“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

Culture, Festival, Nature, Religion

In office on a Public Holiday

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Today has been declared as a public holiday in Baghdad to commemorate the death of Imam Moussa ibn Jaafar al-Kadhim, the seventh of 12 principal Shiite imams, who died in 799. Shiites walk for hours, and often for days, from across the country to reach the mosque in Kadhimiyah, known for its twin golden domes. The mosque was built atop what were believed to be the tombs of Imam al-Kadhim and his grandson – Imam Muhammad al-Taqi, the ninth of 12 principal Shiite imams.

Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims converged on the golden-domed shrine as security forces tightened security after a wave of deadly attacks across Iraq. Many of the main streets in Baghdad were closed in recent days to prevent attacks on the pilgrims, who travel on foot.

The traffic restrictions caused hardships to many of my colleagues. Many of them couldn’t come to the bank yesterday. The working hour was reduced by one hour since Sunday. Yesterday, it was decreased by two hours so that all the employees could reach home safe and in time.

The holiday has been declared today only in Baghdad province. Therefore, all our branches outside Baghdad province are working as a normal business day. So, the banking system will be fully operational today. The branches need support from head office as well as some transactions need authorizations. All routine checks are to be carried out to ensure the transactions are booked and recorded properly. So the back office is open today.

An empty Baghdad road

I am in the office to supervise the back office work and for authorizing the required transactions. I stay in the office complex and hence it’s not a problem for me. Mustafa stays close by and so he has come. Ibrahim also can manage to come to office walking, so he too has come today. The vehicles are not allowed on the road today in Baghdad. As the Baghdad branches, and Head Office are closed, so the volume of work is much less today.

“If you have a work instead of a job, every day is holiday” ― Paulo Coelho

Happy World Environment Day to everyone! Today is also World Environment Day. Let’s make it everyday.


Earth Hour Tonight

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This evening, around 1.3 billion people will go without light at 8:30 pm and at 9:30 pm, and at 10:30 pm, and for the rest of the night, just like every other night of the year. Having no access to electricity, darkness after sunset is a constant reality for these people.

At the same time, another 1 billion people will participate in “Earth Hour” by turning off their lights and non-essential appliances from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in symbolic support for climate change mitigation.

Yes, anything to save the environment. But do we really have to wait for this each year to make a difference?

After so many years of announcing the scientific basis for climate change, is token symbolic support the way to move forward? Or should we instead be thinking of ways to actually cut carbon emissions?

There are a few of the things we may do like Carbon tax, Carbon costing, going for alternative green sources but the operative word here is action. Now, it’s a time to move ahead from one-hour high-profile symbolism to real, concrete actions, if we are to move forward towards climate change mitigation.

Also, we should not forget to reach electricity to the rest of the world, for whom observing “Earth Hour” is a luxury.


A Road Made From Waste Plastics

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Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company (JUSCO), a Tata enterprise, was carved out of Tata Steel from its Town Services Division in 2004 in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand (India). Jamshedpur is known not only for its steel but also for green and clean city.

Jusco has constructed a road in Jamshedpur, made from waste plastic. According to the contractors, 90% of bitumen is amalgamated with 10% of plastic that includes everyday waste ranging from carry bags to miscellaneous items like biscuit and gutka packets. These products are shredded into small pieces and mixed with the liquid before laying it on the road.

A plastic-cum-tar road is 25% better than unmodified roads and is almost 200% resistant to soaking up water. The maintenance cost of the road is very low, while its durability is high. The roads reportedly need no repairing for at least five years.

This is a good way to recycle the plastic and preventing further damage to the environment.

I feel happy and proud to be a part of this city. We have an apartment in Jamshedpur. Unfortunately, my mother breathed her last in this city.

Culture, Festival, Nature, Religion

Sarhul Festival


Sarhul is one of the grand festivals of tribals in Jharkhand and Odisha. This festival is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Tritiya, the third day of bright half in Chaitra month. Tribals celebrate ‘Sarhul’, a festival marking the beginning of New Year, by worshiping trees. This annual festival is celebrated during the spring season when trees and other elements of nature are worshiped. Sarhul literally means ‘Worship of Sal’. Sarhul festival is dedicated to Dharti mata. The mother nature is worshiped during the festival. Sarhul is celebrated for several days during which the main traditional dance Sarhul dance is performed.

Sarhul is celebrated during spring season and the Saal trees get new flowers on their branches. Tribals believe that they can use new crop mainly paddy, leaves of the trees, flowers and fruits of the season only after this festival is celebrated.

During the festival Sal flowers are brought to the sarna (sacred grove) and the priest propitiates all the gods of the tribes. It is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be the protector of the tribes. People sing and dance a lot when the new flowers appear. The deities are worshiped with saal flowers.

After worshiping trees, the village priest locally known as Pahaan puts a few rice grains on the head of a hen. Locals believe that prosperity for the people is predicted if the hen eats the rice grains after they fall to the ground, but if the hen does not eat, disaster awaits the community. Also, pahaan predicts the rainfall in the coming season watching a pair of twigs in water. These are age-old traditions.

Tribes all across Jharkhand celebrate this festival with great fervor and joy. Tribal men, women and children dress up in colorful and ethnic attires and perform traditional dances. They also drink a locally made beer, called Hadia,  brewed out of a concoction of rice, water and some tree leaves and then dance around the tree.

Happy Sarhul!