Paintball has upped its game in recent years – long gone are the days of lying in muddy fields and using only trees for cover. Today’s paintball locations go above and beyond to provide the most immersive and spectacular experiences. We’ve chosen the UK’s 5 best paintballing locations.
Address: GO Paintball London, Salmons Lane, Whyteleafe, CR3 0HB.
There’s no expense spared in the production. This venue features barrels, trenches and trees for cover, as well as camouflage-donned bunkers and battlements.
Tommy has crafted the GO Paintball London experience from top to bottom. You even have an arsenal of paintball weapons to choose from, including an assault rifle, sniper rifle and smoke grenades.
Located just a 25-minute train journey from central London, GO Paintball London is the closest paintball location to the capital – and the best. It has been featured on the BBC, Channel 4 and Comedy Central. It was even awarded the prestigious Traveller’s Choice Award 2020 from TripAdvisor. This indicates that the venues have being consistently reviewed highly and rank in the top 10% of all TripAdvisor experiences.
The experience is reasonably priced, too. It costs £14.99 per person for equipment hire, then you buy your paintballs on top. These packages range from £20 to £75, for anywhere between 500 and 1500 paintballs. If this isn’t enough, GO Paintball even throws in a free Pizza Hut pizza with every paintball package.
Address: Bawtry Paintball & Laser Fields, Bawtry Forest, Great North Road, Bawtry, Doncaster, DN10 6DG.
Another Traveller’s Choice Award 2020 winner, Bawtry Paintball Fields in Doncaster brings the production quality of a movie set to its 16 paintball maps – literally.
Bawtry Paintball Fields bought practically all of the vehicular props from the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow. These include 5 helicopters, 2 tanks (plus 1 APC), 2 armoured rocket launchers and dozens of armoured vehicles. These can be found strewn around the battlefields along with 13 armoured Jeeps from Apocalypse Now. There’s even a Predator game-mode if you fancy being hunted by the famous dreadlocked alien.
Hollywood history aside, Bawtry Paintball Fields’ award-winning maps are all carefully crafted to present unique challenges that reward clever combat strategy and teamwork. At over 365 acres, it’s the largest paintball hub in Europe. It also contains the most expensive paintball map in Europe – the Ewok-themed map, which cost £42,000 to construct.
While Bawtry’s maps spare no expense, the price of entry remains reasonable. There are several ways to pay and play – pay as you go, half-day and full-day. The most popular option is the Steady Eddy full-day option, which costs £40 and comes with full equipment, 12 paintball games, a hot lunch and 600 paintballs. You can even add on some of Bawtry’s other activities for just £10 extra, including axe throwing, archery and rifle shooting.
If you’re after an unrivalled paintball experience, Bawtry Paintball Fields is it.
Address: Manchester Paintball Arena, Lower Ground Floor, Nile Mill B, Fields New Road, Chadderton, Oldham, Manchester, OL9 8NH.
Manchester Paintball Arena is an entirely indoor paintballing location. The company has harnessed the close-quarter combat scenario to present a faster-paced game. Half of the game modes are respawn games, meaning nobody is eliminated from the match after being shot – they simply return to the starting point and get back out there.
This encourages combatants to fight more aggressively and means the game becomes more tactical. Victory is measured in points per kill rather than by the last man standing. This mechanic means you’ll spend more time playing and less time watching.
This style of play has resonated with paintballers, as Manchester Paintball Arena is yet another Traveller’s Choice Award 2020 winner.
An added benefit of indoor paintball is that there’s no chance of your session turning into a mud bath as you battle the elements. Manchester Paintball Arena’s maps take place in an old mill, complete with tyre stacks, support struts and burnt out cars to create an industrial aesthetic.
Many of the game modes offered are modelled after the Call of Duty video game modes, including Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Domination. There’s also Jail Break, which is objective focused, and Medal of Honour, which is stealth focused.
For 3 hours of indoor paintball, you get all the protective equipment you need, your paintball gun and 500 paintballs for £35, or 800 paintballs for £50.
Address: 39 locations nationwide (search for your nearest one here).
Unlike the other entries, this venue isn’t consigned to one specific location. Delta Force Paintball boasts 39 locations around the UK, each as impressive as the next.
Delta Force brings quality standardisation to paintball and has developed a trusted brand within the paintball community. It’s even a 5-star accredited member of the UK Paintball Association and has an impeccable safety record.
There’s a total of 32 scenarios across all of the Delta Force sites, with many of the more popular ones duplicated across several. These maps boast impressive props and structures, including a double-decker bus, an actual helicopter and replicas of the pyramids and Big Ben. There’s even a replica Imperial Shuttle, for any Star Wars fans.
Some of the map names might sound familiar as well – Tomb Raider, Raptor Park, Black Hawk Down, Counter Strike and Stargate. Besides movie-themed arenas, there are historical-themed maps harking back to Vietnam, D-Day and the Battle of Stalingrad as well.
Wherever you live in the UK, you’re no more than a 45-minute drive from one of Delta Force’s paintballing sites. Each of these sites succeeds in holding a high-calibre offering, making Delta Force one of the best – and most accessible – paintball experiences in the UK.
Prices begin at £9.99 for equipment rental and increase by £9.99 for every 100 paintballs thereafter.
Address: Outpost Paintball, Moor Lane, Lower Kinnerton, Chester, Cheshire, CH4 9AQ.
Outpost Paintball is an independent paintball location based in a Cold War-era anti-aircraft artillery base. In fact, this base was built to protect Chester, Wrexham and Merseyside from nuclear attack. Knowing that going in is enough to amp you up for some high-octane paintball.
Outpost Paintball is run by paintball fanatics who have devised sophisticated game scenarios. These cater to everyone from under-11s to professional paintball players.
There are 19 unique game zones on the Outpost site, with more to come. These include futuristic, historical or dystopian infiltration missions, objective-focused scenarios, assault modes and capture games. Each demands different skills and strategies to win.
There’s even an event spanning 3 days based on the Borderlands video game franchise, plus regular tournaments.
As with multiple entries on this list, Outpost Paintball is a Traveller’s Choice 2020 award-winning paintball location.
Packages start from £20 per player for an entire day’s paintball, your equipment and 200 paintballs. The packages then range from £32 to £90 per player, for 400 to 1600 paintballs.
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Hello? Anyone there? I know we’ve been away for a little while, but we’re back with some minor housekeeping moves (check the new name of the blog), and I figured what better way to reemerge than find a way for you all to possibly mock me? So here is my AP football ballot after the […]
via Tumblr Derek Redd reveals his AP Top 25 ballot, Part 1
Sustainable fashion in India is on the rise with homegrown, upcycled, fair-trade, organic, ethical and eco-friendly brands. Now thatâs a real fashion statement.
Guest post by Parita Bhansali
âNever buy anything thatâs less than fabulous. Then youâll wear it over and over again!â
I often remember the words of Carrie Bradshawâs character in Confessions of a Shopaholic before I buy something. She might not have meant it that way, but for me, it represents everything sustainable fashion is about.
The on-going Covid-19 crisis has made many of us pause and introspect about our impact on the planet. With the minimization of human consumption across the globe, nature seems to be healing and the air seems to be cleaner. We know we need to act now to save this planet we call home.
What does fashion, the clothes we buy and the brands we support with our money have to do with any of this?
Turns out, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the worldâs annual carbon emissions â 5 times that of flying! Itâs also one of the most polluting, water-intensive and waste-generating industries.
Thatâs exactly why I decided to write this massive guide to sustainable fashion in India. Hereâs how we can reduce our individual impact on the planet, one piece of clothing at a time:
In this post:
What is slow, sustainable fashion anyway
As the names suggest, fast and slow fashion refer to the pace at which you change / update your wardrobe.
Do you impulsively buy new clothes that are environmentally harmful, water intensive, exploit humans, abuse animals and have a small shelf life?
Or do you consciously invest in clothing brands that are mindful of the resources they use, refrain from using animal products, pay fair wages and last a lifetime?
Broadly speaking, sustainable fashion refers to clothes and products that:
Whatâs wrong with fast fashion
Fast fashion uses up excessive natural resources
With the rise of online shopping, more fast fashion brands setting up shop in India and the constant pressure to keep up with fashion trends, India is already on its way to embracing fast fashion â at great cost to the environment.
Slow fashion can reduce our individual carbon footprint
Only 15% of our clothes are recycled or donated. Even those gradually land up in landfills where they slowly release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change.
Humans and animals are exploited to cater to our fashion demands
How to embrace sustainable fashion in India
Given the obvious urgency to switch to more eco-friendly, ethical and conscious fashion, here are some ways Iâve learnt to make sustainable fashion choices:
Ask before buying
Do I REALLY need that dress? Am I adding to my non-biodegradable cosmetic collection? Am I using hair products tested on animals?
