Three days ago the contractor we just hired to do some work in the garden sprayed pesticide around the atrium inside the house. The next day all the mud-coloured fish in our small pond were dead, and the baby water snake which had gotten into the house somehow a few weeks ago hung limply in the water. In my imagination it had been growing fast, and I expected to run into it whenever I went into the dark atrium at night; but it was only a foot long, and slender, silvery.
The timing was appropriate, because we're going through an upheaval over pesticides right now. An NGO found high levels of pesticides in Coca Cola and Pepsi, and also in bottled mineral water. Pictures of babies deformed by pesticide poisoning are appearing in the newspapers. Many pesticides which are banned in the West are still in everyday use here. There's little regulation. Our groundwater is being poisoned. No one seems to care until something like this happens. Coca Cola and Pepsi have been banned from the Parliament cafeteria (?!), and enquiry commissions are being set up - generally a confirmed ticket to oblivion for any issue. Most people assume that huge bribes will be paid, and the whole thing will soon be forgotten. (Coca Cola -- along with IBM -- was actually thrown out in 1977 -- Coca Cola, I think, because it refused to reveal its proprietary formula, and hence was seen as part of the then-ubiquitous 'foreign hand,' convenient cause of (most) ills. I'd be very surprised if such an extreme action were possible in today's relatively liberalised climate.)
Inspired by all this talk of yoga lately, I pulled out my old copy of B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga and tried to remember a few things. My inspiration shall not be the spandex-clad practitioners of the moment, but the meditating cat with its mouse disciples (7th c.), from nearby Mahabalipuram: