A B’LORECREATE Initiative: Waste Unwasted Maker Camp #1

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“Can we recycle gum?” An inquisitive nine year-old posed the question. “What about atomic bombs?” “What about human bodies?” chimed in others. The curiosity was infectious, each question leading to another question. What couldn’t one recycle or, at the least, reuse in creative ways? These questions arose after a morning of touring the informal waste sector of Bangalore on the Waste Unwasted Maker Camp #1 Waste Safari. A Jaaga B’LORECREATE initiative, Waste Unwasted Maker Camps is a collective addressing Bangalore’s waste challenges…

Jagriti Yatra Day 15: The End in Ahmedabad

It was sunny in Ahdmedabad yesterday. The Yatris arrived in Gandhinagar and were shuttled in busses to the shady grove surrounding the house where Mahatma Gandhi lived. It was a simple house, as one would expect from the man who personified simplicity and goodness. With one last nationalistic push the Yatris gathered in front of the house for some good old meditation and patriotic songs. The afternoon was spent listening to a panel discuss amongst themselves Gandhi’s philosophy. Then the…

Jagriti Yatra Day 14: Barefoot College and Bunker Roy

“Don’t think that we are doing social work. We are doing political work. Anytime you are changing mindsets you are working in politics. If I go into a village and everyone is happy with what I’m doing, then I’m doing something wrong.” Bunker Roy wears black toms and a simple kurta. He spoke before the Yatris on Monday, their last role model of the journey. He spoke of courage, integrity and simple lifestyles. He quoted Mark Twain, telling the Yatris,…

Jagriti Yatra Day 13: Goonj in Delhi

Goonj is a fantastic company located in the capital city. Anshu, the founder of Goonj, first realized the importance of textiles after meeting a man who was begging not for food but for clothing. Why was clothing the most important thing this man needed? Because people die from the cold every year. And yet for some reason the basic human right of clothing is never given as much weight as food and shelter. Today Goonj collected discarded clothing from urban…

Jagriti Yatra Day 11-12: Deoria, UP (Village Stay)

Not fully recovered from train sickness, I arrived yesterday in very rural UP, Deoria. Only three hours from the Nepali border, it was cold. We could see our breath before us like a white omen for the chilly night to come as we marched between sugar cane fields to Shashank’s home town. Shashank is the founder of Jagriti Yatra and each year brings the Yartis to his home district for the one overnight stay of the Yatra. The Yatris stay…

Jagriti Yatra Day 9- Day 10: Death by Train (Patna, Bihar)

 To ring in the New Year, the year of two thousand and fourteen, I had a lovely bout of train sickness. ‘What kind of sickness?’ 450 curious co-passengers wanted to know. ‘None of your business’ kind of sickness. ‘I-want-to-die’ kind of sickness. ‘I-almost-got-off-the-train-in-Patna,’ kind of sickness. I slept for two days and survived on biscuits and oranges. Rumors of the sick white girl got around the train and now even strangers stop to ask me if I’m ok. Alas, I…

Jagriti Yatra Day 8: Gram Vikas (and Shit)

“Our trees, which we were so proud of, are down, but our spirits are not!” started Joe. We were in rural Orissa on  New Year’s Eve meeting with Joe, the director of Gram Vikas. Joe, originally from Kerala, had come to Orissa in 1971 after another cyclone has devastated the area. He came with a group from his University but after the other students moved on, Joe stayed on to work on water and sanitation issues in the area. “Thirty…

Jagriti Yatra Day 7: Vijayawada Waiting

Today we got stuck in Vijaywada on accident. The team was able to (impressively) pull together a speaker and a venue. The speaker (unimpressively) spoke about LED lights for an hour. As a tribute to our unintentional time in Vijaywada I wrote a haiku: Oh Vijaywada Wasted time and energy God why are we here?