A few years back while visiting Kumta I went back to the little shack where I had earlier seen young women making papad (writeup and pics). I was glad to see that this little cinderblock workshop was still active, and women came together to make papad and other eatables to sell in local stores. I like the light in this pic. [Read more...]
During recent travels, I was visiting relatives in Honavar, Karnataka – a sleepy coastal town south of Kumta (see google map below). I had stopped by a family store to add money to my pre-paid cell phone. There, this older gentleman was weaving these delicate pink buds called jaaii-che kaLo. These buds only sprout after the monsoon rains (June – August), have a delicate fragrance and are highly sought after during the festival season in July-September. It was a simple, yet mesmerizingly beautiful weave and he agreed to let me record it on my flip video.
Based on a series of questions I ask him (on camera, in Konkani), he shows us a portion of the woven braid. All those buds will yield about 10 feet of braid and take him an hour to weave. Notice the thread, it is actually a fiber pulled from the bark of the banana tree and kept soaked in water. Very eco-friendly.
These braids will be sold in the marketplace (see Kumta marketplace) and usually end up in temples or family shrines. Women also use to decorate (and perfume) their hair. The market rate for these braids is about Rs50-Rs100/ft ($1-$2/ft), but can be significantly higher during the festival season. The beauty of the braids is in the buds; and once they bloom, the braids are considered done.
move your mouse out of the video frame, to lose the black border.
Meera enjoys going to restaurants. She sits on the table and holds court; surveys other patrons and call out to them: Aye! At our favorite joint: the Kamats Restaurant in Colaba, the wait staff will entertain Meera while we eat. Meera loves their idlis, poLo (dosas) and anything we drink.
One of our favorite drinks is the Limbu soda – sparkling lemonade. Meera loves it too. Enjoy the range of Meera’s expressions in this 46 sec video where she sips Limbu soda. *anti nazar* spray.
Notice Meera’s earring. These traditional Konkani “paakLi” were made for M when she was born. Her mother had saved them and got them cleaned and pointed for Meera.
Note: Limbu paani is the plain lemonade and available on most Mumbai streets.
Just received results from the recent Karnataka State Board Exams (Std X) for students at the Shanbhag School in Kumta, Karnataka. What a spectacular performance by the students! Congratulations! Our gratitude also to the teachers who do a fabulous job, every day!
Summary of Results:
74 students appeared for the X Std, Karnataka State Board Exams, 2009:
- Highest score of 96.5%
- 20/74 students scored greater than 90%
- 70/74 scored greater than 60%
- 4/74 scored between 50 and 60%
- No student in the entire class failed the X Std Board exams
Of the two Shanbhag Scholarship recipients in the graduating class, one received 90.4% and the other 69.9%. Excellent performers and we are elated to have contributed to their studies. I hope they will be equally successful in college and in life.
I don’t expect our needy scholarship recipients to be at the top of the class, but we have given them an opportunity to study alongside the best students, at the best school. And they held their own. The network effects of this alone are worthwhile. This is akin to bringing deserving students to study at Harvard. You wouldn’t expect them at the top of the class, but just being here, they gain tremendously. Exactly that!
I am still collecting funds to support scholarships for needy students at the school. If you would like to make a small contribution, please let me know.
Shanbhag School Related Posts:
- Shanbhag School, An Introduction
- Lunch at the Shanbhag School – my favorite!
- Academic Update from the Shanbhag School 2007
With M & m in Mumbai, I stay at work longer, workout harder and run further. With friends, I laze around more; that means less blogging. But I want to share this beautiful pic of a bookseller I met in Goa.
We were on our way back to the Ramnathi Devasthan after visiting some Konkani temples. On the rural stretch, the driver pulled over to a roadside bookstall for a newspaper. I followed, wondering if here in the heart of Konkani Goa, I could find some of our Hindu scriptures. For long I wanted a “loose-leaf” version of the Devi Mahatmyam – the popular scripture detailing the genesis of the mother goddess, Devi. The kind used by priests for parayaN (chanting) in temples.
Here, a priest at the Ramnathi Devasthan recites the Devi Mahatmyam from a loose-leaf manuscript. [Read more...]
Wishing you all a Wonderful Dassara
May you and your loved ones
Be blessed by
M&M & A
It is sad that in India, places of worship are being targeted to achieve political ends, or vent frustrations. This is absolutely wrong! Temples, churches, mosques, and all other places of worship are sacred and should not be pawns in political movements. People should feel empowered to use objective fora to address grievances. Politicians! Make it happen and stop using these incidents to advance narrow political gains!
In 2007, the Shanbhag School in Kumta (and their parent, the Konkan Education Trust), started to provide lunch for all their students. In the midst of a long day, the students had previously rushed home during their lunch hour. There are no cafeterias or restaurants near the school.
The school made a significant investment in cooking equipment and prepares a nutritious, vegetarian meal for the ~ 850 primary and secondary school students. Lunch is simply rice, sambar or daal, a lentil curry or vegetable and pickles (see actual student plate above).
During my meetings with parents of Scholarship recipients, and listening to comments at the Parents Teachers Meeting, parents absolutely love the school lunch program. Parents are relieved of the pressure to pack a lunch every morning, or have it ready for the lunch break. Parents are also surprised (and glad) their kids actually eat the variety of vegetables and lentils the school serves. The school subsidizes the lunch and charges students Rs 80 per month (~$2 per month, Rs 4 per meal or ~ 10 cents per lunch!). Students not on the meal plan can eat occasional meals and drop cash in an unmanned donation box.
Kids love the food too. Meals are taken in the company of friends (and associated peer-pressure to finish their plate). Lunch is done within 20-30 minutes, and since they still have an hour break, they get to play around, gossip, or browse the library.
Thus I showed up just before lunch time to “test the quality of the school lunch program.” I always have interesting reasons to be present wherever free lunch is served. Very delicious food and a primary reason why we included lunch as part of the scholarship package we provide needy students. Whenever you are in Kumta, you are welcome to join in for a free lunch!
See pics from the Lunch, below
The Shanbhag High School, managed by the Konkan Education Trust does not receive any governmental aid. But it follows the state determined academic syllabus and guidelines. While we attract many students who can afford fees, our family wanted to make good education particularly accessible to the poor. Thus last year we gave 16 scholarships to very needy students to attend either the Shanbhag High School, or the affiliated primary school, Saraswati Vidya Kendra. At a new site dedicated to our Scholarship activities, (Shikshan.org), you can browse the list of Scholarship Recipients for 2007-2008.
You can also read about my personal challenges in identifying needy girls: Where are all the needy girls?
We did not rest, last December (2007) during my travels to Kumta I visited most of the scholarship recipients in their homes. The visit served two purposes: (a) to meet the families and convince them of our commitment to support their child’s education ~ and in turn expect them to make education a priority; and (b) to ensure that these were indeed needy families, which I could determine from their living conditions.
They lived in simple 1 or 2 room homes, or with relatives, and it was emotionally overwhelming to experience the gratitude of these families. Below, I share with you some of the scholarship recipients in their home settings. Appropriately I have omitted their names.
We supported the boy in the center, flanked by his father and cousin sister. Being poor, the girl was enrolled in the local government run Kannada language school. She wanted to attend our English school, but being in 8th std (grade) it would have been academically disastrous for her to switch the language of instruction a year before the State Board Exams. This was an important reason why we started giving scholarships to students in primary school!