Ramblings

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The only picture I have of a tree from our Peace Park. Obviously this is not the tree I have mentioned in the writing but they are close by. – TCV Selakui (2011)

It is already mid February and this is a version supposedly to be my January post, I am definitely not being the efficient one.

Second semester is way cooler, the classes start only by 10am and this morning even that got cancelled and we had it from 11am onward. I walked later than usual to class; it was sunny with a soft breeze and in all a beautiful day. Delhi is having its best weather now days. On weekdays I remain indoor the whole time and it already gets dark by the time I leave school. Walking across the small primary school that falls on my way to class, the kids are often seen playing on the ground. Sun and dust doesn’t bother them. In their tidy uniform they brawl in the dusty play field, run and play, sit in tight groups talking and laughing cheerfully. I envy them, now that we have to sit in class pretending to be listening seriously to teachers even when the lecture is going over our heads. Many a times our presence in class is mere physical and it is the mind which flocks to near and far places.

Our visiting professor from the States Dr.Govindjee, takes his lectures in School of Biotechnology so on our way there the sunny outdoor environment and the freshness of the atmosphere looks so inviting. How I wished if the lectures could be held outside. My school teachers have been so liberal now when I think of them, it is not like we call our teachers by their first name sort of thing but we had enough liberty. Any one feeling sleepy in class use to stand at back and listen until we are good enough to sit and follow the lecture with a fresh mind. The best ones are the lectures held outside under the tree with tender grasses brushing our feet in the winter sunshine. Gen Bhutuk la’s class( Tibetan language and literature) is the one most frequently held outside. We carry our Blue plastic chairs outside under the tree and listen to Genla. The seriousness of the students in their studies is inversely proportional to the distance of their seat from the teacher that time. The studious one sits at the front row listening carefully and hitting questions in-between. The ones at the back are the ones who play with twigs, pebbles and are involved in their own small things; thankfully we don’t have mobile phones that time. The spot just near the tree is in demand since students can rock their chair and lean on the tree bark. The competition for the best spaces is so inherent in schools. Be it in mess while watching movies on Saturday night or during events in the auditorium, the search for the best spaces remain.

Often huge ants or any random insects would crawl up the chair and if unlucky one gets bitten too. Sometimes when it rains or gets windy then we retreat back to our classes. Even today when the class is boring and gets kind of gloomy I wish if we could have classes outside. Are we ever too grown up to have outdoor classes? Only if the entire PowerPoint presentation thing would not have been created…..

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Hello 2015

On return to my hostel room from winter holiday last Saturday there was an unusual smell in the room. It smelled like that of dust but not exactly the same. I started thinking whether it is due to some microbial spores in the air as it is with the typical smell after first rain falls which is caused to some soil microbe. I cleaned the room and did dusting to remove the unusual whiff in the air. It didn’t go instantly at that moment, but has gone over the time. The room now smells sweet because of the guavas on table. So now that the room is clean I thought why not work on my page too. Here I am brushing off Nine month’s dust from this page and trying to recover from Writer’s Block (Writer here is simply for anyone who is able to write).

I don’t know what kept me engaged for all these time. Numerous times I sat down and entered drafts which are still unpublished on my desktop. In these nine months I moved to a new Environment and probably the latent period I was trying to assimilate into the new place. One thing that fears me most is the future and I think this is same thing that scares pretty much everyone of my age.

The New Year started on a happy note with lots of inspiration around me. It is not always big people and big thing that inspires often the simple things and the usual people around me are the ones who just blows my mind.
This new post is like an Ice breaker to the new start so I am writing what all nonsense that is popping in my mind.

And can I just say to myself loudly “Finally”.

Walking to school

My class walked in a queue in our blue chequered shirts,
The temple road wet and sailing monsoon dirt.
The post shower wind was harsh and dreadful,
But the children still, marching and cheerful.

Our dirt-layered sleeves were just elbow-length,
Chances minimal for the goose pimples to descend.
Jumping and rubbing didn’t ease the chill,
An ideal solution then seemed sitting on a grill.

The tempest left the hilltop crisp,
Sudden bleakness enough to glaciate the wisp,
Our school is located down the hill,
Walking there is like a wintry morning drill.

I sported my friend’s sunshine yellow raincoat,
That feeling of warmth I still keep its note.
The journey now turned more walkable,
And the persistent wind despicable.

We stopped midway by the pastry den,
Goodies were packed by the Indian man.
We reached our school with tales of Cinderella,
Soon I realized that at the bakery I’d left my friend’s umbrella.

