CTC's Theosophical Society Cleanup – Phase 1 - Wednesday, 6th April, 2016
Write-up by Apoorva Raghavan
A surprisingly pleasant summer morning beckoned us to the Theosophical Society (TS) today. Dawn was approaching as we reached our meeting spot outside the Theosophical Society gate. We could see a group of runners on one side and cyclists on the other already there, waiting. Since my friend and I came by bike and saw a couple of other Royal Enfields, we decided that we would belong to the bikers group, for want of identity. :P
Soon we saw Peter’s trusty black Toyota, which stands as a true testament to the adventures of CTC.. The car surely is a CTC member by itself. I’m guessing that’s enough of an introduction.. Now onto the actual write up ..
Having been a madras-ian till the name lasted and now a Chennai-ite, it is exceedingly embarrassing for me to confess that I've never set foot inside the TS till today.. Never having gone out much during school days, off to medical college blah blah.. I know these are lame excuses. Which is why I jumped at the chance when I saw the mail about the clean-up.. at least I would check one place off my bucket list, right here in Chennai.
This is the first time I saw a crowd of around 100/ 100+ for a clean-up event, excluding the beach clean ups. Must be the allure of the Theosophical society gardens and needless to say, CTC itself. We truly are becoming the phenomenon of change in Chennai.
We signed against our names on the list which I'm guessing crossed 3 pages! Then we set off into a land which is most definitely in a different time and space than the rest of the city. The beauty of the place was surreal, transporting all of us to a time when things were calmer, quieter, and greener than the city we now know.
But even in this paradise, we could see the havoc human so-called development and consumerism wrecks on nature. The floods had brought in so much garbage, it was heart wrenching to see. It’s a stark reminder of what will happen to these last remaining pockets of nature if we continue our voracious appetite of all things plastic.
We started the clean up after getting equipped with our weapons :P – gloves, sacks, rakes and boots (which the organizers were kind enough to provide in various sizes). While some focused on the dry grassy, leaf carpeted areas, many brave souls waded into the muck to fish out garbage from the waters edge. Seeing them precariously balanced on the edge of a branch, extending as far as they could to collect even the furthest trash, showed their commitment to the cause.
I was initially in the mucky areas and after finishing up there, went on to explore and clean further inside the gardens. There were areas which were straight out of paradise. A walkway whose roof was overflowing with pink flowers, a temple/shrine with an idyllic pond.. The place was just picture perfect. I had a sprained ankle which was starting to swell badly, but that didn't stop me from walking around, blissfully lost in the beauty that surrounded me.
Coming back to the clean-up.. I found the entire grassy floor covered with plastic, lot of which was buried and made it very difficult to see. Kudos to the TS personnel for helping us out there! The last area we cleaned was completely littered.. Which is going to take a few more clean ups to cover. Nothing CTC-ians can’t do!!
Soon, it was 7.30 and we came back to the starting point and started unloading our bags. When the last sack was emptied, the amount of trash we had collected was astonishing. A huge pile was made, waiting to be gobbled up by the mechanical arm of the garbage truck (which we all had fun watching).
Clean up done, the all essential group photo was taken with many hushed cheers and hoots. Job well done, awesome photo session, fulfilled heart.. and it was back to work, already thinking of Friday morning and wishing it would come soon.
A heartfelt thanks to the organizers and members of the Theosophical Society for letting us do our bit.
PS - I'm sure all of us will join hands over the coming weeks to restore this haven to its natural, plastic free state. Restoration alone isn't enough, we must also actively start reducing, reusing and recycling waste. I saw many plastic straws which are eaten by birds and animals, causing them to choke. Summer is here and all of us will throng to juice shops, but please avoid plastic straws, my humble request. Every little thing we do, will surely help.
A doctor by profession, and pursuing her MD dermatology Apoorva is a proud CTCian for the past 2+ years. Started off with CTC’s Chennai Coastal Cleanup,she participates in most of the clean-ups, plantations, few treks and bike trips (much to her mother's dismay) and enjoying every bit of the journey with CTC.An avid conservation enthusiast, home baker, wildlife and nature lover. Doing her home composting and segregation for past 2+ years, occasionally baking for CTC members during events.Currently trying to balance her nerdy side and newfound love for all things outdoors.