Friday, September 30, 2011

OMR: Emerging New Chennai

The Hindu,in a marketing supplement on the Chennai property scene cites Sandeep Mehta of Jain Housing as saying that the most emerging property market is on OMR - the Perungudi-Padur stretch.
OMR is going to be the New Chennai, according to Sivagurunathan of Asvini Foundations.
R K Raman,DLF India Ltd.,says house buyers want a lifestyle - they expect a school nearby, continuous water supply, standby power, shopping and healthcare facilities, clubbing, sports and entertainment and space for walks.
Chitty Babu, Akshaya Homes, reckons people prefer apartments away from the city, but with amenities such as a pool, shuttle court, play equipment, a school, creche and a park. Given all this, they don't mind the travel to work.

Public art, private funding

Developers of large building projects in San Francisco are required to put 1 percent of their budget towards creating (privately owned) public art.
The rule is now being amended to allow developers to deposit the 1 percent into a new fund for public art.And the artwork that is produced would be catalogued.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A neem to celebrate your schooling

Dear Nikhil and Sidharth,
It has been nearly a month since you started schooling at San Ramon Montessori. And Patti and I plan to plant a sapling in our apartment complex, Mantri Synergy, to celebrate the occasion. We have chosen neem, a species that you are unlikely to find in your California neighbourhood.
This is Aadit, a shenbagum sapling we planted in June to celebrate the first-born in our Mantri complex. The plant - you can see fresh leaves coming up - is now three-month's old. So is Aadit, born to Smitha and Arya Chakraborti who live in F-904.
I can hear you both screaming,'Oh,no, not here',as I tell you this is where your sapling will come up. But then Sivaram uncle,who takes care our complex, has promised to get this patch cleaned and leveled for planting by this Saturday.
That is when we plan to have our community tree-planting programme. Apart from the start of your schooling, we would celebrate with saplings the first Mantri Synergy resident, Mr Nambiar. The Nambiars moved into their ground-floor flat in G block in February (I guess). Your patti and I were the seventh occupants when we moved here in mid-April. We now have nearly 50 residents in the complex that would eventually house 700 plus families.
Our housing complex is maintained by PropCare that has people working in house-keeping and security departments. They are part of our Mantri Synergy community.
And this Saturday when we plant a sapling for you - Nikhil and Sidharth - we also would plant saplings to celebrate those workers who are learning while earning. Our security men - Vishnu, Manikandan, and Rajesh work night shifts to be able to attend college during the day. Other employees who are studying for higher diploma are Ezhumalai (maintenance in charge), and Aashik(who takes care of our BSNL phoneline and broadband).
Patti and I would send you pictures after tree-planting, for you to share with your school friends.
Community tree-planting
5.30 p m ,Saturday, Oct.1.
Close to the I block gas-bank

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Reflexology Path/Garden for Mantri Synergy

Dear All,

Some time ago when we were in discussion with the older management regarding the amenities for our property, Mr Shankar mentioned that Mantri was planning an exercise area for our senior residents, including a foot-reflexology path.

I don't know if this plan is still in the pipe-line or whether it has been shelved. However, having had the wonderful opportunity to have a half hour foot reflexology massage this past weekend, I feel that many can benefit from having a path of this nature to walk on.

In Singapore, it was the in-thing for such reflexology paths to be laid out in the common or recreational part of each housing development area from way back in the '80's. It does not require much space. And it was very much enjoyed by all the residents who lived there.

Benefits: (

Foot reflexology has been known to bring about extreme relaxation and a sense of well being to a person. This feeling can last long after the treatment is provided. Reflexology has been reported to have "healed" people of back pain, menopause symptoms and diabetic foot ulcers. People struggling with multiple sclerosis have reported relief with some symptoms associated with disease. However, reflexology in and of itself is only a compliment to traditional medical techniques in most cases.

If you would like to read more about the history and benefits of foot-reflexology:
Benefits of Foot Reflexology |

I also did a bit of research on how to set up a reflexology garden:

If there are enough interested people, we could perhaps do it on our own - it would be fun and we could end up with our first ever Synergy residents' beatification-of-surroundings-project!

I propose that this garden be put alongside the well (to its left). Looking down at the well from the vantage point of my 12th floor apartment, I have noticed that the pathway laid out around this well next to E & F blocks is decidedly asymmetrical. This is not bad in itself, but I think we could make use of the remaining space for something aesthetic and beneficial like this proposed garden/pathway.

I welcome any comments anyone has regarding this.

