Sunday, October 30, 2011

More on Chennai's missing trees

In an earlier post on Chennai's tree-cover deficit Mr Ram Kumar of H block says,'Let's see if we can achieve 20% green-cover in our apartment complex, as little baby steps, and see if we can expand it to our neighbourhood as well...
We have started on 'little baby steps'; and, under community tree-planting with PropCare support, six neem,as many badam, and two shenbagum saplings have been planted till date.
The challenge is to locate suitable space in the Mantri complex for sustaining our community planting programme. The need for tree-planting on a sizeable scale can hardly be understated. As I see it, we would need to compensate with tree-cover carbon emission by 1500 plus air-conditioners, and half as many cars when Mantri Synergy becomes fully functional.
And our modest target is to plant a hundred saplings of shade-giving trees. Experts recommend vennangu, pungam, poovarasu, punnai, and badam.Some of us would also like to see fruit-bearing varieties such as mango,jackfruit, sapota and the like. We would like to do community planting, preferably, with the co-operation of Mantri's landscape architect.In this regard we have already e-mailed the office of Mr Sekar James, seeking guidance in locating suitable space for planting canopy trees. Their response is awaited.
Meanwhile, The Hindu article to which Mr Ram Kumar refers in his post speaks of the need for truly eco-friendly utilization of the open space reserve (OSR)that developers are obliged to set aside for the benefit the neighbourhood. Our OMR neibourhood can do with lots more canopy trees.
Dr.D.Narasimhan, Associate Professor in Botany at Madras Christian College,who has been coordinating a tree census in the city,is quoted as saying that the mandatory OSR for developing townships "gets swallowed by built structures, parks with scanty greenery,temples and the like, which are not effective in the role of green spaces that could rejuvenate the urban environment.”
Viewed in this perspective we need to take a closer look at, and focus on Mantri's OSR (see photo) for planting greening trees that provide much-needed shade on our driveway.So as to facilitate pedestrians.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We are on Facebook

Thought I would let you know that OMR Resident is now on Facebook.

Chennai's missing trees - Today's article in The Hindu

There is an interesting article in Today's The Hindu (URL below) about the fact that Chennai is the least green-covered among metropolises. "Experts" say the % should be around 15% to 20% but Chennai has got only 9.5%

This highlights the importance of the tree-planting initiative taken by GVK, Sriraj and others in our community... Let's see if we can achieve 20% green-cover in our apartment complex, as little baby steps, and see if we can expand it to our neighbourhood as well...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Artwork on pots

Discarded toilet cisterns, bath tubs, mosquito nets, mica sheets,and other pieces of junk decorate the walkway at Shobha Manickam's apartment complex in Anna Nagar East. She works on them with her brush and oil paints. Thermocol, broken concrete pipe and stone slabs, even tree stumps, have undergone a make-over at her hands, attracting the attention of morning walkers and visitors to Ms Manickam's apartment complex.
Turning junk into artwork is an ongoing work with Ms Manickam. Her work has created a following among here neighbourhood residents, who look forward to seeing a new item added to her display now and then.
The row of cement-potted plants at Mantri's holds out possibilities for promoting creativity of residents, notably, of our children with flair for drawing and painting. And, I believe, there is hardly a child who would miss an opportunity to take to crayon, or brush and paint.
It is amazing what children come up with when you let them do what they please. This is the work of a two-and-half year old Sahasra. We gave her a blank sheet and some crayons, to keep her off meddling with cell-phone, TV remote, and things lying about in our flat.The this (see photo) was what Sahasra produced. The photo (below) is that of an young artist at work.
Nikhil, who is nearly four, is trying his hand at finger painting. They may not be producing a definitive piece of art. But the thing about the works of children is richness of colours. Unlike adults who paint with an object in mind, a child's approach to painting/drawing is process driven.
If we designate a pot on our driveway to a specified child, allowing her/him the freedom to work on it, we can count on a riot of colours, with each pot distinctly different from the rest. The plan is to make a start on Children's Day (Nov.14), when Mantri's children can choose their pot. They can oil-paint,water-colour or crayon the pots. Their work need not be completed in a day. Children would have freedom to draw/paint whatever they please. They can work at their own pace, evenings,weekends or whenever they want. Fun is in watching children give shape to their pots. Those who finish with a pot can take up another; and the exercise can go on till we are done with all the pots in the complex.

