How is it that most thinking individuals knowing about a phenomenon which is already effecting all of us as one consistently in the recent past, don’t really give a shit? This is a post which will hopefully open some eyes and bring about some change in mindset…
Was on duty sometime back at the store when a couple of youngsters walked in on a cloudy evening (there were floods in 080 the previous night – not people and their houses floating away, uber offering boats floods, just a whole bunch of streets underwater.
Ask the kids if they need any assistance, they said they were fine and started browsing…
A little while later the girl picks up a copy of Jared Diamond’s awesome Guns Germs and Steel and says – this guy is a professor of mine. My OCD-booklover senses go crazy and I ask the girl where she studies. She says she is studying neuro-biology at UCLA.
Cool, can I send you a couple of his books to get signed? Yes, of course but my next class with him is next year – no problem, set a calendar reminder and take the girls email id. Like all vampires more blood is required, just having a book that you love is not enough – you want more, hence the obsession for signed copies.
The guy asks if I know where Stanley Carvalo (author of Bangalore Blue) hangs out. Tell him that the dude hangs in Abu Dhabi, could connect him to the author by email though. The guy has a surprised look – a wish has been fulfilled so easily. Tell him that all good shit needs to be shared, he smiles and says there is a launch of Amitav Ghosh’s – The great Derangement being organized by the Ecology Students Society at at the IISC, Bangalore, would I like to check it out?
HFS, in case you have not heard about the dude (Ghosh – you may want to pick up a copy of The Calcutta Chromosome which is fan-fucking-tastic. Ask the dude if I could share the invite? Is the talk open to the unwashed masses? They guys smiles and says, yes he was trying to promote the event, more the merrier…
Fast forward to the evening of the launch, was advised by some other customers to get there an hour early to get a seat as the hall was not all that big (can you imagine that a rush for a book discussion – now that is my kind of mob, not a zombie apocalypse’esque rush to capture cute digital critters). Could not make it an hour early, walked in 15 minutes late – head straight to the front of the filled hall and find a seat in the third row to an introduction to the man and a couple of scientists that were a part of the panel discussion.
Wait, this is supposed to be a book reading what the hell are scientists doing on the panel? The book is a call to arms, it talks about how deranged we are right now, it is a call to writers, artists, politicians, economists, industrialists, scientists, individuals and finally religious leaders to get the hell out of the casual indifference we are living with – mother earth needs our attention. It shows how complex the climate change scenario is and how it will impact people and nations in the future (densely populated coastal cities are going to go down, underwater – Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, New York and a whole bunch of island nations). In the end Ghosh gives a deconstruction of the Paris agreement and the Pope’s Laudato Si and call for collective action.
In the Q&A a few interesting questions were thrown out – the lack of local language writing on the subject, how kids books on the subject are actually making a difference and some sort of a jibe on a religious leader causing an environmental catastrophe by having a huge meeting in an ecologically sensitive area.
The discussion covered the usual suspects carbon based energy, aerosols, geo-political power struggles, the frustrations of the scientists in educating government and individuals as to what can be done, but the sad truth at the end of the discussion seemed like everybody is aware about it, but no one gives a flying fuck about it.
