Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tewari is Lucknow's 'Gurukar'

Manish Tewari, 45, widely known in Lucknow as Pedwale Baba (Tree Baba) or Bicycle Baba moves about in Lucknow on a bicycle, carrying with him saplings, Khurpi for digging, and bags made of clothes. He plants on any available space. Besides, he goes door-to-door in residential localities handing out saplings and bags to residents. The cloth-bag goes with a plea, asking them give up using polythene bags.
Our own Gurukar,68, plants saplings on roadside; he is better equipped than Tewari for heavy-duty planting on hard soil - shovels, pick axe, and even plastic pots to bring water to the planted saplings.
Tewari: 'People think I am out of my mind...(doing such thing)... say its is a futile exercise".
Gurukar: Evokes similar comments from passers by seeing him digging at the roadside.
Tewari: "I regularly visit the places where saplings have been planted"
Gurukar :Does the same.
Tewari: A graduate; has been planting since 1998 . Does not rely on government or any NGO help.
Gurukar:Diploma-holder in electrical engineering, worked in Karanataka Electricity Board, and later joined the Union Labour Dept. as training officer in Bangalore;has been planting for the past 25 years,in Bangalore and Mysore (after his retirement in 2003)
Tewari: Collects small plants - banyan, neem, tamirind etc - from the wild, nurses them into saplings at home.
Gurukar: Buys saplings - mainly honge - from the forest dept. nursery, at Rs.20 a plant, spending from his govt. pension.
Tewari: Visits local schools and colleges to spread the green message.
Gurukar: Goes to Bangalore, for a week or two at a time, as 'guest' lecturer for Labour dept. training institute for electrical and other trades.
Tewari: Written about in Deccan Herald Spl. Features page.
Gurukar: Has gone unnoticed by newspapers, even those published in his own town of Mysore.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Honge Kamyab

This honge in front of a shopping block on Ramavilas Rd. has been named Kamyab. It is the only one of its kind on a row of aged roadside gulmohar and neem. Kamyab is Hindi word for 'accomplishment'.So named, because the person who planted this honge, Mr K R Gurukar, has fulfilled what many of us in the neighbourhood had long wished, but couldn't get it done.

And Mr Gurukar doesn't even live in our neighbourhood. We were pleasantly surprised a couple of days back to see him at work, digging to plant a sapling at the gaping hole left by the loss of an aged tree even before I moved in in this area over five years back. Must admit that my enthusiasm for trees is not hands-on. I am not a shovel-and-tokri person. Age (I am 70 plus) can't be a factor, for Mr Gurukar, 68, has been at it for over a decade and is still going strong; has planted a thousand trees in Mysore.
He is the kind that believes in self-reliance, carrying with him on his bicycle all that he needs for digging and planting. A retired labour dept. official, Mr Gurukar spends from his pension money for the saplings he buys from the forest dept.nursery.
It was Mr K N Sreenivasa, a tree enthusiast in Chamarajanagar Mohalla, who 'discovered' Mr Gurukar for Friends of Roadside Trees, which till about two months ago was little more than a web-driven arm-chair group of tree enthusiasts, His association came as an impetus to get off our chair and do something. We are now in the process of setting up a trust to further our green agenda. A website - TreeFriends - would soon be developed to support the activities of the proposed trust.

Meanwhile, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) has taken note of our efforts to promote tree planting. In an e-mail from Nairobi-based UNEP communication division, Meshack Mbuyi of The Billion Tree Campaign says, We read with great interest about Friends of Roadside Trees initiative of caring for the trees in the neighborhood and also celebrating life by planting of trees on vacant public space. We find the way you do this very unique and one that can achieve better results, the idea of giving every tree on one’s street an identity is a positive thought as the names are meant to bond the saplings with residents. .... we would like to invite Friends of Roadside Trees and its network of contacts to partner with the UNEP-led Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.
This row of honge trees were planted by Mr Gurukar a decade ago, in his Saraswathipuram neighbourhood. It would be our endeavour to put the roadside tree-planter of Mysore on the UNEP map through our blog. Hum Honge Kamyab

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back on road

We were pleased to reconnect with roadside tree-planter K R Gurukar this morning. Found him at work on Ramavilas Road, not far from the MUDA Circle kerbside, where the four saplings he planted a few weeks back are coming up well. Fresh leaves are showing up on the saplings that have taken roots.
Noticing us (my wife and I on our morning walk)from a hailing distance across the street,Mr Gurukar appeared equally happy to meet us to exchange notes.Filling us in on his absence from the Mysore roads all these days,Mr Gurukar said he had been away on a teaching assignment in Bangalore .
Mr Gurukar's appearance, shirtless and in soiled shorts, can be misleading. An electrical engineer by training, Mr Gurukar had served in the Karnataka Electricity Boards for a number of years before switching to the union labour ministry as a training officer in Bangalore. His old department stills invites Mr Gurukar to give guest lectures to trainees under a vocational education programme run by the labour dept. in collaboration with a training agency.

If youngsters keen on learning electrical trade volunteer to help Mr Gurukar in planting saplings on roadsides, they could benefit from his guidance in electrical engineering. I know Mr Gurukar loves guiding youngsters enthusiastic to learn. Apart from interacting with them while at work planting on roadside, Mr Gurukar can be persuaded to continue his lessons at his Saraswathipuram residence. Any takers ?