Monthly Archives: July 2014

Paavakathakali, a rare puppet art gets a new lease of life


The ancient glove puppet art form Paavakathakali, originating from Kerala, is slowly dying. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), a government funded arts organisation, has now taken an initiative to give it a new lease of life by staging performances in the city.

 Paavakathakali or glove puppet play is an art form that is almost two centuries old. The art form emerged by incorporating Kathakali techniques and modeling puppets based on the characters in the dance form.

The classical dimension is what differentiates Paavakathakali from other puppet theatres. ‘Kathakali’ style masks, colourful ornaments and embellishments such as peacock feathers are another highlight. The head and arms are delicately carved in wood, painted, gilded and adorned. A cloth bag is used for the ‘body’ that is concealed by a long, flowing robe. The puppeteer uses three fingers to manipulate the puppet. Unlike some puppet theatres, the puppeteers do not hide behind the screen.

History has it that the Aandipandaram puppeteers from Kerala visited  villages with their puppets. They were originally from Andhra Pradesh and then settled in Kerala. In Kerala, they performed the Aryamaala, the Tamil folk drama as a puppet show.  Later when Kathakali became popular, they carved Kathakali figures, studied the text and devised their own art form. So is Paavakathakali still prevalent? “Yes, there continue to be some families in Paruthippulli and Kodumbu villages in Palakkad,” says Vikram Sampath, executive director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Southern Regional Centre. But it is a dying art form, he adds. And as an institution devoted to the documentation of traditional and folk arts of India, IGNCA is working towards reviving Pavakathakali in India. 

According to Vikram, the glove puppet theatre form is of great importance because of its ability to present Kathakali, the classical dance-drama, through puppetry. He adds, “When children and adults see a character unfold through puppets, it leaves a strong impression in their minds. It is usual in other countries to present theatrical forms like opera through puppets for children. As a form capable of initiating children to the appreciation of Kathakali, it answers a need of the day.”

Published on July 12, 2014 in The New Indian Express. 

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Healing lives through ‘Ascent of Harmonies’

Back in 2009, musician Vinay Rao conducted a music workshop at the Loreto Day School in Sealdah, Calcutta. Loreto educates children who come from well to do economic backgrounds as well children from impoverished and abusive backgrounds, who live on the school premises. This inspired the 24 year old, who is part of the band ‘Fourth and Main’, to start his own musical programme to enrich and empower lives of less privileged children through music. Vinay says, “Seeing how music helped the children at Loreto, I had the desire to start a similar program on a regular basis in Bangalore.” Thus Ascent of Harmonies (AOH), a Bangalore- based registered Non-Profit music outreach programme was born.


In a chat, Vinay tells me more about how Ascent of Harmonies aims to impact young minds.

About the programme

The children who live and study here have been rescued from various circumstances. There are children who used to work as laborers, beggars and some who have been abused. There are also many who come from dysfunctional families, those who have dropped out from other educational institutions due to various reasons and orphaned children. These are children who are recovering from physical and mental abuse and we want to help them through music therapy.

We work in collaboration with the APSA (Association for Promoting Social Action) Dream School Project in Bangalore. The Ascent of Harmonies was officially registered in 2011 and our music outreach program in collaboration with APSA began in July 2013. We have been working with them over the last one year.


The music education program is for 20 hours, 5 days a week. We have daily music classes and when required additional practice sessions. Currently our curriculum is focused around guitars and vocal classes. We wish to expand the program by including keyboard studies. We also teach English as a second language (ESL) through lyrics and songs.


The experience has been phenomenal in terms of the impact we were able to make. We have over 40 students at the moment.  

AOH 1609657_1409420529307744_101554053_n

How do you sustain the programme?

Since we teach the children for free, we were fortunate to raise funds for this program in India and also abroad. We have also used crowd funding programmes like Indiegogo.

