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On Vaisakhi Day,
Some Thoughts On Rejuvenation
- The Roundtable Open Forum
# 149






Vaisakhi has, since the Great Gathering a little over three centuries ago, signified a renewed beginning for us Sikhs.

Casually, rejuvenation is not a difficult concept to understand -- every breath is a new lease of life. Every day, the sun rises and brings new hope. Every second that passes brings forth a set of previously unknown joys.

But in the haphazard and frenetic urban lifestyle that I have cultivated for myself, the concept of rejuvenation is a tough one to grasp -- because inspite of all of the above, I am still stuck in a rut. I have never paused and appreciated my breathing, or admired the new rays of dawn, or just soaked myself in the moment.

I’m beginning to realize that unless I get off the treadmill that’s wearing me down, I have no chance of actually rejuvenating myself.

And yet, in this hyper-connected world where I can share my silliest moments with friends all across the world (perhaps even with Martians, in a few years), there is no way I can ignore the benefits of technology that have undoubtedly made our lives better.

Only a 100 years ago, we humans were expected to live a measly 45 years in the developed world -- and if you were in Asia, 35 would be a life well lived. Constant improvements in technology and healthcare have meant that we are now barely getting out of colleges and starting our lives at 30. Today, we expect to live at least through 70 and live to see all our hair turn white.

We did not get here overnight and plenty of technologies have helped us along the way: think energy.

We no longer need to choke our lungs with carbon dioxide inhaled during cooking -- we have electric and solar ovens.

No longer do we drink beer all through the day, we have access to fresh, potable water.

Discoveries like that of penicillin were outright serendipitous, bringing a new ray of hope for millions of our ancestors.

Such breakthroughs have continued ever since.

To be sure, there are billions today who don’t have access to water, technology or healthcare and then there is the resource curse for another billion or so. Add to that, there is a growing feeling that we are wrecking our environment and are doomed by self-created climate change.

None of these diminish the idea that technology is what will eventually bridge this gap. It is a matter of time that mankind will solve these problems, albeit giving birth to new ones.

But, as I understand it, this concept is central to the idea of rejuvenation.

So, this Vaisakhi I ask myself, what can I do to rejuvenate myself, something that goes beyond me and impacts the way I embrace a modern lifestyle?

Surprisingly, one of the most convincing answers called for a return to my roots -- in the noble way of farming. Surely, my “pind” is now the urban concrete jungle, and the farmer of today is beholden to pesticides, fertilizers and GMO crops -- not a noble thought by itself.

The ray of hope that I see comes from urban farms -- farms that each one of us can easily cultivate in our own backyards. Well, I actually don't even need a backyard, a small balcony or a rooftop would do fine.

I will spare the reader the details and direct them to the work of Dickson Despommier, a professor at Columbia University and an early proponent of vertical farming. By his estimates, one block of New York City can feed about 50,000 people every year. Our small balcony farm ought to be able to take care of at least some of our needs, while cutting down on our need to, through a convoluted process, transport stuff from thousands of miles away, thus cutting our overall carbon footprint and doing our bit for the good of our planet.

We as a community know farming best -- we should be able to seize this opportunity and rejuvenate our food supply. As technology advances, this might just turn out to be another green revolution. So today, I shall take a small step to rejuvenate my balcony and plant something edible.


What are your ideas on rejuvenation? How do you see modern technology aiding that? I would love to hear your thoughts.

April 13, 2015

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Some Thoughts On Rejuvenation
- The Roundtable Open Forum
# 149"

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