Archive for the ‘ Love Your Planet ’ Category

Charitable Choices

Hey guys! I’m here to make a sincere apology. I promised you a piece on Pondicherry, but unfortunately, thanks to the hot weather and the fact that my little sister was too tired to walk a kilometer, I couldn’t see enough to write about. Therefore, what I can tell you about this state is that:

  • It used to be a French colony.
  • The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, one of the main attractions of the state, was founded by Sri Aurobindo, an Indian freedom fighter, and the Parisian Mirra Alfassa, also known as “the mother” both of whom were passionate spiritualists. Many medicinal plants are grown inside, among which people meditate in peace, making it a perfect place for any spiritualist. Here I bought a book on physical fitness, and my sister bought an herbal perfume for my mother.
  • Auroville is a township founded by the mother in Pondicherry, meant to be a place where people of all faiths, beliefs, and nationalities can live together in peace. Overall, the mother’s motive for founding Auroville was to promote human unity. This was a place I was particularly interested in seeing, but like I said earlier, it was quite hot, and my sister wasn’t willing to walk the entire 1 km stretch to see the entire town.

And that’s all I can tell you about Pondicherry. Sorry! However, I definitely will be writing on Mudumalai national park, where I will be leaving for tomorrow with my sister and grandparents.

As for today, I’ll be writing on something else. I was going to start it earlier today, but I was busy gaining valuable life experience by reading manga scans and watching music videos, anime clips, and the every episode of the laser collection for the umpteenth time. This series, by the way, is incredibly funny, and one that everybody who views comedy and randomness as synonymous. To summarize this series:

DOCTOR OCTAGONAPUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

O o

/¯____________________________ ______________

| BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAARGH!!!

\_¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

You won’t regret it.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, my views on charity.

There is a common view of charity: an act of goodwill and selflessness in which you give less fortunate people something at your expense, an act that seems to… redeem you of your sin. However, few people truly understand that charity isn’t at all what it’s cracked up to be. In reality, your kind contribution may end up doing the subject of your charity nothing at all, maybe even hurt him further! In order to prevent this from happening, just like you must make smart choices when working and earning, you must make similar ones when giving as well. Four prime examples of this are beggars, peddlers, charity organizations, and street performers.

Beggars: How much you are exposed to beggars and hobos often depends on where you live. In a developed country such as Taiwan, you may not as often see people on the streets holding out cups and pans. However, in third and fourth world nations such as India and Ethiopia, these people are a part of everyday life, littering the streets. When one of these destitute human beings catches your eye, you most likely cannot help feeling sorry for him, wearing dirty, tattered clothing and living in a cardboard box. Immediately, he will probably meekly ask for spare change, often using religion as an incentive, holding boards saying “God bless you.”

But before you take out those quarters in your pocket, think for a while, what will this man do with his money? Will he wisely buy food and make it last, or will he spend it on alcohol, cigarettes, or heroin like a worthless addict? Although they may not seem like it at first, beggars all around the world are junkies as well, their lethal habits being funded by the contributions of poor saps like you. Of course, not all of them are like that, but do you really want to take the chance? It’s best to refrain from directly giving money to beggars and instead buy them some food, something that may actually do them well.

All this goes even more for begging children. If the child is an orphan, then he probably will not be mature enough spend their small amounts of money on the right things. If the child has parents, then if you give anything to him, money or food, it may encourage his guardians to have him beg even more, as it means more income for them. They may even maim him so that people may feel even more pity and give even more! Unfortunately, this is how life is for the poor.  In developing countries where poverty is abundant, begging is a business, one that goes hand in hand with exploitation. It is also one that is not easily given up, as it is so easy. For example, my grandmother, once went to a woman begging on the street and offered her a job as a maid in her house. In America, some people would kill for employment, but in India, this is clearly not the case, for when she heard this, the woman made like the lazy scoundrel she was and ran away from the work being offered. There are even begging rackets in nations like India, where gangsters take in stray children, maim them, and have them beg for money that will go into their pockets. Do you want to encourage this? Of course not.

Peddlers: Essentially, many peddlers are the same as beggars, for the goods they sell to you are most likely worthless. These people will do anything to make money, even sell defective, useless, maybe even illegal items. After all, where are these men, women, and children going to find the money to buy quality products in the first place? If you go to an area with high poverty such as the streets and shantytowns of India, China, and Thailand or even the slums and ghettos of the US, you’ll see people hoping to sell you used q-tips, broken toys, or even pirated DVDs and illegal drugs that you could get arrested for even holding! Of course, this is not always the case, as you can sometimes see beautiful baubles made from cheap materials being sold on the streets. However, you must always be careful, as many so-called “salesmen” found on the streets are in reality cheats. So the next time you are pondering over whether to make a trade with a shady peddler, take a moment to wonder what you are really buying.

