Sunday, 4 November 2007

Mousetrap - 125

India Water Portal
We take water for granted. Most of us barely give it a thought, enjoying the luxury of having it, quite literally, on tap. But, as we learn when we face water cuts or polluted supplies, the lack of it can be disastrous. Supported by the National Knowledge Commission, this portal is a huge knowledge base on water. Its creators say it was “created in a spirit of sharing and openness by a wide range of partners including technical water experts, research institutes, NGOs, Government departments, historians and hydrogeologists, IT specialists, educators and others.” There’s something for everyone: researchers and academics, journalists, kids, teachers, environmentalists, the casual passer by with some curiosity on the subject. Ask questions, participate in their forum, subscribe to their newsletters.. go, sign up. Your children will thank you.

Clean blogs
The Lazy Environmentalist & The Green Skeptic
Two takes on the environment. Lazy E takes the stance that we all care about eco issues, but most of us don’t have the time to do anything about it. So she tries to make it easier for us to make sustainable decisions by keeping us informed of steps others are taking, not just governments, but people like you and me. The Skeptic is, to my ear, a little more formal in his tone. His aim: “challenging assumptions about how we live on the earth and protect our environment. We have four focus areas: global climate change, social entrepreneurs, microfinance, and clean tech innovations.” They’re both good places to start when you’re making your first steps to widening your knowledge on the subject.

Chew on this
Slow Food
A dig at fast food and all that it means, “slow” food is about “living an unhurried life, beginning at the table.” Food, the site goes on to say, “should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health.” The movement predates the web (it began in Italy, in 1989), and has national arms in several countries now, including what it calls convivia (local chapters in plain speak) in many more, and over 80,000 members. (There are a couple in India, though I didn’t see any activities listed against their names.) The site is a bit clunky, seeming to always say over several pages what it could say in one. Perhaps they believe in slow browsing too. Never mind my snark. They’re worth a slow, long look.

Slow Travel
From Slow Food, there came the Slow Movement, and Slow Travel is one of the results. It suggests that rather than “do” a country—y’know, fly from place to place on an itinerary, ticking must-sees off from a list—one should totally immerse oneself into a place, staying at least a week, exploring, wandering, really getting the feel of it. The site has articles, tips, lots of reviews and listings, forums, photographs, everything to help you learn from what others have experienced. It’s US-centric in its views, but otherwise well worth some armchair travel time, in preparation for your next holiday.

P.S. This is a site I featured here just a couple of months ago, but just in case you haven’t seen it yet (tsk, tsk, you must listen to the nice columnist), please go to the Earth Day Footprint Quiz and figure out your—yes, that’s you—impact on the planet.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 4th November, 2007.

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