Monday, February 18, 2008

Harekal Hajabba, the HERO in the dark

Harekal is not another Rajinikanth. He is a 50 year old uneducated Mangalorean who makes his living by selling oranges in the bus-stop of Mangalore. Knowing the importance of education, he started a school in Newpadpu, a town 30 kms away from Mangalore. And this modest hero, who fights his financial crisis by selling oranges, also serves the school in an unpaid President post. The least we can do is know about him. Please read about him here: Harekal Hajabba

With all credits to the Sattva team I post the article here for all those who are not able to open the link above.

"Neil Amstrong once compared his small step on the moon to a giant leap for mankind. But these impossibly large small-steps occur here too. A humble uneducated orange-seller starts a school in Newpadpu, Harekal, unmindful of what a giant leap of hope and inspiration his story is for the rest of mankind.

The interview unfortunately must take place over phone, denying us a glimpse into the world Harekal Hajabba lives in. In his musical, Mangalorean dialect, he starts by telling us about selling oranges at the Mangalore Bus Depot for 35 years. And of tourists conversing with him in English, a language he doesn’t speak or follow. He tells us how these incidents made him aware of his own uneducated status and opened his eyes to the state of the school in his town, Newpadu, 30 kms from Mangalore.

The Zilla Panchayat-run school was about to be shut down for lack of building space. This was in 1998, when Hajabba, empty-handed but optimistic, approached the Panchayat for permission to re-open the school. With nothing to lose, they agreed. A couple of members even gave him some seed money to set him off.

In the year that followed, Hajabba managed to collect one lakh rupees and a 1 1/2 acre plot from the government. In 2000, the Zilla Panchayat High School re-opened in its new building. Dharmastala provided the school with teachers, somebody bought in the benches, the people in Newpadu began enrolling their children and the numbers grew. From a tiny group of 28, the school grew to accommodate 208 students.

Fortune smiled on the school when newspapers in Bangalore got a whiff of the story and began to write about Hajabba. From 2004, funds from various philanthropists began to trickle in. A company in Kormangala donated 20 computers, while Canara Bank built them an auditorium. The State recognised Hajabba with awards and Kannada Prabha, a Bangalore daily, chose him for their ‘Man of the Year’ award.

Today the oldest students are in the eighth standard, which includes, Harekal tells us with unblemished pride, his wife. Permission has been procured to start the 9th and 10th standard as well.

Despite the honour and attention showered on him, life has not changed much for this 50-year-old man. He worries over his wife’s sickness and daughter’s pregnancy complications. In between visits to the doctor, he makes time to scrounge around for funds to run the school.

But he is yet to miss a day at school. He overlooks the administration in his capacity as the President, every morning from 8 to 10. Since the post is non-salaried, the measly rupees he earns as an orange-seller is what feeds 5 mouths at home. When asked if the number we call on is his neighbour’s, discomfort enters his voice as he says yes. He doesn’t want to speak of his financial troubles anymore.

His gratitude at being featured is overwhelming. He wishes and blesses us profusely, before he hangs up, embarrassing us that he should even consider this act worthy of praise. For he is giant among us mortals, who gives away twice of what he has and takes half of what he needs. The pleasure, gratitude and honour, has been all ours."

Contact: School Development Committee, between
8 to 10.30am: 0824-2235964,
Evenings (neighbour): 0824 – 2235827

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Devarayanadurga On Bikes

Thanks to Payaniga for the wonderful photoshots of Devarayanadurga which made us enthusiastic to conquer that hill fort also, after the successful Nandi Hills trip. With the help of Google and fellow bloggers, we were able to find some info about how to reach that place.

As wiki says -
Devarayanadurga is a hill station near Tumkur in the state of Karnataka in India. The rocky hills are surrounded by forest and the hilltops are dotted with several temples including the Yoganarasimha and the Bhoganarasimha temples and an altitude of 3940 feet.

9th Feb 2008, Saturday:
Started at 4.30 in the morning and made our customary visit to nearest ATM (pockets total empty without any money even for petrol) and petrol bunk. This time the enthusiasts number increased to 7 - myself, laddu, hafeez, satish, compsri, raffi and the last moment entry naresh. And we were on 4 bikes - Pulsar 180, Unicorn 150, Gladiator 125 and Passion Plus 100, a great mix I must say. biggrin

We started sharp at 5AM for NH4 via Yeshwantpur - Peenya - Dasarahalli. We couldnt enjoy the ride on first few kms of NH4, the roads were narrow and dusty with lotsa trucks and buses. The roads got better but our luck went bad as the rain god decided to play a small game with us then. With the increasing downpour we decided to take a break in a petrol bunk when our trip meter started showing 40 kms. We didnt realize that the rain god was snickering at us when we ended our break after the rain stopped. The rain started again - may be a test of determination by the rain god and we succeeded. We dint take any break this time and went straight (rain ended after a short time) till the Toll Booth on the Tumkur road (NH4) and reconfirmed the route to our destination. The revised and nearest target was to reach Dobbaspet Bridge. On the way to Dobbaspet we had few photographs. And then people showed their talents on bikes by reaching 90-110 kmph as per their bikes' capacity. After a tea break at Dobbaspet, we enquired to find 2 different routes to Devarayanadurga.
  • Route 1 - Take a right turn from under Dobbaspet Bridge.
  • Route 2 - Go straight from the Bridge for few kms and take a right turn near Siddaganga Mutt.

We went ahead to take Route 2 - better roads - as per the suggestions of Dobbaspet lokis. But I still am not sure whether we took the actual Route 2 suggested by them or not. We took a right turn from NH4 (dont remember any landmarks on NH4), it was a very small road but a neat one. And on that way to Devarayanadurga, we explored a rocky hill with Jain stupa on top of it. After taking the diversion from NH4, we drove for around 15 kms via Urdegere. Roads were pretty cool, but be careful else you'll end up in sudden surprises (mud pits). It was a 5 kms drive from the foot of the hill to reach the hill top - roads well maintained not too many hair pin bends - where vehicles can be parked. Trip meter: 90 kms.

We had to take steps from the point where we parked our bikes to reach the flat surface on the top of the hill. On the way to hill top, we found one board "View point", a carving of ram-hanuman-Garuda, lakshmi narasimha temple with a pond just opposite to it, a few rock arches, breathtaking views and lotsa monkeys. Through out the way to hill top our cam was making continuous sounds of clicks and whirrs capturing the locations as well as our creative poses. The view from the hill top was awesome - those greeny fields and small water bodies, rocky hills all around, the clouds and the humble appearances of the sun once in a while. Soon did we realize that we weren't still at the peak of the hill. On the peak of the hill there was one stony mantap like structure and a lamp post on a huge rock; and there weren't any steps to reach that place. We crawled, hopped, jumped and finally reached the peak. The feeling was ineffable; the view fantastic. Few more whirrs from the cam and we headed back. On the way down, we thought of visiting the temple but it was closed then (we waited till 10.30AM near the temple, though its supposed to open at 10AM everyday).

At around 11AM we started back on our bikes. Driving downhill was pretty thrilling, but dangerous too. Return drive was pathetic. We travelled more than half the distance without any issues. Later, we saw a crushed motor bike not sure what happened to the driver. After few kms there was a huuuugggee traffic jam and after reaching Yeshwantpur I missed the route and drove extra 10 kms amidst heavy traffic. It was 2.00PM by the time I landed up in CMH road for some food. All in all the bike ride was a success again, and the trip meter showed 170kms. smile