Monday, September 10, 2018

109. In the sands of time...

The Bogibeel Bridge on Brahmaputra
I am sure the news of the much awaited Bogibeel bridge over Brahmaputra nearing completion anytime soon would have rattled the lives of those three uneducated youngsters who only eased the lives of innumerable others whose vehicles would invariably sink into the pulverized riverbank sand after being ferried across the mighty river. Be it a small car or a big bus, these skinny Assamese youths had honed their unique skill to perfection, pulling the trapped vehicles out in a matter of minutes. 

Though distance from the riverbank to the highway leading to Dibrugarh town isn't that long, it remains a daily nightmare for over 200 vehicles taking the riverine route from Dhemaji on the other bank of the river. While our driver was trying to outmaneuver the sand trap, I could see those youngsters at work from a distance and did tell my five fellow colleagues that should our vehicle sink into the sands we should be capable to pull it out ourselves, although in my mind I was praying against such eventuality. 

But that was not to be, as our car could not force its way through the sands. Like several others, we too were trapped on the sprawling sand bed. Attempt at applying acceleration to pull ourselves out sank us further into the sands. The cumulative wisdom of five of us was no match to those three's. Having run out of all options, we signaled those three musketeers to bail us out. As there were many vehicles falling into the trap each moment, they rushed towards us and in a couple of moments we were driven out. We were charged a pittance for this benevolence.   

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Divorced from the conventional idea of giving vehicle a forward push, these young guys instead gave the vehicle an upward lift from both the sides to slide some shrubs underneath the tyre. It was no big deal, and the whole point of jugaad is that it is never a big deal. But the point is that such a simple idea didn't occur to us but was borne in the minds of those who perhaps don't drive themselves. I guess it is an inbuilt cultural empathy towards common problems others face, and to innovative solutions for the society at large.   

Accosted by such exigencies, every culture responds to it by being innovative. The question, however, is: should we marvel at such innovations or hold the society accountable for forcing smart people to do what smart people in other countries do not have to do? It is a question that nobody seems to be asking. All eyes currently are on the 4.9 kilometer long rail-road bridge being built at a cost of Rs 5,800 crore, and the promise it holds to trigger an economy which will without doubt turn a blind eye to such innovators.

Frugal ways of resolving societal problems come natural to us. It is 'thinking out of the box' that is part of our cultural construct, and which we often take for granted. The society may not have worked out ways to reward/monetize such 'skills', my sense is that those three youngsters couldn't care less as they would have already made their ways into working out innovative solutions to the problems that have yet to occur to our collective wisdom. It is freaks like these that keep the society sane in the sands of time.

Monday, August 6, 2018

108. The idea whose time has come!

I doubt if anyone has the answer to the question that continues to fox me. Why matrimonial alliance occurs between those two people, and not any other? Don't even try to suggest that 'marriages are made in heaven' because this early 16th century French proverb ‘les mariages se font au ciel’ has seemingly worn off. If the proverb were to hold good today, people would have hung around to their armchairs to await and witness the divine act. Far from it, having gone through one myself I realize what an awful lot goes into making it remotely earthly, forget divine! 

Perhaps, the divine angle pops up because we cannot foretell who will marry whom. Two people may love each other very much but may end up not marrying each other, and two people who do not even know each other may marry each other in the end. It is as trivial as it gets. Ask those who could not make it, and they will tell you in chorus that if some day they were to meet the person behind the divine fairytale-ish proverb, they would try to get him/her for felony. Yet, the belief persists as people grapple to make sense of the unresolved trivia.

Someone tried asking Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood about it, and he quirked: 'If marriages are made in heaven, so is thunder and lightning.' I would suggest you feel free to draw your own conclusions from it. For me, what matters is the manner in which families have worked past thunder and lightning to draw their own parameters to forge peaceful alliances. If caste and creed were dominant considerations in the recent past, class and status reins supreme now. There is a delicate trade-off that draws matrimonial compatibility between two known/unknown people.

Many of my friends agree with my contention that overt monetization has transformed this pious space for stitching new relationships into a market place for bargaining alliances. No wonder, marriages are getting fat and bigger, and extravagant and wasteful. The upper echelons of the society are setting trends that the bottom billions are only trying to emulate. On my visit to the US couple of months ago, a graduate student unhesitatingly told me that investment on his education will earn his parents dividends in the matrimonial marketplace. The die has been cast!

