Tag: school

Life changing moment in Nepal

My regular life held me back from writing this. Last 2 weeks had me all over the place. I was a slave to my work and I think the clients. Finally got the moment to write when I am back in Kathmandu to do my further bit.

Giving you a brief account of what was an experience unlike any. You read about the relief camp at Bhaktapur. It gave an account of the urban relief camp. It was now time to go to the remote. Places where access was relatively difficult. We met Naveen, a friend of Pujan, engineer by profession and humanitarian in life. He was associated with an organization called “Work for Nepal”. Run by a bunch of young guys, working in varied fields, who had it in them to take off from work for their country. They had been working in the Kathmandu valley and the villages around. Naveen had visited a village called Tare Bhir and assessing the damage there and the need of the villagers, he thought it was best for us to help them.

Tare Bhir, is a village located about 2 hours from Kathmandu. The route is particularly treacherous as there is practically no route. The village is divided in various blocks, apparently that’s how it is in Nepal. Naveen had been to two blocks inhabited by about 27 families. There were half a dozen house completely damaged and the supply of essentials were almost disconnected.

Lorene had been able to raise some funds through her endeavor on Facebook. She had received donations from all over the world. The idea was to put the money in the right use. Lorene decided to donate 50000 Nepali Rupees (500 USD) to Work for Nepal. The money was to buy basic essentials to the 27 families in Tare Bhir.

We met Naveen at 10 and drove down to the work site of Work for Nepal. Jamal (an artist, interesting soul and a world citizen) had also joined us. Stories of his life will amaze anyone. The guys at Work for Nepal were busy packing relief materials they were sending off to another village.

The materials for Tare Bhir was bought by them and we were to pack them in 27 gunny bags. Each bag contained:

10 kg Rice

1 kg Dal

2 kg Chapped Rice (Churra)

1 lt Cooking oil

1 kg Salt

1 kg Washing powder

1 lt liquid soap

1 pack Mosquito coil

1 Tarpaulin

Sanitary Napkins

3 Tooth brush

1 Tooth Paste

Other than this we had taken toys and candies for the kids and some basic medicines.

Cost of each bag was over 2000 Nepali Rupees (1200 Indian or 20 USD). The amount donated was actually less than the cost of materials.

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The bags with relief materials loaded in the pickup van
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The bags with relief materials all packed to go
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(Standing 2nd onwards, Left to right) Naveen, Jamal, Lorene and me.

After packing we loaded the bags in a pickup car and was ready for the journey which was going to be a life changing experience. We were in 3 bikes and Jamal was in the pickup. On crossing Kathmandu we had to ascend a mountain as Tare Bhir was on it. I am told normally people would trek but as we were on bikes we were taking the road which didn’t really exist.

The pickup van stopped at the beginning of the trail and refused to go further as he didn’t want to take the risk of driving in the rough terrain. Lorene and I had moved further, driving a city bike on a non-existent mountain road. It was dusty and rocky. We slipped once and were flat down. Naveen had managed to arrange a jeep who knew a different way and was willing to drive to Tare Bhir.

It took us almost 3 hours to reach Ward 1 of Tare Bhir. We met an old lady and she took us into the village. There was a beautiful wooden canopy overlooking the valley. Naveen and Jamal had reached with the van and the villagers were plying the bags from the van to the village. We sat down and took some breath. The view was gorgeous and the people at their beautiful best. Before we could start any discussion we were offered some freshly brewed Raksi (A Nepali homemade wine that taste stronger than the strongest alcohol). We had some Raksi and asked all the villagers to join us near the canopy. We discovered there were no men in the village. Found out they had all gone out for work or to get building materials from the city. They had a strange excitement on their face. Some thought we were from the government, well that’s what they as any other citizen expect. But we weren’t and for a moment we were the messiah.

View from Tare Bhir
View from Tare Bhir
View from Tare Bhir
View from Tare Bhir

A member from each family was called and the bags were distributed. Lorene did the distribution. She distributed the bags to about 12 families. She had to explain the women about the sanitary napkins as they didn’t know about it. We had to caution them from not drinking the pink liquid in the bottle as it was liquid soap.