Before I buy anything, I do some quick research. Brands do reply to queries. I hit them up on their Instagram pages, drop them an email or call them.
Recently, I was curious about Sugar Cosmetics, so I both googled and called them â and was surprised to learn that their products are cruelty free (not tested on animals). I recently dropped a message on Chumbakâs Instagram page asking about their accessories, and learnt that their belts and watches are made from animal leather.
Invest in eco-friendly, organic, cruelty free brands in India
For me, buying less means being able to invest more in better alternatives:
Identify ethical fashion brands
Iâve been using the âGood on Youâ app â which rates brands based on their impact on humans, animals and the environment. It doesnât feature Indian brands, but can be useful for international ones or while shopping abroad. It also has brilliant content about sustainability, ethical sourcing, vegan fashion etc.
Embrace slow fashion in India
Affordable sustainable clothing brands in India
Even as fast fashion is taking over the country, several sustainable fashion brands in India offer clothing that is not only creative but also homegrown, upcycled, fair-trade, organic, ethical and eco-friendly. Now thatâs a real fashion statement!
Maati, founded by Neha Kabra, works with a community in Rajasthan to create unique clothing with traditional Indian printing techniques. A part of the fabric is upcycled, the dyes and print colours are borrowed from nature (not animals) and the packaging is plastic-free.
Hoomanwear is Indiaâs first â and perhaps only â causewear brand, which donates 15% of all profits to organisations involved in meaningful work. Founder Harshil Vohra is a passionate vegan, and all their t-shirts, crop tops and hoodies are plant-based (less than 5% synthetic fibers) and customizable with different vibes. They are made only on demand (zero waste), use certified sustainable inks, are free of animal ingredients and delivered in recycled pizza boxes or cloth bags!
I was surprised to learn that most swimsuits leach microfibers into the ocean. And amazed to discover PANI Swimwear, founded by Leila, an international development professional from Mauritius who now calls Mumbai home. PANI makes body-positive swimsuits catered to a wide range of body types, designed from recycled fishing nets!
No Nasties is Goaâs first organic clothing brand, founded by Apurva Kothari. They use organic cotton seeds on fair trade farms. Synthetic pesticides and GMOs are a strict no. The entire seeds to clothes process is eco-friendly and ethical, right down to the inks being used (made without any animal ingredients).
Founded by 24-year-old Anya Gupta, Increscent offers affordable vintage clothing (dresses, tops, skirts etc), crafted in small batches by a community in Rajasthan. 60% of the fabrics they use are recycled from the dead stock of various export houses!
22-year-old Prateek Kayan quit his banking job in New York to start one of the few sustainable fashion brands in India exclusively for men. Brown Boy is all about organic, fair trade cotton, animal-friendly printing and smart casual t-shirts, yoga pants etc.
Founded by animal lover Sheena Uppal, Renge sources surplus fabric from warehouses to produce unique, limited edition designs for women. Proceeds from Renge are also used to support animal sanctuaries in India.
The latest addition to Indiaâs growing hemp movement is the homegrown brand Hemp Kari. They offer natural hemp-based fabrics with traditional hand embroidery done by local artisans in Lucknow and nearby villages. The tops are delivered in plastic-free packaging, and use tags / labels made of hemp paper.
High-end eco-friendly clothing brands in India
Karishma Shahani Khan created a clothing line from plastic gunny sacks, old chandeliers and second-hand sneakers while studying in London. Now based out of Pune, her Ka Sha label explores natural fabrics and works closely with artisans across the country. Her zero waste âHeart to Haatâ collection focuses on upcycling discarded clothing.
Nicobar is the slow fashion brainchild of Simran Lal and Raul Rai, inspired by tropical living. Theyâre bigger than most sustainable fashion brands in India, with physical stores across the country. That only means more responsibility.
Their core line uses only organic cotton, along with natural fabrics like bamboo. Their woolen collection uses recycled wool, and the kidswear is made entirely from leftover fabric. Most of their products come in plastic free packaging.
Eco-friendly winter clothing
Bangalore resident Pratibha Krishnaiah quit her corporate job to work as a Teach for India fellow in rural Uttarakhand. After the fellowship, she decided to stay on in the remote village of Kheti Khan, and began Himalayan Blooms â a social enterprise that seeks to create financial independence for local women. Using acrylic yarn and cotton (no wool), they hand-knit the most gorgeous ponchos, sweaters, scarfs and neck warmers â available for India wide delivery right from the heart of the Himalayas!
Save the Duck
Save the Duck is an American brand that specializes in animal-free, high tech winter wear. Their jackets are made from recycled plastic bottles and hoodies from recycled fishing nets. And yet their winter collection is warm enough to successfully put a vegan mountaineer on Mount Everest!
Unfortunately India doesnât yet to seem to have its own ethical and eco-friendly winter sports brand. Wool and down feather-free jackets are available at Decathlon, made with polyester or other synthetic materials (not very eco-friendly though).
Ethical, vegan and cruelty free cosmetics in India
It is shocking that several animal ingredients are hidden away in our daily toiletries and cosmetics. Some of these include: Honey, the food of bees. Beeswax, derived by destroying their painstakingly created combs used to house their young and store honey. Gelatin, extracted from the skins, bones and tissues of animals.
In 2020, despite being well-versed with what works on the human skin and scalp, some (big) brands like Maybelline, Estee Lauder and Clinique still test on animals!
Here are some homegrown brands that support local entrepreneurs, source ethical ingredients and do not test on animals:
Disguise Cosmetics is an Indian brand which believes in setting an honest, ethical and pocket-friendly beauty standard for our skin. All their cosmetics are free from animal oils, fats, pigments, secretions and proteins. Their matte lipsticks and all-day gel kajals are all the rage!
The Switch Fix
I cannot stress how much I love this brand, setting the benchmark for sustainable fashion brands in India. The Switch Fix is everything I could wish for: No plastic, no palm oil, cruelty-free, vegan, plant-based, water-saving and non-polluting!
From shampoo bars (no spill, no issues while checking in, last up to 50 washes) to bamboo toothbrushes, they have all our personal care needs covered.
Homegrown brand Plum offers a wide range of vegan and paraben-free hair, face, body and skincare products. They also recycle your empty plum plastic bottles with a gift voucher of Rs 50 for future use!
A young brand nurtured with love and compassion, Veganology uses essential oils to create moisturizing soap bars, body butters, lip balms and even a vegan, chemical-free talcum powder.
FAE, which stands for Free And Equal, is an Indian start-up trying to challenge conventional, biased notions of beauty. Their wide range of lipsticks is vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free.
Kay by Katrina
Indiaâs first celebrity cosmetic brand Kay was launched last year by Katrina Kaif â and itâs reported to be vegan and cruelty-free! She said she wanted to create products that would spark a vegan cosmetics revolution in India â and I think sheâs on her way.
Colorbar is Indiaâs third largest cosmetic brand. It is cruelty free, with a wide range of vegan products, well-labelled on the website.
The homegrown Khadi Essentials brand is based on the principles of Ayurveda. Most of their personal care products are vegan, cruelty-free and paraben free.
Lotus Herbals is hardly a stranger to Indian consumers. This local brand commits to natureâs wealth in tandem with being compassionate to all. No chemicals, nothing synthetic, no animal ingredients and no animal testing.
Back in the early 1900s, Mr Manal was travelling in Myanmar (then Burma), when he stumbled upon locals feeding the roots of a local herb to calm a herd of agitated elephants. His curiosity led him to start a revolution out of Dehradun in 1934, to develop all-natural personal care resources based on Ayurveda, science and nature. Himalaya continues to be a game changer among sustainable fashion brands in India and around the world! The Himalaya toothpaste and wide range of products make it much easier to be vegan in India and elsewhere.
I guess we all remember the Vicco Vajradanti commercial from our childhood in India! Sounds old school, but Vicco is actually a pioneer of vegan and natural products in the country.
The Body Shop
British brand, The Body Shop, pioneered the cruelty free movement but some of their products still contain animal ingredients like milk, honey, beeswax, etc. The vegan products are well-labelled though. They mostly come in plastic but The Body Shop has recently started an initiative to engage women in local communities to make recycled bottles.
Mindful fashion influencers in India
A couple of Instagrammers you can take inspiration from, as you learn about ethical, fair-trade, cruelty free and sustainable fashion brands in India:
Anya Gupta is a fashion and lifestyle influencer who makes DIY products like detergent, toothpaste etc look uber cool! And damn, her clothing and cosmetics recommendations are super inspiring.
Aditi Mayer is all about sustainable fashion and social justice â two topics that rarely meet each other. Her profile focuses on South Asian fashion, and is one of the rare ones that deeply explore ethics and eco-friendly living.
