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Fun Day @ WonderLa

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It was just a normal Sunday when we were taking weekend computer classes for the kids at Anatha Shishu Sevashram. And  the kids told that they have a short vacation after their exams. One of us just asked them if they would like to go out somewhere for one day. And they all were too excited and happy to just hear that.  Seeing their happiness on just the thought of going out, we talked to Saraswathi madam(caretaker of the orphanage). She was also very happy and suggested us to take them to WonderLa as they had never been there because the orphanage could not afford it. The kids were very happy when we mentioned them about WonderLa. Without thinking anything whether how we will get the funds, we promised them that we would take them  to WonderLa.  We had just four days to arrange for the funds and transportation. We were very much worried whether we would be able to fulfill the promise we had made to the kids. But then we were determined that in any case, we will try our best.

First we had thought that we would not take the smaller kids but then we didn’t feel like to devoid them of fun. So, in total it was 52 kids.  And its truly said “Where  there is a will, there is a way” . First of all, we got a 60% discount from WonderLa. But still it was a large amount. We mailed to our friends, office colleagues and in 3 days we could collect sufficient amount. Thanks to all of you who helped us in this.

Finally the D-day came. On 25th Dec at 8 am all kids were ready after their breakfast waiting for the bus with smiling and laughing faces. 13 of us(volunteers) were there to take care of the kids. Singing and dancing we reached our destination. It was Christmas day and there was special event happening outside – Santa Claus meeting the kids,  singing, dancing and clapping on the drum beats.

At 11am we entered inside the WonderLa. The kids were happy meeting the Santa, handshaking with them. As it was a large group of kids we had to divide them into groups with one volunteer with them. We realized that there was no use of dividing the elder kids in groups as they were already running here and there. So we took the younger kids in smaller groups. But there is a great bonding among the kids themselves that they took care of each other. It was little difficult to manage the younger kids but we enjoyed with them – instructing them, scolding them and also making them stop crying after the rides. Few of the kids cried on the rides but still didn’t want to miss the fun and took the other rides though they were scared. And few were not at all scared.

At the end of the day, all the kids were very much happy and were quite reluctant to go back.  But the joy and happiness on their faces really made our day.  When we went back for the classes this Sunday, they told that the trip was super and “chennagidde“(Kannada word for super) and that they enjoyed a lot. Thanks to all of you who helped us in making this possible.

Enjoy the pics :

http://picasaweb.google.com/vaibhav.kumar/WonderLaTrip_WS#

http://picasaweb.google.com/trivenicat/Xmas#

http://picasaweb.google.com/priyanka2112/Wonderla03#

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Written by Priyanka Varma

December 28, 2009 at 6:29 pm

A Trip to Hunkal Woods

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After a lot of planning and last minute drop outs the Pankhudi Bangalore Team was finally on its way to a 2-day trip to Hunkal Woods and Belur. 9 of us, brimming with excitement reached the assembling point on Friday night. Let me first introduce to all my trip mates/team mates/friends.

Srikanth – Our travel coordinator 🙂 . A hard-core trekker, kick-boxer and an awesome photographer. The amazing thing is that the most simple-looking things also captured by him looks so much beautiful in his photographs that you are bound to appreciate the beauty of those. Very much leech-friendly. Has got a great endurance power.

Vaibhav – Our Pankhudi Bangalore leader. He is a gadget-freak(lots of gadgets but all of them gifted to him), techie person and internet-freak. Such a Java-geek that while watching animated movies he tries to judge by going into the coding level, dedicated blogs on java stuffs. Loves photography. Very much optimistic person.

Ajay –   A very much cool dude 🙂 . Always searching for the motivation of his life.  A very caring  and a fun-loving person. Enjoys teasing people a lot. But very much supportive.

Vivek – Lovingly called as “Vivek Anna“. Good at entertaining people. Always cheerful and a very fit person.

Ram – The “patent” guy. Little serious. Everyone always pulling his legs but he never minds. Very much cool-headed.

Lipika – A leader in every way. Was way ahead of us leading our way during the trek. Very good at playing antakshari. Remembers lyrics of songs which we never would have heard of.

Minu –  A silent and a soft-spoken person but quite a determined person. Doing a research on cancer. Kills rats 🙂

Nitin – The youngest of all. Loves getting his pics clicked.

The Team

From L to R: Nitin, Srikanth, Ram, Minu, Ajay, Vivek anna, me, Lipika, Vaibhav

After a spicy dinner, we started towards our destination by a 13-seater TempoTraveller. We had brought some DVDs so that we could watch during the night but unfortunately it could play only the CDs and we didn’t have any option but to watch a Kannada movie. Watched it for 15mins and we couldn’t tolerate it and so most of us decided to spend the night sleeping except Vaibhav, Ajay and Vivek anna who were busy talking, laughing on their own PJs and sometimes discussing on Pankhudi-related stuffs. In between had to wake up Srikanth from his sound sleep for directions.

