Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Bird’s Tale: Madhubani Workshop for Young learners

Bright colours and tiny lines define the fascinating Madhubani paintings from Bihar. It has innumerable birds, animals and humans and every little bit of nature. The intricate look of the designs makes a person perceive it as something beyond his capability. A workshop organised by Children's Book Club of IIT Kanpur proved to be an eye-opener as well as an evening full of activity, creativity and a lot of enjoyment.Before teaching the kids to paint, the very talented Shirolly Anand, the artist of the evening, told them a lovely story. Even the grown-ups were captivated. Later, all the 4 to 10-year olds painted the small designs with sketch pens. The story goes like this:

Once a bird dropped her seed into a crack of wood. She tried to take it out but couldn't. She was very hungry.

With great hope she went to a carpenter and requested him to chop off the wood and take the seed out.The carpenter was busy doing his work. he shouted at her, "Go away! Can't you see I am working?"

The bird felt bad and went to the king and pleaded, "Oh king! Will you please order the carpenter to chop off the wood and take out my seed, I'm hungry." The king said, "Go away, and don't disturb me."

The poor bird then went to the Queen thinking the King will surely listen to her. She asked her if she would tell the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood and take out my seed, I'm hungry." The queen was in no mood to help the bird and sent her away saying, "Go away!

While passing by the royal kitchen, the bird met a mouse. She requested him to shred the Queen's lovely clothes if she doesn't ask the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood, so that she could eat the seed." The mouse also said the same thing, "Go Away! I have a lot of work to do."

Then the poor little hungry bird went to the cat and asked her politely, " Will you please scare the mouse to shred the Queen's clothes if she doesn't ask the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood, so that she could eat the seed.” The cat did not look interested and mewed at her loudly, “Go away, I cannot help you!”

The bird went to the dog. “ Dear dog, can you please scare the cat so that she scares the mouse to shred the queen’s clothes if she doesn’t tell the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood and take out my seed? The dog barked, Go away! I am busy.”
Sad and hungry, the bird ran to the stick and begged “ Dear stick, please help me by scaring the dog so that he scares the cat and then the cat scares the mouse to chop off queen’s clothes if she doesn’t ask the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood and take my seed out. The stick also refused to help .

The bird now saw the fire burning bright. “ Fire, will you scare the stick that you would burn it if it doesn’t scare the dog to scare the cat to scare the mouse to chop off the queen’s dresses if she doesn’t ask the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood and take my seed out?” The Fire scolded her, “All for your tiny seed? Go away!”

The bird then went to the river and requested the water to help her. “Dear Water, only you can scare the Fire to scare the stick to scare the dog the dog to cat, the cat to mouse, the mouse to queen so that the queen asks the king to order the carpenter to chop off the wood and take my seed out. The Water also said , “Run away, I have no time for you.”
Then the bird thought of the elephant. She ran to him and asked him,” Dear elephant, please help me. Scare the water that with your huge trunk you would draw all the water of the river and empty the river, if the river did not scare the fire.” No luck for the Bird, the Elephant refused to help.

Tears in her eyes, starved and sad, the Bird met an ant. The Bird asked the Ant, “ Please scare the Elephant that you would enter into his nostrils and kill him if he doesn’t scare the Water.”
The Ant felt pity for the poor Bird and decided to help her.

The Ant told the Elephant to scare the Water to put out the Fire. The Elephant was scared and ran for his life. He talked to the Water and the Water went to the Fire, The Fire scared the Stick, the Stick scared the dog, the dog chased the Cat, the Cat scared the Mouse, the Mouse asked the queen to help the bird otherwise he would chop off all her clothes. The queen loved her clothes a lot, so she asked the King to help the Bird. The King ordered the carpenter to chop off the wood.
The Carpenter chopped off the wood and took the seed out of the crack. The Bird happily ate the seed.
The Bird, the Carpenter, the King and the Queen, the Mouse, the Cat, the Dog, the Stick, the Fire, the Water, the Elephant, and the Ant lived happily ever after.
No one is too young or too old to learn.

A four year old

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sumit's Homestay, Raithal

A 90 minutes drive from Uttarkashi took me to Raithal, one of the most fertile and prosperous villages of Uttrakhand. Trekking for the famous Dayara Bugyal (meadow) begins here. The twenty four hours I stayed there were engaging, exciting and breathtaking.

I waited for my host Sumit at the entrance of the village. A large clearing, a friendly policeman and a helpful passer by who offered me his mobile phone to call Sumit have already won my heart. The moment I started talking to the shopkeeper to buy some snacks, (like---- in the movie My Fair Lady) he asked me if I belonged to the Pauri region of Uttrakhand, because I spoke garhwali in a particular accent.

Sumit knew all the people we met on the way and greeted them with due respect. It was nice to talk to them. The basketful of foliage was neither fit for fodder nor for fire. They told me that they spread it on the floor of the basement rooms where cows are kept . It keeps them warm. It is removed after a couple of days along with the cow dung and stored in some place in the fields. Within a month or so the organic fertiliser is ready to use.

Landmark in the jungle.

First there was a little snow and then snow all around!

Woods are lovely, indeed!

Goi Bugyal, (4 km from the base) The group has left the camp to trek to Dayara. Only seasoned trekkers can reach Dayara in a day. I took another trail to reach Naag Devta temple.

Frozen pond on the way to Naag Devta temple.

Naag Devta temple, gram devta of raithal village. 

Food n fire in the forest when I was hungry and cold after a really long walk.