 

 

Charity organizations: Where millions of dollars donated eventually find themselves. Whenever one decides to be a little charitable, the name of a notable nonprofit group such as UNICEF, American Red Cross, and Greenpeace immediately comes into his mind, which he ends up donating to without hesitation. And why not? These organizations use their millions for important causes such as helping children in poverty around the world, aiding victims of disasters, and promoting environmental conservation. Right?

Not everyone may be aware, but for years now many charities have shown great inefficiency and corruption, their scandals appearing in the paper countless times. For not all contributions go towards projects and programs related to the cause, instead being wasted away in unnecessary methods of fundraising and sometimes even going into the private bank accounts of officials! Indeed, stories have been heard of heads of charities staying in five-star hotels, consultants getting paid several hundred dollars a day, and fundraisers where over $0.50 is spent for every dollar made. Thus, if a contribution is made without careful consideration beforehand, you may be pouring your hard-earned cash down the drain or even into the pockets of greedy men and women, in the process encouraging further evils.

In order to prevent this, you must think carefully before deciding which bag to drop bills and coins into. Look in the news for stories of scandals in certain organizations and look up facts and statistics on sites like Charity Navigator. When researching, always make sure to use multiple sources and look for up-to-date information, for some stories and stats may be inaccurate or old. Only then should you decide whom to fund and whom to release the hounds on. If you like, instead of giving money, donate your time. Benefit the needy by volunteering at the soup kitchen or working with an organization offering opportunities for acts of goodwill, such as Habitat For Humanity, which builds homes for the homeless. Remember, money can be given just with the click of a mouse, and is not always donated with sincerity. However giving time and effort for another is a true sign of love for one’s fellowman, making it the greatest gift that can be given.

Street performers: You may think of giving to street performers as charity, since you’re deciding to contribute money when it is not necessary. But that’s not how I see it at all. Unlike irresponsible beggars, corrupt charity organization officials, and con-men masked as peddlers, the musicians, dancers, and jugglers on the streets are honest workers, for they make sure to entertain you in exchange for a possible small contribution. These are people going through tough times, rendering them unemployed, destitute and in need of cash. However, instead of sinking low and begging for it, they decide to continue working in their own way: through the simplest forms of art. Although you may not like their performances as much as those of professionals, you must understand that these men and women are doing us all great favors. They go out on the streets and strive to entertain us, knowing that they may go hungry tonight, yet still working hard. It is these people who fill our cities with an upbeat, joyful, and encouraging atmosphere, and by no means should their efforts go unappreciated.

So the next time you see a someone standing on the sidewalk and playing an instrument, singing, juggling, dancing, or miming, take a moment to observe, for they are happily giving you a free show. The best thing you can do for a performer is to stay throughout their show and show your approval afterwards, either with clapping, a handshake, compliments, or just a simple smile, for it is then the performer knows that she has succeeded in entertaining you and should continue to do so for others. And if you like her show enough, don’t hesitate at all in dropping some cash into her bag, since that is what she’s playing for in the first place, and giving her something will encourage her even further. Of course, this does not have to apply for children. Some people, like my grandmother, are saddened when they see a child performing on the streets instead of studying. It means that once again, they either don’t understand the value of the education that is offered free in some countries, or they are being exploited by their parents! In this case, giving to them will only encourage them further. However, no matter why they are performing, they are still artists, and should be appreciated for that. Even though I understand the consequences of donating to them, I still do it out of my great love for art. Of course, this is not something that you should do, but everyone should still show their appreciation for any performer, for it is people like them that make the modern world a bearable place to live in.

And there you have it. Remember to think before giving, and don’t forget to look out for my post on the Mudumalai national park. Once again, this is Naren Pradhan saying

 

 

IMMA FIRIN MAH LAZAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://memedepot.com/view/1298

My Dying Home

This is a short story I wrote for English 9 in school. It’s based on my experiences by the sea in India as well as my common knowledge of the ocean. Just like many other of my writings, it reflects on my views on environmentalism.

My Dying Home

I hadn’t slept well last night. How could I have? Every time I swam into my hole in the coral and closed my eyes, I saw the reef that we called home in ruins: the polyps bleached, broken apart, or covered in algae, the anemones, sponges, and sea plants shriveled up, dead, our remaining neighbors , the fishes, having nowhere to live and waiting to die, and our broken underwater “city” covered with nets and junk from the landwalkers above and dark with the shadows of even more trash floating above. It was a terrible sight to see every night, but the worst part of it was that these dreams could have been visions of the future.

