“Just hold your breath for few seconds and don’t worry, Mamma is here, if anything happens, I will immediately jump and help you” Ria told her son. “But you don’t know how to swim” Ansh said. Being an aqua phobic herself, it was heart breaking to see her son, struggling like her. One day Ria just decided to get into the pool with Ansh. With a leap of faith, she took the first step. Ansh was floating, so was Ria !!! In an attempt to break my child’s barrier, I actually overcame my own fears, she cried and thought !!!
More than me now, it’s our kids who really look forward to almost one full month of pampering, no sticking to the routine and unlimited masti with cousins during the summer break.
Due to the current national lockdown, we will not be travelling to Delhi this year. I am sure, there are many like us who are in the same boat. Forget Delhi, we have actually not stepped out of our apartment for almost a month now. I was talking to my mother this morning who was feeling emotional about not being able to see the kids this summer. She was also hopeful and said “Don’t cancel your return tickets now. If situation improves come at least for a week in May”. I told her in a jovial way “Aap apne ghar ka bartan jhaddo pocha karo, humein apne ghar ka karne do 🙂 ” (You do your household chores and let us do ours here 🙂
While there was an initial adjustment phase for the entire family with no outside support in the form of maids, cook, pressure of work from home etc., looking at the positive side, this has truly made each one of us responsible in more ways than one :
We have become more mindful of our actions and their impact on everything around us. For instance, we now cook exactly how much we will be able to consume so that there is no wastage. We realise that there are people around us who are struggling to get even two meals per day on their plate.
We are learning to manage with what is available. Thankfully there is a supermarket in our gated community and we have learnt to be happy with the choices available to us.
We celebrated the nine days of Chaitra Navratri in March. Unlike every year, there were no flowers to offer to the Goddess, no neighbourhood girls for Kanjak on Ashtmi Day. We just focused on Pooja this year. Even minimalism can be satisfying, if we want.
When the lockdown was announced, I wanted to check on a couple of friends whom I have not been in touch for a long time. Even some relations where there was a reluctance on either side, I just wanted to call them and make sure they were doing fine. This feeling itself was a good sign for me to make a fresh start. And trust me they all reciprocated with the same warmth and affection. Relationships are taking precedence over ego.
My Nanaji (maternal Grandfather)is 95 year old and stays alone after my Naniji’s demise. Old age makes you rigid and stubborn too. He gets restless if he is not at his home for more than an hour and refused to refused to stay with my parents, even for a few days. So, my Mom was going every day with his food since his cook has not been coming because of lock-down. A lady in his neighbourhood noticed this and spoke to my mother. Since then, she has been sending him one meal (she actually volunteered for both meals) so that my Mom could go just once. We are highly indebted to her. This made our belief firm that humanity is still alive.
We (myself in particular) really don’t need so many clothes in our closet. We are just managing with few set of clothes. Though for the last couple of months itself I had consciously stopped impulsive buying, I surely am going to be more sensitive in the future. Mindful consumption is the key.
Families are moving to the new paradigm where people are getting more time with family, learning new things, reinventing old passions, spending more time with kids, going back to board games, enjoying food as all eat together on table, watching reruns of old DD National programs (Ramayan is the current favourite with my kids) .
It’s been 21 days since lock-down and this thought crossed my mind few days back….kids have been most supportive, patient, acting beyond their age and intellect (actually beyond my imagination). They have not stepped out for almost a month now. Not only do they help by doing age appropriate tasks, but also till date we have not heard any negative thoughts or expression of anxiety from them. Something we adults need to learn from kids. My elder one, 11 year old, is fully conversant with the situation. In fact, he reads the e-paper in the morning and is up to speed with the global situation.
Waiting and patience are both virtues which nature has compelled us to practice now. Being restless will only make us miserable and frustrated. May be this entire Corona episode was a much needed pause for the humanity to stop running, to stop chasing. And to think of it what were we running away from and what were we chasing? Sometimes I feel sorry about this entire situation…. what are we leaving for the next generation ? Hope some lessons are learnt soon…Maana Dilli abhi thodi door hai but we hope to be there soon !!!
Today I had this sudden urge to write the concluding part about the year gone by at the school.
As I was reflecting on my experiences since I started this journey last year, I do want to share a couple of things through this blog:
There were many occasions I came back from the school teary eyed. Well almost every single time. The love showered by kids made me overwhelmed and valued.
I had gone to the school on 14th August 2019 and asked the kids about what they knew about Independence Day. During our discussion they shared they had to come to the school on 15th August. “We will be scolded if we don’t come, one kid said with innocence”. The irony of the situation made me feel helpless.
