Mrugavani National Park: Feed A Sambar Deer For The Whole Day

Mrugavani National Park is recommended for a visit should your children/you can spend an entire day feeding one sambar deer. Now, one may wonder if feeding one sambar deer can be the sole purpose of visiting a so-called national park? Yes, it is. And, children can love the experience. Just that, it could have been a lot better.

Do not believe me? Read on. The below is basis the Mrugavani National Park visit in February 2020 with my five-year-old twin daughters.

The Area

Wikipedia page says that this national park covers an area of 3.6 square kilometres or 1211 acres. Telangana tourism website reiterates the same number. I suppose, 1211 acres have to be huge, really huge. Well, the visitors are limited to about less than an acre, or an acre or whatever, that one can walk through in 8-10 minutes, all possible directions.

No hard feelings, though. Nature is better left alone, away from humans. In which case, there is no point in going if the visitors are limited to such a small space.

The Flora and Fauna

Telangana tourism website informs that the park has been home to 600 species of plants and animals. It also mentions that the fauna is as varied as they come. It mentions about some animals as the most striking species for the curious traveller.

Well, they have to be taken at the face value. There is nothing to satiate the curious traveller, that s/he could walk in 10 minutes flat. Whatever trees that are present in the visitor area, none are named. Leave aside, further information about them.

My daughters asked me about the flora and fauna, that they were promised basis my google search. I told them that nature’s gems are better-kept secret. They asked back, then why are we here?

Jungle Safari, Watch Tower, Environmental Education Centre & Museum

We asked for the jungle safari. The driver told us that we will not be able to see anything apart from dry trees. In his suggestion, it was a waste of money and time. We dropped the idea.

We went to the watchtower. The steps were dilapidated and the railing was broken on both sides. It was not safe to climb for five-year children. We dropped the idea.

We went to the Environmental Education Centre. It was locked. There is a Forest Department office within the visitor area. Upon enquiry, we were told that the centre is opened only when someone asks for it. After some 10 minutes, it was opened. A person kept snooping behind us to ensure we do not know what. The information inside looked like a google copy-paste job, fit for a school project of 12-14-year-olds but not for the consumption of five-year-olds. After looking at some animal replicas, the children lost interest in 10 minutes, we walked out and the doors were locked again.

Wikipedia page mentioned a library, a museum, an auditorium and nature walk with guides. I suppose all these were hidden and locked from the visiting public, should they run away with them.

The children and I were getting exasperated.

The Sambar Deer

The girls noticed a sambar deer in the enclosure in the visitor area. They rushed towards the animal. The deer looked expectantly at them. The girls asked if they could feed the animal. I asked a staff person walking by. He shrugged his shoulders and asked us to proceed with leaves as food.

That was it. The girls started. They would have started feeding around 1030 or so. The next time, I looked at the watch, it was 1630. They went on and on and on. There were numerous leaves on the ground, they tweaked some leaves from shrubs, I pulled some leaves from the trees and that is all that we did for six full hours. I fed the children during lunch, and they fed the animal – breakfast, lunch and snacks, all rolled into one.

The sambar deer obliged for the entire time. S/he kept walking along the enclosure railing, but not even once went inside. The girls kept getting company throughout the day from other children in feeding the animal. The other children came and went, and B +ve and O +ve were nonstop.

The Children

It was tiring for me. But, for the girls, it was sheer delight. As an adult, for me, it was like can you please stop now? As children, for my daughters, it was like there cannot be anything better than this.

This is what and who the children are. I got them to visit the national park and all its paraphernalia. Not a single aspect worked, as promised. The adults screwed it up. The children found their amusement, what they ought to be doing as children, which we adults would never comprehend.

We left at 1630 as the guard pushed us out. It was Mrugavani National Park closing time, at 1700 hours.

The girls felt blessed to have got an opportunity to feed one sambar deer for the whole day.

What’s more to life than that?

