I had been excited for days for two reasons: TEDx was being hosted in Coimbatore and Greenpeace activist, Brikesh Singh agreed to be a speaker at the event.
The stage was set and the speakers were getting ready. I was waiting with bated breath for Brikesh to get on stage.
When it was time for Brikesh’s talk, all we could hear was the sound of a lizard sucking in its prey but there was no Brikesh in sight! Shortly after, he stepped up on stage and began his talk entitled ‘Junglistan Diaries’.
The entire idea of spending a month on a tree around the edge of Tadoba forest reserve in Chandrapur originated when Greenpeace India began to highlight the dangers of coal mining in India’s forests in 2011.
Brikesh spoke about the tree house and how it became his home for over a month. He spoke about the ‘fish pedicures’ he got for free every day. He said, “Nothing goes waste in the forest. The food chain is well kept, under no supervision.”
He had made friends with a bunch of children who would come to play in the forest next to his tree house. One of the children had cooked him “bamboo ki bhajji” using bamboos from the forest. There also came a day when a leopard took halt on a tree near Brikesh’s tree house. He was quite sure that the animal would have sensed his presence but neither seemed to fear the other. They existed all together, the way it’s supposed to be.
Towards the end of his stay, an elderly man had travelled to the Tadoba reserve just to show his support for Greenpeace India and its cause. Brikesh said that he was more optimistic and positive towards his cause, once he knew there was public backing him.
I was watching a young environmentalist, his head held high and eyes filled with the love for nature. It was a pleasure to listen to him. I could almost experience being in the forest- its sights and sounds, as the slides went on.
Yes, I had read about “Junglistan”, signed petitions, shared it, got some friends on board too but it was just overwhelming to listen to the whole experience from the “Junglistani” himself.
Vidhya is pursuing B.E. Environmental Engineering from Coimbatore. She has co founded the Environmental Care Group in her college and has been a cyberactivist with Greenpeace for the past four years.