The after-RV-life.

Not exactly, but it’s been a year since RV. A year that, took me as far away from RV as it did bring me closer.

It started out with grimness – what else, when you are requested to leave a place you love. A lot like being dumped. I tried to start again, but that’s hardly easy when a hundred ties to the past refuse to let you go …when you refuse to let go.

They gave me a new room and a phone but I still wanted my messy First room and tactfully acquired phone chits.
They gave me amazing food (such a winning point after DH ka khaana!) but I still wanted to cook my lousy maggi and eat it with.my.hands. And clear up all evidence of having done so.
They gave me superiority – but I kept harping about equality of students and not wanting the evil Captain badge.
They gave me freedom, love and so many choices… but I still longed for RV.

There was only so much I could sulk and cry – eventually they did lure me out and away from my RV Prejudice. There began a fresh insight into my past. Amazingly enough, I got over RV. I got over that lover who had dumped me and moved on without me – and just like the fresh-lease-of-life movie scene, that longing, pain and pessimism turned into a new core of ideas, values, a way of life, within me.

I began to carry RV with me.
– (Thank you, Mallika and John for repetition of this profound truth.) – because it ceased to be an exclusive set of physical entities and ideas attached to them – for example, Asthachal in the valley, folkie and all the illegal stuff – and transcended to what all those things represent – the beauty of silence and nature, community and experiences that go beyond established rules, respectively.

I dug out the experiences and unearthed just the essence of everything that RV is made of. Stripping all else that has been hiding and changing that essence – and what’s left is unlimited by space and time. If and when an ex – RV-ite finds this dawning realization, I believe that he or she has understood RV. And if he or she can carry that essence and sprinkle it on their conditions, then they have found RV.

I am still terribly attached to the place and people but I’ve found ways to channel RV into everything – twenty minutes of silence every evening, taking turns doing the chores and questioning everything – I have found my RV.

*              *             *             *            *             *

This piece was published as the first written contribution on The RV Storybook! Aravind, as *ahem* editor called the author a ‘maverick unschooler’ and boy, I llllike the sound of that.

The RV Storybook was conceived out of desire to record and share the beautiful things that RV stands for. Thanks to Atravind, it turned from a dream to a lovely little blog where all people associated with RV can come and rejoice in nostalgia. You can join us our blog or follow us on Facebook. We’re only too happy to share RV with you.

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TEDx@Coimbatore and the aftermath

The last month has been an amazing ride, and I’m still reeling from excitement. I think my head is still in the right place but I can’t be too sure 😛

The first week saw the run-up to the TEDx@Coimbatore, where I was chosen as one of the three idiots as part of the Youth Icon contest.

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Getting up till there was fun –  I submitted a video, had an interview and multiple chances to to ‘elevate your pitch’. There were rehearsals and I was struggling to fit my talk as headstrong-unschooler-beginner in the meagre 2 minute slot. If you’re aware of unschooling and its huge challenge towards the prevailing culture and beliefs, you’d know that there is A.LOT.TO.SAY.

The big day arrived and went on well. I loved every bit of the stage and the showlights;the extra minute that no one could stop me from taking, and the attention of 300 people whose basic beliefs about education were being challenged. But what I enjoyed most were the conversations with people I had afterward. A surprising number of “successful” people agreed with and congratulated me – but I had a fair share of skeptics raining down on me. Most questions echoed with the ring of ‘What more is there to life after quitting school?’ In my opinion life in a sense starts AFTER school.

The talk also had two journalists interested in this Phenomenon of Unschooling. The result was Unschooling her way to happiness by Gautam from Deccan Chronicle (Thank you!) and It can be cool to unschool by Vaibhav (Thank you so much!). I wasn’t as happy about having my pictures in the papers as I was about the acceptability of my decision that this gave me. The newspaper is a credible platform and surely this unschooling thing can’t be that bad – I’m sure these thoughts prevented a large number of people from shooting questions (without the slightest intention of listening to what I had to say about my life and education) and giving me their opinion of what education should be. Anyway, a lot remains to be explained – which I plan to do by doing. Wish me Besto!

