29th Dec 2010 – 1st Jan 2011 – Arrival at CIF
Every journey is different. This journey I took in January 2011 was no exception to it. I left Mumbai for Kerala on Dec 29th 2010 with a sad feeling for having lost a big project from my hands. Somehow I had summed up my spirits to head towards Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF) for a demo session to Global Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) campers and also to do a few demo sessions in some schools as a part of campaigning for the upcoming two Vedic Maths camps (one for students and one for teachers) at CIF in April 2011. These camps were two events that I was keenly looking forward to. Through these camps, we were aiming to build a band of teachers who could take this beautiful subject ahead and sow the seeds of love towards Mathematics in young hearts.
2nd – 6th Jan 2011 – Days at CIF
The demo for Global CHYK on 2nd Jan 2011 went well. The next couple of days were spent in planning for the April camp. I also spent time with the campers touring the city of Ernakulam. This visit of mine to Kerala was supposed to be for demo sessions in different educational institutions.
6th – 9th Jan 2011 – Calicut
On 7th we visited five institutions in Calicut and explained to them about the camp. The next two days, I was in a totally different world of Music, Art and Dance. It was the Kerala State Convention of Spicmacay at Chinmaya Vidyalaya Calicut. Each performance of the Event took the whole audience to a different realm in Musical World.
9th – 11th Jan 2011 – Kannur
I left for Kannur on 9th evening from Calicut and reached there late at night. I had decided to stay at Rajanbhai’s (my father’s colleague and good friend) home. I was welcomed by his wife with the incomparable hospitality of Kannur. During the two days I got four demo sessions in colleges – courtesy Vineeshji. My hosts also took me to a nearby temple fair which had a cultural dance called Theyyam. It was the first time I was seeing this dance form. As always, I took many photographs of the Theyyam. Since I was moving around with my Nikon D 3000 clicking every possible picture, the village folk looked at me as if I’m from some other planet. I asked a man who was designing the costume of the Theyyam dancer about the dance form. I had heard that these dancers jump on red hot coal without any protection on their body. I was told by him that these dancers undergo Vratam (disciplined life following certain austerities very strictly) for a certain number of days. And it is only then they can do this task. Before this dance, wood is burnt since the earlier night. Next day, when the coal is red hot, the dancer dances around the heap of coal and throws himself on it. He wears a lower garment but no upper garment. There are ropes tied on to him that is pulled by couple of other men to take him out of the pile of coal. But after a few seconds, he jumps again. On every jump, his body is on the hot coal and his hands going into the mound of coal. He does this for about 50 – 60 times during the dance. The wonder of wonders is that he does not get burnt. They say it’s his ‘faith’ that protects him. I wonder what a strong unshakeable faith that might be!
11th – 13th Jan 2011 – Trissur, the land where people talk in tunes
On 11th afternoon I left Kannur to reach Trissur at night. I’ve always loved listening to the accent of the people from this place. I was received at the railway station by Sandeep. Within half an hour of my arrival, a meeting was fixed with the Centre Manager of TIME Institute (a Competitive Exams’ coaching centre). The meeting resulted in a demo session on the following day for the banking exams students on that Institute. I halted at Sandeep’s place and enjoyed the company of his folks that night and the following morning. That night, Sandeep and I were talking on the various activities and events of Chinmaya Mission that took place in Trissur in the past. Another CHYK Shrinath joined me in the afternoon. He was a bright boy with an ardent desire to learn and to do something for the society. That evening, Sandeep was to leave for Chennai for YEP reunion. Shrinath asked me if I could stay at his home that night. I happily replied, “Yes”. I met his mother and grandmother. His grandmother was very energetic and enthusiastic. I was surprised when I came to know that she was over eighty. She didn’t look more than sixty-five. That night, I and Shrinath were chatting till late night just as how I spent with Sandeep the earlier night. It seemed so strange. I was meeting Sandeep and Shrinath for the first time but none of us felt so. We all were talking as though we knew each other since years. Was it some connection of earlier births or was it the wonderful thread of Chinmaya Mission that connected all of us, I don’t know.
The next day, we had three demo sessions in three different schools. Shrinath left his work aside for me and took me on his bike to all the places. All the three demos were different. The energy levels of children of different schools were different. I could see a change in personality of the children of each school. Demo sessions are indeed good learning experiences. Shrinath gave me feedbacks about my session that was very helpful for my self-improvement areas.
14th Jan 2011 – Calicut
After taking my luggage, we left the Ashram by 10:30 pm to his home. I was supposed to stay at his home since my next day’s train to Kasargod was at 4:40 am. Since getting an auto in such wee hours was a next to impossible task, I had decided to stay at Sudev’s *(a CHYK from Calicut) house.
