Monday, November 12, 2012

Mountain people united

Mussourie. A place drenched in history, culture, natural beauty and stories young and old, that can enthrall even the most blaśe.

This is the buzzing, yet quiet hill station that presents writers, thinkers, mountaineers, artists, conservationists and everyone else who has something to do with the mountains, a platform to meet. To converse. To share. And to experience.

All this through the Mussourie Writers Mountain Festival ( This year, which happened to be its fifth mile stone was packed with action! From short films to a Himalayan food festival, from mountain poetry recitation by Gulzar sahib himself to presentations on exciting (and life threatening) ascents to towering peaks, from photography exhibitions to musical performances by Rekha Bhardwaj and the Tetseo Sisters, from a presentation on petroglyphs to travel writing.

Even more serious subjects claimed their place. There were speakers on 'ecotourism and environmental issues in Spiti', 'politics of climbing in the Himalaya', 'wildlife in the Eastern Himalaya' and 'people, and wetlands and biodiversity in the Himalayan high altitudes (the last two from WWF-India).
Green Hiker poster on a notice board at Woodstock School
© Indrani Bordolai

I attended the festival in the capacity of a participant and a speaker on the Green Hiker Campaign. So pleasantly surprised I was when while sauntering down the corridors of Woodstock School (where the fest took place, partly), I came face to face with Green Hiker posters in classrooms and common notice boards! All thanks to Woodstock’s HANIFL Centre for Outdoor Education, a new-found friend of the campaign and the second venue for the festival. Moreover, I started interacting with fellow participants, only to find out that they already knew about the campaign and regularly followed it! Aaah! The comfort of like-minded company!
Speaking on Green Hiker © Rajarshi Chakraborty

Being the second last speaker at the festival, the message of Green Hiker was left behind loud and ringing. I felt I was talking to an audience of responsible travellers which was eager to learn more about the initiatives and how they could get involved. Very heartening I must say!

Hopefully, the campaign will have new stories (we pray for success) to tell at the festival next year. Stories that will mingle with others that the wind carries around those green hills. Those green hills where Woodstock School happily stands.

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