lifestyle

lifestyle, Travel

Oh to be an Explorer


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As a child I always wanted to be an explorer with a life of adventure. Once I was visiting the Otters Club in Bandra and looked out at the sea as we were pulling up in our car. “What if we keep going straight?” I asked pointing at the ocean. My father told me that if we drove for long enough we would reach Africa. I was disappointed he had an answer, what I really wanted was to find a lost island with exotic creatures and strange species of plants. Perhaps an ancient undiscovered civilisation. I wanted to trample through the woods and arrive there dressed like Carmen Sandiego. My dreams had been shattered, every corner of the world had already been discovered and there was nowhere new to go.

It turns out that little me was wrong. The world is such a wonderful vast place and every new place you visit is new to you. (Look at me all sounding like a motivational Instagram Post).

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There is one place that stands out though. The Andamans took my breath away in the way that I had wanted as a child. Although dotted with hotels, Havelock felt old and ancient. It was the first time I had seen water that colour, or been in a place so wild.

To preface, I want to be honest and say I spent the first 3 days afraid of going further than ankle deep in the water. I was petrified of being eaten by a crocodile. (P.S. I’m still alive, so that didn’t happen).

This is also the place I fell in love with the ocean. I had always loved the beach, and being out on the water, but before I came to the Andamans, I had never experienced the ocean as a Three-Dimensional space (Random awesome physics video explaining dimensions). I will never forget the snorkel trip we did to Inglis Island, small and uninhabited it felt like the lost world.

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The beach we snorkeled onto

We snorkeled from the boat to the shore through the coral, although bleached, was magical. There were so many fish and Dia, our guide, pointed out the giant clams and garden eels. On the hike across the island I was amazed by the trees. They were tall, maybe 300 feet up in the air with enormous buttresses nearly 2 stories high. They were those strange species of plants from my childhood imagination. We sat on the beach on the opposite side, looking out to the sea. The stretch of sand to our left seemed unrealistically exotic, like a green screen image in a movie about islands. A school of bumphead parrot fish swam by with their bumps sticking out of the water (silly me was convinced it was a school of sharks like a weirdo). I later saw these same fish on a dive, with their odd teeth and funny bumps on their heads, something I could never have dreamed of.

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Through the woods, into the wild

 

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The other side

Back then I wasn’t that aware of coral bleaching, or the effect my sunscreen may have had on the reef. It taught me so much though, about ways to respect nature, things I hadn’t learned in my years of camping in high school. I wish I had made all the changes I am making now, back then, over six years ago. I wish the plastic bottle I had seen half an hour into our boat ride over the open ocean had bothered me more back then, the way it would have had I seen it today.

I’m glad though, that my life has turned out to be such an adventure. On to the next one.

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Recommendations:

Stay : We stayed at both for a little bit

Budget: Barefoot Scuba – Nice tents, good people, yum breakfast and a lovely beach

Splurge: Barefoot at Havelock – lovely rooms, yum food and bonus! a bar.

Eat: We kind of ate all our meals at the Full Moon Cafe at Dive India, we didn’t like the accommodation too much but spent most of the day lazing around over here and occasionally heading to the docks for a pizza

Do: Dive Dive Dive! Did a discover scuba dive with Dive India and they were wonderful. (I was still scared but this was such a super intro) Next time though I may want to do a couple of days in Chidyatapu diving with Lacadives and checking out the amazing conservation work Reefwatch is doing down there

beauty, lifestyle, Sustainable Swaps

My Low Waste Bath Time Routine


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Who doesn’t love a good bath? I know I do, and with the monsoon here in full force, having a hot shower now tops my list of fun activities. (Cold showers are better for the environment though) I used to have a shower cluttered with plastic bottles full of product, and used to be known to indulge in a nice soak in a bathtub. Now – I make sure to turn the shower off while I soap up.

I’m not 100% there yet, but I’ve made changes that have made bath time lower impact, funny though, that many of these changes didn’t happen out of a need to go zero waste, but because what was already on my shelf wasn’t working for me.

A couple of years ago, I started to get hives on my back and stomach, any minor irritant, as silly as a slightly scratchy label would set it off. Around the same time, I found that my hair was thinning and my scalp had become itchy. I saw a dermatologist and she told me it was stress and gave me a mild antihistamine. I took this for months, and it barely helped.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I must have run out of shampoo and resorted to using something from my stash of freebies (yes, totally guilty of having been a former master thief of free toiletries) and everything felt better. Two washes in and my hair was still dry, but wasn’t falling off at a horrifying rate. This was totally working for me. I walked into Forest Essentials and month after month bought their shampoos and soaps. Hair and skin still dry, but the hives and hairfall were under control, without the antihistamine or calamine lotion.