Looking ahead

We want the program to grow over time and make a larger impact in terms of music education and therapy in India. We hope to provide this opportunity of music education to more children who do not have access to it. We plan to raise awareness primarily through benefit concerts and through other musicians.

Managing your music career

My passion for music and the outreach program are linked. I do not differentiate between them. I get to teach music and use this as a means to help people while at the same time working on my own material with my band.


Published on July 14, 2014 in The New Indian Express. 

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Wikipedia does its bit for sexual minorities

Globally, the LGBT propaganda has taken on a large scale over the last one-and-a-half-years, with a lot of civil rights movements and pride marches being conducted, all fighting for their equality and freedom from discrimination. In support of LGBTs across the globe, in June this year, Wikipedia launched its campaign ‘Wiki Loves Pride’, their first ever campaign for the community. As part of Wiki Loves Pride, Wikipedia, the world’s largest free-content curation website, has held a series of edit-a-thons across the world in cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Oregon, and closer home in Bangalore and Delhi on June 19, 2014.  

Wiki Loves Pride is a global campaign to expand and improve LGBT-related content across several Wikimedia projects

Wiki Loves Pride is a global campaign to expand and improve LGBT-related content across several Wikimedia projects

Portland_Pride_2014_-_036   SF_Pride_2014_-_Stierch_6

Through these edit-a-thons, the foundation aimed to increase the scope of public-domain coverage of the community in order to improve their representation. Says, Netha Hussain, one of the organisers, “In India, one will not find much information about the community or their culture. As such, their representation is very low online. We wanted to give them the recognition they deserve.”

At the edit-a-thon, Srikanth, the treasurer of Wikimedia, India chapter, says, “Wikipedians edited and added content to the website on topics surrounding LGBT.” The topics ranged from history, identity, politics, culture, rights and attitudes in order to make content widely available internationally. The edit-a-thons also worked towards adding more content in regional languages. But the most important aspect was adding content that is accredited to third-party sources, Srikanth emphasises, as poorly researched articles can negatively affect public perceptions. “The goal was to get as many articles as possible from credible sources like Government bodies, newspapers and scholarly papers and remove information that is not authentic.”

The volunteers, close to 15 of them from Bangalore, were also be encouraged to reach out to associations working towards LGBT rights and people who have publicly identified themselves as belonging to this community. Netha opines, “There are many such organisations in the country and they have a wealth of information that we make available on the public domain.”

Though they had received a good response from the participants in both the cities, Srikanth laments the lack of institutional support in the country. “In many places, there are government institutions involved in the workshops,” he says.

However, overall they are upbeat about the movement. Netha says, “We have already received a response from two LGBT-rights organisations in Bangalore and Chennai to curate content. We expect more to come forward and help us with this internet revolution.”

Published on July 15, 2014 in The New Indian Express.

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The Smoke is Rising From a Lost City

Smoke is RisingTitle: The Smoke is Rising
Author: Mahesh Rao
Publisher: Daunt Books
ISBN: 978-1907970313
Genre: Fiction,
Published: March 2014
Pages: 288

Among the many literary greats that South India has ever produced, it was the essence of author R K Narayan that was etched in author Mahesh Rao’s mind. He was fascinated by Narayan’s fictional city Malgudi and he began to wonder what Malgudi would look like if it were to appear in a novel today. That was how the idea of the book, ‘The Smoke is Rising,’ a book about a smaller Indian city very much like Malgudi first came to life. Then as the novel took shape, it became an expansive portrait of Mysore with stories of three women at its heart.

The author, lawyer and academic researcher, Mahesh was recently at Atta Galatta for a book reading event and in an interview he talks about the book and his journey as a writer.

Mahesh RaoThe premise of ‘The Smoke is Rising’

At the centre of the book is HeritageLand, Asia’s largest theme park. This park is set to make its foray into Mysore but most of its residents have strong opinions on what this will mean for them. So it’s a story about the imminent transformation of the city and about who wins and who loses as a result of this process. Mahesh adds, “These struggles become a sort of white noise to many of us who live in India’s growing cities — we are vaguely conscious of them and there is little engagement beyond that. I wanted to show that in the novel by foregrounding the personal stories of the three main characters — Susheela, Uma and Mala, while the clamour in the background increases.”

