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Bangalore, memories galore!

RWUBY4BZ9X5J Leaving the (erstwhile) garden city was a mixed feeling: On the one hand, I was enthused about being reunited with Pulkit after a three-month separation,  and on the other, saddened by the sudden realization of what all I am leaving behind. Here goes a quick rewind to perhaps the most influential 2 years of my life:

I relocated from Pune to Bangalore with Pulkit after tying the knot, one of the best events that have ever happened  to my life. Pulkit has brought a unique flavor to my world, one that I adore (despite our fair share of squabbles)! I wish I could say the same about the truck load of weird nick names he has coined for me :-).

The highlight of the stay was undoubtedly my involvement in activities at AID, which introduced me to several other like-minded groups and individuals across India. Quite a few of them inspired me towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle and are responsible for my improved depth of thought. I must admit my ignorance about some issues pertaining to the injustice that prevails in my surroundings. The more aware I became, the more agitated I grew. Fair amount of debates, discussions and reading have altered my views to such a degree, that I’m now not surprised at seeing many of my closed ones being unable to relate to me at times. But deep down, I still feel the same Sejal,  cheerful around the near and dear, proudly feminist, (increasingly) compassionate and (decreasingly) lazy.

I also had a bunch of ‘firsts’ in Bangalore. I took Pulkit’s suggestion of cycling to work, a decision which I will never regret. I am proud to have paddled 20-25 kms at a stretch! I also had a successful stint at growing a  tiny balcony garden and home-composting! Our first door-to-door relief collection (for Bihar floods) still brings a smile to my face, wherein we had unique experiences of catching people drinking in the middle of the afternoon and seeing the door being shut on us because we were mistaken for sales people :). The visits to villages such as Unnainhalli or Potnal were also the first of their kind. It was also my first time at a course such as the one conducted by PHM on ’Health and Equity’, giving me enhanced  clarity for possible future directions. With the participation of roughly 70 people  from across the globe, I was not only exposed to some enlightening discussions, those 10 days’ stay at NTI campus also gave me a much-needed boost amidst the otherwise boring routine of mine. I took back some fun memories as well, like the non-Indian gurls enthusiastically trying Saris, and seeing them, a guy from Kenya wanting to buy himself a “men’s sari” :-). Besides, it had been long since I enjoyed the company of female roomies!

Another significant development was my hunt for passion, something that stimulates me to go on.  Hopping jobs year on year for work satisfaction doesn’t seem to work for me. I find my interests venturing into many non-IT avenues, most directed to social change. The exploration is ongoing, and I hope to post more concrete plans in this space, in a few months from now.

For now, I have begun trying to find some ways to engage myself in various activities of AID NCR.  Hoping to get through the difficult (as in transition) first few pages of this latest chapter of life as quickly as possible!

PS: After carefully thinking over several factors including concentration of friends, work hours/flexibility, cost of living (esp. rent) & presence of one person (Pulkit) at home for the cook, for now, we have rented a 1 BHK in Noida (over South Delhi).

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Slow Death – Not so slow now!

This is my second summer in Bangalore, the (ex-)garden city. I recall that during the last summer I never felt the need of a  fan in the house, whereas this year I sweat even when the fan is on! Just within a year of my stay in the city, I can see a clear difference in the weather-pattern. This reminds me of the frog example in the Al Gore movie ‘The inconvenient Truth’. The frog,  when it falls into a jar of boiling water, senses the problem and instantly jumps out, but when the same frog sits in a jar of luck warm water and the water is heated slowly, it can’t sense the gradual temperature rise and remains inside well past the point of physical damage. Our collective nervous system is quite similar to that of this frog – short-sighted, unable to detect any trouble (read climate change) that appears to grow slowly, even though it’s actually speeding in. [Do not miss to watch the 1 minute video of the frog example!]