Now their stuff isn’t exactly cheap, plus, it isn’t plastic free. So last year when I decided to change up my life, I started looking for alternatives. Something more affordable and preferably not in plastic. Here is what I’ve ended up with:

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My entire bath time routine

I use a shampoo by Omved it’s about the same price as forest essentials, but I prefer it for 2 reasons. One, my hair is super soft now and my scalp doesn’t feel dry at all. Plus, no excessive hair fall. It comes in an Aluminium bottle, which is 100% recyclable. After a whole lot of looking, I found these lovely soaps from Auroville (a place I need to visit) that come wrapped in fabric and wax paper. The Shea butter ones are super moisturizing and make my skin feel awesome. I don’t even use a separate face wash any more.

Last week I posted about how much microbeads suck. When my last natural face scrub ran out, I decided not to buy a new one. A couple of months ago, I had bought a Loofah  (fun fact: it’s actually a gourd – from the same family as the Zuchini) which I use to scrub everything from my face to my tippy toes.

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The BEST exfoliator ever

Finally, I finish off with a little bit of body oil. I still have a bottle from Forest Essentials, it’s practically a year old and i’ve barely made a dent in it.

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My shelf of shame – AKA ghosts of products past

Earlier, I probably would have used a shampoo, a conditioner, face wash, body wash, face scrub, body scrub and a moisturiser. That’s 7 products which would have come in plastic containers I’ve replaced with just 4 which are also Sulfate and Petrochemical free, and I’ve never felt better.  

 

lifestyle

Living an Intentional Life – A beginners Guide


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We live in a world of modern conveniences. From Coffee-To-Go to plastic bags for everything. And in our fast paced lifestyles with jam packed schedules we lean on these conveniences not realising the kind of impact they have on our planet. Giving these up isn’t exactly easy and often means thinking beyond the now and carrying around a few more things than usual

The most important lesson I’ve learned lately – is the idea of living an Intentional Life. For someone as forgetful as me (Super long to-do lists basically get me through life), it hasn’t been easy.  

Here are a couple of the easiest changes I’ve made:

  • Plastic Bags
    • Plastic Bags are the WORST! I am ashamed that  I have used them my entire life without realising the impact. These bags can take up to 1000 years to degrade. This ugly convenience ends up in landfills and often in our waterways  (Inset photo of stream full of plastic Bags) – Instead I keep a carry bag in your purse. I have this super cute one from Ikea that conveniently folds into a little pouch. I use this for everything- from grocery shopping to carrying home leftovers.

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      My super companion
    • I used to live on bottled water, mostly because I really didn’t trust the water being handed to me. Till I went to the beach one day and found it covered in empty bottles and caps scattered in the sand. Over the monsoon the sea had washed these back up on the shore. In 2016 alone Rs. 3,000 Crores worth of bottled water was sold in India. That’s 13,636,363,636 – 13 billion bottles. I still don’t trust the water anywhere I go – so I carry my own refillable bottle now

 

lifestyle

The beginning


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Back in 2014, I saw a post about the “Zero Waste Movement”. A girl had managed to fit all of her trash in a Jar. Two whole years of trash!

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It sounded like something I would want to do, but – I didn’t do much about it or change my life in any way. Zero waste seemed like such a far away concept – something I couldn’t quite achieve.

Some time last year something registered and I decided to make a change.

What made me change?

Okay, so, Imagine a beach, the high tide line is basically trash. Rewind 4 or 5 years. Imagine a beach, only 4 hours from Mumbai with clear blue water and white sand. Yup, you would be pissed too. Over the years the garbage problem got worse. The tree line joined the high tide line, and the village’s dumping ground joined the party.

So, as you can see, my reasons were completely selfish. Well, at first at least.

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The trash bugged, seriously bugged me. This pretty beach wasn’t exactly “pristine” anymore, had been ruined. So after a bunch of whining, I decided to clean it up. With a rake and a garbage bag, I started cleaning up this mess. I was pissed, people had thrown trash just about everywhere and it was impossible to get to all of it. This went on for a while. Maybe for a year I would clean up the patch right besides the beach. We thought about adding trash cans, about asking the village to create a dumping ground (somewhere else), and went as far as scowling at the rest of the villagers throwing their trash at the edge of the village (right outside our family home). Till one day I walked into a bush and found something which looked all too familiar: a wrapper that once contained burger from McDonalds, empty paper cup with plastic cap and straw in tow.

Oh crap, that was probably mine. Nope, it was definitely mine. I picked it up and added it to one of my piles. Covered in dust and sweat I stood there staring at my neat piles wondering what I was going to do with all this. All the old water bottles, empty quarters of cheap liquor, old chappals, bags in which there once was oil or milk and of course – remnants of my lunch at Mcdonalds.

That’s when it dawned on me. It wasn’t just about cleaning up. For so long things had been about sweeping the problem under the rug. It had never occured to me that cleaning up wasn’t the solution. The solution is to create less trash and that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do.

Since then I’ve learned A LOT more about the problem with trash and my motivations have changed, but more on that later.