The creative process

Having lived in Mysore, he didn’t have to do much active research for this book. He states, “I just had to walk around looking and listening. It’s the story of a city and so the realities of Mysore offered me the broad canvas that I required. I hope the different strands in the book show both the energy and the stasis of its setting.”

Unlike most writers, for Mahesh the challenges came only after he had written the book. He opines, “I think you really have to be prepared for what a long and uncompromising process submitting your work to agents and publishers can be. And the process is never complete for as long as you wish to write. There’s always anxieties about the next book and the next and the one after that.”

After he completed his book, Mahesh I began to write short stories as he waited to hear the fate of the novel. These stories, he says, have been very challenging to write — that strong focus on shape and brevity. He adds, “But I do think they can make you a better writer of novels too. The discipline of moving from sentence to sentence, justifying each one, focusing on a compressed structure — it changes how you view the chapters in a novel. There is less of a risk of being ill-disciplined with form and flow.”

Who are his literary influences?

He answers, “There are dozens and dozens. So I’ll just name a few whose work I’ve revisited in the last few months: Vladimir Nabokov, Muriel Spark, Junichiro Tanizaki, William Trevor, Graham Greene, Lydia Davis, SH Manto and Nadine Gordimer.”

What’s his advice for aspiring writers?

“Do it because it gives you a warm feeling, and you would feel lost and wretched without it, not because of any perceived rewards. It sounds harsh but it needs to be said: those rewards may never come or they may stop coming, no matter how deserving the writing. So you need to remind yourself every day of the real reason why you’re doing it,” he concludes.

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First published in The New Indian Express

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A tribute to “The Perfect Musical”

The musical, My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion

The musical, My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion

In 1956, the Broadway production of My Fair Lady became the longest running musical theatre production in history. And since then, the musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, has seen a film adaptation and many enthralling theatre revivals across the globe. In Bangalore, city-based theatre group Antardwand had staged two productions in 2012 and 2013. Now, before moving on to their adaptation of Mughal-e-Azam, they will be staging the perfect musical one last time. “My Fair Lady is a treat for fans of old British classics. It appeals to everyone, young and old alike because it brings together music, theatre and dance. This year, Pygmalion completes 100 years and this is our way of celebrating the great play,” states Priyanka, the founder of Antardwand, whose past productions include adaptations of popular classics like Tagore’s Chokher Bali and Sir Arthurs.

My Fair Lady

My  Fair Lady revolves around a cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, played by Priyanka. She has had to live the hard life and has never experienced luxury. Then comes a phonetic expert, the snobbish Professor Higgins (Shishank Gupta). He studies her for a few days and disgusted by her ghastly accent, offers to give her speech lessons so that she can be more ‘ladylike’. Eliza, who has a dream of working in a florist shop instead of on the streets, agrees to the wager. It is this comical transformation of Eliza that forms the crux, and also underlines the class separation that existed in Britain in the 1940s, says Priyanka. The other cast members include Salmin Sheriff as Colonel Pickering, Higgins’s friend and a phonetician; Apachu Poovaiah as Alfred, Eliza’s father and Akshay Datta as Freddy, Eliza’s suitor.

Talking about the response the play had received earlier, Priyanka observes, “It was simply superb. The audience did not expect us to put up a show like the Broadway version. But when they saw the play, they were amazed. We had put in a lot of effort into the costumes, the set up, the mannerisms to keep the essence intact. Even the songs were performed live.” This year too, the audience can expect “an authentic portrayal of 40s Britain from costumes and backdrops to accents, providing a true Broadway experience,” according to Priyanka.

MFL (7)Published on July 16, 2014 in The New Indian Express.

