Archive for June, 2016

K1 is in Aradhana Academy…..and why we are very happy about it

June 9, 2016

Aradhana Academy is not on the list of “elite” schools of Bangalore. But here’s our experience.

I sent this email to Rajane Prasad, Admissions Co-ordinator, and Sister Moly, the Principal of the School.

Dear Ms Rajane:

There is a FB group called

Bangalore Schools

(closed group, you may not be able to open the link)

where parents exchange information about various schools.

Here’s what Anjana (my daughter, and Kavya’s mother) posted:

I wanted to write about my experience so far with Aradhana Academy. Some of you may already know that my family has relocated from the U.S. My daughter joined Aradhana Academy for 2nd std ICSE. I have already posted about our very positive experience with the admissions process at this school (near L&T South City). She has been feeling homesick and sad and having a difficult time adjusting to being in school again without much of a summer break, so soon after our house in the U.S. got packed up and we moved to such a different environment.

Aradhana Academy has been EXTREMELY welcoming to her and our family, meeting and talking to us multiple times, giving us special attention for everything from books, to the school van to uniforms, to make sure that not just my daughter, but my whole family is comfortable with the move. We had a chance to meet her teacher beforehand and also the teacher had designated another child in the class to be a buddy for my daughter and talked to the class about her previous school and gave her a chance to talk about what it was like there. When we met her,
she even encouraged us to maybe make a poster with pictures from her old school and home and put it up in the class so she could share it with her classmates. But it was not just special treatment for us alone, I found that everyone seemed to be very nice, gentle and accommodating to all students and parents in the process of books, uniforms etc.

On Tuesday (7th June 2016…school opened on 1st June, and the weekend was 4th and 5th June) my daughter complained of a stomach ache and I was called by the school nurse to come pick her up. They correctly identified her transition anxieties. While we were in the sick room together, Sister Moly, the principal, came to talk to us and asked me to come and meet
her about perhaps changing her section where maybe more kids would understand her American accent. She connected us up personally with other parents and teachers who had spent time in the U.S. so that my daughter might meet adults and children she could connect with. She heard her concerns regarding classmates or teachers occasionally lapsing into Kannada and reassured her that she would help with that.

On Wednesday (8th June 2016), the school called me again and said that my daughter had said she was not well again (sickness of the homesickness variety). Again, the staff and teachers were all very accommodating and reassured me that it was ok for me to take her home and let her skip classes until she adjusted. Sister Moly once again met us and took us to meet the academic coordinator to discuss if there would be another section where there might be more children who may better related to my daughter. She made sure that I saved the personal numbers of the teachers,coordinator and herself as well and they all saved my numbers for us to discuss anything at anytime. Once again, I didn’t have the sense that this was about us specifically, but that the staff and teachers would be equally attentive to any child and family who needed it.

Sister Moly talked to my daughter and asked her how she was feeling and upon hearing that she was still scared and unhappy, she suggested that she could make her feel better. She took us both to the convent area attached to the school and introduced us to the Mother Superior.
There we started at the chapel where we spent some quiet time reflecting on our transition and calming ourselves, then visiting a beautiful small vineyard to see the grapes, then saw the cows, and then the bunny hutch where my 7 year old cheered up tremendously by getting to hold baby rabbits in her hands. The principal spent nearly an hour of her time, totally unscheduled, attending to our needs in a caring and committed manner.

The principal also suggested that when we had purchased a violin and when she was ready, she could perform for the school during assembly if making music would help her feel happier. Sister Moly also suggested that they will visit us at home and bridge the gap between home and school for my daughter.

I was so blown away by the caring, compassionate and amazing response by teachers, staff and school to our unique situation and my child’s transition and adjustment stress. We expected it to be difficult and expect her to have trouble for at least a month, but I did not expect this kind of flexibility and love from the school community. I truly hope that my child can see past her grief from the move and soon appreciate and thrive in the circle of warmth that she is part of. She has Karate class today, and Roller Skating class tomorrow, and activities like Theater and Abacus. Hopefully these will keep her engaged and interested in the school this week. If anyone is looking for schools in that area, I would unhesitatingly recommend Aradhana Academy based on what I’ve experienced so far.

I added:

My experience with them as the grandmother of the child, has been very positive too. From the very first application, the response has been friendly and welcoming.

In December 2015, I approached many schools when it was clear that the family could not make a visit in March for the admission (because their documentation was getting done in the US). This was the only school which promptly said that they would set up a Skype interview for the child (class teacher, assistant teacher, principal and admissions co-ordinator here, and the child WITH her whole family in the US) and determine admission based on the interview. (Other schools that we contacted were: Ekya, Kumaran’s, Samhita,Innisfree House School, St.Paul’s, St. Marks.) The other schools did not even let me meet the principals so that I could have a word about the child and her possible difficulties in relocation.

When I’d gone to pay the registration fees, I found Sr.Moly telling some other parents: “If you want an elite school, this is not the one for you. This school was started to teach the poor children of this area, and since we take children sometimes at reduced or waived fees, depending on their financial need, you will find children from different economic backgrounds here.” And after talking about various values which we hold, she added, “But so many times, in daily life, I don’t pass the test…I fail in keeping up to the standards I should keep up to.” A Principal with such humility! These two statements impressed me a lot.

