03. India

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Hi my name is Srishti and I use the pronoun she and her I am five feet one inch tall. I have long hair that is black, I wear specks that are black and yellow. My skin colour is dusky. I have lived through the climate emergency for the last 26 years.

Today is Monday fifth September 2020 to 2:40pm IST. I live in Mumbai, which is a city in India. Mumbai is a coastal city and it's at the banks of the Arabian Sea. For someone who has never been to Mumbai, I would describe it as a city full of skyscrapers and then a lovely lovely coastline. It is always crowded, there is a hustle bustle and there is an energy to the city. But there are pockets in the city that are quite hidden and secluded. If you find them theymake you believe that you're not in Mumbai and you've come to another small city. So Mumbai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in India. It is considered the commercial capital of India. So it's a city where you have industries that function, you'll have corporates and you also have the entertainment industry - both in terms of Theatre and the Bollywood - you will find people from all kinds of culture, all kinds of cities who speak different languages, who do different things. Mumbai has a really really strong public transport and the trains are the lifeline much like say the underground in London. There is an insane number of cars on the road. We have a joke in Mumbai. Some people when they do come to Bombay for the first time they ask “okay, how far is placed a from place B” and they expect an answer in kilometres but we give them an answer in the number of hours slash minutes it will take them to get from place A to B because it doesn't matter, you can be two kilometres away and it might still take you one hour.

I grew up in a smaller, comparatively smaller city called Pune which is about three hours away from Mumbai. So Pune has been always on the leeward side of this mountain region that separates Bombay and Pune. And it is a little hilly, it's really the opposite side of Mumbai. So it's much cooler. It's always pleasant. I hardly remember using like fans in Pune except when it's the summer season, which is very, very different to Bombay - maybe use the fan all the time and get into air conditioning when it's the summers. Pune for me is also a much quieter city. For the longest times Pune has been known to be the city for people who settled in Pune after they retire. It is now slowly changing. It has become more hub for IT companies. The dynamics of the city are changing Pune is getting busier.

I'm in Mumbai, I think the biggest climate emergency is the rising sea levels. This is a coastal city. One of the biggest fears is the fact that a large part of Mumbai is going to be underwater. Unfortunately, what I think goes hand in hand with the climate emergency is the infrastructure. In Bombay, as I had mentioned earlier, there are certain pockets that you can go and you will forget, you are in the hustle bustle of the city. And one of them is the rd forests. So there's this huge, huge patch of land that is preserved or used to be a reserved forest, the forest, and that is right in the middle of the city. And it did have an impact in reducing the air pollution just soaking up a lot of the carbon that the city gives out. But they are cutting the rd forest down to create a metro shed for the numerous metro lines that are being built to connect the public to travel from one place to the other and to ease that.

So technically, I was first introduced the concept of climate crisis when I was anywhere between 12 to 14 years old, because in school, you get introduced the concept of climate change. And why that is important. It was very theoretical, and then felt that okay, this happens everywhere else, and it doesn't affect me. But I've been more and more aware about how this is a global issue. And it really affects every single person. So the last seven to eight years, because more and more you interact more and more you live through, you also realise how weather is changing how my relationship and my association with certain aspects of weather and seasons and climate that I am very used to has been changing. I think it's become more of a reality in the last seven, eight years. But yes, the first time I encountered it was in a textbook. The climate emergency feels real when you start experiencing seasons and weather differently. Just for example, in Mumbai and Pune there is a very distinct change in the kind of rainfall that is happening. And that has changed over the last couple of years, Pune has always had this really pleasant climate 12 months in a year. But every time I go, I find it more hot, I find it more stuffier, I find the pollution to be higher. Just a simple example, we've installed an air conditioner in Pune last year because the heat was just too much too bare. Last year, we received really, really heavy rainfalls. This year, it is above average, but it's not as heavy as last year. And the issue is that it does affect the yearly crop cycle. In India particularly, and particularly Mumbai and Pune, we've been getting another spell of showers in February, March, which is very unusual. And it does affect all the crops that are supposed to be harvested in March and April. And it is affecting the quality of the food that we are consuming. So that has been a huge, huge cause of concern.

I think that a majority of the people around me are climate conscious and are more and more aware about the actions that we are doing as a society that are contributing to the climate crisis, and to take steps to reduce our impact and our carbon footprint as it might be. But there is a large population that, I wouldn't probably say denial but do not realise the severity of the impact that the climate change is going to have on every single person in the society.


How do I feel about the future? I feel optimistic. There are people around the world who feel the same. There are people around the world trying to do their bit. But at the same time, it does feel scary because at the end of the day, we do know everything about climate change and the climate crisis based on what the researchers are saying. And there have been certain facts and certain data showing that some of the research or some of the predicted changes that were supposed to happen in 2035, or 2050, are already happening. So climate change is happening at a much faster rate than anticipated, which is the scary part. Because how much do you do? And if you're taking actions based on research what if they are inaccurate or they are not predicting the right timelines, then? Maybe we are all doomed. So it's a double edged sword.

I think acting on the climate emergency is important to me, because if not now, then when? Climate change is happening at a much accelerated rate than we all can imagine, and for us to have the hope that we're going to be able to see through this and we are going to be able to survive this. We all need to take an action in whatever form it might be.

It makes me hopeful that there are enough number of people across the world trying to do their bit.