Saturday, 28 July 2012

Girls World Forum...July 2012...Chicago

Early mornings in Chicago were amazing. The hotel was just 5 minutes walk from the Lake and the Lake was so big that it could have been the sea - you can't see the other side of it! Running along the board walk was refreshing and there were no cows, dogs, pigs...just plenty of other people doing the same thing as me!

The forum itself was part of the WAGGGS series of celebration events for our centenary. Girls attended from 79 countries and I think there was around 600 of us who attended all up. I got to go as a WAGGGS facilitator...there were a bunch of from each of the World Centres and then some other ramdoms! Totally joking...the most amazing group of people that I've been in the same place with at the same time in a long time!

We worked hard to support the Girl Planning Team from the USA who lead the event. However, we did manage to find time to play hard too...even one day hired some bikes, explored the boardwalk and took a swim in the lake. Felt very odd to be swimming right next to downtown Chicago but it was perfect!

Another amazing highlight for me was meeting my Girl Scout music hero Melinda Caroll...I know I'm a Girl Guide dork and so do you but it was incredible. MC wrote 'We Change the World' which is a song I have been playing and singing since it was first released when I was a volunteer here at Sangam in the early 90's. My meeting with MC was facilitated by some new friends of mine and was a total surprise and I didn't get over the excitement for some days. I even got her to sign my guitar. Plus we are planning a music event at Sangam...look out for details of this other GG and GS dorks!!!

The aim of the forum was to inspire girls to change our world especially in relation to mdg1 (poverty), 3 (women's empowerment) and 7 (environment). As facilitators we worked with small groups at the forum around the poverty and empowerment topics and we went to the zoo to learn about the environment. I still have a bit of an ethical dilemma around this evident by the fact that my mood was a little crazy during the experience!!!

Bottom line is the girls went away totally capturing the vision that they could be part of changing our world - mission accomplished! 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

New Season

Since my last post it's been work work work getting ready for the 2012/13 Sangam season. 

It's also been hot hot hot but the good thing about hot hot hot is Mango season! Check out these beauties from the Sangam trees...

...there were so many they couldn't fit into shot and they have been turned into pickle and jam for the season plus of course we're just eating them!!!

Amidst the work stuff there has been some fun. Hayley got married and we had a blast at the wedding. 

She's happy too and is having her last official day of work at Sangam tomorrow!

Also helped my friend Manisha out last weekend. She has a social enterprise called eCoexist and she put together 'the beauty of recycling' exhibition, sale and activities at FabIndia. I Kamini and I went and did some stall work for her. We met some cool people and I think I purchased more products myself than I sold!!!

Volunteer training has been going on at Sangam for the last couple of weeks. Our Guest Services Intern is from Kenya. We have four Sangam Volunteers from UK, USA, Korea and Kenya. We also have three Volunteers-In-Training from our local community. Training officially finished yesterday and tomorrow our first event guests arrive for the season - 8 guests and their tour leader from the USA. So, Sangam season 2012/13 is underway and last night the monsoon rain fell! :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


First to London for meetings with the other World Centre Managers and catch up with staff from various departments from the bureau - very productive!  

Also managed some down time to catch up with past Sangam Volunteers but far out it was freezing!

Then it was time for leave! First stop Cambodia and my Tassie friend Al who has been working there for a couple of years.  It was great to hang with a local and we even managed some beach time.

A couple of past Sangam Tare were also in town and we went on a great bike ride together to some islands off the coast.  We really had a great day - mud included!

The Killing Fields were a bit of a challenge and really made me think about the world standing by and letting great atrocities happen to others!

Al even managed to find some Jansz for us to share - fantastic!

From Cambodia to Hong Kong to hang out with Yanny, Dale, Oliver, Asia and the dogs!  Asia and I met each other for the first time and she is extremely cute - biased auntie opinion of course!

Heading back to India tomorrow and the weekend off with Kamini before being back at work on Monday. The new season begins...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Anika's Visit

Anika came to visit – she’s one of the old Bridport crew!  In between doing the Sangam budget for 2012/13/14 and being tied to the desk I escaped to show her some of the best Pune has to offer…

1…Aga Khan palace where Gandhi was interned by the British and where his secretary and his wife died.

2…Pavarti Hill where there’s a fab temple to the goddess Pavarti and an awesome place to see the vast city of Pune.  You walk up to the temple on steps wide enough for elephants!

3…Paper dosa dinner at one of my favourite places to eat in the city.

4…A visit to Alandi and Talapur for beautiful rivers and temples.

5…An earth hour celebration where we sat by the pool and made our own junk yard band.

6…A 60km + bike ride over huge hills, across busy highways and quiet country roads.

7…A drive and then a walk up to the Lion fort where Shavaji used to rule over Maharastra in the old days.

8…Sonu enjoyed having a house guest too!

Anika has headed off to Goa today and I’m back in the office with the budget!!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

End of Season

It's been a month since I found time to write a post and here are some of the reasons why...

During the March Essence of India event we played Holi (the Indian festival of colours) with all our event participants, staff and some of our local friends.  The party was at Sangam and organised with our friends from eCoexist.  Manisha is the founder of this social enterprise that sells environmentally friendly products and festival 'stuff' including this awesome Holi colour.  No words can explain the craziness of this festival - come and experience it for yourself next year I say!!!  

During the last event of the season - Young Women Leading for a Greener Future - we had a full house - 70 + people from 39 countries.  The focus of the event was leadership and environmental sustainability.  The event was run by a planning team from across the globe and as the Sangam team we supported their work logistically and in whatever way we could!  Not much sleep was had by all.  

It was the last welcome ceremony of the season so we went a bit crazy in our welcome ceremony sari pic's...

On the last day of the event we did a uniform pool jump just for good measure...

The season officially finished on the 23rd of March and all the volunteers and Tare (community programme participants) started heading home/traveling.  I was feeling like a break so I took myself off to this yoga and massage place at Mulshi.  It was quiet and the change of pace that I needed.  Here's how the days went...

Wake Up - Yoga - Breakfast - Massage - Lunch - Yoga - Massage - Walk to the Lake - Dinner - Bed

...came back physically wiped out but mentally ready for the summer and planning days at Sangam.  Budget for the next three years to write, standard operation procedures to update, office redesign plans to confirm and put into motion - all that fun stuff and of course mangoes! :)

Thursday, 1 March 2012


I was desperate for the beach!  Kamini and a bunch of her teacher friends from school were going to Goa to go to a family temple to say some prayers and make an offering because one of the teachers sons had done well in his exams - this is an Indian thing to do for sure!  The temple was located more than an hour from the beach but I knew I could escape to the sand if I went with them.  It took a 12 hour train journey from Pune...

...but it was worth it!  Too long between beaches is not good for the soul and even though there were plenty of people around I loved the experience of being in the water and having my toes on the hot sand!

We hired some beach chairs at a beach hut -as you do in Goa...

There were lots of cows on the beach so I made Kamini pretend to be one too...


We joined everyone else on the beach for sunset - once they had finished their prayers at the temple.  It was warm and beautiful!

We were there long enough for the moon to come out to play with Kirti...

The next day we visited four temples in the morning and I saw cashew nuts growing for the first time in my life...

The train journey back through the beautiful Konkan Coast forest with water falls and monkeys was awesome!  We arrived back into Pune station at 4am in plenty of time to get organised and head to work a little weary and sun burnt but it was so worth it!