Living treasure Hunt

This summer, children in our building did something different. We organized a Living Treasure Hunt in and around the place where we stay, and wow! Did you know what they discovered?

These are just some of the living treasures discovered by our children.

We were really amazed at the amazing creatures they captured on camera, and the way they researched and presented their findings. It made us realize just how many living treasures are there around us, each made so wonderfully by God.

But first, a brief background on what this is all about.

It is summer vacations, and children are out playing almost the whole day. If it is too hot they end up consuming cool drinks, and digital audio video content, yes that means movies, games and what not.

This time we decided to do a totally immersive activity to make them engage with the world around them.

We called it the Living Treasure Hunt!

This is how I designed it:

Objective: Identify and document living creatures in and around Raj Sarovar


•    Observation

•    Photography

•    Research

•    Documentation


•    Open to members of Raj Sarovar and their friends

•    Age limit: 4 to 19 years

•    Teams should have two or more members, atleast one of the team should be a resident of Raj Sarovar

•    Identify living creatures [Insects, animals and birds] upto gate at Link Road entrance You have to identify any living creature right from ants to birds yourselves

•    You shall not harm or kill any living creature for this competition

•    Document by Photographs taken by you, one close up and one with surroundings

•    You can use any camera or mobile phone, and use the Internet or any other resource to identify what you have captured.

•    Points will be awarded for the total number of creatures, correct identification with biological name and photograph quality

•    Winning Photographs will be put up on Facebook page and Notice board

We kept cash prizes for the top three winning teams.

The children immediately formed teams with their friends, and were up early with their cameras and notebooks. They excitedly discovered many insects, birds and small animals! After capturing the photos, the children discovered a way to identify these living creatures using Google Image search!

There were some insects which the kids could not identify even with Google, making them realize the limits of technology!

We used the help of BNHS experts and they willingly identified the pictures which I emailed to them. A big thank you to Rahul Khot and Divya from BNHS for giving your expert comments. BNHS has a very useful set of field guides which can be of use to find out more about what you discover. Kindly visit the following link to know more on field guides and other products by BNHS

You can buy set of six books here

There are more offers if you check through the site.

The kids got the correct Biological name and details of most of the various creatures from the Internet, and made excellent Powerpoint presentations.

Team Photogenia and their presentation

The children who took part, with a senior lady from our Building who distributed the prizes.

You are free to use this Living Treasure Hunt in your locality or building! Let me know how it goes!

Thanks for reading J

Visit to a Sculptor cum Artist

A few of us Homeschoolers went to visit a Sculptor today. We saw her use her hands to painstakingly and lovingly make clay into a face. The way she molded it, the care and attention to details, and the way she explained it to us was amazing.

She is a student of JJ school of Art, and she both does and teaches Sculpting, Drawing and Painting to students. I met her when she was admitted to my Hospital last month, and she mentioned that she was an artist. Being curious I asked more details, and she invited me to visit her studio. That set the process in motion, and today we ended up actually visiting her place.

Her place was filled with her various creations.

She does pencil drawing, water colors, acrylic colors as well as sculpture. She said that to make human figures one needs to also know anatomy and physiology, just as in Medicine.

Pencil sketch of a relative.

Color pencil drawing! Amazing real life effect.

The ever smiling artist!

Kids engrossed in watching her sculpt a face

We watched as she transformed a lump of clay into the likeness of a face. She used her hands which she moistened regularly with a wet cloth. She also used a few wooden instruments.

We were reminded of the verse in the Bible “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

(Psalms 139:13 NIV)

The finished face!

Our children also made their own clay creations.

We really enjoyed the time with her, and at the end of the visit she gave us a crate of Alphonso mangoes from her farm! God bless her.

The newest addition to our family

Yes, and she is named the Ertiga! This is our new family transport. The LUV story vehicle that has captured the hearts of Indian families all over. We love this vehicle for its sheer practicality, spaciousness, ease of use and versatility. It can seat seven people easily, and can even make space for a couple more if needed! Yet its footprint is smaller than that of a large car.

When used as a five seater car it is very spacious, with a wheelbase over 2700 mm, longer than many luxury cars. The sheer size of the rear door speaks volumes of the space available inside.

These are pictures of our new car after we have done a few modifications to it, and we absolutely love it!

From the front it sports a wide smile, and looks ever ready to go! It is tall and yet solidly planted to the ground.

The rear looks great, with no ugly projections or bumps. It can even be mistaken for a small hatchback!

We have made a few changes to our vehicle to improve the life and joy of the vehicle. I felt it is easier to show them to you rather than explain it. So here goes J

Reverse parking sensors to warn us of blind spots were fitted by us at our dealer.

There are some other things that we got done at Car Décor.

We did full carpet lamination with a transparent tough material that is permanently fixed over the light beige carpet. Floor mats can be placed over it, and the floor cleaned easily with no problems even if liquids spill inside the car.