Warm regards,

(Anuradha Nair - D1204)

Flowerbed in bloom

Along the E block driveway.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Synergy - 2 status

Mr Raaj Shankar (A-108) awaiting possession of his flat has in his post at CommonFloor shares the following info. on Synergy - 2 status as he found it during his visit on Sunday (Sept.25):
Last Sunday , I was there to visit my flat (A-108) in Mantri Synergy –II. A block one of the lift is functioning now and front lobby was cleaned and it seems that they start giving possession from last three floors. Already two families start living in A block. (5th and 12th). I was visiting one the flat in 11th floor. It was ready without modular kitchen and ward robe.
During my visit, I was told by one of the resident, Sushil Mantri was here at synergy site last week and he spent around 3hrs to review the status. Further he has given a ultimatum to their employees for complete all the block before 3rd week of October including C block.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Case for energy auditing

Mr Harinarayan of D block has raised a point about our failure to switch-off lights in the common area when we don't need them.I took these photos around 6.30 a m yesterday (Saturday).
We have day-break nowadays around 5.45 a m. These outdoor lights yesterday were switched off at 6.45, an hour after day-break.Mr Harinarayan's point ought to set us thinking about energy auditing. We could put our heads together to come up with a check-list of ways by which we can cut down power consumption in common areas and also in our households.
I have read about a youth group that trains students in energy-auditing that they can put to use in their neighbourhood.Student residents in Mantri Synergy(and we have quite a few) could come forward to conduct energy auditing in our apartments and give suggestions on how residents can adopt energy conservation methods.Far from being seen as unwelcome residents the students in our complex can endear themselves to the community with such social volunteering initiative.
A website on sustainable environment for quality of life lists 100 ways to save environment.Of these 28 points pertains to conserving energy. This could a good reference site for us to draw up our energy-audit check-list.
Point.27: Connect your outdoor lights to a timer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neibhourhood barber

This leaflet slipped into my copy of The Hindu advertises Black & White, a barber shop at Kelambakkam. They have 10 other shops in Chennai, and also six outstation branches in towns such as Pondy, Erode,Tirupur and Pollachi.
They charge Rs.70 for haircut.I have been getting it done for Rs.50, or even Rs.40 at Padur. But then B&W is air-conditioned. The place claims to have car parking facility, and they accept credit-cards. It is walkable, but not by all, and not all the time. The bus fare to Kelambakkam from Mantri's is Rs.5, Rs. 10 by AC Volvo, and Rs. 30, if you take an auto.
My D block neighbour Mr Sampath Iyengar who has been there says the place is clean. He was not sure if AC unit works when there is powercut, which happens often.
The other thing Mr Iyengar said the Kelambakkam outfit opens late (7.30-8.00 a m).

What others do with domestic waste

While a “corporate approach” has worked well for the apartment complex, enthusing students to participate has helped D G Vaishnav College to manage its waste for the past 18 months. What started as a simple compost pit in a vacant land behind the college has now evolved into Rs.4.5-lakh vermicompost shed which not only generates manure for vegetables from the college for its canteen but also gets small returns for the conservancy staff. “When the NSS volunteers were trained to conduct an audit and they were enthused to take up the project,” says M.Veliappan, Programme Officer, Exnora International, T. Nagar.
The project began with collecting canteen waste and teaching the students to drop waste in dustbins. The college conservancy staff segregates the waste. When the college built a shed for vermicomposting, Mr. Veliappan's effort paid off. “The college has developed a garden and a banana grove. We get around 100 to 150 kg of biodegradable waste and the compost is used for trees in the campus,” he says. Paper, plastic, laboratory waste, bottles and packing material from the college are segregated and disposed of by the conservancy staff, who share the proceeds among themselves.
The Madras Institute of Technology, Chromepet, is also building compost sheds, Mr. Veliappan says.

Source : The Hindu

Friday, September 23, 2011

The "B" view from the top…

There have been interesting snaps shot from vantage points of D & E Wings that have featured in our blog.

I just wanted to add a couple of shots from B Wing (perhaps the first ones from this wing?)

The first snap has Muttukadu in the backdrop and a glimpse of the sea beyond ECR.

The second one captures the green lung visible from our 11th floor balcony.

I wonder, though, how long these will last against the onslaught of the Helios Cities and Bella Tuscanys! Anyway, let's enjoy the view till it lasts! Then, hopefully, we have these images captured for posterity in our blog. It would, indeed, be interesting to see the transformation in the landscape a few years down the line!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For Vishnu and other working students in Mantri

We have on Mantri's security staff quite a few students - Vishnu, Manikandan, Rajesh and others I haven't met.They work night shift to be able to go to college. We have service technicians doing advanced diploma - Ezhumalai and Aashik. They deserve our support and encouragement, don't they.
Mantri residents can do the following:
1)Plant a sapling in the Mantri complex to celebrate their drive and hard work.
2)Contribute to get a desk-top computer installed at the staff rest area, for use by the likes of Vishnu. I find them using their cell phone to access Internet.
3)Guide them to acquire communication and other soft skills needed to appear in job interviews.
4)Help them with reference to and info. on prospective employers.
I read in this context about a Chennai IT company - Zoho Corp - that hires economically backward high school students to be trained in software engineering. The company is run by Mr Sridhar Vembu, who has an engineering degree from IIT Madras and Ph.D from Princeton.
Blogger Sramana Mitra in an interview with Zoho CEO quotes him as saying, “We hire young professionals whom others disregard. We don’t look at colleges, degrees or grades...go to poor high-schools,and hire those kids who are bright...We train them, and in 9 months, they produce at the level of college grads. Their resumes are not as marketable, but I tell you, these kids can code just as well as the rest. Often, better.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's plant a neem here

