Wanted: A Plant Hotel

Most of us have a collection of plants in our city flats. They thrive despite the pollution in the city and bring great joy and beauty to our lives. No true plant lover will complain of having to manage nutrients, pruning, correct light conditions or watering however busy the schedule.

The biggest problem arises when the entire family goes out on a vacation. Nuclear family units mean the house is empty and there may be no one who can be entrusted the job of caring for the plants. By and large this period lasts up to 15 days and can be very traumatic for the plants. Servants cannot always be relied upon to water correctly nor is it advisable to leave house keys with them. Very few have the luxury of friends and family chipping in to do the needful.

I would like to share some of my plant vacation ideas with all of you. I carry out what I call ‘plant training’ prior to my departure. Essentially it means acclimatizing the plant to going without water. Depending on the duration of my stay away I begin by watering the plant on alternate days progressively increasing to every third, fourth, fifth day etc. By the time I leave the plant is used to surviving without water for up to 10 days. Of course the season plays a very important part.

To reduce the trauma, I shift the pots indoors, which also cuts evaporation. In case of plants, which require lots of water, I immerse them in a tub half filled with water. To prevent the roots from rotting, I usually place the pot + tub in the balcony. In hotter months, the soil in the pot can be covered with gunnysack soaked in water or wet paper.

Avoid fertilizing the plants just prior to departure. Make sure you do spray some pesticides though. Avoid adding to your collection just prior to a planned vacation. Mud pots remain wet for a long time hence providing valuable moisture to the plants.

Make sure to water your babies the moment you return but do not immediately place in bright sunshine. Move gradually from semi shade to usual spot.

Don’t be worried if the plant loses leaves- most plants revive soon. Of course this method works best with established and healthy plants. It generally takes me about 10 days to get back to my routine but on my last holiday, my fern, asparagus, arelia, serisa, Erica palm etc had all got new shoots in the period, recovering faster than me!

Naturally some activists may protest about my training but it’s better than keeping the pots in the compound/yard – open for vandalizing (broken stems and pots) or even stealing (yes , healthy well grown pots too are stolen!). For stays of over 15 days this technique is not an ideal one.

I read of a pet hotel in Delhi meant for pets when the owners were out. With so many plant lovers, a reliable place to house plants for up to 15 days is a necessity in Pune. There are plant libraries and nurseries but I was unable to locate a plant hotel. Takers anyone?

14 February – A Different View

14th February is the ‘The Congenital Heart Defect Awareness’ Day.

India has seen huge progress in treatment for babies born with some anamolies in the structure of their hearts. Some are minor (hole in the heart) but some can be very severe and life threatening. Earlier, those who could afford went abroad for treatment. Things gradually improved and in the eighties diagnostic equipment and surgery was possible in few metros.

Soon highly qualified surgeons who had trained abroad began to return and work here. Improvements in infrastructure went in tandem and now we have specialised paediatric cardiologist and paediatric cardiac surgeons in smaller towns as well. Neonatal diagnosis by various imaging techniques is also possible.

Late Dr Nitu Mandke was a pioneer in paediatric cardiac surgery in Mumbai and a great human being. He is no more but his legacy lives on via the hundreds of hearts he has mended.

Work in this field steams ahead as India now has babies coming in from abroad for their treatment. This 14th February, spend some time to read something different. Papers always carry appeals for aid for congential heart surgery. If you do not wish to contribute any Vitamin M, then spend some time volunteering. Bring a Smile.

Here are a few links:





The Golden Bird

Vibhas Pande has some startling insights on the latest power:

We are a wealthy nation! ‘Soneki chidiya aa gayi hai!'( The golden birdie has arrived).The overwhelming response to Reliance Power IPO substantiates this fact. Let me put this in the proper perspective.

This IPO was for approx US $ 3 billion. It has been oversubscribed 67 times. That means approximately US $ 200 billion have moved towards this IPO. This is a huge amount. The retail portion was supposed to be 30% (US $ 1 billion). That has been oversubscribed 16 times. So retail investors like you and me have put in US $ 16 billion for this IPO.Let us first compare this US $ 200 billion number with other numbers.India’s foreign exchange reserves are US$ 265 billion. And here there are US $ 200 billion for a single IPO.

The FII inflows for the entire year 2007 have not exceeded US $ 20 billion. This IPO has generated 10 times more that amount.George W Bush has announced a ‘growth package’ for the revival of American economy yesterday. That package is US$ 150 billion. Much lower than this amount generated here.

What does this mean for the future?

The money from the retail investors after refunds is not going to go back to the FDs and PPFs. It will soon be back in to the stock markets applying for quality stocks. The over subscription from HNI and QIB will also find its way back into the stock markets looking out for quality stocks.
Who are eyeing this money?

Many Indian and Foreign funds, promoters, banks, governments are going to look at this opportunity to tap this wealth. There are going to be many issues of quality stocks in the primary markets. There would also be promoters of dubious records trying to cash in on this wealth.

So what should we do?

