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The weXplore trip has offered me an opportunity to study more about water situation in terms of culture and society as well as to explore India.
Landing in New Delhi, the first thing we did was to get on a bus and make our way to the Centre of Science and Technology, where our guest speaker Ms. Ranjita Menon explained to us the problem concerning septic tanks, a tank used to purify waste water, in Delhi. The problems that concern me the most are the fact that many households in Delhi do not have any septic tanks and are sharing a septic tank. Also, I’m concerned about the fact that the septic tanks are of poor quality because these could lead to low-purified contaminated water, which eventually causes sickness among the community and child mortality. Additionally, the finances of a family may be heavily affected as they need to go to the hospital and buy medicine.
Next, we got on a bus and drove to Rishikesh. Unfortunately, we were very behind on schedule so we had to spontaneously stay at a hotel along the road. It was an incredible experience as it was the first time I had ever done something so spontaneously.
Reaching Rishikesh, checking in the hotel with a cool flower necklace, we went out for lunch in an organic café next to the Ganga river. The fact that the local people grow their own food without using fertilizer or pesticide means that they are making a positive environmental impact, as there are no chemicals to contaminate the soil or any nearby water source. The first thing that amazed me was that how beautiful the water was. It was a light blue color, but don’t be fooled, the blue gave me a sense of cleanliness. After lunch, we went up the mountain to start our water rafting. It was an incredible experience for me. We got the chance to do something super fun while learning on the way. The Ganga river, where we did water rafting, flows from the Himalayas. It is also a very spiritual place according to the culture; thus, a lot of temples were built along the river. The natural water flow in the river was very suitable for white water rafting, making it a tourist attraction, which eventually support the local economy. In addition, the people here worship the river as part of their culture, leading to them protecting the river and never throwing waste into it, thus maintaining the river of its natural color and cleanliness.
After two incredible days in Rishikesh, we flew 9 hours to the most religious and holiest place in India: Varanasi. The first thing we did was to go to Baranasi Hindu University where we attended a speech by our guest speaker Professor Mirsha. I had to say he was the most passionate person in terms of protecting the water sources, particularly the Ganga river, which also flows through Varanasi. From his speech and our visit to a traditional ceremony, I could clearly see that the people of Varanasi were more religious and worship the river more than the people in Rishikesh. According to the Hindu religion, Hindus bathe in the river water; however, as the people from Varanasi are really religious, not only do they bathe but they also wash their feet, brush their teeth and drink with the water. As time passes, more people come to the Ganga river everyday to use the water, which leads to more trash left in the river, leading to heavy contamination. In addition to that, the sewage also flows into the river. As a result, not only is the nature of the river heavily damaged but so is the health of the local community as they use this water everyday, which can have a negative impact on the financial of the local community as they need to buy medicine and go to doctors if they are sick, leading to the overall economic situation of Varanasi being affected. (Think about the future, education, politics).
The weXplore has brought me a lot of new experiences such as water rafting, spontaneous trips, as well as new knowledge about the water problems in India that I need to be a part of solving. I hope that the next TGS weXplore will help me to gain both experience and knowledge.