Monday, March 26, 2012

A trash weekend

Whats the best way to spend a Sunday morning? There can be many answers to this, but I found a new one. Deal with garbage.
After hearing and reading various opinions, and also seeing many people actually take constructive steps) I finally motivated myself to start composting the biodegradable waste I generate. Initially I thought it was going to be a rather complicated affair, requiring much time and attention. Quite the opposite. It is absurdly simple.

We have got so used to doing this - fill up the bin for the whole day, then simply keep it outside the door the next morning and forget about it. Let the municipal machinery take care of it. If its not inside my home, its not my problem.
It IS, unfortunately.Many of us are not aware about what happens to the contents of our bin once it disappears from our sight. It travels to the city (gets spilt on the road in the process) and ends up in the municipal dumping ground. The ground now resembles a gigantic mountain of garbage. It can contain everything, from a staple pin to a car bumper. Of course, a large part of this montain is formed of PET bottles, shoes, electronic waste, and so much more.
People at the dump go through the painstaking process of segregating all this mess. Some pick only glass, others look only for leather goods, yet others have an eye only for PET bottles. Once they have taken these things away, the remaining bit (which hopefully is all biodegradable) should ideally get converted to compost.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Artist



Thursday, February 23, 2012

A date with the Government

I believe I am an honest taxpayer. And I have enough papers to prove it. So in  due course of time, a day arrived when I had to go further and become an honest service-tax payer. I thus braced myself for a long-drawn battle with the system to get a service tax registration number. And since I have already made the claim to being an honest taxpayer, I did not wish to approach the matter through a tout/agent.
At the outset, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised that the whole system of getting a registration is now online. Wow. One would be tempted to say. That it took me seven visits to the office in spite of the system being online (or rather, because of it) is another matter. Anyway, to come to the point, the procedure sounds deceptively simple.
1. Go the homepage and create an account for yourself. You then get a login ID and a password - the customary stuff.
2. Then you login and fill up a form called ST-1 and click on 'Submit'. Then take a printout of the form... wait. Here's the first catch. If you have to really take a printout, you have to achieve quite above-average literacy in the world of computers, because there is NO straightforward method to either get a printout of ST-1 or getting a PDF version of it. But I managed that.
3. Then one has to go to the service tax office, wait in an interminably long queue (and it could takes several such visits - it took me three) and present the ST-1 with supporting documents (PAN, addr proof etc.) and submit it.
4. The officer promises you that the approval of ST-1 will happen in seven working days. Which means you have to wait for a week-and-a-half, and just hope that other meaningless holidays like Mahashivratri don't make the wait longer.
5. It comes as no surprise that nothing happens after seven (or many more) working days. I went after sixteen, and had to create a mild form of satyagrah in the office to get the officer to approve my application in front of me.
6. Once approved, one simply has to login again and take a printout of the much-desired and precious entity called Form ST-2. Child's play, one would imagine. But no.
7. When I eagerly logged in and, fingers quaking in anticipation, clicked on the link called 'View Latest ST-2', it asked for dates. From and To date.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where do I belong, really?

Am back in this space after a long time, and it is no coincidence that the reason had to be music. And that too, music at its purest, primeval, uncluttered best. I was in Shantiniketan for three days and one evening, on the outskirts of a Santal village, I met this Baul singer singing all by himself in the middle of nowhere, totally unmindful of what was happening around him. I haven't managed to follow all the lyrics but basically the poet is telling someone (presumably a girl) to go back 'to where she really belongs.' Amazingly, the Baul manages three instruments - the 'Ektara' , a drum to hold the rhythm, and ghunghroo tieid to his legs to fill up the spaces between two 'matras' in the rhythm 1

I believe the Baul is singing to all of us, not just to some girl. Often I find myself having arrived (with great effort, mind you) in a certain place and then realize suddenly that I am in the wrong place. What's the option then, but to go back to where one belongs?