Sunday, February 10, 2019

Anubhuti at Deer Park Institute, Bir, Himachal Pradesh

Every year in January, when mountains are covered in snow, I visit Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh. A place so serene and beautiful that it indeed rejuvenates your soul. This time of the year, I am back for the third time to share my gift of dance with kids of Indian and Tibetan origin there. Just like every year, this year too, was very significant for me to work with these kids.

This year, I was able to spend more time with the kids as the duration of the workshop was quite longer than before. This workshop was more inclined towards inculcating basic life skills among kids than to just teach them some dance steps. Our Kathak Workshop was a day delayed due to heavy rainfall. But it was so fascinating to see all kids reaching at 9am sharp the next day despite of rain and cold weather, while our workshop was starting from 10am.

Morning batch had more of Indian Kids who reached 'Tara Hall' (a place where workshop was conducted). Their eyes had a glint of shyness and were hesitantly looking at me, but the moment I asked for their help in cleaning the hall, they all ran to bring a broom and started cleaning the floor with so much excitement and happiness. I was amazed to see that every kid contributed their help to make the place more clean. So, this is how my first interaction went with the local Indian community kids who lives in nearby villages of Bir.

It is always easy to connect with Indian kids as they understand your language and you are able to gel fast but when it comes to Non-Indian Kids, it gets a lil difficult for me as I am unable to connect with them due to factors like language barrier. As I experienced in last two years when I worked with Tibetan Kids in Bir only, I wasn't able to make a connect with them so deeply as the kids were more comfortable in Tibetan language. Thus, to teach them Indian Classical Dance which is not something they are used to or have learned before, was a challenging task for me. Also, I found them slightly impatient too which further made it a bit tough nut to crack.

The journey with Tibetan Kids began in the afternoon batch. Although, this time, it was much easier to connect with Tibetan girls and I could get friendly with them without much struggle. The workshop went in a good flow as we opened up and conversed to ceate a good bond with each other. If I compare myself with last two workshops with Tibetan Girls, this one was quite good in terms of building a relationship with them in spite of a language barrier between us.

"I want to become a doctor but I would like to learn dance more so that I can heal or help my patients with dance too." says Pema Bhuti, one of the participant of the workshop. Another participant Sonam Dolma shares, "I won't waste my learnings during the workshop, instead I'll try to teach those who want to learn and have no one to teach."

I certainly cannot compare Indian kids and Tibetan kids, both gave their very best in making the workshop more meaningful with their daily practices and discipline. Other than all the Kathak teachings or assignments, one of the most cherished moment was when we used to talk and share about our lives and families.

I was surprised when one day, Tibetan girls shared that they go to meet their families once in three years as they live so far. Some of them are from Ladakh, some from Nepal and some from Arunachal Pradesh or any other places. One of the girl shared her experience with her unstoppable laugh, "Didi, when I practice Kathak, I step my foot very hard and my home mother (warden) make me Murga mean hen."😄

Shivam shared, "पहले मैं डांस करते हुए शर्माता था, पर अभी मैं smile करते हुए स्टेज पर डांस कर सकता हूँ।" Vanshika the another participant reflected, "जब तिब्बती बच्चों के  सामने हमने डांस रिहर्सल किया और उन्होंने कितनी ज़ोर से ताली बजाया तो उनकी तालियों को सुनकर लगा कि हाँ, हम भी कुछ कर सकते हैं, हमारे अंदर भी टैलेंट है।"

This past year, for me, I felt I grew internally in terms of patience and in spreading love and kindness through Kathak. I gradually learned and experienced that only patience is not enough to face any challenge but patience mixed with love works as a secret ingredient to do justice to your work and also to your own self.

The last few days of the workshops are hard to put in words as it was overwhelming to see two different communities appreciating and encouraging each other, practicing together, playing, working or even eating together. It was the Anubhuti of amalgamation of two communities brought on a single platform through the beautiful art of Kathak.💗 


  1. Amazing work is being done by you Annu, and you just don't know how happy we become whenever we encounter with your beautiful stories. And being a student of social work i can understand the amount of effort and energy it takes to do such great things. Sooner you will see the fruits, and you know what I call such work "Art to Create Change". Let lord Bless You!

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