Friday, 4 December 2015

KITCHEN KOMPOST: A beautiful solution for the wet garbage problem

Indian houses are super clean. We make sure we throw our garbage out, every single day. Sometimes twice a day. And then we don't care about it. It's garbage, who cares about garbage right?

But is it garbage?

It isn't.

But lets just for a minute assume that it is. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the  code we operate by. 

Here's what happens to it once it leaves the house :

1. Another human being has to handle it, often without any protective gear. Which means they have to stand beside/in it, and sometimes use their hands. 
2. It adds to the scenery of our locality, inviting stray dogs, rats, cows(if you live in Indore). 
3. It is transported to a landfill outside of town, and forms a heap there. The stench becomes a way of life for the people living in the area, and their groundwater will be forever unclean. It occupies land     that otherwise could have provided food for your children and grandchildren. 

Lets just pause and think here. What if there was a way to avoid this, or at least cut it down by half. Would you do it?  For the human being who handles our trash? For the people who live beside it? or For your children, and their children?

One lesson I learned when I moved to a new city in my first job was that I should take responsibility for my own actions. So why not apply that philosophy to my own garbage? Is garbage not a result of my action, and therefore my responsibility?

What I'm about to describe in this post today is a way to handle one half of our garbage issue. 

Garbage can mainly be divided into two parts : Wet and Dry. We all learn in school that wet waste can be converted into compost. If that is true, wet garbage is not garbage at all!

It's food for the soil! We just need to pack it the right way.

What if we had a solution to convert our wet garbage into compost, the soil's favourite food, inside our kitchens, easily, with no foul odour?

Thats exactly what microbiologist Mr. Jayant Joshi, a resident of Thane , Mumbai, has given us. After years of research and trial and error, he has developed a simple yet elegant solution to this complex problem. And his product comes in the form of a simple picnic basket. 

Inventor Mr Jayant Joshi posing with the Kitchen Kompost basket.

The Kitchen Kompost basket, as he has named it, is a mixture of some serious science and lots of common sense. With its custom made mixture of micro-organisms that specialise in the composting of organic matter, and its sensible design, it is an amazing innovation. With a fairly simple day to day care routine, your garbage can become food for your garden! If you don't have a garden, just chuck the compost in the nearest tree, or gift it to friends and family who have a green thumb. The important thing is, your daily wet garbage is off the streets! That's more than enough reason to own one.

Some of you would be wondering why I'm advertising this product on my personal blog. Its because I LOVE IT!  I have been using one myself for about four months now and am thrilled with the results. Even my family couldn't believe their eyes when I showed them the first harvest of compost. "This was our food waste?" they asked me! I even started my own little home garden, just so I had a place to put the compost from the basket!

My fisrt harvest of compost from my Kitchen Kompost basket.
The waste leaving our house has reduced dramatically. Whereas before, the unsegregated waste would lie in the corridor the whole night, waiting for the garbage lady every morning. It would sometimes smell, especially when the garbage lady took a day off, and attract flies, and often soil the dustbin.  If the local stray dog visited at night, we would find the garbage strewn across the floor outside our front door in the  morning. Now, the garbage lady has to ring the bell, asking us for the day's trash, only to be told that our dustbin is hardly full yet! Less headache for us, less work for her. Win-win.

My experience has prompted me to recommend this to everyone, and that's what I'm doing here. I've even started distributing them in Indore, and I hope it will catch on here like it has in Maharashtra.

Mr Joshi is ever enthusiastic in his efforts to get this product to the people. He explained his vision to me once, saying, '' Fifty years ago every house didn't have its own toilet. Now they do. I want every house to have its own compost basket in the next fifty years.''

For years we have taken from the soil unflinchingly, without ever the thought of giving back. For those who thought about it, the ways to do so were too expensive and arduous. That time is gone. Now we can feed the soil of our cities and country again, like it has unselfishly fed us for years. Now we can make sure that our soil will have something left by the time we have children and grandchildren. Now we can help secure their future.

If you're interested in the Kitchen Kompost basket, give Mr. Joshi a call on +919969634182. Or if you want to know more about it, like

Monday, 2 November 2015

Going Green

A little bit of background. I hardly identify with my caste, but in this case, it is relevant. I am a CKP. It stands for Chandrasainya Kayastha Prabhu. According to Wikipedia, CKP culture is said to have traditionally adopted a diet that includes fish, meat, poultry and eggs. In other words, we are  foodies to the core. 

So it was quite surprising for our whole family when my dad quit non-veg a few years ago. And a bit of an inconvenience too, I imagine, for the people cooking. Family dinners, which normally were a one-dimensional hardcore non vegetarian affair, and in which vegetarian food made appearances only as side dishes, now became a little more complicated to plan. A vegetarian main course was now necessary, not an option that was only pursued if time permitted. 

Its funny looking back at it now, after I myself have decided to turn vegetarian. I just may be better off than my dad though: my family is not complaining about my decision, as we have quite a few vegetarians in family dinners. They do miss my company on non veg binges mind you. But its all our dog's fault, so they should complain to him really. 

Krish (our four month old German shepherd puppy) is sleeping soundly nearby as I write this. He, blissfully bereft of a conscience, consumes more than a kilo of meat a week. Most times, I'm the one feeding it to him. But he's the reason I wont be putting any in my mouth anymore. His love did that. 

