Geetanjali Minhas | January 24, 2015
Nayana Kathpalia has been fighting to save Mumbai’s open spaces. As the founder trustee of NAGAR, she has been working on solid waste management, improvement in air quality, preserving beaches, mangroves, heritage places, efficient road space management and water conservation. She is also a trustee of the OVAL Trust that has been instrumental in restoring and maintaining Mumbai’s iconic Oval Maidan and the historic Cross Maidan Garden. In 2010 she was targeted for her relentless protests against Slum Rehabilitation Authority scheme for open spaces and advocating zoning of hawkers.
The book I am reading now: ‘Being Mortal’ by Dr Atul Gawande…. a book about medicine and what matters in the end. The author argues that acceptance of mortality must lie at the centre of the way we treat the dying.
My favourite pastime: Reading and listening to Hindustani classical music.
Saving open spaces in Mumbai has taught me: ... about what drives Mumbai and its greed and venality regarding land issues.
The biggest influence in my life: The people I worked with and the experience I got on heritage and urban issues at INTACH in Delhi where I volunteered from 1985 to 1993.
My greatest challenge: Keeping to dietary restrictions prescribed by my doctor.
My favourite holiday destination: Bhutan.
My comfort food: Daal chawal and hot buttered toast with tea.
At present I am busy with: Issues related to the four trusts I am engaged with – The OVAL Trust, Horniman Circle Garden Trust, NAGAR and UDRI.
One thing I wish I could change: The deep-rooted patriarchy.
I want to be remembered as: Frankly, I don’t... but maybe as someone who tried hard to bring sense to the civic chaos in my city, Mumbai – one that has gone adrift from the one I remember growing up in – Bombay.
My favourite quote: From the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:
You are what your deep, driving desire is
As your desire is, so is your will
As your will is, so is your deed
As your deed is, so is your destiny.
A memorable moment: When former president S Radhakrishnan gave the Bombay University contingent the first prize at the inter university youth festival held in Delhi. I was part of this contingent as a Koli dancer, wearing a traditional nine-yard sari – a cause of much amusement to the all-India audience.
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