UNDELUDED BY THE DELUGE

UNDELUDED BY THE DELUGE

Onam Aashamsukal !

I was looking forward to the Independence Day week mini vacation. Our teachers’ trip to Vagamon & Munnar was on the anvil. Though it had been a fortnight of bad news, locally for us, and a hectic one too, a break in the hills with friends would have been the perfect antidote to the prevailing morose scene.

Meanwhile, the news of rains in the western ghats started coming in the news as a trickle. The trickle gained volume and now it had the potential to disrupt our planned activities during the trip. But the weekend before our scheduled departure it had turned into a deluge, especially in the places in our itinerary. It was throwing normal life out of gear in Kerala, the state that is entirely bordered by the ghats on its east. Hence, our trip was cancelled, for the third time, for reasons beyond our control.

Though it was a disappointment, it also paved way for some relaxed time at home. And so, I was savouring the time off. By now, the deluge was turning into a catastrophe. God’s Own Country was flooded. It was nothing like this generation had seen. An entire state was underwater, in historic proportions. The unrelenting rainfall was adding to the woes. Many of my friends were updating their status as ‘safe’ in the ‘flooding across Kerala’. A few of them were already engaging themselves in rescue & relief work. I made calls to some of my dear friends in Kerala to ascertain their safety. Though they were safe, they painted a grim picture of their surroundings.

The situation reminded me of the Chennai & Cuddalore floods of December 2015. I was reminded of how the staff of our school had responded then to the crisis. We had sent messages to parents about the collection drive for the floods, stationed buses at vantage points in our town, collected materials that were contributed, segregated & made them into family kits in our campus. This was all done in two days, inspite of the rain holidays & inspite of the fact that many of our own neighborhoods were also affected.

Forward to the present, we were thinking of some similar project. It was a 5-day holiday again. As we were finding how best to respond to the current crisis, I got messages from my 12th grade students regarding this. They wanted to collect relief materials. They even had come up with a rough poster. I conveyed to my Principal the plan the students had put forth and she quickly & enthusiastically approved the same. She gave her full support, as usual.

So we finalized the poster after back & forth corrections which the students edited multiple times. They printed the posters and stuck it on some most visited commercial establishments in town. Their social awareness group ‘Cognizance’ played an active part in this. Our school website & Facebook pages were updated with the poster. On Monday, the day the full school reopened after the holidays, the Student Council of std 12 put up an Assembly in school to create awareness among students and to motivate them to contribute.

But a few did not need any motivation; they had brought in materials on Monday itself after seeing the poster in the websites. This was how the trickle started. We wanted cartons to segregate & pack. A random call to a packaging manufacturing company, whose proprietor turned out to be our school parent, brought in perfect sized boxes, for which he refused to take a payment. Over the next four days we carved out some time in our packed academic schedule to collect, sort, segregate, pack & label the materials.

The 11th graders quickly grasped what was to be done & meticulously carried out the work. A handful of 12th graders would check with me every evening to see what materials were needed & brought in those supplies everyday, inspite of me telling them that they have contributed enough. Parents and teachers contributed generously. One parent, a garment store owner gifted huge sacks of dresses and blankets, worth tens of thousands. Teachers brought in cleaning supplies. But the best contribution came from the housekeeping staff. One of them came and told that they have collected RS.5000 and asked for suggestions on what to contribute. I left it to their choice. The next morning they added around fifteen numbers of 5kg bags of rice and 1kg packets of toor dal. Our team was humbled and enthused by this gesture. The trickle of empathy initiated by students had turned into a deluge of compassion.

An attender from our stores department suggested and helped us pack a carton of the sturdy synthetic bags in which the supplies were given. He said these bags will be helpful in distribution of relief in camps and homes across Kerala. Such was the thoughtfulness employed by each one involved in this project.

