I Continue from here...Art Camp @ Badeladaku - Day 02
Day 03, Monday, 25th August 2014
I was a lot fresh this day. My fever and cold were slowly retracing. I was up and ready very early as usual. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel where the lodge care taker informed me that the owner was from Mangalore. But the owner for some reason was not happy about this revelation. He scolded the boy. I decided to ignore him and not talk to him about his origins if he was so reluctant, which seemed so not Manglorean though. Previous day, we had also met a Nandini store owner who was from Kundapura.
For the past two days, I had been observing a fortune teller just outside our Lodge. He would be there every morning and by noon would disappear. I joked that he had a good work life balance. I wanted to experience this once. So this being my last day I decided to do that. My intentions were not really to mock him but to see how this was done. He asked me the first letter of my name and I answered « Aa » and he told me that I was of Mesha rashi (A particular star sign) which I was not so I told him that I was Meena rashi. But he did not get it and insisted to stick with Mesha Rashi. I decided to keep quite. He opened the doors of a cage within which was a parrot happily feasting on a big guava fruit. It put tiny steps forward and picked one of the booklets from the collection he had. He almost immediately prompted it to drop that and pick the next one. I found that really funny. But the parrot did not do as instructed and held on to the one it had picked. I asked him to read that anyways. The booklet had several small images. Some of Hindhu gods some of muslim mosques. He told me that I would travel a lot and achieve fame in everything I do. He shook my hand and told me that I shall succeed in every initiative that I take. That was it. By now a crowd had gathered to know my future. I asked what could I pay him and he asked me to pay as much as I wished. I decided on Rs50 for not so informative session but then added another 20 to be nice. He immediately pulled out a photo from his bag. It was of him with a MLA and told that he was a regular customer. Perhaps by showing me a wealthy customer of his he was hinting on increasing my offerings. But I did nothing like that. I had already lost respect for him the moment he had instructed the parrot to drop the booklet it had picked and select another. He had not even told me the meaning of every photo even though I had requested. This could have been easily anybody's future.To impress a customer he was not truthful to his profession. That was the only reason for my disrespect for him.
We rode to the village. All moans of agony in the house that was mourning had now confided itself into deep corners of the minds and a haunting silence seemed to emerge from the house.
At School, all the kids were well behaved today due to the presence of teachers who scare them with sticks and screams. Few kids were cleaning benches and their class room. The room had been painted fresh and the labourers had left without cleaning. I would have been perfectly okay with the kids cleaning the room and the benches if it was done for them. But, the class was painted only to keep a Ganesh idol during the village festival. That seemed a little inappropriate.
All morning, Yulia, Gautam and I stuck the paintings on thick handmade colour papers and hung them on the wall. Stefan had food poisoning and so he left early. To help us with sticking the art work, we invited four girls inside the computer lab. While speaking with them they informed that they love to attend school but where unsure what would happen after 10th. Many farmers do not have money to spend over their kids education beyond the free education provided by Government. But they informed me that there were few girls from the same village who had managed to become engineers.
We took a short walk around the village. Stopped at a small store for some cold drinks. Gautam regularly visits this place and the lady who owned the shop invited us over for lunch the next day. We returned back to school and had some buns and apple for lunch. I had requested four kids to join me in a special art session. Manjunath, Keshav, Santhosh and Sakkubhai were very talented and got easily noticed during the workshop. I might have missed many others. Together we started a painting. I taught them how to mix colours, how to shade and sharpen the brush for thin lines. They had questions and they had interest. They were extremely attentive in every word that came out of my mouth and towards every movement of the brush. One by one I asked them to do portions of the same painting and the result was a beautiful collaborative work of art. I had experienced the most satisfying painting experience of my life with these bright and creative kids. I handed them the paint boxes, papers and pencils and requested them to continue their good work.
Before leaving, I took a tour of the school. The kids seemed engrossed in study. One primary school teacher asked me - "The kids in the city are well behaved than these, aren't they?" I answered to her - "Kids are kids, where ever they are" and moved on. Another teacher took special interest in showing me around the school. The staff room was filled with headmaster and teachers who gave me a weird look as I was introduced to them. All together it appeared to me that only the kids cared for what was being done. The kids even requested us to give away the pencils and pens to them individually rather than handing it over to their teachers as that they thought would not be distributed. A mistrust in their own teachers would be the last thing I would have expected. Growing up in a city, I had only learnt to respect my teachers and regard them to be just. What was wrong here? The government school teachers are well paid. Moreover, they have far more benefits than the private school teachers. Free lunch and tea is served to motivate the children to attend classes. Yet the standard of education in these schools as compared to that in the cities are no where close for a comparison. So is it passion that is missing here? Are these teachers in this profession because they find this an easy thing to do? Is it because they could not become anything else that they are teachers? This might need further investigation from my side before coming to a conclusion. Even in the cities these days the quality of teachers have gone down. I tried to think of a root cause and saw that the present teachers would have come from my generation. Mine was a generation of engineers. Every house had to have an engineer. So the bright ones who could have become good teachers are perhaps now software engineers. Very few follow their passion and rest succumb to family demands. Things are changing now with the present generation thinking beyond Engineering and Medicine. Well reasons are many and requires scrutiny.
What is also shocking to view is that the kids were pooping in the school ground. Most of the village houses do not have toilets and they have to go to the fields. This was the case in my hometown Surathkal perhaps 20 years ago; that too in a few houses. But in the villages in North Karnataka this is a reality even today. Yet some of our own people criticise our Prime minster for funding the construction of public toilets.
I was both happy and sad as I left the village. I was very satisfied with this experience that had brought in me a positive change that would be impossible to be expressed in words. At the lodge, I thanked Stefan and Yulia and expressed how glad I was to have met them. I did not help the kids with anything, they helped me in finding a purpose to live.
Yulia and I walked to the medical store and grabbed some medicines for Stefan. I left at around 5:30 PM to Hospet. Gautam accompanied me as he had some work in Hospet. Per initial plan Both Stefan and Yulia were supposed to see me off at the railway station but Stefan was really sick by the time we returned and he had to take rest.
Gautam and I traveled to Hospet and had some food at a Udupi restaurant where he had made friends with a supervisor. During his previous visits the supervisor had been of great help with some work they needed to do. He was expecting a baby soon so Gautam wanted to buy some clothes for his kid. We shopped for that and walked to another store near Gandhi square to buy a vehicle fan for an auto driver who used to drop them off at the village for free. We then came back to the restaurant and finished our dinner. Took an auto to the railway station. I thanked Gautam for his company before he left back to Kudligi. I had truly enjoyed our conversations and debates over several topics. He is young and is filled with several good ideas and seems to be heading in the right direction.
I had an uneventful return journey. I slept well in the train. In the morning as I headed back to my house I was a different person all together. I was filled with immense joy and my mind was at peace. No thoughts filled my mind, it was empty and perhaps that is what we call as happiness; a voidness in the mind with absolutely no thoughts but just happiness.