Write-up from Nanta Kumar:
How much did I know that fighting ‘The Force’ to wake up at the middle of the night (Yes, 5am is midnight for me), foregoing one peaceful rain drenched Sunday morning sleep which will eventually slip into early afternoons, will turn out to be the best thing to have happened in the recent past!
CTC Ainthinai “what in the world is Ainthinai?” was my first query upon finding this organisation. Soon upon googling it and the activities undertaken, my curiosity grew and right after signing up online, came the call for the 3rd anniversary special plantation drive at Thenneri. I decided then that this is a must attend event and am glad it turned out to be one awesome experience indeed.
Early in the morning of 28th June started the long trip to a forest land near the Thenneri lake where the plantation of about 900+ saplings have already taken place. After the long car ride with ‘merry get to know’ sessions of our group which surprisingly was full of first timers except one (I have named her at the end, else all will start shouting like done while she came to speak right after the group picture session at Thenneri :-P), we reached the beautiful patch of land brimming with previously planted saplings now grown into nice 5 foot trees.
The work had started already in full swing and we went straight in, picking up the crowbars and garden hoe, thinking it will be an easy task to accomplish. No, I was proved wrong! In all these 20 odd years of existence, I have never handled one farm tool, let alone dig up earth! Seeing my poor plight, support came in the form of other helpful volunteers with a smile on their faces which I am sure was due to the remembrance of their poor plight initially too. Slowly and steadily I dug up my first pit after some back aching but satisfying work.
Gradually the group, formed impromptu there, got into the flow and within no time we were well on our way to making more than 10 pits! Phew! Some level of work that was! Right then came the morning drink “Panagham”, which was more satisfying than any starbucks brewed coffee or the McD’s Frappes. We gulpedin that to our fill and took a much needed rest, while quietly observing all the worker bees striving hard to turn that place into a beautiful piece of greenery. Right then came the tractor, watering all the previously planted saplings. This caught my attention and I joined them in watering the plants while having our fair share of fun in the water!
Volunteers posing while hard at work.
Just when we finished watering came the call for food and before I could realize all hard working humans just stopped their chores and were on their march towards food as that proved too hard a temptation to resist! All the buzzing bees had gathered right near the food eagerly waiting for the feast which included sumptuous spread of pongal, sambar and vada. Actually any food after that hard work would have been great but this was too good! Slowly we began sitting in small groups and chatted our way into the food to our stomach’s full. The scene was all fun and frolic with people pulling each other legs (Maybe literally too), sharing their wonderful experiences in Ainthinai and elsewhere at work too.
Satisfying breakfast after the labor put in.
Right after the breakfast, another set of sapling with aloe vera plants had come which had to be planted in the remaining pits. We went to plant them. That’s when I got my first chance to plant a sapling, yes, and my first plant! Ah that was wonderful!
That’s me with my first sapling.
Soon all the saplings had been planted and we went ahead with the very important tasks of mulching and watering. Brief information on the uses of mulching and other water retention methods using aloe vera were explained and before long the maintenance drive was done. Now the tractor took the fancy of every member present there. Soon everyone had a whale of a time riding, sitting atop and even taking a quick dip in the water inside it. That fun was truly the epitome of the hard labour put in earlier. Meanwhile between the funs mentioned, we did manage to plant a lot of saplings, in fact a total of “160+” was planted in record time supposedly compared to previous visits.
Atop the tractor with some even dipping inside!
The day ended with all volunteers huddling together for a big group picture along with a very moving and informative speech by “Thiru.Irulandi - IFS, APCCF” on conserving our nature and the greater good that Ainthinai Team stands for. Then Ela and Blood Mani too told about how Ainthinai is striving to bring about a positive change with constant efforts from the volunteers and also sensitized us on the importance of donating blood. It was truly great to hear the immense amount of work put into this activity by the core team taking care of the minute details in executing this drive to perfection and it felt even more special to know we have been a part of this wonderful endeavor. After this the group split with some staying back for the trip to a nearby organic farm while others choosing to leave for Chennai.
A very motivating speech by Thiru.Irulandi, IFS
After all the hustle and bustle and the immense satisfaction of contributing to mother earth, we started back home and the conversation naturally veered towards mindless cutting of trees for roads etc. That’s when Abirami (Yes, I named her) shared the best thing that CTC guys follow, which I will remember forever “Don’t worry about things not in your purview, do your duty and the rest will fall in place”. Though cliche, that’s when I realized how true those words are. So if you feel like doing something for the society, NOW is the time. This one small act will go a long way in securing a pristine future. After all it is the mindset that matters. That one small determined act of waking up early might just change the way you look at life forever.
Hope to meet you during the next plantation drive.