Category: Environment

Life in the Corona Era

Life in the Corona-era

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 667 0

A virus has claimed the lives of thousands of people world over. It has brought the whole world in a panic state with countries implementing complete lockdown. There is a ban on people travelling overseas as a number of countries have stopped offering visas and the international flights are being cancelled. WHO has called it a pandemic – a disease prevalent in the entire world.

Such is the fear that humans are scared of other humans. The way of greetings has changed. Social distancing is the new buzz word and even a sneeze in public is now sending people in distress. Some are anticipating the worst is about to come and families are hoarding grocery supplies and items of necessity at their homes. Sanitizers and tissue rolls are not available in the market and alcohol producers are finding more value in producing sanitizers than liquor. Schools, colleges, movie halls, gyms, private offices have been shut down. Anybody entering a country or even a housing society is being screened for temperatures and those with high body temperatures are being sent straight to hospital, sometimes with the police escorting them. This is the biggest crisis since the second world war, some say the effects are far wider.

Living with a fear of catching the virus, a lot of people have stopped travelling even for work as everyone is advocating the need of working from home. There are reports suggesting that the divorce cases have gone up as a lot of working couples are not used to spending so much time together leading to unnecessary stress and issues. This virus is leading us to a belief that human nature itself is sometimes capable of stress and disorder without the need of any external factor. Whatever happened to the teachings of Dalai Lama of love and compassion towards one another. Human beings are still living in the world of I, Me and Myself without caring about the wellbeing and feelings of other human beings, let alone animals. There may be exceptions, but the truth comes out in the times of crisis and this one has stayed long enough.

Businesses are facing the heat, piling up on losses, letting go of their workforce to fend for themselves. The travel industry and allied services are in recession and nobody is able to predict when the time will be right. Restaurants are running on losses as people now prefer to eat-in and there are no deliveries / orders, further ruining the livelihood for a huge workforce. Social gatherings, events, networking lunches / dinners have all gone for a toss as people are confined to their homes. Social distancing and the cancellation of events has adversely affected the livelihoods of a huge number of people who relied on their daily earnings to feed their family.

Amidst all this chaos and fear, the need for social distancing and for distancing from social media, there are a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves.

How and why did we get where we are today?

Global warming, climate concerns, the ecosystem have always shown us signs of a downward spiral over the years, did we ignore all of that?

It does not matter if the virus has arisen out of animals or if it was a biological weapon. Is there anything we can do to avoid it and to ensure that it does not come back in future?

While #travellingtheworld and #globetrotter were the trending buzzwords, will this virus teach us a lesson to avoid unnecessary travelling?

We are heading to a global shutdown and a long impending recession; what steps should be taken to soothe the upcoming crisis?

Are we grown up enough to follow the rules or will we bend the line again for our greed and convenience?

Are we done with blame game and hate mongering? Are our excuses bigger than the crisis at hand?

Are we learning something from this pandemic?

There are a number of questions amongst all of us and for all of us and the answers vary. In this hour of crisis, we cannot stand together but there is a lot we can do individually to restrict the virus at the current state itself. Rather than waiting for the authorities to take-action for us (which they are doing), a lot needs to be done at our individual level as well. It does not take much to wash your hands, stay hygienic and healthy, avoid unnecessary travel, events, functions, gatherings, fear etc.

What the humans have done since the beginning of human life has got us here. If we do not take care of our actions now, there will never be any time after this.

Don’t follow travel; not to find peace at least!

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 921 0

Either you are not as good as you are, or you are better than you thought you were. Either ways, who are you?

 

We live in world where deadlines are getting shorter and the list of aspirations is just getting longer. Everyone wants to support peace but there is no peace whatsoever, not in the world outside, not inside your own mind.

 

Everyone is looking to try something new, get a new experience, a new photograph, a new story in this never-ending race to be different. Travel has always been there as an option, but it has been expensive so far. Not so anymore.