When I finally opened my eyes and awakened from my torturous slumber, I reached my arm out, hoping to touch the chest of my beloved husband and bid him good morning. However, to my surprise, the only thing that I felt was the cold rock on the floor of our home. I shook myself awake and looked around, but he was nowhere to be seen. Anxiously, I crawled to the entrance, a hole in the wall of the reef, and looked outside, but he was still nowhere to be found. My heart was now pounding heavily, for my husband and I had never been separated without previous notice. Shakily, I cast out my voice, calling his name, but there was no answer. I tried again several times, raising my voice eventually to a panicked scream, but still there was no answer. Finally, I swam to the top of the reef and looked over our dying home.

The place that was once a wonderful coral reef teeming with life then was starting to grow similar to the reef of my nightmares. The coral was either growing brittle and falling apart or losing the energy giving plankton within it. To add to that, other polyps were dying from lack of enough sunlight due to both the trash and junk on top of them and above them as well as the sediment and algae smothering them. Some of the coral was even being taken away by landwalker divers! Over time, more and more coral polyps were disappearing, and the wildlife in the area that needed them was slowly going with it. Over a period of just a few years, all the populations in the reef had either dwindled or died out completely, and it was all because of those cruel landwalkers.

Several decades ago, when I was born, the reef was a lovely place, covered in coral, sponges, and anemones bursting with every kind of color and brimming with beautiful fish swimming among them happily. However, when I turned five, I swam to the coast and crawled onto a rock, hoping to catch my first glimpse of the world above. It was then I saw the landwalkers. On the beach were five small children, picking up seashells and molding wet sand into small structures. I had never seen such creatures, ones with the upper bodies of mer-creatures but totally different lower halves, so I decided to stay a little longer to watch. Then, one of them saw me and gasped. He yelled to the other four, who looked up and gasped as well. I watched them talk frantically amongst each other for a while, then four of them ran away, presumably to get their parents, so I assumed that none of them had seen mer-people like me before. However, one of them, a little girl with brown hair and green eyes, stayed behind, staring at me. For a few moments, we gazed deeply into each other’s eyes before she ran away as well.

After that, over the years, more and more of the landwalkers started to come to the coast, building structures much larger than the ones those children were making near the shore and eventually some extending right into our ocean. After my first encounter with them, my parents told me to be careful not show myself to them again, for they were dangerous creatures, and I eventually found out they were right. Following their arrival were the slaughtering of masses of innocent sea creatures, the cruel theft of coral and kelp, our main food source, and the dumping of objects and sediment of foreign material into the ocean, which I later found to be the waste of the landwalkers, adding chemicals to the water and blocking out the sunlight shining on the reef. To add to that, after they came, the water itself changed dramatically. The air above started to get warmer, causing the warming of the ocean as well, and new chemicals from both the air and the landwalkers themselves mixed in with the seawater. Eventually, the coral in the reef started to die because of this, causing the fish and plant population to die off as well. My family was hit hard too, for now there was less kelp for us to eat, and eventually, the heat and chemicals made it almost a pain to just live in the water. Although eventually I got used to it, I still missed the good old days when I could swim leisurely in the blue waves without a care. My parents told me that the landwalkers were evil, and I almost believed them. However, I still remembered that little girl on the beach decades ago, when I looked into her emerald green eyes and saw what could have been an innocent, kind soul.

Coming back to the present, I scanned the dying reef, but my husband was still nowhere to be found. Why would he leave me like this, I thought, tears forming in my eyes before diffusing into the water around me, and where could he have gone? My heart was racing now, and I frantically activated my radar, an ability that all of us mer-people have, sending sonar waves out into the ocean, hoping that they would come back with any sign of my husband. Unfortunately, there was no luck then. I decided to try again at another point, and swam to the kelp forest where we usually got our food from, desperately praying that I would see my beloved again. Without him, I would be the only mer-person in this part of the sea, for my parents were dead and I was the only one in my circle of friends who wanted to stay in the reef instead of moving away from the coast and the dangerous landwalkers. There would be no one to talk to, nobody to care for, and nobody to love. I would be so lonely, I might just die.

