Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A "Doosra" in aid of PNLIT

"Doosra has a strong script and an unwavering focus on the theme. The subject is new and the dialogue well crafted, scoring sixes quite often with punch lines. Mention must be made of the several humorous moments. The exchange between Ganesh's parents on cricket as a career is particularly endearing." - The Hindu

"The play is worth watching for its appealing cast, humorous and witty dialogues. As the Video footage of Cricket is used in the play, one feels that one is watching cricket live."  - Deccan Herald

Doosra’s protagonist is the Game of Cricket. The changes in the game are depicted through the life of Ganesh, a 20 year old lad who gets selected to represent the country. The young cricketer's metamorphosis is driven by the forces of power, politics, money and pressure and is depicted in the 90 minute play which, through its various characters, illustrates the changing phase of the game which over the years has grown from a sport to a commercial venture.

The play offers the perspectives of - a father who still believes in the values of the game, an obsessed fan with a love and hate attitude, a Captain who is victimized, a Bookie who represents the darker side of the game and a Politician who patronizes the game for money. The highlight of the play is video projections as back drop - a feature that one is unlikely to have experienced in plays in India.

The play will be staged by Paradigm Creation, in aid of PNLIT.

DATE: SUNDAY, 13th JAN 2013                TIME: 3.30 p.m. and 7.00 p.m.


Sujata -, Cell 9880054070
Usha, Cell 7259722996 
Nupur -, Cell 9886629769
Ramaswamy -, Cell 9845079076


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Will your donation cheque be valid after 31st Dec 2012?

Till about a week ago, the answer to this would have been, “Only CTS-2010 Standard cheques will be valid after 31st Dec 2012”. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the date for banks and consumers to meet the standard to 31st March 2013, vide circular dated 14th Dec 2012.

What does this all mean?

CTS = Cheque Truncation System
The basis of CTS technology lies in the use of images of cheques (instead of the physical cheques) for payment processing. So cheques will not physically travel to the originating bank for clearance, but instead, scanned images will be transmitted. This will also eliminate the concept of ‘outstation cheques’ as all cheques will be multi-city/ payable at par all over India.

The new ‘CTS-2010 Standard’ for cheques by the RBI is now scheduled to come into effect on 1st April 2013. 

From 1st April 2013, only CTS-2010 Standard cheque leaves, with certain prescribed features, will be generally accepted by banks. However, residual non-CTS-2010 Standard cheques that get presented beyond this date would continue to be accepted for clearing but they would be cleared at less frequent intervals, and possibly at a fee.

Give your cheques a check
If your cheque book was issued after August 2011 it is likely that your cheques are already compliant. If your cheques do not have the features of either of the cheque leaves below, then you will need to get a new CTS-2010 Standard cheque book before you can issue cheques to others for presentation, 1st April 2013 onwards. Non-CTS-2010 cheque leaves would still be usable for withdrawals at the home branch.

Features on CTS-2010 Standard cheque leaves

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exciting times for our lake!

The Salvinia Molesta covering the surface of our little Puttenahalli Lake has not deterred all the birds! Our regulars, the Purple Swamphens, Purple Heron, Pond Herons among others had refused to leave the lake even though the invasive aquatic fern was spreading on the water. They have now been joined by a Grey Heron, a couple of Cormorants and Kingfishers! The Kingfisher especially is good news. It means that the water below the Salvinia is still fresh and alive. These were just a few of the birds we spotted in the midst of what seems like a 1001 tasks we have to do at the lake. Not that we are complaining about the tasks since we mooted them ourselves. :-)

These are exciting times for our lake. On our request the BBMP has issued a work order to execute a number of initiatives which will infuse new life into the lake.

The first of these is the Diversion Channel to draw surface rain water from the Brigade Millennium avenue road into the lake. The Channel will be laid from the BM arch to the lake. According to a Total Station survey done in Sept 2011 to assess the feasibility of diverting this water, the quantum entering through this new feeder channel will be quite substantial. The first of the massive (45 inches inner diameter) pipes have been unloaded and will be kept in place soon. The channel will be put to test during the next monsoon.

Pipes for the Diversion Channel

The contractor has also been entrusted with de-weeding the lake. Getting rid of the Salvinia Molesta is not going to be easy. It has to be removed manually from the water, dried and then disposed appropriately. The contractor's men are clearing another lake and once that is done, they will start de-weeding ours. We had only heard of Salvinia Molesta but not seen it at close quarters before. It is a beautiful aquatic fern, so decorative that it is sometimes used in home aquariums. However, the smallest fragment of the fern can double its dry weight in about two days, spread like a blanket over large water bodies and is known to have killed lakes across the world. We have learned our lesson with Salvinia Molesta. Any time in future that we spot a piece in our lake, we will pluck it out of the water. We have geared ourselves very well for this with a variety of rakes to snatch out the smallest bit of this hateful fern.

