Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Working holiday at Shristi


Raindrops are falling on my head….” has been the song we’ve been singing for the last ten days as we’ve been enjoying the rainy weather at Shristi, my parent’s farm house in Dharmasthala in South Kanara. With most of our world moving into an online format allowing us to remotely connect to work, school and even attending court hearing through video conference, all from our picturesque plantation farm! While incessant rains can be a tad depressing during these times in our confined city home, but the overcast skies, pitter-patter of rains alternating between a light drizzle to heavy showers, rain soaked lush greenery, the smell of moist earth, experienced from atop our farm house overlooking our plantation farm is truly magical! While the day is dominated by the rhythm of the rain, it’s one noisy party of crickets, praying mantis, dragon flies and frogs at night! With my parents more than thrilled to host us, little did they realise how we would transform their quiet rural setting into an online-hub, taking over every part of the house for our online activities – from online daily school, online Model United Nations meet during the weekend, and online music class for my ninth-grader, work as usual with teams/webex meetings for my IT professional husband, once-a-week online school and online little gym class for my reluctant pre-schooler, and work related phone calls and court hearing through video conference for me, along with our laptops, files, books, internet accessories and all the attendant clutter…..its a full house indeed and we can’t thank my parents enough for putting up with the madness of it all! 

 But amidst our online lives, we would best remember this time for our walks in the rain, hopping across the creeks in our farm that are running full to the brim this season, playing family ludo in the evening, playing with our pets, feeding the cows, watching web-based family dramas with my parents, reading at the portico, and gorging on the delicious and wholesome home cooked meals dished out by my mom, all in the backdrop of the monsoon magic at Shristi!

While Abhay had spent close to two months with his grandparents at Shristi during the initial lockdown phase in March and April, Aadya hardly got to spend time with her maternal grandparents. Well, she more than made up for it this time - demanded to be pushed on the swing by her grandpa, loved painting on the stones and chasing butterflies in the garden with her grandma, basked in her grandpa’s pampering with chocolates, looked forward to being read to by her grandma and in return entertained her grandma with her own stories!  

To celebrate the nature’s bounty at Shristi, I looked up a Pratham story on storyweaver.org, that was read to Aadya by her Sanna-ajji, “Chunu and Munu: Let’s sing and dance for nature” a Level 2 Reader by Shantdas Manadhar and Shilpi Pradhan and illustrated by Abin Shreshta, and translated by Alice Berger, part of the Chunu Munu series revolving around two little girls who go on many an adventures. Chunu and Munu are fascinated by all the flora and fauna in their surroundings, – from the joyful jumping of the goat-kid to flowers in full bloom, from the colourful butterflies during the day to the shimmering fire flies in the night and they imagine themselves to be butterflies hovering around flowers or jumping around like the goat kid or flying high above the mountains  like a bird and decide to sing a song celebrating everyone and everything that touches our lives – from parents-friends-teachers-village-country to air-rain-flowers thus singing a hurrah for nature! Though a little simplistic, it is the sheer energy and enthusiasm of Chunu Munu that makes it worth reading to your little one and introduce her to nature’s beauty that surrounds us. All thanks to the painstaking efforts of my parents, our plantation farm is a heavenly rejuvenating retreat from the cloistered life of a city dweller!