But my environmental consciousness stirs me up on what such alliances often end-up into, wasting colossal public resources in big fat weddings. I wonder if peoples' control over how they spend their monies should guarantee them unequivocal rights over natural resources - wasted food, splurged water and fouled air during such weddings cost an irreparable loss to the society at large. With the elites of the society in the forefront of this malaise, the state is unlikely to regulate this GDP boosting social outing any bit. 

It is now for the millennial generation to get into the act, and press home for carbon footprints to be the new consideration for forging matrimonial alliances. Let prospective candidates be tagged for their carbon footprints on online relationship sites, over their so-called class and status. The heavens will shower such couples and the rest of us with climate-friendly blessings. The time for this idea has surely come!       

Monday, July 16, 2018

107. Those who stand and deliver!

A job where one forfeits one's right to sit!
I am reminded of those painful days when many of us were decreed to stand through the class hour for non-compliance of our teacher's instructions. It had made many of us realize then that the horse was the only animal valued for its ability to stand long hours. In fact, the best of the horses spend better part of their life standing which determines their pedigree. But vowing not to ever become a horse in our lifetime, none of us ever let anyone know about it. Shockingly, the mass standing ordeal is now in full public view.  

And, it never missed my attention and may not have missed yours either. In my infrequent trips to up-market shopping places I never found any salesgirl or for that matter any sales-boy sitting across the counter. On closer examination I found that there isn't anything that they could rest their butts on. More by design than default, these lowly creatures are forced to welcome customers with a smile even when their toes are flamed and the calves aching.        

It is their daily ordeal that lasts for no less than eight hours. Add to it is the fact that they can never leave their counter unattended. They are grudgingly allowed a toilet break only twice a day. For going through such tortured engagement, these unskilled and relatively uneducated youth are paid a pittance. What they gain in the process is either or a combination of back pain, joint pains, swollen feet, kidney-related ailments, and varicose veins. Not many seem to be complaining yet!

Those who complain are summarily shown the door, I'm told. The retail revolution has left workers in the informal sector at the mercy of their employers, forcing the youth to contend with poor working conditions. As for the store owners, forcing counter girls and boys to stand before a customer is a mark of respect. With retail outlets being thrown open on all days of the week through the year, it could be anybody's guess on the number of workers demonstrating such mark of respect!    
There is no doubt that this a gross violation of human rights, and this is what the Kerala government has acknowledged in July 2018 after four years of spirited campaign by women employees of Kalyan Sarees in Thrissur demanded restoration of their 'right to sit'. Under the recent government order, all commercial establishments must ensure seating facilities for sales staff in the state. In addition, there are other aspects of dignified working conditions that the government order has sought to address.   

While one would imagine that the sales staff will rally to secure implementation of the government order, we all know that it is easier said than done as they are not an organized lot. As buyers in whose respect these sales staff are made to stand, consumers can play a smart citizen role in restoring dignified working conditions for the innumerable boys and girls at the sales counters across the country. All it would need is appraising the management of retail outlets about initiative by the government in the God's own country - Kerala. 

Mind you, sales staff is not alone in demanding 'right to sit'. Don't be surprised if I tell you that many private schools do not keep chairs for teachers in the class rooms!    

Thursday, June 28, 2018

106. From a parents' daughter to a husband's wife

By sheer chance it occurred to me one day that half of my close friends are proud single-child parents of a girl. And, many of them tell me in no less terms that a daughter - in an amazing, unnameable way - has filled their households with unknown brightness and joy. Bereft of such joy, I envy my friends because I somehow feel that girls distinguish themselves in making a household lively, colorful, vibrant, and fragrant. Not without reason did English poet Robert Southey wrote that 'little girls are made of sugar and spice, and everything nice' (and denigrated little boys to be made of 'snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails).

Not sounding stereotypical, I consider left-brain orientation of girls' favoring them for their distinct nice touch - tender, delicate and receptive. Oblivious of any such perception, one friend tells me that a girl-child brings in a form of energy that softens the quest for unending doing-ness in our lives. Another friend is quick to add that a girl child, through her sensitive actions, brings out the most humane in her parents, which perhaps boys cannot. General consensus among the group is that a girl provides a sense of completeness to the family.  

