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Life is constant unfolding of learning. It is a creatrix moment with our every movement of thought and behavior. It is creative that is why it is dance. Love the very essence which created life and light is what we ultimately are. The blog celebrates many such moments. You are welcome to join us in this journey.

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Talking ‘about’ garbage

Do we really know what type of garbage do we produce? and what happens to it? The problem of garbage starts after it has reached dustbin. It does not mean that once it reaches dustbin our job is done.

Government of India has announced the Clean India Campaign, in spite of that garbage remains a challenge to be understood. From our last post on getting closer to the garbage, we decide to take it forward this week by interacting in the field. The idea:

Is to let the dialogue happen which usually does not happen using a teachers’ group forum on whats App, as one tries to push forward the conversations. As at times  that conversation is happening by receiving every message but with discretion. And then to initiate a useful conversation offline partnering with students, workers and teachers.

Right now there are no visible networked conversations on the topic. We have to locate the conversations which are happening within a group. The larger idea is that university is a small community in which lifestyle has a pattern or if one may assume the word design of its functioning. 

As an orchestrator in initiating conversation on garbage in the canteens.Our next step would be offices that mainly produce paper and other dry waste. Not to forget the umpteen number of teabags that are thrown away.

A set of questions is prepared to know that how staff in canteen deal with garbage. Recently The University Grants Commission hinted at ban of plastic in the campus.  The implication would require some concrete efforts. However, at a recent event the plastic dealer felt that plastic can not be banned since it  can be recycled. It is a point contention, hinting at that we need to know what we are dealing with? 

Segregation of waste has remained another challenge. It has never taken up in India except on papers or what is written on the dustbins. Primarily because no one knew how to do it and no body thought it need to be learnt. 

 The idea is to create conversation between the person who cleans and the one who manages garbage. The latter would give us idea of the amount. 

The next step would be segregation and creating the habit patterns.

For each level interaction questions need to be evolved and the conversations reported and discussed for the actions to be evolved! Here is first set of questions would be discussed with the canteen personals:

  • What all food items do you sell in your canteen?
  • What is the nature of packaging (i.e whether made up of plastic/ polythene/ paper/ glass/thermacol etc.) of these food items?
  • On an average, how many people/students/customers visit your canteen in a day?
  • Which particular item/s is/are the most frequently purchased item/s from your canteen?
  • What sort of garbage (dry/wet; biodegradable/non-biodegradable) is produced?
  • On an average, how much garbage is produced in a day?
  • Do you think there is a problem associated with garbage or is it handled very well?
  • What is done with the food left-over by the customers? On an average, how much left-over food is generated?  
  • What are the sites from where this garbage is collected? (i.e to explore concentrated or diffused nature of garbage production/collection)
  • Who collects this garbage? ( we can later explore the socio-economic profile of this person who collects the garbage; we can even engage with a conversation with this person separately..)
  • When is this ‘garbage collection task’ done? (i.e. simultaneously or at the end of the day)
  • How is this garbage collected? (i.e with bare hands or with some safety measures)
  • What is the fate of this garbage once it is collected?
  • Is this garbage subjected to segregation?
  • If yes, which segregation criteria is followed? (i.e. on what basis the garbage is segregated)
  • Who segregates this garbage? And how? (i.e with bare hands or with some safety measures)
  • What is the fate of segregated garbage?
  • What is done with that garbage which cannot be segregated? Where and how is it ultimately disposed?

 

  • What kind of bureaucratic concerns do you face in this whole process? What kind of administrative support do you further need to make this entire process more efficient?

A quick survey of the dustbins would help to know about garbage and its immediate disposal. Survey of Dustbin (garbage)

* Location of Dustbin
* No. of Dustbin/s at a given location
* Colour of Dustbin
* Nature of material from which the Dustbin is made
* Nature of Dustbin: Fixed or movable; covered or uncovered;
* Size of Dustbin: Small or medium or large
* Condition of Dustbin (at the time of survey): maintained/ broken; Overstuffed/ within carrying capacity
# Composition of Garbage Inside the dustbin
     * Name of Each item
     * Nature of each item: Biodegradable/ non- biodegradable; Hazardous/Non-hazardous; Recyclable/ Non-Recyclable;
     * Quantity (No.) of each item:
# Description of the immediate surroundings of dustbin: …………………………………………………….

