion with the statement “it will be normal from tomorrow” so there will or will not be a lockdown/curfew from tomorrow. Of course it probably means that closure of businesses will seem like normal tomorrow.

Clear as mud.

It’s the day before the non-lockdown, I’m just back from cycling, with nobody wearing masks in the villages, most wearing them back in Siddarthanagar. I passed a wedding. In a field presumably outdoors (but in tents) in response to the situation but the limit to the gathering is supposed to be 50! There’s almost that number already preparing for the event and the guests are yet to arrive.

Recently Sowbhaghya asked why a shop keeper wasn’t wearing a mask as he should be, he declared there was no coronavirus here.

The combination of poor confusing communication from authority, default to deference and the anything goes attitude of the Wild West, is part of why we’re here. 

Here’s useful guardian articles summarising how we might have got into this stupid situation.

Oxygen supplies low

Photos and summary of the oxygen problems

There were unfulfilled plans to build more units for creating more oxygen.

It’s been unpredictable

Rural areas hit

So what’s the Government got to do with it?

another good summary

or a crime against humanity

I would be so stressed out if my poor Manjula was here and having to deal with this, now that’s a weird sense of relief. What a topsy turvy world.

What a mess

That’s been with us for a thousand years.

I’m from the U.K./Britain/England/the North/Yorkshire… We often joke about the north/south divide, I mention how the British pronounce words oddly, sometimes (?) to hide their French origin, I’ll explain how my accent and the words I use enables others to place me geographically and allocate the class I was born into and then of course there’s Brexit.

The U.K. becomes more the disunited kingdom by the day, has a rich pedigree and mongrel history. There’s the rub, the divisions we recognise are far more ingrained than we realise and have been established over a thousand years.

The divisions we see, the power games and the ascendancy of certain groups, represented by ‘The Tories’ now seems to be breaking it apart.

I recommend this book . It reveals, in surprising ways, how the established patterns of behaviour are difficult to break, we continue to adapt our national house, following the foundations and seem unable to create any real and lasting change.

Manjula’s kind

more on kindness

I hope I’m getting there.

KINDNESS 
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

This is another direct lift, aka homage to the great gathering work of Maria Popova and her brain pickings, clearly hers are not slim pickings!

Children riding two wheelers

a new problem in Mysore are children riding scooters (two wheelers means motorised) with the obvious dangerous consequences.

A policeman stops three children age twelve on a scooter. Two of them run away (not a lot of respect for the Police) as he’s asking for personal details from the one who’s riding.

The Policeman telephones the father and demands a bribe or he’ll report it aunders an offence. A bribe of 5000Rs is paid. That’s the equivalent of half of someone’s monthly pay.

Bribery and corruption is inherent. Does it have the desired effect of stopping dangerous under-age driving? who knows?

Sad and Sorry

Driving on a double road this morning a ten month old bullock stepped into the path of my Ambassador

A group quickly developed, as is usual in India.

Satish came to handle the situation. Compensating the owner with 4000 Rs (£40) in theory for the poor bullock’s leg to be fixed up and he to be taken to the old cow’s home.

But I wonder if the owner will just pocket the money and sell the poor bullock to become meat even thought just recently that became illegal.

I’m really sad and sorry.

are we?

are we inherently mean and selfish?

I don’t believe we are. Its an age old argument reflected in the views of Hobbes and Rousseau.

it goes something like this…

Left to our own devices:

A – humans will be in conflict, a sort of dog-eat-dog approach to life and fight for themselves or me and mine, OR;

B -they will care, show compassion and work cooperatively.

It’s simplified but bear with me … Which do you think is most accurate?

I’m reading humankind – a hopeful history, he challenges the theories that suggest we are individualistic when pushed into a corner and argues that we’re more likely to work together and help each other.

Sound Utopian?

He debunks the dominant stories, the research, established theories and especially what we hear through the media, reinforced through word of mouth that we default to ‘I’. His view is that we default to ‘we.’ ie we care rather than fight.

We follow what we’re told and learned to accept, rather than think for ourselves.

Here’s one example:

William Golding wrote a fictitious story : “Lord of the Flies’ about young boys shipwrecked on a deserted island and how they behaved. What happened? As you might expect, they fought for themselves ganging up against each other. The result was mayhem leading to death.

This has profound implications.

By contrast, Bregman discovered a true story of shipwrecked boys. The result, was the opposite, as they co-operated and worked together to be able to survive.

Which story had you heard?

Most of my day to day experiences in life demonstrate people think about me and mine rather than showing care for another but it doesn’t have to be that way. Manjula (OK, I’m biased) was an exceptional example who throughout her life was faced with tricky uncaring people being selfish and antagonistic but she never let it stop her caring for and loving others. She was inherently kind.

I think much of our problems in society and the damage we do to each other and the planet is because of this mistaken belief and because our systems reinforce particular ways. These allow the powerful to dominate and keep their unfair share. So this way of thinking benefits some people more than others and that’s why it continues. It’s like ‘Lord of the Flies’ and this is maybe why we’re in the mess we’re in.

I believe it was Malcom X that raised the question: What’s the difference between Illness and Wellness?

It’s I and We.

Cool eh?

It’s actually our choice

It’s history, not

In the late 80’s and early 90’s

I was proud to be part of a bold experiment.

The Level Best campaign invited disabled people, carers, professionals to get involved. To explain what they wanted to see from council services in Kirklees in West Yorkshire, taking in the conurbations of Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley and the surrounding rural areas.

It was small scale, focused on a specific community of interest and primarily about local welfare services.

It involved a reference group, not unlike an assembly, public meetings, focus groups, research questionnaires a range of techniques drawn from different professional and community approaches.

It resulted in significant local changes and showed how engaging people effectively brings real and lasting results.

There are many examples of how measures to promote people’s active participation can make a real difference in governance and the quality of our lives. We need to take these lessons to change the way our societies and their institutions work.

One such idea is presented here.

The constructive pressure from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the opportunities afforded by adopting ideas such as citizens’ assembly and localised practical responses to our challenges will help us develop a more sustainable approach to life that can arise from the people themselves and provide opportunities that are different from traditional work models.

We need to think and act differently.