Gardeners at work clearing the slopes

While waiting for the Diversion Channel pipes to arrive, the contractor got his men to start digging a trench and laying an Irrigation Pipeline all around the lake to facilitate watering the plants. At present we get water tankers to fill the tanks and the gardeners use the wheel barrow to ferry filled buckets to water our 320 trees, many shrubs and other plants. A laborious task to say the least not to mention an expensive one. The bore wells around the lake are recharged thanks to the lake but the well operators do not reduce their charge one bit! The Irrigation Pipeline will enable us to plant two more rows of trees on the slope, countless small flowering plants between trees on the embankment, shrubs, creepers, climbers and what have you to give ourselves a green nice cover in the neighbourhood.

Irrigation Pipeline trenches

If you think these are just pipe dreams, please visit the lake and see the work happening. Perhaps you can supervise the workers and relieve us of that chore? Perhaps you may like to join us in our effort to maintain, or rather, transform a lake with people power?

Usha Rajagopalan

Sunday, December 9, 2012

13th Jan 2013, A play fundraiser: Doosra - The Story of Cricket

SAVE THE DATE: Sunday 13th Jan 2012 
Two shows - 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Doosra - The Story of Cricket is being staged at MLR Convention Centre, Brigade Millennium, J.P. Nagar 7th Phase. 

Come watch this quality English play 
and also help in the cause of lake restoration and maintenance.

For donor passes, in aid of PNLIT, contact:
 - Sujata, Usha, Nupur, Ramaswamy (details on the poster).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Encouraging the bicycle

“The provision of secure, well located cycle parking is essential if people are to be encouraged to use a bicycle as a means of transport. By indicating to the public that cyclists are welcome, cycle parking facilities act as a message to motorists to consider cycling in the future.” – “Cycle parking” Information Sheet - Apr 2004, issued by Sustrans and Cyclists’ Touring Club, UK  

Cycle stand installed at Puttenahalli Lake (Pic: OP Ramaswamy)

Cycle parking at public spaces has never been a priority in Bangalore, and for that matter anywhere in India. Most residential and commercial spaces are designed with no consideration for cycle parking and often, cyclists have to scuffle with security guards to get space for their cycles at offices and hotels. Even a much patronized place like Lal Bagh got its first proper cycle stand only in July 2011.

Cycle stand installed at Lal Bagh (Pic: Mayank Rungta)

In contrast to India, in many other countries, such as Japan, where I recently spent a few days, cycle racks and parking lots for cycles, formal and informal, can be found just everywhere! The Japanese model where cyclists and pedestrians share the same space is one that could work well in India – the cycle-paths and footpaths are one, and often, the seating spaces provided for people are designed to double up as cycle parking spaces. So people on cycles and people walking use the same infrastructure.              

Cycle rack on the ground level of a small apartment block, Tokyo

Cycle rack at Ueno Park Lake, Tokyo
Sidewalk, Tokyo

Bench-cum-cycle-stand, Tokyo

Cycle parking lot, Hiroshima

A common practice: cycles chained to poles on the sidewalk, Kyoto

Cyclists and pedestrians share the sidewalk, Hiroshima
(Pics in Japan: Arathi Manay) 

Our gardeners at the lake (who come to work on cycles) had mentioned that they were worried about the safety of their cycles while at work, so they would often keep them inside the shed. Some of the visitors who cycled to the lake would chain their cycles to the chain-link fencing, poles or growing tree trunks while they went around the lake for walks or jogs. While these are practical options, we felt that we really did need to give some dedicated space to cycles so that those who use them will know that we want to encourage their use. What we needed was a place for about ten cycles to be parked and secured, usually for short periods of time.

At Puttenahalli Lake, we've been constantly looking at how we can reuse discarded material and minimise cost (cost often comes down with discarded material 'cause you get it for free or at very low prices - as people usually don’t value what they're going to junk). One example is a water tank that we have installed using old tyres as the base, that cost us a fraction of what it would have if we used metal and concrete.

Water storage tank supported on discarded tyres (Pic: OP Ramaswamy)

Apart from the cost aspect, the reuse of discarded material has environmental benefits 
- reduces pollution caused by the process of manufacturing/ recycling
- reduces transportation pollution
- takes away the need to find a place to trash it
And it enables us to be more creative!

So we were looking at how we could make a cycle stand using reusable material. Maybe discarded tyres or wheels or even cycle rims. We also thought of a simple horizontal bar (metal/ casuarina/ bamboo), to which the cycles could be chained. People often chain cycles to poles and trees, so another idea was to provide something tree-like - like 3 ft high casuarina/bamboo poles fixed firmly in the ground. We found many other design ideas on the internet which could be adapted to suit our need. However, innovation does require some time and effort to think through and then execute. So we got in touch with those involved in Ride A Cycle Foundation and Nammacycle, who are familiar with the bicycle scene in Bangalore. After getting a couple of quotes, we went ahead with a cycle stand similar to what Nammacycle is using at IISc, but made to accommodate cycles placed in one line. The total cost to set it up (including manufacture, delivery and fixing) was approx Rs 12,500/-. 

In future if we find the need to expand the cycle parking facility at Puttenahalli Lake, we hope we will be able to implement one that reuses, or, as is now often heard, one that upcycles!