I had called all the kids to a corner and gave them candies and distributed the toys with them. They were in the age of 6 to 14. The children had a strange gloom on their faces. I tried talking to them and they were all shy, a striking contrast to those at Bhaktapur. After a little talking and playing they opened up and started talking. They all went to schools which they showed me was in a mountain I could see in the valley. They would trek miles every day, something I could not have imagined to do as a kid to study. They were way ahead of us. They wanted to study but the school was closed due to the quake. We decided to help building schools as the next project as these kids deserved it.

Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 1
Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 1

The people were unexpectedly hospitable. We were given a tour of the Raksi brewery. Well a little hut with a pot in which they brewed. We talked about the earthquake and the people were still living in the horror, but they said they had to still live and move on accepting it happened. This was something missing in Kathmandu. The men were back to work. The women were doing the work at homes and in the fields. A thing I liked about Tare Bhir and it’s the same for most villages in Nepal is that the villages are mostly self-dependent. They grow mostly vegetable which they consume. Most of them have solar electricity, water was from the stream nearby. The other essentials was what we were giving.

Naveen talking to the villages at Tare Bhir
Naveen talking to the villages at Tare Bhir
With an old lady from Tare Bhir. She was laughing on seeing herself on the phone screen.
With an old lady from Tare Bhir. She was laughing on seeing herself on the phone screen.

After distribution we packed up to go to the next Ward of Tare Bhir, our last destination of an already long day. The next Ward was about 20 mins drive downwards the mountain. We reached there to find that the village was still a little walk down. We met Shyam Lama, a resident of the village who was helping us to connect with them. Carrying the bags down would had been a difficult task so we called the villages to where the van was. The distribution was done in the same manner as the earlier ward. After the distribution of the bags we met the kids and distributed them the candies and toys. Spent some time with them. Family of Shyam Lama invited us for lunch to his uncle’s home. We accepted the invitation and walked down for about 15 mins to reach his house. We crossed fields of marijuana on our way. Opposite his house was Shyam’s house which was down to rubble by the quake. Nothing was left. Same was with 2 more houses in the village. Yet they were unfazed and their hospitable best. The women cooked us some fresh meal. Potatoes, chicken and beaten rice (Churra). We had some Raksi. We asked them out of curiosity about the marijuana, and was informed they fed it to the goats and cows as it increased the milk production.

Shyam Lama's house completely destroyed by the quake.
Shyam Lama’s house completely destroyed by the quake.
Lorene with the kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Lorene with the kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Me with the kids at Tare Bhir ward 2
Me with the kids at Tare Bhir ward 2
Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Lorene distributing the supplies to the families at Tare Bhir ward 2
Lorene distributing the supplies to the families at Tare Bhir ward 2

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Marijuana plantation at Tare Bhir
Marijuana plantation at Tare Bhir

After a good meal it was time to leave. We started trekking up to our bikes. The eldest lady in the village came to calling us to thank us for coming to her village. It was a beautiful gesture. We left the village around 6, it had got darker and driving back was going to be a task. Took us more than two hours to get back to Courtyard.

Sunset from Tare Bhir
Sunset from Tare Bhir

Introspecting the whole experience I got more from the village than we gave them. It felt strange that being in such a comfortable I had more complains from life. The desire and lust was stronger than life itself. These people had nothing. Living in a little village with limited means and having lost so much in the disaster they did not complain. They were happy with the little they had and didn’t lust for a glossy life. I felt so small in front of them. Realized again that money was not life but life was money. I had a different perception of life and living. Thanks to the beautiful people in Tare Bhir my life was changed for the better and the journey of giving unconditionally was ignited.

As said we wanted to rebuild schools for the little ones who wanted to study not just for studying but also to escape from the fear of quake. We have started work on it with a lovely group of young people based in Nepal and all over the world. Details will be in my next post.

If you read this post and you feel for these beautiful people then please do anything you can to support them. They need your support in this moment of standing back in their lives. You may contribute through your own organizations or to the links below. Work For Nepal and Lorene are doing great work go check their Facebook pages. If you think what we have been doing is noteworthy then you can contact me.

