Monday, December 31, 2012

Mantri Synergy residents are now on Facebook

Our friend Neeraj Singh has created a Facebook page -  MySynergy - that is open to all residents, notably, tenants. Any resident of Mantri Synergy, with a Facebook account,can join MySynergy Group. My sense is, there can be more than one MySynergy group member from a given family. Husband, wife, their sons/daughters may have individual Facebook accounts. What is more, we must recognize that  each of them may well a mind of their own on issues impacting our community.
If the page admin.(Neeraj) knows you live in Mantri Synergy;and if any group member identifies/invites someone as part of our residents community,there should be no hassles in becoming a MySynergy member. Am I right, Neeraj ?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Students for community service

A couple of college boys  (KSR College, Tiruchengode)  hit upon a community initiative to address food wastage by customers in restaurants.  They got a poster printed ,  showing  photo of a needy child  with empty plate.  The message :  ‘Please don’t waste food….wrap it’.
Palaniappan, and  Mohammed Ali, both engineering students, with Merwin Wesley,  found waste of  food by people visiting restaurants unacceptable and decided to do something about it.  The boys designed and printed about 4,000  ‘don’t-waste-food’ posters and distributed in restaurants and eating house in several Tamil Nadu towns, through a network of volunteer students.  They have mobilised over 100 volunteers in 17 towns.
Muhammad Ali – 0-8122139893- and Palaniappan – 0-9500488803 -   registered a society SEEDS.   They conduct awareness programme  to curb wastage of food, household  energy consumption  and conserve  other resources.  Their student volunteers  visit old age homes. With guidance from college alumni, SEEDS conduct counseling sessions in schools for Plus 1 and Plus 2 students  on choice of courses and subjects for higher education.
Interestingly,  the focus of SEEDS  initiative is on smaller towns – Dharmapuri, Erode, Darapuram, Bhavani, Attur, Mettur, Udmelpet, Hosur and Sathy. They  have volunteer representation in some  bigger cities as well – Trichy,  Selam,  Coimbatore, Tirupur,  and Chennai  (volunteers – Sibi Rajan and Rahul).
 Palaniappan (left) and Muhammad Ali  Photo:  M. Balaji, The Hindu
SEEDS approached 20 schools in Mettupalayam,  Erode and Tirupur,  asked students to come up with 15 suggestions to conserve electricity… School students are involved in household energy auditing in their neighbourhood, and community tree-planting in their localities.  During Deepavali,  SEEDS ogranised  door-to-door and distributed 5,000 pamphlets on how firecrackers pollute environment.
Says SEEDS president Muhammad Ali:  “We don’t approach the Government; instead we go to people. They have supported us. Some people have thrown the pamphlets back on our faces, we take it in our stride.”
Secretary Palaniappan: “I used to spend my pocket money on mobile recharge and snacks. Now, I save it to buy gifts for school children as we conduct a number of competitions for school students.”

Crossposted from My Take by GVK

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

OMR Greens to join birdwatchers

At our Sunday 'gupshup' we discussed the idea of  OMR Greens participation in the upcoming Chennai Bird Race.  A few of us owning bicycles -  Pandey, Sridhar, Gopalan - endorsed the idea of taking a bicycle ride along  the lake on Kelambakkam-ECR road  while  birdwatchers from various parts of the city turn up on this stretch of road. Kelambakkam-ECR Road is listed among 30 designated spots for birdwatchers..
Those with bicycles could send a e-mail in response to this message. To give us an idea of the number we can expect for OMR Greens 'Awareness Ride'.
Among the birds sighted on the lake along  Kelambakkam-ECR are:  Grey Pelicans, Painted Storks, Egrets, Cormorants, Sandpipers, Terns (Whiskered, Little and Caspian), Black Shouldered Kite,  Eurasian Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Shikra, Kestrel, Pied Crested Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier,  House Swallow, Bee-eater, drongo, Rufous Treepie etc.Indian Robin,Sunbirds, Prinias and Warblers. The day-long birdwatching event, Sunday Dec,30,  is organised  by Madras Naturalists Society, HSBC and Yuhina Eco-Media.
Plan is for OMR Green-ers  to start from Mantri Synergy around 8 a m,, cycling all the way up to the tollgate on ECR end and be back, by 9.30. Blokes like me who can't bike, or ride doubles, would like a lift in someone's car that follows the bicycle riders.
For birdwatch enthusiasts who wish to register their names for Chennai Bird Race (registration free) could call 9840090875 , 9962515479.
To register log on

Monday, December 24, 2012

A 'Ninja' at Mantri Synergy

I don't suppose very many Chennai residents own a Ninja 650R. We have a bike enthusiast at Mantri Synergy who has the 2013 model. He joins the exclusive Ninja-650 club. Its membership in Chennai doesn't exceed 15. Out of curiosity I asked the owner the machine how much he paid. The figure he mentioned for the pricey two-wheeler is nearly as much as my budget - Rs.6 lakhs - for a new car I plan to buy..