The bike ride to Sudev’s place was itself an adventure. I had a suitcase, a plastic cover, my laptop and Sudev’s bag pack – all on my lap. The road was good till it was 2 kms away from his home. He advised me to stay steady and be prepared for bumpy roads. Every time we crossed a bumpy road, he said, “The worst is yet to come”. I thought, maybe he is saying this because he has not been through the worst roads of Suburban Mumbai. By this time, my lap & back had started to ache. And then the joy ride started. We were travelling on roads that were in the shape of Wall Street graphs. In fact, there was no road at all. It was a hill on which we could go for trekking. The bike jumped when it went over some stones. I feared that I would be thrown off the bike; such was the condition of the road. And the speed couldn’t be reduced because if we did so, the bike couldn’t cross the mini boulders at a slow speed. Accidently I gazed up into the sky and I felt as if I was at some Astronomical Centre. I had never seen so many stars at night on a clear sky. Being a person from Mumbai, the sky I had seen comprised of a moon and a few hundred stars. But here, I could see thousands of them. And they all looked so happy. As I was enjoying the bliss of the dark silent night, I was brought back to this world when our bike went in and came out of a crater on the road. On my right side, I saw rocks. It reminded me of the bike rallies in AXN channel where the stunt men took the bikes over the rocky mountains. But the only difference was, they were geared to their safety suits and we weren’t. With the punya karma of my ancestors, I reached Sudev’s place safely. It was inside a remote village. We retired to bed at 1 am. Sudev asked me if we could stay awake instead of sleeping for just two hours. But I didn’t choose that option since I had two demo sessions the next day morning at Kasargod. As Sudev switched off the light, it was totally dark. I had never seen or imagined ‘total darkness’ like this before. In cities, even if we switch off the lights, still there will be a little light due to which we can atleast see shadows or our own body. But here, I couldn’t even see my own hand that I was moving in front of my eyes. I got the right meaning of ‘pitch black’ with a practical example. Usually, I have the habit of capturing moments on my camera. And how I wished if I could capture this darkness on my camera!
Next day, or rather the same day, we left for Calicut station at 3:45 am with cool winds hitting our face like needles pricking our skin. The rattling of my teeth was louder than the bike’s sound. We reached the railway station on time. I thanked Sudev and more than him, I thanked God for sending him to me. If it wouldn’t have been for him, we couldn’t have met so many people in Calicut. They say we are mere instruments in HIS hands. HE chooses the instruments and works through them. I was convinced by this with all my experiences till now. I had no idea how many demo sessions could I do or who is going to help me with leads for demos. And with the least effort, I got assistance from all sides – right from food, shelter, travelling, fixing up meetings, etc. Hadn’t my mission been HIS mission, I guess, none of this would have worked. I got a feel that I’m moving in the right direction.
16th – 17th Jan 2011 – Ottappalam
I left Kasargod to Ottappalam (a place between Palakkad and Shornur) on 16th Jan 2011. I was to stay at Indiraji & Dasanji’s home. Both of them are dedicated Sevaks of Chinmaya Mission. Dasanji had arranged sessions for me in three nearby colleges for Grads and Post-Grads. It was 16th evening that I reached there. Late afternoon, I had a walk around their house inside the compound enjoying the beauty of the trees and silence of the village. Evening was spent in the Annual Day function of a nearby school. I enjoyed the classical dances but felt sad when I saw small children dancing to Indi-pop songs with seductive looks and moves. The dance movements were the actual imitations of the movie stars who perform on the big screen. But it was so sad to see such innocent children giving those looks and the audience applauding for such kind of a dance and youngsters whistling. I was trying to figure out what might be the reason that is making the parents of these children proud? Who trained these small children? Teachers?? Aren’t they the ones who are supposed to guide the children and show them what’s good and what’s not? What are we doing to the young generation? On one hand, we hear cases of eve-teasing, molestation and rape cases among youngsters and start cursing the youth for all the problems of the world. And on the other hand, we give a big applause to young children and teenagers when they sing or dance to such tunes. Now, what are these young ones supposed to understand from this? Are they wrong if they assume (after our encouragement) that “Womanizing is Okay”? Which generation is indeed to be blamed – the young generation or the older one?
18th – 20th Jan 2011 – Ernakulam and CIF
On 18th early morning, I left Ottappalam to Ernakulam to come back to CIF from where I started. We did sessions in three more schools in the next two days. Two of the three schools were keen on doing workshops exclusively for their teachers. It was a great pleasure to see that people have started valuing such great branches of knowledge discovered by Indian Rishis.
At the end of the tour, I was left with a lot of good memories & learning experiences to cherish. My heart was content with the feeling of having worked in a missionary style for the last 12 working days by covering 6 cities and 24 Educational Institutions and addressing almost 3000 children. It was indeed such a wonderful way to start a New Year by spreading the knowledge of Vedic Maths to so many. Last but not the least, the great Rishis & Gurus choose different people to do different works and I feel a sense of gratitude for having been one of the Chosen Ones!