There were few late new admissions in the class. Many super intelligent kids (especially girls) had joined the class. Lakshmi Prasanna- there is no way I can skip mentioning your name. You make me so proud as your teacher. Since she had joined the school late, she could not get the exercise book distributed by TFC as the books were over. She literally pestered me to the point that the very thought of going to the school to me would mean explaining her the reason for delay in issuing the book. This girl was so keen on learning and actually made me religiously follow up with the administration team to expedite the issuance. I really liked her attitude and sincerely pray that some good opportunities come her way in the future.
4th September 2019 the kids had study desks. One of the Corporates had sponsored the desks as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibly) initiative. They could not contain their excitement the moment I reached the class. I also felt a sudden spurt of joy inside me. That day I considered myself eligible to sit on the chair kept for teaching staff.
The entire process and associated experience made me a better person in terms of appreciating smaller joys of life.
I have more patience now to deal with any situation specially while dealing with my own kids as I can empathize with them better.
Technically speaking I did manage to complete the syllabus and had just one last visit pending in which I was supposed to conduct the exam for the students. This is still pending because of the lock-down, due to Coronavirus and I kind of feel incomplete because of this.
Through this blog if I can inspire anyone to be part of any teaching initiative, I will feel my efforts of penning it down have been fruitful. And trust me you will come back richer …!!!
“Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.”
“But why don’t you join the school?” Krishna asked the small girl. “Because I have to help my mother with the household work and graze the goats in the morning”, she replied.
“If you are willing you will accomplish whatever you want irrespective of obstacles” Krishna smiled and said. She started reflecting on the years gone by.
Krishna had a very normal childhood. Born in a poor family in Assam, life had been tough since childhood. Her father had left their family under the pretext of searching for work soon after Krishna was born and never returned. Her mother, Kaveri would wash utensils in other houses earning barely enough to meet their expenses. Due to these experiences since early childhood, Krishna somehow found it difficult to trust people specially men.
Krishna was fond of studying and aspired to join the school when she would see Babu’s sons going to study. She fought all odds to study at the village Primary School. Those days it used to be a boy’s only school.
“If you don’t teach, how will I learn” she had asked the school headmaster. Krishna was the first girl to be admitted to the village primary school. She would get up early morning help her mother with the household chores. She had to walk several miles to reach the school. Her grit and determination made it seem effortless for her. She would take tuitions for Babu’s kids in the evening. She even topped in her school!
Krishna easily managed to secure a scholarship for her post-graduation. She even picked up a part time job in the evenings to send money to her mother for supporting the family expenses. She would stretch herself to study and finish her assignments late in the night.
Krishna would have limited dresses for herself, rarely go out with friends or spend on herself; but she always wore her confidence, would go out the way to help others and spend on things that they need. Ravi, her batchmate was always in awe of her resilience. He had also proposed Krishna on the last day of college. She politely declined it as she had her eyes set on her goals. Ravi went to US to pursue his Master’s in Business Administration. He, however, continued to be in touch and helped Krishna secure a grant from a leading foundation in US to help provide infrastructure, study kits and internet-based learning for the school children.
Krishna now heads the school she had difficulty getting admission to. Thought she had the best offers during Campus placements; she chose to be back to her roots to bring about the change she had dreamt of during her early childhood. Even on a busy day, she makes sure to take out an hour each day to teach the Life Skills to small children. She likes kids who are inquisitive and encourages them to ask questions. She wants each girl to rise and shine. Her mother also encourages other parents to support education of the girl child.
Fighting all odds, she carved a way for herself. Krishna successfully changed the stereotypical representation of lives of females in the village. You can often hear her telling the students “New opportunities and new way of life is within grasp. We should quieten the chatter in the head to be able to hear the inner voice…!!!”
And other children in the village too are learning to live their dreams 😊
Arun was a workaholic who hardly spent time with his family and friends. He would always say “I have no time”. He aspired to become the President of the Company sooner than the Company norms and swamped himself with only one thing-WORK. Riya his wife would often ask “Are the kids only my responsibility?”. Hurt by his constant absence she had over the years grown used to it.
Arun barely slept that night. He tossed and turned, as the mistakes of last 10 years played over in his mind. Life had changed in the last six months since his wife was diagnosed with Cancer. As he embraced the past with remembrance and future with unlikely longing, his earnest desire was to get a second chance to spend some more time with his loved ones.
Arun took Ria to the States for her treatment. His childhood friend Adish and his wife Smriti made sure that the kids were taken care of in their parent’s absence. While the pain of Chemo was something she had to bear alone, his constant support and presence made her emotionally strong to handle this trauma. It was a long battle for Ria and Arun. Finally, doctors gave the good news that cancer had gone into remission. Arun was relieved and cried uncontrollably like a child. He was thankful to God for the second chance life had given him.
