As I try to remember the exact sequence of events which gave me the memories of a lifetime, a series of pictures appear before my eyes and I feel as if I am viewing them from a bioscope where
Main Cast – Dharmendra(Me), Ashutosh, Gautam
Supporting cast – In order of appearance
1. Anand – Cab driver
2. Rahmat-Ullah – Boatman
3. Sanjay Bisht(Sanju) – Aarohi computer teacher/Homestay owner
4. Puran – Chai wala
5. Monica – Aarohi’s Intern Next door
6. Vimal – Sanju’s son
7. Dabbu – Sanjay’s Dog
8. Neha Jacobs – Co-ordinator Aarohi
9. Tara Duttji – Aarohi Principal
10. Pradeep Gupta
11. Shubha Gupta
I wish to keep these memorabilia forever in remembrance and I would love to share my journey with you. Tag along for an adventure ride. So, let me start from its inception- day by day, minute by minute
Sunday – 29th May – Shatabdi @ 6 A.M.
We had to reach New Delhi railway station early to catch the train. We boarded Kathgodam Shatabdi –Ashutosh and I were in the same coach, Gautam was in a different coach with his family. We enjoyed our time in Shatabdi too – we saw “Gangs of Wasseypur – I”.
After having a blast at the Annual party of Quovantis on 27th May, we were sad that we will miss the after-party gossip on Monday and we were talking about that in the train. Nevertheless, we had a good time in the train.
Cab from Kathgodam to Aarohi (Satoli)
After deboarding the Shatabdi at 11:35 A.M, we got separated – Gautam along with his family boarded different taxi and we met the jolly driver- Anand, who drove us from Kathgodam to Satoli in his Alto. On the way, we had our lunch at “Hill View” restaurant. True to its name, this restaurant actually had a very nice hill view.
After lunch we headed towards Satoli. On our way, the beautiful BhimTal greeted us with its captivating beauty. So we asked Anand Bhai if he had time then we can do boating. He agreed.
We met Rahmatullah – our boatman. The courteous Rahmatullah even gave us the oars to row the boat for some time. Rahmatullah challenged us that he can click better pictures than us and actually he did. Familiar with great picturesque locations, he parked the boat at absolutely gorgeous places and clicked memorable pictures.
Cool homestay, uber cool owner and delicious dinner –
We reached our destination- Satoli where we met Sanjay, the owner of the homestay. Just after reaching there we slept for almost 3 hours. In the evening we talked to Sanjay and went for evening walk for a cup of tea to Puran’s Chai shop. In the night-time we were treated with very delicious dinner. Ashutosh and I almost had double appetite for 3 days. We ended up chatting till late in the night often resulting in bursts of laughter. Though, we were worried about Monica- Aarohi’s intern next door, that she might get disturbed with our monstrous laugh. But gossip is IMPORTANT!
1st Working Day – Monday – 30th May
We woke up at 7 Am and got ready for the school. We had some delectable breakfast- tea and omelet. Omelet was made of indigenous eggs or ‘desi anda’ as we call it – it was a heavenly treat for us.
And then we left with Sanjay, Vimal (Sanjay’s son) and Monica. We had some chit-chat with Monica on the way.
We met Neha in the administrative block. She was the lead point of contact for this visit. Then we met Tara Duttji (Aarohi’s principal).
After that we took part in the morning stand-up (which they keep weekly on Monday). We recited the morning prayer with the school staff – ‘Itni Shakti hume dena daata…..’. We shared our Agenda in the stand-up.
a) HTML classes for 8th/7th/6th standard.
b) Shared math videos (300+) with their math teachers.
c) Set-up of School management software(OpenSis).
Here’s a picture of their Administrative block-
Visit to Income Generation Unit(IGU)
After meeting other staff members in the Administrative block we went to IGU. Here we saw the whole set-up for making Apricot oil, Apricot scrub, soap, cream and herbal tea bags and few other things.
We talked in detail about the processing of all these things, how they collect the raw material, and how they process pack and sell them.
We went to the Principal’s office to discuss the core functionalities that we need to develop for School Management System.
Then we went for lunch in Aarohi’s mess.
1st Class of HTML
We went to take the HTML class of 8th standard. We started at 1:30 P.M. Students were good, few of them were exceptionally well. They picked up things very fast. I remember a student by his name – Vansh Pandey. That guy was really quick. After class we had a quiz session and we distributed chocolates among the students. We repeated same process for 7th standard as well.
