Dream and Delhi!

Mr. Dream just left for Delhi [the capital city of India] and I was feeling so lonely in our small town! The fact that I have never been to Delhi, bothered me. It filled me with a bit of anger too! Mr. Dream never included me in his Delhi visits and that was one of the reasons that made me feel that we were not so similar when it comes to treating each other. Another fact that troubled me was that he was about to spend almost a week in one of the most polluted cities on Earth!  And I could not help, but sit and write for a while…

       Wealth, palaces, historicity and royalty are a few terms that rush to my mind other than pollution, when I think of Delhi.  Old Delhi had served as the centre for political and financial activities for several empires of Ancient India. Delhi Sultanate became popular during the Moghul Rule [1641 to 1857]. But it was only in the year 1911 that it became the Capital city under the British Rule. That was a significant change in the operations of the Raj which had Calcutta [now Kolkata] as the capital till then. It is also important to remember that the British policies have had long lasting consequences on the dynamic social fabric of India. The then Viceroy, Curzon had partitioned Bengal in 1905 intending to impart ‘justice’ for Hindus and Muslims! The tension that resulted, forced the Raj to choose a better place to operate from. King George V during his imperial visit in the year 1911 announced that Delhi will be the new capital for India. Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the leading architects [from the West] of 20thcentury were asked to design the city for The British. I believe that it is their own Karma [divide and rule policy at first] that made them shift their capital and was probably the first step that eventually gave the British no other choice, but to quit India. In 1931 Viceroy Irwin inaugurated the city. I restrain myself from commenting on the architecture and its functionality as i have not experienced it. But it is worth noting that post independence too, we Indians haven’t felt anything wrong with the Englishman’s choice!

       Delhi has a cosmopolitan society for obvious reasons. I read up on the internet that the New Delhi [the recently extended city] Municipal Council area is appreciated for its cleanliness programs and has successful waste management systems in place. The city with its [bureaucratic] functions revolving around Janpath and Rajpath and several foreign embassies near Shantipath, is unfortunately facing a very big challenge- polluted air.

      I was attending this workshop at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore for women entrepreneurs. Breaks between the sessions gave us opportunities to brainstorm, mentor each other and most importantly learn about the other person’s journey. Coffee is my favourite since I let my coffee cool a bit. I got enough time to interact with my co-participants, daydream looking at the vegetation outside the classroom or finish off my work over the phone. [The tropical garden they have there is wonderful. The red ginger and honey comb ginger blossom to give a fresh, subtle fragrance in the air after heavy rains. I must therefore admit that the rainy afternoons I have spent there are some of the most romantic ones ever].  It was during one of those breaks that Prava walked up to me. I had already noticed her for the choice of traditional Manipuri attire. Only when she showed her family’s photograph did I realise that she was a grandmother! “I have visited Trichur, I can also speak a few words in Mlayalam”, Prava took me by surprise!  We did not need too much of self introduction to feel comfortable with each other. Her familiarity with my mother tongue was not the key; I had to wait a bit more to understand that. “In Manipur people burn straw in large quantities after each harvest. They also cut trees for firewood to worsen the situation. That is the main reason why I decided to practise, preach and teach mushroom cultivation at my place. I have named my venture “Kamal Mushrooms”. By popularising the cultivation of mushrooms, I believe that people will reduce if not stop, burning straw which is of no commercial value to them otherwise”, Prava took very little time to explain her mission and I was totally impressed at this woman’s vision. Being a strict vegetarian, I never had a liking for mushrooms. I have glued my mind to the feeling that mushrooms, fungi, are non-vegetarian. It is unacceptable for me that people can eat moving living-beings, the extend that they don’t even spare ants! For some other reason the nature lover in me, was feeling so happy. No, it was something more than happiness. A subtle emotion and respect to her [and many others]. I was not just listening to an “entrepreneur’s venture”, but a strong woman who in the simplest of her ways, was trying to act of a pressing issue that lead to severe health hazards and choked the Capital city of India. Mr. Dream would have, by now landed in the polluted air. The air pollution in Delhi had gained lot of media attention across the globe. I remember seeing visuals of farmers burning huge piles of straw in their farmlands in the neighbouring states. The smoke accumulates above Delhi and gets mixed with the fog to form Smog that is very injurious to respiratory systems of humans [always humans first, whether we care about animals or not is not worth arguing].

That’s Prava with her harvest!

Prava and her team
Click to check Facebook page – Manipur Mushroom
Entrepreneurs are sensitive people and when a woman becomes an entrepreneur the Impact is evidently different. Prava proved it to me again and has won my heart. It is the collection of such humble beginnings that can lead to a long-lasting impact, especially for the betterment of the natural environment. “Kamal Mushrooms” and similar ventures [let me sound optimistic and a bit over-enthusiastic] now have greater significance than ever. And let me hope to visit Delhi soon! 

 

Aparna Vinod

Home maker, social entrepreneur from India who believes that Sustainable tourism can equip People to achieve their personal goals, generate revenue for their sustenance and help the economy grow without harming the Planet. My focus is to help more people, especially women to pursue their vocation in Sustainable Tourism.

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