LINKS:

Work For Nepal: https://www.facebook.com/groups/664523693677050/?fref=ts

Lorene’s: Help me help Nepal: https://www.facebook.com/events/457672224395633/

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EXPLORING THE UNEXPLORED !!

Writing about the glorious past of my life and trying to be short is an impossible task. Still trying to be as short as I can, and this is the shortest I can be in sharing the phase of my life which taught me about life. So in continuation to ‘Meeting my loneliness’, its time to share when I explored the unexplored. I know its a bit long, couldnt make it any shorter, but I am sure you all would enjoy every bit of it.

I had made friends and got down to being busy with the endless schedule of the school, the loneliness had disappeared. Things were all happy and nice. I was learning how to do things on my own, without the comfort of mom. Was washing my clothes, cleaning my room, polishing my shoes, attending a morning 4 to 9 routine. Learnt reading books, got better in yoga, went to the doctor on my own, so a lot of firsts were happening and I was enjoying life. Mom, dad and dodo would visit me often and I would always see them off with a happy smile. A year had passed, I was more used to the life in the school than with my family by now. Mom told me that soon Dodo would also be joining me and I need to play the role of big brother more than I have done before. The day they came to drop Dodo, he was happy for the fact that he would be finally living with me, and I was sad for the fact that no one would be there to take care of Mom and Dad. I cried for the last time.

They say rules are meant to be broken; I broke rules and learnt that blasting and shattering the rules gave more sadistic pleasure than breaking. Had started to bunk classes, sneaking to the out of bound domains, stealing fruits from the orchard, breads from the bakery, bunking sleep, and a lot more. Learnt about the theories of life and death, sex and self pleasure. Was shocked to know how birth took place, and for the first and the last time thought I was lucky to be a man.  Had discovered the pleasure magazines, was reading Sidney Sheldons and Eric Segal than Enid Blyton. That was me enjoying my growing from a boy to a man. Was told man because I was now enjoying the so-called adult domain.

Four years had passed, by now I had taken part in the literary activities, was debating and reciting, was acting and teaching, yes teaching as I had been made the captain of the school yoga team, was told that I was the youngest to achieve this. Was made the prefect of my house, well it was something prestigious, the juniors were always scared and the batchmates envious as the I enjoyed some privileges and had a sort of prefectory immunity.

Had reached class 8th and moved to the senior hostel. We had one junior hostel and three senior hostels. Though I had moved to the senior hostel but became a junior. The ragging phase in the hostel life was about to start. I had always been in good books of the teachers, they all thought me to be the kind of model student, did fairly well in studies as well as the other activities, this status always helped me in my escape route when I did the wrong. The ragging had started, works of the seniors were being delegated to us, from doing their homework and practical works, to getting water and washing their clothes. Then a shocking thing happened, one night I was woken up from my sleep by a senior and asked to follow him to his room. Was asked to kiss him and touch him, felt like the moment before the rape, had to hit him and escape to hiding, this is when I got to know that homosexuality was existing in this all boys school. I was beaten up the next day for not doing what I was asked for, but I was happy for the beating as I didn’t have to kiss and touch that ugly bastard.

Class 9th was the time when we knew that we were getting close to power. Yes, power because we were heading towards class 10th, which was the dominant and breaking free phase of every boarders life. In the last semester of class 9th the students of 10th and 12th clashed after being instigated by the lie of one of my class mate, some of them were hospitalised, police was called and the school was declared closed sine die. Learnt that one lie can actually affect the life of 800 others.

Finally reached class 10th, the time we all had waited for from the day we had joined the school. Walked into the school after the summer vacations with the heads high, collar up, eyes open and ears closed. Was greeted by the juniors as sir and the teachers would not raise their voices (I know it sounds too filmy but that’s how it was), and a big change was that I had money in my pockets for the first time in my life, we never needed money before as everything for prepaid.  We were now doing things at our own wish and time, the school time-table was a piece of shit and it we had our own time-table which the school would follow. It was a Sunday, me and a friend had sneaked out of the school campus after beating and threatening the security guard who had tried to stop us, we headed to the city to buy a cake for a friend’s birthday. I saw my first porn movie in a stinky theatre, later realised where the stink came from. On our way back to the school we saw a wine store and thought of picking some beers, afterall we were adults now. Picked 4 bottles of beer, which had turned hot by the time we got back, drank alcohol (hot beer) for the first time hiding in the toilet,  thought I can never drink it again, good I didn’t follow my thoughts, else would have never experienced the meaning of the quote “the world looks more beautiful when you are high”.

