Thursday, June 20, 2013

ladybird publications illustrators I like

I'm a huge fan of the old Ladybird books. It's a bit of a shame that the recently published ones, don't quite live up to the quality of their predecessors. These pictures are from, 'Learning With Mother', illustrated by Harry Wingfield, 1970. Aren't they beautiful?

Below is, 'The Discontented Pony', illustrated by P.B. Hickling, published 1951. I've got quite a few unhappy pony stories from this time. It must have been a common problem! I hope these days ponies can find the help and support they need to lead happy, horsie lives!
and Eric Winters for books written by Vera southgate

Monday, June 3, 2013

comparing Toronto and Bangalore


TORONTO… I live here now
Why am I comparing Toronto and Bangalore?  Because  Bangalore  has all the resources to be as good as Toronto; the tragic reason why it is not like Toronto is the CORRUPT POLITICIANS and corrupt bureacrats in the government who want to loot Bangalore instead of improving the lives of the people in Bangalore
BANGALORE…I lived here for three decades, about a decade ago.
Flower plants all over the city in spring and summer, tended by the government
If there were flower plants on the streets of Bangalore, pedestrians would have plucked out the flowers and maybe even stolen the plants. Also where is the water to water these plants? They would have died in no time
Art work and murals on the walls of the buildings
If there was art work, it would be defaced in no time by people pasting photos of politicians on them. People would have spit the red  beetle juice on  the walls and destroyed the artwork.
Statues & art work made of glass, cement, metal all over downtown, in parks and several streets.
The glass statues would be destroyed during any riot or strike; the metal statues would be stolen for their metal during the nights by thieves.
No stray dogs and cats on the streets. There is enough food in the green areas of Toronto for the animals in the wild such as racoons, skunks, deer, squirrels, foxes, wild dogs, frogs, moles, gophers and  several species of birds to survive.