Twelve years old, I don’t own a phone then.
No way could I reach or enquire with clock past ten.
But then my friend didn’t ask for compensation,
I exploded with joy as for a child it was a great satisfaction.

I remembered him today

*This is a two year old writing which I penned in my first year of College for the RTYC March magazine. Since it is 10th March tomorrow and the time of year to be on streets, I thought of posting this for its relevance to the event.

The spot was gripped in complete silence; everyone bowed their head in grievance and solidarity. It was the 23rd birthday of Penchen Rinpoche and everyone in hostel gathered in the evening for a moment of reflection and prayer for all those who risked their lives for our country. I stood there holding the burning candle, looking at the dark fumes that came out from the diminishing wick. It made me nostalgic of the event that happened almost a month back.

The leaves of the overhead tree rustled in the March wind and Tibet’s snow lion flag fluttered majestically under the pale blue Delhi sky, I along with my friends we sought a cemented place to sit and wandered at the sight of the huge Tibetan crowd that has gathered that day at Jantar mantar. The event proceeded in the usual note with a peace march in the morning followed by the series of lectures and speeches from some familiar and mostly unfamiliar Indian dignitaries. People were drinking water to quench their thirst, crowding the food kiosk to get over with their exhaustion and waving hands to friends they haven’t met for long. We were too drained out to concentrate and interpret the loud speeches so we sat chatting in group, least bothered by the ongoing speech. Ringing cell phones, beeping text messages, camera shutters, people trying to settle down, sudden squeals of laughter it was a noisy scene. The Indian demonstrators sitting opposite to us were miniaturized by our huge crowd, colorful banners and costumes. The Tibetan crowd was almost a visual indulgence for the other peoples that have came to Jantar mantar that day. People from all age groups from small kids clad in chupa passionately eating their kulfis and to octogenarians counting the beads on their rosary, everyone was there.

Amidst all these activities, uproar of panic stricken voice and women screaming were heard. I got on my foot to witness something totally unacceptable for my eyes. Fury red, flame enveloped person went running on the main street. Shocked, Jaw dropped for a second everyone was frozen for a moment. In no time people rushed to the site where the person collapsed. The media persons all hurled near the spot to get their own piece of news and everyone broke into tear. A middle aged guy standing in front of us holding an ice cream smashed it against the ground. A moment ago the sun’s heat was unbearable and discomforting for everyone but now the rage was untamable, the heat even stronger. But this time it was from within.

Days went by, the ripple effect of our late martyrs crossed leaps and bound but it was natural that with time the feelings slowly faded away.
Outside the temple in Majnu ka tilla , tables were laden with hundreds of butter lamps, speakers blaring with prayers and the portrait of Pawo Jamphel Yeshi with a cheerful smile reminded me of his sacrifice and his absence. It was the 4th week past his demise. I made a quick prayer and wished for a noble rebirth.

During the candle light vigil the fumes from the candle reminded me of him. All that I knew of him was the two pictures; the first one where he was sporting a wide smile at the MT temple square and the other one of being gulped by the flames. The melting candle wax trickled down my finger. I was shrugged back to the loud chants of prayers and retreated to place our candles in row.

On visiting the Muslim Relief Camp..

The worst part of the journey was the boring playlist that was being played. Only occassionaly there were song that I knew and sang along. Those songs were from my early childhood, most of which I learned from weekday’s Chitrahaar and weekend’s Rangoli shows broadcasted in Doordarshan. As we crossed into the state of Uttar Pradesh it reminded me of the places around Bodh Gaya where we go to see the ancient remains of centuries old universities, ruined palaces or caves.Tree leaves were laden with blanket of dust as if it never rained in that place. The walls of the houses were the village hoarding for some cement or iron rod companies. Fruit vendors were a common sight with their bright oranges standing out in the hazy scene . We stopped mid way for a short break and my friends returned in the bus with a wide smile telling me how that lady at the small parlour allowed them to use her washroom and even offered them tea and told them to visit again. This is one benefit of living in small towns, the people are more humane and moreover they have even time to chit chat over a cup of tea anytime.

The bus seemed little slower than the usual ones, for hours we were on roads wide and narrow, high ways to rickety ones through cities and farms. After another break at one of the muslim residence for refreshment, we finally reached Shamli, the relief camp site. It was a sunny day but a strong breeeze was prevelant in the camp which is located amidst the fields. Children came running; from the tents, from the sugar cane farms,from their play areas, some also from other camp sites. They straightaway asked us for candies and that made us searching our bags, we didn’t have that slighest idea before. We distributed what all eatable we Have with us that moment. Some one found a shop and brought in more biscuits. The kids loved being photographed, they were so innocent and adorable.