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas at Mantri's Daycare

Asters Childcare, daycare centre at Mantri Synergy clubhouse have setup Infant Jesus Crib.  Mr Prem Krishna of the Daycare, in e-mail to parents, says the Christmas tree at their centre has been decorated by children with bulbs and bells. Christmas Day, (Tuesday) is the day of gifts left by Santa, for the children visiting the Daycare between 10.00  and 11.00 a m.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Community Pilliyar splits families

 I admit to a split within my family over this community Pilliyar that was installed unannounced on our residential campus, Mantri Synergy. My wife and I were not on the same page on  the idea of placing a Ganapathy idol in a secularist community,  notably,  when objection was raised from within the community.
 It all started a couple of months back , with a group of residents buying a Ganapathy idol from Mammalapuram, for Rs.16,000.  They were then looking for space in our complex to install the idol. When the issue came up for discussion in our in-house web portal  serious objections were raised to the idea. And nothing further was heard,  for well over a month,  till last weekend when most Mantri residents were taken by surprise to find a Pilliyar idol in place on the lawns of Senior Citizens Area.

A secretive group of residents had worked overnight to get this done. Idol installation puja was held early Sunday morning in the presence of a select group of residents. The event managers may have scored a tactical win, by resorting to hush-hush and questionable means. What they,  perhaps, didn't realize, or chose to ignore, is that their action gives cause for mutual mistrust, social disaffection ; it drives a wedge within the community at varied levels -  between neighbours, colleagues in OMR Greens, and even within families (such as mine).
I wonder if the means they adopted pleases Lord Ganapathy. But I can say it hasn't pleased the Pilliyar 'bakhtas'. Many of them who supported the move and contributed money for the cause  felt deeply let down  by such unannounced idol installation ceremony, carried out in a partisan manner. The Ganesha event managers have managed to create cracks in the community at many levels.

Christmas tree at Mantri's

We had Christmas trees coming up on common space at Mantri Synergy over the weekend. Morning walkers om Monday were pleasantly surprised to see on the lawns of the central park a 10 foot tall plastic tree decorated with colourful Christmas bulbs and glittering stars. Two other Christmas trees, not so big, are in place at our frontyard and the Clubhouse entrance.

Monday, December 17, 2012

OMR Greens for clean neighbourhood

Wayside halt on our way back from trash-busting at Kelambakkam

A neighbourhood weekly - The Chennai Outlook  (see Page 8) -  carries in its inaugural edition a feature - OMR Greens - A New Beginning for a clean OMR. The title sums up our agenda.
A clean OMR is possible . if we adopt a cluster approach to effective waste disposal and pre-laid draining system for discharge of sewage water treated at source with individual residential communities. While developers build sewage treatment plant within communities, they don't care about laying neighbourhood pipeline to carry their treated sewage discharge. It is pachayat's job, they say. Panchayat, on its part, cites lack of funds to take on such project. Developer-panchayat particiapation  is the way to go.
The story is the same in respect of  waste disposal strategy. Those of us in an apartments complex  adopt  'outsource and forget' waste   disposal policy.  We don't care where or how our outsourced garbage is disposed of  by service contractors. One guess is, much of our solid waste end up by the side of  Muthukkadu lake, along the road connecting Kelambakkam with ECR.
 OMR Greens would like to see a waste-to-energy conversion plant (like the Mamallapuram one) to serve a cluster of communities. We need to bring together,area-wise, residents, property developers and the panchayats for making this possible. Trash-busting is our way for mobilising public support for long-term solutions  to issues of common concern.
  I couldn't help feeling let down by the Kelambakkam panchayat. We were hoping the garbage collection staff would turn up with their tri-cycles to carry the garbage we collected, when  OMR Green volunteers,  went trash-busting on Kelambakkam Hight Street.
A small, but determined, group (one shy of the double digit number), carrying our cleaning gear, took out an 'Awareness Walk',  from Mantri Synergy main gate to Kelambakkam panchayat chief's office. Starting our trash-bust routine at the bus stop near panchayat chief's office, we worked our way to the road crossing at the market. The trash we collected was heaped up  on the roadside, to be collected by the panchayat garbage collection staff. They didn't show up. Nor did the Panchayat president, Mr G Venkatesan, on whose request, in the first place, we went trash-busting to Kelambakkam.
Mr Venkatesan had also offered to mobilize a group of local residents to join OMR Greens in trash-busting. What we found, in fact, were knots of curious onlookers hanging out on street-side, watching us cleaning up their trash.

