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July 31, 2008

What's left behind!!!

Of all the things, I miss the most.... it is my nursery or nurseries in which I had invested so much time over the past few years. Now that, I am in a new place which requires interventions on a different scale, i am most worried how my nurseries would survive in the coming years.

There is one at Sigur, near Mudumalai, more than 25,000 pants at a given time, which without a doubt, was my first project in the this big world. But was fun, it was. Planning for the nursery, procuring the material for the infrastructure, deciding on the plants and in the light of inefficiency of several people, the decision to get seeds from KFRI, Thrissur. These seeds brought in life to the nursery though it generated indignation amongst purists (rightful concern, I guess)who felt that exotics would replace natives. But, when it was set up and most credits to Rajendran and Senthil!!! Man, was I full of pride for those few weeks.... It was then that I realized that almost immediately, things would start going downhill as the laws deem it to be so.... So, we invested on a suitable team and kept on working... It is now more than a year and people who vist the place are all praise for it.... And now, that I am not there, Please keep up the work Rajendran.

Then, another in the office, a high altitude nursery for shola species and another at Bikkapthy Mund, both of which are small but would be equally useful for the upper areas which is witnessing rapid degradation in the form of man's growing greed and the ubiquitous construction boom. But what we had planned for was, to inculcate the habit of maintaining large trees amongst the Badagas who were traditionally ecosystem people but are likely to shift to the vices of today's world in the coming years.

And how can I forget my Pillur nursery.... We set up three nurseries in Chittukunni, Kil Pillur and Pucchamarathur through a hit and miss technique. In fact, that was my first field job in this world, way back in 2005. I remember meeting with a lot of disinterest and piquancy amongst several who were convinced that this would be a failure. At an impressionable age, I too began believing them as peer pressure goes. But when the trees were to be planted, the villagers ensured total protection and it was a success. But that was a lesson in itself as after the planting, several people continued saying that it was of no use. I showed them data and more, but could not change the popular perception that it was not a success. Totally fluid, I realized that marketing what you do is equally important as what you did in the field.... Lessons ha!!!

BUT TODAY, these nurseries are in able hands and though I am in a different field, I hope that 20 years from now, these nurseries are still there, supplying much needed saplings to the world around them....

July 25, 2008

Dharamsala da Magic

The name Dharamsala has a tinge of magic about it. As a town, there is nothing exceptionally special about it but seen differently, the entire region including the town, Mcleodganj, Bhagsu Nag temple and Chamundi Devi mandir has a special charm about them. The town itself may just be a stopover for many on their way to Mcleodganj, but the quaint old time charm it exudes fills the imagination. Just standing in the bus stand and staring up at the Dhauladhar range can be awe inspiring. At certain times of the year, the entire range is covered with pure white snow imposing itself upon the landscape.

But Dharamsala is special also because there are so many nooks and corners where a normal tourist scarcely goes but those places in themselves leave a lifetimes’ imprint upon the mind.

Just before the bus stand, a small road diverges to a place named Chilgari. The woods here are lovely and dark and the view of the Kangra valley is unbelievable. When I reached that particular place, the sun was on its way down and enveloped as it was by a cover of dense clouds, little straight lines of rays was shooting down from that cover. The entire Kangra valley, well over 10 km long was bathed in orange and white light, painted as it is by some master artist.

Another less frequented area is that of the tea gardens. Though it is a private property, nobody really prevents you from having a look. Beautiful ladies carrying their baskets full of leaves reminds one of Darjeeling. The silence is stunning with your breath being the only companion. Still further up and away from the normal population, very close to Chilgari is a vast stretch of pine forests. It is surely an interesting experience listening to the pine trees whispering amongst themselves.
There again is the Kotwali bazaar, the region around the bus stand, the beautiful and well kept cantonment and the imposing Chamundi Devi mandir. Another well kept secret is the Kunal Pathri temple that is a leisurely three km walk from the bus stand through the best preserved forests of the region.

When you leave Dharamsala for Mcleodganj in a Rs 5 a trip jeep, it is an amazing sight. For as companions, you will find an assortment of Tibetans, several foreigners, some beggars shifting their routine to the profitable region in and around the monastery, and local residents – all oblivious to one another, busy in their own thoughts, as if in a search. And that well may be a truth, for many come to Mcleodganj to fill up a gap missing form their lives and many return contented in the basking warmth of the monasteries and temples that abound in the region.

Amongst my companions that day, the Indian stood out for he had the strange Indian habit of when going uphill, to start with his papers. He prefers missing the view but then he may be an old timer and the view may not hold much importance to him now. However, I find it difficult to understand that that particular jeep ride through the cantonment, Forbesganj and the old church with such spectacular sights had most people dozing off by the time they reached Mcleodganj. To add to the confusion in my mind, the very first sight of Mcleodganj might put you in disarray. Overpopulated with gentry from all parts of the world who walk over the filth without a bat of their eyelids and a garbage disposal system that need much more improvement, this is what we see.

However, soon you join the milling crowds as you realize that everything in that town and every road, also every person that I see walks up and down one path – that leading up to the main monastery and the Dalai Lama’s residence. A mass movement of faith and curiosity, enough to give one a heady feeling worth a lifetime. The small monasteries on the way, innumerable shops selling Tibetan handicrafts and trendy clothes wear, even the barber with his Tibetan styled shop add to the mystique of the place. All visitors, including me and I have been to this part several times have a certain look of amazement about them, as if they are being led by a pied piper.

More on Mcleodganj TO BE CONTINUED…..

July 23, 2008

Creativity and children

Children are young impressionable beings capable of absorbing more than the most efficient sponge and learning more than several adults can do together. It is during the ages of three to sixteen that a child learns most of what he has to for his lifelong pursuits. Infact, it is true that an adult merely plays out the teachings of his youth in various ways during his conduct for the rest of his life.

It is necessary that a child’s learning is conducted in the most proper manner. The child’s creativity is a minefield that can spring forth unimaginable richness, if harvested in an effective manner. There are several ways to work with children so that they can be tapped to unleash their inherent talent.

It is necessary to provide space to the child. Classroom learning is important but it should be interspersed with sufficient time for playing in the open, for painting and for minutely observing the beauty of life. A child who is not burdened by the overt expectations blossoms like a flower.

Creativity is an aspect that can be developed as well. There are instances of several famous people who had an ordinary childhood. It took a sense of belief and some training for them to become what they are today. The same is possible for everybody who cares to make an effort and you could be a future scientist or an engineer.

At the end, it is not about being exceptional but being inquisitive. It is also important to understand that being creative does not mean that you have to have an exceptional talent. Being creative means asking that extra question to your teacher or crossing the filed to take a high catch. It is about solving that mathematics question in your way or eloquently presenting a poem. It is a state of mind where you can put together more than what you would normally grasp.