After deliberations, we decided to hand over our relief consignment to Jipmer hospital, which was doing a commendable job by sending medical teams and supplies. Students with the help of drivers loaded the materials in our school bus and we reached the hospital campus. Two staff were waiting to receive us. Seeing our bus full of supplies, one of them rang up a few people to come over to the auditorium to help unload. But our students did not wait for help and started unloading. Within a few moments everything was unloaded and neatly arranged. The return trip to school was a relaxed fun journey.

By evening I got a message from one of the doctors that the materials from The Study was well segregated & packed, which saved their volunteers extra work. This was a testament to the diligent work done by our students. The notable fact is that it was done with empathy, and compassion. A joint effort by all in our school and driven by students.

David W. Orr, an environmentalist and environmental educationist writes in his book, Ecological Literacy:Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” — David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy:Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

The world will pass on to a wonderful generation which can traverse the virtual world and the real world seamlessly, negotiating the digital space with their technological expertise and enhancing the real world with humane qualities.

I write this piece not for publicity, but to highlight the fact that our world will be safe with our succeeding generations. Also, an institution which gives space for students to explore their humanitarian side will help in creating a peaceful world. Whatsoever controversies the heads in power create, the people-to-people connect across borders and breaking barriers is what matters in ensuring a great world to live in, for all.

Wishing my friends a great Onam and a greater year ahead.

~Punitha Lakshmi

#keralafloodrelief #keralafloods2018 #standwithkerala

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CRUISING CINDRELLA ~~PEDESTRIAN’S PROGRESS~~

For the last few months I have been unable to take time off for an adventure trip and this upset me quite a bit. And then, today I walked on the roads of Pondy during peak hours. Oh, what an adventure it was !!
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I walked to combine transportation & fitness purposes ! Ok, I admit, I tried to delay my unavoidable urgent visit to my dentist by an hour by walking to the dental clinic a few kms away 😦
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The simple roads transformed themselves into adventure elements – small hillocks (dug & piled up soil), peaks (flyover pillars in progress), gorges (narrow paths between illegally double parked vehicles), rubble course (construction blue metal splattered on the roads), scaling cliffs (racing past buses occupying the roads by almost sticking to it so as to avoid being hit by moving vehicles), watering holes (Pondy special of course!), hunter packs (street dogs zealously guarding their territory), trap pits (holes for cables etc yet to be closed), charging & roaring wild life (brain-shattering speeding drivers with non-stop honking) and deer-caught-in-headlight-scenes (pedestrians like me !!) !!
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Pedestrians are an endangered species in Indian cities. And, at this rate of development, they may soon become extinct ! Reserved walkways need to be created at the earliest to save this species !
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~ Punitha Lakshmi

Missing in Action – Sadya to Superfast !

I was flying down the stairs…. A green flag swaying a few feet below… A trumpet like sound blowing from a distance… And me waving my hand enthusiastically at the flag… I felt like a Maniratnam movie heroine in the climax of a romcom movie…
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No this is not a dream sequence from a movie… These were the thrilling moments from my day today.
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This is how the scene unfolded. Just an hour earlier before this scene, I was enjoying a nice Sadya, A Kerala feast, for lunch. My friend Sitara’s mother, Bhavani Aunty, had arranged a tasty spread, in the traditional manner.
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The Lunch

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Sitara and me after a quick shopping session, sat down the kids for the treat. All of us had devised individual customized algorithms to maximize the sadya experience. I for example started with ada pradaman, and ended with the same, and punctuated every dish like pulichery, olan and erichery with ada pradaman payasams ! The kids scooped the payasam in the poli and devoured it.
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The ticking of the clock in the dining hall was the reminder that we cannot be sitting in an endless loop of the sadya ; we had a train to catch !! We somehow halfheartedly got away from the table.
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Sadya !