Early morning at 5:30am we reached Chikamagalur and started towards the final destination to Hunkal Woods, a coffee estate. The road from Chikamagalur to the Hunkal Woods was awesome with green mountains covered with the clouds. We stopped on the way to watch it closely and capture the beauty in few of the photographers’ cameras. And then continued on our way. Finally, we saw a board indicating to take a left for Hunkal Woods. This road was around 3.2km long and was quite a narrow one. If it would have rained, it would have turned into a muddy road and would have been little difficult to drive.

Finally we landed in front of the estate bungalow, few of us ran towards the hammock to enjoy a nap after a night journey. It was 8:00 am and we spent some time wearing off our tiredness, sipping coffee, chatting with the caretaker, playing Table tennis and then a heavy breakfast.

We started for a long trek at 10am. I was worried about only one thing – LEECHES. Our guide Nizam(who was called as Nizamuddin by our Vivek anna) was very much sure that we will be getting lots of leeches on the way. Anyways with fear of Leeches, I joined the others for the trek. Initially my eyes were always looking on the ground searching for the leeches but after few minutes of walking, the spectacular scenery of the green mountains around with streams of water flowing caught my eyes and I was out of the terror of leeches for sometime. It was quite a steep way but we walked and walked enjoying the beauty of the nature, cool winds and the sound of the leaves and the gushing water and also the jokes by Vivek anna. When we thought that we had reached the final trek point, we realized the toughest and the best part of the trek was still left. We were going towards the source of a waterfall crossing numerous creeks. The way we took was steep, full of slippery rocks and leeches, all types of insects, wild plants and thorns. This was little scary one as I had a good fall from a slippery rock hurting my back and another one when my head bumped into the hard rock. But when we reached the waterfalls, we forgot all the injuries. It was truly worth all the pains on the way.

The Hunkal WaterFall

The Hunkal Waterfall

Rightly said “No gains without pain” .  We enjoyed the fall of the chilled water for sometime and started towards our return trek. I thought the return would be less eventful. But this was also fun as descent of the steep way was not so easy. Luckily I did not become the victim of the leeches. But at the end I was little disappointed also for not having experienced the leech attacks. Srikanth seems to be a good friend of the leeches, fully bitten but without worrying he was busy with his camera.  Others too were bitten but were enjoying the return walk. Finally we were back to the bungalow by 4pm all very much hungry. Rushed towards the sumptuous lunch after getting freshened up.

With filled stomach and a round of hot coffee, we decide to play some outdoor games. Me, Minu, Ram and Vivek anna decided to play badminton – All of us awesome badminton players 😛 . Ajay, Srikanth, Vaibhav and Nitin started with badminton and then cricket but not for too long. Lipika was too tired and sleepy. Ajay went off to take a good nap and Srikanth in the good company of his camera taking pics around the place. We enjoyed the rain showers with hot pakodas. Then it was time for bonfire. We sat around for a less time and then our guide Nizam realizing that few of us were afraid of the ghosts, started scaring people with the ghost stories. We sat sometime on the tree house called as “machan” in the dark for sometime till the dinner was served. We had a good dinner and then again started for a night walk towards the jungle. But we did not continue the trek for too long as it was too dark and little dangerous. So, we were back to our rooms by 12, spent some time chatting, taking pics and then off to the bed.

Next morning, we had to check out at 8. But all were so tired that we could wake up by 8:15am. Seemed no one wanted to leave the place and everyone was too reluctant to leave the place. Everyone had coffee – seems people never got tired of drinking coffee on this trip! We got ready to go back, had a heavy breakfast and then bid adieu to the awesome nature-friendly place.

We headed towards Belur, located in the Hassan district. The main attraction of Belur is  the Chennakesava(handsome Vishnu) temple. We took a guide who explained us the about the beautiful architecture of the temple. It had took almost 100 years to complete this temple. The intricate sculpture includes elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and dancers. After roaming around the temples for sometime and enjoying the nice rain, we headed towards for South Indian meal to Hassan. Reaching Hassan, we could see more of liquor shops than the eating places. We had a nice meal and then headed back to Bangalore sleeping, playing Antakshari and chatting.

In  all was a fun-filled adventurous, absolutely fantastic trip in the company of wonderful people.

