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Santhi Nilayam, School for the Mentally Challenged

This is one of my favourite places on earth... I loved working here, I remember waking up in the morning and wondering what is going to happen today. Everday was like that, you never knew what was going to happen... the kids were so unpredictable, the teachers were a hilarious bunch, and the sisters were cool, it was fun hanging out there. There is this quaint little chapel in the convent, you just have to enter and spend a few minutes there and the calmness and serenity of that simple chapel fills you with peace. The food in the convent too was simple and rustic, Mother Magdalene used to insist that I eat with them whenever I do not bring lunch. Their cooking had an entirely earthy feel to it, like a juice to them would be some concoction made by boiling drumstick leaves and mint leaves or barley boiled with honey... which actually tasted good. I also used to like taking the bus to school... you see, the school is located in a semi rural area and the scenes of everyday life that you see on the way is simply picturesque... like the wizened old lady wrapped up in complicated twists and turns of a saree and her dangling ear lobes moving to the rhythm of the knife as she slices through those coconut leaves at her side seperating the stalk to make a broom, or the ladies with sindoor and bindi in place and a bright flower on their long, black and loosely knotted tresses discussing the varieties of fish available in the market... its all so engrossing, like a scene out of a book...

Here are a few pictures taken on the way to school, I wanted to take a picture of that wizened old lady... but she gave me a weird look as I walked by, I guess if I had the bindi/flower/long tresses look, she wouldn't have stopped her work to observe me... and I can't click a picture of her when she is staring at me.
Here you see the path that leads to the school...
Trees overhead... On the way to school...
A fenceless house...
There you can see the school in the distance...
A clear blue sky and trees... an enchanting sight.
The school all lit up for School Day...
A peacock dance...
Mother Magdalene, addressing the crowd...
The vocational kids performing a skit...
A prop dance...
The vocational girls performing a folk dance...
The autistic kids...
Alfie performing a solo dance...
Alfie again dressed as a girl in a skit...
The little kids dancing...
These are the kids who are mentally and physically challenged... they can't walk properly so they are sitting and swaying to the music.
Another dance...
I actually like this picture... two priests of different religions observing the special children; I wonder what is going through their heads, are they questioning their respective Gods or are they just bored... only God knows the answer to that. Anyway the Bishop of Thuckalay and the High Priest of the Swamithoopu temple were the chief guests.
The crowd...
Down syndrome children performing a dance...
Rose performs the Bharatanatyam...
The special educators concluded the event with the National Anthem...
Here's Hariharan posing for the camera...
That's Carlton biting away on something during the rehearsals...
Oh yeah, it was fun...

Comments

Anju said…
Looks like a truly inspiring place for those kids. Glad you had fun!
mazhalai said…
Are these from your recent trip home. O how wonderful it would have been to reconnect will all at the school :)
Hey Anju, the next time when we both happen to be home, I'll take you there.

Yeah Mazhalai, these were taken when I went home last month, it's always great going back there.
Icychips said…
seriously - great job - i dont think i have it in me to do such a thing or even be there!! kudos to u people!!
those priests should probably question God on y some kids are like this, esp when their families cant afford much for their special needs!!
Chriz said…
Stay blessed.. nice one.. they would have felt great that day...
Shil, that's so true... majority of these kids are born into poor families who don't have the means to care for their special needs... worse than that, these parents actually think that this is curable and they believe any quack who says so, they even come to us showing us the medicines that these pseudo doc's give them.
And of course you have it in you, you don't know it yet. I want to take you there sometime too... inshah allah.

Chriz, nice haircut... thanks for dropping by.
Chriz said…
i didn't cut my hair
i ceased to grow beyond 165 cms but my hair is growing for ever

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