Unfortunately, the kelp forest was not that well off either. Just like the coral reef, the kelp was dying as well. Just like they stole coral from the reef, divers would swim down to the kelp forest and cut off stalks en masse, and the kelp that they didn’t steal were dying due to the shadow from the sunlight-blocking trash above, the poison in the water, and the higher temperature. This was even worse than the reef dying, for kelp is the food source for us all, and without enough, we will starve. This was already showing, for in this part of the sea, all that was left of the animal community was a small amount of fish, sharks, dolphins, turtles, sea lions, various other species with populations that also were much smaller than they should have been, and my husband and I, the last two mer-people in this part of the ocean. So when I came to the forest, my eyes met the sad sight of a few short stalks of kelp with a few fish, sharks, and sea lions swimming around, either munching on the green plants or catching animals, possibly with the knowledge that their bellies would eventually grow empty in the backs of their heads. With that, I activated my radar again, but there was once again no luck. Horribly disappointed, I broke of a piece of a kelp leaf and put it in my mouth, hoping that food in my empty belly would take my mind off the absence of my husband. However, no such thing happened, and I began to lose hope. Would I never be able to fall into the arms of my beloved, that magnificent merman with those shining green scales, curly brown hair, and enchanting smile, and have him gently caress me and whisper comforting words into my ear? Oh, how could I live without him?

Suddenly, when I became aware of my surroundings again, I realized that I was floating to the surface. At that moment, my long, blonde hair touched the world above and the many terrible floating objects lining it. A terrified shriek escaped my lips as shredded pieces of trash got mixed in my hair. Now in absolute panic, I thrashed around near the surface, but that only made things worse as trash bits got caught in the scales on my tail and eventually in the gills on my neck. They even floated into my mouth and down my throat! By the time I finally returned to the bottom of the kelp forest, my scales were covered in the filth that wasn’t on my gills or in my stomach and throat, giving me an agonizing bellyache and impairing my ability to breathe. In great pain and sorrow, I sat down on a rock at the bottom and began to let out agonized, choked sobs. By then, I had lost almost all hope, so it was only natural that I would just sit down and cry.

Suddenly, I sat up straight and wiped my tears away. My husband would never have stood for this. If he was there, he would have told me to get up and swim on, not stopping on my quest until the cold, bitter end. I smiled lightly, for this attitude was one of the major reasons why I fell in love with him. No matter what, he would push on, always looking at the bright side of things. My husband was out there somewhere, dead or alive, and no matter what, I would find him! Filled with newfound warmth and courage from my thoughts of him, I got up and swam away from the forest, using my radar at full its full capacity.

It was a harsh, painful swim. The physical pain from the trash from before still remained, and I was swimming through it, making it even worse. But no matter what, I kept the thought of my husband in my mind, pushing on. Eventually, both the kelp forest and the reef were far from my sight, and I found myself in the open ocean, with nothing around me but crystal-blue water, large schools of fish, and one large floating vessel of the same material as the structures of the landwalkers, only this one was in our own home, the ocean. Then, something hit the surface of the water, and I watched in horror as a gigantic net was lowered from the vessel into the sea. I had seen these nets several times before. One day, when I was a tiny little mermaid girl, I saw a similar one drop into the ocean from a vessel. The vessel began to use a spinning paddle on its rear to push itself forward, dragging the net along with it, sweeping up all the fish in its path like a white wave of death. Eventually, the net was lifted up, taking the fish up to the surface world, where they would without a doubt meet their doom at the hands of the landwalkers that used the vessel and its net. It was a horrible sight, but nevertheless, I curiously continued to get close to it and watch the nets come down and drag those writhing masses of fish up. When my parents found out, they immediately brought me back home and told me never to get close to them again, for they were evil things that massacred innocent souls. Unfortunately, this made me want to dare to get close to them even more. Ah, the pesky, disobedient, ignorant little girl I was then. Sadly, I almost paid the price for this soon after. One day, I got too close to the vessel, and when the deadly net dropped down and started moving, I realized too late that it was heading right towards me! As the white mass loomed over me, I was frozen with fear, and could do nothing but wait for the end. Suddenly, I was pushed out of the way of that terrible instrument of death, and when I came to my senses, I found myself in the arms of my father. We then shared a tender moment, me sobbing into his arms and him patting me on the back, whispering that everything was okay. When we got back, I got a harsh scolding from my mother, who after that beat me in a fit of anger and sadness. But I didn’t care, since I knew I was safe again. After that, I was never allowed to go near those net-vessels again, but that was an experience that haunts me to this day.

At this particular moment, all those memories came back to me, and even though it was many meters away, I backed away slowly, terrified, as the net pushed through the water, swallowing up the doomed schools of fish in its way. Tears forming in my eyes again, I turned my head to the right and gasped. Right in its way was a sea turtle, a magnificent reptile that was soon to become the unlucky prey of the net. This was too much. There were plenty of fish in the sea, and even though they were carried away in large numbers, they reproduced quickly. However, the sea turtles were now rare creatures, and I couldn’t bear to see one of them die like this. Frantically, I swam towards it, yelling and screaming for it to swim away. For a while, the turtle was puzzled, and when it turned its head in the direction of the vessel, it was too late. In a flash, the net took the reptile and dragged it up with the rest of the fish.