Flower mandala

In Self development workshops with teacher educators I discovered the strength of relationship one can develop with flowers and other flora.

The power of flowers is silent and amazingly therapeutic. In one of the self development  sessions with Masters of Education Program batch of 2016-18 at the Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education we concentrated on flowers and other flora in the department’s garden. The idea was to ‘pause, collect, engage and create‘ with power of flowers. The idea was to pick up what has fallen and not to pluck. Only pluck the wild varieties if they are in abundance or pick up from what has been pruned in the morning.

In this gallery I share few mandalas created by the students.

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The power of mandala is well known and even in India, especially Southern part, it is essential to draw the mandala like designs known as Kolam in front of their houses. Daily a fresh Kolam is made. We decided to do it with flowers. We also drew inspiration from the works of #AndyGoldsworth. We hope to continue creating these, the power of pausing to relax, courage of collecting what is thrown, finding time to engage with nature, and forming a design together.

Getting closer to Garbage

do we need to see garbage a bit more closely only for the possibilities it holds? let us do this through this project!!

  1. What Problem do I want to solve now?

Awareness of the garbage we produce as a university. Identify the places where it is produced.

The problem of garbage at the university level which is not to do with its proper disposal but with its

  • Knowledge of segregation and actual segregation
  • Disposal for proper management which involves entrepreneurship
  • Further reduction (de clutter, recycle, reduce and reuse) in production of garbage
  • Use and knowledge of ecological supportive material and efforts
  1. What are some of the possible ways of solving this problem?

Working on incentives (joy, money, learning etc) that people can count as this involves time and learning instead of just following office orders or notices for creating an ecological friendly environment.

  1. Is there a doable micro-project?

Yes the first bullet in answer to the first question we are in the process of collecting information.

Our first set of questions for various workers in the canteen that serves food and packaged food and drinks to the staff is ready along with Ms Renu Sharma. We will be launching it in second half of this month hopefully as we converse with other professors too.

As we visit various faculty and their canteens we would like to look at the dustbins and the kind of garbage that is produced. A checklist would be prepared and photographs will be clicked for a quick preliminary review of garbage instead of a detail survey.

  1. How can I make it work?

Creation of small groups to address each level of the problem with various participants

  • Faculty at various levels
  • Administration
  • Students
  • Other working staff

Recently in conversation with a Head of the department who was earlier heading the ecological club shared efforts as part of the club with students’ team. In her office too she is encouraging use of one-sided sheets. We discussed how these efforts could be streamlined and followed at the university level.

  • By identifying all the levels and action of this project.
  • By involving more people (for level one, our first activity: I am doing this project with Ms Renu Sharma)
  • By using the information at one level to decide the course of action for next level.
  • Going slow but setting a time pace.
  1. How will we transform possibilities into projects?
  • The possibility that garbage and its objects require engagement by individuals. And we have existing practices with which we are engaging with various products in garbage, some needs to encouraged, others need to be withdrawn and some new practices could be developed. The possibility of garbage has to be seen as an asset, for this all levels need to be addressed. Just one habit or set of habits will not work.
  • The possibility needs to be tapped, encouraged, organized and then materialized.
  • Mostly we address the problem from an aspect and its one level: either garbage segregation or awareness, we do not connect. I believe connection is most important key to solve a problem like garbage. Connect its various aspects and connect with various people involved with it. Learning from the works of Goonj, ecological practices in the community life style from world over, key-stone foundation, barefoot college to name a few
  1. What are your first steps?

