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MY STORY: I Thought I Was a Darn Good Environmentalist. Till I Met This Guy.

In the MY STORY section, we present some of the most compelling and pertinent stories and experiences shared with us by our readers. Do you have something to share? Write to us: with “MY STORY” in the subject line.

We always like meeting two kinds of people in life. Those who inspire us, and those who get inspired by us. Recently, Abhinav Bajpai got a chance to meet one from the first category – a guy who inspired him to work harder towards the cause that he has taken up. This is his story. 

I work for an NGO and my work usually involves going out on the streets of Bangalore to raise awareness among people about the environment. So one day, while I was working in BTM Layout, a neighbourhood in South Bangalore, a young guy named Nikhil came up to me and started asking about my work. He was decently dressed, but did not have any footwear on. He asked what I and my NGO do for the welfare of the environment. I started explaining with a preconceived notion that he must be one of those people who usually criticize NGOs and their objectives.

Once I was done describing what we do and how we work for the environment, he just pointed towards a tree nearby and asked a simple question – “What have you done for this tree?”

flyer in street tree one_0

Picture for representation only. Source:

“Nothing really,” I said.

He then took me near the tree and showed how the surface of its trunk was covered with hundreds of staple pins. Nikhil told me that he is terribly pained on seeing a similar condition of thousands of trees in Bangalore, and wished this would come to an end.

During our conversation, he informed that he had left his job a few days back because of lack of interest, and was searching for something new. Also, his footwear had been stolen at a temple from where he was coming back when we met. In spite of all these talks, I was still not taking him very seriously as I did not know anything about him. Another reason for that could be his appearance and the way he was talking with a stammer.

Then he left and I resumed my work. But after half an hour, I saw Nikhil again. He was standing near the same tree.

I went to check what was going on, and to my shock, he was removing the staple pins on the tree with complete dedication.


I suddenly felt really small for judging him before. It was then that he told me how he chooses a tree each day and removes staple pins from it, working for as many hours on a tree as it takes. He was sad though; there are so may such trees in the city that he does not see his efforts having any impact. He also shared that the image of those trees covered in pins did not let him sleep peacefully at night.

I saluted Nikhil’s efforts, and told him that people like him should not work alone. They should be accompanied by a like-minded people who can work together to change the society for the better. My appreciation brought a precious smile on his face and then he continued pulling out those pins with even more energy.

Nikhil taught me that no cause is big or small. What matters is how dedicated you are towards it.

– Abhinav Bajpai

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