This is such a delayed post. I wrote it couple of months ago and then it slumbered on as a draft as I could not get the pictures. Then the life marched on etc. Anyways now you will have to imagine that this is late Jan and early Feb and think patriotic thoughts and of our republic day.
Patriotism does not come naturally to me. I like India, Indians but so what. Symbol-isms, keeping the Tricolor or even Republic day celebrations cause no flutter in the heart. What I do like is seeing others take pride, doing good for the nation. If this comes from the kids and if the emotions are simple, honest and innocent then the heart flutters. One such chance came when my biking group BAC Bangalore announced a detailed plan for 26th Jan. I thought how nice it will be to meet the old gang, make friends with few new faces. So I decided that riding out with the group to a government school and then to Snehajyothi, the orphanage the club adopted sounded like a morning worth waking up to. One vexing aspect of all these meets is the early morning starts and the inevitable waits later. Well agreed that there is some fun in waiting too. You get to share few moments, pull a victim’s leg and heartily laugh, get to know new folks. So I woke up early on the republic day and started off , lost the way a little and reached the meeting place at Bangalore Univ. by 6:50. The group set off after about half an hour to the government school, just after Kengeri. As we were riding the old familiar feeling of group ride knocked. It is fun to see the string of bikes weaving through traffic and then straighten on the highway and curve again to overtake. It makes up for all the effort of early morning start. And then the hungry team stopped at Srinidhi restaurant, posed, ate and started for the school. Small one, neat colorful and noisy. There were these drummers and bugle boys and few scores of energized kids. Harried and smiling teachers. To this effervescent mix add 14 odd bikers and a Bikerni. Waiting. Waiting for 9:00 am or the chief guest whichever is later. I had forgotten the school day celebrations. Dotty dear’s school did away with all these chief guests, waiting and speeches. They are an efficient bunch. The programs start on time and are to the point with no fuss. They are depriving her and her mates of character building experiences and all the opportunities to collect matter for stories. I have such memories of waiting for the dignitaries and the pranks we played with other students and teachers. And here it was again, the buzz of celebrations. I was wondering what will they be thinking of us and will we have an influence on them to take to the roads and freedom? Or are we just passerby-s? The guests came, flag went up, wind flared it up. Felt good. Class after class took to the stage and song & dance happened. If I had recorded them and showed here it would be any other school group performance, average. But living it out there looking at the kids going all out and be happy about it, that is something. In their worlds it is the best performance. Each note, each step was a result of practice and patience. Teachers were into it too, sequencing the items, correcting the dresses, helping from the side, beaming. There were two college girls too, who had taught and choreographed dances. Volunteering. There was a small live , real, unscripted skit of flirting, dialing and cross connection happened between them and our photographer. Read about it here on his blog.
Once the dances were done it was the speeches from the dignitaries, “princy” and teachers. Test of patience for me. What was holding the kids in place ? Promise of cake and biscuits. Or was it inculcated discipline ? Finally we distributed the biscuits we had taken, and the pastry the school had organized. After the distribution, we had a photo session and then started off for the orphanage. Few of the older kids from there were at the school and they merrily hopped on to our bike for a ride home. This route to the place past the highway is typical well maintained village highway. Well maintained in the sense few pothole and speed humps but mostly ok ok. Open fields, undulating path, occasional tree, lots of bushes. Short time later we were there. The place was unassuming, quiet and all alone. Couple of small buildings and a bunch of kids with shiny eyes. They knew the bikers well and were chatting merrily. Tiger their darling mutt joined in. The place was calm, few trees proving shade from a brilliant sun. We split into groups and were chatting, the photographer was also a movie maker. He directs a small scene for his vedio. I was enthralled by a girl who would not stop smiling. The place had
kids of all ages. Teens, toddlers and in-betweens. Even a few months old infant. They put out a song and dance show for us. All together, all in unison. I started thinking, my flats has kids too. They too are noisy and jumping. Curious and rebellious. So much similar. One difference I saw was the amity in boys and girls who are in tweens and less. Here at my house the boys and girls are at daggers drawn. They do play and tolerate the others but there is quite a bit of us and them thing going on. Here I saw none of that. All were just kids. Equal. Fun. We served them lunch and again I felt that few girls were like my dotty dear and her friends. Filtering out the veggies and hogging the fried stuff. A stiff nudge from the back made them eat the vegetables. Then it was time for me to start for home. Rest of the gang was planning for Lunch enroute. This day started with curiosity and ended with satisfaction and nostalgia. The school showed India is still the same and the speeches too. The kids will find amusement in all situations and make it good in this world. The hoisted flag did stir the heart when wind unfurled it. I thought of those videos with people running with a massive flag. I wanted to run my self. The orphanage showed that it is a tough world but does not mean they are not plugged in or not have fun. There was that tug of what will future hold for them. How will they shape up. If the show of today was any indication they will do awright. And the generous folks of the club will provide for the small gaps. This independence day showed why India can be so hopeful. I’m proud to be part of the celebration but will still hesitate to wear it on my sleeve and run with the flag in my hands.