Just as you enter the iron gates of 'Abhang Dwar' (invincible gate), a horse-cart welcomes you. Look around and there are vintage wooden ghunghroo bells, bamboo chairs, old-world charm wooden benches. And between all this, stands a proud Toyota Corolla Altis coated all over by cow dung, competing with a powerful air-conditioner inside.
World Environment Day went past on Wednesday and could come again for others to do something green, but for the khadi-clad Sejal Shah all days and nights are spent virtually in the lap of nature. Including her cow dung plastered car.
"Albeit it can't be the same as an AC, but the layers of cow dung all over prove to be an effective coolant," explains Ms Shah about her unique car.
Again, for her, this idea is only a logical continuum of her entire home artistically plastered by cow dung as found in the villages. Her car was painted by two village women and it gives an out-of-the-world look. Sitting inside instantly gives that cooling effect in a scorching summer.
But 45-year-old Shah needs the car only for long distances, otherwise she struts around everywhere around on her classic horse-cart.
"Caring for the environment and employing various ways to conserve and protect it for the future generations is not really a modern approach. It is the very way our ancestors have lived," Ms Shah says.
She moved to Ahmedabad seven years ago from Mumbai along with her diamond merchant husband after he retired to live in the peace of her eco-friendly home. Her green initiatives are not to demonstrate to the world that she cares. She does it since it comes naturally to her.
This is how she explains what she is up to: "The collective efforts put together by every single person who believes in sustainable development of our resources can only make the world a better place for the future, before the damage gets permanently irreversible."
She goes on: "Small contributions from every individual like avoiding plastics, or providing waste water to the ground instead of letting it go in the sewage and use of chemicals as minimum as possible, will contribute to the large cause of saving the Earth which has provided resources for everybody's need which is being wasted for human greed."
She practices what she preaches in every sense. Right from her eco-friendly clothes to bronze and copper vessels she uses. The earthen 'chulha' in the kitchen at the backyard is also in an open space like typical Indian rural kitchens.
"India needs a cultural shift and mindset which takes us back to a value system given to us by our forefathers to look upon nature as a source to nurture, not an object to consume or conquest," Shah declares.
"Just like joint families where everyone chips in equally for everything, the Indian culture believed in sharing a symbiotic relationship with the nature," Shah says.
As Ahmedabad burns at 45-plus degrees Celsius of dry heat, Ms Shah looks cool. Not only her khadi clothes, everything she does is green, like using natural alternatives of soap, shampoo and talcum powder. She suggests shankh-pushpi powder or multani mitti and neem for skin care as well as for brushing teeth.
"If used on a daily basis, all these natural elements with Ayurvedic properties, instead of products with chemicals, surely give much, much better results. And also for longevity," she says.
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