Road Scholars – Apprentice # 2

Today was a day of exploration in one of Bangalore’s quaint localities: Malleshwaram. We converged in small groups across different points in the city, starting at Yelachenahalli Metro station; our first destination was a blood donation camp in Sadashivnagar. We got off at Mantri-square station and took a rickshaw to get there after haggling with the driver for a good price.

The blood drive was organized by the BVC Consultants, R.T.Nagar Rotarian B.T.Shetty and handled by Indian Red Cross Society on the top-most floor of their office buildings. A good number of blood donors had already gathered to make their life-saving contributions. It was an eye-opening experience for many of us. Personally, I thought that they froze the blood and stockpiled it for future use, ensuring that they always had plenty of blood on hand. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Red blood cells are refrigerated and have a shelf life of only 45 days – which means that whatever blood is donated (the typical amount being 450 ml per person), has either already been used up or gotten expired a month before one can donate again. Generally, men can give blood every three months and women every four months. However, out of the minority of people eligible to donate blood in 0ur country, a very tiny percentage actually become blood donors. It’s no wonder that people are frequently encouraged to give blood; just a few are carrying the load for the multitude in need, and the daily struggle to meet the demand for blood in hospitals is constant.

‘Learning Encounters’ with the blood bank volunteers

The children were sent to observe the mini indoor setup where people were in different stages of the donation. It triggered lots of questions regarding the whole process, of which they had to note down in their books and find answers through reading and research. Captain Preetham stepped up to make his vital contribution for the day and was rewarded with a certificate, a packet of biscuits and a beverage. It occurred to me then how this was such a simple yet valuable way to impact the lives of others. All of us took something away from that meaningful experience. Either we will become regular lifelong donors or learners and promoters of this worthwhile enterprise.

Sankey Tank Stories

Our exit from the blood drive led us walking towards Sankey Tank. On the way, we stopped for a few minutes at a beautiful bronze monument of the Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, which was elevated upon a small fort-like structure. The 17th century French explorer Jean de Thevenot described his impressions of the royal personage with the words, “The Rajah is small and tawny with quick eyes which indicate abundance of spirit.”

So, with an abundance of spirit and quick eyes, we walked on, passing the Global Swim Centre and finally reaching Sankey Tank. Unfortunately, it was closed. From its cool vast expanse, I could tell that it would’ve been the perfect spot to steal a few stress-free moments from a busy day. Standing outside its gates, we contemplated the process of restoration of this beautiful man-made waterbody; in recent years it had been subjected to immense discharge of domestic sewage and unregulated dumping of industrial waste. Rejuvenation, clean water supply and pure breathing space had been this lake’s legacy for several years; it’s high time we pledge our efforts into seeing it thrive and bring those same benefits for future generations, too.

While backtracking from Sankey Tank, we met Leo ‘the handsome Rottweiler’ who, apparently, has achieved significant attention in the social media networks for his friendly disposition. We saw proof of that when some of us coddled and fussed over him, while he calmly basked in our attention. Contrary to the Rottweilers I’ve met so far, Leo was a positively refreshing change of the stereotypical personality that their breed is usually associated with.

Leo the handsome Rottweiler

With the long street walks and the day’s events giving us enough food for thought, we started getting hungry. We nourished ourselves in one of the local vegetarian restaurants before proceeding to our final (and highly anticipated) destination – The Surya Bookstall.

This second-hand book paradise was loaded with volumes of every conceivable genre. Books neatly lined the walls from floor to ceiling like a life-size version of Jenga. One had to use the deft skills of the shopkeeper to extract a particular book from the tower of hard and softcovers surrounding us. We took a deep breath and dived in. All of us found something to keep us engaged for over an hour – either browsing through all the available titles or curling up with a selected book on the floor. Needless to say, time flew in that tiny space; all of us transported through the books we picked up. When it was time to go, hardly anyone wanted to leave, bargaining for an extended time to select what books we wanted to buy. We had to choose a book that all of us could learn from in class and which could also enhance certain interests. It was a tough choice to make, but we finally settled on a few titles and I ended up buying a whole lot for personal reading, too. (Prices are amazingly low!) An avid reader would need more than just a standard cloth bag to cart away the treasures from that place.

We had come to the end of our Malleshwaram chapter and it was time to return home. There is much to observe and learn in the days to come; and we’ll be exploring each area one step at a time.

Mentor | Skills Beyond Education

Apprentice Education Program

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