Wednesday, April 15, 2009

World Apart:

Recently I got a chance to volunteer for an organization dealing with wildlife conservation and community development. One of their ways to gain trust of the villagers is to conduct medical camps in villages inside and outside the forest area. Medical camps in villages within the forest are exciting. Not only you get to experience the forest at close quarters but also see the effects of human life on the ecology directly. I was that way very unlucky. My camps were in villages outside the forest area.

Though I didn’t get to experience the forest, I did get a chance to get close to the villagers. These villages were in prime tourism locality…..and so one would think full of ‘jobs’ potential. But strangely nobody wanted to work in the resorts. They were happy with small amount of work and small amount of money….and loads of free time for themselves. Very few wanted to learn more about the world… open their mind. I had infact long believed that they understood nature and respected it more than us. So imagine my surprise when I learnt that they did not even know the difference between a cobra and a rat snake. And because they had all grown up with the forest in their backyards….they were simply not interested to know more.

The scary part of it is the difficulty of educating them about the need for conservation and importance of wildlife. It’s like telling them to protect something which they have abundance of and hence don’t need, and which we outsiders are going all out to destroy by logging and poaching (for our city needs).

The charming part is their satisfaction in small things and small quantities. And their innocence. (No wonder our politicians love them so!). I was caught between wanting to shake them off their inertia and lethargy and tell them about the world beyond, and wanting to let them be. Exactly where can the cut off be….I do not know.

Back in town, I went for a night out to one of the most expensive ‘discs’ with my friends. Music boomed, liquor flowed and so did the smell of wealth – perfume, dresses, accessories. As far as I am concerned, music sucked…even if it means it’s played out by a well-known dj and it’s the favourite haunt of the city’s social circle. Hours of trance music and remixes of bad bollywood songs and shimmering disco lights started doing funny things to my mind. I got increasingly claustrophobic. I looked around at the branded clothes, high stilettos, short skirts, swaying arms and perspiring bodies. People really do spend so much money every week….for this? Either I am seriously getting old or the world has really gone drastically wrong.