About: The story of how we stayed afloat this week, in our World, and how we got beneath the surface of a lot many things.



A little foolishness, enough to enjoy life, and a little wisdom to avoid the errors, that will do.” ― Osho

Down Under Water

Last year, in January, Australia was bush-whacked by the largest bushfires on record and the country became smoking hot. This followed a prolonged period of drought: of course we can blame the effects of climate change as ‘arsonist-in-chief’.

Now, this year, Australia is experiencing a once-in-a-century deluge and one of the worst floods in 50 years, as torrential rain relentlessly lashed Eastern Australia. Parts of New South Wales have seen almost one metre of rain flooding hundreds of homes and severing roads: the Town of Windsor being one of the worst affected.

Rains have been inundating places since last Thursday, but then a major Dam-the Warragamba Dam-overflowed adding to the already swollen rivers and causing flash-flooding in many parts. This has forced people to evacuate, sometimes at midnight, as the waters stealthily entered their homes under the cover of darkness. About 18,000 people have been evacuated and another 15,000 are expected to join and swell these ranks. Luckily, not many lives have been lost.

People living in these places say they have never seen anything like this. And the Australian Government has declared a national disaster in many of the affected areas.

Meanwhile, the record-breaking rains have spawned another problem: a mass animal exodus to higher ground, with spiders in particular surging into people’s homes and lands. Close behind are snakes, with a resident remarking, ‘the trees are full of snakes’, trying to coil on to something dry.

The happenings in Australia must be closely watched as these bewildering natural calamities will surely have lots of hidden messages and lessons to learn with an entire gamut of living species affected in one way or the other.

America’s Guns

Quick on the heels of last week’s shootings in Atlanta, another shooting massacre happened at ‘King Soopers’ a Colorado Supermarket in the University City of Boulder. A shooter gunned down at least one person with a semi-automatic rifle in the parking lot before entering the Main Building through an entrance earmarked for handicapped people, and then going on a shooting spree inside the store.

The shooting left 10 people-aged between 20 and 65-dead, including a store manager and a police officer.

A ‘person of interest-a suspect-of Arvada, near Denver, has been arrested, and it appears that he was operating alone. Motives are unknown at this stage.

The shooting incident fires the question, ‘why isn’t America still ambivalent on Gun Control?’ Yes, its Constitution allows it as a right and maybe this was necessary in the Wild West Days. But not any longer as of the original intent. America is advanced enough to deal with any problem, without having to draw that gun from its holster!

The only way to honour the victims of these senseless massacres is action. Let’s do it – wake up America.

Myanmar Killings

There is not the slightest sign of any abatement in the Army and Security Forces crack-down against protestors in Myanmar where daily protests have been ongoing in towns and cities across the country, ever since the military seized control, in a Coup, on 1st February.

Myanmar’s security forces shot dead a 7 years old girl in the city of Mandalay on Tuesday, the youngest victim yet in the military’s bloody crackdown on civilian opposition. The young girl named Khin Myo Chit was shot and killed in her home during a military raid, while sitting in her father’s lap after security forces kicked down the door to the family’s home. Soldiers asked the father if everyone in the family was present in the house. When the father said yes, they accused him of lying and shot at him, missing and hitting the girl instead.

During the week, the military released about 600 people imprisoned for protesting the coup, hoping to cool temperatures. However, protestors tried a new tactic called a ‘Silence Strike’-The Loudest Scream-calling on people to stay at home and Businesses to close for the day.

I wonder why the United Nations is unable to show any muscle or teeth? Maybe we should better define its role in a fast evolving World punctuated with violence. Shouldn’t they get nations together, on the same page, to shoot down the actions of the Myanmar Junta?

Fires in Bangladesh

In other news linked to Myanmar, the already tormented Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh saw their settlements engulfed by a deadly fire that ripped through a Rohingya Refugee Camp in the Coxs Bazaar area. At least 15 people died and over 400 remain missing. It was massive and devastating.

The Camp roughly houses about 1 million people living in cramped and squalid conditions, the vast majority of who fled Myanmar in the year 2017 amid a military led crackdown on the Rohingya.