PS: If it is more for you, please do not visit Mrugavani National Park, it is an outright dud. Trust the Government to be a complete killjoy by making it zilch experiential and ensuring that nobody takes any interest in knowing about the environment, leave aside the conservation.

A Visit to Indira Park And Life Learnings For Children

We, five-year-old twin daughters and a stay-at-home father, visit parks often. One of our favourite destinations is Indira Park, Hyderabad. O +ve and B +ve love the place, spend 3-4 hours on each visit and they have to be dragged back home. Indira Park is one of the places for which I wrote 5 must-do activities for 4 year olds in parks.

Now, I am writing about Indira Park again. I never knew that a visit to a park can be so educational and informative for children about the country, the government and the people. It is always good to teach the children about the reality of the country that they are inheriting and going to live in. And, a visit to Indira Park ensures that this learning for children is fast-tracked, all-around and consistent in messaging.

Here go the learnings of B +ve and O +ve from the Indira Park visits.

Corruption

A ticketed entry leads to excitement for the twin girls. They love to give money, take their tickets, and proudly carry it around.  Indira Park ensures that the girls will learn even from this mundane occasion.

I give the girls Rs. 2 coins each and ask them to buy their tickets individually. They hand over their coins to the lady sitting on the chair and look expectantly at her to receive their coveted treasure. The lady nonchalantly takes their coins, shoves it in her drawer and nods at the girls, asking them to leave.

The girls are confused. They look back at me. I am also confused. I walk up to the lady and request for the tickets in return for the money that she has just taken. She coolly says that we can enter the park and need not worry about the tickets. It is all right.

I cannot believe this. I have no idea whether she is a government employee or on a contract or from a private agency. She is just taking away Rs. 4/- that should go to government coffers and expecting us to contribute to her loot.

I request for a ticket. She says that she has not been provided with Rs. 2 tickets, so she cannot give. I insist. She says that the tickets will be delivered in some time and we can collect when we leave.

We enter the park without the tickets for my daughters, though we have already paid. The girls witness the entire episode. They ask me why the aunty did not give their tickets.

The girls learn an important aspect of Indian Governance – Corruption.

Non-delivery of services

We enter the play area. The girls are looking forward to making the most of their time. They survey the surroundings. Most of the swings are broken, if not all. Most of the slides are broken, if not all. All the see-saws are broken. Merry-go-rounds give them no merry at all, they are beyond repairs.

The girls look around perplexed. They do not know what to do. And, then similar to Indian Citizens that they will grow up to become, they make use of whatever is available. They learn that they are lucky to get what is left and that they should make no fuss about it. Not that there is anyone to listen to their complaints in the first place.

The girls learn that Indian State shall not bother about the upkeep and the delivery of promised services.

Pushed out by the crowd

The girls are trying to make use of whatever is left. But even that is not possible. There are grown-ups around, half of them couples and another half of them bunking their classes. All of them wanting to enjoy their time, but nowhere to go. Hence, descending on Indira Park play area.

The girls request them for their place in the sun. They oblige but continue to their merry-making as well. I request the adults not to use the equipment that they have outgrown. They casually scorn at me and carry on. I try to find the park personnel around to raise a complaint but find nobody in sight.

I fear for the physical safety of my daughters and we leave the play area.

The girls learn that they will be shoved and jostled out of what is rightfully theirs by the fellow citizens.

Chai-Pani

I find someone – probably a supervisor of some sorts. Not sure though. I complain to him about the non-issuance of tickets. He says that maybe tickets have run out. I complain to him about non-functional play area equipment. He says that the government has raised a tender. I complain about the adults making use of children play area. He says that these adults do not listen to them when asked to leave.

I realize that I am just wasting my time. I turn my back. And, to utter amazement, he asks me money for chai-pani. The girls are awe-struck.

They learn the connotations of chai-pani and what it stands for in the Indian context.

