Author – Sahana V Rajan
The thing that sustains the inertia in us is also a source of change. Livelihood – our demanding jobs and their derivative priorities that are often posited as acceptable justifications for apathy towards the surrounding nature. We have no time to care for ourselves and our society, so evidently, we do not care about our environment. However, a 40-year old a cab driver at Kolkata has strived to lead an eco-friendly way of life quite early in his life.
Dhananjay Chakraborty, a nature-lover has turned the space of his livelihood into a reflection of his life by transforming his taxi cab into a green-ride vaahan! Starting from the drops of taking care of plants, Dhananjay’s life has turned into a forest of green methods by the time he reached mid-life. He metamorphized his cab into a ‘Subuj Rath’ (green chariot), an ideal vehicle to highlight the needs of our nature – to plant trees, using plants as air purifier within the cab and distribution of leaflets with environmental messages. In this world of mass-produced beliefs, Dhananjay has managed to pick up a lifestyle that has synced with his experience of nature the most and actualized it in his life.
The Embryonic Idea to the Green Baby
Dhananjay rides his cab between Karunamoyee and Tollygunge in Kolkata. The idea of ‘Subuj Rath’ was born in 2012 when his wife Sharita placed a money-plant (devil’s ivy) on the taxi-top. Watching it grow into a beautiful plant, inspired Dhananjay to start a green garden on the car’s rooftop.
Dhananjay Chakraborty’s Subuj Rath was initiated onto the roads of Kolkata on 8 May 2015 and it took over 5 months for completion. Dhananjay spent Rs 22,000 for installing a rooftop garden that contains a bed of stone chips, soil and sand that supports lush Bermuda grass. The total amount of money spent on turning his Ambassador car into a green chariot was Rs 55,000.
The car’s ceiling is made from artificial glass, adding to the organic index of the vehicle. Weighing about 65kgs, it adds to the amount of fuel used during travel. His love for nature travels in his cab- tangibly measuring 65kgs and when asked if the extra cost incurred does not worry him, he simply says, ‘I do not mind it’. There are also eight potted plants in the trunk. A “yes” to everyone who asserts that a change to green life would be costly and a “no” to those who make this a reason for not living a green life!
Kusalakarma – The Wholesome Awareness
Following a holistic method of spreading awareness on leading a healthy life, the car seats are shaded yellow with painted appeals to passengers to stop smoking and alcohol consumption. One message reads: “Thaake jodi Cancer er bhoy, Dhumrapaan aar noy!” (If cancer frightens you, then drop the tobacco now!). Non-violence, the seed of green life branches off into illustrations in the cab- the image of Ganges and pigeon alongside kukri (Nepali knife) of short poems.
When Bonani Kakkar, an environmental activist was informed about Dhananjay and his green chariot, she remarked, “He seems to be a crazy person but maybe our society needs more crazy people like him.” Holding a tribute to those misfits and geniuses who transform our lives, Dhananjay Chakraborty stands as a torch-bearer of green life to ‘The Common Man’.
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