The Black Orchid of Kalimantan by Advay Burte

Advay Burte is currently in Std VI Shraddha. He is a voracious reader and loves to play games like Table Tennis.

Advay shares his English school project from last year, when he was in Standard V.  The piece was a revelation for to his family, who didn’t know they had a budding writer in their midst. Advay joined Shishuvan in Standard V and this project was one of the first ones that he did in school.



I was running for my life. I was being chased by a lion…..I woke up with a start. I
was in an aeroplane going to Indonesia. A few months ago, my parents and Meena
and Harsh’s parents had decided to go on a trip to Indonesia. The day after that I
had read a newspaper article about the rare ‘black orchid of Kalimantan’. I was
excited and told Meena and Harsh about it. Meena shrieked excitedly, “ Lets find
it! Let’s find it!” “Awesome!” said Harsh, who looked calm and composed but I
could tell he was eager to find it too. Now here we were, en route to finding our
Kalimantan orchid. Meena and I are of the same age though she is a few months
older than me. Harsh is eleven years old and tall for his age. He is a joker and
makes us laugh with his jokes and comments. Meena shrieks like a banshee and
doesn’t seem ten years old. I am a bit like both of them but I don’t shriek like
Meena but joke a lot like Harsh. After a few more hours we landed in Indonesia.
Indonesia was beautiful and green. We drove to our lodge. It was a nice, small villa
called the Kalimantan Jungle Lodge. We were so tired that we immediately slept
off in our rooms in the villa.

I was awakened by the chirping of birds. As we walked into the lobby for our
breakfast, a man of medium height came towards us and said “ Selamat Datang
(‘Welcome’ in Indonesian). I am your guide. My name is Asar”. After a delicious
breakfast of oats, coconut, fruits molasses and yoghurt (called ‘dadiah campur’) we
went into the forest with Asar. We saw many beautiful flowers and colourful birds
but did not see the orchid. We saw some hairy orangutans on the trees. Soon it
became dark and Asar said we should go back.

On the second day we went on another trail in the jungle. We saw a baby viper
and some unusual bugs and butterflies. We looked for the orchid but could not find
it. Meena, Harsh and I got a little frustrated though we enjoyed the forest. By the
end of the second day the adults were tired. They said that they were too tired to
come with us the next day.

On the third day, instead of going on the trail, we went down a steep slope. Even
Asar had not gone there in a long time. There was a waterfall which ended as a
lake. Meena wanted to explore the lake, but Harsh said, “We have to find the
orchid, remember?” “The orchid might be in the water”, replied Meena. “The book
does not say it is under water and any way do you have your diving gear?” I asked
Meena. She retorted, “ No”. So we went on tiptoe on the rocks in the lake.
Suddenly the monkeys started chattering loudly and the birds were chirping and
creating a racket. Asar put his hand to his ear and listened. Then we heard a
resounding roar! All of us were terrified. After sometime the chirping and the
chattering became faint. After a few minutes Asar said, “I don’t think the lion is
here. But I think we should be quiet.” We continued walking quietly. Once or twice
we thought we found the Black Orchid but no, it was another pretty flower and
not the flower we wanted. We took photos of it. Then we stopped for lunch. After
lunch, we resumed walking.
Around four o’clock, the forest became dark and Asar said, “We should go back
now.” We were unhappy and disappointed because we did not see the Black orchid.
On the way back everyone was tired. Once we stopped because Meena was too
tired. So, all of us sat down to catch our breath. Suddenly, we saw some
movement in the grass. We heard some piercing shrieks. We went forward
cautiously to take a look. It turned out to be a large bird with its young. As the
adult bird came towards us, Meena shrieked. The bird shrieked back!

It was a curious-looking bird, three feet tall and white in colour. It had a big beak.
Meanwhile, Asar had opened his bird handbook. He flipped page after page and
finally stopped on the last page. He gasped and then whispered, “A dodo!”. We
were surprised and did not believe it. Meena said, “How can it be a dodo?” I
whispered, “Photos! Photos!” We took some photos of them and hurried back to
the lodge. After we were inside our room, Meena said, “We should tell people about
the dodo- we will be famous.”I said, ”Yes, we will be famous.” But Harsh said,
“Yes, it is true- we will be famous. But what about the dodos? People from all over
the world will come here to see the dodos and they might really become extinct!” I
said “Yes, Harsh is right.” Meena too agreed saying, “People will come and disturb
the dodos. Instead, let them live peacefully.” So we all agreed to not tell anyone
except our parents about the dodos and told Asar not to tell anyone about the

Long Live the Dodos!