 

Thanks to our photographers, bloggers, story tellers, social media stars, travelling is not an unaffordable luxury anymore. One can travel the whole world sitting at home without moving an inch and even better without spending a naya (new) paisa. Even if you have not been to the leaning tower of Pisa, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Safaris in South Africa or experienced the chill in the Himalayas; you exactly know what the place looks like, smells like, feels like or even tastes like. You have seen so many pictures again and again especially of the landmarks and even the off-beat places that you already know what to expect where and what to do when a plan B is called upon. You may not like it if you actually visit the place. Fiction is better than reality and its free.

 

It is being hammered into your mind at each social media platform that experience is the new currency and if you do not know about it, you are losing out. Brands are already portraying their products, services as an excuse to feed your never-satiating hunger for new experiences. Society is made of all of us, each one is a story teller and nobody wants to listen to the same story twice, doesn’t matter if you have the same story with a different experience, you will be written off at the beginning itself.

 

So, there are ones who want to tell you about all the experiences you are missing out on and make your already difficult life even more miserable. And there are those who are yelling at you to do your own thing, even if you do not know it. They are asking you to quit your job, jump off the building while calling it a leap of faith. Who would you believe?

 

Either you are not as good as you are, or you are better than you thought you were. Either ways, who are you?

 

We are reading, watching stories each day about people who are doing well, not-so-well, failing or making it big because they dreamt big. There you are also being reminded about writing your own stories and making it big for yourself.

 

Some of us travel to find peace, some go till Nainital, some till Ranikhet and some take the literal pain to reach the foothills of Himalayas while a select few climb it too. No matter how far you go, you will still have to pass through the traffic snarl at Ghaziabad, then Meerut, Hapur and so on both on your way to attain peace as well as on your back after having attained peace.

 

What is cruel is the restlessness of the other car which overtakes you wrongly at the toll point just to save that extra 10 seconds and then, there you drop the peace you had travelled all the way for. It must be true that peace comes from within but then some of us need to travel to find fresh air to find that peace within. There is a strong correlation between peace and things like fresh air, no-honks quiet, nature, innocent smiles etc. I am still trying to decode the same and I am told many people are trying to find a solution to attain peace at home. I hope someone cracks the code soon so that there is less traffic on the city borders for regular travelers.

 

I do not have a solution to any of the problems, no one has, probably each one of us has and we must try to find ours. If you keep searching for it on social media or in stories, that solution may not work for you. Either ways, just take a deep breath or not, drop that damn social-media-marketing-products-selling-device from your hand and find out what the problem is. There probably is none and just anxiety being caused by the thing you just dropped.

 

 

Shimla water crisis

Shimla water crisis: The joke is on us

Posted By : Sumit Singh Jamwal/ 2576 17

Everybody who used #hills #travel #fun #heaven and never thought #responsible is to be blamed…

Shimla locals ask tourists to stay away’

‘Congress MLAs have threatened to gherao the Municipal Corporation office, CM holds review meetings with different departments’

‘Mid-night protest march – citizens demand registration of FIR against the officials responsible for allegedly supplying sewage-mix water’

‘7 days of no water leave Shimla locals angry; tourists asked to stay away, find other options’

‘Government swings into action, divides Shimla into three zones to tackle water crisis. All are equal, no tankers for VIPs’

‘Court appeals residents to not wash cars,

‘Shimla’s daily requirement is around 42 MLD (million litres/day) water but supply fell to 22 MLD’

These are some of the headlines about the water crisis in the capital of Himachal Pradesh over the past one week. The Shimla water crisis that started as water shortage is over a week old and if reports are considered, it will loom over the next couple of weeks.

It is the worst thing to have happened to the hill station after the concretization. Exactly how big the problem is and which other regions are affected will be known later as the pundits have just begun their calculations.