I am curious, but at a loss on how to react. Is the picture as distinct as my friends have painted? Are boys cognitively differently wired than girls? Based on my own experience, I can safely say that boy's brains are wired more for logical thinking whereas girls' are better at intuitive thinking. I imagine this wiring sets them apart as individuals. No surprise, girls exude concern and warmth in each of their actions. Even in small actions like serving tea they ensure a soft and nurturing attitude towards their guests, something that runs deeper into their being.     

Without being prejudiced, my problem is that I cannot entertain such paeans far too long. That the girls are warm and delicate, and the boys are curt and impudent offers skewed understanding of the hidden gender dimension. The friend who is on cloud nine talking about his daughter's virtues slumps to ocean depths while enlisting his wife's vices. Why has the left-brained girl taken an extreme right turn after becoming your wife, I ask him. Like most men, my friend remains reticent to dwell any further.   

I am as curious and probing as anybody else could be, because such cases of role-dependent behavioral change among girls are not only far too many to be ignored but have yet to be taken upon for clinical examination to any degree. You will agree with me that a girl to a father is no mirror-image of that girl to a husband. I often wonder at the travesty of things which transforms a goddess of compassion into its mark opposite, who may eventually mother a girl to spread feminine virtues yet again. 

Such is the cycle of human nature, that the less said the better. And not allowing my curiosity to take the better of me, I must confess that I feel no less honored and privileged to have friends who are parents to nature's unfathomable enigma. Much before the recent phenomenon of 'beti bachao' took to the streets they had in the silence of their households taken a vow not to have another child after a baby doll had arrived in their family. For them, that has been their world.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

105. Johny Johny Yes Papa

My moral predisposition has been put to test, or should I say 'rest'. Friends tell me to avoid being indifferent to those who tell a lie; because both as a noun and a verb, lie is passe. What about all those years of mugging up 'Johny Johny Yes Papa', I ask? Just open you mouth one last time, and say 'Ha, Ha, Ha'. In this digital level playing field, lie has got a makeover to its less offensive universally acceptable avatar - fake. In fact, fake is a potent currency in the market which earns rich dividends in a short time as it travels faster than the speed of light.

A lie may need to be told often enough times to become the truth, but fake is a one-time wonder. You release it once and what returns to your inbox is nothing but the ultimate truth. It will earn you mass following on Twitter, help you receive unprecedented number of likes on Facebook, and inundate you with innumerable compliments on WhatsApp. You begin to wonder if the world was waiting out their to lap it up, and give it a cooperative legitimacy. I am beginning to learn that fake is fast becoming euphemism for instant fame! Is it the new normal lurking around?            

Had Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn been alive he would have rephrased his remarks to read: 'fake has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the state'. To rally with fake (whatever be it) is considered an act of cooperation, that politicians use for projecting so-called public good in the guise of pursuing vested interests. Far from being challenged, the enduring qualities of fake engage the media and the public like never before. Like milk, the more you churn it the better it is. Utterly butterly fake-cious!

What worries me most is the fact that fake is gaining public recognition, as an essential aspect of our collective existence. George Bush Jr must be credited for setting up the stage for it. By virtue of having stayed in the White House for almost a decade, the former US President had inadvertently become fond of telling white lies. Else, he could not have convinced the world that there were 'weapons of mass destruction' hidden in Iraq? The shocking truth is that there is a new history, rather a bloody history, being written in the middle-east on a rather fake edifice.  

I checked with my intellectual buddies on it, and found them to be as bewildered. Psycho-analysts are still juggling on their diagnosis, almost close to arguing that fake is but an evolved form of lie. For every thing real there is an equivalent fake too aka the Chinese goods! 

My conclusion on the subject is that we have come a along way. While truth could be 'half-truth' or even a 'quarter', fake is the new truth that we may have to live with for the rest of our lives. I hope I am not too early with my judgement, but as of now fake seems essential to humanity but not truth. While truth is desirable, fake is inevitable! Otherwise, no parents would wake up their school goings kids in the morning by faking - 'get up, it is already 8 while the clock shows 7'. It is another matter that over breakfast they are lessoned on virtues of being truthful in life!   