I stopped swimming and started to gasp for breath, my head swimming with sorrow and madness. A few minutes later, another object hit the surface of the water and began to sink down, a grotesque cloud of blood surrounding it. When that red mist cleared out, I realized to my horror that it was the turtle from before, only this time with its front flippers cut off! Instead of those two flippers in the front, there were two open maws, blood sickeningly gushing from them and diffusing into the water around the turtle. As soon as I saw the poor turtle, bleeding heavily and writhing in agony, I could do nothing but turn away with disgust and vomit out the contents of my belly. I couldn’t bear to see this anymore, and once the mess of half-digested kelp had cleared away, I turned away and used the strength of mine that hadn’t been lost with my agonized shouts and violent thrashing from before to swim away from this horror. With any luck, I thought, the poor creature will be eaten by a shark before it bleeds to death.Oh, those cruel landwalkers. How can they do such things without a single pang of conscience?

I couldn’t imagine being in that turtle’s shell, but my situation wasn’t that ideal either. I was beginning to lose my strength little by little, the trash still covering me and in my stomach, which was now almost empty, and all that activity having drained everything from me. However, what I didn’t realize at that time was that the worst was yet to come. I continued to swim through the blue sea, stopping at points to unleash my radar, telling myself that no matter what, I would not stop until my husband and I were reunited. Suddenly, I stopped, and looked ahead in horror. Right in front of me was a dark cloud in the water, slowly drifting toward my terrorized being.

It was every sea creature’s worst nightmare: a chemical spill. In the far distance, a large vessel was floating away, unaware that several of the capsules on it had fallen off into the sea and released their deadly toxic contents. Now, looming over me was a dark mist of this poison, containing the shadows of hundreds of sea lion, shark, sea turtle, dolphin, and fish carcasses, a black cloud of death that was ready to take in one more. As soon as the poison touched me, I was plunged into hell. As the toxins covered my bare skin and scales, irritated my eyes, and forcefully entered my nostrils and mouth, I went into full scale panic. I thrashed, shrieked, and screamed as the poison entered my body, causing unbearable pain. My bones actually seemed to be set on fire, and my organs began to cry by pushing blood up my throat and coughing it out. At that time, I felt something that I had thought I had felt before, but never really had it cross my mind until now: the true desire to die.

However, this wish did not come true. One part of my brain still having the will to live and find my beloved, my body worked on its own, struggling out of the cloud of poison and forcing itself to swim away. Eventually, when I regained control, I stopped. At this time, my vision was blurry, my body was feeling like it was beginning to fail me, and madness swirled through my brain. Now, I needed my love more than ever, so in one final push, I let out my radar, and in a few seconds, I gasped. My radar was picking up a body with a slow-beating pulse, one with a long tail, a head, and long, shapely arms. It was my husband!

Despite the condition I was in, I rushed to the spot to find my beautiful merman lying on the ocean floor, with sharp metal nets cutting into his arms, drawing immense amounts of blood, but handsome just the same. Although part of me was horrified to see him in such a state as well, I was still overjoyed. And so was he, for when he looked up and saw my ragged self, his eyes widened and a bright smile formed on his face. Immediately, I rushed to him, and when we met, we wrapped our arms around each other at last, his sweet lips pressing to mine.

“Where in the seven seas were you?!” I screamed hoarsely. “Why did you leave me?”

“I had to, my dear,” he whispered sadly. “The world as we know it is ending, so I hoped to go out, find out why the landwalkers were doing this, and possibly try to reason with them. I didn’t tell you because you obviously would have stopped me, saying it was too dangerous. So, I went out on my own, hoping that I could be back in a few hours after finding out a bit more about these creatures. I know, it was a stupid thing to do, and now I am paying the price.”

I couldn’t believe it. “But why must I pay the price too?”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, sorrowfully. “Along the way, I saw a blue dolphin tangled in a sharp landwalker gill net. I couldn’t bear to see it get pulled up to those bloodthirsty creatures, so I tried to untangle it with my bare hands. I was successful, but ended up getting tangled a bit myself. Desperately, I ripped my self free, but ended up injuring myself even more, and now here I am, bleeding on the ocean floor and waiting for the end.

“But don’t cry, my dear,” he whispered sadly, although I had cried out my last tear ages ago. “Judging by the way you look, I’d say we will be seeing each other again soon.”

“No,” I whispered, my voice slowly raising. “You can’t die. You can’t leave me like this, all alone! I didn’t know if it was true at first, but now I know that my belly will swell up soon. I-I-I’m pregnant!”

