Sunday, August 29, 2010

Creative Tweets 4

A few more of my tweets below. I absolutely love the 140 character limitations of a tweet that is inclusive of both space and punctuation marks.

Shallowness in society
Has reached an all-time high
People, focus on the Gulf oil spill now
Not on Michelle Obama's dotted summer dress!

Livin' in Vancouver with its beaches, mountains,
Outdoor adventure n incessant rain
I've come to realize
That sunshine is a state of mind!

The Farmers' Market a riot of colors
Berries, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers,
Produce, pickles, n heavenly pies
A far cry from the harried world!

Manicured acres of formal garden
Reflective pond, bridges, lush foliage
The Japanese Gardens an Eden of sorts
Lull me into wakeful serenity!

Hiking trails thru towering firs and gnarled arbutus
Leading to views of snow-capped peaks
And the bluescape of the bay
A taste of paradise!

The tin-horn echo of nuthatches' calls
Wood ducks waddling on offshore rocks
Among harbour seals and red-billed oystercatchers

More of these to follow. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

All's Well That Ends Well!

Final day in Chennai - With Dr. Sundaradevan, IAS, Commissioner of Revenue Administration (CRA), the topmost official of the government in charge of all the revenue departments and District Collectors of the entire State

With Dr. Ramanan, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, Indian Meteorological Department
Outside Ezhilagam, after meeting the top brass of the government on his last day in India

Our little fellow (well, not actually little!) is finally home! After a month-long adventure in India, Dinesh returned home safe and sound a couple of days ago. His escapades took him on a life-altering experience learning about disaster management in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one that was valuable, informative, enlightening, touching, and heart wrenching by turns! In the whole cosmic scheme of events, everything fell into place beautifully for the kid and made it all happen for him. The higher ups who granted a mere 14 year old permission in the first place to participate in such a prestigious project as this, the top brass of the government who never for a moment patronized him but motivated him and encouraged him on his mission, the mentors who organized and managed every single detail of his trip, the chaperones who took care of him and guided him along, the family members who lavished their attention on him the entire month, the friends who doted on him - every single person was inextricably tied to Dinesh and touched his life in some unfathomable way that is too hard for me to explain. I am truly humbled, gratified, and speechless at how things panned out, and am not sure if I should call it providential, coincidental, or just our good karma acting out!

The trip to India was a wonderful way for the kid to learn about his roots and get reacquainted with his homeland. Having lived a life of comfort and privilege, he has been able to understand that there is another side to life after all, and when mankind is hit by the ferocity of natural disasters, the agony and suffering is exacerbated to unthinkable levels. Dinesh has brought with him memories and experiences of a lifetime, some of them haunting enough to remind him that there is so much more to be done for those afflicted by disasters. Everybody he has met and each one's sordid tale of woe has revealed to him that despite all the relief, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts, each story is a human tragedy brought on by disasters of gargantuan proportions. So much more needs to be done, and in the words of Robert Frost, we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dinesh in the UNDP: Madurai

As part of his volunteering in the Disaster Relief Management Projects of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dinesh had the privilege of meeting and interacting with the top Civil Service officials of the Indian government and learning firsthand about disaster management in three districts of Tamilnadu, India. In this regard, he met the District Collectors of Madurai, Nagapattinam, and Trichy, for personal interviews with them. These are the officials of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the top people of the administration, and they were all gracious enough to interact with Dinesh and encourage the "UN Intern from Canada." Dinesh was able to gather a lot of information about preparedness, recovery and relief measures in the various districts, and has written a report that has been submitted to the UNDP, as well as the Commissioner of Revenue Administration (CRA), who is in charge of all the District Collectors and Revenue departments in the state of Tamilnadu.

Dinesh also addressed the officials of the nine line departments of the government, namely the Revenue Dept., the Police Dept., the Fire Dept., the Education Dept., the Public Works Dept., the Electricity Dept., the Medical and Public Health Dept., the Water Dept., and the Paramilitary Forces Department. He gave a speech on the role of children in disaster management and made recommendations as to how children could be involved in the disaster management process and not be considered merely as passive beneficiaries of aid in a disaster. Need I say he was very well-spoken and his ideas were well-received by the elite audience?!? Below are a few pictures that will tell it all!