Aerobics : Weekend classes

Mr Sairam (B-1208) has e-mailed:
I would like to bring it to your notice that we (me,my wife and kids) attended last week dance and aerobics workshop at Aerobics Hall in the Mantri Clubhouse. We were so impressed that we wish to share this information with interested residents.
DNA Dance school starts regular classes from Saturday (Oct.29).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Concerts online : Sangeethapriya

The music lovers I know at Mantri's - Mr Sampath Iyengar, Mr Sundaram Giri, Mr Viswanathan - and several others I haven't yet met would be interested in Sangeethapriya, if they haven't already read about it in The Hindu. It is a website with over 6,000 carnatic music concerts by 1,100 plus artistes, sourced from personal collection of music lovers willing to spare their tapes and discs for uploads in SangeethaPriya.
The website is a creation of US-based scientist, Mr Srinivasan Rajagopalan, who chose to share his music collection, online.This was in 2004. His friends and most others who accessed the website uploaded their own collections; on condition that no commercial album is uploaded.The site, hosted in the U.S, conforms to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.If any uploaded content is objected to by its copyright owner, the site administrator has it deleted.
The site is helmed at the Chennai end by software professional Mr Sridharan Sankaran who has a day job with TCS. As a not-for-profit initiative Sangeethapriya can always do with volunteers.
They need techies to convert gifted tapes to digital format; and those knowledgeable about music to index and tag songs from chunks of concert track.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Democracy at work

Such was the scene in front of Mantri Synergy this morning,as counting of votes polled at panchayat elections was still in progress, nearly 24 hours after it started at the Hindustan University campus. As its next-door neighbour we at Mantri Synergy suffered collateral impact of public enthusiasm of party supporters who thronged the OMR stretch in the vicinity of Hindustan University.
A call taxi we had ordered to visit a patient at hospital took nearly half an hour to negotiate the half a km stretch from Padur market to Mantri Synergy. The crowd of supporters blocking this stretch of OMR was still there when we returned home at 9 p m.
Vote counting that started early Friday morning continued till this morning. Incessant bursting of fire crackers by supporters of winning candidates continued through the Friday night. Supporters waiting for results of their candidates found our visitors parking lot quite convenient for them to make a night of it in the open. That they had come prepared for it, with packed food and water, was evident from the litter of plastic they left behind on our frontyard.

Still pending: Shopfront ramp

After relocating the children's play area,we hope, the Mantri project team would focus on building a ramp to the shopfront; and also hope they get this done by the time the clubhouse grocery store opens - mid-November, they say. What I heard is that the plan is to replace existing steps with a ramp, instead of building one, to run along with the steps.
The move follows a post in this blog. Our point was a shopfront without the ramp keeps out shoppers with disability. Those using a walker or wheel-chair would have to rely on others to do the shopping for them. Besides, a ramp is needed for wheeling shopping carts in and out of the grocery store.
The vacant space in front of the store can be fitted with garden tables and benches and and trees for providing shade for shoppers who choose to have a bite or ice-cream after shopping.
Plea to PropCare: Can we persuade the retailer to plant a couple of shade-giving trees on this space to mark the inauguration of the clubhouse store ?

Work in progress: Play area re-location

We were pleasantly surprised, during our walk this morning, to find childran's play area being re-located at the sports complex. Though this wasn't my preferred choice the new location has more space, and I believe has additional features.
While thanking the Mantri's,I must mention that their decision to re-locate didn't come without repeated plea by some residents, notably, Mr Sriraj (D-1202) who,I must say, followed up our blog post (many of which go unnoticed) with e-mail, phone calls and eventually, a meeting with Mantri's on-site management.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chess,TT, anyone ?

