Monday, June 23, 2008

Tattapani Clean Up

On the morning of June 5th, World Environment Day, we were trying to leave Shimla to drive to a small hot spring valley village called Tattapani. The rain just kept coming down in buckets and we were not prepared for it. Just walking to the car which was parked below The Mall (only for pedestrians) would have had us completely drenched so although we set out once, we headed back to "waterproof" ourselves for that day, and the rest of our trip.

Many of the mountain towns we passed through had strict bans on plastic bags which, unlike in Kolkata, are actually enforced. So, finding plastic to line our bags was going to be a bit of a mindbender. I headed down into town from the YMCA and was accosted by a mob of young school children on their World Environment Day parade. They had faced the rain too, but it didn't stop them. I gave them a hearty thumbs up in support of their efforts and headed down behind them to find my "silver lining," all the while making a mental note that it was World Environment Day and wondering what could I do to mark it. I found my plastic supply in a bin in the back of a suitcase shop, big bags that were once suitcase wrap!

Anyhow, after putting all of our stuff in bags inside of our packs, we were ready to head to Tattapani. We arrived after coming down about 3 hours from a 2000 ft. elevation in Shimla to a 600 ft one -- to a warm climate and a beautiful rocky river that begged to have us while the afternoon away. I found my Environment Day task awaiting me here: small packets of chips, shampoos and conditioners, underpants were strewn about. I will never understand why people in India seem to take no responsibility for keeping their sacred areas clean. This was a perfect case, take a bath in a holy hot spring and throw your shampoo and underpants over the side into the spring itself, all the while feeling very religiously pure of heart.

While the kids made long canals and riverways in the sand, I spent about two hours cleaning the area up and could really see a difference when I called it a day. After dinner, the kids and I made some signs and we asked the man who ran the guest house if he could please put the signs up, along with some bins so that customers had a place to throw their rubbish. He welcomed our efforts and our suggestions and took photos of us all for the local newspaper!

My Environment Day message to the world?
Please don't trash the Himalayas:
Bring your plastic bag to the cities!


Karan said...

Can you pls give me the contact no. of Spring View Guest House at Tattapani?

tik-tiki said...

this guest house was closing just after our visit there but opening a new place just up the hill; the italian food was delicious. there is a dam project going on here that means the area where we played may actually now be flooded.

we didn't make reservations, we just went there. very easy to find.