Inspiration, Social Agenda

The Toilets

There are plenty of good intentions. It has been a fascinating journey and yet I find myself not surprised by what I am learning.

My mum called her friend who has built a temple on her street. They have also built 6 toilets. We weren’t able to talk much and I am unsure whether this is open for people who have made the streets of Vadodara their home because this is where there is opportunity for livelihood, more so than in the villages they lived in. There certainly was no evidence of the toilets being used in the morning as we walked past.

Then, I got a call from a very dear friend of ours who is based in Mumbai and does a lot of work in Kutch. He called and said “I hear you want to build toilets” 🙂

He is leading an agri business in Kutch and they are building 500 toilets in xx village (where there is no sanitation). This is an integral part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. They have figured out how to build a toilet in Rs. 20,000. When I shared this with Mum she spoke to Dad about how she would like to sponsor one. And both mum and I agreed how just talking about this very random idea I have had for a while is evolving and taking shape.

In Delhi now and was passing through Noida. There is a sea of cement clad 30 storey blocks that perhaps hold 1000 + families… there seem to be hundreds of these built, being built. Accompanied by an army of people, perhaps on the streets building these. I wonder if the people who are building these apartments and the people who are buying them for many millions of dollars have considered the living conditions of those who build them. Where is our social conscience?

I met a dear Uncle in Delhi, who is in the construction business. He mentioned that they had approached the local council and offered to build a block of toilets for general access. It was a commercial proposal, where they would have got revenue from the advertising on the toilet block. It was declined.

So here we are.

I am wondering where to from here. I am sure it will come. I am sure I see the early signs of a quality of life that is better for more people than the privileged few amongst the 1 billion + people that live here.

I am sure I see that there is an army of people trying to, committed to this cause. I will figure out what role I can play in all of this.

Meanwhile, I continue to try and make sense of all the dichotomies in this beautiful, mysterious, cruel land that is India. A garden in a complex of 1000 apartments where the “guidance” for the use of land is that it is not allowed to be used by the domestic help. Where a journalist has taken the trouble to delve into the life of the juvenile perpetrator of possibly the most violent crime of all … the rape of a young woman. There are so many sides to a coin it seems…. and you have to wonder what will emerge for us humans…



Inspiration, Social Agenda

Getting Social

Mum called out this morning and asked if I would like to get up and go for a walk. I was sleepy. I wanted to get up. So I just did.

So we were walking and talking. We made our way to the public toilets that the people we met yesterday were perhaps talking about. It is a decent facility and at 6 am had plenty of users. The guy at the door saw me approaching and asked me if I would like to use the facility. You pay Rs. 5 to use the toilet and Rs10 for a shower. There was one woman amidst all the men. Apparently the guy runs it privately and paid Rs 3 lakhs plus to operate it. This is the annual fee. We reckon people may not feel they can afford to use it everyday. We also walked past a woman on the way, bathing out of a small bowl on the street… washing herself quite nicely with soap. She was wearing a skirt though. So reckon she would welcome the opportunity for a personal shower.

So my mum has offered to speak to her friend who has built a temple nearby to consider building some shower and toilet facilities that the people can use. Perhaps then I can try and secure corporate sponsors who will pay for operating the facility so it is free to the users.

Self regulation … I am so sure this will work.

As we were walking, we drifted into various topics and I started reacquainting myself with the electrician who does odd jobs for Dad. He was crying a few years ago when he was with Dad because he had not been paid his salary for a while. My Dad asked him why he does not start working on his own.

This from my Dad, who has served as a senior police officer in a very corrupt bureaucratic environment and didn’t think he had any choices!

So, long story short, Dad gave some support, encouragement and perhaps some nagging and he started off on his own 🙂

This young man is earning Rs.20,000 a month today. A year or so ago, he wanted to buy a scooter and asked my mum to speak to her friend who may help with a loan etc. Spontaneously mum offered to loan him the Rs.20,000. That too was repaid in a few months saving the man Rs.7000 in interest.

And why am I sharing this? It is because I am constantly wondering and grateful that my parents, who live in Vadodara with both their daughters 14-24 flying hours away seem to be surrounded by people who come and help them and fix their things at the drop of a hat. I am grateful for that.

More than that, I am grateful for having grown up observing and contemplating many such acts over and over again.

To be able to put away what you are doing, what is bothering you or you are absorbed with and connect with another person is a gift. Each one of us is capable of using that gift.

And it starts with me. Especially me. Because I have seen it over and over again in both my parents.

Inspiration, Social Agenda

Vadodara City

So, I woke up a little past 5.30 am this morning. Ahem. Like my mum walked into my room and called out to me asking if I would like to wake up.

So in a few minutes, we were out of the door and walking down the street. There are more people on the street than I thought. And in more places than I thought.

They were huddled in small groups in the space that was within the road divider, surrounded by little bushes. A home grown fire, cloth swings to hold babies, baking rotis made from corn. They were getting ready to go to work.

So I approached one of them. I spoke in Gujarati, which is the local dialect in Vadodara. I was addressing a lady who was cooking the roti. She did not respond. Seemed shy. So I addressed the group near by and asked if they spoke Gujarati (in Gujarati). I am very smart, you see. They kinda nodded no. So I asked if they spoke Hindi. (in Hindi) They said yes. So they have come here from a village, which is Hindi speaking. I forgot the name of the village. I am very good with facts, you see.

So I asked if they were here because they could not find work in their village and they said yes. They lived under the building across the road… some of the people were still sleeping there. Relatively clean area. So then I asked them about toilet facilities… he pointed in a general direction … that is where we go to use the toilet.


And mum informed me that there is a NGO nearby that provides a toilet. Shall go and check it out today I think.

Where to next my friend?

Inspiration, Natural, Skin care, Soaps

My very first video of making a soap… in photos though :)

Spiced Orange Cocoa goats milk Soap in the making…

Some one called me the other day to potentially export my soaps. They wanted to see how soap is made and whether I genuinely make these “by hand”.

Jason was the person taking the video and he kindly extracted some stills from his video for the eager beaver (me!)

Here is the lye solution…


The lye solution being added to the blend of oils and butters…


Saponification starting to occur as the lye/goats milk solution blends with the fat..


Next I added the blend of orange peel and orange essential oil..


Took some of this out and blended with a mix of cocoa and cloves to get the dark handsome colour…this went into the mould “delicately” (NOT)… as strangers were watching 🙂Image

Then went in the main soap…


A drizzle of the cocoa/ clove soap..


Another layer of the orange peel soap and then another drizzle of the cocoa…


Some more orange peel soap..Image

Then the fun part… CP soap is so forgiving for not staying the path…



Insulated, left alone for a couple of days and then cut!



Inspiration, Natural, Skin care, Soaps

Life is precious…enjoy it!

Like a caterpillar, I have stepped out of a 25+ year corporate career and become addicted to making soaps! 

I have always liked pampering. And soaps. And beautiful smells. And beautiful surrounds.
Sometime last year I stumbled upon Crunchy Betty and over the last year or so have completely stopped purchasing mass produced beauty products.
I started making soap in February this year, inspired and encouraged by David Fisher’s video on how to make goats milk soap.
Since then, I have made about 50 different soaps and have now secured some seriously nice prices for organic, virgin oils, butters and botanicals.
I would like more people to be able to buy handcrafted soaps. They are so  much nicer than the commercial soaps…
This is a very new business for me. I have enjoyed my experience at the three markets I have showcased my products at. Thanks to the gorgeous people who stopped by, took the time to look, touch and smell the soaps… I have learnt a lot!
Lets all slow down a tad, smell the roses… indulge in life’s simple pleasures…