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Fiction group ‘Inklinks’

“Women understand each other. Most of our stories deal with the finer nuances of feeling — the hopes and disappointments,  joy and love we all experience every day. It takes a woman to understand the inner world each one of us inhabits within the visible outer world,” asserts Malathi Ramachandran. This author, who has published two full-length novels, ‘The Wheel Turned’ and ‘Edge of all the Light’, is presently working on her third one. But it is not just this new book that is keeping her busy. Malathi is one of the members of the writer’s group, Inklinks, a Bangalore-based group of women from diverse professional backgrounds, but with a common interest in writing fiction. She says, “It is a support group that has been a source of encouragement and motivation for me and other women authors.”

Inklinks comprises of women who are doctors, psychologists, teachers, social workers in the age group from mid 30s to 70s. So how did they come together? Writer Khurshid responds, “We used to meet at various book readings and other literary events. Some were friends and some acquaintances, and gradually as we met at these events, we grew close to each other and decided to take our interest in the written word further.” They wrote stories, shared them with each other via email and met every month for discussions. They motivated each other to write and critiqued the work with an aim to publish their work — goals which they have achieved, having published two anthologies of short fiction, Bhelpuri and Door in the Wall.

Talking about the books, Malathi explains, “Bhelpuri (which is an eponymous title, as it describes the book as being like itself, a varied mix!) was published in 2009 by a Bangalore publisher Songbyrde and was sold through word-of-mouth publicity — creditable that the book is completely out of print now!” Unlike Bhelpuri which is a happy mix of all genres of short fiction — romance, suspense/mystery, seriousness and humour — Door in the Wall deals with barriers and how they can be overcome. Malathi agrees, “Door in the Wall has a definite theme of ‘Walls’ between people, between a person and the world, between cultures and so on.” Their books,  written in a simple language, relates to everyday happenings and incidents.

Being an eclectic group, undoubtedly every single member of the group has her own individual style of dealing with a subject and of writing. But this has not deterred them from their common goal which is to pen a story. Adding to this, Malathi outlines the creative process of the group. “It goes something like this: First we decide on a common theme or sometimes that we will write on any topic we wish. Then we set a deadline for emailing the stories to each other. At our next meeting, each one of us critiques the stories. Sometimes stories are rewritten,” Malathi says.

So what’s in store for Inklinks in the days to come? “We have our next topic ready and we can’t wait to get back to the keyboard! We may also add a few writers to our group who have shown interest and potential,” Malathi states.

Published on July 17, 2014 in The New Indian Express. 

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Music and lyrics to drive home a point

Where the mind is not clear

And you are wondering why

‘Cause they look at you strangely

And condition your life

I am taught what love is

And what one should mind

I learn what hurt is

And lonely is my life

The head grows heavy

And the world is going round

I look for someone

And they are all not found


Give us love

Give us moments

Give us time

Not just tokens

No symbols of care

No symbols of air

Baby baby baby

It is time for us to dare

I take my little time

The moments and many nights

I see I am human

Touch, pain and the sighs

As the mind is now clear

And I stand for my rights

It’s not about lust

Or love or a cry

There is no point listening

To all their advice

Let us take what we wanted,

It is our feel for life

(Repeat Chorus)

So your mind is upheld

And we are not too shy

Just give us some loving

No reason to hide

We seek little rainbows

Not colours not lies

We don’t want the pot

Of gold not the high life

We are just simply loving

Making gay

Making life

Don’t throw us the dice

Until its coloured

With life

(Repeat Chorus)

This is the song Head Held High, a song that tells the poignant story of a gay individual.

A portrait of a homosexual person’s pain and struggles, the number is presented by a band called Friends of Linger, which inherently believes in the inclusion of such individuals in the larger community.

In a society that does not accept gays and lesbians and denies them their human rights, the band hopes that this song will drive home the message of tolerance.

I spoke to Sharif D Rangnekar, writer of the song and vocalist of the band, to know more.


