Manthan Residential Camp, 6-8 Jan 12: Let Go of Your Past

A few moments of the camp - pictures shared by Lakshmi Ramakrishnan here
Let go of your past

We had all set off for a journey on the road less travelled with varying degrees of expectations out of the course that we were going to do. Little did we know about Manthan at that time. But we were all used to ‘manthan’ (churning of the mind!) in our own ways, like trying to decipher the negative connotations of whatever the other person said, rehearsing and re-rehearsing in the mind what could have been said and not said and how to effectively malign the other person next time when there was going to be a tussle again. All of our lives are full of such manthans for some time or the other. On the 6th of this month we started to the Manthan camp with a lot of curiosity to experience how this ‘Manthan’ was going to be different from the ‘manthan’ that we are used to.

Day 1 of Camp: Letting OURSELVES GO till midnight, after Ali's talk

After we all assembled and attendance was taken, we were allotted rooms clubbing together people from RT nagar and RV road batches. At 6.30 p.m., we had Ali’s talk till 8.30 p.m., followed by a tasty dinner; Ali continued the talk again till 11.00 p.m. by which time we were all tired and had thought of retiring to bed. But the mood was so upbeat in the chilly night, so pleasant with moon and stars shining bright in the sky, that all of us found our own convenient spots, each one in their groups. The dancing and singing went on till midnight. The only swing that was available had a lot of competition. The air was filled with our laughter and shrieking.

Day 2 of Camp

Feeling light, relieved after SOUL-STIRRING EXERCISES to combat our pricking past

Let go of your past
Credit: Nasrul Ekram, CC-By-SA-2.0,

The next day morning, Ali had transported us to our past - the unwanted and pricking past from which we are unable to rid ourselves. Ali had made it seem so easy to pick up the hurting past events, persons and situations - as we would pluck out the weeds in our dear garden, wrap them up in a bedsheet and tie it tightly and drop it in the ocean/burn it/chop it or destroy it in which ever way that suits us. After this exercise each one of us felt so light and relieved that one can only believe it when one experiences it.

Where did all these running, playing, SCREAMING CHILDREN come from now?

After the soul-stirring journey into the past, our strict P T Asha (vahi Asha Sidd yaar) made all of us run, scream and play like young children with the help of the whistleblower (not in the real sense) Sapna. How dichotomous, the camp was to let go of our past, but we were literally thrust back into our childhood. It was great fun watching older people screaming and running along with youngsters in order not to get out of the game. (ah..ah..ha..oh..oh..ho..what a sight it was!)

Good memories help you make life beautiful
Credit: Alex Bellink, CC-By-SA-2.0,

Over to the mind: letting our IMAGINATION LOOSE!

Another funny game that we played was to write on two pieces of paper: ‘what I would do and if only I were so and so’. The collective wishful thinking of people resulted in Goutham Buddha wanting to go to kinder-garten and birds spreading fragrance the world over (the pigeon way?). Many young girls missed the chance to marry Shahrukh Khan (fortunately for Gowri Khan) to quote a few funny mis-matches.

Some NAUGHTINESS AT NIGHT, over a camp-fire

The camp-fire on Saturday night was great fun with Antakshari and dance (Ah Jugija – bumpy dance). Then all of us were asked to talk about our pets. Many loved and adored their pets, pets were their friends; ‘so what?’ one might think. Later the word ‘pet’ or ‘pets’ was replaced by the word ‘bums’. So imagine what it became when I said, 'I love my neighbours’ pets.' And our Kammo (not getting it? vahi apna Kamala yaar) said “My husband is my pet” and had a tough time controlling her laughter. Believe me I am now scared to use the word pet and even more embarrassed to look at a pet. I thanked God for I wanted to say, but didn’t “I love pets but dread cleaning them”.

Beyond all the seeming fun, games: an answer to the 'WHY ME?' question

Please don’t be in a haste to conclude that it was just fun to let go of the past. You are mistaken if you think so. There were heart-rending experiences of people and listening to them meant a hard time controlling our tears. Our problems become smaller when we meet people who have sailed through more turbulent waters and are still sailing. Many of us found an answer to the ‘why me’ syndrome. There are many more like us here. Young and old, life does not spare any one. Ali had also taught us the subtle difference between 'forgive and forget' versus 'forgive and not forget'.

Day 3 of Camp

A song, a treasure hunt, a wrist bone dislocated, A TOUCHING MOMENT

The highlight of the valedictory was the song (let go, let go, let go of the past …) written and composed the ‘Kolaveri di’ way by Ashok and others. The treasure hunt resulted in Sonali from RVI batch having her wrist bone dislocated and fractured. By now she should have undergone surgery. However, the positive effect of Manthan left her thinking of the positive side of this freak accident which is that she could rightfully ask for a long leave which she had been unable to get. Nalini’s presence on Sunday charged up the environment and it was a very touching moment when a youngster broke down when he spoke of our dear Raja.

Though, Manthan had become past now, we do not want to let go of this past, as our Padmaja commented. If my narration of the time spent in the camp is making you wish you had been there, I guess Ali would have to make some more dormitories for Banjara Academy's future Manthan camps.

A few moments of the camp - pictures shared by Lakshmi Ramakrishnan here
Sharada S

Fleeting Glimpses, 'Let Go of Your Past' Manthan Camp, 06-08 Jan 12

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