When it comes to financial security, we all think long-term, we save money for our kids’ future, get their insurance done and what not. But on the other hand, we go on adding heedlessly to our carbon footprints, which will only lead to a disastrous life for our kids. Why don’t we ever think that if we have witnessed the temperatures rising till 45 degree, earth quacks, Katrinas, Tsunamis and a number of floods in last 25 years (my age), it’s more than likely that our kids shall see even worse?! They may not even have access to enough water, let alone fuel. At this rate, there will certainly come a time when no  amount of money would be able to rescue us.

There are people who complain about congestion (best illustrated by this witty cartoon), from sitting inside their SUVs. There are others that crib endlessly about what we have done to Mother Earth, despite being among the prominent culprits.  “It’s become too hot”, “Bangalore isn’t the same green city now”, “there’s just too much of pollution”, “traffic congestion has become a big nuisance”, “fuel prices have gone sky high” … the list just doesn’t end! We do acknowledge the existence of  the problems, we do voice our complaints, often quite aloud, but then just sit tight and retreat to our mundane tasks and momentary comforts, rather than channeling the fire to action.

But thankfully, not everyone thinks or acts the same way! Each time I meet a new chap who walks the green talk or hear about an organization  plunging to alternate energy, I feel hopeful. For last few years I have been able to find myself a lot of like-minded fellows who ardently attempt to keep their carbon footprints down: be it BCW [Bus/Cycle/Walk], cutting the usage of plastic, water conservation and so on. Even here, the list is endless 🙂

A discussion with my cook when I was telling him why I do home composting or cycle to work ended with “Madam, aapke akele karne se kya hoga, baki sab to vaise ke vaise hi hai”. True, I alone can’t do it, but imagine out of 20 people I talk to, 2 of them start cycling to work, and they talk to another 20 and the chain-reaction continues. Some day soon, it could reach 100 such people who try to make 2000 (20*100) more people aware,  and the numbers may keep multiplying like this! This is not just possible, but also probable.

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. – M K Gandhi

Small steps like using cloth bags, getting tap-leaks fixed at once, shutting down the computer, switching off appliances – if practiced collectively – can go a long way towards restoring the balance. And, once you jump into this ocean of change, you will subconsciously make sure that the chain continues. For example whenever I refuse plastic bags, I try make my reasons clear to the shop-keepers too :-). Here is a complete list of such tiny steps that can make a substantial change.

If only each one of us would  take a step forward, without worrying about others, I think we can conquer any challenge.

As Margaret Mead rightly said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Go-cycle Bangalore meet

Around 8 am Sunday, April 27th, the place near the Bethani High School (Kormanagala) was moCyclists gathered near Bethani Schoolbbed with cyclists, sporting white colored T-shirts and lavish smiles – smiles stemming from the satisfaction of having taken a right step towards preserving the environment. This was all part of a Bangalore-wide campaign to celebrate the car-free day wherein people are appealed to keep their fuel-hungry four-wheelers at bay. Cyclists from all over the city drove in to a common point on the MG road, inspiring many on-lookers along the way. The press took a generous notice of the event, which had been very well planned. Many of the participants bike to work on a regular basis and almost all of them have significantly cut down their fuel usage

All set to cycle!!This was my longest but eye-opening cycling ride that broke my misconception about my limited cycling capacity. If I recall the first time I rode Pulkit’s bike to work, I had found the drive so exhaustive that the moment I got hold of Pulkit, I told him that I was dropping the plan of getting a bike for myself. But, soon after a few more rides, I found myself quite comfortable with this new mode transportation, and now I have come to a stage of where I am truly enjoying my rides to office.

It was very heart-warming to interact with many like-minded people, conscious on matters of environment and pollution. May more and more citizens become aware of these issues, and more importantly, start acting on them!

PS 1: For those who are in support of using the bicycle as a preferred mode of transportation: you are not alone, find more like-minded chaps on bikeszone forum.

PS 2: For those of you who had asked, here is the link to that newspaper article.

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