Activism is no longer an option: Embracing it has been a reward

My FB page is a muddle this week. In between posts on seismic safety & disaster relief, and images of protests against the destruction of the Aravalli forests around Gurgaon, there are images of smiling me posing in a variety of sarees sourced from across India. At a glance, this may come across as insensitive, but I see these as the myriad forms of activism that have come to fill my life.

There are moments when I feel frustrated because we are having to fight so much for stuff that generations above us took for granted. Think green surroundings, clean air, an expectation of a human response if you had a road accident, the ability to eat healthy and affordable food, the struggle to find support for the arts….. I can go on and on. Then I remind myself that it is my responsibility and my job to stand up for what I think is worth preserving, encouraging, what I believe is worth fighting for.

This is not activism that leaves me drained and demoralized; not activism that takes away from other important things in life. This is activism that energizes me and I believe there are many ways to build enjoyment into these efforts.

Take for instance, the walk on Sunday morning (26 April 2015) to Save the Aravallis. We, like many others from Gurgaon and Faridabad, made a family outing of it, turning up in color coordinated outfits to hear eminent speakers and activists, hold banners and discuss our concerns with other like-minded people. The value that our participation brought to the cause is evident, but the value it brought to our lives is so much more. For my kids, they are learning early to ‘walk the talk’. Udai is working on animal rights and forest conservation for a school project and this was the most logical extension of what he has learnt. Aadyaa, born with an immense love for nature, is up in arms about the cause. [Note: Watch out for a fresh blog post on this, with more detailed information about the issues and the link to a petition to save the Aravallis]

Listening intently to details about the Aravallis, what they mean to us, what we plan to do to save them, etc

Listening intently to details about the Aravallis, what they mean to us, what we plan to do to save them, etc

Happy to join a large group of people who care!

Happy to join a large group of people who care! Photo credit: Seema Rao/Let’s Walk Gurgaon

The other piece of activism I want to highlight is the #100SareePact. It’s been pure joy. I don’t mind the preparation and the little bit of extra time it takes in the morning to drape a saree;. this has to be one of the most worthy causes I’ve stepped in to support. By wearing a saree, I support an entire industry of craftspeople and artists (weavers, dyers, block printers, painters, embroiderers) and a whole chain of distributors, accessory manufacturers, tailors, etc. I reinforce a sense of pride in my culture and traditions, I celebrate the relationships and circumstances that make a saree far more special that any other garment in Indian culture. I also get to feel good about myself everyday! Check out my gallery to take a peek!

Day 2 ‪#‎100SareePact‬ A gift from my mother. She bought this lovely cotton at a small weaving Centre near Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu. Joining the saree craze is Aadyaa who was salivating over mums new black and white acquisition this morning; here she is draping the fabric over her night suit!

Photo is a bit blurred, but the spontaneous joy with which my daughter draped my mum’s saree to give me company totally justifies the immense commitment the #100SareePact demands!

All in all, what I’m learning is this: One doesn’t have to give up to be an activist, though there are sacrifices to be made (waking up early on a Sunday morning can be tough!). For me, it is no longer a choice to live inside a cocoon, believing all will be well of its own accord. I am inspired in this by many friends who dedicate a lot more time than me working hard to ensure that traffic lights are put up, corrupt officers are booked, the destitute are aided, that marginalized voices are heard in policy making and so on. To stand there in support of the good work that they are doing is my small way of standing by them, of saying I care.

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on April 28, 2015, in Personal, Politics & Citizenship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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