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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

National Energy Crisis in Nepal; thermal plants receive green signal

While declaring a “national energy crisis” in Nepal, our government green signaled a plan to develop a 200 MW thermal plant. Generating power eight hours a day for 240 days in a year, the plant will incur a yearly loss of more than Rs 5 billion (which too will be borne by the government). To top it off, the government will provide a grant of Rs 9.6 billion to the party that decides to install the thermal plant (source).

This development will supposedly provide a reprieve from the constant power cuts; they are so frequent that we cherish the hours when we do have electricity, rather than complain on the hours when we don't.

Amidst an ailing Republic, we are desperate for need of energy as an indication of stability. The "thirty five point plan" that has taken shape is perhaps a quick and dirty bail out option compared to a sturdier and sustainable plan. Investments of a reported Rs 9.6 billion and more, into a technology which has received condemnation because of its connections with climate change and others, by a government strapped for funds, does seem rather unusual. Green signaling the plan against advice from energy experts and the operating institution (Nepal Electricity Authority) themselves, does question the motive. Are there any kickbacks involved?

We are still reeling from the recent fuel crisis; how such plant/s will function if and when such crises repeat is perhaps one dimension, planners failed to consider. Other developments that are questionable in line with this development, include shoving off the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements for hydro power projects envisioned within a year, for less stringent measures - Initial Environment Examination (IEE).

Why have environmentalists remained mum on this? Is it in fear of a backlash from an irate energy stripped population, or is it because they dare not be sidelined as bickering hooligans that seem to take to the streets at the drop of a hatch?

We are supposedly a country that boasts of water resources second only to Brazil and yet we resort to thermal power plants. Perhaps this is so because at this juncture, energy security is more dearer than a blue skyline or birds and bees.

Update @ 25 November, 2008: As of today, the load shedding hours have been bumped up, from ten hours that we have had for a couple of weeks to 12-14 hours a day as of today. So much for a reprieve from the load shedding hours.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The age of Stupid

I spent a greater half of yesterday evening reading about a to-be-released film -The age of  Stupid from director Franny Armstrong (of Mclibel and Baked Alaska) and producer John Battsek.(One Day in September). A brief synopsis posted on the web summarises of an archivist played by Pete Postlethwaite (from In the name of the father fame) living a solitary life in the devastated world of 2055. In the movie, Pete looks at "old" footage from 2008 and asks: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

Photo Credit: Spanner Films 
This is definitely a docu-drama to look out for come April next year when the movie is slated for international release. Furthermore, the movie has been crowd-funded (note the similarity to crowd sourcing) - around 270 people have funded it and will receive proceeds from the movie sales. Time Magazine covers this aspect of the movie here

Movie trailer released on Youtube...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

tag cloud from wordle! Images of Wordles are licensed Creative Commons License.

Pasted below is my "word cloud" generated from Wordle simply by providing my URI, which I tried out after reading a post on the Km4dev discussion forum.

The FAQs listed on the wordle website mention that the size of the words in the "word cloud" is determined by the frequency of the words in the text or webpage provided.  I doubt if Climate change is the most frequented words/phrase used across my blog. Moreover, I have only 5 posts tagged with "Climate Change" as opposed to 23 posts tagged with "musings" and 15 posts tagged with "random" to date. Surprisingly, climate and change are the largest words in the generated "world cloud".

This is rather strange but nevertheless, the java applet produced a neat juxtaposition of words, which makes a befitting post along with my rambles.

Try it out for your self at

Thanks to Sarah Cummings and km4dev forums for the update!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

similarities between the Carbon footprint and breaking wind

Climate Change is not a myth but a natural process and it seems we humans have had quite a role in accelerating it, hence the mention of "anthropogenic emissions" wherever and whenever climate change is mentioned. Reducing the carbon footprint comes as a viable alternative that conscious citizens from developed nations have resorted to as part of their efforts towards curbing their dependence on carbon.

This notion comes rather out of the blue and could serve to explain to people who still don't gt it (if reducing the carbon footprint has anything towards redressing the eminent impacts of climate change).

Please do excuse the rather awry sense of humour intended,

Imagine fifty people in a closed space. When someone in the room breaks wind (farts), everyone in the room bears the brunt (though at no fault of their own).