Thanks for sharing your questions around sustainable fashion. Those not directly answered in the post above are included below.
If you have more questions, please ask them in the comments to this post.
What are some unique sustainable fashion brands in Mumbai?
What does ethical clothing mean?
âEthicalâ encapsulates anything that is kind to people, animals and the environment. Typically, ethical clothing is made with natural materials like organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. The artisans involved in crafting it work in respectable working conditions and are paid fairly. No animals are harmed in the making of the products, neither by making use of animal-derived ingredients nor by testing on animals.
Where to find eco-friendly clothing in Pune?
Puneâs homegrown sustainable labels include the Ka Sha boutique and Outliers Clothing Co.
What are recommended sustainable fashion brands in Bangalore
Bangaloreâs SwapStitched clothes swap events are one of a kind!
Do you think about slow, eco-friendly fashion? What steps have you taken (or will take) towards it? What are your favorite sustainable fashion brands in India?
*Note: This article does not endorse or represent any of the brands mentioned. Views and opinions are entirely the authorâs own.
If youâd like to contribute a guest post to The Shooting Star, please see guidelines here.
The post The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Fashion in India. appeared first on The Shooting Star.
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Ideas I gathered on sexual freedom, relationships, food and sustainability, while spending time with the tribes of Chhattisgarh.
“Woh log peeche chhooth gaye (they got left behind).”
“They have a special status because [economic] development didn’t reach them.“
These were words I heard again and again in Chhattisgarh, referring to the many indigenous tribes in the state.
Many of them traditionally lived in mud and bamboo houses in the forest. Often cultivating a small patch of land, burning it and moving every few years. Many wore nothing but a rag around their waste, multiple tattoos, combs in their hair and handmade ornaments. They lived off the land, worshipped nature, practiced animist rituals and survived on minimal possessions. The forest and local healers catered to their medical needs.
And yet, they are considered backward because money and modern comforts hold little importance in their off-the-grid lives.
I was lucky to spend a couple of weeks with the amazing folks from Bastar Tribal Homestay and Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat – who work closely with the tribes of Chhattisgarh. That gave me a chance to meet and engage with tribal elders, craftsmen, healers, cattle herders, anganwadi teachers and social workers.
Here are some life lessons I gleaned from the various tribes of Chhattisgarh:
In this post:
The freedom to experiment with sexuality and choose a life partner in a ‘ghotul’
“The message of the ghotul—that youth must be served, that freedom and happiness are more to be treasured than any material gain, that friendliness and sympathy, hospitality and unity are of the first importance, and above all that human love—and its physical expression—is beautiful, clean and precious, is typically Indian.”
So wrote Verrier Elwin of the controversial ghotul of the Muria and Gond tribes in Central India. His insightful books, written from his perspective as an anthropologist and ethnologist, document tribal life and customs that are slowly being eroded.
One such custom is that of the ghotul – a sort of commune that functions after nightfall, whose members are young (unmarried) teenagers. Legend has it that the first of its kind was built by their celebrated ancestor Lingo.
Within its physical confines, the members are taught both, the social responsibilities of the tribe: music, dance, respecting elders, tribal traditions, bonding over natural brews, cooking. And the individual, consensual exploration of one’s sexuality, with one or multiple partners, with or without emotional attachment. Most importantly, without judgement.
On the other hand, in the regressive contemporary society of India, even public displays of affection – let alone pre-marital sex – are considered taboo.
Many families will disown their daughters for choosing to be in a consensual relationship. But wouldn’t hesitate to forcibly marry them off to a complete stranger, whose demands she must pander to even on their first night together.
Although ghotuls were an essential part of life for the Muriya and Gond tribes of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, many have been shut down on suspicion of naxal activities. Others have fallen prey to the influences of ‘modern’ society, ‘urban’ education and religion.
I was amused to read a Gond social worker report that in one ghotul, the evening now begins with a recitation of the gayatri mantra!
Perhaps it’s time to look past our dogmatic religions, whatever they may be, and learn from the so called ‘backward’ people, the original dwellers of this land.
I’m sure we can learn a thing or three about social interaction, sexual freedom, gender equality and the right to choose who to love.
A farm-to-table diet featuring millets, moringa, mahua and more superfoods
Long before the green revolution transformed indigenous diets in India, the tribes of Chhattisgarh cultivated and consumed foods that are now globally recognized as superfoods.
In a village of the Baiga tribe in the Kawardha region, cut off from the road by a river, I met a woman brewing mahua liquor under a stunning old mahua tree. It was just after breakfast, but she insisted I try it. With a spoon carved from wood, she poured some into a leaf folded into a cup – a hot, bitter, woody taste that I never quite acquired!
Although mahua is blamed for alcoholism among the tribes now, it was once dried and made into mahua rotis or laddoos – packed with abundant energy!
From various elders in Bastar and Kawardha, I gathered that the traditional diet once consisted of kodo millet, moringa and legumes – all high on the nutritional quotient.
In the local haats (tribal markets), I saw root veggies like alookanda, varieties of beans, and snacks made with pumpkin – none of which I could recognize from our regular diets. In the harsh summer, instead of water, many tribes drink paich – a nutritious drink made by soaking rice or millet.
At a Gond village home, we feasted on kandul lentils – grown in the forest. Once cultivated, they are dried, packed up in sihadi leaves, stitched together with sihadi ropes and can last upto two years!
On a hike, we spotted chidchidi, the seeds of which have a hallucinogenic effect that convinces your mind that you’re not hungry for days.
Unfortunately like in most of India, the indigenous diet of Central India too is fast being replaced by rice and wheat. Leading to malnutrition, poor growth among children and health complications among adults.
As we aspire to healthier lifestyles, perhaps the tribes of Chhattisgarh could help us dig out the sustainable superfoods they once embraced.
A rational approach to live-in relationships, ‘dowry’ and divorce
When it comes to marriage, the ideas of compulsion and dowry drive me crazy.
In India, people in their late twenties and early thirties are considered ticking time-bombs who must not miss the marriage window.
It’s bad enough that married women are expected to dissociate from their house / family and join their husband’s. As an earning member of the family, or even as a member who contributes to household chores, that’s a loss to the woman’s family. But in our grand patriarchal scheme of things, it’s the woman’s family that must also pay dowry to the man’s – for taking their “burden” off.
Make no mistake, the practice of dowry, though now illegal, continues in urban and rural India. Modern, forward-thinking families in the cities may refrain from using the term itself, but many still expect the woman to bring with her expensive household “gifts”.
I’ve witnessed that first-hand twice in my extended family.
On the other hand, the tribes of Chhattisgarh who seemingly “got left behind” in the race for modernity, possess far more practical views on relationships.
It’s socially acceptable – and infact the norm in many communities – for a couple to live together without formally being married. If they are driven by love and compatible with each other, what’s the need for a formal ceremony, a legal document or a dedicated celebration to endorse their commitment?
When a couple does decide to marry, the “dowry” works in reverse. Since the woman’s family is losing an earning / contributing member, the man’s must compensate their loss – usually by footing the bill of the celebration or with the much-desired Mahua liquor.
In the Baiga tribe, the rules of divorce are simple too. First, it’s socially understandable for a couple to choose that they no longer want to be together. Second, if the woman initiates the separation, her new companion must compensate the old one for the expenses he bore for the wedding or Mahua.
Practical, honest and not two-faced like our “modern” society, right?
If we take the cow’s milk, what will happen to the calf?
I vividly remember the first conversation I had with my host from Bastar Tribal Homestay when I met him at the bus stop, after a long ride from Raipur.
Over the phone, I had mentioned to him that I don’t consume any animal products. Now even before we made small talk, he told me that the tribes of Chhattisgarh don’t consume milk either!
Why? It’s never been part of their diet. Even though they rear cows to get manure (cow dung) for their fields, they have no idea how to separate them from the calves and take their milk. They worry that if they took the cow’s milk, what would happen to the calf?
Turned out, my host had worked with the veterinary department in the past, on a scheme to distribute cows to poor households in Bastar, hoping they would earn money off the milk. The scheme failed badly, for no one knew how to or was willing to milk the cows!
This is easy to observe in the tribal haats too, where I didn’t spot a single product made of milk.
The tribes that were once nomadic hunter-gatherers still hunt and consume meat. Goats and other animals are still sacrificed at their festivals. Infact, even human sacrifices were common till after India’s independence. Rumor has it that unwelcome visitors in the area were often captured and sacrificed!
In the “modern” world, we’ve moved towards horrific ways of raising, mass producing, enslaving and genetically altering animals for meat, milk and eggs. But I felt reassured that atleast India’s ancient wisdom recognizes that a cow’s milk is for her calf, just like a human mother’s milk is for her baby.
