Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Prison Packs

Saw something unique last Sunday when I went for the service at the Willow Creek Church, South Barrington (Chicago).  The whole congregation was packing Christmas gifts for the prisoners. 






The sense of involvement by every parishioner was written on each one's face. Like Heather Larson said "we want to be a church not only about words, but a church with action. We want to roll up our sleeves and do something now to bring hope to those who are in prison" She explained everything in detail, as to what has to be packed and how. 


Bryan Stevenson who is the founder of Equal Justice Initiative, is responsible for the reversal (or relief) of 125 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. He says in 1972 US had three hundred thousand prisoners. To day the figure stands at 2.3 million people. His key word is "Redemption"

While this was going on, the kids were in an adjacent enclosure doing their bit and helping in the packing. 


Later all held up the bags and prayed before it was packed into boxes and labelled. 






I have put what ever I could capture into a short video so that you can see the flow of event.
I hope to attend one more service this coming Sunday before I leave Chicago. (the music and the singing is something that is very appealing)





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Padmam

Every time when I go to Padmam aunty’s house, she is busy with one of her creations. Nowadays its mostly painting sarees. She says that most of these are sold even before she finishes painting them. 


So it is not surprising to see that her posture and concentration is the same in practically all the pictures but the saree and the designs keeps changing. 




Her admirers are from different quarters of the world and some of them have even made me promise to arrange an audience with her when they visit Pune.   


She loves the sambhar that wifey makes. So it is a mutual admiration society. 


Some of her work that was recently framed and which has found a place in the drawing room. 


These two pictures shows how steady her hand is and how she looks at the finer details while painting 


It is not only painting, she loves to dabble with any form of art, like this cross stitch which is in one of her grandson’s room 



One of the things that she misses now a days is the yearly visit by the flock of Munia that used to visit her balcony. (you can read it here)  Blame it on climatic changes and the unpredictable monsoon. 
Whatever the changes, I never miss having the yearly Onam Sdhya with her. In fact I have observed her directing the family members how and where each item has to be placed on the banana leaf, the proper traditional way.




A picture of her on her 97th birthday which was four months ago.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Off the beaten path

The thrill of looking down 4670 feet from the edge of a cliff is something totally different.


This is at Kokankada, about 2.5 km from Harishchandragad in the western ghats of Maharashtra.  


We started off from Paachnai village where we set up the tents the previous night. We were 15 of us and each one helped in pitching the tent. When the moon came up, we had dinner by the camp fire.



The next day, after a light breakfast we proceeded with the climb. On the way up, we took the mandatory group photo. Like one of our members said, “its better to click now as all are fresh and eager to pose” 


The climb up was slow as the path was slightly steep 



 Moreover there were short stops in between as the area of interest differed for different people. 





And of course nimbu pani (lime juice) is always available when you want to refresh yourself. 


The 6.5 kms climb was completed in 2.5 hrs and as mentioned the view from Kokankada was breathtaking. 




And one more group photo. 


On the way back from Kokankada we stopped at the Harishchandragad temple. 



Next to the temple is the Saptatirtha Pushkarni pond. 


The Kedareshwar cave is very close to the temple. There is a shivling in the cave which is almost submerged in water. You can see all this in the attached video

What I like about Rivers and Ridges (the guys who conduct the trek) is that they don’t go to the usual crowded places but patronize small villages. We had all our food from the local villagers (for which they were paid) 

Preparing Tea for us

Over and above suitable gifts were distributed to the villagers, keeping in mind of their needs. These villages have no electrical connection. So maybe a torch with sufficient supply of batteries is something helpful for them.  People from the city keep contributing and that in turn ends up in these small villages. Captured some footage on video as the gifts were distributed.   






I got chatting with this lady as she was connecting the batteries to the solar panel. She said that one day’s charge is good enough for a tube light to illuminate the house and the kitchen till its bed time. 


On the way back we spotted some langurs (I am sure they spotted us too)