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The dear friends, Abhimanyu-Tharan & Rahul-Ananth tried to play till the last minute. That was their way of saying goodbye.
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We were ready, but the driver was missing ! My friend called him and he said he was on his way. Probably he too was having a great lunch ! At long last he came, and we had about 15 minutes to catch the train. He raced through the streets of Trivandrum, and we literally jumped out of the car at the station. Two porters chatting casually and having a leisurely afternoon, were pressed into active mode with our arrival. I said we had 2 minutes to get on our train, and told them the train name. They seemed to accept the challenge ! My kids and me sprinted across the platforms and impatiently walked up the moving escalator and ran across the over bridge. We were following the racing porters blindly, as I had no clue as to which platform we were to board. As we were crossing the bridge, they slowed down. I was puzzled. They simply said ‘train poiyee’. I refused to believe and thought that according to IST, there were another 10 minutes for the train to leave. But they pointed a moving train to me. It was just starting and I was hoping to catch it. I motivated them that we can and my kids ran ahead trying to stop the train.
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This is the place where the first scene falls in place. As I was waving out frantically to the guard holding the green flag, he looked at me and I shouted stop. My voice would not have reached him definitely.
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Did I say earlier that I felt like a Maniratnam heroine in a climax scene ??!!  Well, that was when I felt hopeful of catching the train. Now I actually felt like Kamal Haasan in ‘Moondram Pirai’ movie climax waving out to an unacknowledging Sridevi in the train 😦 ;(.
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The train kept moving and I believed I could still board the train. Then the train disappeared. The Jan Shatabdi from Trivandrum to Trichur had left platform no:4 at 2.20 p.m, On Time.
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We came to a standstill – the kids, me, porters et al. The other people on the platform too, as they tried to understand our plight. The porters set our luggage down, and a small crowd had gathered around us. I decided not to shed any tear. But I felt lost.
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The people there assumed I understood Malayalam and spoke rapidly asking about our problem; I assumed that they could understand my Malayalam and spoke quickly asking if there was anyway to stop the train or what the next station was. I was surprised by how well I could speak Malayalam, in that panic mode !!
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Somebody said that a Chennai express was departing in 39 minutes. Somebody else said that Nizamuddin Super fast will be starting in another 10 minutes, from the same platform. They offered suggestions to cancel the previous, buy a new ticket, talk to TTE etc etc. My kids were suggesting that we should probably go back to their friends’ grandma’s home, as they can continue playing 😉
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Kids Playing

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I made a quick decision. I decided to try the Nizamuddin. I asked the porters for the charge, and they simply said that they will load our luggage in the new train first, and did not say anything about the money. The train arrived soon enough.
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A couple of people helped us find the AC coach and the porters found empty seats and arranged our luggage. Somebody said that I could convert the previous ticket to this train, but the porters said that it is better to get open general tickets. Seeing that I was travelling with 2 kids and few luggages, they offered to go and buy the tickets. I gave him the money and he got 3 sleeper class tickets.
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I sat down, gingerly, as I was not sure if the TTE would allow us to travel in this compartment. But the kids were already playing live snakes and ladders by climbing up and down the berths !  I noticed the many missed calls from Sitara, who was anxious about whether we were able to board the train, Jan Shatabdi that is. Bhavani aunty too was anxious it seems, probably thinking we spent too much time eating ! But traditional authentic food deserves time, even if it means missing trains 😉
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When the TTE came, I showed him both the tickets, and I had to pay the balance fare (SL to AC).
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We had upgraded ourselves from chair to berth, and express to superfast – albeit at a cost. Experiences like these help us to realize that some strangers are still helpful, that labourers go the extra mile in helping customers, friends care, and, that one can have a feast and still catch a super fast 😉
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Hues of Green - from the train window !

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I am relaxing in my seat now, enjoying the varied hues of green that Kerala covers itself with 🙂
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~Punitha Lakshmi

THE LIGHT OF COMPASSION

The Light of Compassion

The Light of Compassion

THE LIGHT OF COMPASSION

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A soul in compassion ,

A heart in expansion ;

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When the borders dissolve ,

Humanity as one evolves ;

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Who are these You and I ?