The MC anounces that there would be a signing and immediately was a huge ass cue forming, met Zac O’Yeah (noir) author of the sweet Once Upon A Time In Scandinavistan, Mr. Majestic and Hari hero for hire. Was speaking to him and I bumped into a girl who I had met some time back who works for the NGO that was organizing the gig. Saw an author who seems to be avoiding me (maybe I have been too much of an author groupie for her comfort – whatever). Met some customers of the store and one was contemplating getting a book, I informed him that I had brought five copies of the book for signing and if he wanted one – yeay guerrilla sales at its best, sold the first copy. Met a customer who thanked me for sharing the invite for the event. Asked Z if he wanted a smoke as the line was too long…
On the way back bumped into the really sweet Roopa Pai (kids book author), she thanked me for sharing the invite saying she would not heard of the event otherwise. Spoke to her for a bit. Looming like a dark cloud in a clear sky that catches your immediate attention was Nandan Nilekani (co-founder of Infosys – one of the biggest IT companies in India and lead of the bio-metric id program in India). Roopa speaks to the dude while I was talking to a friend of hers about a book outreach program, the whole time I was thinking – Fuck Nandan Nilekani within reach – need to have my elevator pitch ready…
Roopa heads back and I think its now or never, walk up to the man who was leaving and with my best game voice call out his name – Nandan! He stops, turns around and smiles. Give him a card, introduce Goobe’s and say – Hey Nandan, we have been trying to get in touch with a decision maker at Infosys to set up a store on your campus for quite some time now with no success, could you perhaps hook us up? He says it has been quite some time he was actively participating with Infosys, I smile and say all I’m asking for is for you to put our card in the right set of hands. He smiles and says he is not making a commitment but would try and do something… Yeay! (Shit – that was really surreal)
Went back to harassing Roopa to co-write a kids SF book about a little girl who has a fetish for kinetic energy, she asks me if there is any hard science fact to the girls energy prototype – yes there is! She says she is really busy – I say I will send a draft by email, she repeats that she is busy – I say, check out the email and reply when you are ready – no pressure, smile. She relents.
Que was thinning, went to the end of it and met another customer (environmentalist) who had sent me an article earlier talking about how having an electric vehicle is not really sustainable – the vehicle comes from China as a broken down kit and the energy that we consume in the city comes from coal fired plants – the pollution is not local, it is a distant abstract. Ask the dude what he thought of the discussion, he said he did not actually learn anything new from the whole gig. Well, hopefully you read the book and may learn something… The guy says that that was a good idea and looked like he was considering it, would you like a copy ? Open my magic bag and dangle a copy, guy buys it – yeay guerrilla sale number two.
Finally reach Ghosh, smile give him the first copy say it is for me and the other two are for our store. Tell him that I met him at the launch of his last book The flood of fire, the dude smiles and says – ah yes you do look familiar, such a sweet man, so calm, kind and giving despite the groupie fest that he was going through that evening. Remind him that he promised to come to our store on his next visit to Bangalore, he smiles and says ah.. while pointing to another guy…he is responsible for the itinerary (smiling-douchebag-itinerary-blocker dude continues smiling – there is no way that he would make it happen) Nevertheless, give Ghosh a card and hope he will come to our store for the excellent SF collection if not anything else (fingers crossed).
Oh yeah almost forgot, one of the scientist dudes dropped a reference to the new crappy Rajinikanth movie – Kabali and said that is how we have to get peoples attention, it has to go viral… (read the book, share the book and talk about the book, post shit about it online… blah, blah, blah).
Here is our two bits, barring some magical policy level thought change (more R&D money for renewables – sea wave based kinetic generation plants, less carbon based energy plants, more decentralization of power generation – off grid solar generation-a-la-Germany)…
- Individuals need to consume less. (less meat; less methane in the air, less water consumption by the critters, less conspicuous consumption)
- Individuals need to buy local (No MNC packaged bullshit – go to your local baker or hot chips dude – more value for money, fresher and no un-recyclable packaging.
- Decentralized waste disposal – compost at home.
- Decentralized micro-power generation – have a roof? Cover it with solar panels and sell to the grid instead of just consuming.
- Walk/cycle/public transport commute to work instead of using a vehicle.
- If a vehicle is required – PLEASE trash the dinosaur ride-prehistoric internal-combustion-piece-of-shit-vehicle and go electric.
- Ride share…
- Do not do take outs, dine in – no packaging required.
- Magically get Chetan Baghat to write a book on climate change…
I am sure there may be many more sustainable things one could do as an individual, but then what difference can an individual make? Well, imagine a billion people pissing against the wind (there is bound to be a substantial splash back), given the amount of resistance created the wind will turn – a little at least, or perhaps pick up a copy of The Great Derangement, be a little more aware and do something, anything dammit – be the change you want to see, given the endgame alternative, you must give a shit.
That’s it Earthlings – a message from a neurotic librarian.