Posing questions to Mr. Soundiah, IAS, District Collector of Trichy

The Collector listens seriously to Dinesh

Taking leave and thanking the Collector

With Mr. Muthu, Personal Assistant to the Collector of Trichy

Outside the Trichy Collectorate

Meeting at the Madurai Collectorate (With the District Collector Mr. Kamaraj, IAS,the Superintendent of Police, the State Project Officer (SPO) of the UNDP, and other officials of the line departments)

The Collector chairing the meeting

PowerPoint presentation on disasters in Madurai District

Past experiences with disasters

Dinesh getting ready with his speech

The kid among the elite officials of the administration

Dinesh confidently delivering his speech

The cynosure of all eyes

The SPO of the UNDP commenting on Dinesh's mission

Erect and alert!

A view of the audience

Yet another view of the audience

The Superintendent of Police congratulating Dinesh

Well, I suppose the pictures speak for themselves! We're really proud of the way Dinesh has conducted himself during the entire trip and the mature way he has carried himself and impressed one and all. I don't think there is any need to say anymore!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dinesh In The UNDP: Nilgiris

A precariously perched house in a landslide prone area

On August 11, 2010, Dinesh travelled to the Nilgiris in Tamilnadu to kickstart the UNDP awareness campaign about disaster-preparedness in the local schools there. The Nilgiris district is prone to deadly landslides in several areas that can cause a great deal of death and destruction. He spoke to about 300 students at the St.Joseph's Secondary School and did a PowerPoint Presentation on the role of children in disaster management. The school trains selected students to be members of the Rescue Cadet Corps, and they are taught to assist the Rescue Task Force professionals in the event of a disaster. What a great place then to kickstart the campaign!

Dinesh also gave a PowerPoint presentation to the local government officials on ways to handle the disabled in a disaster. The officials took the kid seriously enough to ask him questions on the subject. Dinesh spoke of his learning experience in the UNDP about disaster management, and took notes of all the recommendations made by the officials to include in his final report to the Commissioner of Revenue Administration (CRA), the top Civil Service official of the Government of Tamilnadu. He was interviewed by the local TV media channels as well, and handled the entire experience with confidence and aplomb. Posted below are a few shots from his trip to the Nilgiris.

Beautiful Nilgiris that has deadly landslides

The mountain city of Coonoor

A roadside shot in Coonoor

The stadium/gymnasium of St. Joseph's Secondary School

St. Joseph's School

With Mr. Franklin, Project Support Officer, and Mr. Prabhu, Project Officer of the UNDP

The UNDP Campaign Banner

A section of the 300 students gathered to listen to Dinesh

Greeted by Mr. Lakshmanan, District Education Officer

Having a conversation with the DEO

The DEO and the Project Officer listening to Dinesh

Another section of the audience (Grades 9 and 11)

Dinesh giving his presentation about how children can make a difference

Talking about Disaster Plans

Listing out emergency supplies

Talking about the importance of staying informed

Reiterating his message

With Vignesh, a student volunteer in the Rescue Task Force

Asking the students a few questions on disaster-preparedness

Thanking the audience

St. Joseph's School Grounds

Relaxing in the Visitors' Lounge

Outside the entrance to the school

UNDP Campaign Banner

Interaction with the government officials

An official asking Dinesh a question

Responding to the questions by the officials

Fielding questions from around the room

Making a point to the officials rapt in attention

Giving his PowerPoint presentation on ways to handle the disabled in disasters

At his confident best

Comfortable body language as he makes a point

Typing in the recommendations to include in his final report

Posing with the organizers

Outside the Revenue Divisional Office

Fielding questions from the local TV media (Dad's favorite shot!)

Answering a reporter's question

Taking a roadside break on the mountains

Boulders placed to stem the flow of mud in a landslide

Prone areas

Walls built to prevent the mud and rocks from sliding on to the roads

Thanking Mr. Franklin, Project Support Officer of the UNDP

Dinesh seems to have had such a wonderful experience participating in the disaster-preparedness campaign of the UNDP. What a unique opportunity for a 14-year old to raise awareness among children his age! I am sure the kid has grown in confidence and learned a great deal from all the valuable experiences he's had this past month. As his day of departure draws near, the husband and I are ecstatic that he's done us proud and we're very eager to have him back home safe and sound!