Friday, August 15, 2008

Road less travelled

Parichay is an awe inspiring initiative by our dear Vijay Bhaiya and words are not enough to give a measure of his efforts. Every thought of Parichay gives me goose bumps although I am thousands of miles away. In today's world it's hard to find an initiative which has been nurtured with so much love and care. We always say children are the future, but do we actually do something for them apart from the occasional donations to some big NGOs, who spend huge sums of money on maintaining it's status.

So who are these people behind Parichay ? Well, these people are ordinary humans with extraordinary motivation and the will to make this world a better place. It's a family of talented children, motivated individuals and many well wishers. In the last eight years Parichay has tasted so many successes that it has inspired many many people to be the winds of change directly or indirectly. Like many good things Parichay has also faced it's share of problems, but Vijay Bhaiya and the children of Parichay have stood tall, and faced them with smiles. Over the years Parichay has seen many "real heroes" like Krishna, Somendra, Puneeta, Selva, Sambit, Deepti and many others to come forward and support it's cause with a great deal of passion and conviction.

I salute the beautiful world of Parichay, and pray that the real values of life continue to be preserved through initiatives like this. Last but not the least, I would like to request all the readers who haven't been to Parichay to visit it atleast once, and talk to Vijay bhaiya and the children; your life will surely change for good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Climbing Rainbow with a Boat of Smiles

If I have to describe my experience on Parichay-Trip then it's more like "feeling sunshine on my nose in cold bitter dilli ki sardi" …: P because for me this is the most comforting thing I can think of :)
Parichay kids always impressed me with their open heart warm attitude, they welcome everyone with same respect and captivating smiles.. but on this trip I was little more lucky that I saw their "Live Life with Life" attitude.
I used to wonder how they retain their cheerful disposition with so many things happeing in their life and on this trip I got my answers...
When we started our trip it was drizzling outside and when we reach Parichay Center we saw another shower of giggles … I don't think I can confine their excitement for this trip in words :)
Ganga Ghaat become more alive with kids playing with water, pebbles and when sparkling rays of their smile encounter with shimmering water of gaga it was a sight of a wonderland where everything is shining and I was mesmerized :) Every kid in Parichay has different color and for a painter like me it is almost like feeling a painting ..feeling colors .. and I truly believe no painting can be as beautiful as this one ..:)
For me Parichay -Trip is just started :) looking forward to see more colors ,feel more smiles and more love although they have given me so much :) but being human I couldn't resist myself asking for more.


22 of us on a trip to Rishikesh

The parichay trip was going to be a whole new experience for quite a few reasons. Packed with 16 kids, their entusiasm was going to match mine at any point of time. I was eager to see the games children play, had in mind a game or two. My game would be something to do with role playing, a military invasion and capture of a hill, or a cab full of pirates in search of the heart of a sea monstor, or Don Quixote attacking a windmill. The thrid idea broght me back to my senses and i smiled at my imagination. I did get to do all those things, but more like a commando and less like a captain with backup. I was later to find out that i was not in hollyood, but more in bolly or molly wood, for we had a don with a haircomb and a god with a cellphone. Both very fond of camera, inadvertently didnt cross each others path during much of the trip. A strong clout followed both the god and the don; and in this plot, i considered myself as ....

To make myself clear, I will shread the cryptic writing style for a while. The god being Selva, belongs to a quaint South Indian town that cooks it just right. It familierity with the food lovers is for discovering a bland curry dish named Sodhi, mixed with rice seved with a more fiery porel.

Don would be Kailash, who unlike bad dons, sticks a comb in his backpocket. Well, has been never identified in a camera... in that line of work, its like that... with a bad hairstyle. He probably learns half his tricks at work and other half at Saloo's saloon. I hope he puts these tricks to good use. I would like a don change & turn himself in, for a desire to win the great indian comedy show.

I considered myself as a pilgrim travelling with the god, a preacher travelling with the don. Though neither of these was entirely my real identity, i acted them out suitably.

The condense of the two day trip can be compared an evening. A kid reaches the playground with an excitement and as the sun sets down returns home with heavy steps. The kiddos, went there all excited and returned as if it was sun set of an evening they wished would not end so soon. And under a decoy of going and comming back sleepy; because I collected information. Any top 3 presumptions made with this statement about my real identiy during the trip may still be wrong.

Just before we reached Delhi, I caught a glimse of Radha sitting in the other cab. It was the same smile with which she would radiate in the classroom, at the end of 2nd hour of my tough-to-digest lecture about relationship between puzzels and life. That promising smile for the future said so much; the big deal was not the trip that costed XXX bucks or the resturant that I was overwhelmed by, the big deal is living in the moment.

Walking like a man and hitting like a hammer, she looked like a confident, dynamic carrer woman in jeans - a side of Moni I had not seen before. I could almost imagine her speak with eloquence and finish like this, "your honour, i rest my case".

Initially we had intended to go to Dehradun also. Dehradun is approximately 60-70 kms from Rishikesh. If children could be exposed to studies related to flora and fauna (wildlife) at that place, surrounded by both in plenty, the educational objective of the trip would be fulfilled from my stand-point. "Once a befuddled a wildlife resercher, found answer for a touch question in a comic book".

We did not go to Dehradun and only person I could teach about trecking was Manu (a volunteer). On our small trek to Nilkanth, we managed to get lost. You know how it starts, "I know a shortcut". A blind man wouldnt get lost on that one. We never found a shortcut, instead a skeleton pointing the long finger towards the road saved us. Perhaps, it was tired from the disco last night, 'the Skeletor disco'. Before we left our friend 'Skeletor', we changed the direction of its finger to the other side.

