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Trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib

Good Morning!!
I know there is nothing crafty in this blog in the recent past. But hold on, I have been doing crochet/knitting projects and have updated them in Ravelry. Once I get past these planned posts, I’ll post them here too.

Recently( he he, just last week), I undertook a trip cum trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib.
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I took the trip with Appoopanthadi, the ladies only travel group, based out of Trivandrum.
This was my 3rd trip with the group and I’m quite comfortable with the arrangements made by them in the past too.
My first trip was to Gandikota , aptly named as “Indian Grand Canyon” in Kadapa, AP.
And the second one was one day trip to Shravanabelagula and Shettihalli.

You can follow the facebook page and also be part of the Whatsapp group. Sajna, the founder and avid traveller arranges reasonable and interesting travel tours (mostly over weekends). When she had posted about Valley of Flowers, I guess I would have been one of the few who signed up early. Yes, for the trek which happened in July, I signed up in March-April time.
Promptly, I booked all my flight and train tickets.
The group facilitates by forming a whatsapp group will all fellow travellers. So you can wait and plan your travel along with others. But you are free to be on your own too.

As the trip date approaches, whatsapp group was buzzing with activity on things to carry, workout plans ( !!! yes) and with do’s and don’ts.

To brief you about the workouts(now that I have completed it).
Foremost, I could not do the squats as recommended.
What is required is good overall fitness. I have been jogging/walking for over 10 yrs. I guess that gave me quite confidence that I could do it.
I have knee pain so even when I attempted the squats, the knee pain increased and made me think over the whole trip plan.
But I persevered, believe me without squats too you can do the trek.
Regularly go for long walks and build your stamina. Walk preferably on roads with up and downs. Being in Bangalore, there was always some gradient on the roads.
Do not over stress yourself with any specific exercise, overall fitness and self confidence matters.
Water consumption is vital. Being hydrated is essential to prevent from altitude sickness. This is very easy. Carry a thermos( I carried milton water bottle flask) and keep sipping as you walk.

Things to buy: The group helps you with a check list and general guidance.
From Rishikesh to Govindghat, we went by tempo traveller
From Govindghat to Pulna, by Jeep
From Pulna, our luggages were sent by Pony to Ghangria.
We stayed in Ghangria for the next 3 days. Luggages were kept in room.
While coming back, Again luggages were sent back by Pony.
And later by Jeep, tempo traveller.
You can pack light but I would recommend, carry sufficient Winter clothing and full sleeve T-shirts. Because, up there, everything is damp( with incessant rains) and it is not comfortable re-using T-shirts. But it is your choice.

Feeling: Though I have gone over and paid for the entire trip, there was constant worry and doubt over whether I’ll be able to do the trek. Discuss with close friends and family. They will give you all the assurance and positive vibe. My husband was so supportive and said he is fully confident that I’ll be able to do it. I felt elated. Yes, it counts. He wanted to get me a handy messenger bag. I got a bag and the print as like this.
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We both were laughing, I was not “Fearless”. Instead, doubt and worry was creeping all over me. Nevertheless, I was ready to go ahead and face the worst( if any !!)

On the day of travel, my husband dropped me near the bus stop to take bus to Airport.
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Pls note, this is my first solo flight journey.I have flown before several times, but never alone. I know all the routine, but was never alone. People may say, what is there, it is nothing to worry, but all I’m saying is be ready to face the many “firsts” that you will encounter in life. Only the “first” matters, I did not even think about this during my return journey.

Yes, Check in done, Security check done. I must be the first one to arrive at the Gate for that Indigo flight which took me from bangalore to delhi.
I settled myself with Kindle and trying to get immersed in the ever interesting Agatha Christie murder mysteries.
Well, the flight happened, I reached Delhi.
I met two more fellow travellers Midhu and Sarika from Appoopanthadi. After seeing the New Delhi Railway station where we have to board the train to Haridwar, we roamed a bit around Delhi. We went to the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, loved the calm, serene and religious feeling.

We did bit of shopping( I bought a Kada ), had dinner in the Gurudwara Langar and got back to the railway station.
Travel is all about experience, there were many in this travel for me.
In Gurudwara, you cannot waste food. They do not allow. We did not waste, but I was really moved by the insistence. I appreciate that they are showing the respect to food and to the farmer, cook and many more who toiled to bring it to our plate.

The train departure is at 11:45 PM. It was quite late and few in the platform. But we settled and was enthusiastically chatting about the trek and place that awaits us.

