Happy New Year 2019 to everyone reading this piece. I am writing after several months ; most of this time was spent in self introspection, travel and reading. I stepped into 2019 with hope thanks to a teenager who I have carried in my arms and never realized when time flew by and she transformed into a thoughtful young lady.
Sometime in December 2018 ; my 15 year old niece Ira who is a 9th grader in Stonehill International School in Bangalore came up with the idea of helping to rebuild a school library. This was a part of her project through 1M1B (1Million 1 Billion) initiative aligned with the UN Sustainability Development Goal. Her broader project area was on floods, causes, prevention and the aftermath of the devastation. While doing her research she came across a news paper article about a school library of a century old school in Chendamangalam, Kerala devastated by the floods.
DDSHS Karimpadam established in 1912 catered to English and Malayalam medium students from the age of 5 to 15 and was an established name in that area. Ira gathered the contact details of the school through net search and sent a mail to them expressing her desire to help. The school was more than eager to hear from a young student in Bangalore who wanted to come to their aid. She told her parents that she wanted to spend her Christmas and New Year break working on this project rather than take yet another comfortable holiday and they readily obliged.
Her parents encouraged her enthusiasm and Ira visited the school accompanied by her mother as soon as her Christmas vacations started. She interacted with the students, clicked pictures, and noted down their needs. She had to collect nearly 1700 books (1000 in English and 700 in Malayalam) as well as raise funds for reconstructing the library area. In conversation, she also realized that the older students could do better with some counselling and career guidance which she had the access to as a privileged international school pupil.
- She created a flyer that she circulated to friends, family and friends of friends for books that would be suitable for children in the age group of 5-15 and in a short span of time has managed to collect 750+ books which are now being sorted and categorized to be transported to the school
- She is working with a startup who have a socio-psychological assessment and well being app for general and career counselling of the students so that they could do a program in the school; https://nsmiles.com
- She is raising money to reconstruct the library along with an NGO Sahayog Foundation
In conversation, she mentioned that all the books that lie in our shelves gathering dust; could be used by someone somewhere to gain knowledge, laugh on a gloomy day or time travel to another land then it would have met its purpose.
When you are on the other side of 40 and someone years younger than you, who has grown up in front of you inspires you to get moving, to give back to the world from where you get; you know that it is time to fill yourself with hope; that the future is indeed in the right hands.
I toast 2019 to Ira and several ones like her in different parts of the world; who are trying to make a difference with their efforts and inspiring others around them. If you want to know more/ or donate books for the school or lend a helping hand please contact
Ira Ratnaparkhe : firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is a series of events, some connected some interconnected and some seemingly transactional but if you see through the eyes that are located deep within your heart; you find a different meaning for every moment.
I was trekking in the hills near Darjeeling last week. We were setting out of our modest lodge in Kalapokhari when I walked till the edge of the village to take one last look at the blessed lake. I was walking briskly to warm up for the trudge ahead when I heard a call, some chatter and a toffee was thrown down at me. All this between chants from the Ist floor of a house in the mountains. I looked up to find a pair of kind and smiling eyes looking down at me with love while she mumbled away with her rosary !!
I lost my grand mother (thakuma) some time back, she was my source of unconditional love and support. At that moment, I felt from somewhere up there she was seeking me out through this lady; wishing me a happy journey ahead, reminding me that she is around, just a thought away if I ever need her help. I smiled in happiness and conversed in garbled language with this grand mother!!
Spellbound in Sandakphu
The fantastico impact of travel blogging led to music in my heart, and kept my spirits pepped up to navigate through life with ease!! Yes, I have experienced it. I took to blogging some time back; writing for myself initially until others appreciated and I realized that there was a wide large world with whom the words resonated to good measure.
I loved this medium of expression which allowed me to go back and ponder over how I felt on a certain day. Invariably, I would read all that I had written with a smile on my lips and often doubled up in laughter on some emotionally charged posts. My blog became my sounding board, my drawing board, my soul search where I shared thoughts and views without bothering about being judged.