So asking people to reduce their carbon footprint is synonymous to asking all likely person/s who tend to break wind in closed spaces to avoid spicy meals (which they can pretty much do without). On the other hand, adaption here would imply asking the innocent others to equip themselves with a handkerchief or any other air purifying  equipment to help them pass through any unforeseen incidents like an accidental fart.
Granted that we from the LDC (Least developed countries) will not make much of a dent by trying to reduce our carbon footprint, but again we are contributing for the global good. :)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

World database on protected areas revamped

The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), managed by the World Conservation Monitoring Center, maintains a list of protected areas from the world over. A joint project of the United Nations Environment Program and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this initiative provided scientists & conservationists free data (Protected area boundaries among others) and information on different protected areas for non-commercial use.

The website has received a significant face lift from its earlier avatar, and now houses a mashup incorporating data from GBIF, Google Maps, Panoromio, Flickr and Wikipedia along with the conventional information from WDPA. The data download for protected area boundaries, too has been extended and incorporates KML support as well.

Screenshot from WDPA on a page for Sagarmatha National park

The product launch coincides with another similar product launch - Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool, or IBAT, from a partnership between the U.N. monitoring center, Birdlife International and Conservation International.
Both products are being showcased at the World Conservation Congress, in Barcelona, Spain.
via and Green Inc.

P.S.: Sadly, both bloggers suggest that the new WDPA product provides information on a Google Maps platform, but failed to mention that it is powered by ESRI, (as is evident on the website). ESRI must be pretty piqued at this!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Letterman on Global Warming: "We're Dead Meat" [video]

wonderfully placed!!

Originally from desmogblog

Sunday, 21 September 2008

blame it on the climate (Part deux)!!

I shared my earlier post - "Blame it on the climate!", with quite a number of friends and most seem to have misjudged my stance on climate change. I have never denied that climate change/global warming is an issue. The only bothersome aspect about climate change lies in the communication - the fear mongering and association of all calamities with climate change. Things are often blown out of proportions and lately, climate change is such a hyped deal that every freak incident of nature has been dumped on it; it is so much easier to simply blame it on the climate.

A recent statement by the RSPCA in Melbourne, blamed climate change for the sudden increase in the population of feral cats! I wonder why this surge in feral cat numbers could not be attributed to the possibility of poor animal control, negligence, improper waste control among others. Another such statement is from scientists who have drawn connections between the occurrence of kidney stones with Climate Change.

Yet another statement of a similar nature but of rather macabre implications is the statement from the UN secretary general himself, in which he blames climate change for the mass-murders in the Darfur region in Sudan. His statement implied that the incursion from Arab Muslims into black owned territory, government sponsored serfdom, failed diplomacy, vested interests etc were secondary and temporal factors unlike climate change which was the underlying culprit. This is better explained by Stephan Faris's article -The Real Roots of Darfur.

The latter (Darfur explaination) is better geared and more plausible than the earlier assertion blaming climate for the horny cats.

Reasserting my contention yet again, Climate change is a real deal and global warming is dead on. However, linking every freak of nature on climate is the norm today. This may provide momentum for Climate action, but in the long run will hamper the science behind climate change. People are already asking questions due to the alarmist nature. Even the sacrosanct IPCC reports has been constantly challenged. An opinion piece in a leading Irish paper, questioned the involvement of the purported 2500 scientists who reviewed the 2007 IPCC report and claimed that only a handful few were involved in reviewing the report. At times, media has often misconstrued statements from scientists to squelch climate change science.

In all this confusion that climate science has garnered to date, what if, (excuse my extreme optimism) in this very natural process of climate variability/climate change, we all adapt into more resilient species and survive the dreaded climate change and fit snugly into the contorted picture of the future that has been shoved into our heads?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Ignorance is bliss!!

Ignorance is bliss, or is it?

What if, we were all oblivious to the pesticides, antibiotics in our food, the smoke/smog in our atmosphere, the toxins in the drinking water and the problems with all our daily lives (carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, "tennis elbow") and a lot others.

Wouldn't life have been more simpler and easier without the knowledge of all these problems?

Knowing about these problems only makes you more wary and ever more cautious.
Ooh! shouldn't be doing this... i would contract that..
and the likes

Trying to avoid contracting one of the many diseases associated with modern life (by modern, I mean our amenity driven lives) itself causes stress.

Then, I start to wonder, what if I knew nothing of it! Ignorance alone would save me from knowing about so many problems and without having known about it, I would never worry about it.