Once boarded, TTE came as usual past midnight. I feel very safe in train journey than in Bus. I have always travelled in train and very rarely in Bus. Kept an alarm for 3:45 as the train will reach at Hardiwar at 4:00 AM. Live train tracking status also helped us. ( yes it gets updated promptly with few mins delay here and there).
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In Haridwar, we took an Auto( travelling in group helps us save money. Everything is pooled by 3 or 4 and suddently even exorbitant rates becomes affordable). We had booked dormitory in “Bed Hubs”
The Hostel was very neat and comfortable. We dropped our luggage, quickly got ready to see the “Arathi”. Alas, we were late by few mins, we missed it. Also there was continous heavy drizzle in Haridwar. Unable to move further, we came back to dormitory and took rest. After few hours of sleep, we got ready to explore the city and to the next journey to Rishikesh.20190713_104612

The river is not impressive at first sight, but when you keep looking, I got deeply interested in its continuous motion, the force in which it keep taking things and moving forward, pushing everything in its course, leaving anything which is not coming along.
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A tip from me here.. When you go to Haridwar to Rishikesh, take a share auto rather than city bus. We took City bus from Haridwar, first it took us all over the city. We would have enjoyed more if not for the sudden downpour. And the city bus was crowded.Then there was huge traffic jam for some reason, we could not comprehend. We had no idea of place or distance. We reached Rishikesh bus stop 3 hours later. From there, we hired an auto for Ram Jhula, from there, walked for 2 kms to Lakshman Jhula. When we went, there was a repair in Lakshman Jhula so the auto driver convinced and dropped us in Ram Jhula. And without lunch, we walked for close to 2 kms with all our luggage to Lakshman Jhula.
By share auto, I think it takes around 1 hr to 90 mins and it takes you directly to Lakshman Jhula.
After checking in, we had a sumptuous and heavy lunch in a iconic place Bhoj Mantra in Rishikesh again suggested by a fellow appoopanthadi..

After chatting endlessly, we took an Auto to see the Ganga Aarti in “Triveni Ghat”.
The wait for Aarthi was a long affair but it is worth all the wait. The sun is setting down and the sky is slowly transforming from pale pink to dark orange hues.The scened oil lamps are lit and they are performed by sastris who are adorned in traditional attire. The entire scene with the live bhajan and the chants resonates with the bells and the sound of moving river which takes everything offered makes you pensive. I believe in God but here I found beauty of the culture and the charm of ever moving Ganges.
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There were Bharatanatyam performance and other crowd attractions. We returned back to Hotel to prepare for the long tempo traveller journey from Rishikesh to Govindghat.

Rishikesh to Gonvindghat is 270Kms which is lesser than Bangalore to chennai. While we have crossed Bangalore to chennai in less than 5 hours, the journey from Rishikesh to Govindghat took around 14 hours.

We started around 7 AM and reached around 9 pm with multiple breaks for food, beverages and washroom.
There were few landslides/rockslides and also road laying work which made the traffic slow. But note, we are energetic, because we are yet to take the trek. All of us are talking and thinking about the Valley and its flowers. We are not tired, neither impended by delay.

We reached Govindghat late evening, had dinner, get the briefing from the Trek leader and Guide.We also took trek sticks from here the same night.

Next day morning, we started the trek with full of enthusiasm and high energy levels, ready to catch up with the trek lead. Trek leader gently admonishes, “Dont race, you will get tired”. We smile non nonchalantly, we are first timers. We not know the distance then.
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We take a jeep to Pulna. Having got down, there are stream of ponies. We cross them, we are moving forward, seeing the river always by our side. Minutes past, I start checking time. It is just one hour and I have covered less than Km, but I was getting little bored. yes, I’m seeing the river and forest, but yet to connect with it. I’m from city and love walking in busy roads as there are things to look and observe. So it takes time and mind, to appreciate the surrounding. Trek can be simply physical. I.e you walk for 10 Kms, you may be walking looking down, where you are placing feet and be physically exausted at the end, you may not have really connected with nature or appreciated its beauty.

It came to me a while later and very worth while only on the return journey. But I’m happy that I got the realization.
So for anyone who is trekking first time, take time to connect with the surroundings. When I say, it is not about to clicking endlessly in camera/mobile phones every step. Do watch the trees, barks, little insects, camouflaged birds.
The mist on the surface of the river, the union of several streams, how streams go under the glacier and appear far below. I’m happy that I felt the connection. Even if it is late, It happened.


So after the physically exhausting and strenuous climb( yes the last 2 hours of that 6 hour climb was almost never ending), we reached our stay. After a quick refresh and hot maggie and tea, we were ready to go around, but again there were rains. Maggie and tea are staple food in himalayan mountains, I tried to think and think, what would have suited before the invention of maggie.. Parata? Roti.. No , nothing can match the hot, juicy, slurpy sticky noodles.

I understood the reality that walking on plains for 5 kms and still able to walk few more kms is so different from mountain climbing, I had a drag my feet for last km cursing myself for going thru such pain.
Nevertheless, got charged again for the next most wanted climb. The climb and back down for Valley of flowers. The most popular trek and visual treat for the eyes.

The trek to Valley of flowers was relatively easy( I can’t simply say easy) than the previous day.


The morning started with breakfast and packed lunch in our bags. With a rain coat, we start marching. The gradient was gentle, I was able to walk. The beginning of the trail had many flowers, big and small. The one which impressed me is the freshness of foliage in the forest. With a constant drizzle and mist, the leaves were the freshest thing. The flowers were of different size , in different colors many as buds and few dropping flowers.

