My brother Neil and I were hanging out in an upscale neighbourhood in Ahmedabad. I told him, ‘let’s go take a walk around, find the shade of a tree and have a nice chat’. We take a look outside the window and see apartments. Tons of apartments and buildings. More apartments and buildings as far as we can see. Not even one tree per building.
I am sorry I cannot give you any variety and excitement in this story, but I see only concrete—discounting a few blades of grass here and there. We walk down the steps and out of our apartment complex. (wonder why it’s called a complex). We walk for twenty minutes. No trees. Not even a small one.
Instead, we found garbage, building material or concrete, malls, loot marts, traffic and noise of vehicles honking. Everything except life. Also, it felt a lot hotter than the Ahmedabad we knew a few years ago. Traffic had increased.
We see a mall. Sure, we can buy a lot of stuff we don’t need. There is abundance of that. The search for shade made us feel like Wall-E sorting through garbage, a pilgrim in the desert starved of water, a separated lover pining for an embrace. We are like, ‘it cannot be that bad’. We walked for forty minutes in every direction in the scorching heat with hope. We would not give up.
We were told that this was supposed to be the most ‘developed’ region of Ahmadabad and it was impossible to find a single tree. We were told that the city is on its way to hyper growth and it’s on its way for development. What in the world is that supposed to mean?
If I believed what they told us, growth would have to be defined as ruthless destruction. I am a human, not designed to be surrounded by concrete. With air conditioning, I need some shade. With those malls stuffed with fleeting pleasures, I want to hear the music of birds chirping in those trees. With BT Brinjal and all these genetically modified foods, let me enjoy the pleasure of plucking fruits from trees, let me lay in the caress of shade under a beautiful tree. With green buildings, I would love to touch real green leaves. And last of all; please let me get a whiff of fresh air.
Last year, I had come across ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’, which left an undeniable impression on me.
After reading it, I started complaining about the air, started distributing copies of the book to my friends and motivating them to plant–all without planting a single tree myself. So when my friend Chandni forwarded me information on The Sapling project earlier today, I offered to help bring in some shade into Ahmedabad. Would love to have you join me in action. I will keep you posted on the dates for it! If you have any ideas regarding which areas and varieties of trees to plant, grow and protect–please let email me or leave a comment.