The first step is to seek information on all the points listed in the first answer. A multi-level approach to collect more information and to organize the existing knowledge we have on this. So first doable step is to collect information on the existing practices and our first target is canteen and their dustbins. (questions are ready)

  1. How will we complete the micro project

Organizing, displaying and sharing the data from the canteen staff and dustbin.

  1. How will this macro-project evolve over time?

Convincing the university administration to see garbage (object) management as an asset and knowledge area. Going from the lowest step to the highest in the order of hierarchy.

  1. How will we use micro-projects outputs in other activities?

For our project each step is linked, however recycle and reuse results in interesting craft based activities; many such activities have been taken up by the fine arts department of the university.

  1. How will you use trans media tools?
  • Collecting, formatting, and organizing the data
  • Sharing it with world wide web and the university.

Responding to the comments that we get on our sharing.

  1. How will this micro project grow our systems of success?
  • By sharing the unique contextual experiences (i.e. both Learning new practices and Challenges in learning) relating to garbage.
  • As I shared with @dasratharama that India is a unique place to experience and experiment things.

 

  1. How will this micro-project grow our resources?
  • New cultural practices and new learning related to garbage for creating a sustainable society.
  • Greater networking and collaboration
  • Wider dissemination and sharing of the practices.

 

6Cs

  1. Connections: connecting various levels, various information and with people
  2. Conversations: Within the core team: as of now I and Renu, conversing with various participants
  3. Coordination: next level needs to coordinate that is reorganized on the basis of data at first level.
  4. Competence: Knowing the garbage I or we produce as a group and knowledge about its disposal. Fate of my garbage. The skill and actual practice of segregating that garbage, getting involved with that garbage.
  5. Clarity: About the nature of garbage and the specific ways of dealing with it (as different types of garbage can have different fates. For example: different types of bottles can have different fates i.e. some can be reused, some can be recycled, some can be used as decorative item etc.).
  6. Choice: There is no one particular way of understanding, dealing and managing the garbage. Different permutation and combination of choices are available depending on the context. For example: A piece of cloth can be reused to make a duster or a mop cloth or stuffing of a pillow etc.

Hamsabaala: a confluence of life, learning and lessons

Alternative learning space where I discovered Indian classical art form and its learning in a comprehensive manner. I invite my friends to pay a visit or experience it!

 

The article focus on three l’s of existence and pedagogy: one is life which involves faith, attitude, and ritualistic practices; second is learning, which is an important aspect of education that children undergoes in an upbeat manner and so do adults. Learning involves lessons of life and technical lessons of dance. The last lesson also came as bonus session with the guru himself making us believe in what we are doing to achieve it as well. Since to do is to believe and achieve that as well.

My life took a different turn when in my dance journey I decided to merge my reflections on Bharatanatyam and Kathak (two classical art forms of Indian dance). I having been exposed to Kathak and art forms at one of the institute that  claimed age old traditional method of learning guru-shishya parampara (teacher-taught traditional relation). But as a keen observer of things from a very Integral perspective, I found the path further locked. Mainly because of conflict in two professions of university and dance I was handling, I felt the two getting crowded, and that’s where when I felt my journey as an artist and as a dancer has  finished. I found people nudging, poking, pushing and motivating me to dance. While I with fear in my body and grit in my brain picked up projects or saw dance happening (a faux pas perhaps! As you dance, you don’t see dance happening) but it lacked harmony or proper manifestation even if it had perseverance.

I knew knowledge involved in dance while I searched for method to acquire and sustain it. I was and still like a spider who is climbing wall, trying to find my own path and destination but have been slipping down due to my own mistakes and ignorance. A spider since its size is small takes task which are mightier than its possibility but yet wondrous is the God who has delved the cosmos in that tiny frugal being who never gives up!

Like that my journey made me seek the spider in me, that which secret has God locked in me, what is my worth? And how will I discover that? Or will I ever discover that? Hands of nature would be my guide, since no guru knows the pains of eons that are having affair with me. I against those odds decide to be.

I add at this point #dasratharama #learningbyplayingitforward project and the relevance of it. As hindsight I see the next step in my journey to learn by playing it forward.

