The word ‘excursion’ is, more often than not, looked at as an ‘exertion’ by most people. Learning is the last thing on the minds of a group of half-sleepy people on a Sunday morning. And no matter how much excitement your voice offers them, the best you can get curses muttered under breath. So the creation of magic is best left to Nature when taking a group of first-timers on a trail. My experience as a guide has taught me that the beauty of Nature is great enough to turn around the biggest non-enthusiast. For those lost in the jungle of concrete, one breath of pristine air is enough to remind them of their roots. Quite literally.
So, this group from a corporate firm was my ‘target’ for the day. Here they were, stuffed in the bus for a CSR Sunday with the grumpiest of faces, and here I was trying my best to tell them what wonders awaited them at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai. This odd group of 9 young professionals belonged to an architectural firm who were sent to the jungles to learn how nature works and so that they could imbibe natural designs into their concrete creations. That is the least they owed to society…according to their boss.
But as I had foreseen, the frowns began to soften as the bus entered the gates and by the time we got off the vehicle, I could even detect some faint smiles. A few yards into the trail and I had their complete attention. I explained to them, at length, the inspiring concept of Bio-mimickry. I started out with pointing to them the variety of foliage that the rains had brought forth, painting the forest with a palette full of different green shades. There were new leaves and creepers all over, fungus and mushrooms sprouting on all that was decaying, lichen patches on rocks & barks, barks covered with shimmering moss, stooping ferns all along the slopes, trickling water, animated streams, & all very gripping.
All these seemed to cash on the pouring rains and make most of the season. To related it all from Bio-mimicry’s perspective: This seasonal expression, demonstrates nature as an opportunistic. A typical set-up where challenge is flipped into an opportunity & a seasoned occasion (in this case- rain) is fully resourced as an opportunity.
In a tropical deciduous forest, the vegetation is in constant endeavor towards conserving water, their leaves shed when the season is hot and dry. The availability of sunlight & water allows all species in the jungle floor to grow densely. At a time when they can harvest water, their broad and leathery, leaves have drip tips, the monsoon sprouts retain water and provide nutrients post their life-span and infinite microbes speeds up the degradation process which requires water & anaerobic conditions to disintegrate. The tree trunks are huge, their roots grow deep and wide to obtain as much water and
nutrients as possible. The trees tend to be shorter while their canopies are smaller. All these mechanisms together contribute in forwarding the larger purpose of re-generation.
I told them that, like this forest’s ecosystem, they could also take on architectural challenges and bring about structures that would benefit the whole community. The shine in their eyes was evidence of the idea bulbs lighting up inside their heads. As they excitedly started discussing Bio-mimicry design ideas amongst themselves, I bade a quiet goodbye, and faded into the green background waiting to convert the next bunch of non – enthusiasts.