Saturday, 23 November 2019

Beyond Capacity

At night when I leave from work, most of the days I can smell the pollution in the air. It may sound crazy and laughable, but it really is not.

Mumbai pollution has increased exponentially over the past few decades. The city has grown beyond its capacity. Population is increasing by the day, leading to ever increasing demand for space and an overflow of number of vehicles. As we try to accomodate infinite number of people in finite space, we chop down more and more trees, clear more mangrove forests, encroach more of the Aarey forest or Sanjay Gandhi National Park. So as the stress on natural resources such as air and water peaks with no provision for a natural clean up (enough greenery), pollution builds up to an extent when it becomes detrimental to human health.

Now I smell the smoke in the air, may be because I know how clean air smells or may be I haven't forgotten how the city once used to be. It wasn't the slow painful killer with toxic air as it is today. In the meantime, my pursuit of natural place all around the world continues.

Some people in Mumbai say, 'at least it's better than Delhi'. But is that what we have come to expect? Just marginally better than the worst. Never knowing or wondering how much better it could be!! 

Friday, 22 November 2019

Penguin 4

African penguins, as a species are struggling. The population has declined significantly over the last 100 years due to human activity related pressure. South African government is currently trying to implement multiple conservation measures to save the remaining population of the species.

Many of the natural habitats of the species have been declared as protected areas and human activity, including fishing, ship route and recreational activity is restricted in those areas. In order to raise fund for conservation efforts, some of these areas (for example, Boulder's beach, Betty's Bay etc) have been opened to the public for viewing these beautiful creatures and spread awareness for their conservation. However, tourists are not allowed to interact with the birds.

Whether the conservation measures succeed to revive their population is yet to be seen. However, thanks to this effort, they are now getting some sort of protection from a bleak future and some people, like me, are able to experience seeing them from up close in their natural habitat.

Until a few months back, I never thought I would have the privilege of seeing these beautiful and unique birds in their natural habitat unless I go to polar regions. If the population continues to decline at the present rate, the species 'African penguins' will be a thing of history sooner than we realize. 

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Penguin 3

African penguins have been declared as endangered by the IUCN red list. Their population has declined by around 90% since the beginning of twentieth century. Estimates suggest that in the beginning of 1900s, there were approximately 1.4 million adult birds in one population alone at Dassen Island, which had been reduced to about 145,000 birds by the mid-1950s. By the end of 1900s, the worldwide population declined to about 179,000 and it is still declining.

The population decline can be attributed to human related pressure such as loss of habitat, lack of food source due to commercial fishing and oil pollution at sea. In addition, global warming has changed the marine environment too rapidly for the species to evolve. Global warming also intensifies other threats and affects their breeding cycle.

Such a cute animal is in danger because of the impact we are causing to the environment and rather than help protect it, we are still questioning the unquestionable scientific data on global warming.

Source :

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Penguin 2

Have you seen a penguin walk? If not in real life, I am sure you would have seen it on videos. How cute are they? With their two little legs and two little flippers, how lovely is their walk!!!

According to me, Penguins have one of the best social structures that even modern democratic societies would envy. The reason penguins live in colonies is just because they increase the chances of survival, both adults, and offspring. In the first place, among so many individuals, it is easier to find a partner to mate; second, it is also simpler to protect from predators because they can issue warning calls and defend the nests; and third, sometimes they can collaborate to find food. It is a question of cooperation.

In a colony, there is not a dominant male, as in other species of animals. Despite living in groups, within each colony penguins remain in pairs, sometimes alone or with their offspring. Both parents take turns caring their offspring, and when the chick has grown a little, they bring it to the “nurseries,” sites where other young penguins of the colony join.

Doesn't it sound like the perfect society where peace and equality are residing perfectly?

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Penguin 1

Nature is full of aberrations and pleasant surprises. I have been interested in nature and its wonders for quite some time now. But until a few years back, I didn't know the existence of African penguins or the Cape penguins.

Cape penguins are a species found only in Southern African waters, usually within 40 kilometers from the shore. Just like any other penguine species, they are flightless birds but they are excellent swimmers. They can grow upto 2 feet tall and can weigh upto 11 pounds. Females are smaller in size. They have black stripes and a unique black pattern on their chest and a distinctive pink patch above the eyes.

They search for food, primarily sardines and anchovy, in the waters, but build their colonies and breed onshore. They prefer to breed in rocky patches onshore between May through August.


Monday, 18 November 2019

Delhi Air Pollution

Air pollution in Delhi city has reached hazardous levels. If this is not public emergency, what is? And how do we react to such emergency? We implement some stop gap solutions, like declaring holidays, shutting down offices and blaming others for not taking appropriate actions. Some businesses have grabbed this opportunity to earn more business. They are now actively promoting products like air purifiers or face masks.

But will it ever fix the problem? Air pollution doesn't stay confined in only one place. The air we breathe is our most basic necessity. Why not plant trees to have a more permanent solution for such air pollution crisis. Why not try to reduce burning of fossil fuel and promote more public transport? Why not stop the burning of fields in this season and use the creative minds to find a more sustainable solution?

While Delhi struggles with air quality crisis, Mumbai is cutting matured forests. As if we haven't already destroyed enough!! When will we open our eyes and accept that we cannot destroy the environment we are so dependent on? Only after reaching a hazardous situation as Delhi?

Sunday, 17 November 2019

My Choice

You live your life with the choices you make, the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it.

I am a vegetarian first through family values then through personal ones. I never try to convert people to make vegetarian choices and even though someday I want to be a vegan, today it is not within my limits to be so. But I see many people who will try to shame me or force me into eating meat. Most times the first question I get asked is if I have ever had meat and how did I like it. If it was out of curiosity only I wouldn't mind but it's generally as a discussion to compel me to eat as per their choice or to ridicule my choice of eating.

Sometimes it feels a bit sad to me that such an important choice to relieve the burden on the food chain is being looked as meek or a weak decision. The harm that is being caused by meat and fish farming is well documented. The benefits of vegan and vegetarian diet is also now being outwardly spoken. But we cling to the idea that one man's pleasure will have to mean some form of death or destruction of the environment.

Again I don't want to put this burden on anyone, it is a personal choice that each person has to make. But people who make this choice shouldn't be ridiculed and when they are, it shows the values of our own society.