Swachh Bharat

The girls have to use the wash-room. We approach the place. Alas, it is closed for repairs. It was closed last time too. Wonder how much time it takes to put a functional wash-room in place.

The girls relieve themselves behind a bush. And to think of it, Hyderabad has been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). My daughters and I disagree.

Indira Park – Beehive of Learnings

A visit to the park is second to none when it comes to real-life learnings. My daughters learn a lot about India, the Government and the People from their park visits.

Do take your children as well to Indira Park or for that matter, any other public park. The learnings abound.

Travelling In India With Children, Alone, Is Not For The Faint Hearted

India is not a place for the comfort and the safety of the elderly, infirm, differently-abled when it comes to travelling alone (though surely there are exceptions). So, when I whine about the issues faced by me as a father who wants to travel with my children – five years old twin daughters, I know that I come at the end of the priority order for the convenience expected.

Washroom

For the Girls: This is not about travelling per se. However, the fact is that travel cannot be done in isolation without an accessible and hygienic washroom. Finding a functional washroom is a task in itself. Even if I find one, I have realized that it is of no use for me. The girls are not at the age to use the washroom independently in a new place. Also, the washrooms are not designed to cater to the needs of girls going around with their father, alone.

For me: A man cannot travel alone in India with his young daughters and expect to use a washroom. The simple reason is that there is no place for his daughters’ safe-keeping whilst using the washroom.

Bus / Trains

The RTC buses in Hyderabad have back-door ear-marked for men and front-door for women. The seating is also demarcated – women in the front seats and men in the rear ones. With my two daughters, I fit nowhere. We did try to travel in non-peak hours in relatively empty buses. I realized that the steps are very high for the girls to manage by themselves. So getting in and out of the bus for us takes too much of time for the driver’s comfort and we just get honked out.

With people hanging out of the local trains, there is no way that we can even think of sneaking in.

Once I did successfully undertake a 3-hour journey in a train – general class 2S. Just that, I could not get in and get out of the train on my own. The trains arrive late and people rush in hoards to get in even before the passengers get down. Where is the place for a man with luggage and two kids in this mad rush? I have come to understand that unless travelling with a full-fledged family, Indian Railways do not welcome children.

Metro

Hyderabad Metro ferries 3 lac travellers per day in 800 trips in trains comprising 3 coaches. This gives an average of 125 people travelling in a single coach. So much for the profitability of Hyderabad Metro, not for a traveller other than an able-bodied adult.

 Auto

Due to the difficulties we face in travelling by buses and trains, autos are our go-to option. Hyderabad autos don’t work on the meter. When the auto drivers see a man with two young girls, they see a victim vulnerable, who can be taken for a ride – figuratively and literally, as they understand the option less situation that we are in.

Crossing the road

Hyderabad traffic police have declared Zebra as endangered species. Hence, for its protection, Zebra crossings have been removed at all traffic junctions.

I have my heart in my mouth whenever I have to cross the road with my children. Roads are too wide and the time allotted has gotten way less for crossing unless you are a 100 m sprinter, which we are not. And whilst we are racing across to cross and save our lives, there have hardly been occasions without a vehicle jumping the signal and coming straight for us.

Walking on the road

Whenever we are out, the girls prefer to hold my hand whilst walking which means that I have to keep them on my either side. This means that one of the girls is always on the side of the traffic and it is just so scary.

Arterial roads are not designed for even two people walking next to each other and here, we are three people walking. Even the main roads do not have the footpaths or wherever they are, it has been occupied by the hawkers. So, we are perpetually walking on the road trying to protect ourselves from the onslaught of vehicles.

Anyways, as mentioned in the beginning, we are the last priority and if our nation does manage to make what comprises travelling – washrooms, public transport services, roads, footpaths; truly accessible to the old and the differently-abled people, then we will surely suit ourselves in.

What is your opinion about travelling in India with children, ALONE?

