Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Difference Between The Price We Pay And The Cost

Doorstep delivery of everything you want is now possible through a click on your mobile screen. In the rush to outsource everything for what seems like a nominal fee, the demand for getting everything in the quickest possible time has led to the need for speedy transport system through the country. This is one of the reasons for the need of a high-speed freight train corridor between New Delhi and Mumbai. But who is paying the price? Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

The government’s nod to the high-speed freight train corridor that will run through the Park is a serious threat to the wildlife in the forest as well as take a toll on Mumbai’s only green lung. All so that you can buy something online and get it delivered at your doorstep for a mere Rs 200 extra!

The raging forest fires are yet another obvious result of the constant need to vacation! India has a booming number of travellers who keep generating fresh content around the clock to promote various destinations. Did you ever wonder if it was just a traveller’s desire to experience an off-beat location? Why did off-beat destinations suddenly become such an important part of travel? Maybe because the hospitality industry needed to generate more interest in places for more revenue? Logical or not?

I called up a posh resort in the Kumaon region, supposedly at the heart of the forest fires as a regular traveller seeking a booking. The gentleman who took the call said the fires were “hyped” out of proportion by the media. Interestingly, he suggested I take my family to their property at Mukteshwar “where the government-owned forest was a safe haven for the birds.” The fires are only in the “other” part of the forest, the part that will in a matter of time become unusable as forest and ideal for new resorts. Land grabbing through forest fires is hardly a new concept in India.

Peel back a few layers and you will see the true price we are paying for our comforts. Being responsible about travel is an urgent need for everyone. Let's not just sit and let a few crooked minds decide the truth for us. Let us travel, far and wide, and seek out the truth ourselves.

--- The author is Priya Tripathy who spends her time simmering over the blatant stupidity of humans that is costing the Earth its life. She can be reached at

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Legend Of The Gurugram And Why We Need To Remember It

Everything about Haryana becomes a joke. Not sure why but everyone seems to have a rather convoluted notion about the residents of this state. With the Central Government deciding to rename Gurgaon as Gurugram, social media is suddenly bursting at its seams with mindless jokes and senseless comparisons, such as...

Gurgaon becomes Gurugram
Kolkata will become Kilogram
Mumbai will become Milligram
Chennai to become Centigram

Like, really?

Since, we - the young Indians - are so ashamed of our culture and since all our mythological tales are nothing but fiction of our ancestor's imagination, here's a look at what Gurugram and its relevance is.

Gurugram is actually the seat of Guru Dronacharya, the master of military arts and of divine weapons (because calling them 'astras' is no uncool, right?) This is the place, the gram (village) where the sons of the noblest families gathered to learn their skills. Where discussions on spirituality, humanity and brotherhood were encouraged. Politics was debated, leadership was inculcated. This is where it all happened.

After Independence, Haryana struggled with struggle among its communities and became the poster image of lawlessness and brawny hulks who want to beat up everyone (wait, wasn't that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as well?) So, if Haryana gets or attempts any change to move closer to its roots by altering a few names, the rest of the country cannot present a shred of grace.

I'd like to end by dwelling on the sad fate of the Guru after who the city has been named. Such was the skill and prowess of Guru Dronacharya that Lord Krishna had to trick him to his death. He died of a broken heart on being falsely informed of his son's death.

Those who have spent time in Haryana know that like the rest of the country, the people are kind and helpful. They have been at the receiving end of crude jokes and laughed along with every one else. It is about time the rest of the 'civilised' country gave took a dignified bow out of this 'naming' business. The city has its share of issues, like any other city but it does not need to be laughed at all the bloody time!

If You Love Goa Then You Will Love What We Have To Share!

You have to fall in love with something to want to take care of it. Eco-consciousness came naturally to me when I saw the Arabian Sea in Goa, even as a child. You had to protect something so beautiful. Over the years, I have seen the way Goa has turned over a new and clean, green leaf. More importantly, I have seen how tourists have changed their behaviour to preserve it. Sign-boards urging people not to litter the beaches, are not necessary. When you see miles of gorgeous white sand, with nothing but crabs, sand plovers and an occasional gull, you know you have to keep that candy wrapper in your pocket, till you find a dustbin.

The inconvenience of carrying a plastic water bottle, along with the obvious damaging effects of using plastic at all, had turned me into a ‘local juice’ drinker, long time back. In Goa, drink tender coconut water. It’s good for you, it’s good for the beach and it’s good for the local economy. In central and northern parts of India, you will find sugarcane juice. Drinking local also gets you acclimatised to your location – there is a reason why gur gur chai is drunk in Ladakh and not in Goa!

Eat local. If I choose to eat rajma in Goa, I am encouraging them to transport rajma from the valleys of J&K and use gallons of fuel doing it. That’s crazy. Also, local food always tastes better because it’s fresh and cooked by people who know how to cook it. I tucked into my Kottai Idly as I watched another table eat chola (seasoned with Curry leaves!)- bhatura, in horror.

You are in Goa and not in an A/C room in Lajpat Nagar, because you want to feel the sea-breeze, I would presume. So open those windows/doors and switch off the air-conditioning. I come back from Goa all hydrated and glowing, because of the double effect of sea-breeze and the absence of skin-drying air conditioners.

The trick of being an eco-citizen is to remember that ‘What’s good for the earth, is always good for you’.

--- The author, Jayati Talapatra, is a human resource manager by profession who lives and breathes nature. A green crusader, she has been promoting exploring Delhi responsibly through her Facebook page, Dilli Meri Jaan. She can be reached at