Mann Ki Baat in its truest sense. This is my story on how covid struck year became the most unforgettable year of my life and how I ended up in Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modis Mann Ki Baat. This is going to be a little long one but I hope you will enjoy it.
Just like every one 2020 was unexpected and very different from all the previous years. Covid19 struck the world and everything came to a standstill. We all were forced to stay home and for the first time in modern times, we were forced to maintain social distancing. Amid all this uncertainty the first sign of a miracle happens, my 6-year-old relationship with my girlfriend gets accepted by our families. Covid-19 had created a significant shift in everyone’s psychology and we believe that the covid scenario had a major role to play in changing people’s mindset around us.
After almost two years of struggle trying to convince our family, all of a sudden they get convinced and in 25 days we get married. We always dreamed of doing something unique at our wedding has given back to the world and also like every couple we wanted to travel to an international destination. But Everything happened so fast that we did not get an opportunity to implement anything. We even tried to arrange plant saplings for guests visiting our wedding and we couldn’t execute that either. While we were super excited about crossing a major hurdle and finally to be able to get married, this idea was still craving deep inside my mind.
Soon after the wedding and rituals, we started pondering on our travel plan but it was already very late. Flights were just opening up and the second wave of covid was on the rise. Some parts were opening up and some countries were tightening restrictions. It was a very confusing situation. While we’re so confused about what next, we use to visit the nearest Someshwara beach to spend time in the evening. It is a beautiful little beach located in coastal Karnataka and I grew up playing on that beach. While we enjoyed watching the sunset, it was deeply troubling to notice that the beach once which was pristine and clean with very little human interruption was completely covered with all kinds of polluting materials.
The beach which was once hardly known by people was flocked by travelers and locals enjoying sunset but it was so disturbing to notice that everyone choose to stay like they don’t see the amount of waste on the beach. Some even did walking every single day on the beach , carefully stepping away from broken glasses, beer bottles, chappals, napkins and baby diapers.
While it was disturbing to see this, I simply couldn’t stop myself from wondering about where to take my wife but at the same time, I really wanted to do something about this situation at the beach. After taking part in clean-up and awareness activities in different places far away from home, I simply couldn’t stay ignorant about the fact that my childhood beach is so much worse state. So out of curiosity, I ask my wife, can we do a bit of clean-up until we figure out where to head, and to my surprise, she agrees to it.
And thus we go back to the market, pick up a pair of gloves and some waste bags and we start with the picking of trash. While I had promised my wife that we will only do this as long as we decide where to go and we will quit cleaning if she gets bored or uncomfortable doing it. After two days and as we pick up trash and as the place starts to look get better our obsession starts increasing ( at least my obsession, chuckles ).
What was supposed to be a trial now became an obsession and surprisingly my wife was equally interested. We went on a stretch for more than 8 days picking up around 800 kgs of waste. It was a very satisfying experience.
While we enjoyed cleaning up the beach, the locals started finding it curious. On a fine evening, a guy called Hassan entering the beach approaches us and asks about what we are doing, and to our surprise, he joins us immediately. Rides back to the city come back with gloves and start off picking up trash. That was really a surprising yet satisfying moment realizing that there are people like us who also like to contribute back to nature.
That was not it, the next day we reach a little late to the beach and to our surprise, nearly 15 people were at the beach already and they were in full force picking up the waste. That was the moment when my heart was filled with immense joy. What started as two people’s small drive have started getting support from locals.
And we continue with clean up as usual and by this time we have managed to clear almost 70% of bigger wastes. It was a very satisfying experience but we were getting very eager to travel. By now it is already close to a month after we got married. As we continue to clean up drives, I was sharing daily updates on social media. This gets picked up by media and some newspapers share our story which in turn goes viral on social media. Some very leading bloggers and influencers get inspired by our story and they spread the word. leading to almost all newspapers writing about this story.
We start getting calls from friends and families wishing us for getting featured. And thus a small low key wedding becomes a sensation on the internet.
But wait it doesn’t stop here. We finally decide a place to travel. We push our international travel plan to 2021 and finally decide to head to Kodaikanal. But before we wrap up we wanted to do one last clean-up for the year 2020. Now that we have received so much coverage on social media we decide to try if people would respond.
So I give a call out on social media asking for people around to join for a mass clean-up. In between our work and other commitments, we finally prepare for the mass clean up with a doubt that people might not respond and show up. We anyway choose to stay optimistic. We reached out to a group in Kundapura called has Clean Kundapura Project with whom I’ve worked for almost 3 years asking them to join us in this drive.
And finally, the Sunday comes, we head to the beach along with my mum, my neighbor. I was not nervous that day until reached the beach but for our surprise, people had already arrived at the beach. We were expecting 10-15 people but we were astonished to see more than 60 people had assembled at the beach including few members from Coast Guards. I was speechless and no words could define that moment. There was so much energy and everyone was so enthusiastic. That day alone we managed to pick more than 600 – 700 kgs of waste. That day was just unbelievable.
We wrap up for that day and we next day we left for our honeymoon trip. The social media hype had already faded but our heart was filled with joy. It was an accomplishment of a different kind. When we started this cleanup, we had never even imagined so much would happen in 15 days. We even managed to clean up the beach and the news had already traveled across the nation and even in some other country media had covered it. Our whole intention was to raise awareness to people visiting the beach and clean up as much as possible.
We finally head out on a road trip, first, we reach Bangalore, and then Next one week we spend our time on one of the most amazing hill stations, princess of hills in Kodaikanal. It was equally memorable. Then we reach back to Bangalore, finish a few of the work and we reach back home.
We thought that’s it . 2020 is over. Covid19 ruined everything, half of the year was spent at home in lockdown but at least we got married at the end and we even cleaned up a beach and also became viral and of course had a great honeymoon in Kodaikanal. Had already resumed work.
On Sunday 27th December 2020 , something magical happens. We start getting calls, calls from family, friends, media, news channels and we get to know that our little effort to see my childhood favorite beach was shared by none other than honorable prime minister Narendra Modi in his favorite Mann Ki Baat. We couldn’t believe our ears that PM shared our story on Mann Ki Baat until we heard it ourselves. It was truly a dream come true. The guy who had inspired the whole nation, our tallest leader mentions our effort on national radio on Mann ki Baat. When I shared this story to my dad his eyes were filled with tears, our families were proud and we got featured in headlines of every news channel and print media. There can’t be any bigger and better wedding gift one can ever receive. Thus making 2020 the most memorable year for us.
Well, this is our little story, and this how 2020 became an unforgettable year for us. Not a good writer but I’ve tried to explain it as much as possible and shared my Mann Ki Baath with you. We finally would like to urge whoever reads this till the end to stay safe, stay healthy, and also stay responsible for our nature. Spread awareness to people around you and educate them on the growing problems of pollution and global warming. Together we can make a difference , and little by little we can change the whole world, make this a better place for us and for generations to come. Thank You.
Anudeep & Minusha