Mantri's landscape architect appears to have a penchant for ornamental trees. They make good picture postcards, but do precious little for end-users - Mantri residents. We would favour species that give shade, reduce environment damage being done by our AC units (1,500, when all 700 plus apartments get occupied) and trees that bear fruits attracting birds to our complex.
Our landscape people, I notice, have replaced, in the last few weeks, one set of fancy trees with another at our front lawn, where we have some chehal-pehal in the evenings. Elders are out here on the lawns for some fresh air and social chit-chat, and children run about in the lawn. I would suggest Mantri consider relocating the children's play area to the front lawn (from its current location close to the gas bank near the Clubhouse).
This was the picture of our front lawn in May. These trees have since been replaced with another set of trees. The shot (below was taken this morning - Sept. 21
My humble submission is that the Mantri landscape people should try out something different - say, a neem, mango or jackfruit - at the unplanted pit in the picture.
We would be happy to plant a sapling here as part of our community tree-planting programme. A neem should fit in nicely here. And, if I have a say in this,I would dedicate the neem we plant here to the first Occupant of the Mantri complex - Mr Nambiar of G block.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flute Visveshwar on TV

Got an invite for a concert on TV via Facebook that I thought would share with you. Maybe we too can open a Facebook page for announcing community events in Mantri Synergy. Mr Pravin, Mr Ram Kumar or someone else can set up for us 'Mantri Synergy Community' page on Facebook.
The Facebook invite I got was from Flute Visveshwar, on behalf of Swaralaya's Carnatic Instrumental Ensemble. Their performance is at Tirumala Tirupati Naada Neeranjam tomorrow( Sept.20) at 6.00 to 7.30 p m. It would be telecast live on TTD SVBC Channel.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A date with T N Krishnan

The Sriraj couple (D-1202) hosted an evening of carnatic music at the Clubhouse, Saturday evening. The idea came from his parents,now spending a few weeks with Mr Sriraj at Mantri Synergy. As a long-time Kodambakkam resident, Mr Sampath Iyengar has been brought up in the 'music sabha culture'. A concert at one of the five or six sabhas is his idea of a well spent evening. Concert music is something Mr Iyengar missed at the Mantri's.
So do several other Mantri residents with flair for music. A lady at last night's music event asked if this was going to be a weekly affair.A weekly music Saturday may not be feasible,if we rely on a specified individual to organise it for us.
Mr Sriraj has shown us how an individual initiative can make for an interesting community evening.
Any music lover with a prized video cassette to share with like-minded others, could take the initiative to host a Sriraj-like music evening. And this need not necessarily be done on a Saturday. Any evening convenient to the host, and the interested peer group would be okay. After all, audience for such niche events comprise mainly the elderly and the retired who would be happy any day, to spend 90 minutes listening to music in company.
Community events help us discover other Mantri residents with similar interests. Last night's music event gave my wife and I a talking point on our morning walk with Mr Sriraj's father, a connoisseur with family ties with music legends such as MS and Semmangudi. Mr Sampath Iyengar partnered Sadasivam in their daily card-playing sessions at his Kotturpuram residence. As a bonus Mr Iyengar got treated to snacks and steaming coffee served by MS herself. Mr Iyengar recalled how Semmangudi,a friend his father, used to be an unfailing guest at the family lunch every New Year's Day.
My wife and I meet Mr Iyengar daily on our walks, but we didn't 'discover' him so much as we did this morning.The Saturday music event that we attended and enjoyed together gave us something fresh to talk about. The clubhouse DVD shows can be extended to an evening of gazals, Hindusthani music,Rabindra sangeet, Harikatha or whatever that interests us as a community.
A clubhouse date with T N Krishnan reminds me of my New Delhi schooldays when some of my father's friends used to meet at our Karolbagh 'barsathi' every Saturday night for listening to A Date with You,a Western music programme on AIR, hosted by Roshan Menon. This was early 50s, years before TV, when radio was the in thing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Safety at Car Park

It was good to see the road safety mirror being installed at our gate when I was there. While on the subject of driving-related safety, I would like to share a learning from my residential apartment complex at Muscat. In the interest of safety of residents the facility management firm has made reverse parking compulsory. This certainly increases driver's visibility and reduces the risk of a mishap when driving the vehicle out of the parking lot.

It would probably be a good idea if reverse parking is implemented in MS, even as the growing critical mass would witness an increasing number of cars within our complex and many in a hurry to drive out in the mornings.

Author in IT Corridor

We don't usually associate IT software with creative fiction. But a senior IT company executive at Ascendas IT Park, Ms Lakshmisudha, is a weekend writer, and has published 19 novels.
Her first title : Solai Malarozhiye.
Her 20th novel, still in the works, is Mounam Un Mozhiya ?
Her message : Follow your inner voice;it helps you make right decisions at the write time.
Would like to hear more on this, from her, wouldn't you; would like to invite her to talk to us at the Clubhouse library, when Mantri Synergy acquires a critical mass of residents.
Meanwhile her work is available onine at
The writer's contact details: 9841006452;
Sourced this post from a write up in The Hindu by Saraswathy Srinivasan.
Photo, by S Abishek, has been scanned from The Hindu.

