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September 28, 2018

Second spry of neem oil

Filed under: agriculture — neosurya @ 23:01

On 25th Sept, I sprayed neem oil for the second time on the fruit trees. I mixed 4x 50 ml of neem oil bottles with 6 egg whites. After it formed a good suspension, I added about 40 liters water. This was enough for my entire field of 1.5 acres. The insects dropped down from the leaves like stones.

A video from this has been uploaded here:


September 1, 2018

Setting up lab at Yellakonda ZPHS

Filed under: education, social change — neosurya @ 17:31

Today I checked the monitors at Yellakonda school. Mr Bhaskar, the social studies teacher was present at the school. Two students Madhu and Kiran helped us with checking the ten monitors and ensuring we could use them. Hopefully by next week, the lab should start in this school as well. I will be buying 10 raspberry PI B+ to power these systems. We would also need 2 VGA cables, 10 mice and keyboards.


Agri experiment Aug 2018

Filed under: agriculture — neosurya @ 16:32

I enjoyed the first fruit from my farm on Aug 31 2018. One of the guava tree bore fully grown fruit. One fruit was bitten by a bird, which means it would be a very tasty one. In Telugu, it is referred to as chilaka kottudu. The fruits of labor. One of the cassiopia tree branches that we transplanted has borne leaves. Photos are below.

I sprayed neem oil on the fruit trees. Video is given below:

August 15, 2018

RaspberryPi for ZPHS

Filed under: computers — neosurya @ 20:48

At ZPHS Nareguda, we have been taking classes by using desktop PCs. We are now exploring Raspberry PI as a more viable option. Students at the school primarily use Libre office, and Scratch. Our syllabus also requires them to use the internet, but our needs certainly do not justify a PC. I settled down on piBox, which costs about 4200. It has a Raspberry PI 3+, which has a 64 bit cortex quad core CPU with 1 GB RAM and on board graphics. I have an 8 GB SD card with Raspian OS. Installation was a breeze. The following album illustrates the process.

The webcam, mouse, keyboard worked without a hitch. The board was working at a higher resolution than our monitor could support. I had to run the raspi-config utility to change resolution. Bootup time is a few seconds.

Agri experiment

Filed under: agriculture — neosurya @ 20:45

Shabbar and Tirupati Reddy had suggested that cassiopia is a hardy plant which could do nitrogen fixation. In Kishores farm, it was planted all over about 4 acres. Once it grew to a few feet, they were planning on cutting it down and allowing it to mix with the soil. It would make the soil stronger to grow rice. In a two acre adjoining property, Kishore had planted turmeric. I had planted the cassiopia at a couple of locations on the farm.

On 30th July, we transplanted a few branches of cassiopia. In just about a fortnight, they have lost all leaves. I have instructed Pentiaah to pour water everyday till it gets chiguru.Few images are here: Cassiopia leaves added as mulch, Cassiopia being transplanted.

On 13th Aug, I planted a few more trees – 3 branches of Cassiopia transplanted. 2 Malabar neem, 1 Gulmohar, 3 Drumstick, 1 cassiopia, 1 Indian Palm. Among all trees, Guava was growing the best. It had small buds and fruit. The lemon was surviving and trying hard. But there was a lot of pest of a specific type. Image of pest on lemon is here.

August 11, 2018

Bhajan at Nareguda

Filed under: agriculture, India — neosurya @ 19:59

It was a Monday night. Like most software engineers, I was coding with my colleague, Naresh. Around midnight, we decided to take a break from Django, and stepped out to rest our tired eyeballs.

Naresh heard the sound of Bhajan. He said – “Sir, there seems to be bhajan playing nearby. Let us go there”. I disagreed, and suggested that we should finish our work and then go to bed.

Naresh persisted and said “Let us go sir, it will be fun. We may get prasad”. I hopped onto the car. We drove for a about a kilometer and then switched off the car engine. The Bhajans were quite some distance and over the din of the massive 3 liter diesel engine, we could hardly hear anything. We did not want to miss out the location.

In the dead of the night, the direction of the loudspeakers was very clear. We reached the site of the bhajans in no time. In the dim street lights near the Poolapalle village temple we could see two farmers standing beside an empty tractor trolley. Naresh had  hoped for a much larger congregation. The two standing farmers lazily looked at our car, wondering where this SUV with a Indian flag came from. They were curious with the very Govt-looking flag, but did not look surprised. Maybe they have experienced all kinds of happenings in their long lives, or maybe they did not want to expend the energy required to change expressions. Disinterest is a useful facial expression in villages – it works for all conditions.