When I started to blog on travel; I found connections and interconnections that I never knew existed; it opened up a whole new world. I began to notice everything in a different light, I was more grateful than ever before, certain sense of calmness prevailed, in every place I found home and all the people I met helped me learn a little more about myself. The fantastico impact of travel blogging was sinking in slowly and steadily; I was becoming more mindful than ever before. It actually cracked open my heart; allowed music into my soul which until then was confined to my ears. The best tunes came from nature; from the gurgling stream, the whistling winds, the sounds of birds and the unhurried footsteps of the docile four legged creatures. Suddenly, I had time on hand which allowed me to celebrate each day; watch the colours of the sky change at sunrise and sunset. I was noticing the flowers bloom; the riot of colours that appeared on the side walk at spring time and somewhere there was spring in my step and I was feeling peppy and excited about each moment.
I often asked myself if this shift was permanent; was I living a dream; was it actually happening to me ?? I had changed lanes I realised; from the fast paced one to a much slow paced one. The fast lane on the high way required me to move, just move and apply hard brakes when required and fuel up when necessary; a momentary pause to look away from the goal would cause an undesirable moment. The slow lane which I was cruising through now; allowed me to just be; as I navigated on the highway, often taking some unplanned exits through lanes and by lanes; pausing and stopping to admire natures creation around. I was living a different feeling !!
You guessed it right; our body is like a car; a very sophisticated machine but needs to be navigated through life so that while it takes in all the impact of the undesirable; the music in our soul is intact and we don’t forget to lead each moment as a peppy moment
This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on Indiblogger for the launch of the Made of Great – Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a Test Drive of the Hatchback Zica.
Sometimes we forget, we are here on earth with an expiry date, nothing is permanent; this body, the successes, the joys, the sadness, the feelings of emptiness and everything around us. I have been fortunate to have attended institutions of repute; taught by the finest teachers which helped me to be productive and earn a living for myself. In all this, some lessons in life are never taught, how to accept failure and disappointment, how to start from scratch all over again; how to accept, forgive and move on. These are hard knocks of life, which are learnt through experiences in the journey of life.
Nature has been my best teacher and a few days ago, while I was strolling on Kudle Beach in Gokarna with a camera in hand, my gaze turned to a father and his two kids while their mother looked on. They seem to be absorbed in making a castle with sand, building it up slowly, rebuilding when something fell apart and continuing to give it shape.
Then suddenly there was this huge wave which destroyed everything and all that remained was a watery froth of sand. The girl was heart broken; looking for her Elsinor Castle ( they were from Denmark) while her father consoled her and her little brother looked on. Then he sweetly, asked his dad to make another one !! It is not about that one impermanent sand castle ; it is about life which is impermanence in motion. If we are conditioned to it earlier on; made to see impermanence and uncertainty with loving eyes; maybe we will live better as adults; appreciate all the good that happens us and pick up the threads of our life from every low moment.
Of the many beaches in Gokarna, Kudle Beach is the cleanest and easily accessible from most resorts including Om Beach Resort in the area and is dotted with numerous cafes and shacks; the most popular being Namaste Cafe. My stay in Gokarna at Om Beach Resort ( belongs to Jungle Lodges and Resorts) which is located 3 kms away from the beach was sponsored by http://www.thekarnatakatourism.com. I am grateful for a delightful stay at their property.
Travel Tip: Gokarna is about a 100 kms South of Goa and easily accessible by bus and car. Gokarna is about 500 kms from Bangalore and is connected by road and rail. The bus journey is about 10 hours while the train journey is a good 16 hours. Apart from the beaches, Gokarna is famous for the Atma Linga (Shiva’s Soul) in Mahabaleshwar Temple.
I am inspired by my feathered friends, they teach me the essence of life, the lessons of life, they remind me how to exist and co-exist and to enjoy every moment. Everytime, I feel low, I think of them flying from Siberia to India year after year to escape the harsh winter and I immediately feel inspired !! No sun, no wind, no rain can take their song away, its always on their lips if you care to listen. The one high up on the tree inspires me to dream high, the one in the water inspires me to stay afloat at all times and have faith in myself, the one hopping from branch to branch reminds me not to be judgmental about what meets the eye; and the ones in a group inspire me about team work. These pictures of Kerala Birds where I spent a few days beside the back waters is a quiet reminder.