Monday, September 12, 2011

`Gadget Guru` Sells Laptop & BlackBerry


I am a poor shopper & requested my wife to purchase a Sony Viao & a BlackBerry from Singapore last week which she promptly did (with my add-on cc ofcourse) & much to my dismay, I found that I just cannot handle BlackBerry & neither the laptop which has the latest OS & other programs. I find little time these days to experiment & learn & cannot afford to put away my `life-guards` - an old laptop & an old Nokia mobile. So, these 2 brand new items are for sale. Any takers ? Contact me on 9444708530. Psst..there is a genie in one of them ! Sriraj.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My maiden post... our first few days at Mantri Synergy

We had come down from Muscat to Chennai for a week to take possession of our flat (B-1106) and perform a house-warming function.

Though we did face some teething problems in taking possession, we could “hit the ground running”, thanks to the help of our co-residents like Saurav, Sairam (B Wing 12th Flr), and Prasad ( B Wing 10th Flr) and the valuable insights we gained from following the blog regularly. Indeed, “being forewarned, we were forearmed”!

The quiet late evenings in the tranquil setting of our balcony more than made up for the day-long stress of having to run after the Propcare team to sort out various issues. Top of our concerns was, of course, to “haul” the senior citizens in our family up and down from Ground to 11th Flr on Pooja day, in manually operated lifts!

Now to our share of the concerns that are - as a matter of fact - common concerns…

First is the elevation duct – a huge crude gaping hole that runs right up from the ceiling of our 11th floor MBR balcony to the 12th floor. This is a dark, un-plastered hole that – in a sparingly inhabited apartment as of now - could be an open invitation for beehives, spiders, lizards and other creepy crawlies! I am yet to comprehend the utility of this duct.

When I took it up with Propcare, they agreed to have it sealed with a gypsum board. However, despite 3 days of personal follow up and assurances, this work was not completed till I left.

I could see this elevation duct in many more flats in B as well as other wings. May be, to the relief of the Propcare team, the others are not as paranoid of lizards as my wife is!

The second concern is that the staircase is poorly lit. Since I climbed up and down (GF to 11th) twice that evening with the lifts playing truant, I can say this with conviction. There are no lights, per se, on the stairway. The streak of light is often only from beyond the doors of each floor. At floors where the door was shut or near shut, I had to literally grope in the dark at the landing, not sure where the flight of steps started and where they ended! We need some lights on the stairway. Paradoxically, these lights were left on even during the day and my search to locate the control switches were in vain!

To the Clubhouse, this way please

Sadly, there is loads more to life in Mantri's than the rainbow and the colourful shades of Sunrise. Such as, this patch of unmade driveway that leads to the Clubhouse.
Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to dump construction debris to patch up waterlogging.Movement of trucks over the dump made it worse; negotiating uneven slush and mud was worse than wading through the puddles with your shoes in hand.
It was a challenge,making our way back home from the Clubhouse, Saturday night, after the children's film-show.Bad road and poor lighting on the approach to Clubhouse,was perhaps, a reason for the disappointing turnout at the film show.
Before the start of film show (7 p m) PropCare had arranged to cobble a narrow walkway,with cement blocks,to help us through the puddles, all the way up to the Clubhouse. This was okay. But then,later in the evening, somebody had a bright idea to dump truckloads of earth debris on the puddles, making it particularly tough to tread on uneven slush and trash on our way back from the Clubhouse.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A rainbow over Mantri's

These photos were taken from our balcony on Floor 9 of D Block with my amateur Kodak, on Saturday evening.It had been drizzling, and the sun was receding from the top floor of the sea-facing E Block.
I wonder if Mr Ram Kumar,who posted the Mantri twilight shots the other day, was at home on Sat. evening to capture the scene. He could have, I presume, got a better shot of the rainbow over the Muthukkadu Lake, from his H Block balcony.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Talking kitchen waste disposal, yet again

