That package of instant soup began its life as a product in a factory thousands of miles away from the monastery, its vegetable contents coming from farms even farther away. Now the empty plastic pouch was going to land in a rubbish pile somewhere on the sides of this breathtakingly beautiful mountain, and perhaps eventually find its way into the roaring Spiti river to be swept back down towards the plains whence it came. For the monastery, like every other settlement in the valley—and indeed, like every urban area in the world—has a growing garbage disposal problem.
Just as unthinkable as the Facebook apps on cellphones in nearly every villager’s hands, the ATMs dispensing cash in remote towns, or the televisions bringing international cricket tournaments and advertisements for hair and skin products into many homes now electrified and plugged into the global grid. For the once sleepy settlements in these remote mountains, which only drew hardy souls from the plains seeking refuge and spiritual enlightenment in nature, away from the bustle of modern industrial civilization, have now turned into outposts along the rapidly urbanizing fringe of that very civilization.
This urbanization has no doubt improved many human lives, helping solve some age old problems with modern technology, but also creating new ones threatening both human health and the biodiversity of this fragile desert ecosystem.
Sustainable Cities Collective 04 July 13
Madhusudan Katti http://www.thenatureofcities.com/