Last Sunday, at 8:30 pm, we were all supposed to observe Earth-hour. At least, thats what the media-channels were exhorting us to do, to show that we were every bit as “green” as the person next door.
First of all, I am not much of a believer in “hours” and “days”, though occasionally I do get caught in all the craziness, and bake my Mom a cake for Mother’s Day or something. But “Earth hour” ?? I mean seriously, what was it supposed to be for? Obviously, it was not to reduce greenhouse gases . It was supposedly symbolic, to show that we care for the environment.
A symbolic gesture towards caring for the environment in which we leave and breathe seems like doing too little for something that needs a lot to be done. If anything, what the earth hour ended up doing was showing people how deeply entrenched we are in our lifestyle and how difficult it is for us to change it.
Take our case. I landed up with some friends at this restaurant in South Mumbai, called Basilica. We reached there at 8:25.. and were told that the lights would be switched off in 5 minutes. My friends were pissed, we went to another place. I , with my green leanings, was more tolerant, but still left me wondering what the point of it all was.
Last evening N, me and FIL went to the Port Trust garden in Colaba.
We sat on the benches overlooking the sea. We could see the last few street-lights of the Queen’s Necklace and the pier from Marine drive extending out to the sea. In the distance, the Navy headquarters building, built to resemble a ship at sea, dominated the horizon. There were a lot of small passenger boats strung with colorful flags and some fishing boats. The scene was idyllic; except that the memory of 26/11 lurked somewhere in my mind.
The garden was really awesome – little hillocks covered with green grass, and kids running all over. Small families and couples sitting here and there. Old couples sitting on the benches. Determined joggers using the trail.
FIL pointed out the tall Port trust officers building. He called it the “leaning tower of Colaba” – and really, it was leaning a bit to the back and to the left. But leaning or not, what a view the people living in those buildings would be having.
This was near Eros cinema in Mumbai. I was walking on the footpath with N toddling along, and what do I see? Two large cows, one white and one black, tethered near a Banyan tree. Both of them happily chomping on grass. Since I am with N, I have to stop to see the “Cow-moo-moos”. So we stop.
The owner was making some balls out of hay and wheat. And she had bundles of grass near her. Then suddenly a gentleman ( looked like a broker, he had an Eco-T tucked under an arm) picked up one of the wheat balls, fed it to the cow, and gave the owner 10 rupees. Then came a office-peon who picked up a bundle of grass, fed it to gou-mata, and dropped off a rupee onthe owner’s plate. Then a woman dressed in a salwar-kameez.. there was a never ending stream of people. Passers-by were paying the owner to feed her cow!
Good business or what? Your cows get fed, you don’t spend anything, and you get the milk at the end of the day.
Cool, cool, stuff.
< I was probably the only cynic there. N was enjoying watching the cows feed, the owner was enjoying having money on her lap while under the shade of the large banyan tree, and the people feeding the cows were enjoying the Punya!>
N and I are discovering Mumbai – a bit at a time. As usual, when you are somewhere with a toddler, things happen to you that otherwise wouldn’t.
Like getting your hand bitten playfully by a little doggie who you pet coz N wants you to! – this was at Maidan. I also had to be friendly with a huge mean looking thing that looked like a cross between a bull-dog and a hippo.
Like watching sparrows picking up bhel ( again at the maidan).
Like drinking yogurt smoothie at a cha-bar ( sigh!) – this was at Oxford.
Like reading Aesops fables out loud, loud enough for everybody in the cha-bar to enjoy!
< PS: where in Mumbai can I get my camera repaired? I am missing so many photo ops. The buildings around the Maidan were beautiful in the evening light>
I’ve been thinking for a while now to volunteer my time for conservation efforts. Wildlife and nature conservation. Help preserve the trees around us, the birds and the butterflies, the animals -things like that.
Thinking about conservation always brings up the question of human development though, and whether a balance is possible between our using up of natural resources, and nature;s innate ability to replenish it. Currently, the equation is not in favor of mother nature. The evidence is everywhere – tree covers are dwindling rapidly, and so are water bodies. Climate is changing. We are using up nature;s resources iInto putting more fuel into our cars, more Air-conditioning to beat the heat that is happenning because of climate change, creating more and bigger and better of everything.Will we use up so much that we run out?
The term sustainable development was coined to convey an idea. That of human development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.It seems imperative to me that we look at this sustainable development thing closely. And pay attention to it. All of us.
Or very soon, we will have used up whatever was given to us.
The dust and the heat assault me as I walk out of the gates. My top floor apartment, exposed to the relentless rays of the sun, is not cool, but at least I could shut the windows on the dust and grime. There is construction everywhere; in spite of the economic downturn, the frenetic activity of building high-rises is still going on unabated in this part of Hyderabad city. Along-with the buildings come the by-products – little shanty dwellings for the workers, small road-side hand-carts with food that seemed to appeal to all classes (here a software engineer from a recently-disgraced software firm is rubbing shoulders with a tired-looking auto-rickshaw driver), roads crawling with vehicles from the bike of the young IT worker to the opulent Mercedes belonging to the NRI couple who have just come back to India. To “check it out and see if we can adjust to the life here”. The main road is a mess, even at midday, with buses, two-wheelers, autos and cars all jostling for space on the single-lane road. This all-important artery connects the pulsing heart of Cyberabad, with its gleaming offices belonging to IT companies, to the older Hyderabad – one that existed before the “IT boom” happened to the city. Everyday, morning and night (the working “day” starts at night for the call center employees), people head towards their offices on this road, pushing their way through the rest of the crowd, and every evening, they head back, this time pushing their way back home. A lot of aggression on the road, a lot of honking and cursing happens at this time. Drivers of bigger vehicles muscle their way through the traffic, throwing the smaller vehicles helter skelter. Pedestrians cross the road, some with their heart in their mouths, some with the nonchalance of one who has to do this everyday. I am the heart-in-the-mouth type. I haven’t been doing this enough to get used to it. Yet. I reach the parlor – it is on the second floor of a building that also houses a software company, and what looks like a real estate company. Lots of shoes and sandals outside the door to the beauty parlor – it looks like a long wait. Inside the parlor, as I wait, I am privy to a conversation between two girls. Both look like professional women, starting their weekend early ( it’s a Friday afternoon). They are discussing marriage. The girl in the red T-shirt with colored hair is pouring her heart out to the older ( and married?) girl – I listen in too, and want to join the conversation. Just to tell her that she should get married to the guy, he seems nice. Mind your own business, I tell myself. I have some business at the bank. I (mistakenly) go to the NRI wealth management services section of the bank, where I am told that I need to have net assets of a crore to be eligible for the wealth management services. Ha ha. People are rich here, at least by my standards, I thought. I go over to the section of the bank where mere mortals like me who do not have a crore of rupees to manage go to conduct business. This section is busy – people sitting and filling out forms, or at the counter, taking care of their business. I too finish mine, assisted by not one, not two, but three ICICI executives. Either these people are really helpful, or they want to look busy so that they don’t lose their jobs. On my way back home, I buy some slices of watermelon. The seller hands me four slices of luscious red watermelon – there are remedies for the dust and heat, after all – N seems to think so too.