History is a beautiful subject but we hardly ever take it out of the textbooks! If you ask me history is such an engaging pursuit that if taught right, can create a great amount of interest in students. The right guidance can get the students to see the unseen, to go beyond the facades and perceive the meaning of the hidden stories. History has the potential of creating better future citizens of the world as a cross-cultural awareness while finding our roots will definitely prove to be of help in a world which is being torn apart based on religious and cultural differences.
I, for sure, believe in taking history beyond its textbook pages and exploring it outside the classrooms. So often we walk past relics, failing to notice their architectural beauty or historic importance. What we need is someone who will give us the vision to see them!
My professors helped me gain that sight and now I make a point to pass it on to my students. Though not as efficient or knowledgeable as any of my professors, I try – in my small ways – to give to my students that experience of ‘living the history’.
In my teaching career, since 2014, I have taken batches of students to Kanheri Caves (one of my personal favourite) each year. And believe me, the students love it – because they get to monkey around on a picnic day or because they actually find the caves interesting I have no idea – but they love it! A few years back in 2014, while doing my masters, I conducted my very first Heritage Walk. It was in Sion for the members of Bombay Local History Society and the Heras Institution of Research and Study. The walk got such a phenomenal response and featured in newspapers a few times. You can read the news articles here, here, here and here!
From taking my classmates and professors for a walk in Sion and the first batch of my students for a walk in Kanheri to now being a freelance Heritage Walk Guide/Leader with Sahapedia Walks & Talks was a long journey full of anxiety and self-doubt. How the walks affect the people I take around, I don’t know. But they give me a very good chance of improving my self-confidence and overcoming the insecurities.
Last Sunday again I took a group of local history enthusiast for a Heritage Walk around Sion and have yet another scheduled at Elephanta Caves on 11th of March.
I like the thought that I’m doing my bit for preserving the oral traditions of transferring the knowledge of history and disclosing to the people and my student the beauty of the subject. What I love about these walks is the expressions of utter bewilderment that the participants give when they discover that they were oblivious to such interesting facts about a building or a region that they passed by on a daily basis!
I love the fact that I’m helping them to have an insight into the stories that each region or place has to tell. Am I proud of myself? Yes, definitely. I dared to walk on a different path (if you live in India, you know what I mean). I dared to put my passion and happiness before money or anything else.
So yes, I’m happy and proud! Period.
I will continue to take walks back in time. If you too are interested, come walk with me….
© 2018 Ashwini Nawathe, Kaleidoscope of My Life
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