We covered very basic things in the 1st class like – what is Internet/Website/Web Pages/Web content/Browser/Notepad and few basic HTML tags like heading and paragraph.
We left Aarohi premises and reached our room at the homestay around 4 P.M.
The happy learning faces
Evening Fun – After Class
We had plans to visit the Nigraad village – the village was around 3 km from our room and we had to trek from the jungles to reach there.
We started our journey at 5 P.M. After walking for 15-20 mins, the hungry soul – Ashutosh was starving. So we stopped at Puran’s chai shop again. The tea break went on for 45 minutes after which we started feeling tired. So we came back to our room. And the Nigraad village trek never happened.
After returning Sanju took us to his orchard where we saw “Dedh Pauwa”. It is a source of mountain water and the specialty of this water is that if you weigh quantity of 250 ml then it will weigh equal to 375 ml. We ate fresh Apricot and Plum there and returned to our room.
After that we had to leave for dinner to Gautam’s place. We reached there around 8 P.M.
Dinner at Dak-Bungalow
After reaching there we had some chit-chat with Pradeep Uncle and Shubha Aunty. And then Gautam gave us a short tour of the house and we were like “WOW”. That place was awesome- it was too good and few rooms were really amazing. We clicked some pictures there and then we sat in the garden area for around 2 hours. It was too cold in the garden I had to borrow Gautam’s jacket as I was in half-sleeves t-shirt.
Then we had the scrumptious dinner –on the menu were Chicken, aloo-bhindi, raita and few other items. After dinner, Aunty shared some real stories of Leopards in the area. Gautam was telling us the signs to spot a nearby leopard – “How to know a leopard is near you?”.
“Leopard’s smell is very bad – you will feel like some rotten fish is around”, he told.
We left at 11 P.M. from Gautam’s place – it was around 500-600 meters from the homestay. We didn’t have torches with us. Gautam insisted to keep torches but we asserted that we don’t need that. However, after multiple requests from him we kept the torch. And, you won’t believe after leaving there we reached our homestay in 3-4 minutes. Wow! Credit goes to Ashutosh’s speed. He almost ran to the house. Although he said he is running because it was chilling outside. I don’t know if it was because of the cold or the leopard stories, but I was following him and yelling at him – “Aram se chal tu aage nikal jayega mai peeche hi reh jaunga, Leopard le jayega mujhe”.
2nd Working Day – Tuesday – 31st May
Sanjay came to us and asked us to come to the roof-top – an amazing view of Trishul and Nanda devi peaks was visible from his roof-top.
Generally when clouds are clear, then anyone can see a clear view of the Himalayan mountain range from Sanju’s home.
We had our Aloo-puri for breakfast and left for school with Sanjay and Monica. Vimal did not accompany us that day. After reaching the school we participated in the morning prayer. Every day after prayer a student shares – “Thought of the day” and then the students ask some questions.
Our class started at 10:30 Am. We started with class 6th. We did not share HTML topics with them, we just shared some common terms related to Internet/Websites/Google Search/Gmail/Facebook.
Class went on till 11:45 Am. After that we spent some time with the school teachers.
I shared the downloaded videos with their math teachers and gave them a brief about how they can use these videos and what should be their strategy.
Ashutosh shared a school management software with Sanjay and installed that in his machine. He also gave a demo to Sanjay, Neha and Tara Duttji.
Tara Duttji was with me – we spent some time discussing about the feedback of students, discussing the computer literacy requirement of the teachers and about the urgency of a school management software.
He was very concerned about two things – computer literacy of their teachers and student management software. And he was very excited about the math videos – he shared that there is a TV room where he is planning to show those videos.
After that we left for lunch and came back at 1 P.M. And then we continued with 8th standard for HTML – 2 session. In this session we shared how to change font colors, how to resize them, how to set background color, how to set or change images.
HTML – 2 session was like a “WOW” factor for students – they enjoyed it a lot. Changing colors and images of their favorite cartoon characters like Oggy, Chota Bheem, Doraemon, Leopard, Porcupine and others, proved out to be an entertaining exercise.
After two back to back sessions of 8th and 7th standard, students bid farewell to us with a very nice collection of gift items (made in IGU of Aarohi).