If any animals are  causing a nuisance to any residents, there are professionals who will capture the animal without harming them and release them into the wild again.
Starving and thirsty stray animals, fighting for survival and becoming more vicious by the day.
Increase in stray dog attacks on children, babies and adults. Before, these stray dogs would get some food by householders but not now. There is no drinking water anywhere around for several square miles all over Bangalore for birds or animals.
Potable water available for people...24 hours a day. Unlimited quantity. At affordable rates.
People take water for granted in Toronto i.e. they do not think about it........let me explain.people think about water as much as they think about their breathing..i.e. hardly ever
Rich or poor, water is not available even for 2 hours a day for most people;
The cost of water is escalating though it is a basic necessity.
 Due to scarcity of water which is vital for all living beings, there is death of plants, trees, animals and birds. And what about the dying fish and water birds and water plants?
In Bangalore,  people especially women are preoccupied about water worries . At least 90% of the women spend at least 1 hour a day worrying about water's availability and sufficiency for the day...even middleclass, whitecollar job women. Imagine how much more time, the poorer women with even less access to water, worry about it! 
All civilizations started around rivers and lakes and civilizations died out when their water sources died. Bangalore will die without water.
There are 9 rivers flowing in Toronto. Years ago, Toronto almost lost them to pollution and industries but the government & the people had the sense to reclaim the rivers and save the rivers.
The river Vrishabhavathi in Basavanagudi is polluted and cannot be called a river at all!
If you ask a school kid, are there rivers in Bangalore, he or she will say no as they will not even be aware of a river in Bangalore as they have not see it. All they see is there huge sewers with black water flowing.
There are thousands of acres of wild green spaces for wild animals, birds and plants and water bodies in Toronto.
People are not allowed to cut trees in their own houses, without permission from the government.
A Britisher had called Bangalore,"Land of a 1000 lakes" in 1890. Today, almost all the lakes of Bangalore have been built over. Where is the rain water supposed to go?
How is the ground water supposed to be replenished if the entire land in Bangalore is built over? There are buildings, tarred roads, cemented pavements, residences with concrete on every inch of earth…how the hell is the rain water going to go into the earth’s surface to replenish the ground waters???
There is no ground water in Bangalore . Wells are drying up;
There is unlimited electricity and it’s for 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. For reasonable rates.
Frequent powercuts, more in summer but almost all the year round in some areas. What is the point in having all sorts of modern gadgets but no electricity to use them? Electric grinders, fridges, televisions, washing machines, computers, geysers, hair-dryers, vacume cleaners…but limited electricity.
As a woman, I feel safe to travel alone at all times of day or night in 99% of places in Toronto by walk, public transport or private transport.
Here people can dress how they like and no one will stare, pass lewd or rude comments, grope or attack them. You see young girls in skimpy clothes..they have the freedom to wear what they like ...which is the right of every single person, whatever their age or gender maybe. You see teenagers or old people dressed like punks or goths, or whatever. No one ever disrespects them for the way they dress.
As a woman, I never felt safe in several areas of Bangalore to travel alone, especially by walk. When I was young, I did not feel safe even in daylight due to the eve teasing, even in the midst of thousands of people on the roads.
Women are groped, however 'decently' they dress and men have the audacity to say that women who dress skimpily' are asking to be groped! In Bangalore if you dress a bit differently, say have a different hairstyle, people stare, pass comments, some even have the gall to come and touch you...or attack you. How come dressing how you like is "immoral" and  the conservative goons  think they have the right to physically attack women or people who dress how they like?
In Bangalore/India, victims are penalized! The criminals are not! A woman who is attacked is asked , "Why were you out of the house so  late at night; If you had been inside your home, you would not have been attacked. OR "If you had not worn such modern clothes, they would not have groped you" 
In Bangalore, even the people who are supposed to protect you such as the police cannot be trusted. 
The consequences for crime  in Bangalore is not enough to stop them from committing the crime again.
The corruption and crime  is so much these days that life for the ordinary citizen is a nightmare of worsening proportions.
There is a fantastic garbage collection and removal system..three bins, one to collect vegetable waste which will be used as fertilizers; one which collects what is recycled such as glass, metal, paper and  certain plastics . And one to collect what cannot be recycled such as thin plastics, etc. Places where we can deposit other wastes which are toxic such as batteries and cells, places to deposit used electronic wastes. Hardly any parts of Toronto have garbage strewn around.
People DO NOT leave their dog’s poop on the road when they walk their pet. People collect their pet's poop in a plastic bag and put it in the garbage bins meant for pet's poop which are in nearly all areas of Toronto and the dog owner walking his dog can put it in this bin and walk back home.
There are recycling depots where you can put big size things you want to discard such as fridge, ovens, stoves, etc. My office even has a space where you can put finished batteries and they dispose it. Batteries have toxic chemicals in them and should be discarded only in specific ways. 
The government has to come up with a system which effectively deals with the increasing amounts of waste produced by the increasing population of Bangalore. There is no system at all in Bangalore! The system is to collect all the garbage and dump it outside Bangalore! Is that a system? The garbage is flying around in the wind, causing health problems to people who are unlucky enough to live near these dumps!
People walk their dogs only to let it poop on the road! They leave the poop on the road and walk back home. That poop is (1)stamped on by other walkers if they are not alert(2) It enters the water system through rains and drains.(3) imagine, the germs in the water, drains, soil and air by ten thousand dog poops a day entering the system…(multiplied by 365 days, multiplied by 100 grams of poop per dog per day)
Nothing is being done about the used batteries and cells which are thrown out with other garbage but which leak toxic chemicals into the earth where they are thrown; nothing is being done about the various toxins being disposed off by the small and large industries in Bangalore through drains.
The public transport system is safe, and runs for almost 22 hours daily. It is a bit expensive but I am not complaining
The public transport is terrible. Rude bus conductors, rash drivers causing accidents; conductors who cheat the public and the government by taking money and not issue tickets or old tickets, buses which are late and overcrowded, women and girls not safe from men, even in crowded buses when people do not help a lady being bullied by men..they watch silently.
The roads, pavements, buses and trains are all handicap-friendly. A person in a wheel-chair can travel by bus as the buses and trains are designed such that a wheelchair bound person can independently and comfortably get on the bus, train or taxi within a minimum of time and effort. The wheelchair can transition easily from road to footpath on well-designed ramps and travel for miles and miles. A blind person hears the signals and knows when to cross the roads at traffic lights. The drivers are courteous and helpful to the handicapped persons and lower the step of the bus for the wheelchair to get on or off the bus.
The noise and air  pollution in Toronto is low and one can eat outside on the patios (set up on the pavements)in summer.
Even an able-bodied and nimble person will have to walk carefully on the streets of Bangalore today. I have had family and friends, falling and hurting themselves in Bangalore due to uneven footpaths and potholed roads.
Footpaths are taken over by vendors in some places.
Women have to watch out for chain snatchers. People have to cling to their cellphones and wallets which can be snatched any moment by bike-borne thieves or thieves on foot.
Women cannot step out alone due to eve-teasers.
Impatient bikers ride on the footpath, if they do not get road-space! One has to look down to avoid stamping on spit, dog-shit, other dirty things on the pavements.
The roads are so crowded in several areas, that people who would take a walk for health reasons, now stay indoors as it is healthier and safer indoors.
The noise by honking vehicles in unbearable in several parts of Bangalore. The smoke from vehicles makes stepping out a nightmare for people with respiratory problems.
Health is free. Even poor people have access to good quality health care.
The staff at the Bangalore government hospitals which are supposed to care for the poor demand bribes. 99% of them will not see a patient, unless bribed. What will the poor people do if they fall sick? They die.
The doctors being churned out of the several medical colleges are so poorly trained, their diagnosis and treatment is appalling. So even the middleclass and rich suffer, if they go to a poorly trained ‘donation” doctor.
There are food banks for the poor; salvation army and goodwill and other thrift stores for those who cannot afford to buy new things for daily use. These stores sell used things very  cheaply…clothes, vessels, books, games and electronics, furniture, almost everything on needs.
Life is hard and getting harder for the poor. When they have to struggle for BASICS such as water and toilets, imagine how difficult it is to get other things! Middleclass people, especially retired people with fixed income, which cannot cope with the inflation are frustrated by rise in cost of food. So imagine how the poor must be starving, in this "silicon valley" which is supposedly  having a booming economy now.
You will not get the smell of urine when you walk around in Toronto streets, parks or even in the wilderness.. There are clean toilets, which are free in places such as malls. Men have the decency to not piss in public places.
There is the smell of urine EVERYWHERE  such as Majestic, city market, avenue road,  under the metro rails, in Bangalore! In crowded areas, in residential areas, outside hospitals, theatres, shops…anywhere and everywhere!
And it is only the men who piss in public, not women who control themselves, either because they are more decent or it is unsafe for them to piss around in public. Why is the government not building enough free or affordable  toilets for the millions who walk on the streets of Bangalore?
Most people are courteous to strangers and friends alike. There is little if any discrimination based on race, colour, wealth or gender.
Due to intense competition for few resources and due to  several cultural factors, people face discrimination due to their caste, region from which they come, age, wealth or lack of wealth, etc. There is so much hostility displayed in so many places in Bangalore, that one has to become thickskinned and insensitive just to survive!
Let me explain the stresses:
When I woke in the morning, my first thought was"will we get water today? Should I fill all 10 buckets or will the water come tomorrow too?
My next thought was,"Will I get milk today or will it be sold out?( I had to get up early and run to the milk seller on feastival days as the milk woiuld get sold out quickly on those days as people bought more on a feastival day.
As I get ready to make breakfast, I would pray that the electricity will not be cut before I finish my grinding in the mixer.
Then I had to hope that the bus will not be so crowded; that it will NOT pass by my stop without stopping to pick me up.
I had to avoid guys in the bus who come right up to the front and grope women. Then I would become tense wondering if this bus has the asshole of a conductor who would take money and not give tickets or not return the change.
I had absolutely no time to think of anything besides "survival".  How the hell can a person in India who is stressed out in this way, for several hours daily, ever think of relaxation, hobbies, interests, philosophy, art or creative pursuits???
The only thoughts running through my brain when I had a free moment was :"Will they cut off the electricity today? What if the water does not come tomorrow? Will I have time to make dosas or will it have to be uppit again?
If this is my fate as a relatively better -off person from middle class, imagine the brutal lives of those millions who are poor?
In Toronto, I can in my leisure time sit quietly, think and do things like
 write a story,  or a skit or a poem
spend time on photography,
experiment new recipes,
 read books(great books, borrowed free of cost from the public library),
 do gardening,
 play with my pet,
browse on the internet, watch television, go for long walks and enjoy nature(trees, birds, animals in wooded areas)
discuss topics of interest with people and have some really fantastic discussions, learning and teaching a lot in the process.