That said,
if we didn't know cigarettes killed or lead (Pb) lead to mutation in babies, a majority of us would still be smoking happily and painting our houses with lead-based paint. I guess this would be one of the many joys of being cognisant.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Global e-conference on "Culture and Risk: Understanding the Socio-Cultural Settings that Influence Risk from Natural Hazards"

Yet another e-conference from International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Mountain Forum Secretariat (MFS) (Nepal) after the Mountain GIS e-Conference.

This time, the theme is different as it has much to do with Culture and Risk and leans towards the socio-cultural aspects unlike the earlier conference which focussed on a rather technical component - Geospatial sciences and its use within the mountain context.

The global e-conference on "Culture and Risk: Understanding the Socio-Cultural Settings that Influence Risk from Natural Hazards" is scheduled from 22 Sept to 3 October 2008.

Check out more details are available at:

Friday, 22 August 2008

Geoweb 2.0


Capitalising on Web 2.0 features, Google Maps, Wikimapia, OpenStreetMap among others, are free services that allow non-spatial people to relate and contribute to the creation of maps. Such services integrate and generate contributions from a wider audience, and facilitate collaboration in the spatial domain. Using online volunteers as vanguards, these services rely on volunteered GI to identify and verify locations. Volunteered GI makes use of principles like "people are inherently good", "greater good will always prevail" and "I know my locale best" to verify information. Also referred to as crowd sourcing due to its information retrieval and verification process, volunteered GI has defined new methods for data capture and verification. These trends also established inclusion of yet another newer dimension in GI science and have coined the term - Neogeography.

I guess this is what geospatial people refer to as breaking newer barriers and setting newer standards. Kudos to all things geospatial!!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Geospatial reawakening

The other day at work was particularly notable. A division at work showcased its accomplishments in the Geosciences domain. Presentations over a half day session showcased and stressed on what adding a geo dimension to all things non spatial can do. I found the showcasing particularly interesting because of my predilection for GIS and dabbles with the same.

Besides giving me a refresher on what Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can do, they also introduced me to yet another modality of GIS - Qualitative/Quantitative system modelling. Even though I have much to learn in this matter; adding a temporal dimension to spatial research did spark my interest.

During the floor discussion, a very knowledgeable colleague raised a very important issue. He pointed out how very little understood spatial research is among the non-spatial crowd. He also righteously reaffirmed that geographic Information (GI) science is not just makings maps.

Integrating spatial science with conventional scientific research (biological or socioeconomic) can add newer facets to conventional research with the help of spatial analysis and modelling tools. It also allows dissemination of the research product to a much wider audience through geovisualisation. This allows even laymen to identify with the research product and infer much from the produced visuals.

Of late, geovisualisation has advanced much courtesy Google Earth, NASA’s World wind, Leica’s Titan, ESRI’s ArcGIS Explorer, Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. They bring geospatial products to a much wider  audience through the World Wide Web.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

This is a first for me (a Google error)

This is exactly as Google said it. I was minding my business, researching material for a work project and then lo.. Google lowjacked me with this.. :=]

We're sorry...

... but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now.
We'll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.
If you're continually receiving this error, you may be able to resolve the problem by deleting your Google cookie and revisiting Google. For browser-specific instructions, please consult your browser's online support center.
If your entire network is affected, more information is available in the Google Web Search Help Center.
We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we'll see you again on Google.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Bottled Water woes

Blogger Diane Francis at the Huffingtonpost writes about bottled water: The height of stupidity, where she mentions the cost aspects of the bottled water sold in the departmental stores across the States. She also draws up interesting maths to support her connotation as can be seen in the figure below (taken off the same article).

Here in Nepal too, bottled water is a booming business. With nifty taglines -"pure packaged mineral water" or "100% natural spring water", as the packaged bottles seem to have had mineral additives added post collection from far flung Himalayan springs, "mineral water" is a common corner store item.

With population ever on the rise and water shortage rampant across the valley, corner depots selling unlabelled water jars are ever on the rise. With quite a number of such water depots "caught in the act" selling contaminated packaged water, negligence is still rampant.

Boiled or filtered water serves the [drinking] purpose just fine. But, yet some ignoramus few tend to make it a point to bottled water. Tsk! Tsk!! Afflicted with amoeboid dysentery even after having stuck to mineral water alone must be a sorry sight (even though at no fault of your own).

Monday, 21 July 2008


I received the following forward from a friend, stating an open invitation to the World Congress on global youths combined conferences taking place from September 10th-12th 2008. I was a bit pissed at first, as I have already surpassed the UN definition of youth and am no longer eligible for any youth meets for that matter, save as an observer.

