I always thought that I will practice before I preach. This has served me well in my first job as a teacher of undergraduate engineering students. I left teaching to practice 'environmental engineering' before I went back to teaching and research.
Then I got into green buildings. It hasn't been easy to practice before I preach in my green building jobs. I learned that 'not to build' is the greenest option and since then my 'real estate' ideas haven't seen reality. On a daily basis, I have been consciously switching off unnecessary electrical appliances, minimizing paper usage, buying most efficient gadgets when necessary and using them till they break down or become unserviceable.
The most visible impact was however the daily commute. I love(d) my Bullet rides daily to college, (man amongst the kids riding Pulsars, CBZs…) and never thought I will buy a car or use public transportation. 'Freedom' is a priority for me. Surprisingly, in my first green job, I was advised to buy a car to be safer on Hyderabad roads and breathe better. I wondered if that isn't the very root of the 'unsafe' and 'unbreathable' roads. In stead I tried walking to office whenever I can and found that great.
The world 'occurs' differently at a human pace (I mean walking) and go reconnected to nature as I walked the boulders of HITEC City spotting birds and bees along with some curious flora. My next office was at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi and I had great colleagues who used to cycle to work and tried cycling to my great pleasure. Not everybody would want to do it for 'safety' and 'health' reasons. I do see that there are safety issues. I myself was hit by a young lady in car at a round-about but she was gentle enough to pay the actual cost of repairing my bicycle. I was nevertheless not scared to hit the road back on my bicycle. Safety remains a personal priority in spite of the means of conveyance. It’s only about putting ourselves or others to risk. There are many cyclists in Delhi who commute to work daily in spite of the weather. I commuted in winter and spring and found my health at its best. If my office had shower rooms, I would have done it round the year.
Coming to Health, I was shocked when a colleague told me the facts about Indoor Air Quality measurements in our office. I was told Delhi air is far far better than a few years ago, thanks to CNG and CSE. And now, I work for CSE but live 12 km away from office. I started to commute on my Bullet but found the other road users irritating and affecting my thoughts once I reach work or home. In the interest of loved ones and inspired by the CSE T-Shirt, 'Bus Karo', I reluctantly tried DTC low floor A/C Buses. For me there was every reason to roll these monster buses back. They hinder traffic, are stopped/slowed without notice and overcrowded with people. But now, there seems to be no looking back for me. This is my 10th day commute in a bus and the daily travel-as-you-like pass priced at Rs.50 is really a boon. The bus takes an hour or more as opposed to the 30 minute commute on my Bullet, but I travel A/C and arrive in shape, both at work and home. It costs me the same as my Bullet's petrol expense (at current petrol prices) But I get to work on my laptop (this is typed in a route 544 with an orange-yellow damsel fly perched on the screen of my Macbook Pro.) I also read books, listen to lectures and even take a nap on a day when my baby daughter keeps me awake in the night. And of course Bus is the most eco-friendly option I have to commute to work as I can't afford a place at walking distance to office. With flexi-timings at work, I take the bus a little before peak hours and manage to have a pleasant commute everyday.
Need I say that Bus is the most sensible commute option for me in Delhi? If DTC were to offer Wi-Fi in A/C buses and allow only sitting passengers, (even at a higher price), I guess many more would jump on to the 'bus-band'/band-wagon. Until we get our urban planning right, where we would walk for our daily chores, I am sticking to the Bus. Bus, Bus-Karo