A sustainable life through nomadism, barefoot living and upcycling
Minimalism, zero waste, upcycling and detoxing have become buzzwords globally. But for the tribes of Chhattisgarh, they’ve long been a way of life.
My hosts at Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat shared an intriguing story of a local shaman. While staying at his house with some of their guests, the shaman advised that the guests be dropped off to an airport and my hosts return home immediately, abandoning their plans to stay in Raipur for a couple of days. An earthquake was on its way, the shaman said.
My hosts brushed him off, but somehow ended up abandoning their plans to stay in Raipur anyway.
Surprisingly enough, the earthquake shook the earth just as the shaman had predicted. They rushed back to his house to ask how he knew. The shaman pointed to his bare feet, and said the earth had told him.
We can discredit ancient ways of connecting with nature, but the truth is we are constantly chasing them in fancier ways. We burn big holes in our pockets at detox retreats where we can walk barefoot and feel connected to earth.
My host often joked that for many tribes, “the forest is mother, the tiger is brother!” For centuries, they’ve lived off the forest, cultivating small patches of land, then burning it and moving on, giving it a chance to heal back into a forest. Even as hunters, they hunted for survival, not for the pleasure of taste.
In Bastar, I spent an afternoon observing craftsmen who specialise in bell metal crafts, passed down from one generation to another. Designated “other backward castes”, I was surprised to learn that these craftsmen upcycle used metal (from kitchen ware, appliances etc) in a long painstaking process, to create incredible ornaments.
Natural upcycling is common in everyday life too. The sargi shrub is used to brush teeth, its leaves to make plates and its seeds to wash clothes. Beds are made from strong sihadi ropes. And gulal for holi is made by boiling flame of the forest flowers!
Instead of reinventing the entire wheel in practicing urban sustainability, we’d be better off learning from our not-so-backward past.
A village can raise a kid, literally
In India (and perhaps elsewhere), when couples have problems in their marital life, having a kid is often recommended as the solution. In a separation or divorce situation, society looks down upon the parents, especially the mother, for raising their child in a “broken” home.
Unfortunately, the toxicity of many home environments slips notice.
Which is why, I was amazed to hear from my hosts in Kawardha how the Baiga tribe of Chhattisgarh sorts out such complex situations without legal recourse.
If a couple with a kid choose to separate, the woman has the first right to decide if she wants to raise the kid. If she decides that single parenthood isn’t for her, the man gets to choose if it’s for him.
If neither parent wants to take on the responsibility, the community assigns a guardian to raise the child until the age of fifteen, with the rest of the village chipping in. More importantly, the woman can choose to leave without any stigma.
Perhaps as parents, you’d think that’s a bit brutal. But who’s to say that a child raised in a toxic household, by a parent who doesn’t feel up to the task, will have a better life than one raised with love by an entire village?
Have you gathered any fascinating ideas of love and life on your travels?
The post Ideas of Love and Life from the Tribes of Chhattisgarh. appeared first on The Shooting Star.
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Who would’ve thought decades ago that you could shoot deer with air rifles? Well, today’s technology allows you to do that. But, when it comes to finding an air rifle for shooting deer, you’ve got to be selective. We’ll get into the best air rifles for deer hunting, but first…
A few important things to consider
There are several factors you need to take into account before you pick the air rifle that suits you best:
So, which air rifles are best for shooting deer?
Here’s a selection of the best deer hunting air rifles available right now…
This versatile and well-built rifle has increased in popularity over the last few years. Considered a more traditional rifle, it comes with a range of modern features that make it reliable and accurate when you’re out in the field.
It’s one of the more expensive rifles available on the market, but this reflects its quality. What’s more, it’s designed to perform at a high level for years.
Rigby Highland Stalker
The Highland model is one of the most iconic ever produced by Rigby. Since they started to go back into production in 2014, this rifle become instantly popular with experienced shooters.
Much like the Sauer 202, the Stalker combines tradition and modernity in a way that makes the rifle aesthetically pleasing.
This is a particularly adept rifle when it comes to long range shooting. The 22-inch long barrel and slow taper are welcome additions when it comes to assisting with accuracy. This makes the Highland Stalker ideal for novice shooters.
Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter
If you’re looking for a rifle which is both affordable and high quality, this is the perfect choice.
Available for less than £1,000, the Steyr Mannlicher Pro Hunter is popular among hunters who spend a lot of time in dense woodland.
This rifle carries a decent amount of weight, making it comfortable to handle for long periods of time.
The trigger can also be adjusted through a screw in the trigger blade, so then you can give the pull the right amount of weight for you.
Given its price and practicality, this is another good rifle for a novice shooter.
Remington 700 SPS Rifle
The Remington 700 can include a wide range of modifications and accessories, meaning you can essentially design the rifle around what you want and the way you hunt.
While some shooters feel the Remington 700 has become outdated since more modern rifles have become available, it still provides a classic experience that makes it one of the leading air rifles.
For both beginners and seasoned hunters, this remains one of the most reliable and best air rifles for deer hunting.
Specialist shooting insurance from Gunplan
Once you have chosen the air rifle that suits you best, it’s essential to have the right insurance before you start your next deer stalking trip.
With our specialist shooting insurance, you can insure your new air rifle against theft, loss and damage.
Get an online quote within minutes today and shoot with peace of mind.
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Can we stay home and stay safe, yet reduce single use plastic during the pandemic? Choices, alternatives and demanding change.
The Covid-19 pandemic has penetrated every aspect of our lives.
As much as I hate to write or even admit it, it doesnât appear to be going away anytime soon. Weâre still far from a vaccine, and even when it does arrive, distribution around the world could take a long time.
In the meantime, we must continue to try keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. That means we should use a mask and sanitizer, wash our hands frequently, practice social distancing, avoid touching our face and not go out to crowded spaces except when absolutely neccesary.
Unfortunately though, that also means a significant increase in our single use plastic consumption.
Personal protective gear â masks, hand sanitizers, surface disinfectant bottles â are typically non-biodegradable. Staying at home means more deliveries, e-commerce and food takeaways, which often come in non-recyclable plastic. Perhaps weâre discarding a lot of things we wouldâve normally re-used, out of the worry that the virus might be lurking around on all surfaces.
As we gear up to face the pandemic for the long haul and adapt to life in the new normal, we need to be aware that a single use plastic catastrophe might silently be brewing.
In this post:
How has the pandemic impacted single use plastic consumption?
I guess we only need to look at our personal consumption to guess the anwer.
Discarded plastic masks are already washing up on Hong Kongâs beaches. In the US, single use plastic usage is estimated to have gone up by a whopping 250-300%. Athens has reported a 150% increase in the amount of plastic in the general waste stream.
And in India, where waste management is already a huge issue, the fight against single use plastic has taken a backseat.
In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, the world has lost the momentum we gained over the past couple of years to reduce single use plastic. Plastic bans and alternatives have been rolled back.
Infact, plastic lobbyists are claiming that single use plastic is a hero in the new normal!
Is it important to reduce single use plastic while weâre in a pandemic?
Iâm sure we havenât forgotten the disturbing visuals of corals covered in single use plastic, turtles choked to death by plastic straws stuck in their nostrils and dead whales found with tonnes of plastic waste in their stomach.
Single use plastic has long been a global crisis. But itâs more important now than ever to reduce single use plastic, for three main reasons:
Also read: 5 Easy Steps Towards Plastic Free Living
So, can we reduce single use plastic while weâre in a pandemic?
Given that health and safety trump all else right now, here are some things worth noting:
In the early days of the pandemic, I decided that personal safety trumped my single use plastic consumption. In just a few weeks, the amount of plastic waste I was disposing became alarming.
So I spent a lot of time researching safe alternatives, and creative hacks to keep my single use plastic consumption as low as possible:
Use reusable multi-layered cloth masks instead of use-and-throw ones
Masks are important for our collective safety, but that doesnât mean we need plastic masks that come out of plastic covers.
According to the WHO, the CDC and Johns Hopkins University, those of us not interacting directly with positive or suspected positive people (i.e doctors, nurses etc), are safe enough using non-medical cloth masks. N95 and surgical masks are use-and-throw masks made of non-biodegradable plastic â taking upto 450 years to degrade! Instead, we can opt for multi-layered cloth masks, which can be washed and reused.
I bought a set of five cloth masks from Pulkar â an organisation in Dehradun that supports womenâs livelihoods. I find cloth masks far more breathable, comfortable (instead of elastic bands around the ears, they have to be tied behind), stylish and affordable.
After each use, I sanitize and quarantine them for upto 48 hours (the virus is expected to survive on cloth fabric about as long as cardboard). And when Iâm doing my laundry, toss them into the washing machine.
