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I Were a Bird - By Rahul Kumble
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|My Trip to India
BY SHREYA SHAH
In December of 2005, my parents and I went on a journey for twenty days to the southern part of India. We traveled to India because I wanted to see the country where I was born. I wanted to see the land, people, culture and community of India. We traveled from the West coast to the East coast of southern India by train. The most exciting parts for me were to:
·- See Indias animal life (Elephants, Monkeys, Peacocks etc.)
- Visit villages of India
·- Eat spicy Indian food, fresh fruits and vegetables
·- Tour Tea & Spice Plantations
- Experience an Elephant ride
·- Receiving Aryuvedic Treatments (Yoga, Mediation, Massages, Diet)
We started our long thirty two hour journey from Atlanta to Chennai, India with a stopover in Miami and Paris, France. Chennai is located on the southeast coast of India, adjacent to the Bay of Bengal. We arrived into Chennai after thirty two hours of plane and taxi rides. We stayed in Chennai for the first three days. Unfortunately, we were forced to stay in our hotel on the beach, as it was raining very heavily due to a cyclone (similar to hurricane) which was passing by the Bay of Bengal. This created high tides, many undertoes and strong thunderstorms. Next to our hotel, there was a small village that had been ruined by the Tsunami of last year. I had brought with me a bag full of old and new clothes, which did not fit me anymore. During our daily walk (when it was drizzling for a while) on the beach, we saw young children and mothers picking up trash that had been washed onto the sea shore by the heavy rains. The children and mothers got paid only a few Rupees (Indian currency) by how much trash they collected daily. On the second day, we gave my clothes to the children. The children had the biggest, brightest and warmest smiles on their faces and were very happy. Many of the village people came out and waved us goodbye as we walked back to the hotel. I felt very happy and touched by the children.
After resting for three days, we started to explore southern India. We took an eight-hour train journey to a place called Palakkad in the middle of southern India. On the train platform, it was very crowded and noisy. I saw many types of working people. Some were selling food and magazines. Some were carrying heavy luggage on their heads. Some were just standing talking with no where to go. Some were screaming and shouting at the train master. We had a hard time finding our train car as the train was very long. When we found our seat, we got on and noted that we were placed in a small four seat compartment with curtains. It was cramped, warm and very uncomfortable. There were stinky restrooms located just outside our seating area door. Every time someone opened the door the grossest bathroom smell came in!
However, we survived the train journey. I got to see the beautiful landscape of the Indian countryside such as farms, rice paddies, coconut trees, villages, towns, lots of cows, goats and sheep. We saw all kinds of people working. There was a WOW sensation in seeing all of this for the first time- it was a colorful kaleidoscope.Our first stop was at an Ayurvedic Health Center. We were there for 8 days. The center provided daily health treatments which included Massage, Diet, Yoga and Meditation in a peaceful environment. My daily routine was as follows:
8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Treatment (full body massage with hot oil)
10:00 AM Free time (walk to the village, played)
1:00 PM 4:00PM Rest (Wrote journal, swimming, watched TV)
9:00PM Games / Relaxation
During our walk the little children would ask us two questions as we walked by their homes. Their main questions were, What is your name? and Where are you from? They were very cute and funny. They all asked for pens and pencils. So we went into town and bought them pens, pencils, crayons and notebooks. I made many packages containing these items. On Christmas day, my parents and I went to the village and distributed the packages to the little children. It was the most exciting thing I have ever done. Instead of receiving gifts on Christmas day, I was giving gifts from my heart. I gave gifts to many of the village children. They were so eager to see what was inside the package as soon as we gave it to them. We also gave all the adults body soap. As we left the village we heard happiness throughout the entire village. I felt so good!!!! One scary thing happened though during our visit to the village. We saw a 3 to 4 foot creamish colored snake. I screamed and ran the other way! After our wonderful seven days of treatment, we were on our way to Munnar (Tea plantations and hillsides).
From Kairali to Munar we took a taxi car. It was a four hour journey. On the way, we went through the National Sanctuary and Reserve. Much to my delight, we got to see monkeys, peacocks, snake nests, birds, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer and lots of neat birds. I loved seeing the Tea and Spice plantations. We saw a lot of cows walking on the road. It was hard dodging them. We also saw women picking tea. On an hourly basis we heard a loud horn, which at first sounded like a siren but we learned that they have a horn ring at special hours for the tea pickers so they know when it is break time, lunch and end of shift. We were at very high altitudes and the road was very steep, narrow and winding. Finally, we arrived at the Camelot Camp Resort. We checked into a small cottage at the top of a hill. The cottage was nice on the outside but way too small for the three of us inside. To top it off there was NO hot water or electricity. We had to shower in cool water. NOT FUN!!! On the day of arrival the hotel owner took us on a small trek through the tea plantations. He showed us the various tea plantations. He explained that TATA tea grew there. During the night I was not feeling good due to an altitude headache. The next day we all decided to go trekking. The owner and his partner Babu took us on the trail which began right outside of our cottage. We started on our track trail through a very narrow, dense, dark green jungle. It was scary. Then we went onto wide open fields and passed a waterfall. But soon the trail got narrow and all of the trees got in the way of the path with lots of wet, slippery mud. My mom and I turned back with the assistant. My dad kept going up with the owner. Shortly after we turned back, I asked the assistant if he knew what leaches looked like. He showed me one and the next minute I saw them crawling into our shoes. I got really scared!! Actually it was a nightmare. The assistant poured salt over the leaches to get them off. The remaining trail to the cottage seemed very long. When we finally reached the hotel, my mom and I both took cool showers and checked our feet and ankles carefully. We waited anxiously for my dad to return. At night I slept still worried about the leaches. The next morning we checked out and went to Thekkedy by car.