Yet again, i checked up on two things (WORLD YOUTH ORGANIZATION FOR HUMAN WELFARE) and Julie Morgan and was quick to deduce it was nothing but a scam as is evident from the Google results.

Miss Julie Morgan is is a Labour politician in Wales and the World Youth Organisation for Human welfare has received quite a number of mentions among youth organisations, some falling victims and supporting the scam, while some warning others not to fall victims to the same. :D

Read the following email transcript, and see if you've received something similar.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: julie morgan <>
Date: Jun 28, 2008 4:39 AM

Subject: INVITATION..................................

Dear Friend,

My name is Julie Morgan, female, working with (WORLD YOUTH ORGANIZATION
FOR HUMAN WELFARE) California, U.S.A. We are organizing a global youths
combined conferences taking place from September 10th-12th 2008 at
California in the United States and in, Dakar Senegal from September
17th-19th 2008 .In our request to invite people from various countries
around the world, I went in search of e-mails on the web site as a
means of contacting youths and organizations As a result, I picked your
e-mail from an N.G.O`s website.

If you are interested to participate and want to represent your country,
you may contact the secretariat of the organizing committee for details
and information. You should also inform them that you were invited to
participate by a friend of yours (Julie Morgan), who is a member of the
American Youths 4 Peace and a staff of (WORLD YOUTH ORGANIZATION FOR
HUMAN WELFARE). I believe that we may have the
opportunity to meet if you may be willing to participate in this event.
The benevolent donors from across the world and the Organizing
Committee will provide round trip air tickets and accommodation for the
period of participants? Stay in the U.S., to all registered

If you are a holder of passport that may require visa to enter the United
States you may inform the conference secretariat at the time of
registration, as the organizing committee is responsible for all visa
arrangements and travel assistances. Below is the contact address of
the conference secretariat:


Julie Morgan

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Collaboration over the internet

Various hosted services provide tools for collaborative work spaces with features that cater to collaborative work, often allowing users (collaborators) with varied technical strengths to collaborate on any given idea.

A mailing list that allows the first mode of “one to many” connections is, perhaps the most evident communication tool that users are accustomed to. But again, this technology is considered very Web 1.0.

However, mailing lists (read discussion groups/fora) are still considered important to support diverse thematic discourses. There are plenty around - Mountain forum holds/supports discourses on sustainable mountain development), PPGIS’s primary focus is on for Participatory Geographic Information systems), FSN forum facilitates discussion related to food security. There are plenty others which host their discussion fora or Dgroups.

Wikis and blogs

Wikis and blogs are web-centric tools used for collaboration but each has a set associated audience. Wikis allows confluence where collaborators converge on ideas. Examples of successful wiki based projects include Wikipedia, Wikia, Wikispaces and numerous others.


Blogs, in turn are useful tools when chronicling ideas, thoughts or stages of an effort amidst a work group or more and seeking feedback from the same. Typepad, Wordpress and Blogger are popular web based platforms that allow users to become publishers.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Creative Commons Content

The image above is of the Alpine Ibex from Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. One of many other images in mamocalillo (Mauro Caccivio)'s photostream on Flickr, the image was released under a cc by-nc-sa license.
I used this image and a couple of other images for a web project I completed earlier for the Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN).

You can see the project at

Here's my photostream on flickr

A few resources that I found useful for using creative commons and GFDL content on blog, projects etc.
  1. How To Find Great Free Photos for Your Blog | goldengod
  2. Learn how to license your work with Creative Commons.
  3. Wikipedia and the GNU FDL license
  4. fair use on Wikipedia
  5. Summaries of Fair Use Cases from Stanford University library

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The climate change dilemma!

I understand that the Climate Change is indeed an inevitable thing and that we humans are responsible for a major part of it (if not all of it) as stated by big brother Al Gore and The IPCC secretariat. There's probably hard science behind it and maybe a bit of it has been manipulated to get the attention of us, dumb wits.

Cutting down on your carbon footprint, managing your waste (Reduce, Reuse, Recyle and Refuse and a lot more Rs in the line up), leaving something for the future (the future generation) definitely sound good and are noble efforts. The Clean Development Mechanism, the Joint Implementation mechanisms, courtesy the Kyoto Protocol look good on paper and are good tea time chit-chats.

This is something what plagues my mind - why would anyone go out of their way to save something for the future (generation)?

As long its not my ass on the line, why would I even budge a finger?

