Saturday, 14 June 2014

Hemantha Kalam - 22 'Constructing; The Power of 'Power'

The cawing of the crow chick (baby) was incessant. It fell a few branches down from its nest in the tree, and as its tiny wings are not fully and properly formed, it could not fly back to the nest. It was hobbling and cawing for its parents, who could not be seen in the vicinity. I am no tree climber to help it, but wanted to see whether I can net the tiny crow chick and place it back in its nest.

For this, I needed to first locate the nest and then a fruit picking net. I walked out of my mezzanine floor apartment and pressed for the lift – only to realise that there was no power in the building. I started climbing and climbed and climbed till I could reach the roof top on 6th floor, from where I intended seeing the top of the tree and the nest, if it is there.

My climb ended and I looked around and was aghast to find that the tree is not there anymore. In fact, there is not a single tree, in the entire radius, as much till the eye could see.

Everywhere there are only high rise buildings; each one costing Indian Rupees 15 million and above. It is like a city in a desert straight out of Arabian Nights.

The roof was hot and suddenly, on scalding my naked feet, I realised how hot it has been there. To cool my feet, I opened the water tap that is used to spray water on to the roof top in the evenings, but only heard the empty hiss. I remembered that water was not reaching beyond a couple of floors of the apartment as the pressure was not sufficient.

I could not take in the heat, any more, on my diabetic feet and started hollering in anguish, only to wake up on my bed in the comfort of my bedroom.

So it was a dream! No, not a dream; a nightmare and God, what a nightmare? How foolish of me. Forget the crows and nests; I cannot see any more trees for a long time unless some maverick starts a more aggressive movement for growing trees and forests instead of money and houses, which is happening now!

Infrastructure development and real estate business is being seen as the fastest money earning vehicles and we are all chasing them without seriously realising that we are only running to become slaves! And to facilitate all protocols and procedures – straight or clandestine, we want to closet and cuddle with the politicians - wielding the power!

There is a saying that if you have little money you control the money. But when you have money that you can neither count nor take a pause to spend, you are controlled by the money. You mistakenly think you are empowered by earning money which is only true as long as it is in limits. But by chasing more and more money, you are empowering the money to control you and to enslave you.

Yes, money is important as we need to have some purchase power for leading our lives? But how much is enough? And when do we say enough - when we cannot get enough money anymore?

Money is not uniform; in that it is called by different names in different contexts and countries.

In a place of worship it is called an ‘Offering’  
In a marriage it is called ‘Dowry’ 
In divorce it is called ‘Alimony’ and 
What children get is a ‘Pocket Money’

When you pay the government it is a ‘Tax’ 
In a court of law it is called a ‘Fine’                                                                            
What the retirees receive is a ‘Pension’ and                                                         
What the workers receive is a ‘Wage Salary’

When you borrow it is a ‘Loan’                                                                                   
But what you owe someone it is a ‘Debt’ 
What an accident victim gets is a ‘Compensation’ and 
When you save that money it is ‘Savings’

When you want an unlawful work done you pay a ‘Bribe’                  
What some politicians get in deals is a ‘Kickback’ 
While the same when earned by a broker is a ‘Commission’ and 
By a serving waiter in a restaurant it is a ‘Tip’

If a country gives money to another it is an ‘Aid’ 
An institution to an institution it is ‘Support’ 
An individual to an institution is ‘Donation’ and 
An individual to another individual is ‘Charity Alms’

But it is universal in one single important fact - that it has the ‘power’. The power of exchange; the power of purchase; the power of control and in one single word something that has been converted from being a simple instrument to an instrument of ‘power’! Well, now we see, that is the power of ‘power’! 

 Picture clip courtesy (c) Chromaco

And the construction industry is trying to get this power of ‘power’ by sometimes spreading out indiscriminately into areas that should be preserved.

To construct more and more cities, we are cutting off age old trees, using good agricultural lands and filling good water sources like ponds and lakes. No wonder, we are suffering for want of electricity power, natural water and steep rise in cost of food products.

If we are indiscriminately chasing the money making factories like these, what are we going to eat in future? Are we going to eat Bricks and Cement or Gold, Diamonds and the Paper that money is printed upon? When will we realise the futility of such mad enterprises and realise the importance of natural resources and agriculture?

Though several forums and the governments are doing some work in regard to mitigating the situation,

how far these efforts correlate with the destruction, is what is being looked at in alacrity!

Louis L’Amour, in his 1969 book ‘The Lonely Men’, averred that ‘The Desert is the Enemy of the Careless’ but I would easily like to postulate that ‘We, being Careless, are Creating the Deserts’

How fair is it to remove more and more ‘green cover’ to make more and more ‘green bucks’?

You tell me!

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Thanks (English), Dhonyabaad (Bangla), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai) and Asante (Kiswahili).

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy
Chennai, India


  1. Very nicely written Hemanth.. My thoughts exactly: How much is enough? You can be the richest in the state and yet feel it is not enough and want to be the richest in the country and once the richest in the country, the richest in the continent and the list goes on...

  2. Thank you for your kind words and thank you for endorsing my thoughts too Savithri!


  3. You have forgotten the Pin Money dear brother!

  4. Yes, but then there are two reasons for that dear Charusree! One - Not much Pin Money goes out from me and Two - Being married I have to be careful in avoiding unnecessary controversies within the family ;-)
    you would agree! :-)

  5. Good article sir! Climbing is no more an uphill task as there would be no trees to climb in future.

  6. No dear Christina,

    I think there would be trees, but would they be adequate for the human survival would be the question!

    Thanks for reading and responding. Much obliged and much appreciated!

  7. I fully agree with you. Green cover is more precious than green bucks. But who cares! But, if the green bucks people are forced to live under the Green cover for at least one week, definitely, their minds will get changed. Blessed are the people, who live under the green cover, either for a temporary period or permanently. Last week I was at Yercaud deep inside the forest area. I came out with life time memories.
    Thenappan Ramanathan. Madurai.

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  9. Dear Thiru Thenappan Ramanathan avargale,

    Thank you so much for reading and responding. In Chennai, before I started living separately, ours was a joint family. Our house was constructed in one among 92 plots cut from an 11 1/2 acre coconut grove. We got 8 trees for our share. I very clearly remember my parents breaking their heads to construct a house without affecting the trees and finally saved 6 trees. They then augmented these with 3 mango trees, two neem trees, one each of sapota, badam, gooseberry, lime, papaya, and banana plants. Our house till very recently used to be referred as 'Mara Veedu' (Tamil for Tree House). All this, when the entire colony gave way to houses and where we had to search for coconut trees.

    Whenever new constructions used to take place, my father used to plead with the owners and promoters of construction companies not to cut the trees and also not to cover the entire ground with concrete. He was never taken seriously.

    Today the colony has lost its green space; there are water problems, both of lacking drinking water and blockage of sewage water and stagnating of d/rain water during monsoons.

    My father is just a matriculate whereas the owners and promoters are mostly 'educated' - graduates and post-graduates.

    I rest my case here :-)

    Thank you once again, for your kind indulgence!

    Best wishes
    Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

    1. More education means, generally, greedy and Selfish.
      Oh! Mother Earth !!
      Save the most Educated and the Innocent !!!

  10. An astute observation! In 60 years I have seen the cities and towns like Hyderabad, Chennai, Vijayawada, Vizag, Tenali etc expanding in leaps and bounds engulfing the green fields , trees and villages.sparrows disappeared. Stars ate not to be seen.Joint families disappeared. Hustle & bustle.No time to stand and stare.where are we heading?

  11. Thank you so much for empathising Narayana Rao garu. Namaskaaramulato.... _/\_ :-)