Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Republic Day!!!

My colleague, Nikhil Bagri invited us for the Republic Day celebration at the Round Table School, Bangalore. This was our second visit to the school and we were really excited to spend few hours with the kids.

Round Table School was established in 1986 for the kids residing in the slum areas of Roopen – Agrahara in the outskirts of Bangalore. The school aims at providing free education to every kid dwelling in these slums which will eventually help to earn his/her living and thereby support the family. The school which started with 1 classroom, 3 teachers and 40 students has now expanded to 10 classrooms, 23 teachers and approximately 650 students. The school now provides education till 10th grade and houses a library, computer lab, playground, kitchen and a newly established science lab. What a phenomenal achievement!!!

All the students had gathered at the school ground at 9.30AM for the flag hoisting which was followed by other cultural programs and speeches. Since we were caught up in the Bangalore traffic we reached a little late. The minute we reached school we got nostalgic and started missing our school and the Republic Day celebrations back home.

By now, the kids had started queuing up for their mid day meal. Round Table School provides free mid day meals for all the students. We accompanied these kids to the dining area. These meals are generally served by teachers and student volunteers. We also got an opportunity to serve food to the kids. This was the most gratifying experience we’ve had till date. As a part of the celebrations the round table members also distributed chocolates amongst the kids. The kids offer prayers before the start of the meal and wait till every kid has been served his meal. It’s from these kids we learnt today how to value our meal and share it with others. Thank you kids!!!

We went around the school to see the facilities provided to the students. Nikhil briefed us about the school and its activities right from its inception to administration. Vocational training, English speaking classes, computer education are amongst the few activities the school conducts apart from the regular curriculum. He also showed the various achievements and medals won by the students in various competitions. What a proud moment!!!

The visit was a true eye opener for us. We realized that these kids are the future of Republic India and need to be treasured. Due to our “so called” busy schedules we had forgotten our social responsibilities. Today we vow to do our bit and give back to our society to help build a better tomorrow!!!

P.S. If any of you would like to volunteer or pledge your support for the Round Table School drop me a line. I will be able to guide you to the concerned person.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sweet Fiasco on a Sweet Day…..

It was 14th Jan’10. We had an off for “Makar Sankranti”, a day when we pledge to forget the past ill feeling and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. With no big plans for celebrations, we decided to venture out to unveil yet another wonder of nature. The decision to visit Shivanasamudra and Talakad was impromptu, since we googled the route only on the morning of the travel. With absolutely no idea what the place had in store for us, we left at 7.30AM.

We took the Bangalore- Mysore-Mallavali route. Our first halt was at good old Kamat Upchar for breakfast. With the heavy dose of dosa and wada, we zoomed off at a speed of 100Kmph on the NH4 highway. The drive to Shivanasamudra was pretty smooth with well defined sign boards to guide us. The last hour of the drive offers a beautiful view of country side roads.

Shivanasamudra Falls is the second biggest waterfall in India. Here, the River Kaveri divides into two branches, namely Gaganachukki and the Bharachukki , each gushing down rocky cliffs. Gaganachukki are the western falls and Bharachukki are the eastern ones. Also the Gaganachukki falls houses one of the Asia’s first hydro electric power stations.

Since Gaganachukki falls can only be viewed from a distance, we had to be content with series of photo sessions at this falls.

Unlike Gaganachukki falls, Barachukki was a different experience. Although to reach the falls we had to climb down series of steep steps but it was worth the efforts. At Barachukki, we got a chance to go right under the waterfalls in a coracle. The view of the waterfall was simply breath taking and the experience of getting hit while under it was just more than normal thrill!!! Climbing back to our car was a mini trek for us. Check how tired Priya looks!!!

After spending some happy hours in the water we made our way through the patches of barren land and farms, to a small village called Talakad. With no clue about this place, we hired a guide to explore this place.

