A reporter called me in the evening to ask my views regarding a proposal with the Tree Authority to go ahead with the chopping of 70 trees at the campus of the films division campus at Pedder Road to make way for a new building they are planning (I will put a map if I can). http://bit.ly/gadmKC
While I have been able to give generic, bland and mechanical responses to the press lately (and a part of me wants to just stop speaking all together) about the usual problems on the state of the environment and trees in Mumbai this was one of those moments that my emotions got better of me and my blood boiled as I spoke with some spontaniety.
Pedder Road has had a special place in my heart since my earliest memories and I consider it to be – with my limited travel – amongst the best roads in the world; at least to me it is. It is for this reason that I completely abhor the idea of a flyover passing through it. I have loved its undulating character with pleasant turnings every hundred meters which add to what I feel is its incredible, warm and lovely charm. And yes it has some wonderfully diverse trees.
I have not particularly peeked into the films division campus but I have always been warmly aware of its presence only because of the wonderful trees at its entrance and the shade, which adds another bit of character to the road. The whole of Cumballa Hill is a treasure trove of good urban flora with some spectacular architecture posed side by side – just the architecture alone would make the area be addressed derogatorily as a concrete jungle without this flora. A lot of this is already out.
And now to think that they are planning to chop not one, not five but a whole seventy trees makes me feel I will go and buy a chain saw tomorrow morning and just cut all the trees in Mumbai for once and all.
The same broken record of accept for development has been played even as tens of thousands of trees have been cut in the past decade.
The past decade has seen me involved with numerous successful (yes) and unsuccessful attempts at saving hundreds of trees in Mumbai. But my enthusiasm over the past decade and especially towards the end has almost disappeared I think.
We are a hypocritical city which professes by the right virtues and values and principles but behaves to the contrary. We have the right environmental rhetoric now but no understanding or intent on any environmental front – not just trees – solid waste, sustainable transport, energy efficiency, air quality or food. Where has the super educated and well positioned middle classes of the city been in the past decade after participating in all the Al Gore and climate change style and drama. It’s the same goddamned – count on the fingers of my hand and a bit from my legs – few activists who have taken any position worth the while on any matter in the city.
We will always find some competing demand or the other for every tree in this city, roads have to widened, infrastructure has to be sunk into the same ground as the trees. buildings have to be redeveloped because housing is important, people’s views have to be ensured, billboard need to get the eyeballs.
In the cities there is real estate, outside pristine forests have to be ripped apart for coal and minerals below to fuel the clearly excessive and embarrassingly dumb cookie cuttered lives of millions of people (no that is subjective and I should not be judgmental). No amount of education seems to bring appreciation for the invaluable water that emerges from these forests.
As a city Mumbai has reached a point I think where it needs to take a call whether there will be an end to it at all? Will there be a day when we will say that come what may we will not touch our remaining trees? I think such a day will not come. And so the City of Mumbai should just come out with a declaration that all trees in the city should be cut with immediate effect.
Why should some of us who have emotions and sentiments around the trees suffer? What’s the use of a Tree Authority whose only visible purpose seems to give permission to cut trees? Why not cut all the trees at once and disband the Authority and save a few foolish people the misery – we clearly do not survive on love and fresh air.
While returning home I debated the matter at a larger plane.
I increasingly believe that machines will in the next two decades completely take over existence as we know it. And a day will come when the machines will snatch everything we love and cherish, whether forests or species or ideologies and people. I sweared by Terminator 2 in the 90’s and could even then clearly see the cyborgs amongst us at the cutting edge – the cyborgs have only grown stronger since then.
Those who find poetry and superiority in the intelligence of forests will find even their dead souls getting massacred and witch hunted and those who embed the machines with intelligence will be the rewarded, pampered and procreating lot. Cannibalism is essential to the machines and only the meanest will survive.
The cyborgs are already viciously in control in every sphere of community, governance and commerce. Some stare out shamelessly from banners on our junctions and others more stylishly from lifestyle magazines and glitzy movies. Most trawl silently. They are omnipresent and strong. They decide on everything from trees to food prices to defense budgets and eyeball allocation.
Clearly those who love to manipulate or fake emotions or can roughshod ride over them or best not have them at all rule. Nothing happens to them. Just like the cyborgs in T2 you can burn them, ride over them, melt them, blow them to bits and they can reassemble themselves and come back more viciously. Our scams are – just one of- an even more spectacular visual display of this phenomenon than all the special effects that James Cameron and team can muster.
I think I will be dead or closer to dying when this becomes virulent and the next generation of those who are foolish and emotional enough will find themselves joining the Resistance and amidst John Connor.
Those who get affected, want to have an opinion, cannot accept indifference and question injustice are distressed and diminishing. Good luck John Connor.