Blind Sided

Thought blurbs to awaken our collective compassion….

 

Red Light -1

My car & me

Mobbed like a celebrity

By people in necessity

Guavas, trinkets, toys

Sold by men, women, girls and boys

Humans, aren’t they?

Where do they stay?

The light turns from red

& saves me from further fret.

Never mind the humans,

I am the one who matters – to me.

Blind-sided

Thought blurbs to awaken our collective compassion….

Road side View

Along the mountain path

On a walk in a small town

I saw a gathered group.

Upon closer look

it was around a fallen deer

Bit or hit-breath in heaves and gasps.

 

One man sprinkling water

Another calling the vet

One feeding grass

All in all, a unified humane mass.

 

I couldn’t help but think,

It took me back in time

of reading of a road accident

In Bengaluru city.

 

A man, torso cut in half,

Arms flailing,

Help! Crying.

Gore and blood galore.

Many hands furiously

Mobiles wielding:

Photoshopping, selfying,

Facebooking, whatsapping.

 

The ambulance driver later recalled-

Such a case I have never before seen.

The young man, though his body half,

His heart in place, fully humane.

His last words being-

Donate my organs, whatever’s remaining.

 

What has become of us, I wonder

To make a video of another man’s suffering.

Where are all those hands

That helped the wild deer?

 

Blind Sided

Thought blurbs to awaken our collective compassion….

 

Container

Box of solid steel

Along the road I see

Exhausted feet peep

From bunker bed inside.

Bunker beds! Isnt that cool!

 

Containers used for cattle and goods

Now good for humans too…

Never mind the heat,

No windows-

Way better than flimsy tents or the open roads!

Same city, different worlds.

 

Where are they from, where do they eat?

How do they bathe, how do they even breathe?

Lets start seeing for the first time

The container

with cattle of humans,

The container of their dreams!

 

Blind Sided …

A series of upcoming thought blurbs… hoping to awaken our collective compassion….

A Cliche

Oft repeated, by definition-

A banal rendition

Told Too much

Ad nauseum;

Makes for deaf ears and a thick skin

Does it make the truth any lesser, I wonder…

 

I am rich-

I have every right to be- I have worked hard to be where I am.

I am not responsible for children born to less, or lesser,

God’s will is so.

They are not my problems; I pay my taxes

The government is to act, not me…

 

I ply the highways-

Enroute to resorts

The dhaba beckons

With hot parathas.

My children look from darkened windows

With sunglasses designed as Mickey Mouses

At their brother in half knickers

Clearing up the generously left bits & pieces…

 

The divide

It is growing so

Between the rich and poor

A Cliche, isn’t is so.

Ad nauseum.

Let me go….

Applications of temporary housing: YMCA Y:Cube London 

In a world where “genuinely affordable aspirational housing” (Richard James) for the youth is rare and homelessness is sky rocketing; modular, temporary housing may be a viable solution. The YMCA Y:Cube by Roger Stirk Harbour +Partners is a “self-contained and affordable starter accommodation for young people unable to either gain a first step on the housing ladder or pay the high costs of private rent”. They are a “modular, demountable system of studio apartments that are perfectly designed for brown-field sites”. The prefabricated units are 26 square meters each; complete with lots of natural light, walkways/balconies, an internal courtyard, an inbuilt galley kitchen, bathroom and furniture. The services are incorporated in the factory and then connected onsite. This means that the construction takes very little time (5 months in this case), and requires no scaffolding or water; making it very quiet and neighbourly as well. The materials are very eco-friendly as well. It uses sustainable timber panels with superior levels of insulation, solar paneled roofs and are, of course, air and water-tight. This combination means that heating bills are reduced by up to 80% annually.

In fact, everything about this design and proposal is extremely affordable. Residents pay only 65% of the market rent and, as previously mentioned, heating bills are significantly reduced. Each unit costs roughly 30,000 dollars to produce, including kitchen and bathroom services, furniture and appliances. The project, unveiled by Brandon Lewis MP (the Minister of State for housing and planning) is part of a 500 million dollar investment into tackling homelessness (since 2010). It is also funded by a 337,000 dollar grant from the Mayor of London’s Building the Pipeline Scheme, not to mention investments from Trusts including Tudor Trust and Trust for London. In the city, average monthly rents are 1,500 pounds a month and annual increases of 20%. The rental prices are this high due to the severe housing shortage. However, since 2008, more than a third of the 63,000 new homes needed annually have not been built. The government has no fixed citywide quota for affordable housing; leaving it up to the local authorities which eventually meant that fewer than 4,700 affordable homes were built between March of 2014 and March of 2015. This is a completely unsustainable but these “plug and play” modular homes may be a viable solution, with some development.

However, one of the head architects – Richard James – asserts that this development is “not competing with traditional housing” but is targeted at key workers and students in London. Though the units have a lifespan of 60 years, leases will only span 3-5 years; enough time to allow the residents to get back on their feet. Dr. Melissa Fernandez, from the London School of Economics, has been researching the employed youth’s housing crisis. In her opinion, the Y:cube may not be replicable but is a “viable model” for developers and government authorities to follow. “A focus group of young employed private renters suggested that for it to be a PRS [Private Rented Sector] alternative, added benefits like central locations and significantly lower rents may need to offered as part of the prefab package” says Fernandez. It is “too specific to become a developmental norm” but is, nonetheless, a step in the right direction.

