Thursday, November 22, 2012

General Thoughts on Many Things

I had a lovely time last week, the week of diwali. I went of to this wonderful wildlife park called the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, about 3 hours from Nagpur. I sort of went on work. We contract-manufacture a fuel efficient wood burning stove for an American not-for-profit organization which distributes them in Sudan and I wanted to see if the stoves could be used in areas around wildlife reserves such as these.

It turns out, prima facie at least, that the stoves are a great idea. They're very efficient, very inexpensive and virtually everyone in the forested areas uses wood for fuel. Why? Well, for one, wood is easily available in the forest (duh), and second, this firewood is free, which is just as well because most people around these parts are very poor marginal farmers. I figured that since our stove is efficient, it would make some difference at least, since people are going to keep using firewood in any case.

The group of people I went with are committed wildlife conservationists who have the excellent idea that if marginal farmers in and around core areas of wildlife reserves are provided with a steady source of income, they would welcome the opportunity and would not hesitate to let their land be re-occupied by forest. It's operationally tricky - their plan is not to buy the land or acquire it or anything, just have a gentleman's agreement with the farmer to have him stop farming and take a steady income stream in lieu of it. They plan to do this for five years initially. If the farmer is not happy, he can go back to tilling the land and give up the income stream - and as might have occurred to you, it depends entirely on whether the farmers actually treat the gentleman's agreement in a gentlemanly way, but my hosts, who have been working in this area for several decades now, believe that it will. Raising a toast to that, because if the experiment succeeds, it will increase the area of the wildlife reserve, improve the lot of the marginal farmers in the area and generally be good news for the animals living in the forest.

After I got back, we had a series of dinners at home. And being the princely host, I can't not have a drink or two with my guests. So much to the missus' chagrin - the missus is of the school of thought that I should go around with *shudder* a glass of coke in my hand and pretend that there is rum in it - I have been drinking like a fish. It has begun to show around the mezzanine floor and the formerly  (circa 1985) washboard abs have begun to resemble an experimental geodesic structure. Friends have begun to make tactless observations. One went so far as to crack an allegedly humorous joke which I'm giving below, just to let you know how unkind the world is.

The joke: Moe and Joe are sitting in a sauna
Joe:  Moe, you've really grown fat
Moe: I know. Need to do something about it. Why, I haven't seen my willy for years
Joe: Why don't you diet?
Moe: Why, what color is it now?
Me: *glum silence*

Well, that's mostly all for now. I wanted to write more about the Tadoba forest but the missus is yelling for me to have dinner - bean sprouts salad and barley and broccoli soup, if you must know, accompanied by a glass of unsalted buttermilk that has neither butter nor milk, just a sort of watery white liquid - and I had better attend to that instanter.

Ciao and have a good weekend.