Birth of the band

The idea was to get a chance to perform live on stage. It took shape when a few of us expressed a desire to perform while out on one of our karaoke nights. Thanks to Adhir Ghosh, a well known guitarist who was part of bands like Five8 and Kitchen Sink, we finally formed what is called the Friends of Linger. We then began to sing songs that had purpose — music that would send out messages of inclusion and tolerance which is what all of us believed in.

The song

This song is an ode to the gay rights movement in India and elsewhere. We were inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s Where The Mind Is Without Fear. Fear is what sexual minorities live with.  The song is a story about the journey of a gay individual who lives and grows in a society that is overtly heterosexual, which is always in denial of the existence of homosexuals.

With some hard-hitting lyrics, it attempts to tell listeners what dilemmas such individuals go through and how they accept who they are. They need the confidence to demand what is theirs — basic human rights. We hope that more voices are raised in support of the marginalised LGBT community.

The reception

In just three days of the release, the reception has been amazing. It has been viewed by over 14,000 people across the world. The song has reached LGBT groups in Tampa and Vancouver! We even have young gay men in cities such as Bangkok calling the song an ‘anthem’ of sorts. All we ask for is the change in the attitude of the society!

A personal take

Homosexuality is god-given. It is as natural as heterosexuality. An assumption that majority rules is unfair and is a reflection of a society that believes might is right and therefore to bully or dominate is an acceptable form of violence. I think India’s view on democracy is under question at this point.

What’s next for band?

We are hoping more people share this track and word-of-mouth spreads awareness. We would be performing at different venues in the months to come and this song would be on our set list. We also plan to create more tracks related to social issues and love.

You can watch the video here

Friends of Linger is:

  • Vocals: Craig Cranenburgh, Devyani Shankar, Deepak Sharma, Robin Mathew, Sharif D Rangnekar, Smiti Malik, Sophie Jane Allen, Varun Kapoor.
  • Guitars: Adhir Ghosh
  • Bass: Steve Peter
  • Drums: Aveleon Vaz / Siddharth Jain
  • Keyboards: Shiv Ahuja / Rohit Gupta
Friends of Linger - a Delhi-based concept band

Friends of Linger – a Delhi-based concept band

 Smiti, Devyani,Sharif, Adhir 14

Published on July 19, 2014 in The New Indian Express. 

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Capturing a fleeting moment in brush strokes

Amrita Nambiar, Entrepreneur

Amrita Nambiar, Entrepreneur

Meet Amrita Nambiar, an illustrative designer who always dreamt of infusing into a space that ethereal, unpredictable beauty and meaning that would change moods and create experiences. Drawing was something she always fell back on as a child. With each passing hobby, she realised that this was the one thing that continued to hold her interest and she decided to go to art school. She discovered illustration a few years into art school, the sheer whimsy of detailing a complex thought through a few intricate lines in pen intrigued her. And then when she moved to Pondicherry a couple of years ago, to work with Hidesign, she was hooked. “The creative folk that lived there, the quaint streets, the ashram life that takes you back decades, the sea that always beckons with answers to your questions — life in Pondi was infinitely slower, calmer and allowed one to dream,” she observes. Eventually, she was inspired to dream of a brand that would bring this feeling of freedom and serenity into people’s lives. And so OLIE, a home decor label, was born.

What makes OLIE unique is, Amrita says, “its unusual combination of exquisite hand printed stories with the luxury of hand-twisted natural fibre.” By bringing together the art of the contemporary with the beautiful craft that abounds all over India, each product is crafted with the greatest care for the smallest detail. Her collections are based on the idea of ‘impermanence’. She adds, “We capture a wondrous moment that is fleeting. We reflect the movement and the beauty of those seconds in our printed collections.”

Amrita believes in classics and not following trends, but she constantly experiments and works with different fabrics, textures, colors and prints. “I adore working with beautiful, soft cottons and of course, the exquisite natural fibres,” she says and adds, “We draw inspiration from the things we see around us and work to bring a delicate balance in each signature accessory.”

