At this moment, "downtown" Mussoorie looks a lot like most third-world countries. A lot of dirt. Random, malnourished animals wandering the streets. A lot of garbage, much of it plastic. But in the not-too-distant future, at least part of that picture will be changing. The state of Uttaranchal has banned plastic. Mainly this applies to plastic grocery bags and they're taking it very seriously. If a merchant uses/offers plastic bags, he can be fined 1,000 rupees (or about $25 -- a LOT by Indian standards). As a customer, if I request a plastic bag, I can be fined 500 rupees. I think technically the law has been in existence for a while but they're really cracking down. And people are responding. On my last trip to the Bazaar, only one store gave me plastic bags. The rest make do with paper or just load things directly into my backpack. The school will be having several sessions on how to make bags out of old newspapers and I'm pretty excited about that "craft" opportunity!
It's just so great to see a clear, noticeable change in favor of the environment. We don't witness that very often in the US. And there's something vaguely ironic about this incredibly poor, resource-needy area being better than the wealthy Americans at doing something for the plant. I mean, many of the people who live in Mussoorie have enough to worry about just trying to survive, never mind mobilizing to clean up the town, and yet they take the time and the effort to do just that. It's amazing.
Later today I will (hopefully) be posting some more pictures. It was finally sunny so I took pictures of the outside of Mt. Hermon to give you a feel for where we're located.