There is none in Divine’s Eye  ;

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I, Me and Mine creates a boundary ,

And puts Existence in contrary ;

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The infinite ‘emptiness’ of ether ,

Does not accomodate any ‘other’ ;

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Why is all behind a shroud ?

Is this the set way it should ?

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As we unveil curtain by curtain ,

The Light shall shine for certain.

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Gently radiate the spirit of Unison ,

Let shine the Light of Compassion .

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~Punitha Lakshmi

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This post is for the 1000 Voices of Compassion. #1000Speak .

Compassion – a work in progress

WINTER IN WONDERLAND !! ~~ Camping in the Misty Mountains !

DAUNTING DOWNHILL

The rickety pickup truck puffed its way up the steep mountain road. Excited young voices, from the back of the truck were in sync with the haphazard movement of the vehicle ; rising with speed, laughing in turns and hollering in general ! I was squeezed in the front seat with a lady colleague and carton of mountain oranges for company ! I, of course, was enjoying the novel experience !

I could not identify if the truck was hitting a pothole or was on normal road. The vehicle was lurching on the rain eroded ghat roads, at times careening near the sharp turns. After a point, I started a guessing game with myself – will the vehicle tilt to the right or left now ?! But the local young man, who was driving the pickup truck made no guesses while driving. He seemed to know every inch of the road and steered the loaded vehicle very confidently. The inquisitive villagers along the way waved out to us excitedly, while some waved down the vehicle to have a small chat with the driver, to expressly question him about the details and itinerary of his passengers !

After a good forty minutes drive we spotted the familiar yellow bus, our school bus, which was occupied by the students from earlier jeep & truck trips. A batch of the senior students has braved the steep terrain and long distance to trek two hours to the bus from the camp site ! A quick headcount and excited mini- reunions later (friends separated for a maximum period of two hours !), our school buses started the journey to the commercialized part of the hills.

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A scenic spot in Kodai Lake

Kodai Lake was hosting the tourists, hawkers and locals along its paved banks. Its waters, the main attraction, saw boats of many sizes and types. We split ourselves in groups and went out to explore the lake and its surroundings. While some rented bicycles, some chose to walk along the clean pavements. Walking had its advantages, as we could stop for a spicy freshly roasted corn here, a hot pineapple there or a chilly bajji anywhere ! We leveraged our advantage to quieten our creaking tummies ! The girls in my group enjoyed the sights and sounds as we sauntered in the lake’s circumference !

Some quick shopping for homemade chocolates and fragrant oils later, we boarded the bus for the most difficult part of our journey – the downhill drive ! Avomins became the most sought after commodity followed the ubiquitious plastic bag, in case the avomin is inefficient in keeping the contents of the digestive system inside. For once, even the audio system was shut down ! And, all the occupants of the bus maintained a stoic silence, for fear of offending their respective digestive systems which was threatening to retaliate by propelling its remnants up the esophagus and out of one’s facial cavity ! I will not reveal any specific details of that drive, sparing both the reader and the passenger in the process !

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Roasted, spicy corn on the cob !

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally in the plains. And relieved too ! A hearty lunch and lots of lemon sodas rebooted our systems and the students got back their verve ! From then on all the way to Pondicherry the mood was festive, with the students making up for the quiet time downhill !

The adventurous trip was in its last leg, and I dozed intermittently, for a teacher can never sleep deeply when chaperoning students.

THE PATHFINDERS

The Pathfinder Camp, has been an important event in the annual calendar of  The Study L’ecole Internationale, Pondicherry for a few years now. The Camp Director Dr. Kisku, has been at the forefront in organizing these camps in a purposeful way. While the junior camp, for 3rd to 6th graders, focuses on inculcating self-reliance in the kids, the senior camp, comprising of grades 7 to 12, challenges the students to higher levels of physical endurance through adventure and mental ability through puzzles and games – all in the outdoors of the pristine hills . The learnings in the four days of camping would in effect be equivalent to many weeks of classroom instruction.