We have written on kitchen waste disposal twice earlier - Talking Trash, Vermicomposting, and Vermicomposting kitchen waste. Reading about waste disposal at Mamallapuram panchayat I thought of pushing my pet agenda, yet again.
An article in The Hindu - Power from waste: Vevekananda Kendra shows the way - talks of what the Mamallapuram town panchayat is doing about disposal of household kitchen waste.
It says: a) Every kilowatt of energy produced through such renewable energy sources is eligible for subsidy. A village panchayat that generates about 10 Kilowatts of electricity from its organic kitchen waste become eligible to subsidy worth Rs 4lakh.
b) Disposing of waste, particularly kitchen waste, poses a big problem everywhere.
c) Mamallapuram kitchen waste conversion is a joint effort. Chennai based NGO,‘Hand in Hand',with Vivekananda Kendra set up a bio-methanation plant, which are suitable for both urban and rural households.
d) In addition to this, the Kendra has developed a bio-gas slurry based agro-inputs package.
At Mantri's the vermicompost idea hasn't evoked much of a response, even among the core residents group that is doing care-taker work till we have a proper residents association. Those who are not enthusiastic reckon we don't have space for compost sheds. Some express concerns about foul smell the shed would generate (unfounded, according to those who have tried it).And then, we have those who say, 'vermicomposting is a good idea, but NOT in my backyard'.
Maybe, we should look beyond our Mantri compound for a solution. We could think of a community compost shed, as a joint effort by a cluster of resident communities, and the Padur panchayat. As of now, the panchayat and also the apartment complexes coming up in our immediate neighbourhood do not seem to have a sustainable waste disposal strategy. The bushes and the vast unused space behind Mantri's serve as the dumping ground for waste. From my 9th floor flat we could see, every other evening, a cloud of smoke over patches of open space behind the Mantri Synergy complex, presumably, because a waste dump is set on fire.
This is how they dispose of trash in our neighbourhood, close to Saibaba temple, about a km from Mantri Synergy.
The Hindu write-up talks of a working model, involving Mamallapuram town panchayat, NGO and residents groups. Couldn't we think of such a model, here at Padur, before the situation gets out of hand ?
I would like to hear from interested volunteers to join me on a visit to Venus Colony, Alwarpet, where they have had a vermicompost plant for kitchen waste going for the last five years.
We could also get in touch with Mr. G.Vasudeo, Secretary, Vivekananda Kendra - NARDEP, Kanyakumari - 629 702, Tamil Nadu, e.mail :, website:, phone 04652- 246296 (office).
Such preliminaries would help a joint delegation of residents and PropCare to take up the issue with Padur panchayat and the neighbouring apartments projects.

At Mantri's this weekend (Sept.10-11)

Children's Film show
Clubhouse TV Room
7 p m, Saturday (Sept.10)

Happy Hoilidays WordFriends (WordWorld series) - running time - 33 mins.
Ed Murphy Dr.Dolittle - 85 mins.
Mr Pravin (B-408),with the able support of his daughter Nitya, has volunteered to take care of the proceedings (9600045537)

Sunday Vegetables
Driveway near 'D' Block
5-7 p m, Sunday (Sept.11)

We hope Mr Raghavan of Angaadi.In would bring in the vegetables van on time, this time. He turned up an hour late last Sunday, his first, turning away quite a few residents who had come for shopping on time. Not a good start.
But then, as Mr Raghavan says, on-site vending is not their strong point.Their USP is online sale/home delivery of fruits and vegetables. He sticks to his word when it comes to online delivery. I tried him earlier this week.
Sunday Angaadi at Mantri's is an interim arrangement, for the next four weeks or more, until we get the Clubhouse grocery stores (October end, they say).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Few snaps taken in twilight

Attaching a few photos of our 'community' during twilight.. It's taken in my phone so quality may be so-so :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Some slogans for Mantri synergy,Kelambakkam

Hello mantrites,

I thought we could have a slogan for our Mantri synergy,Kelambakkam. Depending upon all our views, we can choose what we think would be a right one . To do this we all need to contribute each of our ideas and see which suits us. I hope everyone would give their comments on this.Looking forward for all our ideas to be shared.My picks are as follows :

1) «live a life in synergy it's a kind of magic.»

2) «Everyone should believe in the synergy.»

3) «the synergy for the masses.»

4) «Live the synergy.»

5) «Feel the magic of synergy with energy.»

6) «Think. Feel. synergy with energy.»

7) «life in synergy, just the best.»

8) «Be part of life in synergy.»

9) «live a life in synergytastic!»

10) «the synergy, love it or leave it.»

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mantri's response

The Mantri's management say they are awaiting architect's approval for relocating the children's play area. Their statement comes in response to a 17-point memo by Mantri residents. In their memo the residents said the present location of the play area, behind the clubhouse, is not acceptable because 1) it is close to a gas-bank;2) the designated space is cramped; and 3) there is little space for seating elders who accompany the kids. We can't afford to have a toddlers play area with no facilities for parental supervision.
The management,on our repeated plea, has agreed to re-locate the play area; and claims to have identified a location. But the Mantri's management doesn't consider it necessary to share info., let alone consult residents about new location for the children's play area.
Shouldn't the residents, who pay for the facility and are its end-users, have the prime say ? Do Architects have better credentials than resident-parents in the choice of what is best suited for children? In fact,it was the architect who chose, in the first place, to locate the play area in a cramped space, close to a gas-bank, behind the club-house.
Why can't Mantri's consult Pravin (B- block), Ram Kumar (H-block), Saurav (D-block), Saurav Mohanty (C-block) and several other parents with young children ?

Mantri's response to the other 16 points raised in the residents memo can be accessed here.

More to Recycling.......Reuse or Lose!