Also read: How to Indulge Your Wanderlust at Home
Opt for eco-friendly e-commerce sellers who donât wrap everything in plastic
I think Iâve lost some of my sanity constantly outraging at Amazon and Urban Platter deliveries that arrive smothered in plastic for no good reason. I mean, why do non-breakable things like a pressure cooker whistle, a pan and even a pillow need to be wrapped in plastic?!
I limit using e-commerce for exactly this reason (aside from usually being somewhere too remote to receive deliveries and having no permanent address to receive them either). But now, in the midst of a pandemic with disrupted supply chains, closed shops and safety concerns, e-commerce is very much a part of my life.
Over time though, Iâve learnt to identify sellers that are conscious about not using single-use plastic:
Search for eco-friendly products
We needed a bunch of air tight containers so I searched for eco-friendly storage containers and zeroed in on the Star Work glass jars. Their products had great reviews and emphasized being environmentally friendly. And sure enough, despite being made of glass, the jars were delivered without any single-use plastic!
On the other hand, the couple of things I ordered from Amazon Basics came wrapped in layers of plastic despite being non-breakable. Ugh.
Now whenever we need anything, I use âecoâ or âeco friendlyâ as a suffix while searching for it to identify plastic-free sellers.
Read reviews that mention the packaging
When Iâm unable to find any eco-friendly sellers, I check if the reviews mention packaging â either while generally reading reviews or by doing a quick Ctrl+F search.
Leave public feedback for sellers, both positive and negative
I know it sounds like one more thing to do. But unless brands and sellers hear that we value plastic packaging free products and deliveries, theyâre unlikely to make any changes.
Every time I receive an order, I try to leave public feedback on the e-commerce platform mentioning the packaging. Praising it if it is single-use plastic free. And highlighting the unnecessary use of plastic, which is more often the case.
Amazon has the option of seller feedback as well as product review. The former seems to be private feedback, though it does impact rankings on Amazon. I try to fill in both.
If enough of us do this, my hope is that Amazon will take notice and include a feature to rank packaging. Perhaps even a way to filter products with eco-friendly packaging!
Insist that informal home deliveries are single-use plastic free and return the packaging immediately
Iâve switched from frequenting organic farmersâ markets wherever in the world I am, to ordering vegetables and fruits on whatsapp from local farmers or shops that stock their produce. Given that social distancing is hard at supermarkets and grocery stores, itâs prudent to have things delivered at home as much as possible.
That has one negative side effect though â plastic bags.
When I place an order, I always insist that they not be delivered in plastic bags. Thatched baskets, cardboard boxes and cloth bags are all good alternatives. In any case, I try to immediately empty the products into my own containers and return the packaging to (hopefully) be re-used.
This is also a great way of ensuring that I have the least possible interaction with a surface that might have been touched by multiple hands and possibly be carrying the virus. If I accept the packaging, Iâd have to find a way of discarding it â increasing both, my exposure and trash.
Carry a washable cloth bag and reusable containers for takeaway
As India and the world slowly start to open up and emerge into a new ânormalâ, Iâve been thinking of how I can be both safe and environmentally-friendly.
Iâve been carrying reusable cloth bags for several years, and I think theyâre our best bet now during the pandemic. Carrying my own bag means I donât have to expose myself to plastic bags that have passed through multiple hands, on which the virus can survive for 2-3 days! Instead, I get home, empty my cloth bag and wash it with soap and water.
Iâve decided that no matter how much I crave diverse food during the pandemic, Iâll only ever order from places that deliver in eco-friendly packaging. In Hyderabad for instance, Le Terrassen Cafe has been using non-plastic single use cutlery and glass bottles. In Goa, Saraya has initiated a daily meal plan where lunch is delivered in returnable steel tiffins.
When I really want food from elsewhere â a slice of indulgent vegan chocolate cafe for instance â I will continue to carry my own resuable container. Again, relatively safer, washable and better for the planet.
A âsanitize, quarantine and reuseâ routine rather than an open and throw routine
When I heard that the virus can survive upto 72 hours on plastic surfaces, my first instinct was to open every plastic bag of grocery (unfortunately I didnât have access to an organic zero waste store), empty it into a container and toss the plastic bag into the bin.
But each time I did that, I felt horrified. Especially when the bag was a resealable bag that I would normally have re-used.
I then read safety recommendations by North Carolina State University, and was relieved to learn that itâs okay to re-use bags as long as they are cleaned and disinfected.
Now, instead of the âopen and throwâ routine, I wash the outside of any plastic bag that enters the house, dry it and store it in a cupboard. Empty the contents in a container when needed. Sanitize it again if Iâm feeling extra paranoid, quarantine it for a few days further and re-use it.
Experiment, make and grow more at home
Some of us have a lot more time at hand with no social outings and travelling on the cards. Iâve been finding some solace in the kitchen, as well as in growing vegetables, herbs and microgreens.
I never imagined that someone like me, with a marked lack of cooking ability, could bake a good loaf of bread. After a disastrous first time, it turned out surprisingly easy and tasty!
Itâs been fulfilling to make, bake and grow my own. And it also means Iâm consuming more home-grown, organic, chemical-free food, and creating less waste, especially single use plastic.
Segregate waste and consider eco-bricking
I know Iâve been talking about segregating waste far too often on my blog and Instagram. But I just canât wrap my head around the fact that the vast majority of us still doesnât choose to segregate!
All it takes is two separate bins for wet and dry waste. The wet waste can be composted, even if you live in an apartment (consider the Eco Bin). Dry waste should ideally go to a recycling facility. Else it can be given away to a local ragpicker who is likely to salvage as much as possible. Further segregating dry waste into glass bottles, cartons etc can make processing of the waste easier.
Unfortunately though, single-use plastic is such low grade plastic that it canât be recycled. If burnt, it releases toxic chemicals. If sent to landfill, it ultimately leaches into the groundwater or lands up in the ocean. The best solution so far â besides reducing consumption of course â might be to create ecobricks. Then pool them together with a community of people and build any needed structure.
Also read: Quarantine Recycling: Staying green under quarantine
What else can we do?
Advocate for policy change
Even though the fight against single-use plastic looks pretty dismal during this pandemic, I feel hopeful about the possibility of policy action since itâs already happening in Thailand. In Bangkok, an awareness campaign to segregate waste is already underway, along with setting up of public collection points for plastic waste to be recycled.
Can this happen in India? With a combination of aware, conscious, motivated citizens demanding action from local, state and central governments â absolutely.
Ask e-commerce platforms to introduce a packaging rating and filter
We collectively need to ask e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Urban Platter to introduce a feature to rate the eco-friendliness of sellers and products. A filter to sort products by planet-friendly packaging could make it easier to identify brands that care about reducing plastic waste. A rating system can allow consumers to easily share feedback.
The best way to do this is using social media, and tagging your local e-commerce providers.
According to UN Environment, nearly 13 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. In the Mediterranean Sea alone, the WWF estimates that the equivalent of 33,800 plastic bottles are dumped into the water every MINUTE.
Thatâs in an average year. I shudder to think what 2020 means for the oceans, marine life, groundwater and our own health.
Have you noticed changes in your plastic consumption during the pandemic? What steps are you taking / going to take to reduce single use plastic?
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Meet Tshering Denkar, an intreprid solo female traveller and Bhutanese blogger, documenting her Bhutan solo travel adventures.
I was in awe of Tshering Denkar even before I met her.
I first read her travel blog â Denkarâs Getaway â after receiving an invitation to share the stage with her at the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Bhutan. She had spent the past couple of years travelling solo across the length and breath of her own country. Hiking, hitch-hiking and living with indigenous communities in remote mountain hamlets!
Travelling is never about the labels. But being Bhutanâs first solo female traveller and the first Bhutanese blogger in the travel space is a pretty big deal.
I mean, scan through global travel writing archives â or even articles about travelling in Bhutan â and tell me how many voices of intrepid female South Asian travellers can you find?
In Thimphu, I finally met Denkar â full of energy, excitement and humor â and despite being an introvert myself, we immediately connected through our mutual love for the road. Her travel stories eventually led us to Haa Valley and plans to explore the remote eastern provinces someday.
While hiking with Denkar in the mountains of Thimphu, I learnt how the King of Bhutan reads her travel blog and even invited her to meet him! He encouraged her to keep exploring the wonders of Bhutan, and inspire more Bhutanese people to explore their own country.
In this post:
An unexpected journey
Prior to becoming a full time traveller, I was teaching in a prison in Thailand. One day, an inmate asked me, âTeacher, how is the world outside?â ~ Denkar
Denkarâs journey towards becoming a travel blogger and vlogger started in the most unlikely of places â a prison.
She travelled to Thailand to volunteer as an English teacher, and ended up staying longer to pursue further studies. While volunteering, she got the opportunity to teach at a prison in the Phitsanulok province in northern Thailand.
