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July 2016

posted 27 Jul 2016, 06:25 by Narssimhan Kannan
I was first going to come to Mumbai and again travel to Pune to meet the students. The plan was to take the train in the morning and return by evening. But when I realised that I was anyway driving from Bangalore to Mumbai, I decided to advance my trip by a few days, drive to Pune, stay back a night, visit the school and then proceed to Mumbai.
I left at 3:30 am from Bangalore and reached Pune by 8:30 pm. Driving 800 kms alone is not easy. So, in the morning before I left, I prayed to Rama asking Him to protect me during the journey. I had my set of Kishore Kumar songs but you can listen to songs only for a few hours. I left in earnest and around 160 kms from Bangalore, at one toll booth, the toll authorities asked me if I would give a lift to one of their employees till Kolhapur.
I readily agreed. We started talking and I got to know that he was the son of a farmer, had two elder sisters and was the last of the siblings. His dad had a drinking problem but was now rehabilitated. He had just got this job from IRB and was doing well. He had recently purchased a gas connection for his mother and was happy that she did not have to use firewood or kerosene. He also appreciated that his family gets the gas subsidy.
We travelled around 600 kms talking about various things including philosophy and God. He was a mature person for his age and spoke well. We stopped twice for refreshments and he did not allow me to pay at any toll till Kolhapur. He used his ID card and got me a waiver. I did not realise the distance and was extremely thankful for the company that I had got. I dropped him just before Kolhapur city and while getting down asked for his name. He replied "Ramchandra, Ram". I looked up to the sky and smiled.
I reached Pune and settled down in my friend, Sreekanth's house. He made some awesome salads for me and we had some wine. I rested well and then woke up early in the morning to reach the school by 9:00 am. It was a long drive but not as long as the one during the previous day. I met the school teachers and Sunil Bhalke, the representative of the trust.
We had several issues from the previous year that we all sat and sorted out. We also planned for the current year. Increased the salaries of the teachers and ensured that they are comfortable. We also decided to slowly keep all the books at the school and not give them any homework. The teachers were very excited about the idea. This would enable the children to come to school without any school bags.
I then met the children and gave them some sweets. I also taught some of the classes. Due to rains, the attendance was very low. We also decided to help 20 children, as usual with their uniform, books, bags and shoes. I will publish that list separately. The immediate need was to get them notebooks and I promised that my friend Rohit Bhat has sent a lot of notebooks and I will send all of them as soon as possible.
I stayed till the children left. We took some group photographs. I held the hands of some tiny children and felt their vulnerability, their innocence. I get very emotional when I see the children leave. They all wave to me as if I am a very close friend of theirs. Their hearts are so pure and so unadulterated by the impurities of life and their ego.
I returned to Sreekanth's house and rested for a while. I have posted some photographs and videos from my trip here. Then I remembered that the school was also "Ramchandra Yepre Prathimik Vidyalaya". I looked up to the sky and smiled.