I was on a family holiday with my sisters in France, so I’ve had the chance to join the Rural Changemakers Tour Europe. I met the kids on their 6th day in Europe. I came by bus from Paris to Heidelberg, which was the kids’ first stop, where they stayed at Bea’s place – Bea does all our designs and layouts. They didn’t know I was coming. It was a surprise for them. When they woke up, they saw me sitting with Ulrike and Bea at the breakfast table. They could not believe their eyes 🙂
It was a big surprise! They’ve had so many things to tell. They got bicycles to roam around in the city. By now they already knew where the skatepark was, which bridges to take to reach there, where to get candies and Indian food. They had a piece of paper in their pocket with our address and phone number – but they’d already reached a stage where everyone would know where to send them. In the old part of Heidelberg, Ulrike’s hometown, people knew the Janwaar kids are in town. Every now and then they felt a bit homesick, but this didn’t stop them to have tremendous fun.
On my arrival day, Bea made breakfast for all of us. By lunch, the kids got another surprise, Claire and Graham, our friends from Canada who spent time during our last year’s competition in Janwaar, showed up. We had a full house! It was like Janwaar away from Janwaar. The kids took us the skatepark in Heidelberg. It’s a beautiful one, built under a bridge next to the Neckar river. On our way back, they showed us all their hot spots – the playground, the candy store, their friend’s house and the Indian restaurant. They really missed Indian food, but slowly and steadily they found their favorites: croissants, Bretzel, German Dampfnudel and most of all jam.
"Family reunion" at Heidelberg skatepark :-)Mannan arrived Monday morning and Claire and Graham showed up in the…
Talking about exploring new things, they went for a tennis session. Gerhard and his friend showed them patiently how to hit the ball. 300 balls were flying around. The coach said the Rural Changemakers were really really good considering it was there first time holding a tennis racket in their hands.
One of the highlights in Heidelberg was certainly the visit at the “Arabian” hairdresser. They all got a new, very stylish haircut! It was a big show and the owners of the salon didn’t hesitate to join the show. Now the kids were ready for the next stop: Hip Berlin! The European style was on 🙂
In Berlin, we stayed kids heaven! Mellow Park, a skatepark campus a bit outside the city’s center. It is a big campus with four big skateparks, basketball court, and a superb BMX racetrack. They got BMX bikes and started learning the new sport pumped up with excitement.
We’ve had our first “official” meeting with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, the organization who had sponsored the kids’ flights to and from India. We learned about their works and their reasons for supporting us. And they learned more about our journey ahead and were looking forward to know how it all went. It was very interesting to know how they help the government to stay in touch with ground realities by connecting to grassroots initiatives like ours.
Soon we were joined by our friends from Blam Studio. It was three days of intense filming and exploring Berlin. Julian and Bemo had been to Janwaar last November so the kids were happy to see more well-known faces. They took us around to historical places and skateboarding spots. The Rural Changemakers visited the Jewish memorial where Ulrike gave a history lesson. We went to one of the most famous skateboarding spots in Berlin – The Kulturforum. The courtyard of the museum is designed as big big slope. In addition, it has stairs, high and low pedestals, rails etc. The Rural Changemakers shredded the space along with Julian, Bemo, Lucas and Conrad – the Blam Studio team. One big open skatepark! We did a “soft drink tasting” there. Julian had bought a variety of popular German soft drinks – such as Capri Sonne, Mate, Bionade, vanilla milk – for the kids to try. Some they liked, some they didn’t, some they loved 🙂 It was fun to see their reactions to these new tastes.
Jewish Memorial designed by Daniel Libeskind, Berlin.
Decathlon had organized an event for the Changemakers at their megastore at Berlin-Alexanderplatz. Arun gave a talk in Hindi about where he came from and told his story. Then Decathlon unveiled the limited Janwaar Castle skateboards edition. A big moment. The kids were very proud to have their own labeled boards!
Wow!! Look at the new collection by Decathlon Berlin. Thank you Jean-Philippe Rode and Oxelo Skateboards for such a welcome 🙂
Towards the end of the journey in Berlin, the Rural Changemakers attended the Berliner Liste – Fair for Contemporary Art in the East Side Gallery. The Art Show is one of the most popular art events in the city. In association with Boards Without Borders, we showcased five Artboards – which were painted in a common effort by our kids and the kids at Art Ichol, an Art Center not far away from Janwaar. Bemo and Julian turned out to be the greatest auctioneers. While Julian was animating the people with his incredibly well-trained voice to join the auction, Bemo – having little Ramesh on his shoulder – was telling the Janwaar story. A true performance – and, as usual, Ramesh was the star! The funds we raised were used for our tour itself. We needed to get going 🙂
While three are fully in action, Arun is happily sleeping 🙂
The Rural Changemakers explored many other skateparks in Berlin. The “dogshit” park became their most favorite! At the Skatehalle Berlin they had an interaction with the local skateboarding scene – and at Gleisdreieck they loved the bowl! Ramkesh honed his kick-flip, Arun started using ollie to jump on rails, grind on stairs and Sujin got better in his freestyle skateboarding techniques.
After 6 exciting days in Berlin, the Rural Changemakers continued their journey to Cologne, while I left for India. A cheery adieu!