We are very happy that Kavya is in the Academy! Rarely does one find a school that truly enacts the statement of an ancient carpenter: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

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Thoughts about childhood

June 7, 2016

Everyone talks about the wonderful days of childhood, and wants to be a child again. But just think about it. One has no control over anything in one’s life…where one lives, what one eats, right down to the small details…everything is decided by Somebody Else, even if that person is the child’s own parent.

I wonder how the clay of the earth feels when it gets “chosen” for being shaped into pottery. Does it enjoy being glazed, and fired, and made to fit the mould?

When one is a parent, one has to be a potter. When one is a grandparent, one potters around and thinks these kind of thoughts…

Ragihalli/Jaipurdoddi, 220516

June 7, 2016

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

I will forever remain thankful to Geetanjali and Subir Dhar for scouting out so many parts of Bannerghatta National Park and taking everyone there tirelessly.

Of these, the road to Ragihalli and Shivanahalli,passing through the Ragihalli State Forest

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and then beyond to Jaipurdoddi, remains one of the most delightful and productive, even in the hot summer season. More about the road itself, later!

A round dozen of us

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set off in the morning (alas, not early enough to catch the sunrise at the sheet rock as we wanted to),

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and stopping here and there along the way. The usual Spotted Owlet at the brick kiln behind the temple started us off.

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We reached the sheet rock area in time to watch several Jerdon’s Bushlarks, well, larking about.

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We inspected fungi growing in the rain pools in the rock,

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and diatoms that were oozing into the water, creating oily slicks.

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Young Bee-eaters, their plumage not grown into the jewel brighness of the adults, were everywhere, displaying aerobatics as they learnt their lessons in catching their food “on the
fly”.

A delightful (because we were at a distance) sighting was of 3 wild elephants just past the tree line where the sheet rock ended and the forest began. It was good to have this reminder that Bannerghatta is, after all, a *real* forest, and one should always be careful!

Can you spot the elephant?

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Here is one of the 3, with a higher zoom:

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Our bird list grew satisfactorily as we reached Ragihalli.

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We stopped at the rose and tomato fields to watch the Munias (Silverbills, Scaly-breasted Munias and White-rumped Munias…the Red Avadavats were missing today, for some reason) feeding, and flying up in formation to the telephone wires.

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A Common Kestrel tried a “fly-through” the Munias, perhaps hoping to catch breakfast! We noted Shikras, Oriental Honey Buzzards, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle, high up in the already warm air.

We bought some beans and tomatoes fresh off the plants.

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We had a very nice breakfast of “chitrAnna” in one of the halli (village) eateries.

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Manjunath, the proprietor, gave me his mobile number and asked me to call ahead to ensure that they don’t run out of iddlies!

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We proceeded further past Shivanahalli to Jaipurdoddi Reserve Forest.

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As usual, it was a delight. Yellow-crowned (Maratta, I think they were called earlier) and Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, a White-bellied Drongo sitting peacefully on her nest

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(I’ve never seen any Drongo nest before, and am not about to share the location other than “somewhere in Jaipurdoddi Forest area”!), three Paradise Flycatchers (Indian, not Pakistani!) flaunting their “red ribbons”, and hepatic female Grey-bellied Cuckoo

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were the highlights.

It was lovely to sit on the rocks just past the watchtower, enjoy the cool, fresh forest breeze, and show some first-time birders the sights and sounds…the sounds including the call of the Common Hawk Cuckoo, the trilling of the Bee-eaters, the buzzing of carpenter bees and the humming of Cicadas. They touched moss pads, different tree trunks, watched Garden Lizards and Agamas.

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I do hope they will be going on other nature outings in future!

However, it was sad to see the granite being gouged out of the hillsides,and the landscape looked quite ulcerated.

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Also, I would not recommend that anyone go to Jaipurdoddi for a while, as from Ragihali
onwards, the road has been dug up ( indeed, excavators were still in the process of breaking up the tar) and we had to bump and jolt our way. As usual, the road is being laid just ahead of the monsoon!

Two Mongoose, a Black-naped Hare, and several Bonnet Macaques ensured that our mammal tally was also good.

I’m trying to get the id of several flowering and fruiting trees and plants; one of the most interesting is the ,

“Hoom” tree

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whose fruits were quite delicious, tart and fleshy, bright orange-and-red inside the dark-purple fruit.

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There were butterflies, too…Common Lime, Plain Tiger, Common Emigrant, Crimson and Common Rose, Jezebel, Crows (never got close enough to see if they were Common or Double Banded!), some Evening Browns, a Lemon Pansy….I must explain that I was not looking for butterflies, I’d taken a group of “newbies” on birding/nature outing.

Very surprisingly, I found no butterflies in the rose fields at Ragihalli. I wondered at this…could someone explain why they do not go to roses?

Reptiles included the Brahminy Skink,

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several Agamas in various stages of breeding colours, and Garden Lizards. A small snake (I think, a rat snake) slithered off before I could get a good look at it. Some frogs and toads (I don’t know which, probably the commonest ones!) were found here and there.

As usual, almost all of us overstayed, and some of us stopped for lunch at Adayar Anand Bhavan (aka A2B) on the way home, chatting about what we’d seen and enjoyed.

Hoping that the road is laid properly in a short time, and we can go and partake, once again, of the delights of this part of the Bannerghatta National Park.

The bird lists for Ragihalli Forest, meticulously done by Mohit Aggarwal, are

here

and here

The list for Jaipurdoddi is at

here .

I have put up the photos of one of the elephants (the joys of a superzoom camera!)

here

and the rest of the photos (not only birds) are

here .