PERSISTENCE PAYS

This year’s camp had been overwhelmed by delays ;  the original date in late September clashed with the weekend a court in a neighbouring state chose to convict a famous politician in another neighbouring state. The trip was cancelled due to the ensuing mob violences across the 2 states and 1 UT. The students were disappointed, but soon enough started awaiting new dates for the camp. The second time the camp was planned was in early November. An active NE monsoon was bringing in copious rainfall and landslides in the mountains. The Principal, Mrs. Alice, had to take a call in this and the camp was postponed again. The students were disappointed, but had not lost hope. And their patience was rewarded in the third week of December, when all the campers finally boarded the bus to Kodaikanal one cold early morning ! The 100 students, teachers, staff and drivers were ready for the challenges ahead !

The bus. after a pleasant journey, stopped at a small hill town, Perumal Malai. We jumped out of the bus, due as much from the eagerness to breathe the fresh mountain air, as also to stretch our cramped muscles. And, we did get around two hours to work our restrained muscles and exercise them, in our trek to the base campsite !

A hot homemade lunch awaited us at Kodai Camp, our home for the next four days. The students were given a choice of lodging – dorm, big tents or small tents. Ultimately, the younger ones were accommodated in dorms, while the seniors students took over the tents. The group gathered around the campfire for songs and interactions. The quiet, remote valley resonated with the voices of wonderful children.

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A cute calf in the campsite !

TREKKING INTO NATURE’S HEARTLAND

It was 8.30 in the morning and all the campers had assembled to start their trek through the Elephant Valley. The trek leads, guides and teachers/camp counselors made sure their group was suitably equipped with water, snacks, team spirit and adventurous attitude !

A hut in the forest

A lovely hut in the forest ! My dream house !

The mountains and valleys were covered by a thick envelope of mist and fog, giving an alluring aura to the hidden beauty. The visibility was only a few feet at its best in the trail. It was as if one had to tear open the Veil of foggy ignorance to realize the hidden Summit of Truth Within. Nature carries life’s signposts everywhere in Existence.

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A village woman going home with the days rewards.

The city bred kids and adults seemed to find their foothold over the mountain trails pretty quickly. Some fell on pebbly trails, some slided over rock faces, some glided over smooth surfaces and many rested at every opportunity ! Hands were held out to rescue the one’s stuck, bags were carried by the stronger one’s, snacks shared and songs sung ; but silence too reigned intermittently when even the kids were awed by the forest sounds.

Just walking ma'am !

Just walking ma’am ! Really !

Some parts of the slopes were eroded due to the heavy rains, exposing more rocks underneath. The roots and grasses, a trekkers natural hand bars, provided the grip in the steep slippery slopes. I had divided my team of 11 into micro groups of approximately 3’s, thus minimizing the chances of an individual getting lost. Two is a crowd in lonely forests, a desired crowd infact !

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Climbing the slippery slope

Our trek started through a spice garden and then running into an orange grove. We picked up the fallen oranges to savour the fresh flavor and aroma ! A steep walk up a paved road brought us to the edge of the wild forest – the profuse animal droppings seemed to be the welcome sign to their natural habitat ! From that point on we were leaving the last signs of civilization and going into unspoilt nature.

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Lemon grass fringed trail !

How respectful should one be when one is a guest in another’s home ? Shouldn’t the laws of civilization be applicable to human ventures into the forest too ? The students were told to not leave trash the forest, which they complied with in all sincerity.

We trekked through the forest, under the canopy of tall and short trees. The narrow trails, just a foot or two wide at the maximum, was bordered by wild shrubs, trees and spice plants. It seemed quite dark at places. And the, suddenly the mountain seemed to open her arms to welcome her persistent children !

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“Are we crossing mountains ?!” Trekking to somewhere in low visibility !

The vista was wide open now. The mist became thicker, the tress had fallen back in the trail and we seemed to be on the steep slopes of the mountain. I say seemed to, because we were not really sure of how steep or how deep the slopes were. At one point it looked like we were crossing from one hill to the next, sometimes it looked like we were circumambulating a mountain. Few instances it looked like we were climbing higher to the very peak of that mountain. We had no way of confirming anything then.

