Saturday, 9 July 2016

Bring back the night sky

"I would like to invent spectacles that could eliminate the light pollution reaching our eyes so that I can watch the stars without disruption", I replied after being asked an idea for my innovation in the entrepreneurship class.

My teacher smiled and the rest of the class was followed by him reminiscing of how beautiful the sky looks back at his village.

Since decades, the night sky has been a muse for poets, writers and philosophers. Humans have looked up at the stars in awe, questioning their existence and finding a relationship within the stars and the galaxies above. The wonderment of the pristine night sky has ensured that we remember our true place in the universe.

Stargazing has helped me untangle so many of my life problems and has eased my 'writers block' several times. Sadly, living in a metropolitan city, I could never watch the night sky in its whole glory. Light pollution has deprived me and millions of people from the celestial treat up in the sky.

Image courtesy: Google Images

In most cities similar to mine, the sky is virtually empty of stars. Not only it mirrors our fear of the dark, it also leaves behind an orange haze, normally called the skyglow. This is artificially created due to the excess and unwanted lights been directed towards the sky. Light pollution is the result of poor lighting design which throws light up in the sky wherein it should illuminate the ground where it is truly needed. I can't stress enough on how much this has irked not only me but to everyone who has loved the night sky truly.


Skyglow at night (Google Images)

Our nights are vanishing.

Humans have a large well-maintained record for being greedy. As much we have accomplished over the years, we strive for more, to be and maintain at the top of the food chain. Darkness is mystifying, it's scary because of the unknown and the invention of white lights flooding and washing away the stars to create an eternal day eliminated this fear. The willful turning off and on the night by a mere flicking of the switch made us believe that we have mastered the universe.

But have we?

It's high time we act the intelligent species that we have evolved into. Humanity is about empathy. We need to stop being selfish and maintain the harmonious relationship between nature and us. We need to open our window to the universe.

We need to turn off the lights and bring back our stars!

Related post- Stargazing:Diamonds in the sky

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Brewing Chai: Why Indians love tea

As I was driving through the old streets of Delhi, I couldn't help but notice the number of chai-wallahs or tea vendors occupying their place in the vicinity. This made me think of how Chai is one drink that India cannot live without.

My mom has been in love with Chai for as long as I can remember. Saying that, the first thing she taught me in the kitchen was how to make a cup of piping hot ginger tea, the way she likes it. I remember how fascinated I was when I saw her brewing tea for the first time. She added some tea leaves and sugar in the water to boil along with spicy root ginger (which is a must in her tea) and then added milk to create a harmonious melody between them all. When I caught a cold or during the winters, she added some holy basil, cloves, cardamoms, black pepper and told me this will keep the cold at bay.

Chai or tea
You'll find this in every home

Like her, there are thousands of people where tea is a staple in the homes of India and no, I'm not talking about those people where they will prefer tea over other drinks occasionally. I mean, they need their cuppa at least once or more in a day. 

Tea is undoubtedly India's favorite drink and rightly so, this nation is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China. You go to visit any home in India, the first question is "Would you like some tea?." From the streets and corners, the railway stations having vendors shouting "Chai lelo Chaaaiiiii", the Assam tea near the foothills of the mountains, the Masala Chai, the Cutting chai, the 5-star tea, the Kulhad (red clay cups) chai, the Kehwa, the Kashmiri sheer tea, the Ginger tea to the modern favorite Green tea. This nation runs on Chai! 

Different types of tea
Different types of Chai

My mother used to brew tea and hand it to me while I was preparing for my boards in class 12th as I studied late at night. An energy booster that is, this memory will forever stick with me along with how I used to help her out as a kid. Does this make it so special here? Making and recreating these memories from generations to generations as it evokes emotions each time it is sipped with a loud nostalgia sigh later. 

Whatever it is, tea has been conditioned into our system now. It's a part of the nation, an integral part that is. For the rest of us, the monsoons are here. Let's have some hot chai and pakodas, will you?

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