Image Courtesy:  Our own Pankhudian Photographers:  Srikanth’s Gallery, Vaibhav’s Gallery

Written by Priyanka Varma

August 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Pankhudi Sahayata: Collection Drive – Full Swing, Help needed !!!

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Did you know that there are some underprivileged and unfortunate kids living around us who can’t afford the basic things for their living? Well, don’t just sit there, do something about it! Help us in our collection drive.

~Pankhudi — A family of many in the service of underprivileged and unfortunate children of our society. Working for the cause, care of the slum, disabled and orphaned or uncared children to improve the quality of their childhood is our prime motto. Pankhudi is spread over Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad.

Pankhudi Bangalore is involved in lots of activities like ~DivyaDrishti – Education for visually-impaired children,~Sahayata – Pankhudi Collection Drives. The Bangalore chapter has recently involved itself with a new activity (Computer Education) at an orphanage “Anatha Shishu Sevashram” at Wilson Garden Bangalore. The orphanage accommodates around 60 kids (both boys and girls) aged from 5 to 25 years old.

The need of having a collection drive was felt after the visit to the orphanage. The Bangalore chapter has started a collection drive on 5th July and will be collecting items around the city till 19th July 2009. On Sunday, July 19 the chapter will deliver all of the collected items at the orphanage. Everyone is invited to make a donation. See around in your wardrobes – It may be wastage for you but a resource for others.

For all those who can contribute in the collection drive, following are the items you can donate:

1. Highest Priority Requirement – Sweaters and Blankets.

2. Important requirements – Cloths (any size will work, if its kid size – simply awesome), toys, sports item (cricket bat, badminton, chess), electronic item (like torch, radio).

3. Any other item which you think will be useful for the kids

You don’t want to do this alone so recruit anyone and everyone to help you out. It would be great if you can spread the word among your family, friends.

Don’t worry if you are having trouble in delivering the collected items. If you get a good collection and because of “any” reason you are unable to collect it. Let us know the place or address here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=cjNydXI4QUN0RUNPNFRtOVpjaGxKQXc6MA .

We will be there to collect it from the specified place. However if possible we suggest you can also come over in person and also get a firsthand look at how your donations are put to use.

Pankhudi Contact Details:
Vaibhav: 98867 96985
Lipika: 99456 00788

Anatha Shishu Sevashram
#14, 2nd Cross
Wilson Garden,
Bangalore-560027
Landmark: Opposite Hindustan Marbel & Granites
Phone: 080-22236892
Mobile: 9845695924

Written by Priyanka Varma

July 15, 2009 at 5:35 am

Love into Action

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Staying around 2500kms away from my parents for the last 6 years, have been used to doing everything on my own without being dependent on my parents. But still I take their opinion in all my decisions, share my happiness and my sorrows with them. I have a conscious feeling always in my mind that there is someone for me , someone who will be always supporting me. Sometimes I feel they could be here with me in my happiness, my sorrows.

But what about those small kids whose parents have died or whose parents have left them alone in this world to lead their life on their own. I cherish my childhood when I think about these kids. I had a happy, free childhood with my parents taking care of me, my education, my health, my needs etc. No worries, No tensions.

Recently I got a chance to go to an orphanage “Anatha Shishu Sevashram” in wilson Garden, Bangalore through Pankhudi. The orphanage is run by an elderly lady Saraswati madam who herself is visually challenged.( She
is the first student of SRMAB where Pankhudi has started their initiative of teaching computer and english course to the kids.) This orphanage houses around 60 kids aged between 5 years to 25 years. The owner of the orphanage takes care of their schooling, food and other needs with the donations she receives from some of the people. We met these kids and they looked so happy playing with each other, dancing. They all had a sweet smile on their face hiding all the hardships they have to face.

The kids here are very much creative. Enter their room and you will see some beautiful paintings on the walls. Paintings of a tiger with all intricate details , Hanuman flying towards the Sun(the expression of the sun in the painting is amazing) – These are few of the paintings there are on their walls.  Some of them are good in dancing. We also got a chance to see their acting skills. Some of them are brilliant actors full of expressions and good dialog-delivery skills.

We hope to give them a better future and so we at Pankhudi Bangalore has decided to organize computer courses and personality development courses. Looking at their creativeness, we have planned to expose them to few of the software tools which may help them in putting down their creative ideas into a presentable way and showcase it to the outside world. Anyone of you out there can give in your ideas how we can help them or are free to help out can contact bangalore@pankhudifoundation.org .

We can’t be their parents but atleast we can try to give the love and support as we have got from our parents. There is no time to just watch and feel sorry but its time to put our “Love for them into Action” .