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

104. What a bore? Thanks for the compliments.

Bored of being Bored because being Bored is Boring
I remember my professor who would consider our boredom of having had enough lecture classes before his, by inviting us to do a quick write-up on 'what made you feel bored' before he could let us be free of any lecturing on that day. The onus was squarely upon us to do some quick thinking,  but writing on boredom was no less boring. It was a kind of drubbing that we could hardly escape. Net result, rarely could we take advantage of his generous offer.

We did feel bored surely, but were not able to translate it into words. Back to back lecture classes were often tedious and monotonous, and I suspect if these are any different now. Back home, my mother would often wonder what made youngsters feel bored as there was no such word in her dictionary. She thought we were too lethargic to engage ourselves meaningfully, and therefore felt bored. As for her concern, she always had some household chore to perform.  

Like many of the present generation, we didn't know that Greek philosopher Lucious Seneca had coined boredom in his writings much before Charles Dickens had drawn reference to it in his novels. That we felt bored was a reality which we were often up against. Little did we know that factory workers in Europe tried all kind of drugs to counter what is referred to as 'situational boredom'. What gave us solace (and dismay too), however, was that teenagers in every era defaced public property to counter 'temporary boredom'.

That boredom has a darker and a more complicated side, akin to depression, is a later day revelation for me. Had it not been so, literature would not have created characters (like Madame Bovary or Jack Torrance) for whom boredom had become dangerously existential. But I am sure not all humans respond to their boredom as these characters have, because boredom isn’t all bad as by encouraging contemplation and daydreaming, it can spur creativity. Surprisingly, it is considered to be the stuff that can help unlock the next big idea.

Equally surprising is the fact that the world's bore flock to deliberate on their boredom at what is called the London Boring Conference. Now in its eighth edition, the conference wants people to use the mundane as an impetus to creative thinking and observation. What worries the deliberations is that far from using boredom as an intellectual stimulus, the world is achieving intense stimulation at the click of a mouse or touch of a screen. This is killing the much desired human trait -- boredom.  

Since boredom is considered 'an aversive experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity', it is viewed as an amazing idea that should be carefully nurtured. Don't get me wrong if I suggest you enforce boredom across your family members, especially the children. But to be able to do so, you must first be a big 'bore' yourself. Only by pumping boredom can we make children to seek engagement in creative ventures. We may need to make them watch light flicker or milk boil, by putting away their smartphone for a while. Else, it is only a matter of time that the world will become a boring place, if it isn't already!.  

First published in Deccan Herald dated May 11, 2018.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

103. LESS is MORE is LESS

Aren't technology and its gadgets a great leveler? Indeed these are, as my house help gives me an edge in breaking news of all kind. Be it 'mann ki baat' or 'padosan ki chat', she often chuckles to find me struggling to stay abreast. She seems no less excited to have whatsapp powering her to stay informed, even if most of those recycled tidbits do pretty little to ease her life, and her increasing workload. There is a sense of empowerment nonetheless, getting more by paying less for the second hand smart phone.              

Little over a decade ago, a phone was just a phone. It could only help dial a number provided one could reach a phone. No more no less! It could neither act like an alarm nor a torch, it could neither click pictures nor convey written messages, and it could neither help you surf the virtual web nor assist the perverted mind to set off time bombs. Mobile phone is one among several gadgets that modernity has smartly milked to capacity, gifting the user more on each purchase. More of the world seems to have been squeezed into a small chip. 

Aren't we getting more from less in all purchases? Buy a trouser and get a shirt free; buy a television and get a mixer grinder free; buy a car and get a refrigerator free; buy a house and get the swimming pool free are market manifestations of a growing culture of 'less for more'. Without doubt, less for more has enticed all and sundry into it without any aspersion being cast on how and who pays for the so-called more in our lives. That more mobiles in a home may mean less sparrows in the courtyard is just one manifestation of 'yeh dil maange more', for less. 

Across almost all areas of human endeavor, less has created an illusion of more. A growing economy is generating less jobs; and never before has there been a more people suffering starvation, malnutrition, and general poverty. But I haven't found many who are complaining yet, unable to decide whether we are worse off or better off. My sense is that while numbing our senses, smart technology has nonetheless given us a semblance of equality, and a so-called good quality of life!     

