Saturday, February 3, 2018

February Forest Route - Paathashala School

The forest envelops its visitor, involving each of our senses in its deep and humble interactions.
Vivid colours to feed the sight: from tiny individual leaves and flowers, to the immense landscape of tall trees and vast fields.
No horns or tires screeching against the asphalt can reach you, but don’t expect the forest to be silent. The hearing is filled with a harmonious symphony of bird calls, gushing water, rolling winds, and crackling fires. Instead of a modern stereo, the music emanates from the Siddi rhythms of goat-skin drums, forgotten tools humming in the kitchen, the animated voice in which Padmavati narrates her folk stories. The taste buds are excited by flavours of authentic recipes of Uttara Kannada, that allow us to taste the love in the food – imparting us an extraordinary energy to trek and walk on and on. The difference in taste is apparent from early morning – not waking up with the chemical toothpaste we are accustomed to, but with the taste of freshly powdered herbs, like cloves and dried guava leaves, using a natural tooth powder. All your tactile senses are regenerated from the powerful energy of the forest. Walking on the uneven earth, our barefoot soles sense rough rocks and smooth pebbles, the cool water of the stream, forest steps carved from tree roots, sometimes, sharp thorns.. Feeling from the ground up, our souls are freed from the urban comforts. New smells continuously wafting through – freshly harvested black pepper, sweet Mahua flowers, smouldering charcoal, and even fertilising cow dung. At BuDa, the freedom can be smelled. Our fingers learn to make crafts out of natural things and learn to stitch new realities. As Naghul noted, “many things can be used for more than their purpose” when some of the boys fashioned ladles out of coconut shells. The group learnt how creepers they cut down from the forest could be woven into baskets, mango and jackfruit leaves could create crowns and craft jewellery, and bricks could be moulded from the right combination of mud, water, and cow dung.







"On the very first day we went upstream for around 3 km and while coming back another 3 km. It was new as you would have to judge a rock carefully, whether it is slippery, shaky, strong, or unbalanced. I took a stick to help me through the journey." (Vivek)

"This trip has been a wonderful one, there are many experiences which just stood out for me, like the stream walk because was challenging for me" (Arjun)



                                                       Learning to weave baskets...

"I learnt how to live simply, on bare minimum. I learnt to use, reuse, reduce to smallest of things, like making baskets just out of twigs and leaves" (Rishi)


                                               Ishvar Anna inventing innovative designs


                                            Compressing the mud bricks into their moulds



                                           Mixing the clay and cow dung for the mud bricks


Trek to Yana

"I realized the life is like a trek. While going up it is like difficulty in your life, you learn how survive. Once you are done with it you will not struggle that much as the flat land come and you walk through it. When you are done with the flat land the real joy comes, the sloping, slanting path, the down hill. it is your real life, it is depend upon you if you want to enjoy or not" (Nandini)


                                           Halakki Story Telling by Padmavati Akka

"I learnt that to communicate language and the use of words is not necessary and that a lot can be conveyed through expressions and actions." (Rishi)



                                            Leaf craft

"I feel that this kind of living is only life. Just merging with Nature. I don't understand what more we need in our life. This has really touched me" (Sujith)

                                 
                                      Inspecting drying areca nuts at BuDa's neighbouring home


                               Peeling areca nuts at the neighbour's home, waiting for the lunar eclipse


"The natural heritage around Angadibail is stunning and we had the chance to swim under a waterfall" (Laura)

"At beginning the water was so cold that makes my skin burn. I slowly put my legs in the water, small fish and tadpoles came. Then I stood there for an entire hour without realizing time" (Vivek)


                                                Energising  Siddi Dance


"Look at yourself, In it you will find, Fulfillment and, Enjoyment like life." (Rithambara) 

"I learnt that one should always observe and cherish small happinesses in their life, once it passes it cannot be experienced again and that the destination does not matter, but the journey is the reason you start." (Rishi)


On the last day, the roles in the kitchen were reversed as the children took charge of preparing the meal for all the Akkas and Annas from BuDa and Paathashala. From shopping in the local vegetable market, to stoking the fires.. Anirudh captures it well in his words: "One of the most memorable moments for me was when I cooked food along with my peers and when the people tasted and they really liked it."
To wrap it all up, in the words of Hamsa Akka: "The week has been like travelling along a gentle river with long forgotten friends; comfortable, relaxing and exciting. One feels the need to revisit these days. There is no melancholy or sadness that the trip has ended. It seems more like a beginning of good things."


Written by volunteers Simona & Pragnya, with valuable inputs from Paathashala students...


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