Inside the temple, there were six elderly farmers, all draped in lungis and banians. Their musical equipment was substantial: a dozen or more metal castanets, two harmoniums, a tabla, a microphone. The arrangements indicated that the temple had seen much larger congregations in the past. The rich prasadam that Naresh had hoped for was not to be. This was a very modest outfit, and we could probably not even expect tea.

Like most temples in India, this one also had an open layout, otherwise the passionate singing would reverberate off the stone walls, at least doing some damage to the hearing systems.  When we entered the temple and bowed down to  the lord, one of the farmers gave out theerth, put kumkum on our forehead. He then folded his right hand in the form of a mudda, brought it to his mouth, indicating the gesture of eating food. He asked – “Did you eat?”.

I was struck by the simple question: “Did you eat?”. Myself and Naresh had just arrived in an SUV just a few minutes after midnight. We looked well fed and alert from our bearing. It was evident that apart from these six people singing the bhajan and their two colleagues outside, most of the village was already in the dream world. If I had answered in the negative to his question, he may have been obliged to provide for food.  Providing food for us at that ungodly hour may have been a lot of trouble for the Bhajan singers.

After a few more minutes, we introduced ourselves as the people who teach computers at Nareguda. The farmer then told us – “We are praying for rain.”. Later we also learnt from them that none of the younger generation was interested in farming, much less the prayers. The men lamented that in earlier years, more people would be part of the congregation.

We left around 1:30. A few photos from the gathering:


July 21, 2018

Something plastic

Filed under: environment — neosurya @ 07:57

A few experienced individuals wanted to discuss social responsibility. At the meeting, they served pepsi and water in plastic cups. The irony :(.



Does not mean I am without fault. I live in a house made of cement, and these days I drive around in an SUV. Even more irony :((

July 13, 2018

Agri Experiment 2

Filed under: agriculture, social change — neosurya @ 11:23

On 27th June, I purchased around 250 Kgs of Neem cake, 15 Kgs of trichoderma and transported it to the village.Thankfully, it fitted in my car and we did not need separate transport to carry to the farm. This will be added to a tractor load of goat manure, allowed to process for 15 days. This mix will be added to the tree saplings that I had planted earlier. Hopefully, it will lead to the growth predicted by SVS in the previous blog post.

One of the steps in farming is to run a dozer and flatten the land. On 30th June, I and Santosh were visiting the farm. I noticed that a fully grown neem tree was lying flat on its side. The Dozer driver had been careless and felled the tree. I asked Kiran to give the dozer driver a piece of my mind. While visiting Shabbar’s farm, I noticed that a JCB was just finishing up. I immediately took the JCB to Serenity and setup the plant straight again. Santosh is a close friend from Engg college, and was visiting after 18 years on 29th of June. And what do I do? Take him straight to the farm :).  Full album is here. A few photos of Santosh and me:

On 8th July, we did our first real planting on the farm. We used an automatic plough + seeder machine that connects to a tractor. You can see Jyostna riding the tractor in this video:

We first planted Kandulu on our 1.67 acre plot. I had planted small trees about a year ago. Kandulu were planted in the rows in between. We planted Jonnalu and Kandulu in Kalyan’s 2 acre plot. More pictures are in this album. All costs will be sumarized in this google docs.

The dozer and plough are not necessary steps, and some of my friends in the vicinity are experimenting with complete do-nothing or natural farming.

Came across this you tube channel that discusses diseases of tropical plants:

July 7, 2018

Poverty vs sustainable society

Filed under: social change — neosurya @ 00:53

During a discussion with a friend about sustainability, he pointed out that a few decades ago, our society ate hand pounded rice. The rice was separated from husks and pounded to get the grains out. This rice was then washed to remove the hard barn. Everything was boiled and then passed through a wicker basket. Then, we spoke about the need for modern technologies (white polished rice), plastics, medicine, vehicles and briefly pondered over the uselessness of many knick-knacks.

My friend spoke about how one should not flaunt wealth if they are asking someone to be sustainable. We should be conscious of what someone thinks of our behavior. This, I am unable to agree completely.

Ancient society was sustainable. But someone or the other flaunted. Yes, flaunting is bad. Flaunting is an assertion of self worth, a very bad (and often futile) attempt at domination. Humans always tried to exhibit some form of domination: strength, knowledge, religion, beauty, wealth to name a few. Heck, even animals select spouses based on some form of flaunting/domination/control.