Some 40,000 huts and shelters in the camp burned down. And the barbed wire fencing around the Camp trapped many people causing many casualties.

Bangladesh, on its part had been pushing refugees to relocate to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, until such time they can return to Myanmar, as the camp had become overcrowded.

The reasons for the fire outbreak is unclear at this stage.

The Rohingya Refugees is a humanitarian crisis and this is another reason why the United Nations and the rest of the World have to step-in and push for solutions to ending the misery of millions of people in these camps.

Iceland Volcano

Last week I talked about the over 50,000 ‘Earth shakes’ over a period of three weeks, in Iceland and how it ‘tested positive’ for a Volcano pregnancy. This week it delivered: the Fagradalsfjall volcano woke up after almost 700 years and is putting on a mesmerising ‘lava show’. Volcanic eruptions are not often referred to as ‘cute,’ but some people are saying that about Fagradalsfjall. They are calling it a Disneyland eruption. Time, someone starts issuing rock-solid tickets for the show.

The volcano has stirred a stream of visitors and some of them have been clever to use the heat of the lava to cook hot-dogs, buns and eggs. The taste must have been epic and volcanic!

Doomsday Plans, Lunar Ark

Man has been studying the Moon intensely and tired of seeing the surface, has decided to look beneath the surface of things. Literally, Scientists have uncovered a network of around 200 lava tubes-100 meters in diameter, beneath the surface of the Moon, which formed when streams of lava melted through soft rock to form underground tunnels, billions of years ago. So, what about them?

Scientists have proposed a Lunar Ark, dubbed a ‘modern global insurance policy’ for species from Earth, cryogenically preserved and hidden in these underground tunnels and caves. The Ark will hold millions of seed, spore, sperm and egg samples from Earth’s species to provide a genetic backup for the planet in the event of a doomsday scenario-a total annihilation of the Earth. These tubes could provide the perfect shelter for the precious cargo, protecting it from solar radiation, surface temperature changes and micrometeorites.

Powered by solar panels, the underground Lunar Ark would be accessed by elevator shafts, which would lead to a facility storing cryogenic preservation modules.

Scientists believe that about 250 rocket launches would be required to transport about 50 samples from each of the about 6.7 million species to the moon.

The move to stock-up such a bunker is still a long way off.

A Traffic Jam in the Sea

A gigantic Japanese owned container ship, 400 meters (m) length and 59m wide, weighting 224,000 tons, fully-loaded with containers, called the MV Ever Given- painted Evergreen across- ran aground at the southern end of the Suez Canal on 23rd March wedging itself across the width of the canal blocking movement of ships in both directions.

The cargo ship was knocked off-course by strong winds and a sandstorm that caused low visibility and poor navigation resulting in the now ‘stuck situation’.

Authorities attempted to re-float the vessel but were not successful. Dislodging the vessel could take days, even weeks. A first step would be to remove fuel oil and ballast water from the ship, try to move it at high tide. If that doesn’t work, staff will have to remove containers and try to dig or flush away the sand banks in which the ship is now lodged. Imagine dredging over 20,000 cubic meters of sand to get to the bottom of things.

Meanwhile ships are piled-up at both ends and could cause severe disruptions of oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, clothing, auto-parts and essential commodities to countries depending on them. The famous Shipping Journal, Lloyd’s List, estimates that goods worth $9.6 billion pass through the canal every day. Lloyd’s says about $5.1 billion of that traffic is westbound and $4.5 billion is eastbound.

The Suez Canal-since 1869-is a sea-level waterway running north-south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean and the Red seas. And is controlled and operated by Egypt. The canal provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans. It is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes. The canal extends 193 km between Port Said in the north and Suez in the south. The original canal did not permit two-way traffic, and ships would stop in a passing bay to allow the passage of ships in the other direction. But now it allows movement in both directions.

This is a real lock-jam for World trade, bottlenecked in a canal. Time to start digging the sea, to stay afloat. Maybe Install better traffic signals?

COVID-19 Shots

Tracking the biggest vaccination campaign in history, more than 518 million shots have been given across 140 countries at a rate of about 13 million doses per day.