We spent some time with Sanju guiding him with the School management software and after that we were involved with Tara Duttji to learn what can be done in the subsequent visits.
Around 4 P.M. we went to the admin block and we had a chat with Neha about our experience. We also asked for a feedback from her. Overall, she and other staff members looked happy, she mentioned many things which could be accomplished in subsequent visits which I have mentioned towards the end of this blog.
We had plans to visit Mukteshwar after school hours, so we hopped in Gautam’s car and went to our room. Around 4:40 P.M. we left for Mukteshwar, which is around 18 Km from Satoli.
Mukteshwar – A fun ride with Ashutosh and Gautam
Three of us left for Mukteshwar – Gautam was well equipped with his DSLR. I was on back seat so it was my duty to capture the best shots in moving car. I tried my best. You can see a sample here.
After an hour’s drive we reached Mukteshwar. We parked our car in front of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute and started walking down from there.
First we saw a famous Shiva temple which is claimed to be more than 350 years old.
After that we did some trekking and reached Chauli ki Jaal (also called Chauthi ki Jaal).
This place is a vantage point for a beautiful sunset.
Near Chauli ki Jaal adventure sports like rock climbing, rappelling, valley crossing are available.
So Ashutosh tried rappelling while Gautam and I opted for valley crossing.
After these activities we saw the house of Jim Corbett- the British-Indian naturalist who was famous for hunting down man-eating tigers and leopards in the jungles of UP and Uttarakhand during British era. After that we had chai, Maggi and bun-makkhan.
We came back to our room and had dinner. But before sleeping we decided we would go to school tomorrow. (Though it was not in the plan – but there was one thing which we wanted to do but because of our busy schedule we couldn’t.)
Last day in Satoli – It’s time to leave – Wednesday – 1st June
We woke up at 7 A.M. and got ready for our last adventure. We went to school to try the “Tarzan Jhoola”. But on Wednesday students had there P.T. classes so we had to wait until the ground was clear.
Finally we went to the playground for Tarzan Jhula.
And after that we called Anand Bhai and left Aarohi with very sweet memories. I can tell you one thing if ants can smell the sweetness of memories then we would have been attacked by billion of ants. Everyone is so simple and so loving there. I can assure you will love the surroundings, scenic beauty and people there.
We boarded a taxi and went to Dak-Bungalow – Gautam accompanied us. We left Satoli at around 12 P.M, reached Kathgodam at 2:30 P.M, had our lunch at Udupiwala restaurant and boarded Shatabdi at 3:35 P.M.
In the train we spent time talking about – “CSR – A Trip to Heaven for 3 days”.
To conclude, I would like to highlight a few things:-
There are 3 main things which we would like to point out here.
People & Environment
- Very friendly and warm people.
- Less crowded and you will come to know everyone within 2 days or so.
- Dedicated and hardworking with lots of aspirations.
Aarohi’s Expectation from visits
- To educate children, especially in mathematics because they are not very comfortable with word problems in mathematics.
- To train them in extracurricular activities such as outdoor games, photography, painting, singing etc.
- A school management software which can help them track record of their students and monitor their progress.
Children at Aarohi
- Really talented and brilliant students
- Very interesting too, with lots of energy and good grasping power.
- Little exposure to technology
- Ready to learn anything new
- Not so comfortable in speaking English
What we accomplished in our visit:
1. HTML Training to students of class 6th, 7th and 8th.
Purpose was to provide exposure to technology so that they can explore further. Also to instill a curiosity in children to learn more.
2. School Management Software
OpenSis: An open-source PHP software with MySQL at backend. They have provided their expectation and will be evaluating that software.
3. Mathematics videos
We provided them with some videos downloaded from Khan Academy.
Expectations from school management software
- Manage complete profile of the students
- Track students: Academic record along with their personal growth so that each student can be handled in his/her own way
- Generating reports for analyzing the weak and strong points of students to keep a record of areas where they need to improve.
- Handling fees & scholarships
- Curriculum revision with respect to education standards followed in India
- Teachers profile to track teacher’s performance
- Details for passing scholarship benefit
Thank you Quovantis for giving us a chance to be a part of this story. Thank you Ashutosh & Gautam who were the co-stars of this story. Thank you for making this visit successful and memorable.