Thursday, July 10, 2008

Visit to Bidar with American Volunteer Akshay

Our journey to Bidar began as we first made our way to the bus stop. Ramesh swiftly drove us through the traffic ridden streets of Bangalore and insured our punctual arrival at the bus stop. The bus left promptly at 8:00 PM. Youth For Seva had booked us two seats on a Volvo sleeper bus. We did not have traditional seats, but rather beds placed above the seats. The bed was decievingly comfortable. This was an appropriate choice for the journey was to be overnight. After 11.5 hours of travelling, we finally arrived in Bidar at 7:30 AM.
We got out of the bus and all of the books and bags were already properly stacked awaiting our arrival. Thankfully there were two autorickshaws right at the bus stop so we placed all the books and bags in one vehicle and travelled in another vehicle. We first went to a private school named Sarasvathi Vidhya Mandira. The staff there placed us in a room which was adjacent to the conference room. It was in there where we freshened up and changed clothes. One of the staff members had brought us a breakfast which consisted of upit, idli, and sambar. After the hearty breakfast, we had what could quite possibly be the most delicious Chai Tea that I had ever tasted. All the ingredients were in perfect proportion. When we walked outside of the room, all the children were eating lunch. But their manner of eating is that which I have never seen before. They all sat in circles of similar radii. They all shared their food so essentially they brought food not for themselves but for the group. This usually does not happen in the United States. After taking some pictures we were off to Ravindra Higher Primary school, the location of the school kit drive.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by 20 to 30 children. Three of the children helped us take the books and bags inside. After exchanging pleasantries with the staff at the school, we immediately started to pack the school kits. We had to pack 100 school kits, and this would normally take us 1.5 hours. With the help of the three children, we were able to finish the packing in 40 minutes. After the packing, we attended the program that was taking place on the second floor of the school. Swamiji Sri Jnanendra Ji was lecturing the students there about how one should live a happy and healthy life. After the lecture the Swamiji thanked us and presented us with a gift. The gift consisted of a scarf and a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in Kannada. This was followed by a program given by the children.
A little girl dressed up as Krishna started off the program by reciting a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. Then four children dressed up as icons from Indian history, including Swami Viveknananda, delivered a monologue. This was followed by two dances performed by little girls. The staff thanked us once again for the school kits and then Naveen gave an enthralling speech. Then the staff began calling the students who were to receive the school kits. The look on the students face was pure, unadulterated joy. I was never able to fathom how much joy such a gift could bring to a deserving individual. Then we took pictures of everyone. All of the children joyfully took their bags and went home after the program was done. We were taken to the first floor to have lunch.
Just like all hospitable people, they fed us until we could not eat anymore. After some rest, Smt Kalavathi and Swarnakka took us sightseeing. The first place we visited was Sri Jharni Narasimha temple. This was unlike any temple that I had seen before. The statue Lord Narasimha was inside of a cave. In order to see the diety one had to walk through the cave which contained water that was 3 feet deep and bats lined all along its walls. Unfortunately we did not get to go inside the cave because did not have a change of clothes. After this, we went to Gurunanak Jharni. We got to see where the Gurunanak placed his foot so that the water spouted out. Then we went to a garden that had incredible views. After taking some breathtaking pictures we headed to the bus stop to come back to Bangalore.

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