PS: We have refused to buy a vehicle. Conscious of our carbon footprint and also not wanting to add to the traffic chaos, we have always been ardent believers of travelling by public transport. And now, I am just a father with twin daughters who finds it way too difficult to exercise our freedom of movement, safely and securely.

Every Walk With Children Is A Nature Walk

The most engaging activity with my twin daughters. The activity that never fails to amuse them. The activity that the girls are never tired of. Also, the activity that shows up my inadequacy as a parent. It is actually not an activity at all. It is just a walk. We start the walk outside the house and the activity begins – The Nature Walk.

Our five years old twin daughters do not go to any formal environment, not yet. We do not have a TV at home, either. So, what do we do? We just go outside the house and the girls keep themselves busy at least for an hour, if not more. We go out for running errands and we bring back much more than what we had gone to buy. Every time we step out, the girls make a new discovery or build further on their last. What is it? The Nature Walk.

To be honest, the girls do not even see this as an activity. They are not even conscious of it. They just do it. There is, after all, nothing better to do than this for them.

A Disclaimer: When I mention Nature Walk, Nature refers to any and everything that is not man-made. Nature does not mean that it exists in isolation, it is pure and pristine, it is difficult to reach. Rather, nature is any and everything around, that adults take for granted; at least I did earlier.

Clouds and Wind

Earlier, we stayed in an apartment on a busy main road. We used to go to the terrace and the girls had a great time looking at the clouds, their colour and shapes, their moving around and different hues of the sky.

The most under-rated aspect of nature – Wind fascinates the girls. How and why the wind blows? From where does the wind come? The wind also brings them their collection – leaves.

Trees and Plants, Any Vegetation

Large trees are few and far in between in big cities. Whatever and whenever we see, the girls keep asking questions about the trees and its eco-system: leaves, twigs, branches, buds, fruits, flowers, birds, insects etc. They collect whatever they find underneath the tree.

Not as much as trees, they have made great friends with plants around in our new neighbourhood. They find Beggars Tick in plenty and use their thumb to make it fly around. They love to swirl the Pinwheel flowers. Yellow Bells and Oleander flowers are a must to collect for them.

They love to eat Wild Sorrel. Also, to drink nectar from Ixora flowers. I was stunned the first time I saw them doing this. Later, I got to know that my wife, who runs an experiential travel firm – Dirty Feet, had taught them this.

 Animals and Insects

Again, like trees, animals in a metro city are hard to come by. However, moving around with my daughters, I have learnt that the fun and the size are unrelated. The smaller the animal/insect, the higher the interest levels of our daughters.

How long can one look at a millipede/centipede? The girls find them fascinating to keep a tab on them till they crawl out of sight. I never find a crawling creature on my own, but somehow the girls have a knack for finding them all around. Be it a snail, dung beetle, ants, spider, mantis, grasshopper, caterpillar and host of others whom I do not know to identify.

As soon as they see one, the girls take out their magnifying glasses to have a sneak peek into the lives of their discovery.

Birds and Butterflies

In our new neighbourhood, we do get to hear bird sounds once in a while. Though, sighting them is very difficult. Girls are learning to guess the bird from the sounds they make. Pigeons are the only birds they get to see in the city. No sparrows, no mynahs, no crows, no other birds; apart from their books.

The girls have a collection of peacock feathers. They are planning to make a dye out of blueberries and write with the feathers. Let us see how the plan unfolds.

The bumper prize – Sighting of the butterfly and running after the butterfly until it flies out of sight.

Stones and Pebbles

The girls have been collecting stones ever since they started taking their tiny steps outside the house. Whenever we go out, almost always, the girls come back home with a stone each in their hands, if not more.

The girls pick up stones from the footpath, from the road, from construction sites, from demolition sites, anywhere and everywhere. If we step out of the house twice in a day, then we have double the collection.

We have boxes and tubs filled with stones at our house. At times, I fear that municipal officers might levy penalties on us for our girls’ stone-lifting.

