When ‘Parivarthana’—an initiative by SCMS-Cochin to usher in change among school students—was in its early stages, the word in the grapevine was that it involved issues like cleaning the streets of Kochi, to blood and organ donation drives. Finally, it was announced that the topic for ‘Parivarthana’ in year 2012 was ‘Road Safety’. Spreading awareness about that topic seemed like a breeze – or so we thought, till the practice and review sessions followed.
To talk about road safety to smart new-age schoolchildren, we realised we needed to have some serious knowledge about the road rules ourselves. This prompted us to practise for hours after classes and on weekends, improvising and cementing our steps and sounds to perfection.
The programme schedule line-up started with a rhythmic prayer chant, followed by a skit that had Indian mythological characters, Lord Yamraj and Chithragupt in it, besides a reality game-show with a memorable character called Sumesh Boby. Finally, it ended with a catchy song and dance routine that had the lyrics going through our heads throughout the day. Many practise sessions later, we came to the conclusion that an artist’s life is not an easy one, because learning dialogues, dancing and simply smiling for the duration of the act gave us quite a few aches and pains. D-day finally dawned, and we were assigned the first two schools where we were to present the programme. The first school we had to go to had a nice fancy-sounding name, promising us a crowd of highly elite and sophisticated children. But as we entered the auditorium, a giant hall with no proper audio system, we were asked to perform in Malayalam to a crowd of 300 children of all shapes and sizes, shouting and yelling with zeal.
With a prayer on our lips, we were ready for combat and the show began with full-fledged energy and enthusiasm, giving us an experience of a lifetime, being with kids who loved us. Every voice modulation and even the slightest action was carefully watched and understood, and the show went on with high energy.
The next few days passed the same way, generating energy-filled performances to crowds of up to 1,500 children aged between 6 and 17. We performed in all sorts of venues – from open air courtyards to air conditioned halls – but all with the same amount of enthusiasm and pizzazz. At the end of the three days of ‘Parivarthana’, we were all exhausted, but happy. The entire experience could be summed in one word – Enriching. The duration of the programme was one month with each team getting 3 days atleast to perform, covering 6-9 schools during that period. The team visited 101 schools in and around the city interacting with more than 32,000 students.
‘Parivarthana’ enriched our lives to the point where we enjoyed ourselves and at the same time felt a flash of pride at the work we had done. From being pushed to perform to our best, managing energetic crowds of children and working under less than favourable conditions, ‘Parivarthana’ made each of us go the extra mile to becoming the complete manager.