If we somehow become a society of true saints, we may have a chance of completely giving up the urge to flaunt, or to dominate.

I would stand for:

  1. A society with few rules that can be enforced effectively.
  2. Truly free access to the worlds knowledge.
  3. Environment for a person to decide their own limits of wants/desires, be at peace with oneself and others.
  4. Access to quality food, air, and water for most species.

Anything that offers more will most likely create an -ism that will fail, or in the worst case the -ism will become a demon. (communism, fascism, nazism etc).

And to the original question of flaunting – it is common knowledge that Gandhi preferred to travel in third class to understand the plight of the ordinary man. A few more questions:

  1. Did all great leaders do it? No.
  2. Are all leaders who travel by third class Mahatmas and are all first class travelers thieves? No.
  3. Will society ever get to a stage where every ordinary man can afford better class of care? I dont know.
  4. Should we create a society where everyone has an opportunity to move up from third class to first class & vice versa? Yes.
  5. Should we ensure minimum standards for every type of common good provided to citizen? Yes. (Like the second sleeper, or the current standard toilets in general compartment)
  6. Should we create a society where many people out of their own free will are not judgmental about whether someone arrived in third class or first class? Yes.

Someone said: There is enough in the world for ones’ needs, but there is never enough for greed. But what is greed? Let us say I have a shirt, and a woolen jacket. My neighbor does not have it. Am I greedy?

Is it greed if I am wearing an Armani jacket and my neighbor has no clothes? When does using an expensive clothing become flaunting? Does it cross the threshold the moment I buy it, or does it happen when: (a) I wear it to a party, (b) I wear it to a non profit event, (c) Openly make fun of those who do not have it, (d) Make judgments in my mind about those who have it.

Then again – what is greed? A rich man can afford the best treatment for his child in the best hospital. A villager has to rest with whoever is available in the vicinity. Should the rich man give up the facility to take his children to the hospital. Should the rich man take responsibility of all children?

June 23, 2018

Negotiations with grown ups.

Filed under: travel — neosurya @ 07:47

At ~1800 on Thu 21st June, I got information that a close relative had passed away in our native village. At that time, I was driving back home from RP road, Secunderabad. All my aunts and uncles were living in Hyderabad, and we needed to reach our village by the next morning. And I was the only person in my age group left in Hyderabad. All my cousins are outside India. My relatives naturally started calling me to arrange for transport. Thankfully, my parents grasped logic and immediately agreed to travel by car. They suggested, correctly, that one should take whatever transport was nearest and reach the village. I communicated the same to my other relatives but they insisted they could not sit inside a car for the ~8 hours drive.

Mausi and mamaji stated that everyone should travel by train. I had to prove to them that all tickets were wait-listed. My mamaji continued to insist that I check specific train numbers. Even those tickets were not available. He asked me for specific wait list numbers, and asked me to check if tatkal was available. They then moved to Volvo buses. When I started checking Volvo bus at around 1900, it was quoting Rs 800. My relatives refused to agree, saying that travel by bus would be tiresome. Some even suggested that they should fly by air to an airport that was half way between Hyd and our village. They would then reach the village by car. I had to explain that the air travel itself would take about 4 hours (Going to airport, checking in, 1 hour of actual flight etc). And when they reach, they would have to take a taxi for 4 hours.

By the time all of this was explained to them, it was ~2000 and I had reached home. They finally agreed to take volvo. But by then all Govt buses had left or had reached MGBS, and my relatives would not be able to make it there. The private ones remaining had jacked up their prices to ~Rs 1800. In exasperation, my uncle decided that he wanted to book an Innova taxi. The price was ~Rs 20K. I then suggested that they could take my driver and my car. It was accepted. The entire extended family set out to our native place at 2300 and were at my village by 0700 the next day.

I had to start the return journey on very same evening due to office commitments. During the onward journey, my mausi had categorically stated that she could not take a car. She had a heart surgery in May and could not take the drive. She also could not stay in the village for long. She asked me to book a train to return after a day’s rest. I had accordingly booked a train ticket for her on Sat morning. When she found out that I had to return on Thu,  she wanted to take the car back. She now claimed that it was difficult to climb stairs in the railway station. I just put my foot down and insisted that she needed to rest for a day and take the train.

Adults and their many thoughts. Kids are so much more easier 🙂



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