''Its amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.'', said John Grogan of Marley, the worlds most famous dog. And it's the same with Krish. Life without him would be like a wedding party without a dhol, goes on fine but just not as much fun. Whether it's making sure he keeps his teeth off the furniture, or going on cycle rides and runs with him, or watching him grind my favourite headphones like they are a chew stick, my cup overfloweth when it comes to being a busy but content dog owner.  

And then I remembered a conversation my cousins and I once had about how they eat dog meat in China . Back then it was just a fun fact. Now, I was mortified at the thought.  Now that I was so attatched to a particular dog, the thought of any dog being eaten horriefied me. I mean, these are intelligent, loyal, loving animals who have the potential to bring us so much joy in so many ways. How can we kill them for their meat? 

And then I thought, what about other animals? Granted most species aren't ideal human companions like dogs are, but don't all animals have a huge potential to love? Who am I to discriminate between animals created by the Creator, by saying its not ok to kill these species for food but it is ok to kill these. How far is that from saying it's ok to marry people from this caste but not ok to marry into this caste?  Or that coloured people are meant to do these jobs and white people are meant to do these jobs? 

 That was when I decided that I could not justify taking any animal life just for the satisfaction of my taste buds anymore. 

There was something else that influenced this decision too. I'm currently re-reading  "My experiments with truth'' by a certain M. K. Gandhi. Given the direction my thoughts were taking in the weeks before, it was no surprise that this line struck a chord : ''I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man''. (Pg. 208)

I reasoned that the killing of animals for food could be justified at many points in history, but not now, when our intellect has sufficiently evolved to develop alternatives that need no loss of life. 

So it was that on the 2nd of October this year (by the Creator's arrangement, the anniversary of Gandhiji's birth was around the corner), I took the decision that felt right, that didn't prick the corner of my mind that I had walled off. 

This is an admission. I always felt the slightest bit guilty while eating non veg, but suppressed the pinch with what I believed were credible reasons. Foremost among these was that I "needed the protein", given until recently my line of work. But now that I'm not playing competitively any more, I couldn't hide behind that excuse. 

And so that's that. Score: Krish 1, Snehal 0. You win little fellow. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Welcome home Krish

After a hiatus of almost a year, I will once again tread on my first blog, this space that gave me my first push into the world of the written word. I return to this space as and when I am moved, and this is again one such occasion. Two things have moved me, the second of which I shall advertise in the next post. As for the first, his name is Krish.

He is our dog. It feels so good to finally say that. Our dog.

He is a German shepherd to be precise, now 2 and a half months old, right in the middle of his moulting and teething-biting phase. My husband, mother-in-law (henceforth fondly referred  to  as MIL for the purpose of this blog) and I brought him home a little over a month ago.

It so happened that my youngest brother was coming to visit me for a weekend in Indore, along with my dad and step mom. He had the impression that Indore was this boring, small town kind of place .Which it is, in many ways, to my delight. It reminds me of the Pune of my childhood, where I learnt to cycle, brought home strays, and broke windows, of a Pune that exists only in small pockets within the city now. But I digress.

My brother was afraid his two nights in Indore would be the most boring of his life (This coming from a young man  who has spent the last two years in studious isolation). It so happened that we brought Krish home the day he arrived. Needless to say, there was not a dull moment over that weekend.

But I digress again. The story of Krish's homecoming began earlier. It was one of those things that just happens to you, that you have little control over. ''The story wrote itself'', said  George R.R. Martin  of his moving tale, 'The Ice Dragon',  Such was the intersection at which Krish met us. 

My family are all dog people, so we had discussed bringing a dog home before, and the responsibilities involved.  But my MIL had been firmly in opposition, reasoning that we were not in a position to care for one as we no longer lived in a bungalow (where she raised her previous dogs). Yet we said, lets just swing by the pet shop and have a look, hmm? Harmless no?

At this point, I had given some thought into things like the right breed for our apartment (in terms of adult size), the timing of a possible adoption, and where to get a dog from. I had a noble notion of adopting a dog that needs a home from a shelter, rather than picking up one from the pet shop. All the above calculations went  clean out the window when we reached the pet shop and my MIL beheld and then held Krish. To put things simply, she fell in love with the ball of fur in her hand. 

Leaving the shop without him was hard for us, especially my MIL. Krish was adorable,but we decided to sleep over it. Back home, we all (read me) debated whether it was a good idea to bring a German Shepherd home, considering that it is a large breed and demands lots of space. My MIL put forth a simple argument :That 35 day old puppy had made her switch from being anti dog to pro dog faster than political parties switch alliances in poll season. If we were getting a dog, it would be him. She had been moved, and was in this matter, was unmoving. And with good reason. Thus it was decided. 

And just in the nick of time too. The next day when we went to pick him up, another customer who had laid a claim to him turned up. The owner convinced him to go home with another German Shepherd puppy, and our fortunate family, who were so close to losing Krish before even having him, brought him home.  Today, I dread to think about how less noisy, hairy, and scratchless our lives would have been had the Creator not arranged for us to be there at that very time. 

The rest, as they should say, is the future. And we are looking forward to it.