Talakad is a small town on the left bank of the Cauvery River. The main attraction at this place is a temple of Lord Kirti Narayana, also known as the Vaideshwara temple. The temple was sunken in the riverbed of Cauvery for years. The guide took us for a tour across the all temple in Talakad namely, Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara & Gokarneswara

He showed us some exquisite carvings on the temple walls. On seeing the temples for the first time, we were shocked to see a desert look alike. We were informed that the Archaeological Dept has recently been excavating this place and huge compound walls are used to keep the sand at bay. There are many interesting stories associated with every temple in Talakad. This place definitely spells mystery.

The next place on our supposed agenda was Somnathpur but due to time constraint we couldn’t cover it.

En route to B'lore we stopped for our much needed coffee break at the CCD . We reached B’lore at 9.00 PM and landed straight at “The Village” for dinner.

The trip was a very sweet fiasco. Fiasco, because we landed at a spectacular place at a wrong time. With Sun burning on our heads and less water in the waterfalls to cool us down, we promise to comeback to witness the magnificent Shivanasamudra falls in the monsoons. However, the trip is still etched in our memories as a very sweet and endearing trip.

Wishing all our readers(if any) “Til gul ghya ani god god bola!!! ”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

10,9,8……Happy New Year !!!

It was the same time of the year when we bid adieu to the old year & welcome the New Year. It was 31st December & as is the custom of our group we decided to spend the New Years with each other. It was Sidharth’s suggestion to visit the beautiful beach of Velneshwar. He had planned the entire trip, right from the accommodation to the transportation. Thanks Sidhu!!!

On 31st we all gathered at Sidhu’s place at around 12:30pm. The bus was waiting for us. We were three couples at Sidhu’s place- The Mhetres, the Joshis & the Tawades along with 2 stags-Himanshu & Sidhu, who were waiting for their so called partners to be picked up. On our way, we picked up Mansi (mind you its “MANSI” & not “MANASI”) & Hemali & the Gawdes -the 2 doctors who had bunked their clinics to be with the gang.

After driving for about an hour or so the gang was hungry (actually it was Mansi who was hungry & rest of us were just “giving her company”). We stopped at Mc D’s on the way to pick up burgers & fries. My poor hubby couldn’t even smell the burger & fries due to his perennial upset tummy.
With our tummies full, we started enjoying the drive by singing songs & in general gossiping & bitching. On public demand we stopped for our chai break at Valley View resort. We had steaming hot chai & pakodas. The view from the resort was awesome & each couple clicked a honeymoon picture. From here on it was the start of Konkan with nature at its best. The smell of fish & water was beckoning us.

We reached our destination at 8:30pm. The distance of our drive was a debatable issue since everyone’s google map showed different distances.

We had booked our accommodation with MTDC Velneshwar. The cottages were clean & had a direct view of the beach. With 4 cottages & 6 couples, Joshis & Tawades were lucky to have a cottage to themselves whereas the others had to share the space.

After a quick shower we headed straight for dinner. The dinner was a home cooked meal of fried fish & prawns curry for the non veggies & chapati sabji for the veggies which was topped off with “Sol Kadhi” to digest the heavy dose. The food was awesome with the fried fish being a major hit amongst the group.

Under the full moon night we welcomed 2010 on the beach with red wine and firecrackers. The couples dozed at 2:30 whereas the singles were apparently “only chatting” till 4.30……. :P

The first morning of the year was greeted with a lovely beach view with blue water and coconut trees.

After a sumptuous breakfast of “Poha and chai” we headed to play at the beach. Most of us jumped into the water and the scared ones were picked up and royally thrown in to the water. The Joshi’s, were busy practicing Honeymoon picture poses. Sidhu was flaunting his newly toned body and pink “chaddi” in Bay-watch style. His Pamela,” Mansi” was scared to get into the water. Inspired by Sidhu, Himanshu also tried his hand at stripping. Prasad and Ashu did not want to make Sidhu and Himanshu conscious and hence did not flaunt their rounded bellies. The surprise packages were the Gawades. We didn’t know that even Doctors can get so romantic. We really had a rollicking time at the beach.

It was 12.30 pm and it was time to finally go back home. Along with following individual resolutions :
Sidhu- To talk in low pitch;
Ashu and Prasad- To jointly reduce their weights.
Gawades- To take more offs from their busy schedule for recreations

we as a group made a promise to celebrate every coming new year with each other. Thanks all!!!