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“Where are we ?!!”

Our trek guides were with us, helping us navigate the tough terrain. Some places we were wandering alone (in micro groups ofcourse). We stuck to our groups and were guided by the few feet of visibility before us, sometimes just a foot ahead. Lemon grass, a prized herb in the cities, was growing all along the slopes lending fragrance to the air. It provided the only grip in some places.

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The top of the steep falls

In all this adventure, we did time for selfies, pictures, talks and lots of fun. How can one not have fun when surrounded by kids ?!! We were also well past lunch time and snacks were passed around to keep the tummies happy. Every teacher took the utmost care to see her group safe through the trek.

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Gorge receiving the water from the falls

At a point near a falls, all the students converged. The water falls had a steep drop into the gorge below and the view from the top was breathtaking. Our next stop was the river that was the source of this falls. It was a gentle river, with just two feet deep at its centre – a perfect place for splashing in the water ! And this exactly what all the kids did – jumped into the water to wash away all the fatigue due to the six hour trek.

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A quaint village temple covered in mist

The mist was closing in more heavily on the river now, as if telling us that visiting hours were over and the river and the forest need to get their beauty sleep ! We continued our trek out of the forest and onto our campsite through a small village. It was a beautifully adventurous day into Nature’s Heartland, where everyone, including the teacher becomes the taught.

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Misty River !

Hot baths and hot meals soothed our weary bodies, and the kids bounced right back into action after a brief break ! Children are indeed the powerhouse of energy !

TEAM BUILDING

The sun shone a little the next day and we discovered that our campsite was surrounded by huge mountains, in layer after layer ! The mist had hidden this secret the previous two days. Our trek guide traced the trek route we had covered the previous day. From the comfort of our camp, we realized the arduous trek we had accomplished  – straddling a few mountains, forests and valleys ! It was like looking at the x-ray in a doctor’s office through a well lit board ! The sun was shining the spotlight on our trekking path, perhaps as a reward to the endurance of the entire team !

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Pathfinders in blue – a cool collage !

The day was spent in team building activities designed by a team of resource people in the outdoors – photo scavenging, spotting, nature scavenging, plank walking etc. Each activity required the participation and contribution of each and every child. And making the every child to come out with ideas and involvement was the success. As a testimony to the inclusive nature of the camp, my younger son in 4th grade who accompanied me to the camp, was made part of the teams right at the beginning. The 12th graders heard out his ideas as much as they did a 7th graders.

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Camping grounds with the mountains as backdrop !

Co-operation, inclusiveness, initiative, team spirit, idea generation, responsibility and other such lofty ideals would remain just that – lofty ideals – if confined to text books or dry sermons by teachers in classrooms. I am by no means undermining the value of the textbook or teachers – I have utmost regard for both. But it is only in a sports ground or in the wilderness that a child can get the time and space to practice first hand and make these lofty ideals a habit, a recurring habit. I am a staunch believer in this. I am fortunate to be working in an institution that too believes and practices this.

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Hula Hoopers !

SPECIAL MENTIONS

A special mention about our super seniors, the 12th graders, where the ‘super’ is not just a category name but an adjective to those seniors. They took their juniors under their wings, looked out for them, helped them out in difficult tasks, and coordinated with their teachers and other resource people to make this camp a success ! They were an inspiration to their juniors too, my kids still bring in the name of their senior annas and akkas when discussing the camp.

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Tandem Bridge ! The seniors leading from the front and guiding from the rear too. The juniors learning team spirit !

It is wrong to stereotype an entire generation as irresponsible or brash or brand them with other such adjectives. Sometimes we have to trust them and give them a free hand to let them experience their goodness and potential. And the perfect setting to initiate this would be away from the classroom or even home, as the classroom dynamics sometimes comes too loaded with pre-conceived baggage.