One day, an inmate asked her a question that would compel her to re-evaluate her life choices. How is the world outside? she wanted to know.
Denkar says she was haunted by that question, and slowly began to cherish the things she had always taken for granted. The freedom to be outdoors, explore, travel, meet new people and have interesting experiences.
She ended up backpacking across Southeast Asia, then decided to explore her own home country, Bhutan! For the past two years, sheâs been travelling solo, living with locals across the many dzongkhags (districts) of Bhutan.
Also read: From panic to positive living: The pandemic in Bhutan by Denkar
Bhutan solo travel
Dance to your own music and let the world blend into your tune. ~ Denkar
Denkar vividly recalls her first solo trip in 2018.
She bade goodbye to apprehensive friends as she boarded a local bus to Phobjika valley â alone, with a one way ticket! She was on a tight budget, and had made up her mind to hitchhike and couch surf if she needed to.
As the bus winded along the gorgeous green mountains, she felt herself connecting with the wanderer within. She quickly made new friends, felt determined to chart her own path and ended up staying longer than planned.
And she hasnât looked back since. Phobjika became the first of many, many solo travel adventures across Bhutan. Seeking refuge wherever she found it, connecting with locals and going deeper wherever she went.
Also read: How I Conquer My Solo Travel Fears
Funding her adventures and becoming the first Bhutanese blogger in the travel industry
My greatest achievement is that people understand what I do now! ~ Denkar
Like most South Asian parents, Denkarâs were worried about her financial well-being. The idea of spending hours behind a laptop at home or being paid to travel is still pretty alien in this part of the world.
Denkarâs father wanted her to work as a civil servant after she returned to Bhutan with a masters degree from Thailand. But she knew she wanted to do something different. She never saw herself fitting into a traditional work environment.
So she set out to prove that she could make a living from travel blogging / vlogging. Sheâd be the first of her kind in Bhutan!
And she did it. Her primary source of income is content writing. She also partners with like-minded brands on her travels.
She says her parents are now obsessed with her travel stories and offbeat adventures across the country!
Social stereotypes and hitchhiking in Bhutan
Denkar has hitchhiked to the remotest of villages in Bhutan on trucks and boleros! As in the rest of the world, hitch-hiking is considered a big NO for Bhutanese woman.
But when Denkar began fighting the social stereotype and putting her faith in strangers, she learnt that hitchhiking in Bhutan is safe as long as you keep your wits about you. She has hitched rides with mountain porters, truck drivers and students. Some bought her lunch. Some shared their deepest secrets with her. Many probably drew inspiration from her fearless ways.
Offbeat Bhutan solo travel recommendations
Explore Panbang in one of Bhutanâs most remote districtsâ
Until a couple of decades ago, little was known about Panbang in Bhutanâs Zhemgang Dzongkhag, close to Manas National Park in India. Despite some recent development, the locals still live in thatched bamboo and grass roof houses, believe in shamans and drink tongba (fermented millet brew)!
Trek to Nuptsonapata in Haa Valley
Denkar says one of her all-time favorite treks in Bhutan was to Nuptsonapata in Haa Valley. Arduous though it was, it was filled with lush mountains, wildflowers, rare white poppies, an encounter with nomadic shepherds and an emerald lake!
Meeting the King of Bhutan as the first Bhutanese blogger / vlogger!
Besides being recognized as Bhutanâs first travel blogger, Denkar says being invited to meet the King of Bhutan in 2019 was her lifeâs greatest honor.
âWe need to breathe Bhutan,â he told her. He spoke about the beauty of Bhutan and the need for Bhutanese people to explore more of their own country. Denkar says it was then that it really struck her. Her journey as a blogger could make a difference in the way her own people (along with those outside) saw Bhutan.
She pledged to the King that she would travel far and beyond to bring fascinating stories about Bhutan to the world.
Advice for women who want to follow their solo travel dreams
Denkar: âI believe if you travel solo far and long enough, you will meet your true self. My only advice is stop being a couch potato, wishing âif onlyâ your life was like that of someone you follow online.
If you feel you want to go out there and experience the world, do what it takes. Make the emotional commitment, carve your own path, get ready for some sacrifices and prove to yourself and those around you that you can do it.
Go be the author of your own story.â
How did you find the courage to take your first solo trip? Or whatâs stopping you? Do you follow any Bhutanese blogger?
This post is part of my Solo Travellers Series â which aims to shed the spotlight on solo travellers from across Asia. Courageous souls who are challenging conventions in their own fierce ways yet typically underrepresented in the travel space.
If youâve met inspiring solo travellers from Asia who I could consider featuring in this series, please connect us!
Other posts from the solo travel series
Thanks to Tshering Denkar and Remya Padmadas for their inputs.
The post Meet the Bhutanese Blogger and Solo Traveller Unearthing Bhutanâs Best Kept Secrets. appeared first on The Shooting Star.
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Travelling to Lesotho from South Africa? We nearly got stranded while crossing the South Africa Lesotho border at Maseruâs Pioneer gate!
We rang in 2020 in a remote village in Lesotho, hanging out with its Basotho people and trying to pick up a few words in their Sesotho language!
So we applied for a single-entry e-visa for Lesotho and got an approval within 2 days. Arranged a Lesotho driving permit, booked an overnight bus from Cape Town to Bloemfontein (the closest South African city to Lesotho), picked up a rental car from Bloemfontein and drove into Lesotho. An insanely beautiful country, nicknamed the âKingdom in the Skyâ because it has the highest lowest point in the world! â£
The plan was to spend the holiday season in Lesotho. Then use our multiple-entry visa to return to South Africa. Weâd drive all the way to Kruger National Park and spend a week there. And just before our South Africa visa expired, return our rental car in Johannesburg and board a flight to India.
We had our documents and visas in order. The plan was foolproof. Or so we thought.
Entering Lesotho: The South Africa Lesotho border
After a 1.5 hour drive from Bloemfontein, we arrived at the Van Rooyen bridge â one of the border checkposts to enter Lesotho.
Crossing was a cake-walk: Park the car on the South African side, get an exit stamp and drive across. Then park the car on the Lesotho side, get an entry stamp, pay 40 Rand for the car and drive through. No questions asked, no documents (other than the Lesotho e-visa) checked.
Exiting Lesotho: The Lesotho South Africa borderâ£
After nearly 10 days of living in traditional rondavels (round houses), hiking with a local female guide, spotting rainbows, gazing at starry night skies and trying the local sorghum beer, we bade goodbye to Lesotho.
This time, we drove via Maseru (the capital of Lesotho) to the Pioneer gate to re-enter South Africa. Followed the cars at the border to a drive-through exit immigration, where we got stamped out of Lesotho. Handed over the exit vehicle stamp and got onto Maseru Bridge leading to South Africa.
Our car crawled along Maseru Bridge in a massive traffic jam. Alongside, droves of people walked across the border. It felt like a mass exodus from Lesotho to South Africa just like Iâd imagine happens at the Mexico-US border.
We finally hit the South African immigration, and things started going downhillâ¦
Asked to go back to Lesotho despite a multiple-entry visa for South Africa
We joined the long immigration queue to re-enter South Africa. Sweating in the heat, crawling forward bit by bit, we had no idea what awaited us at the counter.
My partner and I submitted our passports together to the South African immigration officer.
He quickly scanned and stamped mine. But when it came to my partnerâs passport, he started going over each page. Finally, slowly, he looked up and asked, where is your South Africa visa?
Of course it was right there, covering an entire page in the passport. Exactly the same as mine. A multiple entry visa that granted us multiple entries into South Africa. Valid for 3 months. Valid for entry before a date in October.
Thatâs the date he pointed to, saying the visa had already expired! But you see, we had already entered South Africa (the first time) before the said date. Having done that, the visa allowed us multiple entries over 3 months. We showed him our original entry stamp and tried to explain the situation.
But he told us, quite condescendingly, that we must go back to Lesotho and apply for a new South Africa visa.
To be honest, we didnât have many options:
Our only option was to beg this unreasonable man to stamp us in, or remain in no manâs land!
Acknowledging our lack of options, we asked the visa officer if we could speak to his supervisor. That enraged him, but he left his cubicle with our passports as we followed him.
But instead of going into the adjacent immigration building, he stopped to show our passports to a man who seemed to us like a security guard! His uniform was different, and he was carrying takeaway food. Still we tried to plead our case with him, but the two men rudely told us to shut up. Then with an air of finality, they firmly told us that our visas had indeed expired.
Also read: Four Years of Travelling Without a Home
Finally, a helpful officer
By now, we were seething with anger.
We stood outside in the hot sun, discussing, debating what to do. The weird thing was the officer had already stamped my passport but refused to return it to me. One option wouldâve been for me to enter South Africa alone and plead our case at the nearest Indian embassy. Atleast there were some cans of emergency vegan food lying around in the car â incase one or both of us had to spend the night in this godforsaken no manâs land without our passports!
