Things were slowly, tentatively opening up in November 2020 after the first wave of COVID which changed the meaning of word “normal” for most of the world. We at RRBCEA wanted to visit the deserted premises of Center to make sure things were okay. Coming out of homes to go to a public place still felt strange and risky after few months of complete isolation in our respective homes.
Although the world had turned upside down, Empress Botanical Garden was thriving with life. The birds, squirrels and all other life had the garden almost ‘free of humans’ for past few months and from the look of it they were quite happy about it! Looking at the garden teeming with life, squirrels going around fearlessly, hearing many more melodious sounds of birds (because there was no traffic noise to mask their calls!), even the simple sound of leaves rustling in breeze was inspiring. If the nature could bounce back to its full glory in just few months of human absence, humans can also come out of the fear of disease, isolation, death– after all we are all part of nature! Imbibing that spirit of resilience from the natural surroundings of Empress Botanical Garden we started the journey of “getting back to normal”.
Next few months were uncertain with people still being cautious, waves of COVID passing through the city, programs being arranged and cancelled. But our small team kept hoping for the best. Our greatest hope and advantage was that almost everyone had realized during the pandemic the need to slow down the pace of life and connect back with nature.
The nature walks at Rupa Rahul Bajaj Center for Environment and Art (RRBCEA) were already popular with the participants before pandemic. Now they became a necessity- a soothing activity which helped people alleviate anxiety, isolation and enjoy the healing effects of nature.
Through last year our team has managed to put together many programs for school children as well as adults to connect them with nature and art. We also developed a butterfly patch, a small exhibit on the theme “plants”, hosted some wonderful art performances in our amphitheater. The programs have been a success in terms participation, engagement of audience, one-on-one interactions and knowledge gained through fun activities. It has been an enriching experience even for RRBCEA team to come out of shadows of COVID and getting a good community response for our programs.
As we spread our wings in the coming year we hope to reach out and involve in our programs many more students, working professionals, researchers, nature facilitators, nature enthusiasts, budding and established artists from all over the country and abroad. Wish you all a very happy and heathy new year!!