The Summer Army stood behind the mountain with its blazing guns. The Winter Army had forced it into hiding for so long that the soldiers were now burning with the desire to retaliate. The soldiers loaded their guns with sunbeams and at the crack of dawn, they began to attack. Rays of heat and light flew towards the tender earth and began to drive away the Winter Forces. Although the Chills tried to dodge the gleaming ammunition, they were unable to endure the attack and were forced to hide and find a new place where they could plot their revenge. The entire Summer Army had climbed over the mountain now and it began to colonise the land. The Flowers and Leaves were petrified and they found it extremely difficult to endure the sweltering presence of the new inhabitants. The Grass began to dry up, the Leaves became lighter and the River too struggled to survive. However, this oppression did not last too long. When the evening arrived, the Winter Army began to retaliate and drive away the Heat. It poured rain drops, threw bolts of lightening and even thundered. Soon, the soldiers climbed back over the mountain and once again the Winds circled around the land. And everyday the same war took place, till one day, the opposing sides realised how futile the conflict was. They realised how the more they resisted each other, the more impossible it became for them to co-exist and the more the land suffered. They therefore signed a peace treaty called Spring which marked the beginning of growth, prosperity and happiness in the land.
And what better place to witness this ‘peace treaty’ than in a village, where the humans value and live in harmony with nature. Therefore, the Std. XI students along with the exchange students from Colegio Europa, Spain, went to Purushwadi, Maharashtra. We were accompanied by our teachers – Ms. Nita, Ms. Pranali and the principal of Colegio Europa, Ms. Maria. We were given a warm and traditional welcome by the villagers when we arrived at the campsite after a long car ride. But that was just the beginning of our interaction with them. Throughout the course of the camp, we spent several hours with them from eating meals at their houses to helping them pound the stored rice. We even visited a local school where we spoke to the children and also saw how they learned. We also spent a lot of time walking around the village, absorbing the atmosphere, the culture and talking to the villagers. This experience was an eye-opener as we realised how limited their resources are. Almost all houses have no source of electricity, their facilities are extremely poor, but they’re content with their lives and are trying to progress despite their adversity.
Apart from interacting with the villagers, we also had a photography workshop where we learned how to use our cameras effectively. We learned more about picture composition and the different types of pictures. We then walked around the village and clicked our own pictures. Not only did we enjoy this activity, but the villagers too enjoyed being photographed. Their smiling faces were glowing. It was truly a moment to capture.
Our adventure activities such as jhumaring and commando bridge were a lot of fun. They gave us a chance to overcome our fears (like those of heights) and realise our full potential. We also had a scavenger hunt through which we were able to further explore the village.
We learned a great deal from the environment. At first we found it extremely difficult to tolerate the scorching heat during the day while having to clad ourselves in jackets to remain warm through the chilly nights. Also, we weren’t used to living with such limited facilities. However, I felt that the moment I stopped resisting my surroundings but let go and tried to blend with my environment, I was able to enjoy myself much more. I was no longer restrained, but in fact I was invigorated by my surroundings. I was able to withstand the heat and I learned how to appreciate the star studded night sky instead of complaining about the weather. I was even able to overcome my fear of the campsite dog to a certain extent. We also bonded a lot with each other and the Spanish students and we got to know them much better through this experience.
For me, the highlight of the camp was watching the twinkling stars illuminate the sky. There were moments when the dog became silent and the moon was howling. It was almost as if it was just me and the sky, as if I had escaped into a world of endless possibilities.
Therefore, through this camp, we experienced spring in many forms. It was no longer just an external, natural phenomenon and just like the Summer and Winter Forces, we were able to blend with the villagers, with the Spanish students and with the environment and were able to grow and achieve happiness. I realised that spring is not about the dominance of a single force. In the words of Frances Hodgson Burnett “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”