Thursday, November 25, 2010

Workshop on Creative Thinking at Balgram SAMPARC 2011

I'm organizing a  *WORKSHOP ON CREATIVE THINKING*  for kids

VENUE     :  Balgram SAMPARC Orphanage (Bhaje, near Lonavala)
DATE       :  30th November, 2010.. Full Day.
AGENDA  :   an Interactive Seminar +  Live Installation Demo
AIM         : 
This workshop will help children to explore their future careers in creative fields like Advertising, Art, Animation, Architecture, Product Design etc.

Two years back September 2008.... a professional associate of mine, Aamrapali who is now my wife, called up asking whether I would like to join her for a trip to this same Balgram SAMPARC Orphanage. This child-home is located at Bhaje Village, near the popular hill-station Lonavala. There are very few places in Maharashtra State that boast of a perfect climate all year round, like Lonavala does.

Aamrapali was desperately seeking volunteers to engage those children in various activities, while she could shoot professional pictures of the campus. Unfortunately, anyone who agreed to her proposal - including me - was more interested in the scenic locales of the orphanage rather than the mission itself. We all joined her like a favour done... as if the photo-shoot was her personal endeavour. And she silently paid-up for the whole group's expenses - travel tickets and transit food included... unsure whether she would be able to make the kids smile all by herself.

Much later in life, after me and Aamrapali got engaged, she shared these little complaints of the past with me. Strangely enough, she thanked me for being truthful to her... perhaps I was the only volunteer who had bluntly told her in advance that I would be more interested in the ancient Buddhist Caves of Bhaje than the orphanage itself. I truly carried no intentions of entertaining any kid at the Ashram. Once we entered the campus however, some strange episodes followed. Our entire group was treated to a sumptuous meal by the orphanage authorities. A certain sense of obligation developed as I swallowed each morsel.. One could figure out just by looking at Aamrapali's face that she was silently thinking whether her useless troupe would ever be able to return the value of these meals. I felt like helping but didn't know how.

Life at orphanages is quite different. Kids raised up there mature faster than children in family-protected environments. Often they have seen more of life before entering the Balgram than an average adult does in his entire lifespan. Before we could derive how to break the ice with them, the children themselves made us comfortable with their warm approach. It is common for orphanages to receive visitors every second day - some of them foreign donors who contribute large sums to their 'home'. Hence these little wonders are taught at an early age to make visitors feel welcome. To them, we were guests at their home and the hosts went out of their way to conduct a Welcome Programme for us. Some kids sang, some danced, some mimicked and others played their favourite instruments. It was sad that some members from our group forced quite a few reluctant kids perform on stage.... The ethics had dissolved as to who had gone there to entertain whom. Aamrapali's face was miserable, one could notice. Given a chance to correct the situation, she would have preferred the volunteers to dance while all children watched and enjoyed. She put an abrupt end to the show, telling the orphanage management she was losing out on time for the actual photoshoot.

Just when I thought the show was over, Aamrapali introduced me to the crowd... "Yeh bhaisahab artist hain... drawing bohot achchhi nikaalte hain...", she said (This fellow is an artist, he sketches really well). Soon I found myself seated between a circle of art enthusiasts asking me to sketch faces from amongst them. The next I knew was that Aamrapali had finished her photoshoot and came indoors to tell me we were leaving for our Bhaje Caves outing. Three hours had passed by...and I didn't even realize.

Two years since then, I'm organizing this Workshop on Creative Thinking for the same kids. This time, with a noble intent to guide their careers. No sight-seeing involved.


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