It is 11 am at Kalakshetra Colony,Thiruvanmiyur— a seaside residential area in south Chennai. The door-to-door garbage-collecting agent of Neel Metal Fanalca, the firm that the Chennai Corporation has hired for clearing garbage in the colony, is leaving with a collection trolley that is still not full.

Residents of Chennai's Kalakshetra Colony and Valmiki Nagar have a self-organised garbage management system that hinges on source segregation and composting of organic manure
Residents of Chennai's Kalakshetra Colony and Valmiki Nagar have a self-organised garbage management system that hinges on source segregation and composting of organic manure

The quaint three-tiered urn-like terracotta object is called 'kambha', a compost bin for organic garbage

The quaint three-tiered urn-like terracotta
object is called 'kambha', a compost bin for
organic garbage

A walk down the streets of the colony will reveal just why this is the case. Almost every second house has a compost pit or chamber in its yard. Some even have a quaint three-tiered urn-like terracotta object called kambha, a compost bin for organic garbage. The cement composter, a broad cylindrical structure with a mesh spread just above its bottom, allows the composted particles (manure) to fall through.

With over 70 per cent of the garbage load comprising organic rubbish, the difference is telling. The rest of the garbage—paper and plastic—is taken away by those who make it a business to recycle paper and other material.
Kalakshetra Colony, spread over 15 streets, was earlier just known for being the location of the famed Kalakshetra Cultural Centre. Now it has become a model for a community-centric, self-organised garbage management system that hinges on source segregation and composting of organic manure.

In 1988, much before firms such as Onyx, and, later, Neel Metal Fanalca, came on board to clean the streets of Chennai, the Kalakshetra Colony Community Association had started to segregate garbage, employing gypsies for the purpose. Small wonder then that in the year 2009 the Chennai Corporation declared it a model colony. "If they can make it (decentralised composting) successful in one colony, we can do it in our Mantri synergy." Being a long time resident in Thiruvanmiyur area we used to have a smal compost pot and use it for our soil filling and helps plants grow well in our home

The Kalakshetra colony community association pursues a broad-based strategy for achieving the zero garbage ideal, and its members are careful to communicate within their group through e-mail in order to avoid wasting paper. They have taken innovative measures. For instance, it has coordinated with the property tax collector to put together the e-mail address list of its residents.

Seeing the successful endeavour of the Kalakshetra colony community Association , the neighbouring Valmiki Nagar Residents' Welfare Association also warmed up to the source segregation and compost concept for efficient garbage disposal. The association identified volunteers who could educate the residents, giving special attention to the domestic help who take the garbage out. On an average, an apartment complex in Valmiki Nagar uses a 200-litre drum for composting waste. After the kitchen waste is put into the drum, aerated enzymes are added. No other intervention is required for at least a month or a month-and-a-half. This results in good compost without odour or flies. In our Mantri synergy we can employ a person to manage the composting process in all our apartment blocks.

There is a definite need for heightened action. In few years , Chennai will run out of space to dump garbage in its Perungudi yards and its surrounding areas. Although the municipal solid wastes (management and handling) rules, 2000, gave December, 2003, as the time schedule for urban local bodies to set up waste processing and disposal facilities, the city's dump yards are today overflowing with garbage. So bad is the situation in some pockets that it is affecting local eco-systems. The garbage from the Perungudi dump yard is choking the bird and aquatic life of the adjacent Pallikaranai marsh, and threatening the health and well-being of people living in the adjoining areas.

Source segregation would curb the mixing of green waste with other wastes. Experts fear that mixing of waste could lead to the presence of toxins in the composted manure. Sultan Ahmed Ismail, who is a well-known Chennai-based vermiculture expert, has even said that segregating waste and composting of green waste at source should be made mandatory at all residences and commercial establishments, along the lines of rainwater harvesting, which is mandatory and is seen as a successful intervention. If source segregation is adopted by everyone, then the Chennai Corporation would only have to pick up material that cannot be composted or recycled, such as e-waste, batteries or some plastics.

The Kalakshetra colony commmunity Association secretary refutes that the cost could be a deterrent. What it needs is an aware and sensitive citizenry. A kambha costs Rs 750, while a huge cement bin can be set up using well rings or other such structures at very little cost. "Money is not the issue. It amazes me that people are ready to spend so much on pizzas and at malls, but not for the environment they live in". All we have to do, as we have soil space at Mantri synergy is to dig a pit and keep dumping the organic garbage till the pit is full and then cover it with soil.


More on waste recycling

Chennai city corporation has offered to collect non-biodegradable waste and excess manure produced by vermicomposting sheds in large apartment complexes. So says, a post in CommonFloor.
The website also refers to Joraform, which markets machines for local composting of domestic waste. A Google search may take us to others, perferably, local manufacturers, if we choose to go for composting kitchen waste.
Do look up our earlier post - Vermicomposting Kitchen Waste

Ideas for Mantri Synergy Community Get-Togethers

To first start socializing, no-pressure affairs are the best way to start. Some easy activities to begin with:
Potlucks: Have the neighbors bring a dish and talk over dinner. Such a low-key event will allow you to scope out each other’s personalities and see how well you mesh.