India has administered near about 56 million vaccine doses till date. It may have managed to give a vaccine dose only to 3.4% of the overall population, but about 22% of the elderly-over 60 years-population have already received a dose.

The coronavirus has been quietly working on ways and means to penetrate the great immunity defence systems of India. Over the past week, Indian Scientists have uncovered over 771 variants of the coronavirus including a unique double mutant coronavirus variant with a combination of mutations not seen anywhere in the world. These are based on samples taken from the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and New Delhi.

What does mutation and variant mean in the context of the coronavirus?

Most of us know that viruses cannot replicate and spread on their own. They need a host, whose cells they hijack-turning it into a virus Factory-to replicate. And when they replicate, often they are unable to make a perfect duplicate of themselves-their genetic material- meaning this is an error-ridden process resulting in their offspring not being exact copies of the original ‘Mom virus’. These errors are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants.

Viruses mutate has a habit and there is nothing extraordinary about it, except when these mutations become what Experts call a ‘Variant Of Concern’ (VOC). Till date, all over the World, only three variants have been declared as VOC: a Variant found in the UK, B1.1.7, a Variant found in South Africa, B.1.351, and Variant found in Brazil, P.1 lineage. It remains to be seen if the Variant found in India reaches the VOC level.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infection cases are sprinting in India, over 60,000 yesterday highest since last October, in what is being called a second wave. But Authorities are fully prepared. The Government has declared that anybody above 45 years of age can get a Vaccine jab from 1st April onwards – a much needed directive.

With five States going to polls on 6th April and election campaigning by various parties, in the heat & dust of India’s Cities, Towns, Villages seeing large crowds, India is in the cusp of an intense phase. I hope this passes without incident, with basic coronavirus-infection-prevention-rules being adhered to, religiously.

A Kind Of Spark

Over the last weekend I read Elle McNicoll’s book, ‘A Kind of Spark’ and found myself caught in the spell of a charming, bewitching story. I allowed the words, in the about 187 pages, ‘wash over me’.

It’s about an eleven years old autistic girl, Addie, who conquers her world and builds a monument to it; all the while staying different, going to the same school as everyone, and making and breaking friends. She strengthens every-day bonds with the family of an understanding Mom & Dad, a super-supportive autistic sister, Keedie – her fighting twin Nina, who after initial differences learns to sink them and integrate with Addie.

Keedie, is always behind her like a rock and tells Addie, ‘Other people’s minds are small. Your mind is enormous. You don’t want to be like them’.

Thanks to a spark from a school lesson, Addie is ignited and overwhelmed by the Witch Trials that happened in her hometown centuries ago. She is convinced that people in that period in time never fully understood how certain people experience the world differently (as she was in today’s world), and lazily or conveniently branded them as witches. This, for simply being able to see things that others could not. Clairvoyance! Witches in those days were wrongly found guilty and executed, often burnt at the stake.

Addie takes it upon herself that past wrongs must be corrected and in what better manner than building a Memorial to ‘honour’ them. The story is, among other things, how she ultimately, in a never-say die attitude, convinces her Small Town to build that memorial despite outright rejections at the start.

Addie is a regular at the School Library, reading a ton of books, guided by an understanding Librarian. She finds Sharks more interesting than dull Dolphins, and I quote her in the novel, ‘Sharks can sense the electricity of life itself. It’s their superpower. But someone made a horror film about them, and now millions of them are killed each year. Like the Witches for no reason’.

She says at the end of a speech at the Village Meeting – in a final attempt to convince them, ‘I like myself the way I am. A lot’. That speech broke my heart. Applying it ‘differently’, I can confidently agree with the much said line, ‘everyone of us is an original of which there is no copy, in this world’.

This is a must-read for parents, teachers, and doctors handling differently-abled children. And it’s awfully inspirational. Opinions on perceived wrong-doings can always change-often for the better-when we learn more, ask the right questions, and understand, especially people’s needs. We just need to open ourselves and embrace the different!

On my own spark, I decided I like witches… and sharks.

More pages with witchy, shark teaser stories coming up in the weeks ahead: build your own memorials.


One thought on “WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2021-13

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