Full wall to wall carpet lamination.

Steering grip really helps in tight corners when you have to use only one hand to steer the vehicle.

We put Chocolate brown and Olive combo art leather seats from Orchis, which were essential since the original company fitted fabric cover was light beige.

They have done a neat job with the new upholstery, and give three years warranty against stitch-loss and peeling.

And yes, we did add two screens on the headrests for back seat video entertainment, which also reads DVD, SD cards and USB. It also has a few games which kids can play during long drives. The screens have a neat zip cover to cover the screen when not in use.

Bumper and side protectors also help protect the car from objects which try to come too close!

As for the driving experience, our Ertiga is a diesel car, and this is our first diesel car too. The car is quite, fast, and easy to drive. I am enjoying the power especially the turbo that kicks in after 2000 rpm. Small turning radius and electrically powered side mirrors make parking and maneuvering in city traffic a breeze. Rear seat is very comfortable, you can adjust the reclining angle, adjust the roof air conditioning to your taste, and there is a center arm rest too.

The Maruti Ertiga! The ideal family car. Need I say more?

Hope springs in Mangrove Forests of Dahisar

If you look at this picture closely you will see something remarkable. These are signs of new life. Tender new mangrove shoots growing where once a superhighway was planned by greedy builders to engulf and destroy dense mangrove forests in CRZ 1, which are protected by Indian law! This is real life application of Education to the world around us.

Tender mangrove shoots growing over debris dumped in Survey 344 at Dahisar West

A few years ago, if you read our previous blogs, you will read about the environmental catastrophe which was about to be unfolded on 450 acres of virgin mangrove forests in Survey 344 at Dahisar West. The New Link Road Residents Forum with help from the BEAG, CAT, then Suburban Collector Shri Nirmal Deshmukh, Justice Tahiliani and few upright officials in the Judiciary, Police and MCZMA managed to stop the dumping of debris in this pristine mangrove forest. We had to go upto the Supreme Court to get a favorable verdict.

Today the debris remain, as a mute testimony to human greed. Some of it was ordered to be removed following the Supreme Court ruling, but a significant portion still remains.

Yet, inspite of all the debris there is something special coming up!

Amidst the rubble and debris, we see new mangrove shoots bravely springing forth! God has designed these mangroves with a special quality, to thrive amidst the tidal waves, harsh salinity and humid heat of Mumbai’s coast!

These young mangrove shoots give us a message, that however impossible the task may seem, we must never give up the fight to save God’s creation from the hands of greedy men.

God bless you!

Citizens foil Dumping on CRZ: Times of India


Dahisar locals foil debris dumping bid

Linah Baliga Times News Network

Mumbai: Alert locals recently foiled an attempt to dump debris in Dahisar.
The New Link Road Residents’ Forum (NLRRF) received a call from a local on Sunday afternoon, saying some dumpers were headed towards Prithvi Palace off New Link Road. The land falls under Coastal Regulation Zone-1, which restricts construction close to the coastline.
A few residents rushed there and saw three dumpers—two empty and one filled with debris. The empty vehicles had dumped at least eight mounds of debris on the mangroves behind Prithvi Palace. There were saffron flags on the dumps, said residents. “We prevented the third installment of debris from being dumped. We were expecting arrival of more dumpers but they must have been alerted,” said Dr. S P Mathew, NLRRF president.

The MHB police were informed about the dumping by Mathew and others, after which a senior inspector and a few beat marshals reached the spot. “They ordered the dumpers to be taken to the police station and recorded our statements. We asked the police to file complaints under the stringent Environment Protection Act and inform the authorities concerned,” said Mathew.
Offenders, especially the builder lobby, dump debris on the CRZ land in Dahisar on public holidays and weekends.
“The dumping on CRZ-1 land is shocking. It usually takes place on holidays when the offices of BMC and Tehsildar are closed and it is difficult for the police to nab the offenders,” said Mathew. “We have filed a panchanama and written to the tehsildar’s office. They will have to lodge a complaint and we’ll register an FIR,” said senior inspector Suresh Kilje, MHB police station.
This is the second time this month that residents have prevented debris dumping on the mangroves.

MHB Police officers surveying the site and taking Panchnama

On May 1, 2013, which was a public holiday on account of Maharashtra Day, two dumpers were caught dumping debris behind Prithvi Palace. Two locals—Harishchandra Pandey and David Soosay—had got to know that a politician had purchased the land and was planning to construct a temple there. Residents wrote to the Tehsildar, Police and State environment secretary Valsa Nair Singh, saying debris was being dumping on CRZ-1 land and demanded immediate action.

Dear Reader,

Hope you have been encouraged to take steps to protect your own neighbourhood. All it takes is a little determination. Go ahead, only you can protect your own neighbourhood from becoming a dumping fround or a illegal slum colony. Act now before it is too late. This is a great way to actively put into practice what we have learnt about the value of saving our Environment.