Thursday, September 06, 2007

Give me Green

I have always loved trees. Even in my childhood, I loved the shade. When most people went gaga over the theme parks like Kishkinta and VGP which were such an in-thing those times, I would have rather loved a trip to Ooty. I vividly remember me enjoying the walk back home from my school under the shade of the ‘morning glory’ trees in the late Chennai summers. Thinking about this, I also remember looking out of my class room at all those squirrels on the tree near our class and wondered how free they really were. They did not have a report card to get their parent’s sign. I found it utterly desolate that we could not live like squirrels. I remember wondering that maybe Darwin got it wrong.

My school-going days were soon over and I attended college at Anna University. This was the first time I was using public transport in Chennai. It was a long trip. I had to ride the crowded 47D bus for 14 kms right through the heart of Chennai. And you have to be there to experience the ordeal. To give you an idea, most of the times when I get out of the bus I smell of cheap cigarettes, brandy and the sweat of 100 people. And to top it off, I would feel I had just wrestled an entire team of riot police. But the experience of getting down the bus and walking those hallowed roads that leads to the CEG building was nothing but surreal. Within few paces of walking away from the bus stand, I will feel that I am stepping into another world. A world so green and so serene that it’s ok to just watch squirrels and birds. The campus was deliciously full of trees. I just loved walking those roads in the campus with the soft breeze chilling my sweaty brow. And just how could I ever not miss ‘bodhi’ tree just at the entrance of our computer science department.

Somehow being in Chennai which is notorious for its heat, the trees endeared themselves to me. It had a certain calming effect. It gave me a feeling that living itself was a pleasure. That I did not have to do anything other than to just look at the squirrels and the birds. It has pained me to see trees getting cut and environment getting polluted. The scientific reasons for conserving the nature did not sound so convincing to me. Though it did manage to scare me. Why I really wanted the nature to be conserved was because I felt good in its presence. And I felt that I better pass on what was handed to me by the previous generation to the next in the same if not better condition.

Somewhere during this journey of life I have started an another. A journey with Isha. One thing that I distinctly notice about myself since then is that I am more aware of how much I owe this existence for my survival. There descends a sense of reverence to the most simple things. Like food, earth, water etc. Real reverence. Not emotional manby-pampy. It was just a simple realization that without this piece of earth called food that which I am about to consume, my life would be in jeopardy. And this reverence breeds a kind of sensibility about things that really matter. A sense of connection to the existence comes up within. I feel that it is only out of this can true conservation of environment can happen. Environment cannot be saved by doomsday prophecies. Real conservation can happen only if there is a realization that what I call as my environment is an important aspect of my survival. So important that it is also a part of me. I distinctly remember during teachers training how some insects used to invade our class. I also remember how swami nagasena will lovingly take the insect in his hand and leave it outside. Sometimes he will refer to them as “avaru” as if referring to a real person.

It is in this context that I really feel that the need for highlighting the importance of Project Green Hands. The uniqueness of this project in my opinion is that the work comes from a deeper level of understanding and awareness. I recently read a sharing by Deepak who was volunteering for the project in Chennai. The article itself conveys the sense of reverence with which we want to do this. It’s so beautiful. Not just the work but also the way the work is done. This is the case with any Isha Endeavour. Whatever we are doing, the quality of the work is significantly different. We may be doing something completely mundane but the way we do it; the awareness with which the act is done is completely transformational. Transformational not just for the beneficiary but also for the benefactor. The project is quite bullish. In short the aim of the project is to increase the green cover of Tamil Nadu from its present 18% to the optimal 33%. I really hope that this project gets the attention that it deserves. Cos the main reason for this project is not to achieve any world record but to stun the world to the most obvious reality that the very Earth which has nourished us for so many generations is under attack.

I invite all my readers to think about this. Do what you think is sensible.

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