OLIE's collections are based on the idea of 'Impermanence'

OLIE’s collections are based on the idea of ‘Impermanence’

3 cake dinner4 heartlight-cushions

Outlining the process from conception to the finished product, she says, “Color is one of the most beautiful and key features. It starts at the very beginning, when I illustrate. I usually use watercolors for my initial sketches and choose the palette for each collection. Then we sit with the women artisans who bring my illustrations to life on fabric.” Here we mix pots of gorgeous colors and create the absolute perfect, unusual shade that make a cushion cover or a lamp stand out as unique and beautiful. She adds, “The teals, olives, bright yellows and indigos in our collections are strong colors, each complimenting the other in that particular print, bringing out the best in each other. The handprinted fabrics are then combined with the artisan-woven natural fibres to create a signature product.”

Moving from illustrating in a two dimensional form, to creating something that is not only more tangible but also functional has been an incredible journey for Amrita. “I’ve enjoyed donning different hats to get the brand started. It is very fulfilling.”

The most rewarding aspect, she says, is when she sees a customer connect with the brand, it’s beliefs and take OLIE back home. “The first few months, I had the joy of interacting directly with our customers and have been to their homes, helped them set up their spaces and learned a lot from them.” And what’s the most challenging? “It lies in the little details, the perfect colors, the softness of the fabrics, the weave. We work hard to get every detail right, and that’s what makes it all worth it!”

Published on July 19, 2014 in The New Indian Express.

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Bengaluru Bulls gear up for Pro Kabaddi League

Kabaddi player, Sunil Hanumanthappa

Kabaddi player, Sunil Hanumanthappa

Sunil Hanumanthappa has been playing kabaddi for the last 10 years. During his initial days, he started training with a club in Vijayanagar. Hailing from Tumkur, it was only three years ago that he started playing professional kabaddi and has participated in the National Junior Championships in 2010 and has secured a place in the Karnataka State team.

This year, the second year student got another big break as he was selected to be part of Bengaluru Bulls, the franchise from Bangalore in the Pro Kabaddi League.

Members of Benguluru Bulls, the team representing Bangalore in the Pro Kabaddi League

Members of Benguluru Bulls, the team representing Bangalore in the Pro Kabaddi League

The league, backed by the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF), the Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF) and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), will feature eight teams from the country who will vie for the title. The tournament will travel to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Patna, Vizag, Pune and will culminate with a final in Bangalore on August 31.

The Bengaluru Bulls team comprises some top-notch talent in the country. They are hoping for  a successful campaign, beginning July 26 in Mumbai. Along with Sunil, who is the only one representing Karnataka, there’s 28 year old Ajay Thakur, who is considered one of the country’s best raiders. Then there’s their captain, gold medalist Manjeet Chillar who has played at the Asian Indoor Games and the Asian Games. Defender, Gurpreet Singh, popularly called ‘The Wall’ boasts a Gold Medal at the 2004 National Championships and the 2010 South Asian Games. The policeman, has played kabaddi at the highest levels such as the National Championships and the South Asian Federation Games. The 12-member team also has three foreign players – Micheal Dubery from United Kingdom (Defender), I Ketut Ariana from Indonesia (Defender) and Sinotharan Kanesharajah from Sri Lanka (Raider).

“The indigenous sport of kabaddi, which probably is also the oldest, is definitely popular in the country,” says Akhil Ranade from Kosmik Global Media, owner of Bengaluru Bulls. However, in the same breath he mentions that the game lacks the much-needed infrastructure and facilities. “Karnataka is only second in terms of participation, just after Maharashtra. There are over 300 registered clubs in the state. But we do not have great infrastructural facilities. Most importantly, there still exists the stigma that kabaddi is a ‘rural’ sport, it does not have an aspirational value unlike cricket or football.” But he is optimistic that the Pro Kabaddi League will change this mindset. The league games, which will be broadcast live by a prime TV channel, will definitely take the game to the masses, he believes.