Looking back, I might have taken Sona to the treck. He might have been able to treck the distance at our pace. If there is a career for him in doing something like this, that would be real cool. Even if he looks like an adventurer to me, there are already too many people doing this stuff for a living. I guess one has to discover something, even if one does not have the formal education, and make a living. Its something about respect for oneself (maybe). To make a two day trip about dicsovery is not childs play.

Is a day at work similar to a day spent mountain trecking? In a work day, a person climbs to a peak and then comes down or finds a resting spot before the sunset. Then some days and on some trecks you dont reach the peak, return before touching it. Are their more similarities between a city day and a treck? While former is about mental exertion & team play, the latter is physical exertion & indivigual will power. In this bleak similarity, i find it important to note one point, "if you enjoy the path and the people along it, you can always return back contented, looking forward to the next day, weather or not you reached the peak".

- Naval
The trip formed a bond between the cirle of volunteers. Had it not been for Parichay, they would not take my baloneey or agreed to look it from an artistic point of view. And I definately would have called them egotistic for not bearing with me. Parallely, that applies to little ghutkhi as well (her name escapes me). There was something different about her at the Book Fair and now when she went to Rishikesh. For proof lover, its a theorem that states that only the child inside you makes true friends. Sadly it is contradiction with adults is what makes a child. Meaning the child can put you at cross with adults, or wouldnt i be a child everywhere. Parichay, for me thats a place where the child feels safe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Parichay At Rishikesh

To me Parichay has been a whole new experience from the very first day I met with Bhaiya. He is so much to tell and i like listening to his experiences about Parichay and about the kids.
Parichay has given a lot to me in such a small time. I feel like being part of a new family. The smile on the faces of kids make me feel good too.
The trip to rishikesh was an altogether different experience for me. Finally i got a chance to remember the name of almost everyone i suppose by now. I tried this thing all the way round.
Enjoyed a lot during the whole trip. The fun at all the places we went was different in its own way. Made new friends and got a chance to know them.
We went to Dehradun and Rishikesh. It was so peaceful and enjoyable with the kids. Enjoyed every moment in the trip from the point we started the journey till we came back was fun.
Treking on the way to Nilkanth was an amazing experience with Naval. Initially i wasn't at all afraid as i knew that we will find a way as we proceed but on reaching the top of the Peak we realized that there was no way we could go. From that point onwards things started to get a little bit horrifying. I was afraid (to tell u the truth) of getting down as it was not easy to get down. But we were lucky to find a way as we were coming down from the top. Gud luck. Then Shouting as if we had discovered America as Columbus did. :)
The lunch , ride in the boat and walking besides those ghat besides the Ganga river was an amazing experience.
Then evening was also filled with loads of masti with the kids near Ganga river and then the arti that we attended in the evening with an awesome weather was tooooo gud to be true.
The fun at lachiwala not to forget when a monkey took our chowmeen from behind :) and also the masti that we did there in the water for so many hours.
All in all i enjoyed a lot being part of all this with such wonderful people at a wonderful place. A whole new experience. Thanks to everyone who were part of it. Thank u so much all...

- Manu

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Learner's Chapter

Parichay is the first place where I stepped in on to the new world of volunteering. Not many of volunteer get a chance to start learning volunteering from Parichay. It was a fine morning when I, Somen and one more girl Priya met at IIT main gate to move to the project. It was one and half hour travel with the modes of bus, auto-rickshaw and cycle-rickshaw travel. Before reaching parichay itself I had a lot to learn from the road from bhajanpura to tukhmirpur. I could imagine and interpret the state of mind of the people at that place (though that was an imagination of an immature so called volunteer who was on his first sight visit).

After all the way of travel when we reached the building with a block of bricks arranged on the front and loads of bundles of paper wounded and kept aside on both sides of the entrance. There were children all around with namasthe bhaiya and namasthe didi…while we entered into the block. Man I thought Somen must be a hero here; he got such a reception which I’ve earlier seen only in Rajnikanth movies on screen, a live experience.

Once we stepped into the block on the left hand side we had / have a steep steps leading to the first floor…..I just imagined “Parichay is already on top”.

A quick little flashback……. Me, Somen and Anirban used to have dinner quite often and during our dinner we talk about Parichay, AID, Volunteering etc., etc., we used to talk a lot about Parichay, the children and bhaiya…. I from there on had an imagination of Parichay with two separate rooms on a ground beautifully decorated with lots of charts having a small garden in front of it. Both the rooms surrounded with a series of flower pots [this is not my mistake, movies have shown things like that :D].

Back to the situation, I started to realize that I’m realizingJ. [I mean the reality may be different from cinematic imagination]. Up we went, and walked on the corridor, passing the unfolded cots, the vessels waiting to be cleaned and the clothes just getting a bath. Vijay bhaiya was waiting there for us and with a warm welcome; we had an introduction with the children. I could remember, Monu, Tarannum, Moni, Heera and Sona were the people I recognized on my first visit. After a lot of talk, bhaiya said us you can go to the next room and teach the children.

I was a bit clueless on what to teach, but me as usual ready to take up the new challenge. Priya somehow managed to gather the children and start to teach them how to look at the watch / clock to read time. I start to interact to a few children and start to teach them English. I thought I’m smart enough to take English class and started with ‘A’. In came a question,

“bhaiya yeh ‘A’ kyun hai?....

I was just feeling like a air plucked balloon. Infact the children were smart enough to understand my feel and said “theek hai, aage batayiye”….

I went there to teach the children and I was taught by the children that I’m not prepared enough to do so, it was a great learning from them and infact if this might not have happened that day, my entire experience of volunteering might have been different. Even today I go to parichay to learn and not to teach [though some times I share a few of my knowledge with children, I never call that as teaching].