Saturday, 20 September 2014

On a Movie and a visit to Dehradun

"Day 19: Like Darwin’s finches, we are slowly adapting to our environment."

I borrowed the line from the movie 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful' (2011). Thanks to the Film Society for screening this good movie. It was an entertaining watch. Due to the recency effect, I shall borrow liberally from the movie. Like this dialogue, for example.

"Evelyn: The only real failure is the failure to try. And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. We came here, and we tried. All of us, in our different ways. Can we be blamed for feeling we're too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again? We get up every morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters.
Evelyn: But it's also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing; has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So, we must celebrate the changes. Because, as someone once said "Everything will be all right in the end. And if it's not all right, then trust me, it's not yet the end."

It can be said of the batch of 89th FC that we are slowly adapting to our environment. This point was driven home strangely enough when we ventured out of this environment. Half of the batch visited two institutes in Dehradun for the differently abled. The change in environment was quite obvious. 'The heat, the motion, the perpetual teeming crowds' of Dehradun were, if not of Mumbai level, at least a sea change from the life at Mussoorie. Weather at Musoorie is balmy while in the plains it was hot, humid and enervating. The sweet, fresh, rejuvenating air of the mountains was missed the most. When one starts living in the hills, the plains seem too plain. Now it all makes sense, the reason to locate these institutes and institutions at such altitude. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch after all. The price that we pay for the sweet mountain air is all the walk up and down the hills. 

The visit to the institutes was to sensitise the civil servants to the lives of the differently abled and also to acquaint them with the scope of work and the work that is being done to fully integrate the differently abled in to the main stream society. The issue to ponder about was not what software or hardware to use to aid the visually impaired or what approach to take to care for the intellectually disabled, rather, it is about how we perceive, in the first place. There is an us-them distinction that crops up the moment we talk of the differently abled and in deed when we talk of anyone or anything 'different' from our preconceived notions of the normal. If one can see the visually impaired as only visually impaired and then take actions that alleviate the day to day problems faced by them, as a matter of administrative right rather than as a duty, one feels that the lot of the differently abled will not be an intractable problem as it is being perceived. The incident that made a deep impression on me was how an intellectually disabled child was keen on showing off his talent at drawing to the visiting group of OTs. Dignity, in my opinion, is the foundation of human existence. The dignity and the self-esteem that the children displayed touched my heart. It was an important lesson they reinforced in me this day.

The bus ride to and from Dehradun was spent in blissful, if unstable, sleep by most OTs. One suspects the body is accustomed to sleep during those particular class hours of the day. For shame, KS! For shame.

The dinner was a pleasant surprise in that it was themed- Bangla being the theme. It is but obvious then that fish must be present and it was a delicious dinner that we had. A rohu is not a hilsa, yes, but it came close to the original maccher jhol. Memories of KGP came flooding back. The food at KGP was not the best I have had but it was the company that made all the difference.

Let me end this post with the birds again. In stead of the much maligned PT, we have had yoga this morning. Apparently it was the first time that yoga has been introduced as a part of the early morning PT regime. After awkward twisting and impossible folding of arms and limbs, one got to lay on one's back on a foam mat and watch the sky-blue sky and the underbellies of the swifts and the lapwings lit by the rising sun. I felt the world was a better place for the sun having lit the underbellies of the birds in brilliant gold. Such simple joys of life.

It is late in the day. A trek to Lal Tibba awaits tomorrow. Another day, another day trek. I am surprized we are even finding time to do the things that we are doing. As a character in the movie says, "First rule of India: there's always room."

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