Erum strives to take people back to their roots, because she feels youngsters today have forgotten their history, culture and values. One day, while travelling in a bus, Erum, started interacting with some students. “What do you think about Agra?” she asked them. “Dirty, there’s nothing here,” came the response. Shocked, Erum decided to do something to change people’s perception about her city. She created a Facebook page― ‘Journey to Roots’―in 2013, which focuses on creating awareness and mapping the diminishing biodiversity, history, heritage and culture of the surrounding small towns near Agra. Today, the city has a thriving artists’ community. She also does history walks for tourists.
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The change I would like to see
The major problem is that the people living in the city do not know how to look at it. There are multiple paradigm shifts needed at each level. While there are no established platforms here to showcase the arts as compared with Delhi or Lucknow, we have music, poetry, literature, and history that is unparalleled and can speak for itself. I agree that the city is dirty, the Yamuna is dead and we do not have shores as beautiful as Rishikesh. But, let us focus on what we can do about it. If it is dirty, we must clean it. A similar shift is needed for the underprivileged section. We need to visit slums to bridge this gap in our society. This is different from donating to the poor. It is about spending time with them, learning about their struggles and improving their future.
As told to Akanki Sharma