Wendy Omollo, 24, is one of the first residents of the Y:Cube. Previously sleeping rough on the streets of Kingston upon Thames, she came to YMCA London in February 2015. She was made homeless, when she lost her job and was unable to secure another. All residents are required to either study, volunteer or work but as no deposit is required she was able to get back on her feet. She is now getting a National Vocational Qualification and is attending an assistant manager course.  “By having my own space with my own front door, I will regain my independence” says Omollo. Shantae Whyte, another YMCA resident who was asked to test the Y:Cube, says she feels more “grown-up, mature… secure”. This is extremely important when it comes to youth regaining control over their lives and should be a priority for housing authorities charities like YMCA cannot be the only organizations funding affordable housing.

“There just simply aren’t enough trained bricklayers or electricians to build all the homes we need, nor the bricks or other materials to build ‘conventional’  homes” says Phil Morgan, a housing consultant and former housing regulator. “We’ve got to find a way to house young people more cheaply and build differently”. Perhaps, with some development, cheap, modular units such as the Y:Cube could provide a solution to the ever-inflating affordable housing crisis.

 

 

https://www.rsh-p.com/projects/ycube/

http://www.archdaily.com/773370/y-cube-rogers-stirk-harbour-plus-partners

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/is-the-ycube-the-future-of-londons-housing-204

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/magazine-27381656/ycube-is-this-london-s-30000-house-of-the-future

The Indifference of the privileged

 

Octogenarian Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguistphilosophercognitive scientisthistoriansocial critic, and political activist. Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has worked since 1955, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism. (From wikipedia)

In an interview to Tehelka in 2013; he had this to say when asked his views about India…

What about India baffles you the most?

“I have followed India carefully, and have been there a number of times. It is an exciting country in many ways with its rich culture. But what is really striking to me about India, much more than most other countries I have been to, is the indifference of privileged sectors to the misery of others. You walk through Delhi and cannot miss it, but people just don’t seem to see it. Everyone is talking about ‘Shining India’ and yet people are starving. I had an interesting experience with this once. I was in a car in Delhi and with me was (activist) Aruna Roy, and we were driving towards a demonstration. And I noticed that she wasn’t looking outside the window of the car. I asked her why. She said, “If you live in India, you just can’t look outside the window. Because if you do, you’d rather commit suicide. It’s too horrible. So you just don’t look.” So people don’t look, they put themselves in a bubble and then don’t see it. And those words are from somebody who has devoted her life to the lives of the poor, and you can see why she said that — the misery and the oppression are so striking, much worse than in any country I have ever seen. And it is so dramatic. There is a lot of talk about how India is slated to be a major power, and I can’t believe it, with all its internal problems; China too for that matter, but less so”

http://www.tehelka.com/2013/06/what-is-striking-in-india-is-the-indifference-of-the-privileged/

Homeless Transgenders

In India, accurate data on the homeless is difficult to find — the causes, the sheer numbers and the different groups within the larger group. Combining that with the fact that sexuality is considered a taboo; an unspoken part of life, ‘coming out’ for a young member of the LGBTQIA+ community in India is unlikely with the exception of those who identify as transgender. Nonetheless, Indian culture still means that these discussions do not often happen. Those who have no need to come out to their family and community are able to live in relatively good economic situations — with their loved ones — however transgenders often come across as effeminate, or masculine are easily recognised and are therefore ostracised.

The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties in Karnataka studied ‘kothi’ and ‘hijra’ (males who do not identify as such) sex workers in Bangalore in 2003. Sachin began taking on more domestic tasks at age 17. The blackballing began with questions like “Why don’t you go out and work like a man?” or “Why are you staying at home like a girl?” and ended with being as asked to leave not only her home but her village. As untrained as she was – therefore unable to work – she was unable to fend for herself. She attempted suicide. Only after leaving home to join a community of ‘hijras’ and becoming a sex worker was she able to start a life as who she is.

Leaving their families and homes are not the only issues that people who identify as transgender face. The streets are made dangerous by the very laws that should be protecting them. Section 377 criminalises homosexuals and other sexual minorities and dates back to 1860 when India was still a part of the British Empire. This obviously outdated law as well as the ITPA (Immoral Traffic Prevention Act) allows the police enormous powers to persecute unbridled in closed police stations. Sex workers are even persecuted when the owners of the brothels, traffickers and pimps are not. Transgenders who are willingly sex workers are also hounded without evidence of solicitation. Efforts to address these problems began in December of 2013 when the court threw out the repeal to the parliament, saying that it was for the elected parliamentarians to change the law. However no political party would champion it, in fear of alienation. Although, the supreme court did order a re-examination in 2016. Finding a solution for these issues needs more data and research and most of all an awareness amongst citizens, but some progress is being made.
For Indian Transgenders, getting a shelter home Is an uphill task. The ostracism for transgenders in the country is so heightened that members of the community even find it difficult to live in rented houses.

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” Nelson Mandela.

None of us should…..