Off the Beaten Path – Apprentice #10

cricket at Udhbhavaha

Kengeri was harbouring a delightful little secret deep into its suburbs; another host of the “Apprentice Learning Program” similar to the Abheek Academy and had materialised as we drove down the dirt road leading to its premises. Udbhavaha, a modest red brick structure nestled between two chickoo trees, sat comfortably on the rich green grounds. The magnificent branches of the trees spread out like a wooden network above us, yet they were low enough for the children to clamber upon effortlessly. They demonstrated their dexterity by swiftly climbing to the top of one of the trees and then dangling off a flexible branch before landing with a squeal on a soft mound of mud below. I couldn’t get enough of the scenery and the scent of our new environment.

We availed ourselves of that fresh air by playing a variation of cricket. Everyone got a turn to “bat” with our leg and make as many runs as we could in one over. Even the less experienced among us felt a bit of our confidence restored when we were able to score more than we had anticipated.

We then gathered to centre our breathing in the three realms: the realm of will, the realm of feeling and the realm of thinking.

We made our way to the sharing circle that was taking shape inside the schoolhouse. Towards the end of it, one of the mentors shared a profound Hindi poem written by Harivansh Rai Bachchan: “Koshish karne walon ki haar nahin hoti”/ The one who tries never fails. It was recited three times: the first time to listen to the words, the second to interpret its message and the third to absorb it as part of ourselves.

Classes overlooking the mango orchard

The captain led the discussion into small talk – how we could develop conversation with people we don’t know without being overly anxious. I’ve met people who, every now and then, would find themselves talking to a random stranger, be it in the elevator, a restaurant or a cashier at the grocery store. The whole world was their friend. Their open mind-set and their ability to focus on the present moment was admirable. This session on small talk was an opportunity to hone those skills. We pondered and shared our thoughts over what we would do if we had to introduce ourselves to our favourite celebrity – what three things would we say and ask them? Then we paired up and practiced a five-minute small talk exchange with each other applying whatever we learned. This was to prep us for the encounter we were to have with a wildlife photographer in a couple of days.

We spent the next segment with word play – solving rebus puzzles and decoding dictionary definitions, feeding our brains with a lexicon of new vocabulary. (Oooh, lexicon.)

We scattered for lunch, some of us planting ourselves beneath the shade of a tree while having our meal. We regrouped on the verandah to begin our discussion on the Super Six topics – Water scarcity, less resources, addiction, pollution, elder care and education. Each of us selected one topic each and discussed the positive aspects, setbacks and creative solutions for them.

lunch break

We reviewed guidelines and instructions for the outdoor trip we were to take in a couple of days – sticking together, looking out for each other, what to do if one of us got lost, etc.

That led us into talking about the legal rights we’re granted at different ages in our life: 18, 21 and 25. The ultimate necessity being the driver’s license. Almost everyone saw that as paramount to their initiation into adulthood. The other rights were yet to be discovered and appreciated….

We completed the circle of our day with gratitude and a closing round of climbing trees before we made our way back to the concrete jungle.

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