The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

I’ve been fascinated by the chir pine Pinus roxburghii (Pinus longifolia) for quite some time and realised that I haven’t yet put down a post on it. I’ve marvelled at its beauty both at Sattal and also Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, India.  Unfortunately it is sad to see villagers set whole slopes of the forest on fire which is taken up by the layer of dry pine needles covering the mountain slopes. The villagers do it so that grass would grow again on the ground between the trees for them to take home back to their cattle. It is also suspected that the land mafia does this to deliberately deforest areas in connivance with the authorities which they can then encroach upon and sell. This is easy to do as the pine is rich in resin and catches fire easily even when wet. Continue reading The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

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Trek: Kedarkantha peak

I’ve been importing Trekking/Camping equipment for years now and I’ve barely managed to put it to use because of not finding like minded people to trek or camp with. This was my first major trek, so I thought I’d better pen down my experiences for others to read before they head out on their own or make the same mistakes I did. It is easy to dump a large sum on some tour organiser and let them handle all the logistics like food, water, transport etc, but there is a lot more adventure (and sometimes danger) when heading out on your own. Sorry for the lack of photographs as I lost most of them when my laptop hard disk suddenly stopped working. Continue reading Trek: Kedarkantha peak

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Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) is a familiar name. As kids it was a kind of a sister to castor oil which mum sometimes spooned into our mouths. It was bland and insipid and that was the beginning of my childhood hatred for any kind of porridge and of Arrowroot biscuits which has thankfully now passed. Arrowroot derives its name from its past medicinal use in which it was used as a poultice to treat wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows. Continue reading Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

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Harvesting and processing Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice which is very familiar in Asia. It is usually used powdered and is one of the easiest to identify due to its bright orange-yellow color. However it is often adulterated and then colored with artificial colors. If you have a small garden patch, it is very easy to grow turmeric on your own. It is almost maintenance free and takes care of itself provided the weather is not too cold and there is good rainfall.  Continue reading Harvesting and processing Turmeric

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Cow dung and its uses

Never thought I’d be doing a post on cow dung! I’m guessing this post would also apply to dung of other herbivorous animals which put out dung of the same consistency. My earliest encounter with dung was on my way to school when I sometimes trod on it. In school we used to call it cutting the cake. It was the worst thing that could happen to one of us -if you overlook instances when we accidentally trod on dog or human dung in which case, “kill me now” would be the most appropriate thing to say. Continue reading Cow dung and its uses

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Himachal’s water powered flour mills

Renewable energy is something I’m passionate about and an opportunity to live off the grid would be a dream come true. Among known renewable energy sources, solar photovoltaic cell technology is  way down on my list of favorites, as it is dependent on industrial manufacture. In addition to that, broken/disposed solar cells are not something that can be easily digested by the earth. I do love other solar technologies such as solar heating, solar ice making, solar water purification etc… Besides solar, you can of course use wind energy, capture energy expended in motion (such as the motion of tidal waves) and of course the most familiar, water energy -familiar in India,  because of the electricity we use here, generated by hydro electric turbines.


Continue reading Himachal’s water powered flour mills

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