Sunday, August 24, 2008

AIDS awareness rally up to Big Banyan Tree

Sunday morning, instead of lazying around, Mayank literally dragged me in to joining this cycle rally all the way up to The Big Banyan tree organized by Jagruthi. I anyways wanted to go there once, having heard about it so much.

This place was about 25kms from ISCKON. The route was pretty simple, go on chord road all the way till the end where it meets Magadi road, Then go on Magadi road, towards magadi. On that road after about 13kms there is diversion to the left. There is no signboard there, but then most people know about the place, so I guess you would not have trouble locating the which left. The diversion to the left, is a very small beautiful nice lane kind of road.

The place, itself was not that great. There is a park kind of stuff, and inside the park there is this banyan tree. Apparently the original big tree has died and fallen down, and right now there are 5-6, big banyan trees which apparently were the part of the big tree earlier.

For me the fun part of this trip was going on the cycle. Overall it was 50kms, I have never done 50km cycle before on one day. But it was little taxing, especially because the roads were up and down. But forget the tiredness and everything else, the worst thing about this cycles is that your bum pains a lot, so if you ever plan to cycle, get a good cushion seat.

We all were supposed to carry the placard, when we cycle. And it was fun, to see people reading the banner and smiling. My placard was related to safe sex and prevention of AIDS, and most people would read it and giggle. It was fun. There were couple of people who stopped me, to ask me about Jagruthi and that was good to see. But most funny thing was this guy stopping me and asking me if I was distributing free condoms !!

Below is one of the pic which I took with some of the kids who were really fascinated with the cycle. The second pic has the placard that I was carrying all along the way on my cycle.

PS1: Jagruthi is a NGO which works for AIDS awareness. In their Bangalore home they house about 80 children, some of them HIV+, some who have been sexually abused, etc. Jagruthi tries to educate this kids, and also provide them some vocational training.

PS2: Apparently according to the survey of 2007 by National AIDS control Organization there are about 2.5M people living with AIDS in India, which is about 0.36% of total population. Karnataka accounts for about 11.2% of the AIDS cases in India, which is third in list after Maharashtra and Andra Pradesh. It is also very interesting to note that, Mahashtra, AP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu account for about 60% of the AIDS cases. I was surprised at this stats, because I thought that AIDS was more prevalent in North India, but apparently this does not seem to be true.

PS3: Some of the pictures of Big Banyan Tree place,

One of the trees

All the tree trunks have all kind of graffiti

Another view of the same tree.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

India... The land of spiritually

I hate it when I get the middle seat, when traveling on an airplane. Window seat is best, for I still have this child like enthusiasm of looking outside the window, specially during take off and landing, and when spotting any familiar landmark on the ground from the high up gives such a nice feeling. But I hate the middle seat. But middle seat, that was in store for me as I was taking up this flight to Delhi for the start of my trekking trip to Valley of Flowers.

Well, I was almost the last to enter the plane, and as I was grudgingly walking to my seat, 23B, and WoW, WoW, WoW, I could not believe it !! There were two beautiful ladies on A and C. Could I have asked for any better start of my trek holiday.

The Aisle side girl, was a about early twenties aged, she looked fairly cosmopolitan, and could not figure out her origins (north, south, east, west??), she was reading sudha murthy, "Wise and Otherwise". Good for me, that was some subject, which I could talk to no end, about sudha murthy and her NGO stories and so on. As soon as things settled, and air hostess was through with that regulatory speech on safety, I started my attempt to start the conversation. But this girl turned out to be very snorty, I dont know sometimes some people act as if they are carrying the entire burden of universe on their shoulders, and consider it a crime to smile and chat for couple of minutes.

I decided better to leave her alone and turned my attention to this other lady. She was glued to looking outside the window as a five year old, climbing the plane for first time. She was not Indian, was very red in her cheeks and guess she was from Europe,

"Hi", I said,
"Where you from?" I asked,
"Am from Ukraine, earlier part of USSR", she said
"I come to India searching for spirituality",

WoW, that was great, I had always read on web, people traveling to India for spirituality, but had never personally met one. And then she went on and on and on and on. Telling me about India and how it fascinated her, and how this place was so beautiful and how spirituality was still, a part of everyday life of each Indian. She told me things which I am ashamed to say that I did not know about India. She took out her camera and took me through the photo tour, of her journey, from Manali, to ladakh, to Hampi of temples and monestaries, telling me stories about them.

Listening to her, I was wondering how much do I actually care to know and understand the rich culture that we have. Most of the times, we just discard the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata as just the work of fiction. Also probably the way they show on TV, with so many arrows disappearing, and more than life figures that really makes it look far from reality. But the entire conversation made me feel very happy, and wanting to learn more.

Conversation also reminded me of reading this research done by some firang (or some website was it, dont remember, Alzheimer I guess ), and his inference was that Ganga is not a natural river. He had done some analysis of the base of lot of rivers and came to conclusion that Ganga is actually a man made river. I guess if you are aware of the story of how God was pleased with Bagirath's penance and he send Ganga down. And in all probability guess Bagirath was a great Engineer and he crafted way of all small streams coming for Himalayas, in to one big man made canal, which we now call Ganga.

Anyways, because of all this interesting conversation flight journey ended in no time, and by the end this snorty girl seemed to be interested in talking, but then it was already midnight and I was lost in thoughts of Ganga, and spirituality guess I was already half way up to my trek. Could there be any better start to trek to himalayas?

PS: Was away on Trekking, and hence the blog was silent.