Saturday, June 27, 2009

The 'Indian' Film Industry!

Indians sure have a great sense of humor and who else to lead us better in laughter challenge than our film industry or rather 'film awards
industry'. Sample this: IIFA 2009 for best editing has gone to a movie which is Three and a half hours long and was much mocked and criticized for its length (Ballu Saluja for Jodha Akbar).

Sure this beats even Bachchan bahu winning Star of the Decade award. (To ensure there is no real life 'Abhimaan' in the family her hubby dearest was nominated in 4 categories and managed to 'win' one of them for 'Dostana'.)

Everybody knows that Indian film awards are just 'events' tailored for TV channels to be shown, when they are not showing sobbing bahus wearing few kilos each of jewellery, vermillion and khaandaan ki parampara or sobbing young girls wearing, well a bit fewer kilos of jewellery, vermillion and khaandaan ki parampara. So there are awards 'invented' to please every corporate by associating its name to some award and to please every actor (and their dads) by giving them that aforementioned award. (Greenply 'chalta jaaye, chalta jaaye' award goes to Amitabh Bachchan or 'Centerfresh zubaan par lagaam lagaaye' award for Tushar Kapoor in 'Golmal')

But when you go to foreign lands and declare among your song and dance routines that you are honoring the best in Indian cinema, should you not be bit more inclusive?

I have said this earlier and I say it again, why is Hindi film industry made synonymous with Indian film industry when quite a good number of films are actually remakes of south Indian superhits. And even if there were no remakes, should we not celebrate the variety and diversity of Indian cinema by bringing together all these different language films on one stage? (Afterthought: Why is it that UTV World Movies channel shows movies from around the world but not Indian regional language films? Yeah I know, watching a French or Iranian film sounds more sophesticated that watching a Teugu or Marathi movie. So Maya Sarabhai-ish)

Why is it that every year when there is this much loved and equally loathed ritual of selecting Oscar nomination, 'Indian' media (read Hindi and English news channels and papers) start throwing names of Hindi movies, how much ever crap they may be (case in point: 'Eklavya')? I agree that Hindi is the national language and have highest viewership among all other Indian languages and that's why Hindi stars are adored across the country and Indian diaspora as well. But just because Dainik Bhaskar has highest number of readers, is it the best in print media?

What about regional cinema? Why does no popular media outlet ever tries to find the best in Assamese, Bengali, Marathi or south Indian movies and present them as a contender for nomination? I understand that the glamor of Mumbai is so blinding (ever noticed how most of our journos, specially the PYTs, appear as bumbling star-struck fans when talking to the actors) that our media is not able to see beyond Mumbai. Why did no channel come forward to gather public support for 'Shwaas' in 2005, even when the makers were short of money for promoting the movie?

My point is that just because we are besotted with Hindi cinema, we are overlooking quality in other quarters. Did you know that in 1991, Satyajit Ray's 'Agantuk' (remade as 'Raincoat') was the national award winner, 'Lamhe' was the Filmfare awardee yet India sent RK Films' Rishi Kapoor starrer 'Henna'!!

We take pride that India has world's highest number of languages and dialects spoken, then why can't we flaunt these languages on celluloid? Maybe event managers don't approve of the plan!

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to make a Rainwater Harvesting System?

Ever since I took up this project of construction of rainwater harvesting system as part of Global Volunteer Days 2009, I had been thinking of putting down my experiences so that others like me can learn and are not as confused as I was! In this post I have detailed construction of the RWHS that we built, note that this is not the only design. You can make more sophisticated systems with more investment.

Well, even an ordinary pit can be called a RWHS, since it stores the rainwater and lets it seep in the ground and increase the moisture level of the surrounding earth. However a major concern with rainwater harvesting is the quality of water that goes underground since if groundwater gets contaminated it can't be purified.

1) What is the source of water you will collect? Rooftop water being directed to the pit through PVC pipes is most common option.

Second option, bit more difficult but cheaper, is to do the landscaping in such a manner that water falling on the ground flows to the pit.

Rooftop water is much more cleaner and the design is less intrusive since pipes can go underground and cause no hindrance to occupants of the building.

In this article I will talk about using PVC pipes for collecting water.

2) What should be the dimension of the pit? We had dug a 6x6x6 pit since it was a small school. This size would be sufficient for a standalone 3BHK house or a multi-story with 3BHK flats. For bigger buildings, you will need to talk to a contractor.

3) Dug the pit, what next? OK, now we need to fill this pit with stones and sand which will act as purifier layers. In our simple design we will have following layers:

a) 40 mm metal: This is the first layer (from bottom) and is half the height of the pit. So in our case it was 3 ft. See in the picture below.

