Sunday, August 31, 2008

Making zoo a more child-friendly place

The Oakland zoo in California has strollers for hire.Presumsbly, they were donated by animal lovers feeling philonthrophical. I don't know if they do this at Oakland zoo, but such strollers could also be a source of ad. revenue for the zoo management. Advertisers dealing in schooluniforms, toys, children's garments and shoes might be interested.

These benches, gifted by well-wishers, are conveniently placed at the tigers enclosure. At times it takes a while before you can sight a tiger. And the benches are helpful for the wait. Donated benches srategicallly placed at several spots makes the tour of the zoo less taxing on your calf muscles.
This one, put up in loving memory of Hong Y Tom is at the amusement area adjacent to the park. This space is accessible to all visitors, even those who have not paid the zoo entrance fee.

Apart from the designated amusement area there are play spots at many places within the zoo. This makes the going a lot more fun for children.

And then there is an interactive enclosure in which children can touch, feel, pat and fondle the animals - goats and cows.

This contraption, looking like a parking meter, accepts small change by way of donation. Attracts child donars.

Friday, August 29, 2008


A couple of days ago, I was present at a family wedding. Seated in the front row, this is what I got to see most of the time!

Our weddings are full of ceremonies and last well over two days, whittled down from the five day-ceremonies of yore. But celebrations begin much earlier and social get-togethers follow. Friends and relatives are invited days ahead and expected to participate in all events. For those who can’t, there are photographs and videos!

Videographers and their assistants – sometimes more than two pairs – stand in front of the dais where the marriage is being conducted, and manage to block everyone’s view of the proceedings. True, they have their job to do, and do it properly. But for those wanting to see the ceremonies live, and not a recorded version, it is frustrating. I saw many going up to the side of the dais to see the ceremonies. In some cases, close circuit TVs and screens on both sides of the hall (in one instance, even in the dining section) show the ceremonies ‘live’!

Which brings me to my gripe. Are videos really necessary? They are hours long, and I have not met anyone who is really enthused over seeing them. There are bound to be interruptions too. No one has the patience or time to sit through hours of these videos, unless it is to check out the few frames they are in - “Can we fast forward the next bit?” Most of the video players are defunct now, and the videos have to be converted to CDs. You need DVD players, and even in the remote possibility that someone actually wants to see the wedding ceremonies, you need to have power, and some nimble young fingers to operate the remote. I have to confess I haven’t viewed the wedding videos of my sons more than a couple of times.

I suggest that the videography be done away with. Instead let there be more photographs, as many as you like, in black and white (they are really far more glamorous), in colour, in sepia, whatever. Let there be many albums – one for each ceremony, a picture to a page. The albums can be held conveniently and one can look at the pictures peacefully, at one’s own pace. Convenient breaks can be taken, without having to hunt through frames for the last one seen.

I took a quick poll among those present, and was happy to find that everyone I asked was in agreement.

When so much is being spent on weddings, the budget allotted to the videography may not be much, and scrapping it may not be a big saving, so that is not my concern. It is just that it is an exercise in futility.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

So... What are we waiting for ?...

The following photos were taken at train stations around the world:

Malmo, Sweden

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tokyo, Japan

Leuven, Belgium

Niigata, Japan


So… What are we waiting for?!...More in One Green Generation...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Go by bus

On a recent trip (See Bangalore: Flying in, flying out in Song of the waves - Parayil A. Tharakan Blog) I realized that that there is an excellent bus transport network between the Bengaluru International Airport and the City. This is run by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) with a fleet of Euro3 compliant air conditioned Volvo coaches and non-A/C buses.

Why don’t passengers use this transport system instead of depending on taxis or own cars? Many well-to-do Indians seem to have a hang up about being seen traveling by public transport. If this mindset is changed, there would be fewer vehicles on the roads, less pollution and great saving in fuel.

The BMTC buses are comfortable, cheap, fast and punctual. They ply on 8 convenient routes. Tickets can be booked online and delivered to you. Also available is a unique Home Connect service. You can pre-arrange for a taxi to pick you up from or drop you at the chosen bus stop. (Log on to or I understand plans are on to include auto rickshaws also in this pool.

It would be great if a few CEOs start using the bus for airport connection. Those who work with them are also likely to follow the example. Imagine the saving if pool transport is accepted instead of each one using his vehicle or a taxi. The transit time can be well utilized with laptops and mobile phones. Actually, at higher levels, most of the work is done in the mind. And, there is no compulsion that one should read a book while traveling.

What are the alternatives for traffic generated by the Electronic City, the farthest point in the Metropolis from the airport? I am told that a helicopter ferry was considered but had to be shelved because the cost would be something like USD100 per head per trip.

Another possibility is the companies in that area coming together to organize a captive bus system. After all, the people who provide solutions to others should be able to solve this one.

Use your car sparingly. Go by bus. Save money, reduce pollution, cut down gas consumption.