I recently visited Shoghi for a small cleanliness drive on the Tara Devi temple route with one of our partner properties and couldn’t help but observe and capture the concrete jungle that Shimla has become. The thought of endless honking during traffic jams at the entry of Shimla city has filled me with restlessness over the years, so I would only look at it from a safe distance. The images gave me the same restlessness; mountains covered with more concrete than trees… they have been in mind ever since. And now the current Shimla water crisis only adds to the sorrow.

shimla water crisisThis is not a post full of crisis information, tips to recover from the Shimla water crisis or talk about how bad things have become. This is to remind us all that we are all responsible for this crisis. Anyone who has ever been to Shimla and been mesmerised looking at the green while overlooking the impending crisis is to be blamed. Everyone who got inebriated with the beauty of hills while honking endlessly at other vehicles in a never ending traffic jam is to be blamed. Everybody who used #hills, #travel, #fun, #heaven and never thought #responsible is to be blamed. Anyone who never cared about using the natural resources judicially is to be blamed.

Is it soon enough to respect Mother Nature and not feed on its carcass like wild dogs? What next after Shimla?

If we are still not doing our bit, we may never need to…

Clean up traveler

Clean up traveler, before it’s too late

Posted By : Escape Route/ 1072 1

Forget about future generations, it is tough for this generation itself to find beauty in a hill covered with plastic bottles and packets

When was the last time you were actually planning a trip and surfing through different options? So you think of Shimla ─ mostly a concrete jungle, McLeodganj ─ brimming with humans all the time, Nainital ─ even the tal isn’t enticing anymore, Agra – ideal for a stampede, Jaipur – not so pink anymore…the list of places you don’t prefer going to anymore is endless. The reason is us ─ the travelers in all our glory.

We have not been respectful enough of the natural gifts. All these locations have been covered with concrete and are mostly man-made disasters waiting to happen. We cannot do much about the damage already done, can we?

At the same time, if you look around carefully, each off-beat location is getting polluted by humans into a garbage dump with plastic, used belongings, perishables etc. Social media is a culprit too, with all the amazing filters, it calls all viewers to visit the beautiful locations but never tells you about your ingrained responsibility to preserve that space.

Forget about future generations, it is tough for this generation itself to find beauty in a hill covered with plastic bottles and chips packets. We are all aware of the scarcity of natural resources, depleting clean water, less and less of fresh air and definitely lesser green areas. We also see hordes of warnings about not polluting the environment and caring about the landscapes, but who cares.

Picture this, at present one has to travel at least 200 kms and more from the nearest metro city to be in the lap of nature. Passionate bloggers and photographers are covering more than double the distance to show you how the clean world looks like. It takes you minimum of 4-5 hours to leave the grime and dust of the city to start breathing fresh air. What matters is how you behave while you are breathing fresh air in that area.

Some facts to get your attention:

  • Over 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country
  • Task of value extraction is left to the informal system of garbage collectors and recyclers
  • Only 80% of waste generated is collected and merely 28% processed
  • Swachh Bharat focuses too narrowly on individual action to keep streets clean without any pressure on State and Municipal authorities

There are stark threats to the world like the climate change, global warming etc. we cannot do much about it, but we can do what we can. We are listing out a few points for travelers to help conserve Mother Nature as we trot her majestic mountains and beautiful valleys:

  1. Just stop littering – Please stop throwing while you walk and look all fancy. It is just not cool, is bothersome and affects everyone around you. No natural spot ever looked exquisite with discarded food cans, plastic bottles and other used stuff. Please stack the used items in a disposable bag, just carry it a little distance and place it in the dustbins. There are organisations like Waste Warriors and Clean Up Himalayas doing their bit, you need to do yours.
  2. Act local – Locals do not pollute the environment they live in.
  3. Conserve resources – One thing we must learn from our villages – Take only as much as you can consume, whether it is food or resources. What is the point of going to new places and not picking up their best practices?

We don’t have all the gyaan for you, but hopefully you get the thought. Please share what else do you think can be useful in maintaining the sanctity of all travel zones. We will update the article with your propositions.

PS – For each of Escape Route trips, we carry our own garbage bags and ensure that our fellow travelers make use of it for any kind of leftovers/throwaways. Littering is just not done.