Friday, 23 January 2015

A welcome change....

The Vasco-Chennai Express reached Chennai Central station bringing along 7 curious and shy faces into probably the most crowded city any of these young girls have ever been too. When asked how the train journey was, they said “very nice, except the last hour when we had to bear the stink of the city”. We really did not have an answer to that but only reassured them that they will soon be back in a green paradise that they are used to.
Bundled up in 2 large cars which was graciously sent to us by a friend and long-time supporter, Chennai city welcomed these curious eyes with excitement now, as they rode down the Marina Beach promenade that shows off its opulent statues and arches on one side, and all the colonial building of the University and Government buildings on the other.
Landing in Kalakshetra, leaving the traffic, noise and crowd behind, and entering a place which will make any loud, aggressive person to become silent and peaceful, they once again started feeling at home. Still a little curious as to what’s in store for them but glad to be in a quiet and clean environment.
After settling them in their rooms, we waited for the girls from Chennai who were going to join them at the camp. They arrived in a bus, 10 of them accompanied by their anxious and protective parents along. Here the story was different – the parents of these girls have never ever let them out of their sight, and to let them go away for seven days! Even though the girls are in the same city and actually not far away from their homes and schools, they still did not seem convinced about leaving their daughters behind. We assured them that they will be fine and it is also learning for them towards making their girls independent human beings. After being promised that they could come and visit the girls once in these 7 days, they felt better, said their good-byes and left.
It was tea time and so both the groups met at the common mess of the institute but obviously in the chaos amongst the other students of Kalakshetra they formed two distinct groups of Goa and Chennai. We let them be only informing both groups that they will not be so for long.

Being the first day, we just worked on some group and rhythm exercises, with a fun name game, as we realised the first comfort factor to be formed within the group has to be familiar with all by their names. We made it challenging by adding movement and co-ordination as a part of them to get to know each other.
Every Friday, the student fraternity of Kalakshetra has a bhajan (Indian devotional songs) evening, which we were all invited to. A first time again for all the girls, they sat with curious faces looking at all the future artists of our country all gracefully dressed for the session. After the session, we were all formally welcomed by the community and served dinner in the traditional way by being served by the students.

In the days to follow, apart from all the creative activity in store, we are looking forward to the two circles merging into one, and then not wanting to let go by the time we have to go back to our daily lives. But, for sure for both the groups today was a “welcome” change!

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