The place has tarpaulin and cloth tents, small tin canisters hung on the poles on tent ( I don’t know what those were for) souls of the inhabitant remain scarred and the children are the innocent victims in such violent breakouts. With no ill feelings they face the worst consequences. Every news article from the relief camp reports of Child death due to Cold weather, Traumatic stress or due to lack of medical facilities. The parents not only left behind their business, property and home but their child’s secure future also. They have to now start alover again, from the basic neccesities for their survival to a secure future of their children. The children no longer attend classes. A boy unnamed says “ May be from 2014 we will join some nearby school”. But this still remains a possibility and dependent on many factors, will the school admit these displaced children? Can the family support the family in this difficult time without a child working and earning?

As we visited each tent the elder shared their greviances and the memories made them teary. A young man, father of 3 kids spoke to us about his life back in Muzzafarnagar while his 2 years old son played around his leg. They are among the lucky ones to still have their parents, many of the children have been orphaned on both the Hindu and Muslim side. In this harsh winter many of the toddlers walk bare foot on the cold sandy ground. Their eyes spark with innocence and their hearts are pure and unbiased.
After the relief work involving distribution of matresses and fruits in the first camp,we left for the next camp. The people were keeping so much hope in us and they said that they expect some major help from those who come to see them at the camps.

The second camp was further then we expected. The situation was no better here, the similar pain in the people were still evident.
On return I started reading (as well as absorbing) every material on this issue that came across me from the newspapers, the links I get in my facebook newsfeed and other social media. I even talked with some of my friends both Hindu and Muslims. The J&K displaced people’s heart are still unhealed but when it comes to the stark living condition of the people as in the camps. They wish and pray for their wellbeing too.

Head of the local muslim community, little far from the camp site has arranged the lunch for us. On our way back we stopped for the famous Muslim Biryani and Dal Chawal for the vegetarians. After all the snacks on the way I was not that hungry. The chicken biryani spiced with strong flavor of laung was served lavishly. They have set up a nice sitting area and it was like some function at the family’s palce. The women of the family were in the kitchen preparing the meal and the males were the ones serving the plates, pouring water, making the guests feel comfortable. The hospitality seemed more than what we deserved. They were too busy attending the guests and later we took photographs and they invited us to visit again.

Slight drizzle, wet window panes of the bus, exhausted participants, feeling of great satisfaction and blissful slumber enroute. In few hours we woke up to the night life of Delhi, choked highways, incessant horns, fuzzy street lamps and people in motion.
We left behind the place, the children, the other victims to say, but everyone that day brought in their heart the love for human kind,the feeling of oneness and a commitment to better our society in our own ways.

Continuum…

Day 4:

The trainer for the day was Lynda Ongel Lepcha, Founder Director, Holistic training solutions. She was accompanied by two of her male colleagues clad in suits and it imparted some corporate touch initially. But as we proceeded it was very informative and two trainers were friendly too.I usually feel the tuxedo wearing people are the austere types and ones who talk less(that business like feel). They brought along many printed materials and they were all so easy to follow and understand. The talks lead us to understanding some words that we usually assume to be easy, but has the deeper meaning untouched. We kept on doing the exercises that she made us to do one after another. On completion of each task we  learned a technique and walked a step ahead in learning the big picture of Leadership strategy execution.

• Understanding Strategy
• Creating a Vision
• Critical success factors
• Executing Strategy

One of the exercises which I like most was the Desert survival experiment. It taught us about making yourself heard and being able to convince the team members within the short time as well as listening to others and their reasons. It was about brainstorming, arguing and being logical. Once the result is declared, I loved the light moment where we reflect on how one should have listened to the other. There were many other innovative tasks and the final one was strategising toward a vision we have in our own field. A newspaper article was prepared  on that and then it was presented in a manner GALLERY, this was a nice concept again. Rather than the entire crowd listening to one person at a time, each group goes around to hear from a speaker from another group.  At a time everyone is listening, but each group is listening to different groups.
Following that we listed the critical success factors and then they were prioritized. We further worked on plans that will make the vision more achievable.
At the end as Lynda said in the morning we indeed had a CEREBRAL day.

