The first song that we played on our home telly the day we got the cable, was ‘Kai Po Che‘ from the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. This was when I was five years old. Growing up in Tanzania, I missed out on festivals like Rakshabandhan, Holi, Sankranti and after all these years the child in me finally got to experience it all. This time, it was through VSO’s Tarang, a kite flying festival held on 8th February 2015. It was my first time volunteering for a VSO Special Project and I was excited. The first meeting started around three weeks before the event and I signed up under publicity team. It was amazing to see the large number of volunteers that were involved in organizing the event. We had various teams like Sponsorship, Logistics, Audio visual, Stalls, Flashmob, Tickets etc.
The senior coordinators who were all rounders were simply superb. We were working under the leadership of Dr. Prabhakar Sastri and Anup Naha sir. It was the first time I saw the friendly side of these Professors.
My job was to put up posters in colleges and around the campus and sell tickets. One of the perks of being in VSO, and organizing such a big event was the opportunity to make friends with people from different colleges. In all our time in Manipal, most of us get to know a very limited number of students from other colleges. For the first time I was working with people from MCODS, MIT, SOAHS, some who lived in my very own hostel or in neighboring ones and I would have never got to know them if it hadn’t been for Tarang.
As the event came closer, the pressure increased. We had to set up a table for ticket selling at the KMC food court and get the word out. The flash mob team did some amazing publicity and we were all set for Tarang. All permissions were in place, the football ground at End Point was inspected and ready that morning. The team in charge for kites moved in, the food stalls were set up, the audio visual begun playing songs from the latest albums and games were ready too!
With my point and shoot camera in hand, dressed in my VSO T-shirt, I made my way to endpoint on Sunday afternoon. I reached End Point at about 1 and got to work with threading of kites. I learned how to put holes and thread a kite and now I feel like an expert. At around 2 all the volunteers were provided lunch to re-energize so that we could give in our hundred percent. Everything was perfect and I wanted to capture it so I clicked some Behind the Scenes photos. Most of the volunteers were adding the final touches and getting ready to receive the crowd. VSO had invited the kids from Shri Krishna Balniketan and ASARE for Tarang. The teams in place received them and the kite flying begun. The latest tracks played as everyone flew kites. The various food stalls offered shwarma, ice creams, vada pav, pizza etc soon got busy with customers.
Once a few of my friends showed up and begun with the Gujarati kite flying stereotype questions which I had expected, I decided to try my luck at kite flying. I knew it theoretically and then for the first time I did it, practically. As I demonstrated with some miracle, I watched my kite soar high up. I was pulling and letting loose at the right time and my kite flew! I was delighted with myself.
The sunset behind end point made the event look picturesque. The ASARE team along with some brave girls had taken the liberty of forming a circle, dancing near the sound system and in no time everyone had joined in. I danced with my friends and with the VSO volunteers. I had more fun dancing at Tarang than I have had at most parties. Everyone was carefree and simply enjoying the moment to the fullest. The crowd also heard some brave voices who came up to sing some songs before switching back to dancing.
At around 7pm, we thanked the crowd and said our goodbyes, promising to meet again in 2016. All the volunteers gathered for group photos. People who did not know each other few days back were now grinning and hugging as they posed for pictures. I added my name to the list of attendance that I was in charge of before handing it over to Dr. Shastri. The main event was over, but there was still work to be done. The Clean Manipal team cleared the football ground by 10 PM on that very night and we left it spotless, just the way we found it. Next day, over evening tea and snacks at Dr. Shastri’s house we sat and discussed on how to improve. For now, VSO celebrates the successful event, Tarang. All the funds raised will be utilized for community projects in the future.
It was an absolute delight to be part of the Tarang team. I look forward to future VSO projects and touching the life of others. A small part played by an individual in a big team can make a change. I am glad that VSO has given us the platform to bring that change. If someone had told the five-year old me that I would fly a kite in India at an event like Tarang, I wouldn’t have believed it. The future is always changing and I believe in steering it forward, in a better direction.
Nishma Khetia | Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2013 – 2016)