Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Guest Column



Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. – Hal Borland

There are many ways to mark new beginnings. At the end of each calendar year, it has become customary to reflect on the happenings of the past year and look forward to the coming New Year. We can ask ourselves deeper questions such as in what ways did we grow emotionally, spiritually, physically or how did we grow in our relationships with others or reflect on the simple stuff like home management, biggest time waster in the past year, financial accomplishments, etc.

The media does a great job on showing us what the world accomplished and we all invest some time to review the world. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that … but let’s make some time to look within ourselves and recognize our achievements. This year, my father learned to say “I love you” to my children. Born in the USA, my daughter just stepping into her preteens asked me one day “Why won’t dada ever say that he loves me?” I tried to explain that older Indian parents don’t express their feelings in words but in actions. That still did not satisfy her so I asked her to have a conversation with her grandfather directly. We also have some communication issues on top of Dada’s hearing loss. But my daughter was determined to make her grandfather understand why it was so important for her that he express his emotions in words. So, it took a while but every time she visited, she said “Dada, I love you” and made sure that he said those words back to her. Her grandfather has now understood and accepted this new way of expression. So, the little baby steps learned through my daughter’s patience and perseverance helped grow an important relationship. It was a goal accomplished … Remember, that life goals can change, and who you are can change as well. So let’s try to recognize who we are … it’s a process. Never fail to re-evaluate and rediscover yourself!

A New Year's resolution or a commitment is done to make your new year a better one.  So, this is what I wish for me and you …

Perhaps a bit wiser,
a bit kinder, too,
a little bit braver,
a heart that's more true,
a touch of accepting
I've not known before,
in joys I'm receiving
a little bit more.

A little more eager
to reach out my hand,
despite hurt or trouble
to still understand,
accepting the heartache
that life often brings,
a little more beauty
in life's simple things.

A prayer in believing
as forward I walk,
a little more trusting,
my faith in God,
And this is what I wish for
granted moments dear,
not a lot - just a little
this coming new year.

Guest Column



Water is essential to life and while humans can go without food for a few days, they cannot live without water for very long. Water dissolves everything it comes in contact with. The solubility of water makes it susceptible for easy contamination and, therefore, it is absolutely necessary to make sure the water we drink and cook with is free of both soluble and insoluble contaminants.

Most of our drinking water comes from either groundwater such as aquifers or surface water such as rivers and lakes. While surface water contains high levels of both dissolved and suspended contaminants that must be removed before consumption, groundwater is relatively free of suspended contaminants because as the surface water trickles down to collect in underground aquifers, the many layers that make up the earth’s surface acts as a natural filter and removes much of the insoluble contaminants. However, the soluble contaminants still remain in the aquifer and have to be removed before distribution for use.

Drinking water supply in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was designed to protect the quality of drinking water supplied to the public. Under this act, EPA establishes certain standards of known contaminants in drinking water and updates them when required. These standards specify how much of these contaminants could be present in drinking water and still be considered safe for consumption. Even though this makes our tap water fairly safe, advances in science is making us aware of contaminants whose toxicity and levels were unknown when EPA specified its standards. As we develop more sophisticated technologies to analyze contaminants and their toxicity in drinking water, we are finding many more contaminants present in our drinking water today than before. For example, arsenic which is found commonly in nature was regulated in drinking water up to 50 parts per billion (ppb) until January 2006, when it was revised by EPA to a newer standard of 10 ppb based upon studies, that long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water was linked to certain types of cancers. Recently, hexavalent chromium a similar carcinogenic compound, which is not regulated by EPA, has been detected at levels up to 13 ppb in drinking water sampled in various parts of U.S., including Tallahassee, Florida, making it necessary for us to act and remove this contaminant from our drinking water before the political machinery is churned into action to do something about it (water.epa.gov)

So, for the coming New Year 2011, consider installing a home water filtration system in your home or business and make your life cleaner, simpler and safer. Happy New Year and Happy Clean Drinking Water.

Kiron Senapati is an environmental consultant based in the Tampa Bay area, specializing in water and wastewater treatment. He recently spent two years in India addressing the growing concern of arsenic in drinking water. He may be reached at ksenapati@hotmail.com

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