The Nature Walk

My wife and I believe that the nature walk keeps the child in our twin daughters alive.

I hope and pray that their fascination with nature continues. Fingers crossed.

5 Lessons Kids Learn At Indian Wedding

Our five years old twin daughters, O +ve and B +ve, attended a wedding last month at Chennai. The kids were excited about the travel, meeting new people – fellow kids and relatives, attending the wedding, the ceremonies and what all and whatnot. We are not sure what excited them the most. Though, does it matter when it comes to Indian Wedding?

It was an experience for the girls – the wedding and the paraphernalia. I am sure they learnt a few lessons from their interactions and the happenings around them.

The Relatives

The kids learnt to nod to all the relatives who asked if the girls remembered them, when they met earlier, when they were in their nappies.

The kids learnt to get their cheeks, their head, their back patted from various directions by dotting relatives. At times, simultaneously.

The girls were bombarded with the same question – Which school do you go to, by all and sundry. The girls beamed and answered to all that they do not go to any because they are young children.

The Food

Getting hold of two chairs is a pain for us in any of the buffets we have gone till now. How does one expect to feed children standing all the time?

Here, it was a pleasant surprise. The breakfast and dinner were served on a banana leaf. Now, one cannot stand and hold a banana leaf with food inside. So, we had tables and chairs. The girls learnt to have their food in banana leaves.

Our children have a mix of Telugu and Gujarati food. In this wedding, the girls learnt to have loads of Tamil pickles, podi, curry and a different taste to rasam and sambhar.

More importantly, the girls fed themselves for all the meals, without a fuss. Not sure, what clicked. The banana leaves, the Tamil food, the people sitting around them; whatever.

The Dress

The girls learnt to put on 3 different dresses in a day, with all the paraphernalia for their ears, neck, hands, legs. Kudos to their mother for the patience she has in changing 6 pairs through the day.

The girls tried out various colour combinations and they went on and on. I felt blessed that I cannot identify any colours other than primary colours.

Trying to put clothes to the age-group of 3-6-year-olds, which they are not used to, is one crazy exercise. They drive us nuts with their antics and tantrums, and this was no different. They learnt to add new tricks to their armoury in this dressing up and dressing down episodes.

The Children

In the earlier marriages that we attended, we went around the food time and never noticed it. However, this time when we were present for two full days for all the ceremonies, it was starkly visible. With two hyperactive kids, we had to bear the maximum brunt of it.

Our daughters learnt and we also learnt that there are hardly any children around in Indian weddings. Gone long are the days when the kids would be running around in the wedding ceremonies and creating a ruckus. Few of them turned up during meal times, but that is it. Our daughters did not find any play-mates for them, that we promised before the travel.

Wonder where the children have gone to vanish from the scenes of the Indian wedding?

The Ceremony

We had told the girls that marriage is a ceremony. Now, the ever-inquisitive five years olds wanted to know – When/How/What is the ceremony? There are a few things that we learn only when we experience it first-hand. This was one of it.

We had no answers to satisfy the curiosity of young minds. They wanted to know what was happening and why it was happening. I realized that I was clueless about their queries. I also realized that there was no way in which I could answer their questions. Apart from the priest, who would have known what was going on, I do not think there was an informed soul around.

As the girls kept asking – Is the ceremony over during both the days, their initiation to dumbing down the curiosity about the religious ceremonies had started.

The parents’ perspective

Attending an Indian Wedding is an important part of the child’s learning and growing up process. They get used to the attack on the sensory organs – eyes (bright lighting), ears (deafening music), nose (strong perfumes), skin (pinch and pat) and get only chocolates for their taste buds.

The arrangement for Indian weddings hardly leaves any space, time and resources for children to do what they do – play or try and involve them in the proceedings.

Indian weddings ensure that the child’s journey to the impending adulthood gets initiated at the earliest.

