'Road to Rishi Konda' by Geetha Waters is a memoir of insight and charm, with a serious educational purpose. The author recalls delightful and stimulating stories from her childhood to throw light on the work of the philosopher J. Krishnamurti as a revolutionary 20th century educator.
At once fascinating and enchanting, Geetha Waters' stories centre on a girl growing up in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh in the '60s and '70s.
These youthful tales are underpinned by Geetha's deep understanding of childhood education, based both on her academic studies and in practice in her daily life as a mother and childcare professional.
Written from a child's perspective, the tales of awakening to life offer the reader an opportunity to appreciate how all children learn, as they draw on a deep well of curiosity that needs to be respected. Geetha describes how Krishnamurti would warn his students about the impact of language & conditioning, urging Geetha and her friends to observe its impact on their minds and lives.
Having studied at Macquarie University in Sydney, Geetha Waters now incorporates the stories found in 'Road to Rishi Konda' in the STEP program for children and teachers in South India, a teacher training module based on education in Krishnamurti's interactive style of relating with children.
As Geetha writes in the first story of the memoir anthology, setting a thoughtful and playful tone for the whole book:
'I was born in Varkala, in the state of Kerala on the west coast of South India. My maternal grandmother Kochu Parvathi lived about half an hour away in a rural area called Edava. This word can be translated as 'come hither' or 'come here' - and also, as I later imagined, could mean 'this voice', referring to my inner voice. ... I remember we had been digging up tapioca roots from the rocky soil. We had about a dozen covered in dark earth from the ground, and they had to be washed and peeled before being cut up for the cooking pot in the kitchen. It was late afternoon and I had been running around with my cousins all morning. I left my grandmother to clean the tapioca by the well, and then went to sleep on the cool floor where my sister lay in her hammock, slung from a beam on the ceiling. My cousins were still playing in the yard. Every now and again they would run in to swing the cradle. They were all excited for me, because my father was coming to visit us the following day. At just three years old, I had no idea who he was as I could not remember what he looked like. My grandmother was very happy to hear the news, and that was all that mattered to me.'
A South Indian by birth and having spent thirty years living in Australia, Geetha now gives to readers all over the world the opportunity to enjoy her stories of growing up at a special time and in a special place.