Seeing us standing around for the next hour, a female officer stepped out of the immigration building to ask if we had been helped. It seemed like she already knew why we were waiting.
Finally she led us to a senior immigration officer, this time a real one, with a formal uniform and name tag. He patiently heard us out, walked us to our original visa officerâs counter, went over our passports, determined that our multiple entry visa holds and stamped my partnerâs passport.
As he returned our beloved passports â stamped and ready to go â he laughed and said, âWhere are the rupees?â
On hindsight, what really happened
Crossing the border back into South Africa was such a relief! We cursed and laughed and thanked our stars.
But as we pieced together the previous few hours, some things stood out:
That was, no doubt, one crazy border crossing experience. But to be honest, after spending 70+ days in lockdown, I would go back in a jiffy even to that crazy day at the South Africa Lesotho border
Have you had any unexpected visa encounters on your travels?
The post How We *Almost* Got Stranded in No Manâs Land at the South Africa â Lesotho Border. appeared first on The Shooting Star.
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In the midst of a pandemic, all roads seem to point towards a more sustainable lifestyle. My tips to embrace easy sustainable living ideas.
The past 50+ days of lockdown living have been an emotional roller coaster.
Iâve felt a deep longing to be in the midst of nature. The forests, the mountains, the sea, Iâve craved them all. This longing made me realize that I never fully appreciated the freedom (and privilege) to experience the incredible beauty of our world. It equally made me dwell on my environmental footprint as an inhabitant of a shared planet.
In the midst of a pandemic linked to deforestation, biodiversity loss and intensive animal farming, the future seems to point towards a life that is more sustainable, compassionate and mindful.
But will decreasing our individual footprint make any difference in the big picture? We only need to look at the past for inspiration. Many social and political transformations came about as a result of mass movements that began with individual awareness and personal choices. The more invested we become in sustainable living as individuals, the more likely we are to drive change as a society.
For those of us not directly affected by the on-going crisis, this slowdown can be a chance to make small but lasting changes towards a sustainable way of life. So behold, some sustainable living ideas to experiment with, at home and on the road:
In this post:
BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS MINIMALISM
I know Marie Kondo is all the rage these days, but minimalism isnât a new trend. Itâs simply the idea of consuming mindfully. Owning less, buying less, having fewer material attachments.
In fact, most people in India and elsewhere lived minimalist lives before the days of television and social media. Before marketing, ads and influencers started telling us that we want more than we need.
How I ended up living out of 2 bags
Back in 2013, when I was contemplating a life of long term travel, I had cupboards, drawers and bags full of things I didnât really need.
So I spent a few days taking stock of everything I owned. I gave away most of my clothes, shoes, books, appliances and assorted possessions to anyone who could use them. Gradually I gave up the apartment itself, and have been living out of two bags since.
Over the years, itâs felt mentally liberating to shed the weight of my material attachments. I know now, that my contentment has nothing to do with trips to a shopping mall or the latest fashion trend.
Harmless though it seems, fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. So Iâve pledged that whenever I acquire something new, it will be recycled or upcycled, support a local cause and/or be environmentally sustainable.
Tips for minimalist sustainable living
Books / documentaries about minimalism
SEGREGATE, COMPOST, REDUCE AND RECYCLE YOUR WASTE
A few years ago, I visited a state-of-the-art waste management plant in Goa. At the conveyor belt, I saw workers sorting out recyclables from all kinds of waste. Curry covered boxes, plastic in all forms, rotting vegetables, tattered clothes, umbrellas, muck covered toys, even rotting carcasses! It is sickening that a fellow human should have to dig through all our waste just because we refuse to segregate it.
Since this is a semi-private waste plant, workers are given protective coats, gloves, a face mask and health insurance. But most ragpickers and informal waste workers (in India and other developing countries) have access to none of this.
Visiting that plant and meeting workers who once lived off the public dumping ground made me realize that the least we can do to adopt a sustainable lifestyle is to deal with our waste more mindfully.
I now consciously look for Airbnbs / homestays that segregate and compost their waste. As far as possible, I try to reduce my waste by avoiding things that come in single-use plastic, thereby reducing my junk food intake. And no matter where in the world I am, I keep my eyes and ears peeled for recycling spots to give my recyclable waste.
While in Cape Town, I decided to experiment with a month of being zero waste on the road â not easy but not impossible. Iâll be writing about that zero waste sustainable living challenge soon.
How to segregate and compost waste
The conversation about waste seldom makes it to our living rooms. No wonder, my folks put up so much resistance against the simple act of segregating waste. But now that Iâm locked down with them, theyâve finally relented!
The process is really simple. All you need to do is use two bins instead of one. All wet waste (food waste, soiled plain paper and anything biodegradable) goes into one. All dry waste into another.
For the wet waste, dig a pit in your backyard if you have one. Discard the wet waste in it once or twice a day, and cover with an equal amount of dry leaves.
If you live in an apartment, get yourself an Eco Bin, which allows easy and hygienic disposal of wet waste. In a few weeks, youâll have compost to grow your own vegetables! See this comprehensive pit composting guide if you have a backyard or these indoor composting options.
The dry waste should ideally be sent to a recycling facility. Figure out if thereâs a collection service or center in your vicinity. If not, perhaps you could arrange for community collection, to be sent to the nearest facility every week or month. Alternatively, discuss with your local ragpickers what they are able to salvage and try to find solutions to the remaining waste.
Tips for low waste sustainable living
Ideas for plastic free sustainable living
SWITCH TO A MENSTRUAL CUP
I have to confess that the idea of inserting a menstrual cup in my vagina felt so scary that even after I bought one, I shied away from trying it for three whole months!
For the uninitiated, a menstrual cup is an eco friendly alternative to pads and tampons. The cups is made of health grade silicon, and inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. Now that Iâve been using one for over a year, I can tell you itâs hygienic, safe and super comfortable!
The best time to experiment with a menstrual cup is when youâre staying home and have easy access to a comfortable bathroom â i.e. this lockdown!
Why a menstrual cup enables sustainable living
My conviction to switch to a menstrual cup came while volunteering on a remote island in Cuba. I was surprised to spot single-use plastic on the seabed that wasnât even available on the island! Those stunning corals and marine life were co-existing with plastic bags, shampoo bottles, straws and what not.
I had switched to âbiodegradable padsâ by that time, but further research revealed that they degrade only when discarded and composted separately. I couldnât do that on the road, nor could I live with myself for sending 10-15 plastic pads to the landfill or ocean every month.
Tips to use a menstrual cup
Advantages of a menstrual cup in pursuit of an enviromentally friendly lifestyle
Recommended brands of menstrual cups
I love my Lena Cup (bought on Amazon US while travelling in that part of the world) and absolutely recommend it.
My cup-verted friends recommend the SheCup, Cupvert Cup, Boondh Cup and Rustic Art Cup in India. I highly recommend buying cloth pads as a backup for low flow days. There are several options on Amazon India and Amazon US. A set of 4 suffices for me.
CREATIVELY REUSE AND UPCYCLE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
Iâve often found it hard to focus during this lockdown, with all the negativity and indefiniteness playing on my mind. But perhaps itâs the perfect time to unleash our creative spirit to do things itâs otherwise hard to find time for.
In February this year, I met small-scale entrepreneurs across Kerala who benefit indirectly from tourism through vocational jobs. I learnt how to upcycle old newspapers into artisan handmade paper. A sweet couple demonstrated how they recycle used candle wax to make creative candle designs. A tea planter turned tailor has been making cloth bags from old clothes so people can stop using single-use plastic bags.
In South Africa, I learnt how to make trendy wallets from used tetra boxes! In Myanmar, I met a womenâs collective who upcycle used coffee and other plastic packets into cool bookmarks and lamp shades.
On my closed women-only Facebook group, one creative soul bought discarded wood from a ragpicker to make a sofa. Another made a hip bookshelf with old drawers!
Why make reusing and recycling part of your sustainable living plan
I sometimes read about people making a move towards slow fashion and a plastic-free sustainable lifestyle by buying new âminimalism-friendlyâ things as they discard everything else.
And I get it, itâs tempting to buy that multi-purpose scarf thing on Instagram that can be worn 10 different ways. Or to throw out all plastic jars and buy a new set of glass jars to feel good about ourselves.
But hereâs the thing. Sustainability and minimalism are pointless pursuits if weâre creating all this trash, or craving the next trendy minimal wear. We need to use what weâve already got â for the maximum amount of time we can.
How to reuse and recycle during the lockdown
Limited access to non-essentials during the lockdown is the perfect opportunity to get creative. Google has tons of DIY ideas for whatever you need and how to make it based on what you already have at home.
