On 12 Feb I traveled in the afternoon from Dehradun to Uttarkashi. Since it was already late I preferred to stay at Chiniyalisaur, a small and beautiful town en route. I also took the opportunity to visit Mary Mata School, a high school that imbibes Christian values among students. Fr. Joey invited me to stay on that night as it was already late and in any case it would not have made much sense to travel to Uttarkashi as I was to visit next morning Dunda which is closer from Chiniyalisaur than Uttarkashi. We took a walk to the Officers’ Recreation Room where some boys were playing table tennis. Boy! I too started playing table tennis after 15 years….! The boys in their late teens and early twenties were playing very slow, and I told them how the game must be played faster, and I played faster! I ended up losing the first game at 13-21, the second I lost at 19-21, and the third I won at 21-14! Impressive! The boys appreciated that at my age I had the power to play the game after a decade and a half.
On 13th I spent the whole day in several field visits and meetings – and the height of the day was the visit to Gunalgaon village supported by Mata Amritanandamayi Math Trust (MAMT) where I spent some time at the Anganwadi (ICDS center) with 3 – 5 year olds checking how the education and health services are met for these children. A few of those children were very talkative and started climbing on me, sitting on my lap… I took the opportunity to check if the children are able to recognize the Tabs that MAMT has provided to the anganwadi for educational purposes. I also asked the teacher to demonstrate how she teaches the children. There were issues in the way she was teaching. I took those issues up with the MAMT volunteers who were accompanying me.
On 14th morning I woke up to heavy rainfall lashing through the mountains. It had turned to be extremely cold in comparison to the previous day. Luckily, I did not have to walk out for breakfast, as the hotel where I was staying did not serve food. A friend, Mr. Stephen was kind enough to bring some homemade parathas and tea for me and Dr. P.D.Mathur who heads the coordination efforts in the district. And thus began the ordeal of a journey that lasted from 6 hours to 54 hours!