Day 5:

Trainer for the day was Sharling Tenzin Dhardon. The topic was Communication strategy, social media and leadership. There were many recreational games highlighting the importance of communication, listening being a pivotal tool. At the end of most tasks we were to come up with our own ideas of why it was a failure or a success. There were various examples of strategic communication and exercises also. Advertisements being a great example of communication we studied several of them and even made one of our own too.

Our team prepared a Ad on Tibetan Herbal tea, the tag line being “ Everything can happen with a cup of Tibetan herbal tea”. Our story was set in a University and was about how that Herbal tea helped in bridging Friendship between Tibetan and Chinese Students and later the same friends becoming the leader of the two nations and continuing their friendship. We tried to convey how that tea sort of calm the tensed mind and helps in making better decisions.

There were outdoor games too, it tested our application of strategic communication skills. The narrow bridge game with the brick as stepping plots was a playful method of being strategic in our communication.

Then there was the  larger topic on social media, citizen journalism and how impactful it can be. I am aware of all these mass movements, but the concept just got clearer from the training, It was like we received the much needed polish to what we have been doing all this time. There was also screening of TWA’s production, Lhamo Tso – behind the sea that left everyone with moist eyes. This short documentary narrated to us the story of Dhondup Wangchen from the eyes of his wife and daughter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RnFGlaDOlQ

We were later briefed about our next day outbound training. Dhardon la spoke to us about the communal riots in Muzzafarnagar. I have scanned some news article on this matter several times but never bothered to really understand the story. But that day we were explained about what all happened there since September 7, 2013. Then finally when we were told that we are going to the relief camps, I was like Really? The answer was an obvious YES. All the arrangements were done already and TWA has coordinated with Zakat Foundation (Delhi based NGO) who is doing the major relief work in the Muslim camps. We were expected to complete an undercover Photostory as a report from the outbound trip.

Since we were not sure how long the journey will be and whether we will get places to stop and eat on the way, we shopped snacks for the next day and did preps for the talent night.

Day 6:

The worst part of the journey was the boring playlist that was being played on the bus. I don’t like having earphones on in the bus and I resort to the main music being played. Only occasionally there was a song that I knew and sang along. Only if the driver had a good taste in music the journey would have been many times memorable.
I am writing a separate blog post for this day. I don’t want to leave behind the details from that day.

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Day 7:

Today was the final day and the concluding event of the week. It was held at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road. The panel discussion was scheduled in the room Casauriana. Reaching the spot my friends started taking photos in the premises, but I had an unwell stomach so I was more into getting seated and finding the cloak room. The place has the nice ambience and imparts the air of education and intellect. The attendants at the food counter was kind enough to give me sweet and salty warm water (home made ORS) on request of my friend. The topic of the event was “ Role of women in Peacebuilding, reconciliation and in taking accountability. We had 2 women speakers  Souzeina S Mushtaq (Writer, journalist) and Dr. Alana Golmei( activist and founder director Burma centre ) and in the noon we had Sh. Mani Shankar Iyer. He started speaking about the diversity in India, the various religions and a great deal of history that slighty went overhead for me. He mentioned that only when sufficient women power is harnessed then along with men power it sums up to  Human power. And another line which was powerful enough that “ Power needs women more than how much women need power”. He stressed how women are the one who make the ends meet in a family by stretching every penny. He said that all his life, his family was entirely women except for the dog they have at home and it made the crowd break into laughter.

It was followed by a grand lunch and final conclusion with the feedback session ‘spin a yarn’.

On our way back i realised how the auto driver this morning has duped us by charging almost double the actual fare. I really need to work on this still THE ART OF BARGAINING IN INDIA.

The Talent nite:

We reached back to complete all the pending work. The Photostory, learning the climax for our dance number, packing gift for our secret friend etc. As things don’t always turn right at the last moment we had the entire problems popping in, “The room is locked? Who took the key?”, “Where is the card reader? The laptop charger is missing..! The windows movie maker has just hung up..So we had to resort to all the alternatives and plan B. The evening extravaganza, though prepared in a very short time was really entertaining. This has been the first ever New Year in my life during which I was dancing with the crowd till the clock was exact 12. All those crazy dance steps I saw in the TV last vacation were of some help 🙂 . This 7 day experience ended with lots of knowledge, memories, encouragements, laughter, friends, cerebral flexing, inspiration and the much needed push for the self esteem. 2013 ended that way and what awaited us the next morning was a brand new year.

“For last year’s word belong to the last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
– T.S. Eliot

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