Touring the green way!

Delhi-based Mallika Arya has pledged to make her tour across India and South-East Asia as eco-friendly as possible.

Like many of us, Delhi-based Mallika Arya loves to travel a lot. She has taken a year off to travel around the country and South-East Asia, but what makes her trip different is that she has pledged to make it as eco-friendly as possible.

Mallika, who is currently in Puducherry, recently completed a two-year teaching fellowship, which inspired her to take up the challenge. “I’ve worked closely with kids for the past two years and it really made me think. We teach them so much about being environmentally conscious and celebrate the Earth Day every year, so I got exposed to all this and decided to do something about it,” says Mallika, who travels only by buses and trains in the country.

Sharing her experience in Puducherry so far, she says, “My actual plan was to stay in Chennai, but I ended up in Pondy! When I reached the city, I initially thought that it was just like any other place. But, after exploring the city, I found it to be really fascinating. Now, I can even say that this is the best place I have visited so far.”

Mallika practicing surfingMallika practicing surfing

Stating that she has consciously avoided pre-planning this tour, Mallika reveals, “All my life, I plan each and every second of my life. I, sometimes, wonder if I have OCD! That is why I wanted this tour to be completely spontaneous.”

Apart from visiting ashrams in Puducherry and Auroville, the 23-year-old has also been learning surfing. “I’ve always had this desire to learn surfing. It’s been two days since I have started it, but I am enjoying it thoroughly. Though it is challenging, I have been pretty comfortable right from the very first wave,” she exclaims.

Mallika started her journey from Himachal Pradesh in May and now plans to traverse the lands of the South. In her travel bag, one can always find a biodegradable toothbrush a coffee-mug made from bamboo and fibre, a reusable straw, a shampoo bar and her water bottle. She has made many lifestyle changes to make this trip possible and it has not always been easy. “The first response I get from people is, ‘She carries her own straw! What a freak!’ In the past three months I had to buy a bottle of mineral water once in Manali because I could not find a tap anywhere, and I felt so bad,” she shares, adding, “Apart from this, nobody ever talks about how long it takes for our sanitary waste to decompose. Just one pad takes about 400 years to completely decompose. So, I am looking for alternative means. Since I will be travelling cloth is not a viable option for me. Hence, I am planning to use the menstrual cup, which lasts for a good nine months or so.”

Mallika’s journey also includes Cambodia, Thailand and other South-East Asian countries, which are very highly dependent on plastic. “I really like talking to locals when I travel, so I hope that when they hear about what I am doing, they get influenced and make some changes in their lifestyle,” she says.

Talking about what she expects this tour to do for her, she says, “I am nowhere close to being perfect, but I do hope that one day, I reach a stage where I produce zero waste,” she says promisingly.

(With inputs from Balajee C R)

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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