Taking time off from work, a young advertising professional from Mumbai is on a mission to plant trees in all 35 Indian states and Union territories
He looks the part -- an advertising professional -- dressed in baggy beige shorts with multiple pockets, a loose green T-shirt, with a smartphone in his right hand and a cool recycle tattoo plastered on the other. But Mumbaikar Hari Chakyar is not your average Ad-man.
Chakyar on August 27, outside Ahmedabad station, where he began the
On most weekends, the 25 year-old sits at a coffee shop, gathering his 'creative thoughts'. On other weekends, he gathers his resources -- a pickaxe and some saplings -- and sets out to follow his "whimsical plan to paint India green".
Chakyar armed with a pickaxe, and neem and mango saplings travels
On the night of August 26, Chakyar and his friend Anthony Karbhari, his 'one-man production army' (lights, camera, editing et al) hopped on to the Jodhpur Express. Their destination was Ahmedabad. "That was the beginning of my dream, Project 35 Trees," he says.
After meeting friends, he finds a spot to plant the saplings
The idea of planting trees isn't a novel one, but the approach is. Chakyar has been a green soldier for years. "I grew up in Ambarnath, surrounded by nature and woods, and I saw trees disappear over the years. So, the idea of planting trees came naturally to me. I started the Nature Baba campaign in 2009, through which I planted 180 trees in Ambarnath, of which 120 trees continue to thrive; some are taller than me," he says like a proud daddy.
After taking a break, Chakyar conceptualised Project 35 Trees to return with a bang. "The idea is simple -- plant a tree (and while we are at it, maybe a couple more) across all states and Union territories in India (the source of '35' of Project 35). The plan this time is to make more noise, promote the idea on social media and through word of mouth, and get more enthusiasts on board because more hands equals more trees," he says.
He pitched the idea to some old buddies from the Wilson College Nature Club, where Chakyar received much of his inspiration, and "no one called it foolish". Digging deep into his contact lists, he set about categorising his friends by location, and got in touch with them through social media.
"It's easy to pick one town in a state, and plant a tree at a random location, but we don't want to do that. We are looking to meet families; to stay, eat and interact with them and plant a tree in their home to ensure the trees are taken care of," Chakyar stresses. All the families need to do is click a picture of the tree on a mobile phone once every year, and send it across to Chakyar.
The first trip to Gujarat was self-sponsored. His friends have pledged to pitch in but for longer and more expensive trips to the North Eastern states, Chakyar will need a little bit of help, in cash or kind. And as far the end of Project 35 Trees goes, Chakyar promises it to be "one big tree plantation party in amchi Mumbai."
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