I found them at the clubhouse noticeboard - Sreekanth and Arunkumar. They have left a note seeking sports enthusiasts at Mantri Synergy to partner them in Table Tennis, and Chess. Mr Sreekanth of G Block plays professional level TT, and he would like to meet with people of comparable proficiency in the sport.
He can be contacted at 8939600118

Mr Arunkumar(H-104)is a FIDE rated chess player. Which doesn't mean he wouldn't play with those of lesser calibre.In fact,he would be happy to teach chess to those with a flair for the game.
Mr Arunkumar can be reached at 9677067416.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mobilizing volunteers for MSCC

We don't need to wait till we have a duly elected residents association in place for initiating community-building activities. The current strength of residents is 75 families, which is about 10 percent of the 750 plus apartments in Mantri Synergy. It may well be May 2012 - at the start of school holidays - before we see full occupancy at Mantri Synergy.
Community-building efforts - tree-planting, running the club-house library, mentoring students, Children's movie shows, Weekend DVD film shows - can be initiated, if we mobilize a group of resident volunteers - Mantri Synergy Community-building Corps (MSCC).
To start with, we need data-base, which has contact details of residents willing to volunteer,their expertise and skill sets,the number of hours,weekly; and preferred time of the day (say, Wednesday evening, Sat.afternoon, Sun.morning) they can spare for community activities.
PropCare, which maintains records of residents, can help in collecting volunteering details.This can be an interim arrangement till such time we create a proper Mantri Synergy residents website with a residents directory.In this context, residents at their Oct.23 meeting could consider a proposal we received from ApnaComplex dot com.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Proactive tree-lovers at Mantri's

A few days after she moved in(E-903) Mrs.Revathi Giri asked PropCare about the possibility of her planting trees on the Mantri Synergy campus. When she heard about the Oct.17 tree-planting at the visitors parking lot Revathi and her husband wanted to be a part of it, and offered to plant a tree.
The next time they would want to plant a fruit-bearing tree. Jack fruit is Revathi's favourite. She has volunteered to be part of a Mantri Synergy community-building corps (MSCC) we plan to evolve for taking up small-group activities such as nursing the saplings till they take roots, indexing and up-keep of books donated to our clubhouse library. As a teacher Mrs Revathi's special interest is in students guidance. She referred to the Vedic method of teaching young ones maths the easy way.
Mrs Mala (E-301) joined us in making PropCare sponsored tree-planting a community effort. A notable aspect of the Oct.17 programme was dedicating a tree to our security staff.
PropCare Sivaram invited securitymen Mohan Kumar and Khirud to plant a badam close to their cabin at the main gate. Mohan represented the security personnel who man our main gate, night and day, with no holiday for dasara, diwali and several other festivals.
Khirud represented the migrant group of our security men from Assam, Orissa and elsewhere who have been driven by their economic condition/domestic circumstance to travel so far away from home in search of subsistence employment.

Mantri's plantsman Muthiah

Mr Muthiah is the chief of Mantri's gardening staff. He chose the species that we planting on Mantri visitors parking lot last evening. When I asked him about the saplings of his choice Mr Muthiah mentioned something in Botanical mumbo-jumbo. Which impressed me, without making me any wiser.It is a species that belong to the badam family, he said.
What we planted were two year old saplings. Mr Muthiah reckons they would start giving us shade cover in about six months. My preference would have been for neem, which, he says, would take years grow.But then any species that gives us much needed shade,fairly fast-growing, is good enough. Mr Muthiah has helped us procure all the eight saplings - six neems and two shenbagums - that we have planted till date in our community tree-planting programme.
Gardeners Keliappan and Ramachandran did the digging and shoveling, and the house-keeping staff - Pushpa and Geetha - brought in the buckets for watering the plants.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Parking lot tree-planting

