A trek to Lake Tosar in Sikkim with Sandeep Talpade and friends, writing a book on Active Ageing in partnership with HelpAge India and running the Airtel Half marathon,beating myocardial bridge,are some of the adventures that beckon me as I enter the second half of this year.
Trekking in the mountains is awe inspiring and breathtaking.The majestic and daunting mountains are a challenge but food for the soul and very cleansing. As Edmund Hillary said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Sandeep Talpade arranges a trek each year and it is through him that I experienced the joy and thrill of trekking in the mountains. This years trek to Tosar Lake in Sikkim, at an altitude of 3950 metres,commences in the last week of September and promises to be picturesque and thrilling. Here are a few images off the internet to inspire the soul.
I have committed myself to writing a book on Active Ageing in partnership with HelpAge India. This is an adventure and soul searching journey in its own way. There is much that I, and all of us I dare say, need to learn about active ageing and to acquire the wherewithal to lead a happy and productive life as we age. I have resolved to complete this adventure by November 18th, an important day in the calendar of the Soka Gakkai,a Buddhist spiritual organisation that I am part off.
Cheers to writing and sharing.
Then there is this business of getting past the hurdle of a myocardial bridge that has dogged me all these years and prevented excessive loading of my heart. Time to push the barriers here and take on a challenge that seems beyond me right now. So it will be with a fresh resolve that I train and prepare for the Airtel half marathon this year.
What I finally choose to do only time will tell. But these challenges and adventures that beckon will surely add a spice to life.
They were experiences to cherish each in its own way unique. I had hoped that the cyclothon would include stay and visits to senior citizen homes and these stays and visits exceeded expectations.
At the flag hoisting ceremony
A pow-wow with the residents
At the lunch room
Our first stay was at the Ramana Maharishi Ashreya, a premium senior citizen home at Hosur. There is a wonderful atmosphere at the home The Maharishi’s philosophy seemed to pervade the place. The cottages are also comfortable and the surroundings green and peaceful. The only minor drawback would be its distance from Bangalore and the Hosur town. However the new highway from Bangalore to Hosur will pass close to the home and this should be a boon to connectivity.
The Matoshree Vridhashram in Kohlapur was a different experience. The home is run by a group of ladies in their late seventies and eighties. We walked into a meeting arranged by the trustees and were struck by the calm demeanour of most of the residents. We were told that this was the direct result of the prayers and chanting of mantras that the residents carry out in the morning and evening.
Food was clean and wholesome and there was an easy informality among the residents as they sat around.The stay arrangements however were not so comfortable.
The Anand Vridhashram in Palgarh, Maharasthra was by far the most vibrant home we visited. We were treated to a scintillating variety entertainment in the evening.Here are a few clips of that evening.
The 75 year old dancing in this clip came to the home a year and a half ago with deep depression. He didn’t talk to any one for three months. Look at him now. This is surely a big tribute to the atmosphere in the home.
Here is another clip. The elders in this dance practised for three days and took the help of a choreographer !!!
Food was of high quality and this home came the closest to a desired level of social activity for the residents.
There were other homes we stayed at. Manav Mandir at Navsari, Gujarat, Snehanjali Senior Citizen Home in Nallasapora, Maharashtra and Tara Sansthan, Udaipur and the Senior Citizen Home run by Indian Red Cross, Ahmedabad. Tara Sansthan was by far the best equipped in terms of the standard of the rooms and the facility. It compares well with a three star hotel and is an airy and bright place. The home run by the Indian Red Cross was also very well run with good rooms, environment and food. Activity levels in both these premium homes seemed very low. At any rate we din’t get to see any activity.
Snehanjali is one home that also provides day care facilities and is nestled in a green environment. Since we were there over the week end we did not see much activity. Manav Mandir also seemed low on activity and subdued residents.
There was much that passed through my mind as we stayed at these homes and during the visits to several others. I will however reserve my observations for a different post.
It was an exhilarating encounter with the youngsters of St. Joseph’s High School Panvel. Over a hundred of them had assembled along with their cycles for what they thought was a rally along with the Silver Cyclist. I didn’t know that this was the expectations so I had not taken my cycle along or was in my riding gear. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful interaction before I flagged them off for a ride around the school. There was a very high buzz as the kids assembled for the ride and then cycled off with shouts of joy.
Another remarkable experience was at the Rasmi Residential School in Davengere. This was a school for the poorest of the poor girl children run by a couple devoted to the cause of providing quality education to this disadvantaged section of society. What struck me was the beautiful infrastructure for the children. There was a touch of class about the place. Also remarkable was the discipline shown by the children. They clapped in unison, sang in a chorus of over a hundred in perfect harmony and rhythm and conducted themselves in the most disciplined manner.
The school trains them to perform all the duties of maintaining the cleanliness of the premises, maintaining the vegetable garden and also the elder girls looking after the younger ones. The adherence to a set of acceptable rules brought orderliness and discipline that the students seemed comfortable with.
You can read a lot more about this school on this web site: https://sites.google.com/a/rasmi.org/home/
Another school that we visited and were very impressed with was the Edu Asia School for rural children just on the outskirts of Davengere on the road to Haveri at Karur.
Here too we saw evidence of quality education and character development focus. The kids looked a bright bunch with their eyes set on the future.
In a different vein but very heartwarming was our experience at the Khabeerananda Ashram, Chitradurga, which runs a school for orphans. I was particularly taken in by the bright hope-filled eyes of the school children. This was in sharp contrast to the eyes devoid of hope in the elders who were residents of the ashram. I must add though that the elders appeared well taken care off. They were all shelterless prior to finding a home at the ashram. Young children and elders residing in close proximity we thought was very good.
Amoving and unforgettable experience was our visit to the Government School for the blind in Hubli.
We can never forget the confidence and poise of the visually handicapped boys who walked around unaided within the premises of the school and who carried themselves with self confidence. Credit goes to the acting schoolmaster Annapa who has dedicated more than thirty years of his life to caring for the visually handicapped children.
We made a brief visit to a school for orphaned blind children just outside Davengere as I cycled into the town. The school teaches them Carnatic music. It was a moving experience hearing them sing. Even more moving was to see a young boy demonstrate the use of a Braille slate. I could see then what a huge and uphill journey of life he was on. A journey far more daunting and tougher than the cyclothon I was on. I received a memento from a little visually challenged boy. That was the most memorable of all the mementos I received on the cyclothon.