“When it is on TV, it is recognised,” he asserts.

Coached by renowned player and coach, Randhir Singh, the team resides at a club on Mysore Road, away from city, so that they can prepare for the tournament and bond as a unit. Sunil says, “We start our training at six in the morning. We hit the gym and the pool. In the evening, our kabaddi training is from 5 to 7 pm when we also have running and stretching exercises.”

The team has the hope of lifting the title in the maiden year of the championship. But that is not all. Akhil reveals, “We want to become the most successful franchise in the tournament with a good, balanced team. Having said that, we want the team to be with us for the long haul. We also have plans of developing kabaddi in partnership with the regional State Federation. We will identify local talent and give them a platform where they can train and grow.”

Published on July 21, 2014 in The New Indian Express.

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Making electricity accessible in Bangalore

For the most part of their lives, a family living in Ejipura did not have access to electricity, making it hard for them to work indoors, even during the day. Early this year, an NGO named Liter of Light visited them and installed a device on their premises – a device which, they assured, would provide electricity during the day. The NGO used a 2.25-litre pet bottle, a plastic waste which is often discarded, and filled it with water and liquid bleach. Then they stuck it to a plastic/galvanic sheet in the house with one-thirds of it above the roof. When sunlight fell on the upper part of the bottle, water refracted the light and the solar bottle illuminated, providing light as good as a 65-70-watt bulb.

Liter of Light is a global movement with an aim to provide ecological and free-of-cost lighting solutions to houses. The idea was developed in 2002 by Alfredo Moser from Brazil. Then Illac Diaz from Philippines introduced it as a social enterprise in 2011 under MyShelter Foundation. Based on this model, the Bangalore chapter, spearheaded by Tripti Aggarwal and Pankaj Dixit, started its operations in November, 2013.

Tripti says, “A team of volunteers from Liter of Light Europe and Liter of Light Mumbai had visited Bangalore. They conducted an initial workshop and installations in Laxmanram Nagar, a slum in Ejipura over a week, and helped start the chapter in the city.”

Their first installation as a full-fledged organisation was in January this year. Tripti recalls, “Incidentally, it was around Pongal. We visited a poorly-lit classroom of a government school in Banashankari I Stage and installed these bottles there.” And the outcome, she says, was stupendous which encouraged them to continue with the work in other parts of the city. So far they have installed over 21 daylight bottles and 1 night light bottle in Ejipura, MRS Palaya in Benson Town, Naganahalli in Hebbal and Nandidurg Road.

How cost-effective is this approach? Tripti responds, “The glue which is used to hold the bottle ensures that the unit is leak and crack-proof. The bleach used in the bottle keeps the water clean and prevents algae, moss etc., from growing in it.  So a bottle once installed will last up to a five years with almost no maintenance costs.”

So far, they have been able to sustain the project with a little help from the society. They work with SIKA, manufacturer of speciality chemicals to procure industrial glue. They also reach out to caterers and restaurants, students and corporates and rag pickers to get good quality pet bottles.

The only downside to this method is that these bottles only work when the sun is shining bright. “The bottle will be a little dim on a cloudy day, producing upto 30 watts of electricity. Also, so far our solution works only during the day.”

But Tripti says they are working on an equally simple and affordable way to harness solar energy using solar panels to light up the bottles at night.

Going forward, they will also be scaling up their activities – moving to many more parts in Bangalore and subsequently in Karnataka by introducing sub-chapters.

“We are eager to touch many more lives and lighten up the city in collaboration with like-minded organisations who want to take up this green movement with us,” Tripti concludes.

The members of the NGO use pet bottles and liquid bleach to make lamps

The members of the NGO use pet bottles and liquid bleach to make lamps

 Published on July 21, 2014 in The New Indian Express.

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