Post Trip Writeup – Parent & Child – Understanding Biodiversity & Camping – 1st March

Write up by Shanthi balasubramaniam
The trip was scheduled for Saturday morning on the 1stthe journey had begun long ago. In fact, it began the minute we registered for the event “Parent and Child – Understanding Biodiversity and Camping”. 
Photo courtesy – Ashok
Photo courtesy – Satheesh
We dreamt and discussed of how things would be and luckily for us the organizers (Nivya, Punitha, Nadan and Muthu) helped us live that dream! The event began at the Crocodile Bank.
Photo courtesy – Satheesh
We munched on fresh cucumbers, guavas and climbed trees as we waited rather patiently for the entire team to assemble before moving in to the premises of the Crocodile Bank. There, we regrouped into two teams which were guided by interesting members of the Crocodile Bank Trust. 
Photo courtesy – Satheesh
Photo courtesy – Satheesh
Our curiosity about the various species of snakes, turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, alligators, maggar and such were abated with abundance of information provided by our guides. In fact, the young and dashing men and women who provided us with the guided tour were themselves quite a specimen to behold! They were extremely qualified with various degrees in Computer Science, Photography and Wild Life Biology with a passion for wild life that was quite addictive.
Photo courtesy – Dakshinamoorthy
Photo courtesy – Ashok
It was an important learning that being passionate about what you do of March but in truth regardless of what others think of you can bring out the very best in you. The children enjoyed the close interaction with snakes and reptiles. They were enthralled by the variety of birds that inhabit the trees in the vicinity and also expressed concern over the little chicks that lay precariously perched atop their nests literally right over the open mouths of the crocodiles. 
Photo courtesy – Ashok
The lunch which comprised of warm Biryani and Salad was enjoyed by all including the pet dogs which were happily fed with the remnants. Post lunch the children were given a food chain activity on paper alongside a beautifully constructed pond inside the premises of the crocodile bank. “It is the collective learning and wonderful experiences that we come across which lodge in our minds as priceless memories and make us truly rich and utterly beautiful people.”Later, after tea and some fine biscuits we moved on to the camp site which was on the shores of the sea.
Photo courtesy – Nivya
Photo courtesy – Nivya
 While the children enjoyed running around in the sand and digging, volunteers who had unofficially declared themselves Cook foraged for a place to light a fire and stir up some soup. 
Displaying understanding habitat-57.jpg
Picture courtesy – Anand
Photo courtesy – Ashok
Soup that would otherwise never have been touched at home, tasted like a drink fit for the gods indeed. It was perhaps the culmination of wood smoke, the cool sea breeze and the company of so many like-minded people that made it all the more delicious! After a lively game of passing the parcel which brought out the many talents of the participants, we had mouth-watering Pongal with pickle. 
Photo courtesy – Ashok
The preparation of the Pongal (which is otherwise a CHORE at home for most women) was such an exhilarating experience for us as it was accompanied by friendly banter, a lot of leg pulling and fun.
Photo courtesy – Ashok
 It surely made up for the lack of curry leaves, ginger, cashews and other essentially important ingredients that would be part and parcel of a traditional Pongal dish. Later, a group of interested individuals gathered around to star gaze along with the help of Sarvanan Perumal.
Photo courtesy – Nivya
Photo courtesy – Nivya
As I lay on the mat in the cool sand and looked up at the star studded sky, I felt utterly lost. Lost for words! Lost for a suitable feeling to describe what I was experiencing at that point in time. And then I realized I did not need any words.
Photo courtesy – Nivya
I just had to savor the moment and lock it away in my picture postcard memory bank to ruminate upon when life would be full of other mundane things and I would feel the need to simply escape – to dream and rejuvenate. The next day morning we woke up early to catch the sunrise. But sadly, the sun decided to evade us by hiding behind the clouds. However, a hot cup of tea and biscuits made up for it. Again, we could not help feeling surprised at how a cup of tea (with lots of water added to ensure we had enough quantity) could taste so nice and refreshing simply because it was prepared so close to nature. The team work and camaraderie among all the participants was noteworthy since the entire event was conducted without a hitch. Each one of us pitched in wherever necessary and tried to make the occasion a really pleasant one. We left the campsite only to regroup at yet another small spot under the pine trees in order to briefly introduce ourselves although by that point in time we were well past introductions. After a brief halt at A2B for a sumptuous breakfast, we said our goodbyes in the hope that we would soon meet again. It is perhaps not the amount of money we carry in our purse or the car we own that defines us.
Photo courtesy – Ashok
It is the collective learning and wonderful experiences that we come across which lodge in our minds as priceless memories and make us truly rich and utterly beautiful people. And I certainly look forward to being a part of many more CTC events and being very very rich!
Special thanks to Ms. Gowri and volunteers of Madras Crocodile Bank for making this session and thanks to all the parents for volunteering to be part of this trip and making every moment as a wonderful experience for the kids. Thanks to Muthu for helping up to manage this trip.

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