Yasin Mistry Chawl number 4 in the narrow, congested lanes of Ghatkopar (West), seemed an unlikely venue for a discussion on climate change, global warming and the upcoming Copenhagen summit.
The chawl’s newfound interest in the subject has been prompted by one of its residents, Brikesh Singh, who scaled the roof of the British Parliament on Monday with other Greenpeace activists.
The entire chawl has been trooping in and out of room number 6, where Brikesh’s family lives. All television sets are tuned to news channels in the hope of seeing ‘apna Brikesh in London on satyagraha.’
His father, Harihar Singh, a retired BEST employee, has been proudly telling people of his son’s noble mission.
“My son is up there fighting for the future of the world. How many parents can say that about their children. I have never
been abroad but look where my child has reached,” said the 54-year-old in Hindi.
“My son has been arrested before, in Kolkata, while protesting a power plant. He was in jail for five days. He can handle the UK trouble too,” said his confident mother, Malti.
His neighbours, beaming just as much, concur. “All these floods you see, all because of climate change. One year the city floods and the next year there is no rain,” said a neighbour, who boasted of being among the few in the chawl to have been abroad, to Kenya.
Brikesh, a college dropout, did a course in computer software, took up the job of a fund-raiser at Greenpeace knowing little about NGO’s agenda. But as he learned about climate change, he grew passionate. He even inspired his younger brother, Sachin, to join Greenpeace. “His dedication was infectious. It was a task convincing our parents about our career choice,” said the Sachin, 26, who heads Greenpeace’s western region.
Brikesh now works out of Bangalore but his commitment to cause of environment is discussed passionately by the chawl residents. As residents ponder over the UK government’s reaction, the chawl’s children are busy eulogizing their hero. “He (Brikesh) plays with us whenever he visits. He is very brave. He is fighting for climate change just like Al Gore,” said eight-year-old Rudra Banushali.