A visit to Mumbai would have been incomplete without a trek into the Sahyadris. Armed with suggestions and directions from the veteran Harish Kapadia, we headed for ‘ Taru khand’, a 100 kms off Mumbai towards Vaapi. With one vadaapao, fresh off the gas on the Virar station, we waited patiently for the Memu ( that’s what the local train for such long distances is called) which would take us to the last road head-Kelve. People stood on either side of the track, ready to puonce in when the train arrived. Trouble is that this memu comes once in three hours, unlike other Mumbai locals so the rush is tremendous. With some trepidation, we managed to get ourselves into one of the boogies. Jammed between basket fulls of fish, boxes of squeaky toys and the smell of sweat, I thought I would be long gone before we reached our destination. 30 minutes later, we finally disembarked with everyone collectively shoving me out, helping me get out of the chaos.
Once we began walking, it was a different story. In the distance I could see the fort which was our objective for the day. There is ongoing construction of a dam near the foothills of the hill we were going to climb, with a beautiful lake at the bottom. The houses are spick and covered with matted jute and grass. Huge palms and coconut trees shade the road, making walking a pleasure.
En route, we reached a small school where from outside the fence I could see children busy at work. Me being me, with my love for photographing kids walked in to meet the teacher. Curious eyes followed me, with much giggles as I crossed the compound. After the initial fascination, the kids got back to their chores. Three girls were busy clearing the compound of leaves and debris, while one student went about arranging books and copies on the desks. Another child, with shoulders high, went about directing an adult on the mid day meal schedule and inspecting the cleanliness of the plates and utensils. The teacher stood mutely in a corner, while everything else happened in almost auto mode.
These children had a sense of ownership, of responsibility, of pride. They were running their own school, perfectly comfortable in doing chores. It is something I cannot imagine in our city schools, where kids are taught only to focus on studies, studies and studies..Unimaginable even ina small measure would be this kind of management. Schools are imparting education, but life values – I am a skeptic. Away from the world of fancy gadgets, money and jazz parties, they are preserved in their innoconce. Simple, faith filled faces, that find nothing wrong with the world. When a picture is reason enough to smile and make conversation with a stranger..there is no stranger actually.
This is not the first time, I have been witness to the same eyes everywhere I travel in the remote regions of our country. The unspoilt, true beauty of the human soul is not lost, it just takes some searching to find them.
Can’t seem to load any pics on WP. Here is the link from Picassa http://picasaweb.google.com/namiarora/NotAllIsLost#