Save the pro bono crap and philantrophy bull - why would anyone care any more if an island (Tuvalu and Kiribati) is kicked off the world map or if a mountain community is led to extinction courtesy a flash flood incident?

Friday, 2 May 2008

Blame it on the climate!!

Food for thought -
  • the evenings here in Kathmandu are windier; the days are equally warmer (summer is in). But is it earlier than usual?
  • brief heavy showers tag along, while thunder and lightning punctuate the dark evenings (we still have a few hours of load shedding in spite of the recent lax in the load shedding hours). 
  • Running water from the government issued taps are always "no shows" (apparently the water levels in our reservoir has gone down).
  • I got bit by a mosquito the other day which is pretty abnormal this time of the year;
  •  The bitch (I mean the she-dog) at home is in season (estrus/heat) again unlike last year when this incident only happened once around October.
  • Additionally, news about food shortage, droughts constantly plague the media  
Are these all events courtesy of the much dreaded Climate Change

My inferences blaming the climate for the aberrant weather or my dog's inclination for fornication mean diddly squat scientifically. Yet, I am happy to adjudge all blame for all things unexplained, on the ubiquitous Climate Change.

The aforementioned events might have been benign and have never crossed my mind (or anyone else's for that matter), had it not been for the offhanded association of all things abnormal with Climate Change/Global Warming. Constant mongering of the hazards, catastrophes associated with Climate Change have made CC ubiquitous. Every other person in the sane world has his/her say  on CC and everyone pitches in their say just for the kicks.

If it is something unexplained, blame it on the Climate, much like when our forefathers blamed God for every misfortune they encountered. I do remember reading of the Mayans and Aztecs (scientific civilisations in their own right) who made mass human sacrifices to appease the gods each year. I only wonder what lies in store when it comes to appeasing the Climate Change God. 

Taking stock of what controls we have taken to date, a few steps towards abating the effects of Climate Change include
and a lot more......

We are doing our bit to save the world from the omnipresent danger of Climate change. We are dead certain that Climate change is happening but haven't been able to pinpoint when this calamity is to come or to what extent the damages will be. We have only speculated the extent of the damages as Climate science still remains a big conundrum. After all, climate change is but a science and like all sciences is prone to errors,  misinterpretations and the likes.

Note: I am a firm supporter that Climate Change is for real, but the fact the facts are often misconstrued and most make a buck without even making a dent on the problem at hand, bugs me.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Nepalese Constituent Assembly polls, April 10, 2008

Honestly speaking, I have never been a current affairs person and matters of the state, politics in particular, has run parallel to my existence, never ever crossing paths.

I turned 26 the same day the constituent assembly polls were due. I had half a mind to sleep the day off since D-day was a public holiday with nonexistent traffic, closed shops and a load shedding in place (for four full hours during the day). But, the thought of the deadline at work the following day kept taunting me and never gave me a peace of mind.

I still remember yearning to cast my vote a few days earlier, when I found myself ineligible to vote, simply because the election commission website didn't have my name on the voter's list. However, on D-day itself when I realised that I was an eligible voter after all, the voting urge had waned (I found my registration number issued by the election commission).

I consider myself the least informed person regarding any party's mandates and the likes. I almost bailed on my first ever opportunity to cast a vote, which incidentally is my constitutional right as I recalled Civics lessons from back in high school. So, towards the closing of the voting hours, I dragged myself to the polling station and cast my vote. The better part of the story, the woman who had my vote, has developed quite a lead in the polls. I am still clueless if my vote was of crucial importance, or if ever she will be a representative in the constitution assembly.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

I only hope that the constituent assembly will provide us Nepalese with a much needed reprieve from the regular bands, price hikes and insecurity in place.

Reconsidering the Ubuntu distro again!!

I just learned that I had it all wrong in my earlier post about Ubuntu not supporting PPPoE. While trying to help out another newbie in the local FOSS-Nepal google group, I stood corrected. It seems the guy who answered my query in the Ubuntu forums had it all wrong or may have prejudged my condition/problem.

An aficionado on the Ubuntu system and existing conditions of the Nepalese internet network pointed out my errornous judgement on the Ubuntu system and was keen to solve my problem.

But again, my interest into a whole new system still handicapped without audio or video codec had already waned. Besides, I am a bit preoccupied with learning other things that are of immediate importance.