Book Club: A book club is an easy way to meet people who share common interests. Discussing the latest best sellers can spark some lively conversations that can lead to other topics and let you get to know your neighbors.

Movie nights:
Grab a new release, pop some popcorn and take over the clubhouse. Movie nights give a chance for tenants to see a movie they might have missed in the theatres. The only downside is that talking is minimal as folks get engrossed in the film.

Game nights:
These are a good way to get people to interact as you either team up or play solo against each other over board games or a hand of cards. It’s a good way to bond, and a good way to learn which neighbors have quite the competitive streak.

Happy Hour:
For an adult evening, you may want to consider inviting your neighbors over for cocktails and finger food. It’s an easy way to loosen up your neighbors with no distractions or barriers to chit chat.

It’s just important to make sure that whatever the activity is, it’s something everyone will enjoy. Those who aren’t having fun aren’t likely to keep coming back.

"One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up, add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts but team work dynamites."


Saturday, September 3, 2011

5 way to combat water loss home

Everyone knows the importance of water in our day to day lives. Life on earth is sustained due to water itself. It is this very quality that differentiates our planet from all the others. However, the amount of ground water, the water that is used by humans beings and non marine creatures is rapidly dwindling. This is because of over-usage to such an extent, that it is being used 25% faster than it is replenished. The rate at which industry is rapidly growing is another area of concern.

Listed below are 5 ways to combat Water Loss, which, while being extremely simple to follow, also lead to amazing results.


Make smart use of water in everyday life:

you’d be real surprised at how easy it is to waste water. Something as trivial as leaving a faucet open leads to around 2 gallons of water loss every minute. Make use of a dishwasher only after it is completely loaded. Better still, wash your utensils in a sink full of water with your hands. Make sure that you leave the faucet closed when not washing. Even your washing machine must be used only when it is completely loaded. Instead of watering the dirt away from the driveway or the sideway, sweep the place. The use of a hose leads to 10 gallons of water loss every minute.


Turn down the power of the shower:

After the flush in your toilet, your bathing activities take up the most water in your house. Showerheads that are low-flow are now being made compulsory by many governments. Roughly 20 thousand liters of water can be saved up in a year by a family of four using a low-flow shower. Another simple idea that anyone can employ is to have a quicker shower than usual. On an average, a person bathes for around 8 minutes, making use of about 17 gallons of water. A quick shower leads to a huge saving, both in terms of water, and money. Also keeping a bucket in the shower while bathing facilitates the use of excess water for watering the plants. If you have young children, let bath-time be play-time. This way you have more than one kid clean, you have saved money, time and a whole lot of water.

Make your flush a little less plush:

This definitely is the monster of all water consumption in the house. In the US alone, 4 billion gallons of water is flushed. Everyday. But it need not be this way forever. Newer toilets in the market are a lot more efficient than the conventional ones. While the older toilets use up around 4 gallons of water per flush, the newer ones use only around 1 and a half. If you wish to further save water, then you can do so by using a displacement device in your flush tank. For example, keeping a brick or putting pebbles in the tank will lead to lesser amount of flushed water.

Tweak that leak:

This one problem can only be fixed by not being negligent to the conditions of pipes and other water-related fixtures in your house. Not repairing a leaky faucet could mean 20 gallons of water being wasted everyday, and a leaky toilet, 200 gallons. A simple way to detect leaks is to put some food coloring in the water tank. If 30 minutes later you see color in the bowl, then you got a leak. Fix it ASAP. Fixing these leaks are not difficult and can be done by anyone. Also keep your water meter in check.

Make use of smart landscaping:

Use plants that do not use too much water in and around your house. Even while watering plants, use only as much water as needed. While managing your lawn, water it early in the morning or late in the evening, when the rate of evaporation is least. And don’t water the lawn everyday. This will make the roots of the grass grow deeper. Avoid use of fertilizer, as it directly increases the amount of water that your plants need.

A proactive PropCare

A PropCare team led by Mr Sivaram plans to take a weekly walk-through in the Mantri complex to identify faults and fix them on the spot. The team would include a plumber and electrician. Mr Sivaram,in a letter addressed to residents has invited them to join him on the Wednesday walk-through. The letter reads: Dear Residents, I would like to share with you the following developments, 1.Super Market: a.The vendor has been finalized and we are in the process of signing LOI. The supermarket will be in operation from End Oct’11 onwards. b.As a temporary measure, one local vendor is arranged to supply the vegetables in the cart on every Sunday between 1600 hrs to 1900 hrs (We acknowledge the initiative of Mantri residents in firming up this arrangement with the veg. Angaadi). The cart will be placed near Tower-D, residents are requested to avail this facility. 2.Walkthrough Inspection: a. We will be conducting walkthrough inspection every Wednesday between 3 to 4 p.m,along with House keeping, Security, Landscape, M&E supervisor at different areas of the premises. b.This is to identify pitfalls and take necessary action to rectify the same. c.The residents are requested to join in this walkthrough inspection as and when they are free, this is to provide their valid inputs to improve the service level to meet your expectations. Propcare would keep you updated on issues of common concern.Looking forward your continued co-operation and support to serve you better. Thank you very much. With Regards, Sivaram S Sr. Manager-Propcare

Friday, September 2, 2011

Darkness at Mantri's

Common space in the entire Mantri complex, right from the driveway to the tennis court at the far end of the complex, plunged into darkness this evening (Friday).
PropCare Balaji said this was due to the snapping of a power cable.Around 7.30 p m, he said,electricians were still at work. He couldn't be sure as to when power supply would be restored.

