Friday, July 31, 2009

Wheel-chair friendly Parcel's office!

Yesterday, I discovered that the long awaited and very necessary wheel-chair ramp has been constructed by POSTA's Parcel's office. Now, people with mobility problems no longer have to fret, Alhamdulillah.

In fact, the Mombasa Parcel's office, has closed off the previous monstrous entrance where the steps were plain awful and only a very fit person was capable of negotiating them. Now, the entrance to the place is through a blue gate. This is where the ramp is.

It was such a relief to discover this! Keep it up, Posta, and thank you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Re: Two bananas and an orange, for the price of a tree - Those cheeky monkeys.

'Afternoon, Musa!

About your latest adventures with your neighbour who seems to blame you for a monkey stealing his fruits. It seems that of late, Mombasa, has been suffering from too many monkeys all over town.

These monkeys, like humans are social animals and are also reproducing at a very fast rate, causing chaos and danger to the residents. Our Council and various other authorities should be doing something about them but, are not, unfortunately, despite being complained to, by many residents.

There is, at least one friend of mine who has two young children who are frightened to death of these creatures as they intimidate the human young and adult females. In fact, there was a day when the children were surrounded by these monkeys and the situation was a very intimidating one. Even my friend, their mother, was quite ineffective in chasing them away.

Surprisingly, they are only scared of males (human) and/or if one carries a weapon like a stick, to intimidate them, back.

One of the reasons for this sudden proliferation of these monkeys is ourselves - when some of us in a misguided way decide to feed them. That's when and why they get encouraged to invade human settlements to this extent for they do not know that not all humans are the source of their food supply. This and the overflowing garbage dumps all over, too. The same way that this attracts the crows and other pests, it's now attracting monkeys!

I'm sending this email, with yours, to the various 'authorities' who I think could and should take action, but, then we are living in the most lawless and unjust country imaginable and I wonder if ANYTHING will be done....

Salaams & best wishes,

Protecting & Indemnity Kenya Ltd. wrote:

Dear Raziya.

I have recently received a frantic telephone call from my next door neighbour who lives on the first floor of a flat in a house next door. Since he is happy with the security of his flat, he does not have grills over his windows, like the rest of us. All his windows are open to the world.

His problem was that one large monkey entered his kitchen and stole two bananas and an orange. The question was who allowed the money into his kitchen and how did the monkey climb up to his flat. His shamba boy, when the Bwana asked him, with a thread to discipline him or sack him, alleged that he saw the monkey climb up a tree in my garden, on the far side of the house, jumped from my tree to his flat's roof top, then walked along the roof to the kitchen window which was wide open at the time, without grills.

The demand I received from my next door neighbour was that I should cut down the tree with immediate effect. Having lived in this area for over 38 years, and most of the trees in my garden were very old, some of which I have personally planted, it is rather painful to have to cut them down for the price of two bananas and one orange. It is cheaper for me to buy the fruits and replace what my next door neighbour has lost, if it will restore peace between us, than to cut the trees down. Afterall monkeys have been around here for much longer than human settlements have sprung up in this area. This is their habitat and we have been invading it, not to mention the lovely trees that have given us shade and shelter for a rich bird life in the area.

So, Dear Raziya, most people around here appear to be totally ignorant of their responsibilities to preserve the environment.

It is interesting to see all those palm trees our Mayor is planting along the roads of Mombasa, and one wonders if the Mayor has actually considered how these tree will look like when they grow older, blocking pedestrians' use of the pavements and walkways. On the other hand, will those seedlings survive the next dry and hot seasons which will follow these rains? There is no guarantee that they will be properly looked after. What is needed in Mombasa is more open spaces, to expand the roadways, car parks and green areas. The town (or is it already a city?) is choking with fumes, noise and filth due to the ever increasing population of cars and people. It is a mess that needs to be addressed and handled propely, not to add on to the chaos. Is it too late for Mombasa to be redesigned, planned and improved, rather than people burying their heads in the sand and hope everthing will be OK? Afterall it is the money people are after, not the welfare and livelihood of the people who live here. The word is IMPUNITY, and I am sure my next door neighbour has been thinking along the same lines. God help the rest of us who live here.

Kind regards.
_ _ _
Captn. M.M. Ittiso,
Associates (Pty) Ltd.,
C/o Protecting & Indemnity Kenya Ltd.,
Jubilee Insurance Building,
Third Floor, Suite No. 15,
Moi Avenue,
P.O. Box 99342,
Post Code 80107 Kilindini
Kenya.Phone : +254 (0)41 222 2494
+254 (0)41 222 0511
Fax : +254 (0)41 222 0511
Mobile : +254 (0)733 803226
AOH : +254 (0)41 249 2372
E-mail :
Website :

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Your Ref: KACC/INV. 6/10/ Vol.III/ (102) - 21190 - RE: NOISE POLLUTION - ATTN: P.M MWANGI 'ndc' (K)

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your hard copy letter dated 1st July 2009 with the above reference where you allege that my letter (email?) regarding the same issue was undated which you received on the 23rd of June 2009.

All of my letters which are in the form of emails would automatically also have a date and time 'stamp' on them. Therefore, I do not understand how my email could have arrived on your desk undated as you claim.

Also, when you tell me to ask the local OCS to restore order in the area, you'll notice from my innumerable emails/letters that the police are extremely averse to do this when one rings them up. Hence, my emails, written out of sheer frustration, because I'm beginning to believe that we have no law or justice, in this our land and nation, anymore. Unless one lives in an up-market area and by extension one is also moneyed. Then and only then, will somebody in our law and justice departments even begin to pay attention.