It was true. A few days ago, I started to feel certain sensations in my abdomen, not painful, but no good feelings either. I was clueless at first, but eventually, it became clear that these feelings were those that all mermaids felt when they were going to have babies. When my husband heard this, he frowned for a while, then smiled lightly. Then, he uttered his last words.

“Then we’ll have some company.”

And with that, he closed his eyes and died.

What he was saying was clear from the start. I would die very soon, and I would unwillingly take my babies with me. These sorrowful words were all it took to drain the last of my strength and will to live. A few seconds later, I fell down beside him and closed my eyes, feeling a painful melancholy, yet somewhat happy that I would meet my end next to my one true love.

I woke up with a cool sea breeze on my skin and cold, hard rock under my back. I was in a confused daze as my eyes opened. Was I dead? If so, where was my husband? Where were my parents? Where were my unborn babies? When my eyes adjusted, I realized that I was in the surface world, in a cave near the beach. It was a dark cave except for the light coming in from the entrance, which let in small amounts of water from the ocean as well. I raised my back up as far as I could, and before I collapsed again, I found that the chemical coat on my skin was gone, my stomachache had been soothed, and my scales and gills were trash free. Even better, my belly had begun to swell up, meaning that my babies were alive! It was a miracle! But how could this have happened?

Suddenly, I heard a calm voice speaking in a foreign language very close by. I turned my head, and to my shock, I saw a little landwalker girl with blonde hair, red and yellow fabrics covering some of her lightly tanned skin like all landwalkers do and light blue rubber attachments stuck under her otherwise bare feet. I was scared at first, but she continued to speak soothing foreign words to me, and I eventually couldn’t help calming down. I knew landwalkers were evil, but this particular one seemed so… innocent, and kind. She then stretched out her hand and before I could react, she pushed a tiny red capsule into my mouth. My eyes widened once I swallowed it, but before I could panic, the girl whispered some more to me, calming me down. I had no real idea what her motives were, but something told me that she meant well.

Soon, four more landwalkers came in. Three of them were children: a black haired boy in green and gray, a redhead girl in yellow and brown, and a brown haired boy in blue and black. And with them was a landwalker adult, a tall, beautiful brunette in pink and black with emerald green eyes, possibly the mother of one of them. This particular woman especially caught my interest because of the way she looked so familiar. They spoke among each other for a while, then the black haired boy held a kelp leaf towards me. I bit into it eagerly, savoring the wonderful feeling of the kelp running down my throat and into my empty stomach. Then, the redhead girl and the brown haired boy ran out and brought in a large vessel of water along with smaller vessels and other objects I did not recognize. Then, they began to pour water from the large vessel over me with the smaller vessels. I was overjoyed, for it felt amazing to have sweet, cold water on my skin and scales again. To add to that, they used the other objects to rub my body. I didn’t understand. Were they actually cleaning me? I assumed so, since now I trusted them a bit more. A while later, they left me alone in the cave.

The next afternoon as well as those of the days after, they came back and did the same things for me again and again. Eventually I found out that the pills they gave me were medicine, to help me recover. They really did mean well, and wanted me to get better. Also, I eventually learned their names from the conversations between them. The blonde girl’s name was Jane, the black haired boy was Tom, the redhead was Leslie, and the brown haired boy was Will. As for the woman, her name was Miranda, and apparently, she was Jane’s mother. I always looked forward to her coming, for every time she came, she emitted that familiar aura that made me feel that everything was all right. This went on for days, weeks, and eventually months. At the same time, my belly got larger, and the movement within it told me that the babies were healthy. And it was all thanks to these strangely kind landwalkers. I wondered, why were they doing this? Most landwalkers slaughter the creatures of the sea and demolish their homes, yet Jane, Tom, Leslie, Will, and Miranda showed great compassion. Why? Was it because they had something to gain from me? Would they eventually use me for their own purposes? Or were they doing this because they truly cared?

Throughout my period of pregnancy, I was kept healthy and happy by the landwalkers. Maybe these creatures weren’t so evil after all! If that wasn’t true, there were surely exceptions. Eventually, the time finally came. One day, after the five went away, I suddenly started to feel immense pain in my abdomen. I now knew it was time. With all my might, I crawled to the edge of the cave and slipped into the water. The landwalkers would unfortunately not know why I left, but if they did, they would have understood. I swam to the bottom of this shallow part of the sea and lay down on the ocean floor. The pain was unbearable, almost as bad as what I felt before in the chemical cloud. However, I knew I had a job to do, and began to push. The pain was even worse, but I fought it and pushed on, and eventually, it happened. Out popped my just reward, two beautiful crying babies, a little mermaid and merman. The pain was still there, but it didn’t matter any more. The wailing little creatures that I had just produced was worth it all. Oh, if only my husband were here to see this glorious moment! With that, I wrapped my arms around my two new children and whispered in tears of joy,

“It’s okay now. I’m here, little ones.

