The year that was...

After much debate (between laziness and the blogger inside me) I decided to write about the year that was... more for the sake of memories than anything else. 2007 has been a wonderful year for us and we just wanted to take a few minute to thank all those who made this year spectacular for us and to be grateful for what we have!

We started the year traveling and in Detroit. January 2nd we signed our lives away as we signed the papers for our new home. It was exciting and fun. February, we moved into our first home. It was a dream come true. The perfect home, the perfect neighborhood. We were in love with it! March was the big month for V with her big dance performance. April flew by fast and May kicked off with a trip to Grand Canyon with V's best friend from college, and we rolled the red carpet to welcome V's parents, bro and granny home. It was their first visit to US and it was fun having them around. We wound up May with a trip to Niagara Falls and New York (of course visiting family in between). June and July were fun months with family around and before we realized it was August.

September started off with a trip to Seattle, visiting good friends and traveling around. October it was time for fall colors and New England. November V finally was done with her Masters and found herself a pretty good job. Baby bro KA was back during the end of November and in addition to the yummy food and other knickknacks painstakingly shopped for and packed by loved ones in India, he brought along his wit and crazy humor. December, a dream trip to paradise - Hawaii!

What a year it has been! We are thankful for every thing. We are truly blessed!

Who designed this?

Akaka Falls near Hilo. For more of our Hawaii photos click on the photo

And it is time to round up the year. I look into 2008 with expectations and dreams! Lots of dreams and hopes. Resolutions...we really are not the resolutions type! The usual workout regularly, get organized etc are always there! We try to take a conscious effort everyday and a new addition to that list is our effort to leave a smaller carbon footprint and be more environmentally aware.

And as I get ready for 2008, I remember an incident from our recent Hawaii trip. We were at the Akaka Falls near Hilo, amazed by its sheer beauty and power and as we stood there clicking pictures and enjoying nature, a young boy probably around 5 asked his mom in a loud voice, "Who designed this?" And there was silence in the area, other onlookers were unsure whether to laugh or just ignore the comment. And I was stunned! The boy in his childish innocence stumbled upon what I was trying to say for the longest possible time - a simple awareness of the complexities and beauty around us.

And that is what I want for 2008, a conscious awareness of this wondrous world around me! It is a work par excellence and I want to enjoy the small things in life as I pursue bigger dreams! And to all Poohsden readers, wishing you a year filled with love, luck and happiness!

Where do we go from here?

We are back in Houston nursing bad colds and sore throats. The vacation was wonderful. Daily diary notes on our trip are being updated in our travel blog. Meanwhile, I came across this. Scary isn't it? I am hoping to get my hands on the original report and take a look at it sometime.

And above all I loved the last line in the news report, But the real question is, where do we go from here? I feel we all know the environment is polluted now, so why don't we move forward and take steps to rectify the same?

Baby bro's 20

20 years back, it was raining cats and dogs in Trichy, room number 8 Child Jesus Hospital was leaking and the patient there was moved to room number 4, the patient's daughter was sick, high temperature and cold but there was an expectation in the air, and the big maadai baby bro made his way into the world.

He is still the same person we all love so much and here's wishing you a wonderful birthday and many more to come baby bro!


And we are off for a vacation to Aloha land tomorrow. We are looking forward to visiting the islands, enjoying its unique culture and amazing beaches. We'll be back soon with all the details. Take a peek into our travel blog for more details and updates!

Vapi and Sukinda.. does it ring a bell?

So I come across this list of worst polluted sites in Forbes. The list is based of a study conducted by U.S.-based Blacksmith Institute, an independent environmental group, in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland

The 2007 worst polluted sites are unranked and listed alphabetically, by country

Sumgayit, Azerbaijan;

Linfen, China;

Tianying, China;

Sukinda, India;

Vapi, India;

La Oroya, Peru;

Dzerzhinsk, Russia;

Norilsk, Russia;

Chernobyl, Ukraine;

Kabwe, Zambia.

And before today, I have never heard of Sukinda. Vapi, yes I have heard of the name and never would I have thought that these places would make it to the most polluted site.

A bit of googling and I found these,

  • Vapi has the second largest industrial area in Asia and the industrial area is dominated by small-scale chemical plants.
  • The Common Effluent Treatment Plant (or CETP) in Vapi, is the largest of its kind in Asia treating the pollutants from the industrial units before being released into the Daman Ganga River. The CETP is run by Vapi Waste & Effluent Management Company, promoted by the Vapi Industries Association.
  • Vapi and the Ankleshwar area were declared "critically polluted" by the Central Pollution Control Board of India (CPCB) in 1994.
  • Local produce has been found to contain up to 60 times more heavy metals. And more environmental data of interest to the environmental engineer.
  • Sukinda Valley, in the State of Orissa, contains 97% of India's chromite ore deposits and one of the largest open cast chromite ore mines in the world.
  • Mines continue to operate without any environmental management plans and over 30 million tons of waste rocks are spread over the surrounding areas and the Brahmani riverbanks.
  • In Sukinda, no decisive plans to provide for effective health monitoring and abatement programs are in place till date.

In my knowledge of Indian Environmental Laws, there is nothing much about clean-up of such heavily contaminated sites (Please correct me if I am wrong). Might be something similar to the Superfund Law (CERCLA) to protect people, families, communities and others from heavily contaminated sites is needed in India asap!

And as I sit here typing this, thinking about the work on hand - modeling a landfill in California, I wonder when I can use my modeling skills and apply them to India and use my technical expertise in the land I love. Does anyone know any NGO’s or environmental groups in India that could use the help of a modeler with experience in developing finite-difference models for contaminant sites?

Weekend learning

Nature and outdoors never stop amazing me. There are so many things I learn from them and they make my otherwise mundane existence a pleasure. I love the trees, the flowers, the rivers, the birds, the rains, the humidity and even the tiny creepy crawly insects. Every day nature seems to tell me about the eternal mantra of life, change.

Slow and subtle are the changes in nature, but they happen in front of our busy eyes. We just seem to ignore the changes in trying rush from one commitment to the other making no time to stop and enjoy nature and to learn from it.

Inspite of my hectic weekends I try to make time for a little one-on-one with nature a couple of times a month. My one-on-ones range from a couple of minutes of solitude early in the morning watching the birds comes to life to a simple picnic by the lake. I try to make it a way of life.

And when Saturday turned to be an unusually warm December day, I knew it was time to pull out the picnic basket and head out to enjoy the day. Yes, there were many other things I could have done instead of sitting by the creek, basking in the sun, reading a novel, fighting for the blanket and laughing away the worries with the family. But then the pleasures of taking the timeout to enjoy nature are indeed special.

Nature as always taught be about being patient and accepting change in life. The trees now void of their leaves, a stark contrast from my previous trip in summer. And telling me to be patient and wait for the fresh burst of leaves in a few months. It is such a simple lesson of life that I never get tired of. Might be coz I forget the basic lesson so easily in the pursuit of so called bigger things?

Life’s lesson never changes, irrespective of age, time and generation. Be patient and accept change in life with grace. The lessons nature teaches me day-in-and day out!