5 Ways For Children To Enjoy The Train Journey

The very mention of the train journey leads our twin daughters to jubilation and excitement. B +ve and O +ve look forward to train journeys as if we are going to a second home. Their reaction is like the brand ambassadors of the adage – It is the journey that counts, not the destination. For their interest lies in the train journeys, like none other.

The Railway Station

Our children love going to the railway station. Leave aside our train journeys, we go to the railway station to wave goodbye and say welcome to any of the family members that cross Secunderabad railway station. We wave to not just departing family members, but to all the passengers looking out of their windows and doors, guard, TTEs, pantry staff and sundry.

Even though the train has departed/is yet to come, we loiter on the railway station inspecting the escalators, sweepers, food stalls, trolleys, large rats scavenging on the tracks, leaking water pipes, pigeons and crows, and of course the stray dogs. The girls do want to have a peek inside the engine but the government staff does not believe in giving hands-on experience to children.

At times, we have taken food from home and gone to the railway station to have our meal. It has been a worth-while experience for our children just being at the railway station.

The train journey – Outside of the coach

We used to travel in AC class when the girls were young. However, after they turned two years, we realized that they are not enjoying the view behind the glass. So, we moved to the sleeper class / general class.

Whatever the girls see outside the moving train – trees, flowers, fields, crops, barren land, hills, factories, cattle, people, railway stations, dried river-beds, sky, birds and of course the garbage that accompanies the railway tracks – is a topic for discussion. The children want to know about each and everything that passes by and why it is the way it is.

Whenever the train has an extended stoppage at any station, we get down acclimatizing ourselves with the new place.

The train journey – Inside of the coach

The girls love to walk through the compartment. They are not comfortable crossing the coaches yet. They make acquaintance with the fellow passengers and run around merrily in the walking aisle. As I walk behind them, people get to identify me as the harried father of the two bundles of energy.

The girls love climbing up the upper berth. As they monkey around – up and down the upper berth, I end up standing in the aisle for an extended duration so that they do not fall in the moving train.

No matter what the Railways claim about the bio-toilets and the cleanliness drive, the wash-room is a big thumbs-down from the girls. Unless it is an over-night journey, they would not step inside.

The vendors

The girls chant cha-chai coffee-coffee whenever the vendor passes by. We have tried out almost all the snacks – non-packaged and non-branded, bhel, vada pao, samosa, kachori, soup, cutlet, idli, vada and the local fruits that otherwise would not be available at our doorsteps.

The girls have seen the beggars at the traffic junctions. However, seeing the handicapped people sweeping the compartment and begging, women going around with medical files, people coming and singing yesteryears Hindi songs, eunuchs asking for money etc is a different experience altogether for the children.

At times, we have asked ourselves if we should change our mode of travel to shield our daughters from this experience. The answer has been – Indians ought to know India in all its avatars.

The games and the food

When we travel to my home-town Rajkot, it is a 28-hour train journey one way. All the above loses its sheen after the 18-24 hour time. Then, it is the time for the blocks, books, play-doh, activities that we carry along-with and of course the toys, that we buy along the way.

Needless to say, the children get hungry more on the train journey. We carry a good amount of food to keep their little tummies full.

Summing Up

Indian Railways is not at all an easy place to travel in with children. We have a tough time sleeping in the night with the two girls. The wash-room invariably stinks and the girls refuse to go. It was difficult feeding them and changing diapers when they were young.

Now, the girls are enjoying themselves in the train and at the railway station, come what may.

I suppose they have internalized the Indian Railways train journey.

Introducing Seeds to Children With Fun and Games

“Summer Seed Race 2019” – A perfect time to bond and a great way to learn about seeds.

The sensorial and tactile act of rummaging, gathering and collecting seeds will contribute to kindling a genuine interest and connecting all of us intimately with our immediate natural world.

A humble attempt to get each one of us to spare a moment for the green blessings that we have taken for granted.