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Stories by the camp fire ! Pic courtesy : The Study

Sending out fit and responsible citizens out into the world is the responsibility of every parent, teacher, school and college. I am sure that these students will definitely Be the Change in the place and time they live.

Tha cubed !

‘Tha’ cubed 🙂

My colleagues, camp director, the resource people, the campsite owners, their staff, the students – everyone contributed to make this camp a true ‘Winter in Wonderland’ !!

ADIEUS !

It was past midnight when we reached back to school. The eager parents were happy to get back with their kids. Teachers and students were bidding adieus with a heavy heart, for the bond had grown in the four adventurous days.

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Cheered by the students to try this very long roped tyre swing ! An exhilarating experience !

~Punitha Lakshmi

CRUISING CINDRELLA ! ~~ A drive in Fairyland !

CRUISING CINDRELLA !

~~ ~A DRIVE IN FAIRYLAND ! ~~~

Cruising on a wide open highway…. the wind blowing on my face… my lips singing… my eyes gleaming… and my heart leaping !! I could go on and on… on the roads… about the drives…

I think I am a born driver ! I have been in love with driving right from when I was a very little girl ! I have photographs to prove my passion for this art form !

I discovered the joy of driving/ riding very early in life :)

I discovered the joy of driving/ riding very early in life 🙂

Yes, driving is indeed is an art form – that which gives immense pleasure when done with joy !

And I have enough & more experience on the roads – driving in a few countries, in different modes of transport and spanning many years ! And every day on the road is an experience of life itself  – especially if it is in India !

Armed with these credentials (!!), I have decided to share my experiences and learnings about my life on the roads ! Ok, so now you know, why I had to give such a big preamble before this announcement !

The new series ‘Cruising Cindrella !’ will take you along on my drives ; and hopefully that will not be a boring drive !

“Why this title ‘Crusing Cindrella !’ ?”, you might ask ? One may argue that I am neither a Cindrella, nor do I have a smooth cruise ! I do not want either too !

Cindrella was driven in a fancy coach, which would vanish at midnight ! She wore royal clothes and glass slippers. She danced with her eyes lingering on the clock. She sneaked out at night, in fear !

I like to drive by myself, in a reliable vehicle which would be real ! I wear simple clothes and comfortable footwear, which would not hinder my driving ! I do not need to get fixed on the clock  when on a drive ! I go on drives at my will, in anticipation and joy of the journey ! Well, now and then atleast !

The joy ride continues... !

The joy ride continues… !

So you see, I am as different from the fairytale Cindrella, as can be ! But Cindrella had a real life too, where she toiled relentlessly, without rest or respite. Now, that would be close to my reality too. Alas, there are similarities …

But I do feel like Cindrella out for a ball, when I am driving ! I leave behind the stark reality and enter into a fairytale setting when I am driving, especially long distances !

The road transforms into my dance floor, the whizzing wind the music, the other vehicles the break-step and the friction of wheels the rhythm ! I waltz on the roads, in and out of lanes, weaving in between the vehicles, while maintaining an elegant poise ! The switching off of the engine at the destination provides the cadence ! I would like to think so ! 

Nevertheless, the reality on the roads is anything but a fairy land. It is more of a hazardous adventure than a dreamy cruise. And thats what makes the journey interesting, perhaps !

The mode of transport is immaterial, the driving conditions do not hinder, just the happiness of breakkng through the wall of air by oneself is reason enough to drive on !

So, strap on your seatbelts and get ready for the Drive !! Interesting insights awaits !

~Punitha

MY BUCKET LIST – New & Revised : Part 1 – Punitha’s Ark

 

Part 1 – Punitha’s Ark

Not very long ago, my bucket list was simple and straight forward :

1. Become a published author/poetess

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5. Trek in the Himalayas with kids

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15. Do a self-driven cross-country road-trip with friends

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50. Chase the monsoon, from onset to exit, across the Indian sub-continent

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60. Scuba dive in the coral reefs

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75. Cycle in the Swiss Alps

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99. Spend the rest of my life happily in a bamboo cottage by a serene river within a monsoon drenched forest !