I happen to come across a project on Indian philosophy and cognitive science based at one of the institutes in India. I took it as an opportunity to interact with acclaimed artist and guru Dr S Vasudevan Iyengar (henceforth: Guru or Vasu Anna). We could finally meet in October 2017 after a concert, I sought his help while I discussed my project which I had already mailed him. He eventually took me under his guidance in November 2017, when I shared my project with him and he was open to the idea. He appreciated that and that’s how I was introduced to his brain child, ‘alternative learning space’ for dance education known as Hamsabaala. His mother’s Ms Kamala Srinivasan (or Mami as we address her) presence was the stambha (pillar) of Hamsbaala, I discovered other players.

In this article I elucidate the erudition process at Hamsbaala that children and adults undergo, the main focus of journey however remains my own learning during my tutelage with Hamsabaala.

As I watched and made young friends I realised this very therapeutic than any counselling session. I realised Guru ji was there off and on but the system became guide more than the guru in physical form. I yearned for sweet presence of Hamsabaala.

Life: the environment

Psychologically I was in a much free environment which was pious and task oriented at the same time. I widened my mind and my body as I sat in armandi (insert pic). Widening of a mind is an exercise that we undertake during my spiritual training that ego which hampers you or brings in doubt is countered by removal of it. ‘Anything is possible’ is the mantra.

I realised there were chidings and conversations during the class but work was going on without boasting or bragging about it. I was often comparing it with my earlier dance class or other dance classes I have been to. I realised I was opening up to a different plane or truth of life.

There were gods in the classroom. The environment was not only spiritual but pious. There were strict rules like not to eat in classroom or drink from the cup with your lips touching it. This would be considered as impious or jootha as North Indian call it in Hindi. I found it soothing. My earlier class had none. The restriction expected me to be caring for the environment, alert and responsible. Each player felt that.

The namaskaram formed part of important ritual before beginning and ending the class.

The Players

From K and Dh’s the youngest batch to the growing girls to the mothers in different batches, there was wide variety of learners of different age group. It was psychologist’s delight for me. I explored a learning cohort, something we are trying to build in society as psychologist and as an educationist.

So my young classmates were 5 to 6 years old who taught me the first adavu, the thatta adavu. I found it hard to spread my feet at 180 degree but got it without much effort.  I got to know the temperament of each student almost everyone was a good learner while I struggled with the mothers’ batch too, due to inadequate practice. We grew in number as students.

The teachers Ms Varsha, Ms Madhu and Ms Lakshmi were kind, polite and unleashing their comments at us all the time. Despite large number of students no body escaped the reprimands for not practicing enough.

While Mami took music classes in another room. Her reprimands to be on time, practice, do correctly, not to let hair loose and the most important wear the puttu (a sticker on forehead) made life happier. Since it was love for us, dance and Hamsabaala that was reflected in those chiding. Who in the world has time to care for you! The one who gets angry on you perhaps loves you the most! Apart from Mami and bhaiya, I made a dear teacher and friend with Varsha, who guided in dance while we discussed psychology and counseling.

Lessons: The content

The word adavu left me satiated like a thirsty crow having tasted drops of water.  I was happy as having heard about it from my mentors it finally manifested in front of me and I was encouraged to do the same.

The taalam as we used to hear, is more stringent in Bharatanatyam, was of course a delight to discover. I was keen to do abhinaya as well, as I have found the abhinaya more neat, specific and dramatic unlike Kathak which followed a different line of thought.

My body

Armandi gave me that space but my knees cracked or my butt complained. I discovered energy within me. While it had learning and absorption by body, it lacked the perseverance as it needed the riyaz (strenuous practice) but definitely and surprisingly responded to Bharatanatyam. I discovered the power of observation and discussion on dance, body’s learning can exhibit. I felt that grasp was also because of the guru who has been so meticulous, therefore, there was powerful influence in the instruction.

