“Bangalore!!!!!! That was the excitement and joy when our flight touched the city ground after almost two hours in air with Akshay and Shriyam sitting next to me, from Delhi today. I always wanted to be here and even tried my chances by selecting you as my city of preference for the Fellowship interview (where I failed) but it seems that this city wanted more of me as now I’m here for the entire period of this program. Stepping out of the airplane, I filled my lungs with the DREAM CITY air but guess what the most unexpected flavour got detected by my strong olfactory senses……TOMATO SOUP!!!!???? Perhaps it’s going to be a Tomatina time here.”
Its 25th of February,2016 today and on my way back from a workshop in one of the Govt. Schools, noticed a folded paper amongst the trash in my bag dated September 2015. What I found written on it is now the inaugural section of my blog in inverted commas above and to be frank couldn’t stop myself giggling on a usual GIRL IN A NEW CITY side of my story. Add to this the peppy, energetic Tollywood number being played in the background in the authentic local auto I was riding, racing amidst the crazy Bangalore traffic. But today instead of being anxious and stressed by the noise around, my mind was tracing the journey from THEN TO NOW and the beautiful white flowers on the dust laden trees by the roadside (It’s spring time, back home in Ladakh and Kashmir, they must be blooming soon as well.)
Time has just flown away but on its way it has gifted one of the most enriching, memorable and fulfilling experiences ever. My mentor and co-workers at Reaching Hand, Old Uncle Sam who shares his expert advice on fishes and travelling over breakfast at my paying guest accommodation, Akshay and his (now our) Granny, the enthusiastic kids at the schools are some of the many reasons that makes me believe that huge, ugly billboard on the way which says-THE CITY WHICH GIVES!! But I do acknowledge and agree having met regularly with people who are giving back as well in their own small and big ways. This smiling butterfly drawn by a 9-year-old, Manglu, whom I met during the fellowship orientation in Rajasthan, also is a contributor.
(FLASHBACK) It was a fresh morning in a village of Rajasthan and this boy, Manglu, came running to me and informed of the breakfast being ready. On being asked about the menu, he replied with a bright smile, making his big eyes more round- “Di(sister)….. Its bread with butter!! We only get it once in awhile. You are our guest so special breakfast for you.” (Sigh) I ate his treat with a heavy heart, feeling sorry that a simple bread and butter is a treat for him. In Bangalore, it was all about good South Indian food for the first few weeks and soon my native appetite started pleading for a change. One day a friend shared her simple Breakfast with me-BREAD AND BUTTER. Eating that was no less than a feast for me and throughout that incident my eyes and mind was fixed on that butterfly which Manglu had drawn, describing it as “IT’S YOU DI(sister)!”
All these years where I’ve been hearing and reading complicated philosophies, debated and discussed about Empathy, being in the other’s shoe (and believed that I understood and practised) was explained and truly realised in that very simple moment. Never did I feel so content after having finest of the fine delicacies ever and was enjoying every bite – making my eyes bigger (defying my genetic attributes) and smile, brighter. I was in the perfect place in the whole picture to understand it.
It’s been a month since I’ve been conducting training sessions for corporate volunteers on Puberty & Adolescent Health, witnessed them going through the process of understanding a situation in order to deal with the issues. Today they were sharing it and passing it on to the young generation, giving back as their contribution, making their eyes bigger and smile brighter. It is a day of accomplishment and will dedicate it to Manglu.
All these months when I’ve been nervous about writing my first ever Blog, a friend kept encouraging saying- “A Blog should be something that comes easily to you, don’t stress much…”. Today is that auspicious day it seems or may be the song in the auto woke up the Blogger in me, ha ha !! But speaking the truth the Fellowship has been a rollercoaster ride through splashes of challenges, emotions, realisations, hope and possibilities or let me put it in a festive style (and to make it rhyme with the blog title) as-
La Tomatina, Bangalore!!!!!
[though I didn’t encounter much of tomatoes, tomato soup to be precise ;)]