“I’m here.”

“Here’s to our glorious victory and success!”

Jane, Tom, Leslie, Will, and Miranda each raised glasses of ice-cold lemonade before eagerly quaffing them while sitting on the sand. Over the past year, after that life changing experience in the cave, they had worked hard to launch a campaign in Reef City to rally the citizens to help save their ocean ecosystem, and now they were celebrating their success on the beach, next the waters they had strived to protect.

“It’s been a great year, hasn’t it?” said Will happily. “After all those rallies, conventions, meetings, seminars, and that big petition, we have finally changed our city.”

“Yeah!” said Tom. “Finally, people are volunteering to clean up the ocean and are managing to use better methods of disposing of their waste. Now, nobody will ever even think of mucking up the sea ever again!”

“They can’t anyways,” noted Leslie. “After all, it’s the law!

Everyone laughed. “That’s right!” agreed Tom. “We made sure new environmental protection laws were placed! But we couldn’t have done any of this without the help of our supporters and of course, the inspiration we got from her.

“That’s true,” sighed Jane. “I always loved my mom’s stories about mermaids, but I never thought they would actually be true!”

Her mother nodded her head. “After that day when I was five, all of my friends thought that that was a once-in-a-lifetime sight. But I knew in my heart that I would see her again, which is why I became a marine biologist.”

“Well that was perfect for all of us!” exclaimed Leslie joyously. “It was so useful to have a real scientist on our side, and together, we have made sure that the sea will become a beautiful place once again.”

“Indeed,” Will said. “But one thing I still didn’t understand was, what happened to her?

“Who knows?” sighed Miranda. “She was pregnant, so maybe she left to give birth.”

“Wait, look over there!” exclaimed Tom. Everyone turned their heads. Something strange had just appeared at the top of the water, something large and green.

“Oh my gosh,” gasped Jane. “Come on!”

They all ran across the sand, hopped across several rocks, came to the cave they had been meeting at for months on end, and looked over the water. Suddenly, there she was. Gracefully leaping out of the water, smiling joyously, was her, their mermaid friend. After landing back in the water, she hopped out again, this time doing her skillful water-ballet show with her children, a young mermaid and her twin brother. The five stood there at first, agape. Then everyone cheered. As they stood on the rocks, they let all their feelings out, yelling, whooping, and pounding their fists in the air as they were reunited with the friend whose life they had saved, swimming happily with her new family in the crystal clear waters of the Reef City coast.

Karuna’s Story

In today’s world, fishing methods can be quite brutal. Instead of using small nets, harpoons, and fishing poles, fishing boats drag gigantic nets across the water, sweeping up anything in its path, and gill nets ensnare fish unlucky enough to be passing by. Fishermen using these methods catch so many fish that overfishing has now actually become a real problem. But worst of all, fish aren’t always the only creatures that these nets trap. Turtles will sometimes accidentally get caught in these nets as bycatch, and when this happens, they are usually doomed to die an agonizing death. Many of them drown or starve while entangled, and sometimes uneducated fishermen actually cut their flippers off and drop them back in instead of calling for help.

Karuna, an Olive Ridley Turtle was one of these unfortunate creatures. One day, Karuna was cruising through the bay bay of Bengal, heading towards the shore. Just like all female Olive Ridleys did when they were came of age, she had traveled thousands of miles and was heading towards the beach where she was born to lay her own eggs. All of a sudden, she found herself tangled in a gill net she had unintentionally wandered into. Feeling a pull on their net, the fishermen who had set it raised Karuna out of the water. They had no idea what to do about it, so they decided to simply cut her front flippers and right rear flipper off and drop her back in. It was a cruel fate indeed, after all, how could a creature of the sea survive without all its appendages?

Later, after being tossed around helplessly by the waves and bleeding enormously, Karuna washed ashore, gasping from blood loss and experiencing unbearable pain. Luckily, at the same time, Rajesh, a KAP officer was taking a walk on the beach. He found the poor creature lying on the sand, and immediately brought her to Supraja Dharini, an environmental activist and founder of the Tree Foundation, the organization I have the privilege of working with. She was shocked at the sight of dying animal, and immediately felt sympathy for her. She decided to adopt her. When she was rescued, a veterinarian was called in to do surgery and stitch Karuna’s open wounds. Eventually she was placed in a tank with a solution of freshwater and saltwater.