Below: 40 mm metal being dumped.

b) 20 mm metal: Second layer, half the height of first layer. (In our case 1.5 ft.) These are the pebbles used in road construction. See in the picture below.

Below: 20 mm metal being dumped

Don't worry if you don't know about these stones. You will need to find a stone supplier and he will supply these stones.

3) Sand: Third and topmost layer which is about half feet high.

You will notice that we have not filled complete pit, 1 ft is still remaining. Yes we have left this space purposely, so that during the rains, water coming from the pipe doesn't spill over and is collected in this empty space before seeping down.

The pipe coming from roof top has to be directed to this pit, half ft under ground, which means it will be just half ft above the sand layer. In the above pic, see that pipe is below ground level.

The 1 ft of the pit walls which are exposed can be plastered. This will increase the longevity of the walls by guarding against soil collapsing during the rains.

Special case: If there is a handpump or borewell in the vicinity

By making small change to the design, you can not only make your RWHS more effective but also recharge the handpump if it has dried up, due to water table getting depleted.

We had a handpump in the school which we wanted to recharge, so we dug the pit with the handpump in the center of the pit. A handpump has 2 concentric pipes. The internal pipe about 2 inches in diameter is called riser pipe which actually draws in the water from ground. The outer pipe is just plastic casing about 4 inches in diameter which is called bore hole casing. It is used to protect the internal pipe. Both pipes go fairly deep in ground.

After we removed the soil around the handpump, we had six ft of bore casing exposed. In the below photo the white pipe that we see is the casing. (The steel pipes and rods have been put to support the pump.)

We drilled small holes in the bottom 1.5 ft of the casing. This is done so that water being collected in the pit can enter the bore casing and go deeper easily.

The holes have to be arranged in straight vertical lines on all four sides of the pipe, each about 3 inch apart. (see the photo to understand)

A thin wire mesh was tied around the pipe in this area to cover the holes and avoid any mud/soil/tiny pebbles getting in. (see the below photos)

Remaining process of filling the pit remains same.

You will have to cover the pit with an iron grill so that people using this pump do not step on the sand.

Budget: Stones and sand are purchased according to 'load'. For our project we had purchased 2 loads of 40 mm metal, 1 load each of 20 mm metal and sand. 'Load' is the capacity of the truck which dumps these materials.

40 mm metal costs Rs. 1100-1500 per load.
20 mm metal costs Rs. 2500-3000 per load.
sand costs Rs. 1100-1400 per load.

Problem is that even though we don't need that much sand or 20 mm metal, we can't order in fraction (like half load).

PVC pipes are available in a range of prices depending on the thickness, diameter and brand. Thicker the pipe, sturdier and pricier it is. We bought 80 ft (4x20 ft) 4 inch diameter pipes of an ordinary brand, which cost us Rs. 1500. You will have to buy joints (elbows or Ts) according to structure of your building. Add to this shipping charges. All these things cost us nearly Rs. 1900.

Apart from these you will need a bag of cement for plastering which will cost about Rs 400. You will need a plumber for doing pipe fittings, a mason for plastering the pit or redoing any concrete that you break. If you don't dig the pit yourself you will have to hire at least 2 labors also.

There you go! I have mentioned almost everything that you need to know about construction of a good Rainwater Harvesting System. All you need now is a motivated team (I had the greatest team one can have!) and a good plan to go ahead.

(I have tried to be as much discreet about things as possible. If you have any questions or think something can be better explained, let me know through comments.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

HOME : Limited Edition!

One thought that stays with me during entire duration of Yann Athus-Bertrand's "HOME" is that if I would have been able to capture even a single snap among innumerable frames in its 93 minute duration, I would consider my life not a near-total waste!

HOME is a spectacular movie, and I think that is understatement of the decade. More beautiful than I ever saw anything on NatGeo or Discovery, this movie shot almost entirely in slow motion and more often than not from very high altitudes gives an amazing view of our home, the earth!

It's about how we have changed the planet in last 40 years. Not going stats-heavy like 'An Inconvenient Truth' but still giving the details about how things are changing and how we may be affected. Often accompanied by very sarcastic (and impressive) quotes and stark comparisons between lifestyles.

One of my most favorite sequences is about Dubai. The camera already perched high, starts from the bottom of a sky scraper and continues to move towards the pinnacle while background score (once again terrific throughout!) reaches a crescendo! Awe inspiring and frightening at the same time.

Watch Home, on YouTube till 14th June. Even if you don't care about planet, may be you will once you realize it is SO beautiful.