Nevertheless, I know now for certain that Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon is not an easy bite to chew off. The uber-nerds at the FOSS-Nepal forum are considering a local repository for the Ubuntu distribution, so that Nepalese connected to the internet with relatively low bandwidth need not wait hours to download dependent modules for a single progam. That will definitely be a breather and perhaps an incentive towards reinstalling the Ubuntu system.

Till then, adios muchacha to the Ubuntu distro.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

how true!!

Wanda: a blog?
Hank: Yeah a blog. It’s short for web log. Web because it’s on the internet and log because umm…
Brent: They were originally printed on wood.
Hank: Right.
Wanda: Well why waste this on us, when you can put it on the internet and have the whole world ignore it.

(Sue quote: When I sit here and watch you typing I hear the Doogie Howser music in my head.)
Originally from

Monday, 24 March 2008

Random Photoshop antics yet again!!

I give you the horny he goat (no pun intended). He is a stud at the demonstration site from work and entertains quite a number of female goats, levying a collection for each insemination that he carries out. He does resemble the GNU operating system mascot - the Gnu.

I am told he is a special breed brought in from the Philippines specially for the task that is his forte. This breed and his fellow Nubian com padre, who is even bigger in size, have been at it (sowing their seeds in the Himalayan nation) for quite some time now.

Its all in a day's work for the feisty duo. All this is done for a just cause - more mutton for the tables (Fire away, dudes!!!).

The images were taken at the risk of being gored by the huge beasts and should not be used without permission. =]

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Random Photoshop antics II

(top row l-r dilip, dalle, teku; bottom row l-r: dalle2, me, sane, ranger)

Random photoshop antics II as expected!! College days with lots of time in your hands, your fellow confederates egging you on.. this is what develops.

A few digital images, a few minutes in front of dalle's computer, a pirated copy of Adobe Photoshop and a Wanted Dead or Alive poster with everyone in it to be posted on my blog..

Totally pointless, and mindless but here it is for your viewing dis/pleasure .. =]

P.S. :Names of confederates withheld

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

National Stakeholders' meeting on the Malé Declaration..., a memoir

I attended the National stakeholder meeting on the "Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and its likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia" held yesterday at the Himalayan Hotel, courtesy my involvements with the South Asian Youth Environment Network (SAYEN) and the Youth for clean Air document.
The stakeholder meeting was an impressive gathering of representatives from Government, Civil Society, Youth Groups and the private sector. The event was rather disseminatory as with most meetings; presentations from International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) about milestones achieved in the Malé project, in a decade of its implementation, were definite eyeopeners and admirable efforts in terms of the research work and policy level negotiations that have taken place.
Another notable presentation was by the VSBK (Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln) project manager from SKAT consultants who shared his thoughts on the VSBK implementation in Nepal, and shed light on the health and air benefits of switching to a cleaner and energy efficient technology. His presentation was also keen to point out that the brick industry (courtesy our Bull trench kilns and traditional kilns) contributes to around 41% of the total air pollution in Kathmandu.

The meeting was an informative one, considering my educational background and my recent associations with the Malé declaration. However, the meeting did turn out lacklustre in terms of the participation it drew; save a few active volunteers, the participants were a drowsy mix of characters and most local participants fizzled out post lunch. When the floor was finally opened for discussion, the ambience turned sombre and only a few asinine questions were raised, which indicated that mostpeople (read reps.) did not care to read the background document or at least listen to the presentations made. Guess, opting for an inclusive process does have its irks.

On the side, I also happened to meet the president of a local youth organization. Apparently, the age bar for youths is 35 inclusive and not 25 inclusive (as I previously understood it to be) which means that I will still qualify as a youth representative for the next decade. Incidentally, the president was one of the few, who cared to ask the aforementioned asinine questions. Another frequent highflyer in this category was a representative from a local federation, who admitted to being a green horn on air pollution and the Malé declaration, but did not fail to query the organizers about provisions to fund her travel to a Climate Change conference slated for April in the United States of America. I wonder what queries she might have in store, for the treehuggers in America. On failing to receive positive remarks on the query about the travel grant she put forth, she alleged acerbic remarks on the organisers' incompetence in conducting the project.

Just the nature of the participants made the meeting cumbersome, as the day grew on and I was keen to make a fresh exit prior to the closing statement.

A day well spent? Go figure!