Written by Priyanka Varma

July 9, 2009 at 6:00 am

TypeRacing at SRMAB

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It was a regular Saturday morning Computer Class at Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind(SRMAB) with Vaibhav (Bangalore Chapter Head, Pankhudi), Deeptangan and me betting for the winners of the Typing Competition to be held in the evening.  We, including the students were quite excited about the event. (For more detail on the excitement in the volunteers read here)

Clock struck 4 and 18 participants of the event entered the class with full josh. But there was no electricity but the kids in full hope waited for the power to come back. As soon as the electricity came, kids started their PCs tapping the keyboards loudly in excitement.

Srikanth Dictating the Story

The kids were divided into two groups. After everything was set, Ram dictated the story to one group and Srikanth to the other group.  It was fun seeing the kids asking Srikanth to repeat the sentences again and again and Srikanth handling them very patiently except for once or twice. 🙂

Harsha, Muni, Chumbita and Shirisha – All were very busy typing on the computer and listening simultaneously to the JAWS(software) and Srikanth. While  one of the kids RaviKiran was busy cursing the dictator aka Srikanth asking him to be slow Kids Busy Typing and Pooja sitting still and started crying because she couldn’t catch up with the typing.  Others were also quite busy in the typing. Ram was busy in the other room dictating the story to the other group of students.

Finally at 5, the competition was over. Evaluation was done and as per the betting done by Vaibhav Sir, Harsha with Sheila came first.  We still suspect Vaibhav for doing some match-fixing (read typing-fixing).  Jokes apart, but the winners were really the deserved ones for the perfection in their typing. Cheers also to the Pankhudi Volunteers for teaching them and bringing them to this level!!!!

In all, it was a busy and a fun-filled Saturday with both the kids and the volunteers enjoying it fully. Also, to add to the fun was the birthday celebration of Joseph Sir. We will be having more events for the kids in future as its both fun and learning for them. So, Pankhudi volunteers be ready to contribute funds for more of these events and if anyone of the readers are also interested in contributing or being a Pankhudi Volunteer can contact vaibhav.kumar@gmail.com( Chapter Head, Pankhudi Bangalore)

Keep watching the blog for more of those events.

Image Courtesy: http://picasaweb.google.com/vaibhav.kumar/TypingCompetitionInSRMAB#

Refer my last post to know more about SRMAB.

Written by Priyanka Varma

July 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

‘THE PERFECT SOLUTION TO ILLITERACY. – YOU’

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Experience the Joy of Giving

Do YOU feel that YOU could do something

–  when YOU see children picking rags in the morning
–  when YOU see children in slums working
–  when YOU see small children begging

At an age when they should have been going to school to study, play they are working. But then all are not so much privileged. Still these underprivileged children can be helped if YOU have the desire to do so. Many of us want to support these children but don’t know how to start. Times of India has come up with an initiative “Teach India”.

“Teach India is a nation-building initiative (or social initiative) that brings together children in need of education and people who can contribute a little time towards teaching them.

This initiative has been started in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Recently it was also launched in Bangalore and they got an overwhelming response from the students, professionals, housewives.

Even I registered for this initiative and opted to teach on weekends. But because of the overwhelming response and most of them being professionals, they didn’t have slots left on weekends. As I still wanted to be a part of the initiative i registered for weekdays. I think its not too difficult to spare 2 hours in a week.

Teach India places you with an NGO depending on your preferences. I was placed with the NGO ‘Youth for Seva’ and had an introductory session with the NGO. This NGO has been started by a software engineer, who quit his job in USA, with the aim to inspire youth to volunteer to serve the community. But it was very much evident from the response at the introductory session that it was not too difficult to inspire the youth. I could see the whole family  with grandparents, parents and children coming up as volunteers. I could feel a sense of excitement in the college students to support the initiative and bring in more of their friends to contribute.

Experience the Joy of Giving

The Youth already has the inspiration to serve their community but they couldn’t find opportunities. Seems the Teach India has been able to bring that opportunity as is very much evident in an engineering student’s words who was present there: “We have a lot of free time in evenings and we always wanted to do something for these children but didn’t actually know how to start. But with Teach India, we got a platform to fulfill our desire.”

If YOU are a volunteer for Teach India, YOU just have to spare 2 hours a week for these children.

I was too skeptical with the concept of giving only 2 hours a week. It seemed to me that 2 hour was not enough for teaching them and also there will be no continuity. But this NGO cleared my doubt. They have planned to form a group of 5-6 volunteers who will teach on different days and different subjects. This seemed to be a better way.

