It feels good to be writing about Timbaktu.

Surprisingly, though I have known Timbaktu or T2 (as we call it), and probably consider it a second home, I have never written about it. Worse still, in these 20 years or so, I have not clicked a single picture of it.

Timbaktu is a 32 acres piece of land, a home, a community, a school, a habitat, a way of life. I won’t go into the details of T2 – you can read it at http://www.timbaktu.org.

Timabktu has meant a lot of things to a lot of people, though I do feel that it could have been much more … but then, c’est la vie, that’s life and we continue.

The hills around T2 reminds me of the lands of the battle between the forces in Lord of the Rings. With serrated-edge-back hills, they lie around like sleeping dragons. The bare, barren, brown has a startling beauty and moves the soul in ways in which deep forests or mountains cannot move. It tells a story of hardship, of scratching life out of an earth that refuses to give, and a hunger for life.

The Timbaktu land was also originally similar in nature… rocky, bare, with a few clumps of grass and thorn bushes clinging here and there. But with huge amounts of care and nurture by Bablu, Simhachalam, Shashi and the many people who worked there over the years, it has now become a green, tree covered land. The land has slowly healed over the decade, the water has come into the stream, the animals and birds have returned and the whole habitat has regenerated.

Neelakanta’s wife, their shop in CKP

The nearest village to Timbaktu is Chennekothapalli (CKP) – it means a ‘good, new, village’. It is one of the ‘new villages’ of the million new villages. Every other village is a ‘kothapalli’ ! CKP is like any other village centre, with its chai shops, bajji-carts, bus stop, mechanic shops etc. With one main street, which is part of the highway, it bustles and broods in the heat.

Its impossible to talk of T2 without mentioning their school. T2 would not be the same without the laughter and noisy playtime of the school kids, their songs or their Kolattam.


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