Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Water Saved and Air Cooled

When my wife Subhadra and I had to move to live in the city of Indore we were disconsolate about having to leave the idyllic sylvan surroundings of the Sarvodaya Shikshan Samiti Ashram in Machla village. So we decided we would grow a forest in a tea cup so to speak and left some land free in front for this purpose while building the house. We also decided to utilise our waste water to the hilt and not let it out into sewers and the streets to create problems. All the waste and storm water in our house in Indore is treated and recharged into the ground. Not only that we have planted three big leafy creepers near the recharge pits and these suck up the treated water and evapo-transpirate it. Thus now after five years we have banana, custard apple, mango, guava and drumstick trees that give us their fruits. A neem tree that provides us with natural tooth brushes from its twigs and sundry other vegetable and flowering plants also adorn our garden. All the kitchen waste is composted to yield manure. What is more even at the height of summer when the temperature in Indore hits 45 degrees centigrade our house remains cool because of its leafy exterior. We have a natural air-cooling system as the house has been designed with a lot of cross ventilation and all we have to do is hang some khas grass curtains on the windows and wet them through drips and the air blowing in becomes cool. We do not have to run fans let alone air conditioners. Our average daily consumption of electricity is 1.75 units (kwh) only. It would be even lower but for the fact that during the summer months we run our fridge while keeping it closed the rest of the year. Subhadra has allowed herself this one luxury to make up for her deprived childhood and ensure that our son Ishaan does not suffer the same fate! So she and Ishaan freak out on ice creams and fruit shakes throughout the summer months.
There is an ideological side to this kind of a conservation effort. All these plants and trees and the leaves falling and littering the house require a considerable amount of labour to tend to them and so this kind of living requires a commitment to the environment. Only if one believes in natural living can one implement such a system. A video of this water saving and air cooling system can be seen here
Thus despite living in a reinforced concrete structure in a city we have with our use of cycles and public transport and our minimal use of energy succeeded in keeping our ecological footprint down to the unit level - that is we consume and waste only that much that is sustainably available on the planet. The only worrying thing is the plastic waste. Try as we might plastics do come in to the house and then they have to be taken to be incinerated in the dumping grounds which is an environmentally hazardous practice.
When our adivasi friends come in from the villages they too enjoy themselves because we have a wooden stove in a room on the roof where we can cook with all the wood that is collected from the loppings of the trees. Thus on many an occasion we have bivouac parties on the roof which has a sylvan ambience with all the creepers dangling from the trellises.

8 comments:

Lamp post said...

This time when I went to Kolkatta, I saw plastic bags has disappeared. Paper bags has come. WB govt has enforced money penalty to shopkeepers who gets caught selling things in plastic bags. Plastic bags - specially the small 'micron' thickness ones is a terrible thing. Jams drainage, kills cattle who consumes it along with food - apart from producing toxic fumes when burned. I don't know why in other cities they are unable to enforce it.

Rahul Banerjee said...

it remains to be seen as to how long this strictness of the government lasts because invariably after some time the plastic bags come in again. the even more hazardous waste is that from old computers and other electronic goods. tonnes and tonnes or such e-waste is being shipped to India from the west and we are also generating a lot of them. anything related to crude oil whether petrol or plastic is harmful to the earth. the single largest contributor to environmental degradation is crude oil.

anish said...

what other birds come to your home? very nice post!

Rahul Banerjee said...

i am afraid i recognise only the most common birds like sparrows, bulbuls and parrots that come to our house. in fact we have a hard time chasing the parrots away from the guavas! there is also another bird with brown feathers and a blue neck that comes. One of these days i will have to buy a book of birds and tally the birds with their names.

anish said...

believe me - you will miss them if they stop coming for the guavas :)

hmm brown feathers and blue neck.

Rahul Banerjee said...

we are not very serious about chasing away the parrots and do it only that much as to save a few guavas for ourselves. It is nice of you anish to write about the water saving effort in your blog also. it is only in such small ways that the word will be spread

Makaila said...

Good post.

Rahul Banerjee said...

i am really thrilled that this post is attracting attention. there is nothing better than water and energy conservation to reorient human civilisation away from over consumption.