Monday, May 28, 2012

When the Heart Cried and the Lips Smiled

A nature loving and green teacher that I am. I love to take my the nephew's and nieces coming over for summer vacation to a beautiful trek to SGNP. Its also one of the trips that kids of my family "Lovingly Demand" from me, and I undoubtedly oblige.

I choose to go on a weekday morning with them, only because I want them to connect with the natural landscape  (minus) the tourist crowd, the plastic toy vendors, the unbranded and questionable food vendors....

So excitedly, I packed badminton rackets/ football/ Frisbee. Home made food in  recyclable container/ fruits and green habits reinforced on the way to SGNP for a morning full of fun...just the right kind for raising environmental sensitive children, one would think.

We had a good time at the Play Area, for the kids played badminton, drew cartoons in the thin layer of soil, collected leaves of differnt shapes all so perfect until we decided to head  to Gandhi Tekri.

Twenty footsteps up the Tekri, the kids who were racing ahead came running back, overjoyed at the "cinematic arrangement and presence of a shooting crew"....yes, just like many of us who love the idea of getting to experience a Bollywood shoot in action...the kids and I were ecstatic. We hurried our footsteps to be able to catch the glimpse of the "stars, if any around".

We were not only disappointed with the absences of the stars but from there I was very present to the withdrawal symptoms on witnessing the presence of artificial (plastic) foliage that was used to embellish, bushes, trees and  the stone steps for cinematic effect for Autumn.

It was one of the most difficult moment to smile along with kids as they drooled over the cinematic effect, pointing out to various new things they could see...the wooden benches, the beautiful lampost, the side artist

WHAT THE FXXX, heard that in Mind over and over again!!! Yes, I too lost it but din't say it :(......there was no way I would now be able to move on with the fun I had planned for my day out with kids. I was present to the dormant activist in me. I wanted to scream out loud at each one of them, I wanted to question them, I wanted to run to the authorities of  SGNP, I wanted to question this one, that one, every one....SUPER UPSET I AM even a week later today.

I very recently read this wonderful quote, "What is Measurable is Manageable!"
So I decide to measure this...
Quite a cinematic effect was already created by the time I reached at 9 am.
Saw the crew boys busy embellishing the pathway on my descend at 11am.
So all in all 3 hrs of 6 crew at work
on a pathway of approximately minimum 20 mts.
considering what we see in the picture on the left there are approximatley more than 100 pcs of plastic foilage,
which i think wld be approximately 500 gms of weight
multiply this by 10 steps = 2.5 kg of non-degradable waste spread out intentionally
i think that the wind would have surely blow away 50% in an hour
so to hold on the cinematic effect the crew wld have added more 2.5 kg more every hour.......the thought itself is so very suffocating,
presuming the crew must have been  around until 5pm ( park closing time) that is 9 am to 5 pm = 8 hrs X 2.5 kgs = 24 kgs of plastic foilage  blew down on to the forest floor/ valley.....

I am going again tomorrow morning to check the place out again and I will not be surprised to find reminiscent of an environment destruction that happened a week ago.

With all this thoughts surging in my head, I continued to smile and enjoy with the kids at the Mango my son found on the forest floor, at the delight the water lilies, fishes and frog tadpoles found in the water body at Gandhi Tekri. I wanted to tell them I was upset, but I chose to hide my tears. If this was not all,  even more painful was that the kids spend much less time at the Tekri as the wanted to go back to shooting site and enjoy the artificial world that the relate to more than the natural world......a very wrong connection got established, just what I din't want for the young minds.

My nieces recognized the star lady, Ms Shweta Tiwari, she was surely beautiful and the girls did get enchanted. They have went home with a memory of meeting her along  with a photograph of them with the beauty. I chose to do it their way, they were my guest. The hopped back home elated of having met her, they drooled about her over the phone to their parents, forgotten to mention the lilles, mango, machan and all the other fun we had. I got credits from their parents for how happy the girls have come home meeting the Tinseltown star, the photo which is now a prized possession, ............AWW that was truly & deeply painful!

I know the honest truth, that I am too weak when I am alone and upset. I need to collaborate with Friends of SGNP, team up and get proactive. I believe that the PEN is mightier than the here is my Post.....for you all Borivalites to read, who are surely much lesser affected by pollution
with the presence of SGNP...the breathing lungs of our Mumbai City. Its 
time for us to huddle together and protect "OUR PARK"


  1. The situation at SGNP is bad in many ways, Poonam... I keep reading about the problems through all the egroups i am part of, esp from birdwatchers and bnhs people. unfortunately, i visit too rarely to actually know whats happening, so its great that you have begun writing about it. Am always ready to lend a hand in whatever way i can..

  2. You had an opportunity and you lost it, Poonam! You had a gang of proactive, responsible, nature-loving kids and you should have grabbed the problem with it's horns. You should have clicked lots of pics - especially of the plastic blowing all over while the crew didn't bother, got the kids to collect in front of the idiots and clicked those precious pics too and the next day, it would have been headlines in the media with your kids as heroes! This would have 2 effects - the crew would be in a soup while the kids would have been enlightened! It's an expected reaction for kids to glorify bollywood but it's our duty to draw their attention to the irresponsible behavior of the so-called celebrities. But I am happy that you are proactive and have already taken a step to rectify the situation. Besides, you should have given the crew a piece of your mind too - would have loved to see their faces being humbled in front of the kids! Next time, go armed! :)

  3. but it is the kind of support you show that we need from a lot of other people who enjoy the park. Am sure there are many out there. Perhaps the next time in a similar situation, you could get the kids to tell the star how they love the park and if the boys stringing up the plastic could also clear it up when they ones needs to have unpleasant words... I am sure she would have gotten them to do it. Thanks for the nice post.

  4. Hi Poonam, always nice to hear about your adventures with the kids. You certainly are on the right track. SGNP is a highly underestimated zone that most of us have taken for granted. A very few folks understand its true value, especially those who have spent their childhood here. For the rest, it is simply a new discovery. A new place to hang out. But its importance needs to be highlighted urgently like you did right now, because these are grave times. Authorities are clearly negligent about the rules regarding plastic and quite lenient in allowing the offenders to go about flouting the rules. Civil society groups can act as pressure groups and bring about a change in the way the bureaucracy functions. As it is been demonstrated across all successful conservation projects, its only with a seamless co-ordination between the authorities and the locals that a change has been brought about. Cleanliness drives, filing RTIs with the authorities questioning the permissions to use plastic foliage and other such harmful materials will go a long way in sensitizing even the forest officials.