Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cool, cooler, cooling, cooling…...

Many of us like to believe that Jharokhas  are a unique feature of the Havelis that  dot  dry, dusty Rajasthan.   They offer the purdah bound ladies private entertainment of the goings on of the outside world,  the streets outside the havelis and the acitivities in the courtyards inside.
Plus, the perforated sculpture of the jharokhas  filters the harsh glare of the desert sun, offers shade and therefore cool too.
These styles are common to most of the Arab world, again desert. Popularly called Mashrabiya,  those are less of sculpture and more wood and glass lightweight, serving the same purpose: private viewing for purdah bound ladies;  since most are on street homes of the wealthier people, the cool shade is free for both the ladies and the pedestrians on the streets below.
The designs of the latticework have smaller openings at the bottom and larger ones higher up to allow for efficient movement of drafts.
What of the hoi polio?  The ones with no access to ACs, coolers, fridges etc,  summer staples of middle and upper middle class India --  residents of societies and premium condominiums  that draw their labor from the roasted slums next door.
For them life is even more difficult as their tin sheds get ultra heated, even though they are tightly enough packed to minimize the sun’s rays.  Placing wet gunny bags on the roof is a great cooling device ---- but for the fact that every summer, water is at such a premium that we who live in comfort will never realize.  
Many innovations have been floated for ‘low cost’ cooling, everyone of them requiring considerable investment.  Recently one has come from Grameen in Bangladesh, as simple to put together as  low cost.
A simple sturdy sheet, may be  thick cardboard sheets (like those our ACs, fridges and coolers come in) pasted together  or a plywood/ metal /tin sheet, anything that can support  a couple dozen large empty  water/cold drink bottles.   The sheet is perforated and the holes protected with rubber rings to allow inserting the bottles with all the necks in on direction, after the bottoms have been sliced off.
The bottle laden sheet is placed into an inset in the wall of the hutment;  hot air from outside enters the bigger end of the bottles and is cooled as it passes through the narrow segment to come out at least 5 degrees cooler inside the house. Viola, a low cost, no electricity, home made air cooler for a hutment.
Let us see how many of our elite and not-so-elite societies will cotton on to this idea, start a collection drive for empty bottles from the dozens they guzzle at home and in their clubs and pubs and plus may be, apart from may be hundred ruppes per home to help out the people who come to make their lives comfortable with their labor.

check out the homemade cooler at  
Youtube :

Monday, May 16, 2016


Ever heard of a woman called Radhakrishna, Radheshyam or Sitaram?  The names sound feminine enough.
Why does one only hear of men carrying those names?   Legend has it that they were a "vardaan" to Sita and Radha:  that their names would always precede their men’s because their steadfast loyalty and love placed them above everyone, including Ram and Krishna.
Krishna dallied with dozens and married two; a married Radha defied home, family and society, steadfast in her love for her Lord.
In banwas, in Lanka, with the agnipariksha and ever after, Sita’s caliber was way above Ram’s raghukul niti against whom question marks still stand for those controversial later days and apparent lust for throne.
Despite that, no girls are ever named Sitaram, Radheshyam; only plain Sita, Radha or Krishna.  Boys get the double appellation, even triple with Shivaramakrishna.       
The issue here is the usurpation. Why are Men so mortally afraid -- of being outdone or exposed by their Women? To even snatch away god’s vardaan?
From the beginnings of Time, "Jab se Insaan ne dharti par hosh sambhala….", the female of the species was found to be the Life giver, the Nurturer. Religions started with female deities, all over ancient civilizations.  Hence the personification of Earth, Nature and life giving Rivers etc. as female deities and evolution of the matrilineal communities.  
At some juncture, perhaps a crisis while the woman was in childbirth, the Man used brute physical force to take over to meet the crisis.  And the taste of power remained forever more, by sheer physical power and manipulation, physical, emotional and mental.
The Occident loves to believe in powerful Cavemen. What proof is there that the Cave Woman did not accompany the Cave Man on his hunting expeditions? Avataar did seem to show that. Or that Cave Man actually slung Cave Woman over his shoulder to cut short the wooing process?  Except the frivolity of some Western writers: brute force always carries the day. 
In the Orient, goddesses still hold sway over most of India in tandem with gods, long after Christianity chased female deities into oblivion.
In India, powerful Goddesses are the norm, with male and female devotees; although that is not replicated within families. 
With Islam came the desi answer to the purdah system, with the ghunghat, which was alien to the carvings of Mohenjadaro and Khajuraho both; started in the part of India where the kings bought peace by marrying their bahens and betis to Mughals.
A recent step:   aping the uniformity of organized religion in Islam and Christianity with dictats that everyone must do this or say that or sing it. Tie themselves up in knots on what women should wear, what they should not do etc. Why don’t all men, including pracharaks go back to old styled dhotis?   While suspect ‘religious’ leaders reap souls and prime reap real estate.  
Back to Radha and Sita: both fought their own battles and won adherents over centuries.   And neither is shown in a ghunghat.