So said Dirty Feet‘s mail announcing the “Summer Seed Race 2019” activity under its NATURE SCHOOL programme.

B +ve and O +ve collect loads of stuff during their usual nature walks in the parks/neighbourhood. I suspect that many of them are seeds in different forms though I cannot identify any one of them. I spoke to the Dirty Feet team that we do not know a thing about plants. They replied that it is not a prerequisite at all; rather it is an opportunity to learn about seeds.

We enrolled immediately for the programme. We spent the morning of Saturday at the picturesque Sanjeevaiah Park, getting introduced to seeds in an amazingly beautiful manner.

The Seed Race

The first event was the seed race. We were a 4 member group – O +ve, B +ve, Sunny (a friend’s son aged 9 years) and myself. There were 3 teams along with us. In the race, we had to explore and scout around for seeds, seed pods and fruits.  As it was a race, there was going to be counting of the different varieties collected by us. One point for one variety and a bonus point if we can identify the tree.

We were free to google to identify the scientific/common/local names of the trees and a pdf file was also shared. I realized that I cannot identify even one seed with all the help possible and I let go off the task.

B +ve and O +ve have been to Sanjeevaiah Park several times. They started collecting the seeds from the word go. For me, it was like what is not a leaf/twig/branch, can be a seed. All the three kids were much better than me in identifying the seeds as well. Whilst scouting for seeds, they checked out many ant colonies, ran behind squirrels and watched crows having their breakfast – must-do activities for children in parks. As we were moving in one direction, park personnel warned us about the presence of snakes in the vicinity.  For a while, the kids forgot about the seeds and began to search for snakes.

As a group, we were supposed to collect only one seed of every variety, but the girls enjoyed filling their bags with whatever they could lay their hands on. So, their bags were overflowing with seeds. We finally got back to the starting point 45 minutes after we began our hunt.

The children did a good job by collecting 17 different varieties of seeds, they even identified 4 of them. I couldn’t identify even a single seed.

The Seeds Mandala

While we were away, Dirty Feet team had put together a Seed Mandala with 20 + varieties of seeds and pods. Kids were then, encouraged to pick seeds and pods from the Seed Mandala and create whatever they felt like. The children had a great time letting their imagination run wild. They were running back and forth from the seed mandala to the space provided to them to make seed installations and even had a background narrative in place to explain their intriguing creations.

The way every child was able to add life, character and features to the tiny seeds and twisted pods was mind-blowing.  The entire world with mountains, trees, birds, insects, humans, sun and earth was there in the form of seeds and pods including their selves. Dirty Feet has a stupendous collection and it was fun to watch children making the maximum use of it.

The Seed Games

Now, it was time for the Seed Games. The first up was the Subabul Moustache Game. The children had to balance the seed sticks above their lips and race without letting the sticks fall. Despite the balancing challenge, the kids thoroughly enjoyed the race. It was then the turn of the parents and I must tell you that I too loved it.

The kids then moved on to playing the Silk Cotton blow game, the dice game with Pongamia seeds and spinning eucalyptus and sea bean tops.

The cocklebur seeds were, of course, the showstoppers. When the kids figured out the clinging property of these seeds, they went the whole hog trying it on every possible surface. They then aimed the cocklebur seed darts at the silk cotton pouches. Kudos to the team, which designed the game incorporating the base characteristic of the cocklebur seed.

Phew. The children had a great time just with seeds for over three hours and I had no idea when the time flew by.

Waiting for the next Seeds Race

For me, the seed was a tiny little thing. I had no idea whatsoever that it came in so many different forms, sizes and types.

For the children, it was a great way to introduce them to seeds – nature’s bounty.

It reaffirmed my belief that if there is one way to make a better tomorrow, it is to introduce seeds, plants, trees and nature to children and parents – Dirty Feet way with fun and games. To make environment-friendly and ecologically sensitive citizens to help Mother Nature – out there in the open under the trees, day in, day out.