I could go on and on but I am stopping here. I am writing this because, my friends keep asking me to come back to Bangalore and settle down as “Bangalore is the silicon valley with a booming economy”.


1)Most people i.e. 99.9 % have access to adequate drinking water, water for other needs.
2)24 hour electricity
3)phones, internet access which almost never breakdown.
4)free good quality education till grade 12
5)free daycare for children of parents who cannot afford
6)Orphan children are taken care of and no child labour
7)the government takes care of the poor, mentally ill, developmentally delayed(mentally retarded) and they are not a burden on the family or society.
8)SAFETY on the roads.
9)Lower crime rate than Bangalore.
10)clean breathable air compared to Bangalore. Millions of trees oxygenating the air
11) thousands of acres of green spaces for wild birds, animals, trees and plants and for people.
12, You can trust the police and judiciary and the government employees and government organizations. I bought my house without paying a single cent of bribe, without facing any delay.
13.Hundreds of parks and urban forests where people can at NO cost i.e. FREE, go for walks, jogs, cycling; for intellectual stimulation, there are wonderful public libraries with an amazing collection, there are subsidized educational and entertainment programs for economically marginalized people, people living with disabilities and senior citizens. People can swim, for free, in the lake Ontario.
 In Bangalore, even when I had free time, my mind was never free...If I try to sit and compose a story or sketch something, my mind would be distracted by....worries..which I have already mentioned above or distracted physically by:
  • Noises i.e. traffic noises  from the road or television and music from neighbours...The houses are now so close to each other and people cannot escape the sounds from their neighbours houses
  • Mosquitoes, if one is working in the evening or night
  • the electricity suddenly going off and hence the fans going of during the day or the lights going off during the nights.
  • the large number of mundane jobs to be done by women at home, which leave little time for anything else.
The increasing stresses of living in Bangalore can and is leading to a significant intellectual and moral and all sorts of decline of the people. I recall Maslow's hierarchy when I think of living in Bangalore. Living in Bangalore today  is like slipping from the top level towards the bottom on Maslow's hierearchy of needs. Let me give a simple example: Aesthetics is at a higher level in Maslow's hierarchy while  safety is  at lower level  in the hierarchy. In the past, the middleclass would consider aesthetics when they built houses. Now they consider safety and aesthetics has simply gone out of our repertoire; now you see houses surrounded by ugly iron bars so that thieves cannot get in. 
Another example is that, in the past we would focus on moral, spiritual and ethical issues. Now people are trying to simply survive and have neither the time nor the inclination to function at higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. How can a person even think of self-actualization when he is striving to just stay alive, feed and clothe himself and his family?