As I learned hastaks (the codified hand gestures) and explored body angles and movements in the dance form I could use it more easily and effortlessly in my choreographic work in Kathak. Knowing or unknowingly I used the hastaks and their viniyogas (usage)! It was surprising.

The possibilities to discover in future

Learning was based on understanding and observation of movements to be memorized but due to Vasu Anna’s detail explanation of each movement, it became meaningful and fruitful. There is a meaning in rote memorization which perhaps Asians can understand. The entire debate on understanding, reasoning versus rote memorization is complicated and undiscovered. The dichotomy has made us ignorant about learning. We have lost the art of rote memorization due to print and now due to digital world.

Another objective in writing this piece is that how do we make learning happen with our young or adult minds. What are making them learn? As an educationist I wish that we indulge in these debates and just do not let teachers decide for it, be it school or learning class for us.

In future while I wish to absorb the fullness but due to time constraint would love to have smaller capsules to master, as was given in the test, at regular basis. It is not a set syllabus but created for each group. I have enjoyed the cyclical and vast process of learning but some cheating that is make short learning lesson plans for a student could be done!

My own journey (lessons of life) with Bharatanatyam

The joy to learn dance has been my priority mainly due to my training that focus on process than product. But my ultimate aim is that when one two are inseparable and giving through body is based on strenuous process.

I am not sure what I will give through Bharatanatyam at this point but I would love to explore its selected productions even through body in future. I am hopeful that this mélange has purpose.

However for my further learning I do see importance of learning as a bit linear process. Learning in any knowledge area when becomes linear loses its fullness. But still to focus on adavus step wise for a while could be useful.

However to learn them intermittently and a non sequential manner made all of us alert and as we compared adavus while we learnt. But this discovery if left to students or only hinted at could be costly. As students might never discover it, therefore other options need to be looked at. I look as an adult learner which I am sure teachers would look as well.

The journey with Hamsabaala

I thanks Hamsabaala and I am sure I would be a successful learner with her. However, it is important either in fullness or linear way, each one discover their learning path in class. As learning is the ultimate delight or ananda!

Knowledge seeker

As a university professor in education, the obvious categories to explain my work is ‘teaching’ and ‘research’ with interest areas from academics. However, I wish to write this piece from the perspective of ‘self’. Since I believe and see life as quest fro inner self. I see my work (my profession) as knowledge seeker, understanding and creating ‘debates and discourse of knowledge’. The principle aim has been to merge the existential quest of meaning in life with profession or work one is aiming.

The work is abstract and wide but I think it could be shared in the purview that ‘education’ as an area of study that balances its discourse in the alley of theory and practice.

Key ‘three’ players

As a teacher it is first and foremost that I see all three (teacher, learner and knowledge) in the knowledge enterprise ‘growing’ or ‘evolving’. I initially faced challenges since the traditional view of teacher-student relation had been hierarchical. As a result there are many set practices but which could be easily changed. For example, the questions for test even at higher education level has to be given by the teacher. The assignment are either good or bad, there are no mechanisms to improve. Therefore, to give freedom and allow students to make choice either scared them or they felt I did not have enough knowledge or at times felt offended that may be I am insulting them.

The three key player model involved change in cultural view which despite the challenges has been fruitful in many senses. My students became my colleagues and we could discuss beyond classroom and syllabus. Though informally we created a space where students interacted about their professional and personal journeys. I wish this space could be formalized. Since for teacher education in India there is a need  that scholars come back to the university not only for a degree but to develop further knowledge the build over the degrees they  acquired. the knowledge which they claim through marks and certificates is put to practice. the teacher educators shared challenges of finding jobs, negotiation for salaries and adamant institutional cultures. Many students fought, others negotiated but found a place where teaching-learning was enriching for them. Therefore, a teacher spent his money to take students out for sports event since the school denied to sponsor it. Another teacher fought a case for her promotion and yet another found teaching at a college satisfying than to do PhD.

In the light of these three examples and many other, the courses I teach along with me evolved. They have definitely not been the same and even changed classrooms.