Monday,Oct.17, 4.30 pm
Visitors' parking lot

PropCare Sivaram has organized a community planting programme at Mantri Synergy visitors parking lot tomorrow (Monday). Six saplings would be planted, three each on either side of the parking lot. Mr Sivaram says the saplings, of badam species, have been chosen for providing the much-needed shade cover in the open parking lot.Young mothers waiting for children's school bus in the blistering mid-day sun would welcome the initiative.
Mantri residents, with PropCare support, have planted till date eight saplings under our community tree-planting programme. Our effort is to make community-planting a monthly feature. Early this month (Oct.1) we planted six neems to mark Gandhi Jayanti, and to celebrate young men on our security and maintenance staff who are pursuing higher studies.
The other three neems planted on Oct.1 were in celebration of the first Mantri resident, Mr Nambiar (he moved to Mantri's in February last); and, of my grandsons who started going to Montessori school in California. You don't need a cause or reason to plant trees, but it helps their nourishment and up-keep if we can relate a given sapling to a person or occasion.
At Mantri's we refer to a neem or shenbegum by their names - Aadit, NASA Srinivas, Nikhil, Sidharth, Nambiar, Vishnu, Ezhumalai etc.
I would suggest we plant a badam tomorrow to welcome in our midst migrant security workers who have had to leave their homes in Assam, Orissa or wherever to seek employment here with us. Another sapling can be dedicated to the security staff manning our main gate,night and day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

TV and our children

Like all babies, Khalil goes gaga for any sort of screen. The sight of an electronic device quiets him instantly, and if you hand him the gadget, it will reliably captivate him for 10 minutes or longer, far more time than he spends with any other kind of toy....
Ever since he was born, I’ve taken advantage of this effect judiciously but regularly, usually to get out of a jam. In his earliest days, I’d lay him on the couch in the morning and watch TV while he drifted off to sleep. When he got older, I’d give him my phone to calm him down in the car or at the supermarket. When he was about 6 months old, I began lobbying my wife to let him have an old laptop as a toy. (I was rebuffed.) And just before he turned 1 year old, I discovered that TV was an ideal way to distract him while feeding him dinner. He’s always been an insufferably picky eater—he’ll kick and scream and spit out much of the food we try to push into his mouth. But if I sit his high chair in front of the TV, his resistance melts.
...More in this write-up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Off to school

My wife and I run into Nitya every morning during our walk on the Mantri driveway.Which makes our day, because you don't see very many kids of her age going to school so cheerfully.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Petrol filling tips

Mr Srinivas,a friend in Bangalore,e-mailed some dos and don'ts for car-owners when they drop by at a petrol bunk to fill up their tanks.
1) Do it the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Service stations have their storage tanks buried under ground. The colder the ground the more dense the petrol, and when it gets warmer petrol expands. Buying in the afternoon or evening....your litre is not exactly a litre.
2) Filling up, do not squeeze the nozzle trigger to 'high' mode. The trigger, if you haven't noticed, has three modes - low, middle, and high. Pumping in on 'low' mode minimizes the vapour that is generated while pumping petrol. All hoses at the pumping station have a vapour return. If you pump in on the high mode, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapour, which gets sucked back into the underground storage tank.
3) Fill up when your tank is HALF FULL.The more Petrol you have in your tank, the less is the air occupying the empty space.Petrol evaporates faster than you can imagine.Storage tanks have an internal floating roof, which serves as zero clearance between the Petrol and the atmosphere, so it minimizes evaporation.
4) Do not fill in petrol in your car, if you find, at the service station, a petrol truck pumping it into the storage tanks.Chances are that the petrol in the storage tank gets stirred during petrol delivery process. Filling up at this time, you might get in your car tank some dirt that normally settles at the bottom of the storage tank.

Without comment

Posted for information.
It is not for us to say that such display ads. could affect some sensibilities.
We do not say that billboard display,if allowed,is best done at designated spots, such as the clubhouse, the store-front (we are promised one by early November).
We are not saying that one such billboard invites others to advertise their karate, cookery or math tuition classes.
Anyway, for the benefit of those interested in dance lessons, the contact numbers given on the billboard are 9941724159/9941341300

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How about tulsi, Mr.James ?