The quality of conversations in Bangalore when one interacted with either family members or others was also so mundane, thanks to the hassles of daily living: the topics invariably revolved around complaints about the  rising prices of food, about the servant not coming,(servant stealing or the servants stopping work in our house abruptly without informing;)increasing tempertures of bangalore, the difficulties of travelling in the terrible traffic, the horrible news in the newspapers, the soulless politicians, the lack of playgrounds for children to play which make them sit at home watching tv or playing on the computers endlessly, etc. Even if people started talking about  pleasant neutral and interesting topics, the conversations would inevitably drift   towards discussing the problems of daily living which seem to have no workable  solutions!
It has gotten so bad that, all that the people can talk about is practical or concrete day to day things.  Members of my family have lost the ability to chat for fun about random topics. All talk seems to be for a definite function. There seems to be no chatting, no talk unless it is to say"do this" or"do that".
The hassles of daily living in Bangalore has so worn out my family members brains, that they seem to be brain dead to some extent now. They are incapable of talking or thinking  beyond the things to be done. For example, I am sure my sister does not  simply 'chat' with her daughters. All of her  her communicaiton to her daughters is functional, such as "Did you do your homework?" "Sit and study". "Open the door" "Stop playing". 
I wonder if it is only my family where this brain-deadness is happening or if it is spreading all over Bangalore, rendering people incapable of having conversations which do not have practical goals.
 Lack of intellectual stimulation is another thing in Bangalore. The privilaged few who have stimulating interactions and access to talks, lectures, drama, theatre, etc are lucky. The vast majority are exposed to : Indian movies and Indian  tv shows made by mediocore people lacking in creativity or aesthetics. Those who have internet access can access to better quality information and entertainment from other countries but this is again hampered by slow downloading, frequent electricity cuts, programs  unavailable to Indian audience, etc. Bangalore may be the Silicon Valley, but one can easily become brain-dead in this city!
If you want good south Indian food, there are plenty of resturants. But if food is the only stimulation you have access to, how long before you become a foodie, who craves for food and nothing else? Shopping at malls and eating out seems to be the current time pass method for all middle-class people. There may be a few music events, theatre events, talks , lectures & discussions going on but as I said, the bother of travelling puts people off.
The teens and kids interested in sports find the few playgrounds crowded and have to fight for space. Many are forced to give up games and focus on studies by parents. A few thousand out of lakhs of children have access to some space, coaches and equipment for games. It is the right of every child to have access to space for games, not just  the privilaged few.
decreasing water day by day
power shutdowns often daily
phone ie. landline or internet not working at least once a month
government schools are not run as well as they should be
Less said about the abuse children face, the better. but still children in Bangalore are better off than the kids in some other places, where girl kids are even less safe, etc
Daily deaths on the roads and innumerable accidents leaving so many people damaged for life and a burden on their families.
absence of justice
rampant corruption
fear and respect for the corrupt people in power and absolute disrespect for the honest and humble people who do not have power.
Rampant casteism, regionism(example the attack on Tamilians in Karnataka now tha the Kaveri dispute is going on), gender discrimination, etc.
Relatively good quality school education is unaffordable to many and so those children are at a permanent disadvantage in their future life ...and they will get stuck in the cycle of poverty; the hundreds of engineering, dental and other colleges in Bangalore are of poor quality and Bangalore/India generates poor quality citizens with poor ability to their respective jobs well due to poor training...this keeps Indians producing poor quality work and keeps India poor.
Nepotism keeps good people from getting into what they deserve and only the people with influence get into jobs of their choice and they do poor quality work and the cycle of low quality perpetuates.
Unless the assholes in the government change or  by some miracle(miracles don't happen) they change, I dont see any hope for Bangalore for the next 50 years.

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

Last walk because I can't take the mosquitoes.  I found this tree unusual... I dont know what these red berries are but th...