As they packed their bags Arun assured Riya that she would have his back. He promised to live a balanced life and not ignore the important people in his life besides work.
Arun had missed the promotion because of his absence from work, still he had no qualms. He had now learnt to treasure the relationships over material possessions. Kids were happy to see their father around more often something which used to be a rare phenomenon. He carved out time for improving his social connections.
Sometimes a second chance is what we long for in our relationships. And not all are lucky to get that chance. So, respect and value people and relationships before it’s too late. As they say second chances are not given to make things right. But are given to prove that we could be better even after we fall…!!!
We recently went to Nallamalai Jungle Camp during Sankranti holidays. It is 302 kms from Hyderabad and a good weekend getaway. It a nearly six hours drive from Hyderabad (including halt). You can stop over at the Food Pyramid which is a good option and nearly halfway through the journey. If you start early from Hyderabad, you can reach the property around lunch time.
Nallamalai Jungle Camp at Bairluty is a community-based eco-tourism initiative which was started in 2017. The main aim of the camp is to elicit local support for wildlife, to impart conservation education to the visitors and to empower the local communities improving their livelihoods. Bairluty is a tribal village in Atmakur mandal of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh. This is one of the eco-tourism projects initiated by AP Tourism and a nice weekend getaway from Hyderabad. It is among the three locations of eco-tourism programmes initiated by Andhra Pradesh Government in Nagarjunasagar – Srisailam Tiger Reserve, the other two being Thummalabailu and Pacherla.Most of the area is hilly terrain with plateaus, Ridges, Gorges and Deep valleys which support tropical mixed dry deciduous and moist deciduous forests with an under growth of bamboo and grass.
There are two accommodation options at Bairulty- Cottage and Tents. While the tented cottages are made of cloth, the dressing and washrooms are made of bricks. Rest of the amenities are same for both the options. It is a clean and nicely maintained property with some nice photo points inside and a gazebo to sit and relax in the evening. Though the food spread is not much to talk about, they do prepare it fresh and serve with love and care 😊. The only thing you need to be careful of is to keep the rooms locked all the time as there are lot of monkeys. Though they do not harm anyone, they are always on the lookout for food items.
We wanted to keep the evening relaxed, so we went to a water body nearby to enjoy the walk by the bund, see sunset and relax on the shore watching the water waves move across the large water body.
The Morning Safari
The next day morning we went for safari. It started around 7:15 a.m. It is a two-hour safari.
Sitting in an enclosed vehicle to see the animals in the open makes an interesting role reversal. The anticipation of being able to site a tiger is what keeps you (especially the kids 😊) going patiently during the safari. Though we were not lucky to see the apex predator, we could see its pug marks as he would have surely crossed that area some time back. We did spot the eagle, samba deer, spotted deer, peacock, black wild boar and a snake.
Towards the end of the safari they do take you to a viewpoint where you can witness the changing landscape-grasslands, dense forest, water hole and check dams. The view is surely breath-taking.
We decided to visit the Sangameswara temple after breakfast. It is 46 Kms from the property and takes nearly 1.5 hours one side. We crossed few villages and it felt nice to see development reaching smaller places. Sangameshwara temple is a Hindu temple in the Kurnool district. It is located near Muchumarri at the confluence of the Krishna and Bhavanasi rivers, in the foreshore of the Srisailam reservoir, where it is submerged for part of the time, surfacing when the water level recedes to a sufficient degree. It was first submerged after the Srisailam Dam was constructed in 1981, and first surfaced in 2003.
The submerged temple’s wooden Lingam, Sangameswaram, is believed to have been installed by Dharmaraja, the eldest of the Pandavas, after their visit to Srisailam Mallikarjuna temple. We were not able to see it as water level falls only towards end of summer and before rains kick in The temple is considered a place of religious sanctity due to being built at the confluence of seven rivers and remain visible for two months. (Bhavanasi, Krishna River and five rivers that merge into it beforehand, namely, Veni, Tunga, Bhadra, Bheemarathi and Malapaharini).
Dr. YSR Smruti Vanam
It is a majestic memorial park built in the memory of late Chief Minster YSR on the site where the helicopter had crashed. It is roughly 15 kms from the Jungle Camp and roughly half an hour drive. It has a 20 ft statue of YSR made by sculptor Shivaprasad with his trademark raised hand waiving to the people. It has various theme gardens like neem – a personal favourite of YSR, fragrance garden, ‘Pavitra Vanam’ of 108 sacred plants, butterfly shaped garden with 150 species of carefully chosen plants to attract butterflies, etc.
We checked out next day morning. It was a refreshing change for everyone away from the hustle and bustle of city life.