Inauguration - DPCS 2011
The DPCS course got off to a start on 28 August 2010 at the Banjara Academy at RV Road. 50+ students had turned up for the function. The men as usual were in minority with two men enrolled for the course.
The function got of to a start with the song, Malik Tere Bandhein Hum. Sabha the student gave a mellifluous rendition. The song is from the 1957 movie Do Anke Bara Hath (lyricist: Bharth Vyas, Singer: Lata Mangeshkar and music composer: Vasant Desai). The song also happens to be the daily prayer in many schools.
Then Raja took the centre stage. He welcomed the students to the course telling them that they had taken a courageous step by enrolling into the course which is off the beaten track. He called the journey as traveling the road less traveled. He gave the history of the counselling in Bangalore mentioning Helping Hand the volunteer based counselling centre as the fore runner of Banjara. He introduced Nalini as the student coordinator. He also introduced the other office staff.
The first exercise in the class was the choosing of an unknown person as their partner. The two male students were sitting quite a distance apart with many girls separating them. Our culture-play was evident in this exercise. No girl chose the two guys and the two guys were hesitant to ask the girls next to them. Eventually one guy walked over to the other guy to pair up. Each pair was given a copy of newsletter to share between them. Raja mentioned that the significance of the exercise would be revealed later. Raja also introduced the mentor and a few old students. He also asked me to explain the website of Banjara to the class.
At the break we were treated to curry puffs and cakes along with soft drinks. A physical health conscious activist would have frowned on all the three items. I guess it becomes a little ticklish in settings like this as to what exactly constitutes a healthy snack which would go down well with the majority. It has to be tasty too. Snacks by definition are almost always deep-fried, sweets etc. A less sinful route is the only option. Just before the break Raja announced that Ali would be addressing them after the break. From the way the class reacted you would think Raja had announced the arrival of a rock star. Well, I guess, Ali is one in these circles.
Ali did not disappoint in his one hour plus presence at the podium. He gave the class an overview of the course, the method of teaching etc. He assured the class that by the end of the course they will be more confused about human behavior than they were before joining the course. But it would have made them more open to accept different people, different behavior etc.
The program ended with the prize distribution ceremony. Student with the first and last in the alphabetical list, those with longest and shortest first names and those with unusual names were given the prizes.
For another 50+ people, the journey on the road less traveled had begun. Ali mentioned earlier that the journey would be interesting and the destination of getting the diploma would be incidental. I was reminded of the hoarding on the road connecting Chennai and Puducherry. This road - East Coast Road - is one of the finest roads in the country to drive on. The hoarding on the road said it all, “The road is the destination”.
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Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Sreedhar MA