Awesome Person #1

The number one speaks not only of a start but also a star. Ace. Something to be remembered when we reach the hundreds. Speaking of hundreds, let me introduce you to Mehta ma’am – the almost century old epitome of words and worth.

 

Hidden by the white picket fence of her cozy cottage at Highfield, her head and eyes shone immediately as we reached the gates. “Wonderful Kamal, this is the loveliest gift you could’ve brought me!” Only age could bring about that grace about her wrinkled, shiny frame. And only agelessness could have kept a spirit as alive as hers.

 

A resident of Coonoor for about 30 years now (and a loyal customer of Variety Hall and Tulsi Mall for nearly as long 🙂 ), Silloo Mehta is a treasure that was waiting for me to reach and revel at. She’s been writing for almost all the English national dailies for well over 60 years. One has to only glimpse through her “album” of articles and feedback to know how big she has made it on the journalism front. Mostly the Op-Ed type articles, with cheeky Keshav illustrations and catchy titles. I love.

 

All through I kept expecting her to talk about a blog, a website of some sort or at least a type writer that is her aide and connection this long. “I have an inbuilt resistance to all things technological. Even the most basic Nikon camera is beyond me – I have to go to your uncle down at the shop to give me the simplest camera.”

 

“I still sit on my comfortable chair with a notepad and write. My eyes are getting feeble and ill health gets to me sometimes, but my spirit is strong.” That expression, the strength in her eyes and words caught me off guard in their intensity. 95 years of age to me remains a mere legal statistic and Mehta ma’am an epitome of youth.

 

“As a writer, I love to peek into other people’s lives. Tell me…”  She asked of our education, house, family… ambitions, obligations, expectations. I don’t know about my cousins but I was absolutely at ease with this inquisitive lady. Maybe because she was genuinely interested or because I embrace any opportunity to talk about myself. Thus the evening passed on, pleasant banter floating as quickly as the hands of the clock.

 

As expected from the moody weather forces of Coonoor, large grey clouds and heavy thunder started. The peak of summer and this is what we get. A little reluctantly we said goodbye and touched her feet once more. I said, “I’ll come back.”

 

“I’d love to have you over anytime.” The smile and those eyes again.

 

Perhaps the bond was secured the moment she said “Ah! I dropped out of college too.”

Knowing, naughty smile. The Dropout Smile.

The kind I identify with immediately, awesomely.

 

Or slowly, through the course of our happy conversation, as the clouds piled in the Highfield sky.

 

Possibly even before I met her! 🙂  

On starting

A typical First Blog Post

I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now, but the urge became stronger since I realized that anybody could write a blog. You didn’t have to be a celeb sharing (read publicizing) her noble ideas and actions for charity. Or one of those intense, complex-sentence-structure and long-word using critics who published long tirades on the political or economic system

You could be a single loola mummy (womanandaquarter.blogspot.com) with a kickass sense of humour and sarcasm, a dog who barked at/about anything that tingled his canine imagination ( http://barkingdogblog.wordpress.com/ ) or a passionate unschooling advocate like Idzie ( http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/). As long as you have a something to talk about, no matter how ‘important’ people think it is.

So, I’m going to write. I’m going to tell you about the beautiful town I call home,  about my tryst with RV. About the places where I’ve found God – in kriti and the rest of my family. I will take you with me on a quest, where together we will find our answers to Why grow up? Why do we do things we don’t like and then give discourses on “Ek zindagi. Khul ke jiyo”.. is it okay, letting Tanay speak and think and talk as he does.. or with sisterly intentions must I keep telling him  how to make idiomatic sentences and think about others first? I don’t have the answers. But.. Questions are the answers, K says. I’m going to Just keep swimming. Searching. And wouldn’t it be fun if we did it together? 🙂

Stay tuned. Lots coming.

The Villager.