The question worth exploring is whether this so-called good quality of life makes us happy? Outwardly, it may seem so and most people do demonstrate such an exuberance. The reality is not only far from truth, but grossly painful and annoying too. Else, why would Indians rank 133 in the UN World Happiness Index out of 156 countries, dropping 11 spots from last year. An elderly neighbor sums it up saying that 'we are an insecure lot, seeking solace in acquiring gadgets' and feeling happy about what keeps us ahead of our neighbor. 

No surprise we live in 'deficit' amidst so-called plenty. It is perhaps the greatest of all paradoxes as we plunge ourselves into seeking more from less.

First published in The Tribune on May 8, 2018.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

102. Draining tears work wonders

On-screen King & Queen of 'tragedy' 
Forced laughter is what I often get to hear during early hours or late evenings from the neighborhood park. Few tired housewives and many retired employees squat together to muscle laughter as a means to unload their worries. I only wish it does make them feel lighter, but post this daily ritual rarely do they wear even a smile. There are laughter clubs too many, but there are any number of drooping faces that lurk all around. Does this form of yoga achieve anything beyond giving facial muscles some exercise?  

I would imagine that laughter clubs achieve only as much as the comedy shows, providing no more than momentary balm to an aching soul. It doesn't go any further, as people continue to carry huge weight of worries on their shoulders. Failure to offload it has led the society feel the unprecedented accumulation of frustration, depression, anxiety, and anger. It is a fuse that can and does trigger massive explosions every now and then. Won't you agree that not forced laughter but spontaneous tears can ease peoples lives? 

It did work however, and in not too distant a past. Middle-aged movie buffs would reminiscent with me the time when emotional family dramas on screen would have hundred of viewers sobbing in the darkness of a cinema hall. Not anymore, as wholesome movies have been replaced with wholesale products with first-week box office collection being the only indicator of a success. A market economy has little room for sob stories! 

It goes without saying that for the better part of the last hundred years, ever since Indian cinema came to life in 1912, the Bollywood movies have helped millions of viewers drain excess tears to remain psychologically healthy. It is an act of emotional incontinence that provides a variety of emotions find an easy escape. Once you are done with it, you are ready again to face the vagaries of life again. No wonder, sobbing stories have been the biggest hits of commercial cinema. 

Hundred years of Indian cinema produced tragedy kings and queens, irresistible Dilip Kumar and quintessential Meena Kumari (see picture) portrayed grief-stricken tragic roles pulled out from real life, which helped millions of viewers fulfill their biological and psychological obligation of shedding tears. At an immense personal cost, the actors proved that far from being a sign of weakness shedding tears was indeed an act of strength. There is nothing quite as cathartic as a good cry!

Time has come to give 'cry' a public image of strengthening vulnerable souls, much like in Japan where adults gather together to watch tear-jerking movies, and cry in public as a way of releasing stress. Dubbed 'rui-katsu' meaning tear-seeking, this new social phenomenon is spreading across the country as most people have come to realize that only through a good old cry can one get the feeling of having a huge weight removed from their shoulders. Any takers!

First published in The Tribune dated March 26, 2018. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

101. Rest assured, nobody takes rest there!

It is tough to convince my young nephew that 'rest room' is another expression for a 'toilet' only. In his early years of double-digit age, he has been as inquisitive as reflective in questioning what a majority of us would consider given. Even it had missed my attention that toilet as a term is passé, although not its functions under the new nomenclature. When indeed 'toilet' signs got replaced with 'rest room' boards? Hasn't it been a transition that we have got used to without wondering when did we ever enter a toilet to take 'rest'?

One could go at length to debate the semantics, and the interpretation of the term 'rest' in the context of being relieved of the nature's call. But I have learnt that 'rest room' is an american expression aimed at outwitting the prevailing terminologies for a public convenience i.e., Latrine is Latin, Loo is French and Toilet is English. Like one global currency, how about 'one' expression for a global human daily engagement! My nephew has made me to review this so-called hegemony of verbalization. 