Classroom Dynamism

The idea is to take each class and course as aspiration to ‘grow’ and ‘change’. Growth and change is evident but not overt all the time other than participation of students, discussions and their submissions.

Automatically from lecture mode, I preferred working in small groups with students. It was important that students read, interacted and shared.

Two to tango: Knowledge and Self

The ‘change’ model involves historical evolution of knowledge to the contemporary times. Whereas set areas of knowledge like discipline and subjects are important for a person’s outer professional profile, the idea of self involved with it would help students to navigate with the acquired knowledge both in their personal and professional lives. The idea of former objective is to use identified markers of subjects to understand jobs and researches while latter objective of self allows students to see their agency and control.

However, it is equally challenging and fruitful at the same time to work in developing country. It is challenging since many times most of us in a developing country struggle for basic infrastructure and freedom but fruitful in terms of processes and products. One such example is the course of self-development.

‘Self-Development and Teacher Education’

The recent Project is my course in the last semester ‘self-development and teacher education’. The themes through activities and discussion that we covered could be summarized as:

  • Need of Self and Teacher Education
  • Self, Body, Spaces and Control
  • Culture and Self: poetry recitation and debates
  • Visit to Sports Complex: need of established formal and informal sports activities
  • Visit to Fine Arts and experience of the exhibits
  • Objects, Space and Visual art: Experience with everyday and banal objects.
  • Message in the Bottle: Writing a message in the old bottles. (will be sharing the next blog on this soon)

 

Valley of flowers (Aug 3rd to Aug 8th, 2017) The trek, the group and the moments to remember for lifetime!

A travelogue, a group, a trek and lessons to ‘be’.

Walking especially in the hills is quiet, serene and strengthening activity. It is a meditative experience because hills are away from the human made rampant noises of their hedonistic and materialistic world.

I also used to watch pictures of friends on Facebook who went to trek  and thought I would go for trekking as well. I had never decided that where I would go. I have read about the valley of flowers as a teenager and heard about the flowers there. But I had forgotten about my dream to visit it. A friend’s mention of the special flower that could only be found there, made me rethink of the visit. The visit meant searching an old forgotten tale from my childhood memories. I had heard many stories about the place from my grandparents who used to visit it during the period of 1990 to 2005. Now they are no more but their stories are alive.

I was the last to usher in the batch for the trek to Valley of flowers from Aug 3rd to Aug 8th, 2017. I am thankful to #TaarakParsher that he agreed and to #DevduttLall for asking that I was in the group or not. The messages on whatsApp group motivated me. And finally as per the trend of my last minute decisions, I was meeting the group on August 2, 2017 at Haridwar. I reached late around 2230 hours which was enough for the panic of the group members. Mr Dev however had briefed me with details of the place and room, so to reach there was easy along with the directions of google map. When I reached the destination, I was sent to the room on third floor, I met #AshokShah bhai first. He called up Taarak to inform that I was there. They were on second floor, I saw two of them running downstairs while I watched them from above. I was giggling while I called out their names, that here I was (above them 😉 ) ! So the gangsters met at room no 301 Panchukla Bhawan, I was told to settle the bills of my room that night itself. Dev turned out to be the best facilitator to handles issues subsequently in the days to come. The adda began in room in 201 where I met Varsha (the most caring member of the gang). In fact as the days unfolded each person’s character and beauty unfolded.

Day 1 On road to #GobindGhat: Aug 3, 2017

So last night we slept around 1 am and met everyone at the dining table the next day. Poha with chai was everyone’s favorite. And I gulped on two chais (the Indian version of tea).  I got my first scolding and warning by the trek leader as I had forgotten my slippers in the room. I was warned with the consequences of a severe punishment. I realized I need to be alert.

The luggage was loaded in the cars. Dark clouds hovered above and rains were about to pour. Rains in hills are its essential feature but they hinder the journey. It also results in landslides due to which we are bound to stop or suspend our journey. I had already been warned by several other trekkers that it is a difficult and risky season to go. The valley of flowers however is at its one of the best in this season. Therefore, treks might involve risks especially with one’s investment of time as everything relies mainly on the climate.