We should just hold on to our stocks,mutual funds, land banks, gold, commodities, what have you. Move into quality assets and be patient. This flood of money is likely to raise asset prices to much higher levels. We can do some accumulation of good stocks in the meanwhile. Stocks that are ripe for unlocking value. Some names that come to my mind are Reliance Industries, HDFC,ICICI Bank, Larsen and Toubro. There are many more. GOI will also come out with some follow on offers of PSUs. The opportunity is huge.Hopefully our regulators and educators keep a check on the issues coming into the markets. Investor education and proper guidance remains the primary need of the hour. India and its retail investor have arrived on the scene.

55th Sawai Gandharva Music Festival December 2007: Musical Extravaganza this weekend!

This weekend promises to be a feast of all music lovers.
The famous Sawai Gandharva festival is going on in Pune. Day one saw a tremendous performance by Gundecha Brothers and Arati Anklikar (photo above). Being a weekday, many may have chosen to skip this but I assure you all performances were mind blowing! The pakhwaj accompaniment gave an entirely new dimension to the recital.

I have no training in this discipline yet came away thoroughly touched by the divine music.

For those who like western pop or rock music, do tune in to the Spin Channel on the World Space Satellite Radio, on Sunday at 8AM. Ravi Khanolkar will be doing a special show. Check it out!
The telecast is NOT repeated!

All in all, a musical extravaganza awaits us all! Enjoy!

Something to rejoice

Here is an interesting news item that appeared in the Times of India on 02 November 2007, that will gladden many a hearts!

According to a research carried out at the Granada University in Spain, a glass of beer is a better option than water to replace body fluids lost while exercising.

Read details here

Obviously this need not be taken as a license to go overboard. Remember discretion is the key word.

The bottom line: exercise if you want to truly enjoy your pint!


Happy Divali

One of our biggest festivals,Deepawali!
Wish you all a Very Happy Divali and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Some may well question my wishing good health..
In today’s mad, fast world, each one of us is in a hurry to reach a goal. What that is may be unclear to some but its there…Just out of reach, always demanding that extra effort..

This leads to stress which affects men, women and children too.
‘Lifestyle’ diseases are accepted as inevitable instead of avoidable.

The body which is to take us to our goal itself gets ignored and abused in the process.

Result: Diabetes, heart problems, neck and back pain.

As we take a festive break this weekend, do spare a moment, reassess where you stand in life, where you want to go.
Are the sacrifices you make worth the end result?

Do resolve to make any necessary lifestyle modifications to stay healthy if you want to enjoy your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Hence the emphasis on Health.

May Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati shower their blessings on all of us.
Let the this festival of light usher in peace for all Indians!

Blast from the Past

Music produced today often seems like a one day wonder, hardly enduring the test of time. Numbers which can be heard at every party, paan-shop, mobile ring tone or radio is forgotten just as fast when a new one tops the count downs!

Why does this happen? Have our interests become so fickle and non-enduring? Yet a single melody from the days gone by ( I mean 70s,80s or even earlier) surely has the power to get us to pause, listen and enjoy. For some of us the tune may bring back fond memories and we can easily relive them as we hear the songs.

Those of us who love music may have SONY cassettes which were were common then (1980s). They were either C60 or C90s- the digits referring to the playing time. I have some which still play beautifully. Cassettes purchased today last probably just as long as the song does in our memory, irrespective of cost of the tape (which supposedly reflects quality).

A favourite of mine is the ‘Sunday morning show’ on Spin channel on World Space Satellite Radio. Rock pop music of the 70s, 80s is played with some interesting accompanying history by the host, Ravi Khanolkar.

So get out your old music, put it on better formats if need be and get back in touch with timeless melodies- irrespective of language or genre! Let the blast from the past revive and recharge you!


Its our turn now…

This was an essay written by my daughter about 8 years ago and the words still carry an important message hence the inclusion.

Nana , Nani , Dadi Dada are all words which bring feelings of love , wisdom and security in us . We always love to spend time with our grandparents , listen to them narrate their experiences and share our joys and sorrows with them. Their influence on our lives and character will stay for a long time.

As we grow older we become more and more involved with our studies and friends and may not be able to sped as much time as before with them. They too have to face various problems associated with old age. At such a time we must make it a point to be there for them. There are some unfortunate grandparents who do have their families and have to live in an old peoples home . If we can go and spend some time regularly with such senior citizens then we will surely be able to bring some joy to their lives.

Here are a few things that we can do for and with our grandparents:

1. Walk and talk a lot with them.
2. Run minor errands for them.
3. Rearrange their room keeping medicines ,water ,torch etc at arms length from the bed.
4. Write letters or help with bank work.
5. Make a bulletin board to pin up things to remember.
6. Ask them to take up your home work – not do it!!
7. Play indoor games or cards with them.
8. Iron clothes for them.

These are just a few things that I have thought of. I’m sure you can think of many more to show your grandparents how special they are to you.

Its our turn to be there for our parents and grandparents as they grow old. However do leave the choice of the kind of help needed to them.