Bagepalli – A gift indeed
Posted by Madhavan Sriram
The Romantic will always look at the bright side of life. Even in destruction, he will view future construction .
Last Thursday, while i was at office, I received an email from Aashaiyen Foundation asking me whether i wanted to participate in the “Gift your village” activity that Saturday. I quickly checked my schedule and saw that i had absolutely nothing planned for the weekend. Only involved in urban community development till then, this event posed as a refresher as it was located at Bagepalli, a village 88km from Bangalore. I figured out that I will be experiencing Karnataka’s raw culture and meeting a new sect of people who had a different outlook of life. So, thinking on these lines, I enrolled myself for the event and had a quick conversation over the phone with the organizer on the logistics and transportation.
The activity was planned for Saturday and I was told to arrive at Sivaji Nagar at 6AM for helping out with the loading of the books that were to be distributed to the students in the village schools. However, I was able to make it only at 6:30AM and most of the loading was already done by the other volunteers. We had a quick round of introductions followed by which some of us went and parked our motorcycles at a nearby trustee’s house. We were all set to leave to Bagepalli by 7AM.
Morning time in Bangalore is always a visual treat ;the sky is a mild blue at that time and the dew drops that lay on the road and grass gives the landscape a contrasting hue. We savored the beauty for a short while, after which we embarked on our trip to Bagepalli via NH7. The national highway has its own share of stunning visuals and we were lucky to get some fantastic shots of Nandi hills and Skandagiri peak. We made quick time and reached the local coordinator’s house at Bagepalli by an hour and half. We got acquainted with him and came to know that he was a retired engineer who had worked abroad prior to retirement and had returned to his village after retirement to utilize his expertise and skills to develop the place. We were offered a breakfast of hot idlis and chutney, after which we drove to Penamale Higher School,which was a half-hour drive from there. As we were getting down from the Tempo-Traveler at the school, we heard cheering from a huge student crowd. I and the other volunteers saw around 250 students cheering and clapping at us – surprising as we were not expecting a welcome at all. After quick introductions with the village headman, we were directed to the makeshift dais, where we were made to sit along with the village headman and other important folk of the village. The faculty of Penamale Higher Secondary School honored us by presenting each one of us a fresh red rose picked from the garden. One of the volunteers had a Nikon SLR D3100 and we started clicking pictures of the students, the function and the rural environment. We heard several speeches made by faculties and by the headman on the importance of education and importance of outside involvement to develop the village’s standard of education. After hearing the speeches, we took over and started distributing the books to the students. We totally made a contribution of 1300 books to the Bagepalli village. After completing the distribution of books, we went for a stroll in the village. The village-folk were very hospitable and invited us to their households. After tasting few delicacies of the Karnataka-type village households and roaming through the village for a solid one-hour, we decided that it was time to leave back to Bangalore. So we bid adieu to the village children, who were following us, and returned back to the local coordinator’s house to drop him. We were about to say our goodbyes when the coordinator’s wife called us and requested us to have lunch with her and her husband. They threw us a mini-feast, in which we had a complete Karnataka-style lunch with sweets and kheer.
We bid byes to everyone there and started to Bangalore once again. The ride back was fun as we had gotten to know each other better. We played a few travel games and recounted our experiences of volunteering to each other. The trip was unforgettable to me as i not only enjoyed immersing myself in the Karnataka-style hospitality but also contributed to the rustic society. Hope to be back to the village to do further work with them..