We had our spiritual protection. The group in our car recited the prayer by the Mother

Ô Soliel notre ami

Dissous les nuages

Absorbe la pluie

Nous Voulons tes rayons

Nous voulons ta lumière

Ô Soleil! notre amie

-La Mere

 

It was already circulated on the whatsApp group by Mr Arvind. Ms Rijuta reminded us to recite it. She was another perfectionist with her stuff organized and information updated (of course from google! She was Ms Know all, whose knowledge was either accepted or rejected as the journey unfolded!) Each day as a group we tried to recite the prayer. It was indeed a major help and our protection: the Mother’s Grace.

It was 13 hours of journey to reach Gobindghat, what is known as Bhyundar a village on way to Badrinath. During the journey to Gobindghat, our first stop was at Alaknanda river, a restaurant where we had another round of chai.

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Chai time with Bimla ben, Taarak, and Arti di

During the journey, we took turns to change our seats. We listened music and cracked jokes. I knew Jayati, Shantanu, Sumati, Arti di, Arvind bhai, Taarak and Rijuta. We all were in same car along with Bimla ben whom we heard enough and as a result I also got to know her well. Bimla ben and Taarak’s bonding or nagging was amusing for all of us.

We stopped in between for bhuttas, fruits and drinks and then finally for lunch at Rudraprayag. The rivers, sharp turns and the prayags (that is two rivers meeting point) added to the beauty and importance of the route we were covering. In fact I felt we were too much in hurry to reach the destination, we could have stopped in between, but the focus was trek. The road entwined more and our rise uphill was more overt. There were beautiful encounters en route. One of them was meeting this puppy at the shop where we stopped for evening tea:

cutepup

A beautiful soul we met on the way!

We reached Gobindghat by 1700 hours and that was where we lost mobile network and quietness of the environment unfolded. We were right next to Alaknanda (most likely confluence of Alkananda and Hemganga). One could hear the music of flowing river.

I wanted to climb down to the river to which Dev and Varsha agreed.  As for one full day we were huddled in the vehicle, therefore the idea to walk was welcomed. We hurried as it was getting dark. We asked the locals for the way to the river. They indicated on the path, we took the path. But we could not find the way to river bed. There were walls separating the river and the by lane where we were walking. I was keen (or mad enough) to climb down the wall but wise Varsha warned not to do that. I could hear the gushing sound of river along with the music from the Gurudwara. It started raining, I suggested refuge in the Gurudwara but felt we could be stranded here if the rains did not stop. We all decided to walk quickly back before others realize that we were missing. I later realised on my way back and last day of the trek  that Gurudwara was considerably away from our hotel. It was not advisable to walk alone at night without a torch.

There were handful of hotels (simple like houses) on the road and few more down the river. We could not notice any houses on the hills. I knew we were much higher than I have been before, as usually on hills we could see houses on hill tops. Here it was dark, cold, strong, upright mountains. There were patches of green and nude rocky patches where the snow covered them in winters. It was slightly colder. There were more men on the streets around, most of them were busy smoking. As the darkness fell it started getting colder. There were few lights but not proper streetlights. After settling down in the rooms (we were three to four members in a room), everyone gathered for the dinner at the hotel next door.

Food and Fitness

We enjoyed our hot meals, the service was personalized. As this was definitely not care industry but small business of serving the visitors on this make shift village. Finding the hotels in inhabited villages is not advisable. The best is to enjoy frugality of the place. One should be careful while eating as most of it would not be fresh. Taste and eat what suits you. As nothing suited me, the very sight of food was not good for me. But the scenery around, nuts and drinks were welcomed. As days unfolded I preferred eating only one full meal at Gurudwaras as it was fresh, hot and clean.

 

There was more than to merely follow the path . As the days unfolded one learnt as a group and about ‘one self’.