On This World Environment Day

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Dehradoon used to be a small town I spent most of my summer holidays in. We would escape the opressive humidity of Mumbai right after school results, and head straight into the pulversing heat of Delhi in May. The scorching capital could never hold us for more than a couple of days and soon enough, we would find ourselves at the foothills of the Himalayas, where Dehradoon is nestled.

The palette of nostalgia is golden and so do forgive me a gilded narrative, but this is how I remember Dehradoon of my past, a town primarily known for its elite schools, cantonment and glorious weather. We rarely needed anything more than a humble celing fan in Doon even at the peak of Indian Summer. Litchi trees would sway in the backyard of every house. By the the third week of the May the rains would arrive – such amazing sound and light shows by way of thunderstorms that I have seldom witnessed anything parallel. A month in the Doon valley was constructed with blocks of family, food, nature walks and trips to hill stations like Mussoorie and Dhanolti. The mountains were green, cars few, and trees many. With the arrival of rains, seasonal rivers would flow down, bringing with them rocks, rich soil and minerals, rendering many a road unusable – for a while atleast. Dehradoon of my memory is golden, yes, but also it is luminously green.

Over the last two decades however, and especially after it was crowned the capital of Uttarakhand, each time I visit the valley, I come back with a lump in my throat and pain in my heart. The hills have been balded for wood and gouged for minerals and rock. Grey high speed expressways taint what was once a lazy agricultural landscape, and ugly flyovers many still under construction, dot the city. Houses now extend all the way from Dehradoon to Mussoorie, the two towns are now one, overflowing with concrete.  The litchi trees are all gone. Characterless malls have usurped old bazaars and most houses have air conditioners to see them through summers. This small town, in its zeal to morph into a big city lost its character and charm, but does anyone care?

The Himalayas are being systematically killed. Murdered.


I am sure if I start digging for statistics, I could spit them out dime a dozen, but this post, which has been a long time coming, is more a cry of anguish than a scientific piece establishing that which is obvious for all to see.  We are ruthlessly, foolishly destroying this planet in the name that Trojan horse – Development. And this is true everywhere. I was walking down the posh Bandra Bandstand seaface neighborhood of Mumbai in 2016 with my children, the tide was low and all they could see were mangroves covered in plastic bags. Plastic bottles and empty bags of chips were littered all over. All they could smell was the smell of sea mixed with the smell of shit.

I see no trees in Gurgaon. I see only concrete in Manhattan. I hear of fish dying because of plastic they ingested, and humans dying in Karachi heatwave. Karachi! I see Americans wasting everything- from food to toilet paper, with zero understanding of how that food gets to their plates. How many animals never really live even while alive, just to feed them. How many trees are killed for their houses, paper and tissues. The huge dollops of ketchup routinely left on plates, plastic straws used once and tossed carelessly for Mother Earth to process. The popcorn thrown at each other as a party game.

It’s mindboggling how stupid our species can be.


This World Environment Day,  my biggest hope rests in our children. I see them being educated about the mayhem prior generations have caused, and how they can help correct the equilibrium. People like my friend Stacy, rabid about environmental causes provide me succour. We all have to pitch in, we must, else it is all going to be such a huge waste.

Because I would really like to see the Himalayan foothills green again, one day. And my children would want to see Mumbai beaches as I saw them. Someday.

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6 thoughts on “On This World Environment Day

    • That’s true. I think most developing nations have it far far worse. Can’t imagine what’s going on w the Brazilian rainforests 😦

  1. As recently as yesterday I was in Dehra/ Mussouri. Totally agree with each word you said.. Ugly out of place Malls, unnecessary cars, traffic ( took us 3 hrs from Dehra to Mussouri, can you imagine?)… well as far back as 1970 John Denver wrote “ Now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fear
    Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend
    Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
    More people, more scars upon the land“. That’s all I guess. We as a generation have failed but our next generation thankfully seem to have their heart in the right place.

    • Couldn’t agree more Neelav. It’s heartbreaking and blood boiling all at once for me to see that shit go down! Pls put this comment on FB. I want as many people as possible to know how we’re killing our mountains. 3 hours!!!!!!!

  2. Beautifully written, all i wanted to say but dont have the writing skills of the author.
    I am a doonite, and every year i go back, i have tears in my eyes. A full on war would not have created such destruction… I have no hope left…

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