Otherwise, one can go jump in the nearest body of water for all that anybody cares!

For example, since yesterday afternoon, we in this neighbourhood have been inundated by NOISE from the MWA Hall and despite calling various senior police officers including the OCPD, NOTHING has been done to restore order and peace in the neighbourhood. Even as I write this, there is a racket going on since early afternoon at the said hall, again, and I dread what other kind of awful racket in the form of wedding parties, are going to disturb our much needed rest and sleep for the remainder of the weekend.....

Of course, the noises emanating from this hall as well as the various religious institutions that we are surrounded by, all add to our lack of peace and quiet every single day! And why is it that 'officialdom', cannot seem to separate the freedom of religion from noise? While there is and should be freedom of religion, this freedom should not be mixed up with the right to infringe on others right to peace and quiet.

Why is it that in this country, the law breakers, noise makers, etc., seem to have more rights than the ones who yearn for some peace and quiet? How strange that there are also two hospitals within hearing distance of these offensive noises, but, even the poor patients there seem to have no rights.

So, when you've asked me to contact the OCS of the nearest police station to restore order in my area, it is something next to impossible to get him/her to do this. I'm talking from bitter experience for even officers more senior than the OCS will not lift a finger to do this.

Therefore, where else is one supposed to turn? Can you please tell me? I'm waiting for a reply....


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Varakh - silver edible foil used in mithais (sweets)

A very enlightening read!


In India , by law, every food item has to have a green dot on it, if it is vegetarian - and a maroon dot, if it is non-vegetarian. If a manufacturer is found to be cheating by mis-labelling his product, the sentence is many years in jail.

So, how have the mithai (sweets) people not been arrested so far? Milk has been treated as vegetarian to appease the powerful dairy lobby, but the silver foil or 'varakh' on each mithai cannot by any stretch of imagination be considered vegetarian.

'Beauty Without Cruelty', a Pune-based NGO that investigates into product ingredients,
has produced a remarkable booklet on the varakh industry. Here is their report on how it is made.

*The varakh-makers select animals at the slaughterhouse. Each animal is felt for the softness of its skin before it is killed. This means that a substantial number of goat, sheep and cattle are killed specifically for the industry.

Their skins are soaked in filthy, infested vats for 12 days to dehair them.

Then, workers peel away the epidermal layer, which they call jhilli, just under the top layer of the skin in a single piece. These layers are soaked for 30 minutes in another decoction to soften them and left to dry on wooden boards. Once these are dry, the workers cut out square pieces 19 cm by 15 cm. These pieces are made into pouches called auzaar and stacked into booklets. Each booklet has a cover of thick lamb suede called khol. Thin strips of silver called alagaa are placed inside the pouches.

Workers now hit the booklet with wooden mallets for three hours to beat the silver inside into the ultra-thin varakh of a thickness less than one micron called '999'. This varakh is then sent to sweet shops*.

Here are the statistics that you should know. An animal's skin can make 20-25 pouches
only. Each booklet has 360 pouches. One booklet is used to make 30,000 varakh pieces - less than the daily supply of a single big mithai shop.

About 12,500 animals are killed for one kg of varakh. Every year, 30,000 kg of varakh (30 tonnes) are eaten on mithai. 2.5 crore booklets are made by varakh companies that keep their slaughterhouse connection secret. But the truth is that not only is this industry
killing animals furiously, much of the animal tissue that the booklet is made of remains in the varakh.

Each Jain knows in his heart that varakh is non-vegetarian. But they still use these dreadful items of mass destruction to decorate the idols of Jain tirthankars. How amazing that the idols of those that preached and practised strict non-violence to all creatures should now be covered with slaughterhouse derived silver foils. Jains are the biggest buyers of the varakh industry. Many try to bluff themselves by saying that the varakh is machine-made.

'Beauty Without Cruelty' has done a thorough investigation and found that there is not
a single machine-made varakh piece in this country (or even the world).

On the web, there is one letter from a person, Jalandhra, claiming that he has a company which has "fully automatic machines manufactured with German collaboration to beat silver pieces in between a special Indian manufactured paper in a hygienic and controlled atmosphere run round the clock by qualified Engineers and experienced R&D team". Initially, we were importing the special paper from Germany .

But when I followed this up, no factory of the given name, or even address, was found.The production of varakh is done mainly in north India : Patna , Bhagalpur , Muzaffarpur and Gaya (which is a Buddhist holy centre), in Bihar ; Kanpur , Meerut and Varanasi (the holy city of Hindus ) in Uttar Pradesh; and Jaipur, Indore , Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

The booklets come to them from the slaughterhouses of Delhi , Lucknow , Agra and Ratlam.

Not only is varakh non-vegetarian, it is also very bad for your body - whether you are vegetarian or not. The silver cannot be digested; therefore, there are no benefits from its consumption . A study done in November 2005 by the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre in Lucknow on varakh says that the silver foil available in the market has toxic
and carcinogenic metals in the thin silver foil, nickel, lead, chromium and cadmium.

Damages Body also Over half of the analysed silver foils had lower silver purity than the 99.9 per cent purity stipulated by the prevention of food adulteration act of India.

When such foil enters into the body, it releases heavy metals that can lead to cancer. The report also details the unhygienic conditions in which workers put silver in small leather bags and beat it into foil in filthy shops.

It is time we refused varakh-covered mithai, fruit or paan.

Mithai shops should be taken to court for not labelling their products non-vegetarian, before selling them. I request everyone reading this article to strictly avoid the sweets that have a silver work on them. They are purely Non - Vegetarian.