June 17th – 18th, 2017
It was obvious that we were on the road to Chandigarh when we noticed that there were more and more Punjabi dhabas at the side of the highway.
These dhabas serve the type of food that makes your mouth water the second you hear the orders being called out by the waiters. We stopped at one and began our Chandigarh stay with paneer and naan, sitting properly on a woven cot in the late evening, against the backdrop of truckers sipping chai after chai in preparation for a long night of travel.
Chandigarh is a unique city in that it lies in both Haryana and Punjab, and also that it is India’s first planned city, divided into sectors.
Our goal in Chandigarh was to visit the Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 33. Though the students and staff were on holidays, everyone showed up to see the bus.
A school visit on our trip looked like this:
First, the team and initiative is introduced to the students and staff and then everyone is free to climb aboard the bus. The students are always curious, eagerly asking questions and giving their opinions to the videographer, Shantanu, for the documentary. Abhishek is running around taking pictures, especially portraits. Sanket and Keshav are on the bus explaining how a session on the bus would work. Pallavi is conducting a practical from the Personal Health and Hygiene course and measuring everyone’s blood pressure (she, ultimately, had checked so many people’s blood pressure that she became annoyed at the machine and refused to check her own). Surpriya is welding something, we’re still not quite sure what exactly she’s welding, to enunciate the fact that girls can also handle such tasks. Kanan is explaining the various course material and the rest are fielding any and every question that people might have.
In the afternoon, we met with Mr. P.K. Das, the Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Haryana’s School Education Department at the Shiksha Sadan, and he was genuinely enthusiastic about the initiative, and we can confirm this because he skipped his Saturday plans to come and meet us!
Pallavi, one of the students on the trip, could not believe that she was spending her birthday in Chandigarh. We had to celebrate, so we cut cake at Sukhna Lake in the evening, and then headed out for a proper Punjabi dinner, with possibly the most delicious paneer in existence.
Leaving the cuisine of Punjab proved difficult, but the team was ardently looking forward to reaching Jammu and Kashmir.