Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Preparing For CFS!

'I am going' my daughter declared,the minute she came home from school,in a tone that brooked no argument.Now since this tone is usually my perogative,I was surprised to say the least!'Going where?'I asked with some trepidation.(Trepidation,hesitation,palpitation comes naturally to mothers of children who have just entered their teens and already think they are adults!)Pat came the reply'For CFS!'As I am a complete ignoramus when it comes to the American system of education,she helpfully expanded it for me.'Cultural Field Studies'.
It transpired that the school was taking the 8th grade students to Mt.Suswa Conservancy,a double volcanic crater,which is a few hours drive from Nairobi.The children would be camping out in tents for three days,hiking,walking and exploring the caves formed by lava flow,with Masai guides.They would also be interacting with the local population at a school in the crater.Now I am not the type of mother who blissfully sends the kids hiking,camping,trekking and the like.I prefer them under my nose most of the time,never mind if they are underfoot as well!Hence my daughter's apprehension that she would be forbidden and the firm declaration that she would go!But since this was through the school I,for once,had no objections,nor did my husband,and so we began preparing for the trip.
The first must have on the list was a sleeping bag.We have two in India but I had never imagined we would need them here!So we had to fork out an exhorbitant amount to buy one from the nearest mall.Next on the list was a torch.We have lost count of the number of torches we have back home and  not one of them here!My husband liked a torch which could be clipped onto her cap and I had to remind him that they were going to explore the caves,not mine in them!A hand held one would do just fine!(at half the cost of the miners torch,of course!)
The next issue was that of vegetarian food.Being one of two vegetarians in the whole group of almost eighty students,I was not sure if she would be catered for.So in went Parathas,Mathri-both sweet and spicy,potato wafers and potato sticks,Oreos cookies in two flavours,apples and some sweets.I once read somewhere that Indian mothers just want their children to eat and study and her bulging sack surely proved the first part right!
Finally D day dawned and like typical Indian parents we went to drop her to school-though the regular school bus would have done just as well!The scene in front of our eyes reminded me of days from my cantonment childhood when we would see army units moving out for some military excercise.Huge overlanders were being loaded with everything from tents to ground sheets,massive bottles of water,crates of soft drinks and kitchen equipment,to say nothing of the luggage of so many students!There was no chaos or confusion,just precision.
Ten minutes before the given time of departure,they were ready to roll.Everything and everyone was in place.Our Indian Standard Time will definately not work here!
As I said 'Bye' to her for the upteenth time,I reminded myself of Khalil Gibran's famous verse,
'Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself,
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you,they belong not to you.'

Though a DNA test might prove otherwise!!

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