 Stalwin was among the few who engaged us in conversation, and on learning of our agenda, offered to become an OMR Green member. Mr Stalwin, an engineer in a local company, said he would spread our message and mobilize a  local group for taking up bigger issues - stemming lake pollution, relocating a local chemical unit - requiring many more green activists.

Our Kelambakkam  'do'  was a learning experience. For instance, we ran into a rag-picker couple who carried their kids - Kartika, 2, and Kavya, 9 months -  in the garbage tricycle as they went about their daily rounds - 'there is no one at home to look after the kids'.. And then there was Santhosh, not older than my 7-year-old grandson, who helped his elder brother Ramesh in rag-picking. Asked why he didn't go to school Santhosh said, 'I don't know how to read'. But wasn't that the purpose of schooling - 'teaching kids to read and write' ?  That was a Q that ought to be addressed to Santhosh's parents.

OMR Greens on YouTube

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Getting TV connection in high-rises

Disappointed with the lack of  response from Airtel  when we wanted additional connection for our third room,  I opted for Tata Sky, only to face a hassle about placement of the Dish. The installation technician ruled out balconies for fixing the Dish in our 9th floor apartment in Mantri Synergy. . We had to seek a favour from our 12th and top-floor neighbour who owns the terrace rights. The developer has made money selling terrace space to apartment owners on the top-floor, whether or not the top floor apartment owners require such space on payment. Whether it is right and legally proper for developers to transact what is essentially  common area is quite another matter.
When you go in for Tata Sky  the dealer doesn't tell you about about the technical aspect of fixing the Dish. What is worse, both dears at Kelambakkam were affirmative in response when we asked if the Dish could be fixed in our our balcony. Shouldn't dealers be required to guide customers properly ? Shouldn't they consider hiring part-time staff for site evaluation  before selling Tata Sky or any other DTH package to  residents in high-rise buildings.
As of now, there is no co-ordination among the TV dealer, installation staff (outsourced by Tata Sky folk), and the company's web-based  customer service that mainly  operates as a re-charge  mode.           . .
I don't know if it is feasible for Mantri Synergy or other  high-rise buildings  to go in for DTH service provider who can put up a mega dish on common terrace space or on top of the clubhouse, and feed individual apartments their preferred channels. In such an arrangement we can even have a in-house channel, in which residents welfare associations can telecast their announcement and activities. This would provide the association scope for revenue through ads.. And then we can have movies on this channel..
We could do with feedback on feasibility of in-house cable facility,  cost involved in setting it and operating it  and the licensing procedure, if any.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Spotlight on Rosedale

Monday morning sun throws its spotlight on Rosedale apartments at Padur on OMR. This is in refreshing contrast to yesterday morning when mist obscured the towering residential structure, as viewed from across the road.  It is as if the Sun is compensating  Rosedale om Monday for its absence on Sunday.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Morning mist at OMR

We woke up this Sunday to misty morning. Some of the walkers had pulled out their sweater and shawl. Visibility was so poor that the towering  Mantri Synergy buildings got obscured in haze, as viewed from OMR, And the Rosedale apartments across the road was less than a hazy outline..
For more photos see OMR Resident Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sorry state of OMR

Much of the six-lane Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR) is under a foot deep water after sharp shower because it lacks a proper stormwater drainage system.
The Hindu, in a Page 2 article by Deepa H Ramakrishnan, says:   "Though the detailed project report of the road had proposed construction of drains to carry stormwater, this was not implemented. The Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC) gave it up and the State government said that local bodies would construct the drains.
"The road was constructed at a cost of Rs. 400 crore and the average collection from the toll plazas touches Rs. 3 crore per month. TNRDC also gets income from advertising revenue. The drains would cost just Rs. 15 crore, but according to sources, the company did not have adequate funding to construct them.
"Though the road became a tolled facility in December 2008, construction of footpaths and ducts has yet to be completed. The road also does not have bus shelters...

Source: A 'world-class' road, a horror in a downpour