Environement

Time to stop making excuses

5:14 PM

Just because I'm in Switzerland at the moment doesn't mean I've lost touch with what is happening in India. In fact my being back in the motherland on an extended holiday re-assure me that what I used to claim was possible to do in India, indeed is because it's pure common sense.

Let's take the hiking petrol price for example, sure it's a bane, and sure India is going to suffer from it a bit more than European countries. But they have only themselves to blame there, because if the public transports were more developed and the government a bit less corrupted they wouldn't be far behind. 

The technology is there, so is the money. It's just that it ends up in the wrong pockets. And when a couple of weeks (months?) back when the Times of India Bangalore organized the "Unlock Bangalore" campaign, it was clearly established we ALL have a part of responsibility in the chaos unfolding on the roads in the city. Yet I have numerous neighbours around me that are quick to point the finger somewhere else in order to avoid looking at their own mess. My mom always said it's easier to blame than to fix, and boy it seem this old saying keeps remaining actual.


My take on the traffic in Bangalore, or on environmental issues for that matter, is that we are the main culprit as we are. And many individuals making small mistakes end up adding to a lot, until you have a monster to tackle instead of a small problem. So maybe now is the time to simply stop making excuse not to try to be a better citizen of this planet. Because truth is, small changes can go a long way.
Before heading to Zurich and Geneva two weeks ago, I lived in Bangalore alone for two months and half. I kept hearing the craziest things. Such as "Aren't you afraid to live alone here?" Nope never have, I actually did it for longer than that in India, and even longer in Geneva where I was a proud and happy singleton for 3 years.

The only thing that made my life slightly more difficult is that I was used of DH driving me around on his bike a lot, and with him gone I was then forced to deal with transports in another way. Auto drivers hiked their prices,  so I started thinking twice about taking them for every trip. And those who know me know that I don't own a car or a scooty and can't drive a bike, so it leaves me with my own two feet. And trust me in Switzerland I used them ALL the time walking miles and miles and loving it!
I remember a time I would even think twice about hopping on an electric bus if the weather was nice enough to walk. In India I felt grumpy about walking my miles around because it was hot, polluted, dusty, and sidewalks not to safe. But I realised those were the same kind of excuses the people around still make to actually opt for the car or bike to go buy a few groceries barely 2km away (if not a shorter distance). 

And so, I said ENOUGH! Enough, enough, enough, enough! I put my sandals on, slipped my sunglasses on my nose and hit the road, literally. 

So what if I broke a little sweat? So what if sun is supposed to be a lady's worst enemy? I'm not even the one who claimed dusky skin is ugly and fair is lovely. So what if I'm a lady and ladies aren't supposed to go out on foot because it's not safe? So what if the store is 3km away? So what if the sidewalk is uneven? No one asked you to go grocery shopping in stilettos anyway. So what if it's hot? Human beings can cope with a lot if they are fit, plus you can still go earlier in the day or later in the evening and it will be more pleasant. So what if people look at me and "gossip"? I'm a foreigner, they will look anyway and gossip  only becomes a problem if you actually listen to it. So what I have the money to actually afford not having to walk anywhere? It doesn't stop me from making smarter choices and do the right thing. And do not get me started about social status being an excuse for being rude, inconsiderate, and obnoxious and get away with it! All are excuses, lame ones at that.

Yes I put an end to all those preconceived ideas my Indian neighbours are so fond off. And 3 month later, I'm still alive, my skin is glowing with health, I lost weight, reduced my bad cholesterol levels, toned my body, and even managed to spare the environment a few tons of CO2. All that without paying an extra rupee, by simply being what I am : a human being designed with two strong healthy legs capable of carrying my weight for miles and hours. Oh and I didn't get raped, murdered, robbed or assaulted just because I'm a xx chromosome (aka lady).

The same principles can be applied to everything in our lives. How we consume good, how we purchase things, and how it affects our brand loyalty. I am the type who will rather spend a little more on a product if it comes packaged in a more ecofriendly way, even if that means me consuming less of it. You might be tempted to say that my choices and actions in order to do something about the current situation is marginal, and that what I do on an wider scale might not matter much. But it is said that a grain of sand is small, but that by uniting they make the beach. 




This saying has a lot of truth in it.

So following this logic, if everybody did a little step in the right direction and started thinking consciously about what they as an individual can do. Trust me, we would have a pretty beach.

20 years ago in Geneva Switzerland, people didn't recycle a thing, public transports weren't all that good, the lake was chocking down thanks to phosphate heavy detergents. People didn't care much about the wastage of electricity. I was the first generation of kids who got fed alarming documentaries after alarming documentaries in schools on the topic. We had eco-debates every weeks, were taught that aluminium, batteries, paper, plastic bottles, and glass bottles had to be trashed separately. That yes the corn flakes box was paper and belonged in the paper trash, not the ordinary one. We were told that you switch off the light when you go out of the room, that water is precious, that instead of hiking the heating in a room in order to feel less cold, it was better to go wear a sweater because seasons mean different climate and clothing. Companies went to switch to CFC free aerosols and sprays. Thermometer went mercury free to spare our lakes and rivers.
20 years in Switzerland down the line, the lakes are cleaner and healthy again, the air is cleaner, public transports are among the best in Europe with people taking them frequently in cities. It's still possible to cycle and enjoy it, thanks to adequate infrastructure and a great dose of respect from the other road user (key word CIVISM). And people here while still feeling a bit upset about the hiking price of petrol, do not feel like their life will end because of it. Simply because they made alternatives possible.

How did they achieve this? By stopping making excuses not to change. And that is not a skill that requires a lot of power or money, just a little courage.

4 comments

  1. Anonymous10:59 PM

    i've been a reader for the past 2+ years..I like the points you have on what justified "hitting the road". you are correct. i live in bangalore and always made excuses on not walking. mostly its the time. since I'm a "corporate slave", I miss the walks...instead i work for my corporate masters.. feeling guilty even for reading blog!!!

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  2. Don't feel guilty snatching a few "precious" minutes of work to read my blog LOL.

    Sure takes time to walk around and unfortunatley try to explain to your boss you are late because you were doing the city a huge favour :-( sad world we are living in isn't it?

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  3. limoncello2:27 PM

    hi sweetie! good point. it's just sad to see how, sometimes, the "conveniences" of life gets the best of us. yet, the irony of it all is - a lot people are joining the gyms, paying lots of money to get in shape. go figure. oy...

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  4. good post. wish you'd make them shorter so we'd be able to read a lot MORE posts in the time we steal off work ;-)

    disagree about bad public transport in India being responsible for some of the fuel crisis. i was appalled to see almost non-existant public transport in countries like Dubai, Brunei and the US (barring couple of large cities). everyone drives an SUV and doesn't think twice before hitting the freeway for long drives or going to grab a burger.

    good point about walking to the nearby grocery. we should get the bicycle culture back in to our lives! we owe this to our kids

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