By the time I was about to finish my hostel life I had smoked my first cigarette, learnt reading books, tried my hands in painting, had excelled in yoga, sneaked out to the highway dhabas to eat and drink, sneaked in VCR players to watch porn movies in the hostel, beaten up some teachers, kicked some asses, made bed under my bed to escape from attending classes, featured on the list of blacklisted students of the school, gave a shock to the Principal by being on this list, I stood confident and independent, able to handle anything in life, and many many more things which were the firsts of my life and which had paved the way to my glorious future.

We were in the last day of the school and the feeling of going back to home was the same as I had felt the first day I came to the hostel. I was sad yet happy and I was all set for exploring the new part of my life. I knew that the friends I have lived day and night with for 7 years would go invisible forever, didn’t have the social networking sites to keep in touch with them. But then I was excited to see the world out of the bounds of hostel, which was so far inexistent in my life. I still cherish every moment I have lived in the hostel and truly thank my parents to have been strong and sent me there. What I am today is all because of these 7 years of adventurous life.

MEETING MY LONELINESS…

I had been thinking of what to write, and finally after a lot of tussle with my thoughts I decided to share the phase of my life which paved way to what I am today. It’s too difficult to share it in such a short space, can actually write a book on it, so I would be brief and would write it in two parts as I don’t want you all to go through the pain of reading it all at once :).

Was seven when Mom and Dad took me on a drive to a school which was in the outskirts of Ranchi, it had a massive campus, dad had told me its spread on 200 acres of land which I definitely didn’t understand at that time. I just liked the fact that it had huge playgrounds and lots of kids playing. Later realised that Mom and Dad were preparing me for my life changing experience.

1991:     I was 9, looked 6, was driven down to the same school again, everything was same as the last time except that I was wearing the school uniform as I had seen the kids wearing and had a big steel trunk loaded with clothes and things. I was exhilarated and happy about the fact that I would be staying at a place which had so many kids and I can make lots of friends and play all as much I wanted. The idea of being away from the family had not struck me yet. Reached school, I was given a roll number, 842, this was going to be my name for the next 7 years, yes we were called by our roll numbers and not by names. Infact I didn’t even know the names of some of my friends by the time we had passed out of the school. I was shown the room, it had 3 beds and wardrobes, there were no door and windows, it was just open spaces. They said it was not there to check the students from doing anything wrong. Wondered what wrong could I do? Yes I was at my innocent best at that time, unfazed by the good and bad, I was all good and bad didn’t exist for me. I was introduced to my housemaster Mr. Mankad, who was also the school yoga teacher, was the beginning of an informal relationship as I was eventually set to lead the school Yoga team. Mom had organised my wardrobe, made my bed, gave me the last most advises, and it was time for them to leave. I saw them off with a smile; mom had red eyes and was trying to be silent, Dad and Dodo (that’s my bro) looked sad, and were forcing themselves to smile, they left and I kept looking at the car till it had disappeared. I got back to my room, relaxed, met some guys from my batch, had dinner, slept. This was my first day of living alone and away from my family.

Woke up at 3 in the morning and for the first time in life felt what loneliness was, for the first time felt what luxury of being at home was and how much I loved my family. I had tears in my eyes and felt breathless, wanted to cry aloud but couldn’t. I wanted to run back home but knew it was impossible, so wished I could lock myself away from the eyes of everyone, I wished I was invisible and unheard. I didn’t feel like even going out of my room, but had to get into the school routine, which added to the pain. In the afternoon mom, dad and dodo gave me a surprise visit, brought me smile with tears. Later got to know that my room-mate had told the housemaster about my crying, so Mr. Mankad had called my Dad to inform that I was being a cry baby, and they should come and see me. Mom and Dad asked me to be strong and learn things and make friends and asked me never to cry again as they were always around. That was the second last time I cried for being away from home and started the journey of endless adventure and learning and the inception of my new life.