You may wonder what is so uncool about it. Aren't things being made convenient for us, after all? No doubt, but 'cool' too is 'american' in essence that subsumes many linguistic expressions. It's economy may be touching rock bottom but its cultural dominance hasn't, which is a strange mix of arrogance and hegemony that the post-war america has mastered. Despite half the world filled with hate for america, from far-East to middle-East and from latin-America to southern-Europe, there are growing millions who love to talk and walk the american way. Isn't it 'ah-sum'? It indeed is, and if you haven't still got it that's how an american will pronounce 'awesome'.   
Would you call it globalization or will monopolization be a better substitute? Whatever be it, the world around us is fast turning what some commentators call 'americanese'. And the 'ease' with which 'american-ese' is becoming a norm is indeed baffling. From american brands to american sops, it seems to be the new way of life. It is fast turning youngsters of all hues into 'couch potatoes', and they are all 'kewl' (or cool) about it. It is, however, different matter that their parents are absolutely 'uncool' about it, and are often found fuming with rage at the growing trend that has caught on everybody, from Karol Bagh to Kasargod. 
Pardon me for my naivety but till the other day 'dude' for me was somewhat of a rhythmic expression for the word 'dud'. I may indeed be wrong, but I have logical reasons for persisting with it. I wonder why youngsters don't take offence to being called a 'dud(e)', and I checked it up with a younger colleague about it. I was told that there is nothing stupid about being called a 'dude'. it is a Scottish word that has been americanized since the early 1970's. 

Often a person belonging to the male gender is called a 'dude'. And for God-sake, I was cautioned, don't ask what's that which makes a dude distinct? Not only will it be 'uncool' but that I'll end up proving myself to be a 'dud'. 

First published in Deccan Herald, dated Jan 15, 2018.

Monday, October 30, 2017

100. 'Drinking water' by another name!

Not in reality but such pictures help sell bottled water
No sooner had I made my selection from a severely restricted vegetarian menu, the waiter at the restaurant in Kensington, London had surprised me by quizzing: `still' or `sparkle'? It took me few seconds before I could fathom that the query was related to my choice between the 'ordinary' and the'carbonated' water. Choice for water was a cultural shock, making me wonder why the British didn't learn from those whom they ruled for no less than two centuries. Serving water to guests is an accepted norm, a bare minimum courtesy! 

Need it be said that the Swiss are different from the Brits. In a Lucerne restaurant, the waiter took me by surprise when I had asked for a glass of water. Big or small glass? It was a moment of reckoning for me. I was almost about to shower my appreciation for the Swiss ingenuity for saving water by determining the thirst upfront, when the waiter had given me a rude shock by explaining that it is one euro in price what separates the small from a big glass of water.  

Far from making the west learn hydro-courtesy from the east, the reverse is becoming more of an exception with us. Walk into any restaurant and be summarily quizzed: `tap' or `bottled'. Unless one is in a glitzy hotel where a much expensive water menu is on offer, from Rs 50 to Rs 150 or more per bottle, seeking customer's preference for water has become an accepted norm across all kinds of street restaurants, and even roadside dhabas. And, no one seems to be complaining! 

Make no mistake, market economy that thrives on rapid turnover of product diversity have had its impact on consumers' choice for `water' too. Asking `drinking water' is passé for its suspect quality, but branded variants of packaged water with varied degrees of dubious quality assurances have been universally accepted. From ordinary to premium, from spring to glacial, and from aerated to flavored, drinking water has built its own range of products wherein brand draws more value than its contents.

Like ambidextrous master archer Arjuna, who was known by several names, water too has attained an equally evolving nomenclature viz., drinking water, bottled water, aerated water, river water, irrigation water, flood water, grey water, brown water, green water, sea water, revenue water and transboundary water. Each variant has its distinct origin with associated physical features. Does each variant not create a distinct liquid relation based on its (water) fast-changing biological and physical attributes? 

Of all the types of water on offer, it is only the 'blue' which seems to be missing from the list. Rightfully so because `blue' has long ceased to be the true color of water, and it survives more on computer screens than as earthly reality! Need it be said that the elixir of life is facing a crises of identity. Each new identity only degenerates its cosmic existence, hinting at the severity of the impending crises. No surprise, therefore, that even the Mahakal temple in Ujjain is now asking devotees to offer treated water to the deity lord.        

The world seems to have come full circle on its hydrological cycle. What is found in nature, whether flowing or impounded, is anything but 'sick water'. Amen! 

This piece was first published in The Tribune dated Dec 6, 2017.