This space behind A/B block,in front of the clubhouse,is being readied for landscaping. And before they do the planting on this patch, I would appreciate if our landscape architect, Mr Sekar James, could consider planting tulsi as a hedge plant.
Tulsi is found, nay, worshiped, in most households. We had potted tulsi at our third-floor apartment in Mysore. Besides its use for religious rituals, tulsi has medicinal value. My poser to our landscape architect is: Why not tulsi, Mr James?
Whenever we raise issues pertaining to resident-friendly use of common space - planting shade-giving trees by the side of visitor's parking lot, on the front lawns and along the driveway leading to I Block, and re-locating children's play area - Mantri's on-site managers stonewall us by citing landscape architect.
We are sure Mr James is not averse to accommodating residents' request/requirement. Our community-planting programme, Mr James, requires allocation of adequate space for planting about 100 trees in our common area over the next year or so. This is a small number, considering that Mantri Synergy would account for over 1,500 air-conditioners when all the 700 plus flats are occupied. I understand your constraints, Mr James. I read in newspaper that high-rise apartment buildings should leave as open space at least 70 percent of land.I wonder if Mantri's have followed this rule.
And then there is OSR, the open space reserved for greening. Would anyone know where this might be ?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Householders' insurance policy for our Mantri Synergy apartments

While I recently came across an article on householders' policy, it occurred to me that we could look at taking a householders' cover for our apartments at Mantri Synergy.
I am not sure how many residents at Mantri Synergy have already gone for this cover.
According to me, it is worthwhile to go for it, considering the peace of mind it gives us in return.
As most residents may be aware, most insurance companies offer separate covers for Structure and Contents and the covers are self-declaration based.
Typically, the cover for structure secures the structure from natural calamities and man-made calamities.
The cover for structure is calculated on the basis of the reinstatement value i.e. the value of house if it had to be re-constructed at the current construction rate per square foot, and NOT the market value of home.
The cover for contents offers a wide range that one can opt for at his discretion.
(There are even specific clauses like automatic increase in sum insured for a period of 15 days before and after wedding of any of family member!)
Again, while deciding on cover for structure, insurance companies generally advise us that the builder / developer would have taken a cover for the project as a whole. However, the pro-rated apartment-wise sub-limits are mostly inadequate and hence individual house-owners should go for a top-up cover.
I was just wondering if we have any such details available from Mantri Developers so that we can take a call on topping up.
Householders' Policy is offered by all leading general insurance companies.
My suggestion: if a significant number of residents are interested, a road-show could probably be organized at our complex by the insurance companies or their agents over a week-end and attempt to get special terms from them.
Comments welcome, please.

For your attention, Mr T M Krishna

Dear Vikram Raghavan of Team Svanubhava,
Call this an open-letter, my wishful thinking or whatever you will.
Reading about your three-day event (Oct.10-12) at Tiruvanmiyur I visualize the prospects of Mantri Synergy residents community hosting a Svanubhava event, an year or two from now. It would be great to have a bunch of you spending a weekend in our residential community on OMR. Svanubhava volunteers and invitees can stay with residents who would be happy to have you as their guests.
We have the clubhouse where programmes can be held - workshop, lectures and panel discussions. Our clubhouse poolside auditorium with 200 odd seats can be a cozy venue for evening concerts.
Mantri Synergy is an emerging apartments complex that would people over 700 families in a few months. Right now, we have 50 odd families living in the complex. The reason I feel we at the Mantri's can make svanubhava-type event happen is the response we had, to a recent evening of carnatic music Mr Sriraj (D-1202) hosted at our clubhouse TV room. Mr Sriraj, a Mantri resident, shared with others his DVDs featuring concerts by MS, and violin recital by T N Krishnan. The two-hour programme evoked such interest that some residents asked if we could make it a weekly feature at our clubhouse.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fumigation to combat mosquito

Every other day we have pest control people carrying out fumigation in the green space at Mantri's. It has been arranged by PropCare,presumably,in response to residents complaint about mosquito menace. Now that they have been doing this for the past couple of weeks, shouldn't PropCare conduct a survey among the 50 odd residents to find out if fumigation really helps combating mosquito?
My problem with fumigation is that the toxic fume it throws up could harm bees and insects, some of which help vegetation and enrich the soil.I am not sure if fumigation keeps mosquito away, but it has triggered an influx of insects into our 9th floor flat in D block.
I wonder if those who prescribed fumigation thought of insects influx in its wake.We mopped up our living room floor for this photo, which was taken within an hour of fumigation last evening. They do this four times a week.
The cost? Though no official figure is available from Mantri's,it is reckoned that fumigation at Mantri's four times a weeks would cost around Rs.25,000 a month. And the money has to come from our maintenance deposit.