Tai Chi Camp, 2016.

Tai Chi Camp, February 27th – 28th 2016

Tulsi Sadhana Kutir, Lonavla


Infusion of fresh blood is always exciting. This year’s camp was dominated by the youngsters, not just chronologically speaking either. The ambience was animated with an energy entirely different from the steady reserve of earlier years.

To begin with, the journey there took much longer than expected with heavy, cheek by jowl and bumper kissing traffic creeping along at an exasperatingly slow pace.  The car I was in, was far behind the rest of the group, and in it we oldies, Viswajeet and I, were outnumbered by youngsters Clint, Megan and Rupak, who kept up an interesting range of conversation and pre-empted any stifling boredom. To make matters more interesting, we soon lost the lead car and did not know the route into Tulsi Kutir from Lonavla market. We overshot the exit. Help came from the tech savvy youngsters again and two smart phones guided us.

Breakfast! Appetising breakfast just prior to the morning work-out session. The ravenous group tucked in.

We tramped to Sneh Sadan, the school grounds we use for practice. In the blazing mid-day we kept to the shaded verandah.

At the best of times stances are not easy but we needed to loosen up limbs that had been cramped and stiffened by the unexpectedly long drive. For Raksha, sole representative of the NCPA chapter, who had come all the way from Chira Bazar, the trip had begun much earlier than for the others. So we twisted and contorted into animal and bird postures loosening up every sinew and nerve. For some, this was a first time experience and definitely so for the 77 year-olds, Laxmi and Sunanda, who had joined just a month ago. Their new year resolution to do something entirely for themselves. Their grit and flexibility of attitude is a constant source of admiration.

The evening was taken up by a combination of Tai Chi and martial arts. Megan, who had accompanied her husband, Clint, must have found it easy pie since she has experience of the tougher kick-boxing. Vidya, coming from Pune at her friend Narayani’s invitation, Annima (Gerry’s wife and not a Tai Chi learner), Girija (lawyer wife of the irrepressible Kannan) and Ganesh, (husband of Bhanu) were all exposed for the first time to what Tai Chi could do for them and to anyone who attacked. Provided enough practice is put in, of course. Nabila, Hazel and Anand and Ashutosh had had previous experience of this.

Vidya is hoping to get her Pune friends started off on the discipline.

In the evening the whole group practiced the advanced ‘Fusion of the Five Senses’ which was familiar to four of us but not the others. Yet the involvement was so complete and the energy so awe-inspiring that Jeet, the eleven year old son of the caretaker who loves joining in on our sessions, sat completely quiet right through the one and a half hours.

Post dinner a surprise awaited us. This is the time of day which, in earlier camps, was devoted to meditation and sharing. This time however, Gerry had prepared his tribute to Rakesh and Tai Chi, and in that order methinks, since it is a case of the singer more than the song. He had compiled his blogs into the form of a slim book dedicated to Rakesh and to Kannan, who has become his inspiration in the world of anecdotes. Gerry and Annima worked to make it a solemn affair by presenting Rakesh with volumes fancily wrapped and ribbon tied which he released with a flourish. Each member of the group was presented a copy of the book. Sharing of memories, tributes and insights into life experiences came easily and spontaneously.

A trek and scrambling down the Khandala ravine is normally the call of the next morning but this time it was replaced by staggered practice-sessions. The first group was called at 3.30 am and the last at 8.00am. As a result, each group benefited by being introduced to its next level. While some of us have been learning for eleven years, the junior-most are just two months into the discipline and there is a wide range in between. So everyone learnt something appropriately new.

According to the calculations of Albert, our finance wiz, we did a great job. Presenting his calculations in his inimitable manner:

“We were in Lonavala from 11.00 am on Saturday to 2.30 pm on Sunday — that is 27.30 hrs; reduce 6 hours of sleep (don’t consider the 3.00 am wake up call for us) = 21.30 waking hrs.

Out of the 21.30 hrs of waking hours take away 30 mins each for BF (2) / lunch (2) and Dinner (1) and 4 hours for the to and fro journey = 21.30 – 6.30 = 15 hours ….

Out of the 15 hours of available time we practiced for 10.30 hours … that is 68.66 % of the time …

Consider the average age of 50 years (this is including a Rupak, 22 years, and Clint and Megan; take them out, the average goes up)

10.30 hrs of practice for a 50 yr average age group is quite an achievement we can all be proud of ….”

In addition to this, to my mind, the greatest advantage was the interaction among the group members. In a regular class, there is never enough time. Captive in the confines of Tulsi Kutir, we heard personal stories of adjustment, embattlement and rebellion, ambition and aspiration, personal philosophies that have helped and are helping people navigate their courses along life.

The desire to share in this large group of twenty-five with varying interests and attitudes, stamped its mark on this year’s camp.