P.S. The presiding chair, who also happens to be the current Joint secretary of the Ministry for Environment, Science and Techonology professed complete ignorance of any Climate Change conference in the offing and maintained that no correspondance of the event had been received.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

What is Branding?

photo from
Apparently, branding is not just stamping your butt cheek with a red hot iron (as they normally do with cattle) or getting the name of your brand magically tattooed on your butt cheeks so they etch out "Tenacious D".

The corporate terminology supposedly encompasses a lot more; changes in the make of a product viz. the use of colours, type faces (fonts) such that the final visual appeal is immediately identifiable to a certain product or an organization. For an organization, branding implies use of predefined templates across websites/web pages, stationary, publications and all visible paraphernalia (brochures, visiting cards, calendars, etc.) adhering to a logo and set palette of colours, brandishing in unison a common visual identity.

How am I suddenly enlightened on such a concept? Repeat introductions from our program head, and following today's interactions with a branding consultant who's been at it for over a decade, I am suddenly an enlightened man. I also have myself convinced that we are looking forward towards a definite facelift. This also makes me ponder, since this exercise is likely to be an expensive one, how often will a corporation need one?

On a personal note, we seem to have unknowingly gobbled this subversion and willing succumbed to the branding culture relating the rabbit face with Hugh Hefner and Playboy, the red flag with a sickle and hammer with Communism.

Oh! what weird brains we humans have. Tsk! Tsk!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Nepal's 58th democracy day sans fanfare

With a populace mired into haplessness, because of the fuel shortage (among a lot of other shortages) in place and hence a lower amount of traffic plying on the roads, I wonder if our 58th National Democracy Day (19 February 2008) celebrations were any fanfare. I hardly saw any of it because I had to make my presence known at the office. Nor did I manage to catch any of it on the late night news, because I along with another few hundred thousand or more Kathmanduities were under the shadow of darkness (because of the 8 hour long load shedding schedule courtesy the Nepal Electricity Authority).

In the evening, I did hear rumors of bombs going off at a few places but did not care to corroborate them, because such rumours are almost normal even if they end out true.

I skipped going home and hung around Durbar Marga (King's Road) waiting on friends. The Royal Palace stood eerily quiet. Across the road, an octogenarian face, stood busily tethering portraits of the Queen onto a white banner 12-15 metres across. This peaked my interest, because the old man also donned a kurta with inscriptions on it.

I took the liberty of taking a few snaps and had hopes of stitching them afterwards into a full sized banner, owing to my recent enlightment on panoroma making software.

On asking the old man (who I later found out to be Mr. Lakshman Singh Khadka, a self proclaimed conductor of Nepal) if he would pose for a photo, he proudly showcased his kurta and banner. On them, were inscribed felicitations for the queen on her 58th birthday wishing the queen a long and prosperous life. Along side inscribed were articulates admonishing the politicos - "licensed cats from Delhi", who rendered Nepalese citizens hapless beggars sans water, electricity, land and identity (citizenship cards).

His rage against the political parties is well justified and well placed. On the contrary, his deference for an almost defunct Monarchy is questionable and I tend to wander if this old man were just a pawn and his presence timed by a 7000 strong crowd who actually made it a point to felicitate the queen.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Exhibitionists protest yellow journalism

This is truly a first for me, and I laughed my arse off (LMAO) when I came across this photo essay.

In a conservative Nepalese society, exposing your arse in public is a definite taboo and yet five, among a handful disgruntled protestors, affiliated to "Mano kranti Abhiyan" stripped and strode stark naked in New Road to protest against yellow journalism in Nepal. Chafed at the Nepalese media who failed to cover Mano kranti Abhiyan's self assessed feats of grandeur like attempts at a nationwide walk, walks on fire, broken glass and stinging nettle among others, the men stripped and exhibited their buttocks & genitals in public. And there's more likely to be more (according to, the group plan on having female members strip and create road blockades in the near future)

In my personal opinion, their solution to a not so rampant problem was a cheap publicity stunt. Sadly for them, and most amusingly, most Nepalese media houses chose not to cover the event. Both and, failed to recognize this stunt as news.

For the full photo essay by Kabindra Man Shakya, visit

Friday, 15 February 2008

bottoms up!

Cheers! Chin Chin!! Salut! Gyambe!! Bottoms up!!
are interjections that we as social beings, use while at the water hole, gobbling up goodies and sloshing down mugs/jugs/shots/glasses of alcohol. The usual Friday when friends and/or acquaintances meet for abnormal doses of booooooze, we tend to be in a jovial mood glad of the week gone by, but ever dreary of the Monday to come.