A mail from Apna Complex

Dear Mr Krishnan,
I got your contact from your blog while I was surfing the net. I understand that your apartment complex has a good online presence through your blogs .We would like to introduce you to our flagship product
ApnaComplex is a one stop, secure, comprehensive web based software for Residential Complexes. Housing societies and associations using ApnaComplex have experienced a marked improvement in the efficiency of operations & maintenance, reduction in the maintenance costs and increase in satisfaction levels of residents.
The application supports all the needs of a residential complex around Accounting, Communication, Reporting and Management. All these capabilities are integrated providing the maximum value. You can find out more about our features by visiting us on
This is the operative part of a mail I got from Priya Raghavan of ApnaComplex website.She has listed the following among their customers:
- Aparna Sarovar, Hyd (1200+ units)
- Purva Panorama, Blr (710 units)
- Sobha Azalea and Althea, Blr (202 units)
- Mirchandani Palms, Pune (300 units)
- Kapil Malhar Towers, Pune
- Shivsadhana Apartments, Mumbai
- Suyaj Towers, Mumbai,
- IDC Aparments, Delhi
- Abad Aquarius, Aluva, Kochi - do check out
- Dream Meadows, Blr (240 units)
- Citilights Liberty, Blr - do check out
- SJR Spencer, Blr (133 units)
- Appaswamy Orchards, Chennai (364 units)
- ITTINA Abby, Blr (200 units)
- Fortune Towers, Hyd (380+ units) - do check out
- Aparna Towers, Hyd (284 units)

Vegetables sales at Mantri's

Vegetables & fruits on sale
Sunday, Sept.4
Between 4 and 7 p m
Mantri driveway

It's official.We have Mr Sivaram's word that the Mantri Clubhouse stores would start functioning in October end. Till then Mr Raghavan,who retails vegetables and fruits online, has offered to set up a weekly stall at Mantri's on Sunday evenings.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Better Place

A talk with the Mantri Synergy-2 residents @ GVK's residence on 31st August started making me think aloud,what are the ways in which we can make our community a better place. Here I have just collated all the ideas which got floated in that stimulating 90 minutes of discussion with Sriraj, Chakraborty, GVK, Nair & Saurav. Also it helps to solve the pressing needs of the community in a more ecologically sustainable way. A few ideas which I have listed thanks to Chakraborty's prioritization :-
1. Electricity/Power
Being in the Sun City Chennai. How about having Solar panels installed within the campus. A few places which I could think of were the Terrace's of the Apartments, the pyramid shaped structures @ the center of the blocks.
2. Water
We already have a rain water harvesting facility in the campus, However is it possible to re-use the water so harvested and used by us instead of letting it go back to the earth. Since as I understood it from Sriraj's explanation, the clay underneath the campus isnt conducive for water storage.
Also on a more regular basis, along with Sewage Treatment Plant, can we also look @ re-using the A/C water re-use. Refer to Sriraj's blog @
3. Trees.
Thanks to GVK. I was very motivated reading other like minded souls endeavors in this regard @ Also we have taken the right steps here considering the Trees which we have planted last month. Refer to
4. Waste Recycling
Saurav's idea of segregating the waste's from each flat into bio-degradable and the rest is a good starting point. Refer to Also per Sriraj's idea if its not possible to process the kitchen waste so accumulated within the campus, the same could be sent to vermicomposting facilities eg our neighbours Hindustan University
5. Synergy a plastic free zone
Could we insist that the departmental store to be setup in the campus be Plastic free.

It would be great if we can incorporate these as part of our Association goals. The good thing about these are the concrete actions already taken by the Synergy community. I feel proud to be a part of this :-)

Mantri's Sunrise on Vinayaka Chaturthi

It was our first Vinayaka Chaturthi at Mantri Synergy.My wife and I did a walk-around in our Padur neighbourhood early this morning,looking for arugumbil(grass), mango leaves and flowers for puja.Ganesha may not approve of stolen flowers, but this didn't deter us from plucking a few from ornamental plants in Mantri Synergy.
As for the mango leaves, we cast our eyes on a mango tree next door, with its branches reaching out into our compound. With help from a security person we helped ourselves to some mango leaves from our neighbour's tree.
We procured the puja grass from an obliging gardener at the adjacent farm house. A helpful neighbour at D block brought us some more grass.We bought a clay idol of Ganesha from the Kelambakkam market.