Sadly, spending all those days helpless and bleeding in the ocean had drained Karuna of her will to live, so she refused to eat. However, Supraja couldn’t let her die just yet, and Karuna was force fed through a drip system. Supraja had dedicated her life to preserving the lives of innocent animals, and would not make any exceptions for this one. Eventually, Karuna got used to her treatment and regained her health. She came to Supraja’s house as a guest, but has now gone on to becoming a permanent member of her family.

Karuna still lives in her tank at Supraja’s office today, and I am proud to say I have been given the privilege of attending to her. Almost every day, I go to the office and help Ravi, a fisherman working with Supraja, as well as other volunteers in keeping Karuna happy and healthy. First, I hand-feed fish to her, being careful to not let my hand get snapped by her powerful beak. Then, we lift her out of her tank, place her on a table, and I proceed to pour water over her and give her a good scrubbing with a sponge soaked in a mixture of water and turmeric powder. At the same time, Ravi empties out the tank and washes it with chlorine. After that, we proceed to fill the tank with fresh groundwater from a hose and seawater we collected at the beach nearby. We must also wait for Karuna to defecate, as this will show how well she is digesting her food. Although she is healthy now, Karuna is still permanently disfigured. She is always flapping the stubs where her flippers once were, dying to swim in the small space that she has, and her life is completely dependent on humans. Under her endless reptilian smile, there could be a miserable soul. Some people believe so, including my grandfather, and suggest mercy killing. However, although what they say about her may be true, we simply can’t let her die. Each wild turtle is a representative of its entire kind. When I look at Karuna, I can imagine the rest of her species, the way they live, and the cruelty and misfortune they face. It would be a great mistake to kill such a being.

In the same house there is another tank containing a young green turtle, Greenie, also brought in after being caught by fishermen. Fortunately, the fishermen informed Supraja, and he/she (too young to decide, but I prefer to think of her as a girl) came in one piece. We do the same things for her that we do for Karuna, but for some reason, I seem to have developed more of a connection with the Olive Ridley. Maybe it’s because she eagerly snaps the fish from my hand when I lower it down. Or maybe it’s that she is so cooperative when I pick her up and wash her (of course, that could simply be because she has only one flipper, but I prefer not to think about that.)  Or it could be that when I imagine her in the ocean, with all her fins, shining in all her glory, she is one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen.

Does the Litter Bug You?

On a bright day, you might take a walk. You might walk along the street, enjoying the city or town life, or go hiking in the hills, admiring the scenery. However, eventually, you might come to an area that is nothing like what you have seen so far, an area completely defiled by garbage heaps, scattered trash, and all sorts of rubbish. You may think, how could this have happened? Who would do such a thing? The answer is simple. This desecration of nature and living space was caused by people just like you.

Littering is an environmental problem that has caught the attention of many. It happens when people carelessly throw their trash on the ground or purposely dump their garbage in heaps. Because of this, there are wrappers and bags made of plastic and paper scattered around parks, gum on the roads and sidewalks, plastic scraps of all sorts in bodies of water, and almost a blanket of rubbish on some beaches. And all because people aren’t willing to take the time to keep their trash until they find a wastebasket. Continue reading

The Olive Ridley Turtle – A Being of the Blue

The Olive Ridley sea turtle truly is a magnificent creature of the sea. It sports a beautiful heart-shaped olive-colored shell with pairs of sharp scales, or scutes, as it paddles through the open ocean, looking like a living submarine. And when the time for reproduction comes, many thousands of female turtles emerge from the sea at night to lay their eggs, a truly amazing sight. This reptile is one of the wonders of the ocean, and is a credit to aquatic life.

Olive Ridleys are the most common species of sea turtle, and approximately 800,000 females come to nest annually. Their sizes vary from region to region, but overall, they are quite small among other sea turtles, adults being 45 kilograms and 56-79 centimeters on average. The largest specimens are found on the West coast of Mexico, but there are Olive Ridley habitats in all the waters around India as well. They can be identified by their olive heart-shaped shell and the high amount of scutes, surrounding it. Continue reading

Gardening for the Green

Now that there is so much buzz about the dying ecosystem and environmental destruction, many people are trying to do their part in saving the green. To be just a little more eco friendly, one can remember to turn off water sources, lights, and other energy consuming devices when they are not being used. Other ways of being green is taking short showers, fixing leaks, recycling, and getting electricity from companies that produce clean energy, such as hydroelectric, solar, wind, and geothermal power. These are good ways of being environmentally friendly, but they don’t always actually feel rewarding. However, there is a way that you can help both yourself and the environment, but more importantly, feel the effects: gardening. Continue reading