Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Raasta Chaap: Operation Chaas Attack, writes Twinkle Khanna -DNA 8th March 2016

On women's day to us girls in the Rastaa Chaap gang.....Fierce tree warriors who are doing something to change the world around us one tree at a time.

Operation Chaas Attack
'This is India, a country where trees, women, and cows; everything is worshipped and nothing is nurtured.'

Operation Chaas Attack, writes Twinkle Khanna

TWINKLE KHANNA | Tue, 8 Mar 2016-07:15am , Mumbai , DNA

7 am: I hurriedly pull on my jeans and grab my hat before rushing to the kitchen to steal a sandwich from the children’s lunchbox. Spotting my desi Jeeves, I plead, ‘Put two buckets and a mug in the car, please.’

Today is Tree-Saving Day and my group of fierce tree warriors, the Rastaa Chaap girls, devastated by the large number of dead trees in Khar, are going to try and revive the remaining withered trees with an innovative approach recommended by a group of environmentalists that have had some success with this unorthodox method.

We have a water tanker and 30 kgs of curd all standing by, to be mixed in buckets, made into a version of chaas and poured around the trees like they are the throats of dehydrated Gujaratis after a bout of vigorous dandiya.

7.30 am: I am standing next to my car, looking on in horror, as my Man Friday has not only fetched the two green plastic buckets but has also kindly filled them with water before loading them into the car, one with hot water and the other with cold. ‘So you can mix to your comfort temperature!’, he states.
I am not sure whether he thinks I am capable of having a bath in the car or is deliberately driving me to a point where I want to drown myself and is helpfully providing the necessary chullu-bhar paani as well.
8 am: Hat on and a pollution mask strapped across my face, I am standing in the midst of our group as we begin ‘Operation Chaas Attack’.
10 am: We walk from tree to tree, filling buckets from the water tanker, lugging it all over the street, loosening soil and pouring our mixture around the trees; till finally the water tanker fellow gets fed up and zooms off and the exhausted, curd-splattered tree warriors also head home.
1pm: With freshly washed hair swinging in the wind, I am walking with the baby around my neighbour’s large vegetable patch. The baby spies a luscious red tomato. And I stoop, trying to pluck it and a passing crow aims right at my head as he happily defecates. The baby, of course, finds this very funny while the watchman joyfully assures me that it is a sign of good luck, a blessing from God, apparently. I want to tell him that he is full of crap and then realise that technically, at this point in time, that sentence may be slightly more applicable to me.
9 pm: Sitting on the couch with the man of the house, I am watching some television strictly due to doctor’s orders.
I suffer from low blood pressure and after trial and error, have discovered that in order to raise it through various natural means, nothing quite beats watching Arnab’s show three times a week.
9.15 pm: Just when the host is getting into his stride, all bug-eyed, yelling belligerently about patriotism, my desi Jeeves comes up to me, asking, ‘Didi, can I go to Gujarat for few days?’
Wondering if all the chaas talk around the house today has made him nostalgic for the years he spent in Surat with my grandmother’s family, I look at him quizzically and he continues, ‘There is a Hanumanji temple in Sarangpur in Gujarat. People put coconut in the mouth of Hanumanji and coconut inside breaks and gives prasad back from hand of Hanumanji himself. I want to see this miracle!’
I reply, ‘I guess the North Indian God Hanuman must have seen the South Indian God Rajinikanth’s movie Robot and decided if Rajini’s robot can break buildings, mine should at least break a coconut or two. It’s just a machine inside, like a battery-operated moving doll, that’s all!’
I refuse to give him leave for this ridiculous mission but the man of the house intervenes; and I guess desi Jeeves will go to the land of theplas soon enough to witness this mystical, mechanical sight.
A few days later, I drive past our yogurt-fed trees. The trees need to be watered every alternate day after our treatment and we had requested a paanwala, who has his little shanty there, if he would at least water the banyan tree right next to him.
I walk up to him and ask him if he has been looking after it and pat comes the reply, ‘ I always taken care of it, see have lit two agarbatitis, and put it right there in the hole in its trunk.’
I look at the incense sticks and am not sure if more smoke is coming out of them or out of my ears. I empty my bottle of drinking water around the banyan tree and drive away.
How could I have forgotten? This is India, a country where trees, women, and cows; everything is worshipped and nothing is nurtured.

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