More recently over a cup of a tea, a brilliant colleague faultlessly pointed out that "Bottoms up, friends" (an interjection used to clear our glasses by chugging the drinks) directly translated into Nepali would be "चाक माथि, साथी" (pronounced Chaak Maathi, Saathi). Therefore, me inclining you to raise your glass would inadvertently be implying you to raise your bottoms (read ass) instead.

A pro-homosexual innuendo/translation would be a friend over/on my ass. Call me homophobic, but the latter does not sound very appealing.

TGIF (Thank God its Friday) and good luck with the booze....:-)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Juno!! a feel good movie to the finish!

Ever been through in a fix while contemplating the purchase or rental of a movie; the jacket can only tell you so much. To top it off, if the cover of a confused pregnant girl gives you second thoughts, you could miss out on a realy feel good movie full of spunk (not the British one) as I almost did. I finally came about watching Juno after reading a column by Dubby Bhagat on the Himalayan Times English daily.

A twenty some year old Ellen Page in her depiction of the 16 year old headstrong girl, who ends up pregnant by her best friend simply because she felt bored one sullen night, is definitely a precious find. She fits snugly in her role of a 16 year old teenager and has been nominated for an Oscar for the award-worthy performance that she's delivered.

The direction is lucid and the actors provide a rivetting performance. The script that is the best part about the movie is quick and witty; if you are not fast enough, you just might miss out on a moment. I liked the ones by Juno and her step mom best - acerbic and yet funny, sardonic at times. Cody Diablo, a screenwriter debut provides the winning combination for the film. The sound track is just right and there's very little wrong with the film and is a hands down Oscar winner!!!

Friday, 1 February 2008

No bread? Let them eat cake

"Photo from Associated Press"Let them eat cake."1

Well mud cakes for that matter, for break fast, lunch and dinner.

Haitians seem to have resorted to eating mud cakes after basic amenities like (rice, beans and milk) became unaffordable. Rising oil prices meant unaffordable food prices, specially in the Caribbean where most of the food is imported. The mud cakes rich in calcium, meant to soothe indigestion is to be used as a staple diet instead.

Read the story from Associated Press, 29 January 2008.

A rivetting photo essay is here

1This quote (qu’ils mangent de la brioche) is popularly attributed to Marie Antoinette, a french queen from the 17th century who supposedly said it when approached about the populace not having bread. There are still various versions of this quote and disputes on who said what and when. Jean-Jacques Rousseau seems to have attributed to a "french queen" in his work "Confessions".

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Disappointed with Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon

After making such big fuss about the Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, I washed my hands off it, because it became more of a big bite to chew off, let alone digest. To start with, in the freshly installed Ubuntu system, I had no mp3 support, no video support (The Codecs are to be downloaded from Ubuntu repositories off the internet and are not part of the preliminary package even the DVD). I was almost deaf and blind in the system as I could not make use of my mp3s or my downloaded videos.

I scoured the internet for Ubuntu review, user tutorials and there are quite a few. The best of the lot being ubuntuforums, a forum supported by an overzealous lot of Ubuntu fanatics (might be too strong a word, but again it is for lack of a better word).

This is where it hit me most, the Gutsy gibbon does not support PPPoE i.e, if you subscribe to the internet via a leased line and log in with your ISP you are out of luck. That's exactly how I recieved it from a user who answered my query.

Unlike the WindowsXP OS, where you get compiled single binaries (exe's and zip files) to install, the Ubuntu system requires a lot of dependent packages and has to be installed together through a systems update. Additionally, I would need to buy an additional piece of hardware (a router) just to get my Ubuntu system connected to the internet. And so I gave up on Ubuntu for a while.

There's an interesting number of people who were enamoured by the free aspect of the software and later gave up because it got too technical.

Personally I am waiting to get my old computer working so that I can actually get fair value for a router that I may buy in the offing for a while. So untill I make do with a router, chances of me acquinted to the Ubuntu system will have to take a back seat.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Tried my hands at point n click map publishing

Tried my hands at point n click map publishing and failed miserably!!!!! But, I haven't given up hope. Its more like putting it off for later.

I started out trying to create a mashup from Google maps pinpointing my house so that I could persuade Mr. Bush to drop me the WMDs, he found in Iraq or perhaps the baby carrying storks to drop me an Orangutang

Wishful thinking.....!!tsk! tsk!!!

I have put the point n click post for later. See if I get it right the next time

Friday, 11 January 2008

point and click publishing

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