In full bloom! These flowers should bloom in March, but the high temperature and no or late rains is the culprit.

It was dark by the time we reached home and this was the first thing I saw in the morning.

Thank you Mrs Raturi for the warm hospitality and sumptuous breakfast, dinner and packed lunch

The grand temple

Happier and healthier than his counterpart in the plains.

Spacious, warm and comfortable room with a view.

Famous Rajma of Raithal and daal nuggets (Bari)

On the way back to Uttrakashi.

Raithal was never in my bucket list, now I wonder why it was not? Now I know why it is called Homestay and not Housestay. Thank you Sumit for the wonderful time and lovely stories you told me while climbing down. And Baronmasa What are you going to offer me next?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hey, This is the Way to Say Goodbye

Call it a split-up and not a closure or goodbye
because you were  fooled and left high and dry.
You were caught in a trap
when you were naive and shy.

Curse yourself for each rendezvous,
for holding hand and kisses too.
Shed tears of blood if you can
and flush the humiliation in the drain.

Regret the time and money you had spent
on someone who was no less than a serpent.
You betrayed your educated self
by not having reason, logic and sense!

World is not fair even to Gods
for Krishna, Rama and Christ, the lord.
Give solace to your burnt heart,
take a shower and part from your past.

The choice you will have to make,
if you want to live in peace.
Burn every memory and move on
Or keep the virus alive to turn it into disease.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hemkund , Hospitable and Homely

Two roads diverge at Ghagaria, I am happy that  I could travel both. The one goes to Valley of Flowers and the other to Hemkund Saheb, the holy pilgrimage of Sikhs. Gurudwara Hemkund Saheb (4633 mt) is in Chamoli district of Uttrakhand. The holy shrine is associated with the tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He came here for meditation and later wrote his experiences in his autobiography.

Baaronmasa, an agency, headed by three young IITiens, arranged the  eco tour for seven of us, who  came from different states of India.The journey began from Dehradun to Joshimath. After the night stay we drove to Govindghat. The 13 km walk from Govindghat took us to a place called Ghagaria. The next day was booked for Valley of flowers. The day after, which was 15th August'17 we were on our way to Hemkund Saheb.

The trail was ascending from the beginning to the end.Steep, but it was broad enough. The trek comes under moderate to difficult  category, as I was told. It welcomed us with a scenic waterfall, not very far away.

In the beginning the place looked crowded, but slowly we got scattered as every one has a different pace. People walking all alone is a common sight.It was nice to be greeted 'Happy Independence Day' by fellow trekkers and people riding on horses and ponies, as it was 15th August.

 I walked slow, and took few stoppages. I preferred to stand and rest rather than sitting.
Scenery was awesome, so just standing and gazing at the mountains, clouds, flowers and glaciers was a quick relaxation.

Even after walking for 3 to 4 hours there was no trace of the destination. The short cuts which looked very tempting were not easy to climb.This is what I had thought but  not my 'Buddy'  Sasi, who in spite of a little AMS overtook me by taking shortcuts. Bravo!

Flowers on the way were as amazing as we saw in the Valley. Flowers here looked compact, firm and brighter than the Valley flowers.My guide told me it was because these plants get a good supply of manure as so many mules and horses commute throughout the season, whereas animals are not allowed in the Valley. I found more variety here than in the Valley itself. I could spot a Brahmkamal also.

'Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing' .so I kept climbing. The only annoying thing throughout was that there was no milestones. If we ask locals around, they would say,"only little is left'' in a patronizing tone.

Had lunch in one of these Dhabas.

 There was a stretch when I felt like a snail.Just moving very slow.

                                  This glacier had mud and and grass along with, beautiful sight indeed!

                   What force and speed!

1100 in all

Finally, the Gurudwara!

I chose steps to a long road to reach the top. 
Even after the flight of innumerable stairs, 
there was still some climbing left.People 
were on their way back advised me to walk 
faster to get the prasad. 

I met my group mates who had reached there hours before.and were ready to go back. The Gurudwara people were winding up their work. Some of them washing vessels and keeping them in order.I was not surprised to see their devotion, we all know about that.
They close the Langer at 2. But I could reach only by 2.45 pm. so no Prasad for me. Prasad, which means a lot to us, Indians. I asked them if I could take a pinch of prasad from the big empty pot./boiler kept there. They stopped me and told me to wait. Just in a while they brought a big , clean bowl of steaming Rajma-chawal for me.They must have prepared it for their own lunch. I was so touched by their gesture. 

The main hall of Gurudwara was locked. Just a little request, and they opened the door for a few of us who could reach late. The place was heart warming. We were allowed to click pictures. But the place was too pious to post its pics on FB.

Going back was comparatively easier, but not easy. My companions were faster so they had all gone. Two boys ran past me, exactly the way my brother and I did while climbing down from our village in Rudraprayag during vacations. I felt like a lady Bhishm Pitamah , the great-grand old man of Mahabharat. The guide was with me so I was not tensed. Climbing down was the same endless trail. It was normal till it was not dark. After  that moonlight helped. The guide told me that there is no problem except sometimes Bhalu (bears) come out from the jungle and may attack. The bhalu part was a bit scary for me.

To the relief of my friends, I reached the base by 8.30. I was told that they had already chosen a pic of mine to be put on the posters to search me. All in a lighter vein , of course.With bhalus around, they were really worried for me.

 With this I put a tick mark  on one of the destinations in my bucket list.

Next: Badrinath and Mana, the last village on the India -Tibet border.