Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Green World - Article on Isha Anand for mE magazine 24 Sept

Isha Anand is just one of the many people trying to make the world a greener place. Peacefully

Once upon a time, there was a girl. Like most people of her ilk that do not fit a precise mould, she was labelled many things.

After years of a bohemian lifestyle, she stunned everyone by opting for an interesting career. Isha Anand found her calling as a cook with Greenpeace. While the rest of the world plans to do something to save the world, she actually goes out and does it!

In 2004, Greenpeace’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, visited the tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the nearby archipelagos to document what is being lost, support the people working to protect it, and hold accountable those responsible for the destruction. The crew page of the web log has her introduction, where she mentions, “I hope I can make a difference, somehow!”

She certainly gave it her best. By January 28 that year, Isha was immersed in the hard work it takes to save the world. On the web log, she talks about working hard in sauna-like conditions in the ship’s hold on a rainy day. By the end of that voyage, the better part of which she spent cooking because the cook was ill, Isha had found her calling. She returned to Mumbai to sort out some paperwork. In June 2005, she was back on ship. This time as a cook, sailing into the Arctic with the thin ice project, to fight global warming.

Her shipmate Melanie remarks on the voyage’s web log: “This is Isha’s first time above the Arctic Circle, in sea ice, and seeing whales and seals. She is positively awestruck and describes feeling ‘numb with delight’. That kind of excitement doesn’t wane… I feel the same kind of excitement and awe that she does.” Isha underlines that she is a cook and not a chef “purely to avoid getting beaten up by other chefs who are trained professionals, egoistical and fussy… I learnt to cook watching the women in my family and my uncle. For them, it was a party in the
kitchen and the philosophy was love, a magic ingredient! Cooking is a way to share love. That’s my basis as well.”

Isha eloquently articulates her feelings when asked what it feels like to be so far north on the planet. “Being an Indian, it’s hard to explain but I will try. Home is the tropics, and the North was always the Himalayas. The roof of the world was Tibet. What a tiny picture of the world, eh? One e-mail and it is split wide open. An offer to travel to Greenland with the Arctic Sunrise, I would never see the world in the same way again. How can you?

“How can anyone who has seen life above the Arctic Circle? Heavenly it is, white clouds blanket you and blue skies peek through, promising a boundless outer world even higher… “I had heard of global warming and climate change. They sounded like a real threat, but never did I REALISE it… It’s been dawning on me…

Looking out here is like looking into our past. “I see it now. Ice is life. It gives life little by little, and no one understands it better than the people who have lived here for thousands of years… It’s a hard life but it’s also free… “We must protect our home, it is the only one we have, without
bombarding it with things we create because, honestly, we might be mighty but not mightier than Mother Nature. Here, Nature humbles me, shows me how puny we are and it’s beautiful to feel that way. It is the truth. The Arctic is a birthplace of life pure and painful. I shall always revere it and respect it…”

On January 18, 2006, Isha sailed on a project that linked three continents. Isha’s post on the ship’s log is as stirring as always, “Life is magic and dreams, reality. Everything here is beyond understanding, comprehension… what are we going to leave behind? Surely we must protect it. None of us can create anything as splendid. This is my deepest desire and I hadn’t known it ‘till I was on board the Rainbow Warrior the first time that I will dedicate my life to this planet, to explore it, understand it, love it, protect it like it were my most precious belonging… It’s hard, hard work… trying to protect the oceans and its creatures. It is a choice we all make in our hearts, and nothing else makes sense. I am so grateful, so humbled to be able in this lifetime
to do a little bit and will strive every day to do more, so that our planet can grow. And grow!”

Isha has a job of immense responsibility. Her duties as a cook involve provisioning of the ship, prior to a voyage, an immense task because “at sea, there are no food shops to visit in case I run out of butter or salt. That’s a huge responsibility. Then, managing the stores, maintaining general cleanliness of the fridges and galley and catering two warm meals a day for 15-30 pax (people).” Her favourite part?

“I have access to ingredients from all over the world… it’s divine, like a fantasy playground or experimental lab. And I love birthdays. A cake is traditional on board and I enjoy baking them.
It’s my attempt at making the ship a better place, a happier one.” Isha also participates in other
aspects of the ship’s missions. Like the ones to record the shipment of illegal timber from national parks in Kalimantan, Indonesia; recording climate change research in the Arctic. “But the most harrowing of all was the anti whaling campaign in the southern ocean. I have been
so lucky and humbled to be part of this movement... (I spent) Sleepless nights of heartache and
tears when we couldn’t save the whale we had been trying for four hours in the cold... well, you take the good with the bad. And, after a while, it’s all good. It is hard to describe what it’s like, every moment for me at sea is memorable."

Isha’s philosophy of food preparation has changed after working with Greenpeace. She uses organic ingredients wherever possible, keep things as close to raw as possible, and uses a minimum of ingredients. Check out the delicious meal she cooked up for some of us recently

Isha’s definition of Greenpeace, “An environmental organisation that works toward spreading awareness about the condition of the planet. By bearing witness, peacefully and non - violently observing what is being done to the planet and bringing what we see to the world so they can open their eyes and work toward saving what they love.”

— As told to Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal

Greenpeace is a non-profit organisation with a presence in 40 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. As a global organisation, Greenpeace focuses on the most crucial worldwide threats to our planet’s biodiversity and environment.

They campaign to:

Stop climate change
Protect ancient forests
Save the oceans
Stop whaling
Say no to genetic engineering
Stop the nuclear threat
Eliminate toxic chemicals
Encourage sustainable trade

“Greenpeace has been campaigning against environmental degradation since 1971 when a small boat of volunteers and journalists sailed into Amchitka, an area north of Alaska where the US Government was conducting underground nuclear tests.

“To maintain its independence, Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations but relies on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants.”

What you can do.....

Make a donation: Since Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations; and relies on contributions from individuals and foundation grants, your donation will make a difference.

Become an online activist: The community activists hail from 125 countries and territories. Sign up and you get a monthly e-zine and action alerts full of ways to be a one - minute activist. It’s all free.

Volunteer: From envelope- stuffing to Amazon surival training, many working in Greenpeace offices today started out as volunteers. Some countries provide action and non-violence training to those willing to become activists. Talk to your local Greenpeace office or contact the international office in Amsterdam.

Join one of the Green peace ships: Like Isha has shown, sailing aboard a Greenpeace ship
can be the experience of a lifetime. Many ask; few are chosen. To apply, send your CV to: Greenpeace Marine Services, Ottho Heldringstraat 5, 1066 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
They value maritime experience, safety training, and a wide range of skills in their professional crew.

You can help save the world, every day. Visit Greenpeace to see how you can make changes.

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