A parent’s perspective on Project Day

Manish Kamdar is no stranger to the school blog. His daughter  Kavya is in Standard IV and Manish  is an engineer, entrepreneur, blogger and foodie. His other hobbies include stamp collecting, coin collecting, public speaking and blogging. This piece, first appeared on Manish’s blog, here.
Kavya’s school, Shishuvan, held their Project Day 2014 on July 25th and 26th. As has been the norm, every child participates in the event (will not wax eloquent on that lest I stray from my thoughts) The theme for Kavya and her class IV was India and her neighbours. Kavya sang a Bangladeshi song (she said it was written by Rabindranath Tagore), a Pakistani song (which was more like a nice prayer),and a song in different languages which had French and German words considering my little knowledge of all the languages. She was to introduce the Chinese song so as a Toastmaster in the making, it was my duty to coach her which I did and she carried it off with aplomb during the rehearsals at home.

As Friday was a working day, I could not attend the Project Demonstration, but on Saturday we were there by 0850 which was her reporting time. There was so much knowledge to imbibe from the children. I went to her class first and was greeted by a huge map of India showing mountains, plains etc. and children asked the parents questions. It can be embarrassing believe me to tell a 10 year old that you don’t know something. They would then explain it to me. Kavya and her friend were talking about National Symbol.

There were a lot of other things including a word search in Hindi which was very tough for me. Then they had capitals of states and I was corrected when I said that the capital of Assam is Guwahati: it is Dispur for those who don’t know. The children even wore the traditional attire for states and had the delicacies of that state on the table. The vada paavs and other items were tempting and I joked with the kids if they were meant for me.

The musical event then started and so I witnessed that as will be seen from the video links below. Kavya spoke well and seems to be a potential member in the making for Bombay Toastmasters.

After that I strayed into the Class V rooms just to see what was in store for Kavya next year. It was impressive to see children at that age discussing solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems. They even had a complete chart on the Solar Park in Gujarat which was worth reading. Sometimes you skim through news paper or magazine articles but these posters are short and the copy is crisp so you can gain the gyaan you want. Try it if you haven’t.

Came back to Kavya’s class ie Standard IV and saw the Indian monuments made by them. Well, don’t expect models to be replicas of what you actually see but these were the children’s way of portraying them. Kavya had chewed my head over some words on Howrah Bridge which I gave to her courtesy Google & Wikipedia. Lo and behold, I see those words there along with their model of Howrah Bridge. Children maintain that veil of secrecy honestly. She wouldn’t divulge what to expect and it sure came as a surprise to see so many models made by the children.

The revelation for me was that they had actually contacted a school in Bangladesh and exchanged Powerpoint presentations with each other showing them their school, the country etc. And they received similar presentations from there as well. Wow. That was impressive indeed. I always wondered that pen friendship was all but over with the advent of Social media, e-mail etc. but no it is there in some other form. How I wish Kavya takes to pen friendship like my Dad (her Grandfather) and me. We have both enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing to friends over the years and they are now more than family to us.

I then heard a rhythmic loud drumming which was quite impressive so I went up to the 4th floor and saw these two boys from VII standard playing drums (sorry but for a layman anything would be a drum even if it were a tabla or mridangam). They showed great dexterity and the crowds were equally enthusiastic in cheering them. Worth a dekko any day.

Enthusiastic parents and grandparents thronged the school but honestly it was the enthusiasm of the students and teachers which could be sensed in the air and that made the whole event a memorable learning experience. Keep it up Shishuvan and keep it up Kavya and all students. Proud of you all.

Photographs available here

The beginning of the musical event with the children saying Hello available here

The Bangladeshi Song is here

The Pakistani Song is here

Kavya’s video introducing the Chinese song available here. Coincidentally I ran out of memory just when she finished speaking so couldn’t get the Chinese song.