On the way to Thekkedy we stopped to buy some fresh Connemara tea to bring home. Our driver stopped and waited for us. After buying the tea, the cashier told us to go and visit the tea factory. Inside the factory we saw how tea is made from the fresh tea leaves and turned into tea granules. It undergoes a neat process where the leaves are dried for 16 hours. The leaves are dried thoroughly to remove moisture (wilting). Bad leaves are removed by hand. Afterwards, they are crushed into tiny leaves. The green leaves become a mush. The crushing process removes bad odor and other unnecessary parts of the leaves. The mashed leaves are heated and tumbled dried by a process. The mush turns into tea grains. Using a conveyor belt, the granules are transferred to a grading process. Here the granules are funneled and sorted by size. The taste of the tea is scaled by the grain of the tea. Tinier granules make stronger tea. The tea grains are then put into large bags. The bags are then transferred to another factory where the tea grains are packaged for selling. The whole tea making process takes twenty two hours after the leaves are picked. Our hotel in Thekkedy was inside a Wildlife Sanctuary protected by the Indian government. The sanctuary was created to protect the animals living in the vast jungle area surrounded by Lake Periyar. They have Indian tigers, elephants and monkeys amongst many other animals and birds. Outside our hotel every morning we saw many monkeys in the trees.
We took a boat ride on Lake Periyar to see the wildlife around the jungle early morning. It was very foggy and hard to see any animals. Afterwards we went into town for shopping. I bought a traditional Indian broom. We went to see a spice plantation and enjoyed my first elephant ride through the Spice plantation. I saw many types of spice trees and plants and got to smell their wonderful aroma and taste them right off the tree. It was really a neat experience.
From Thekkedy we traveled to a beautiful city called Kumarakom. This city is located on the edge of Lake Vembinad. This lake is part of the famous backwaters of India. We stayed on a houseboat called a Ketuvallum. It is made of bamboo and wood. We had our own driver and chef. We celebrated New Year at the resort and danced the night away to Indian music. Again, we were surrounded by the fishing villages and we gave pens, pencils and bath shampoo to the locals, however, this time we had to throw them as to the locals as we went through the narrow water canals. We saw how village life centers on the water. Original fishing nets are thrown at night in little boats pulled by large oars and left until dawn. This lake gets both fresh and salt water. It was really
memorable. From Kumarakom we took a night train back to Chennai. This time it took us fifteen hours, but the experience was much better. We had a clean compartment and clean restrooms. We slept really well on the train.
In Chennai, we shopped for Indian outfits, music and books for two days. We enjoyed the local food and prepared for our return home. Again we took the long flight home (thirty one hours), however this time we stopped in Paris and Philadelphia. It was really long but fun. We watched a few movies on our personal TV sets.
I have always enjoyed listening to the song from Swades yeh jo desh hai mera swades hai
mera. Vacationing in India, I really felt home. It was a very memorable and fulfilling Winter Break. I enjoyed the Indian adventure and look forward to sharing more stories and pictures as soon as I recover from jet lag. India is ten and a half hours ahead in time. I am a little messed up.
Thank you for reading this report. I hope you will one day visit India.
Ten-year old Shreya Shah is the daughter of Harshad and Sandhya Shah.
She is a 5th Grade student at the Atlanta International School and this was her first trip to India.
Do you know?
Murder: Who killed Art Farnanski?
Dear budding Sherlock Holmes. Use your gray cells and solve the murder mystery.
for Standardized Testing
Did You Know?
Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Kids!
your own Christmas gifts!
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Contribution: Jokes by Stanley & Simon David
Diwali Crafts: Make your own Diyas
Diwali in the US
Ten Commonly Misspelled Words
Learn the Spelling Rules for these words
Know Your Rights!
The Bill of Rights were the first 10 amendments added to the American Constitution in 1791. Some people (and states) felt these rights needed to be added to protect their freedom.
US Customary System vs. Metric System
For Laughs: Beach fun and other jokes
Kids Contribution: The Threat of the
Pizza Monsters by Aditya Rao
Vijay Aggarwal is a software engineer working in the United States for about ten years now. He has been using technology to bring 3D and animation into books, magazines, catalogs etc. on the computers. The eQuiz is one of the products of these technologies. One of his major works
is a children's book about India and Indian culture, which is available at
How much do you know about India,
its history and culture? Pretty much, right? Now's your chance at
testing your India quotient with UNCLE VIJAY'S cool 3D Quiz. Go on, the quiz turns like an
actual book, so you can have lots of fun while quizzing.
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