Never underestimate the power of budgeting well!
In the beginning of this project, never imagining its possibilities, and having a limited vision, I never planned for a public event. "Public event? If that ragi sprouts and we get to eat it, it will be more than enough!" Ah. these low goals got me into trouble soon enough ...
Within a month of our starting the project, when we were exploring culture and Ragi linkages, Roshni sent me the song Ragi Tandira by Vasu Dixit. You can watch it here:
Boy. Oh Boy. What an apt song and what an apt treatment for us. Why not get Vasu to school and get him to perform? Will he come? When do we call him? now? later? significant date?will he charge us? how much do you think these celebs charge? where will we get the money? shall we fundraise for it? should teachers pay from pocket? etc. etc.
Finally, over a few months , we decided that bringing him to the annual mela of poorna will be too chaotic as other things will be going on. "Why not call him on children's day?" Roshni's suggestion was quickly implemented and we started our talk with Vasu (over Facebook messenger!) late October. Vasu was very approachable and agreed to perform instantly. But Money???? The school agreed to pay part costs for this event but a whole chunk of hiring sound equipment costs was a problem to fund. How do we source money for that? With a few tense days, we finally pulled it off as I got an approval to reassign some unspent funds to this from the university. Lesson learnt: Budget with some vision!
So with everything falling in place last minute , the school had a terrific Vasu Dixit show. Vasu was generous with his time with kids and really tried to understand the school's philosophy by talking and meeting people. Vasu came, sang and conquered our hearts! But the real winners were the teachers. Banu's silent leadership in providing space and support, Vanita's Ragi Rangoli and small crafty tokens for Vasu, Samhita's efforts in prepping kids to compere, Kanchana's and Shruti's efforts in getting kids to perform Ragi tandira, Roshni's coordination in getting the kids and parent community excited and best of all Aswini, Jalaja, Radha, Padma, Vasantha, Madhu and everyone else who helped made ragi laddoos for everyone to feast upon.
Sushama Sharma, who runs the Anand Niketan school in Sewagram had once remarked when I told her about the project early on, "you cannot have nai talim education without team work". Her words came alive on children's day. It was pure joy to hear kids hum Vasu's songs on their bus ride home and everyone's hearts were full of a day spent well where we all worked hard and we all worked together!
Have you read the Kahlil Gibran Poem, "Work is love made visible?"
I reproduce an extract in some disorder here:
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better
that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple
and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread
that feeds but half man's hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a
poison in the wine.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your
weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to
one another, and to God.
There was a lot of love that day and it was a heart warming sight.
For pictures of this day, do visit our Facebook page post here: https://www.facebook.com/ragiproject/posts/506092316426250