100. Have a peaceful, non-violent, instant, natural death – amidst Nature !

 

The above list was ‘current’ & ‘for life’ till 2 months ago ! Sigh… isnt this list simple & straightforward ?!! If you don’t agree, wait till you read ‘Punitha’s New & Revised Bucket List’ !

Now my new & revised bucket list is colourful – and complicated .

Before I familiarize you with my new bucket list, I’ll have to tell the story behind the need for revising my bucket list !

It all started one early morning a few weeks ago . I woke up as usual, much before the sunrise and headed straight to the kitchen to start the coffee filter, and hence the day. Lo, I seemed to have floated from the bed to a brook ! In my semi-sleepy state I thought that perhaps no.99 on my bucket list was being fulfilled !

In drowsy ecstacy I was ready to bend down and cradle the brook water in my palms while my heart recited Tennyson’s poem :

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,

But a mild smell alerted me to the contrary. I switched on the light and realized in shock that my kitchen was flooded. The water was covering my toes and the floor was slippery.

I felt like Noah surveying the Great Flood ! My immediate worry was about my choice of food to be taken into the Ark, were I able to build one ! Filter coffee ofcourse was mandatory on my list, and infact would be my only preference on the food list ; especially it being my coffee time ! The second choice in the list was wide open. Should it be my kids’ favourite chocolate drink, or their health malt that they would rather avoid ?! Perhaps the choco drink could double up as our dessert too, what with we all having a sweet tooth !

Then ofcourse I had to worry about the selection of living creatures for Puni’s Ark. Assuming that my two kids would willingly jump aboard the ark for safety (I bet they would rather swim and enjoy in the floods !), I can just let out our fishes in their natural habitat ! I could also imagine cockroaches, lizards and tadpoles sneaking onto the ark…..

Punitha's Ark

Coffee Time in Puni’s Ark ! Pencil Sketch on Paper

 

My de-caffeinated brain protested against this thought overload, and refused to process my selection algorithm ! So, I shut off my mind and ambled to the bathroom. Brush in hand, I opened the tap expecting a smooth line of water, but all it could offer me was air. I tried the other faucets, with the same result. Phew… I now had a flooded kitchen and an empty water tank to tackle ! I switched on the motor and waited for the tank to fill again.

But I was not sure yet how the kitchen got flooded – was it a leak from the tap, or perhaps the drainage outlet was improper ? The flood water looked clear and clean… so my wager was on the former guess. In that case, would refilling the tank replenish the flood ? How am I going to throw out the flood water ? Is there a way other than manually scooping out the water ? My scientific temper flared and I visualized a siphon attached to a hose to redirect the water directly to the garden below !

But my brain, still decaffeinated refused to cooperate. So I decided to do what a coffee aficionado decides to do when faced with such calamity – have a coffee ! After all is there anything that cannot be solved over a cup of coffee ??!! Even if not, everything else can wait !!

I waded through my very own ‘brook’ and started the coffee filter. With coffee in hand, I waded out of the kitchen triumphantly with my prized beverage.

While thus lounging in my couch, coffee in hand, I became oblivious to the flooding and enjoyed the early morning bird songs drifting in through my window !. I think only Virgoans can sport such a leisurely attitude amidst a crisis ! Atleast, one Virgoan can 😉 !

Anyways, once caffeinated, I was in a dilemma on whether to stock up my ark or tackle the waters. I decided to clear the flood and tackled the problem in earnestness. After a good half hour of scooping, pushing and throwing out buckets of water, my kitchen floor emerged again, much like how Lemuria would from the ocean depths, if one were able to divert the ocean water from that spot. I smiled triumphantly.

Little did I know that my ‘bucket list’ had just started – with numerous check boxes embedded in it.

~~~~Updating Bucket List… Stay tuned please… !~~~~

~Punitha Lakshmi