After a long hiatus, I feel ready to acquire a new dress. So Iâm trying to remodel my current one into a skirt, and upcycle one of my momâs old sarees into a dress. Weâll see how the experiment goes
In the next few weeks, my notebook will run out of pages, so Iâm going to try making handmade paper. Itâll be hard to replenish my shampoo and conditioner bars, so Iâll try to make a version at home. Many of my friends are making their own cloth masks and sanitizers. The sustainable living possibilities are endless!
EMBRACE A COMPASSION-DRIVEN VEGAN LIFESTYLE
Have you been wondering how the hell life went from being business as usual to this scary, bizarre lockdown situation?
Scientists pretty much agree that the source of the COVID-19 outbreak was a wet market in Wuhan, China. Hens, fish, snakes, birds, porcupines, pangolin, even wolf pups are sold there â to be cooked and eaten. The virus likely came from bats, and was possibly transmitted by a snake, pangolin or chicken, into humans (pangolin is the prime suspect). That makes it a zoonotic disease, one that spread from animals to humans.
Thereâs been a rise in the spread of infectious diseases in the last 50 years. Our population has grown. But also we have more livestock since 1960 than the last 10,000 years of domestication combined! As we use more animals â for trade, farming, food etc â we increase the probability of cross-species transmission of infectious diseases. Dr Gauden Galea, WHO Representative, China, said in an interview with CNN: âAs long as people eat meat, there is going to be some risk of infection.â
Why go vegan (or consume less animal products for sustainable living)
How to turn vegan at your own pace
Books / documentaries to inspire a vegan sustainable lifestyle
GROW YOUR OWN MICROGREENS AND OTHER FOOD
Nothingâs given me as much joy in this lockdown as growing my own microgreens! Weâve all likely sampled microgreens â those little plants with a couple of leaves that often appear with a starter or dish at a cafe or restaurant.
But I was first introduced to their amazing nutritional content at The Sunshine Food Co in Cape Town. The owner Elisha fell in love with farming microgreens, and now offers the most badass vegan activated charcoal burgers Iâve ever had.
So I read up, watched a couple of videos and drew inspiration from Instagram to experiment with growing my own. In reused takeaway containers filled with soil, I sowed mustard, urad dal and basil seeds. And was amazed that with little effort, they grew beautifully in a couple of weeks! I added them to my smoothies and sandwiches.
I then managed to get okra, bitter gourd and black eyed pea (lobia) seeds from an organic farmer, though those will take a while to grow.
The joy of growing your own food
This lockdown has left many of us craving to reconnect with earth, and growing our own food is a therapeutic way of doing that. It also allows us to be more self-sustainable in an uncertain future.
Besides, itâs rather reassuring to consume something home-grown, that you know hasnât been infiltrated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. And I can swear it teaches us to value the hardwork of our farmers enough to never negotiate for their produce again!
Practical tips to grow produce at home
Also read: How to Indulge Your Wanderlust at Home
CATCH UP ON THE HEALTH OF THE PLANET
I know these are overwhelming, unprecedented times. I have good days and bad each week. I feel angry, helpless, sad, guilty and a whole other gamut of emotions.
But this is also a time of introspection. A chance to learn more about this genius planet of ours without stepping out. An opportunity to chase a deeper understanding of the relationship of our species with nature, man-animal conflict, climate change, social justice, animal rights and impactful ways to pursue a sustainable lifestyle.
Unlike pandemics of the past, weâre lucky to have virtual access to the world through Netflix, zoom, webinars, lives, kindle and other technology.
Perhaps the greatest favor we can do ourselves is to treat this âgreat pauseâ as a chance to unlearn, rethink and realign our lives. In a way that is personally gratifying but also reduces our impact on the natural world around us.
Have you committed to any sustainable living ideas during the lockdown? What do you plan to try?
Iâm now accepting guest posts on my blog on responsible travel and sustainable living. If youâd like to contribute a story, please see my guidelines here.
If youâre a sustainability-minded rebel struggling with your life choices, join my closed women-only Facebook group.
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Although archery is a relatively safe sport, if done improperly it can be dangerous and result in serious injury. The most common archery injuries tend to be in the arm or shoulder, but they can usually be prevented by using the correct technique and ensuring adequate recovery. Let’s look at the 7 most common archery injuries and how you can prevent them.
1. Rotator cuff injuries
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons around the shoulder joint. As such, it’s no surprise this area is prone to injury when practising archery.
When you draw your bow consistently, you put pressure on the muscles and strain them. Over time, you might experience a dull aching pain in the shoulder and your range of motion may be restricted.
If you experience pain when drawing back your bow, take a break and let the muscles relax to prevent injury. Some archery stances lend themselves more to rotator cuff injuries, so choose a comfortable stance using the proper bow-drawing technique. Make sure you also use your back muscles to pull your arm back, to lessen the pressure on your shoulder.
You can regularly exercise your rotator cuffs to make the muscles stronger and prevent injury. This YouTube video demonstrates a workout to exercise these muscles using just a stretch-band that you might already have at home.
As an archer, you’ve likely experienced “archer’s elbow”. If not, you’ll definitely want to keep it that way. It refers to tendonitis in the elbow, which is when your tendon (the connective tissue which attaches muscle to bone) becomes inflamed. For archers, tendonitis is most common in the elbows, but also occurs in the shoulders and wrists.
When you bring your bow to a full draw, for example, it puts repetitive or excessive strain on the tendon and can be extremely painful.
If you can’t maintain correct form when drawing your bow, you might need to drop the draw weight as it’s likely too heavy. It’s also important to strengthen the muscles you’re using, such as the shoulder and scapular muscles, so your tendon isn’t compensating for them. Of course, it’s important to practise your archery skills, but you shouldn’t neglect the all-important gym exercises that prevent these archery injuries.
3. String slap
String slap happens when you release the bow string and it slaps your lower arm. It can be surprisingly painful, and you’ll probably experience bruising or tenderness in this area if it happens to you.
The easiest and best way to prevent string slap injuries is to wear an armguard to protect your lower arm. They’re cheap to buy and handy if you’re just starting out. To avoid the string slapping your arm, ensure you have the correct posture and form, as well as the appropriate draw weight.
4. Chest bruising
Another string slap injury occurs when the bowstring slaps against the chest during shooting. It’s nothing to worry about, but it could cause significant pain and bruising, which you want to avoid where possible.
The quickest way to prevent chest bruising is to invest in a chest guard to stop the string hitting your chest and prevent your clothes from getting in the way. If you don’t want to buy a chest guard, you should wear tight-fitting clothing that won’t catch on the string. If you have a large chest, you may want to wear a supportive bra. Correct stance and technique are also, once again, very important.
5. Muscle strain injuries
There is such a thing as overtraining, especially in a sport that involves so many repetitive movements. When you’re working certain muscles too hard, it’s only a matter of time before you experience a muscle strain injury.
In archery, these repetitive muscle strains normally occur in the arms, wrists, hands, shoulders and neck. They’ll feel achy and stiff and you may experience cramping in those areas.
If you’re a keen archer, you might not want to hear that rest is the best way to prevent muscle strain injuries – but it is. You should take regularly breaks to give your muscles the chance to relax. Luckily, there are ways to improve your archery technique without physical practice. In fact, several of the best archers in the world highlight the importance of mental training. Why not try these ideas to exercise your brain and improve your archery whilst you’re away from the range?
If your fingers are on the bowstring for too long when it’s released, it can rub them, and this can cause blisters to form. This usually happens when you hook the bowstring too much or your fingers are in the wrong position.
To avoid friction and painful finger blisters, put your fingers on the string correctly and make sure you maintain the correct hand position. If your fingers are still blistered and painful, you might want to consider wearing archery gloves when you practise.
7. Hand cuts or punctures
Unlike the above injuries, this isn’t caused by the movements involved in archery. Instead, it’s caused by negligence when handling archery equipment. Archery arrows are extremely sharp, so it’s essential to handle them with care. If not, you risk cutting yourself or sustaining a puncture wound.
First, establish how best to handle your arrows safely to avoid injury. You can also buy an arrow quiver to cover your arrow points and prevent injury. Alternatively, when using broadhead arrows, make sure to invest in a broadhead wench to ensure the sharp blades are covered.
Unfortunately, even by taking these precautions, accidents can and do happen. That’s why you need specialist archery insurance. At Gunplan, we provide up to £50,000 of Personal Accident cover for archers, to protect you if you suffer an injury while practising. Find out more about our cover by clicking the link above, or get a quote in minutes today.
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Physical Educator and sports coach from 6 years , with degree in sports science and physical education from RLT University in US. Coach of football, skating, hockey and rugby teams. Now working as Sports development officer in Perth city.