All of YOU who want to come forward and help to change the future of these children, can volunteer for Teach India. For more details see http://www.teach.timesofindia.com/

Written by Priyanka Varma

September 27, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Posted in General, India, Society

Tagged with , , , , ,

Experience of Scotland in India(Coorg)

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Its 4 months in Bangalore now. Bored of sitting idle in office with no work, visiting shopping malls, MG road etc. Fed up travelling in the crowded city with trafficCoorg Valleys and the daily routine of coming to office.Needed a break from the monotonous routine. So finally made a plan to visit Coorg – the Scotland of India. Till the last moment the trip was not confirmed due to some stupid reasons. Finally when my friend called me that they were coming to pick me up, there was a sense of relief and excitement.

We,in a group of 9 friends,Abby Falls left for Coorg early morning at 2:00 am enjoying the cold weather with our tempotraveller speeding on the dark, lonely roads of Bangalore. It seemed our driver was also visiting Coorg for the first time like us. With the help of the direction boards on the way and travelling some extra kilometers because of taking wrong roads, we reached Madikeri at 9:00am. Ideally it should have taken 5 hours. But whenever I have travelled, I haven’t reached anywhere around the estimated time. Even my last trip which was to Goa had some similar incident.Getting real-time directions to our hotel on mobile from our hotel owner, we reached there finally passing through the narrow roads around the valley.

After getting freshened up and with half-full stomachs, we headed straight to Abby Falls,which was around 8kms from madikeri town.The route to the falls itself was joy-ride as the road was very narrow with lots of turns and twists. There is a suspension bridge across the river for a nice view of the falls.The water drops at an enormous speed with a gushing sound creating a spray of moisture-like mist. But sadly we were not allowed to go near the falls to enjoy in the falling waters. We sped back to the town to have a nice lunch.

In the evening we left for Raja’s seat to have a nice view of the sunset behind the cloudy mountains. The Raja’s seat is the best place to sit in the evening and see the beautifParshuram, 2 yr old elephant in Dubare Campul valley. After the sun has set, and it becomes dark,the electric bulbs in the houses in the valley starts twinkling with the stars adding beauty to the dark night in the valley.The musical fountain starts dancing on some nice Kannada songs except for one Hindi song “Babuji jaraa dheere chalo (remix)” but starting with the national anthem . For people who want to enjoy a train ride, there is a toy train also near the Raja’s seat. Before reaching Raja’s seat, we went to a fort which was now used as govt. office and even has a jail.The fort also has a museum but the fort is not maintained.Nothing much to see there.

The next day journey started early morning. The roads were surrounded with the coffee estates. The weather was chilling with little fog. We started for the Dubare elephant Camp at 8:30am. Travelling through the winding roads, stopping on the way to have a nice coffee and getting a feel of cool, gentle breeze while enjoying the scenery and then crossing the Kaveri riverTree Huts in Cauvery NisargDham by a motorboat,we reached on time when elephants were bathing in the river. You can watch them having their breakfast when they are fed by the mahouts. The youngest elephant, Parshuram, 2yrs old was enjoying the cheering by the crowd and was acknowledging by saluting with his trunk. The elephants with their full stomachs were now ready to give you a ride in the forest. But we didn’t have the patience to be in the queue for the ride and so we opted to play in the waters of River Kaveri.

We then headed to Harangi Dam after having a nice, steeming upama in the KSRTC restaurant. But as we approached the dam, couldn’t see any water flowing and clearing our doubts the security guard tells us that the dam has been closed 10 months ago. So in despair we roamed aroundSunset behind the cloudy mountains for sometime, had naariyal paani and headed to our next destination. We visited Cauveri NisargDham which is an ecological park on an island in River Kaveri with rabbits, deer and elephant. You can also see tree huts here.

Now we all were extremely hungry. In search of a nice restaurant we headed towards KushalNagar. Before coming on this trip, we had done some research and had found lot of good things about Atithi restaurant. Entering we saw people enjoying their food on pattal of banana leaves. That seemed so exciting we also sat to have a nice rice-saambharrasampapad-curd combination with some vegetables ending with a paysam as dessert. It was super-duper delicious that we were all extra-full and now was in a mood to sleep.

We were very late so we had to drop the idea of visiting the Tibetan monastery. We regret missing some nice places like TalaCauveri, Bhagmandala, Nagarhole National Park, Iruppu Falls and the monastery. On way to Bangalore, our driver suggested us to visit the Brindavan Garden in Mysore.We visited the place but we were too sleepy and tired to enjoy the beauty of the place.
Though you can visit Coorg for sight-seeing but it seemed to be the best place for trekking and other adventure sports and ofcourse to spend a nice holiday away from the busy city life.

Written by Priyanka Varma

November 23, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Coorg, India, travel