We climbed up and down and again up and down.It took us 5 kms to get to the Valley. The valley is a beautiful sight. When we went, it was raining. Temperatures were going down. Breathing was difficult, so be prepared for some difficulty. The valley was not fully covered in flowers. We saw many plants with leaves more than flowers in the valley, but the varying green shades of the valley with and occasional blue sky with streak of clouds is a sight to watch.

We crossed a glacier and also many streams on the way. Water at its purest form you can say 🙂

There are no washrooms on the way to and from valley, relieve your self in natural way. We had our packed lunch, roamed a little in valley and started back.
The trek was again not very tiring, but took time to reach and happily satisfied.

The Altitude in the valley was .

Next day is the trek to Hemkund Sahib, without much arguments, the entire team agreed upon Pony to trek up and walk for climbing down.

The initial few steps of the Pony scares you to hell. Close your eyes. Thats what I did. Later I felt better and started looking around. The road was laid by cutting the glaciers. We also cross few glacier and many streams on the way.Trek to Hemkund is very steep and thanks to Pony otherwise it would have been very difficult to me.

Once reached, the Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara is a peaceful religious place. We look around see the glacier ladden mountains and the ice cold water in the lake.

We remove our shoes and go inside Gurudwara, which is very warm compared to outside. Listen to the Kirtans, devour the delicious and very warm karah prasad. As we swallow the sweet halwa, warmth spreads inside making us feel good.

We come down and out, have the Kitchidi and Tea langar offered by the Gurudwara for the pilgrims.
We look around again and again mesmerised by the surrounding mountains and reflection of it in the crystal clear water of the lake. Trying to capture as much in the camera, but drink the beauty of nature through the eyes would be a most applicable phrase.

The climb down from Hemkund Sahib is not an easy task. First, the rains, it rained heavily on our way back making us very cold and the way slippery. Then the trail is very steep and it pushes us forward, unless we make use of the momentum which pushes us down, it will be a heavy strain on the knees. I’m and was aware of my body weight, which refused me from going with the momentum and went with step by step descending. The strain was enormous, but I was prepared and informed. One step at a time, we are close to our accommodation. Keep going.

We reached tired and painful than the previous day. Rested immedietely. After dinner and bried discussion on each others pains ,we retired soon.

Next day is the descent to Govindghat. This descend was gradual, apart from the initial few kms, the rest was manageable. But mind you, you are already straining the strained knee. Take it easy and be gentle to yourself.

Climbing down took only half time of the climb. We reached early and had time to go to Mana – the last Indian village beyond which is the Indo- Tibetian border.
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On the way back, we visit Bhadrinath and get the blessings. Little shopping on the way.

Reaching back Govindghat is like halfway Home. We do not talk much about trek now, we talk about our family and the loved ones. How much we miss them, often seeing the family picture in phone, we long to go back home.

The tempo traveller ride from Govindghat to Rishikesh happens but not so long this time, we reached Rishikesh. The stay was organized in Moustache Hostel, whose interiors were quirky, humour and with bit of sarcasm. I enjoyed ogling at the various wall arts they had put.images.jpg
It reminded me heavily of Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie murder mystery. But this moustache had heavy Indian touch. No it cannot be Hercule poirot’s.

Early morning, we took a train from Haridwar to Delhi. Had delicious Biriyani and bought famous “Agra Peta”. We are off to home.
We go to airport after the farewells who became the best buddies and walk with mixed emotion of leaving them but going to meet family.

The return flight, there were no firsts, so no butterflies, the landing was smooth and I should say I was happy that my husband came to Airport late in the night to pick me up.

Now, I want to give a big shout THANK YOU to Appoopanthadi. There may be hick ups, there may be slight miss here and there. But only because there are people like Sajna, who break barriers and myths, people like me come outside of the comfort zone and able to do many “first time” things and make friends. And to speak of friends, almost all of Appoopanthadi’s come from Kerala and speak Malayalam, well I do not speak it. I speak Tamil, but there was no hesitation from their side and they saw me just one of them. I would like to give heartfelt thanks to Midhu and Biji who made the trip so smooth with their warmth and friendliness. I will be talking about them for a long time in my circle of friends.

Cheers,

Sangheetha.

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School for Perfect Eyesight

This blog is mainly for my craft activities. But this post is more of an information post. My daughter has myopia from the age of 7 and she has been wearing glasses for almost a year and a half. Whoever sees her admires her confidence, smartness and also notices that she wears glasses. Few suggested us a trip to Pondichery. Out of which one person had gone there, visited and seen improvement. She gave a very practical advice, to give a try. Things may or may not improve, but being a child and the myopia is recently diagnosed, the chances of cure are high. So we planned in advance and got the appointment from the school. This blog post by Raj gave us many details to start.
We had been to the School for Perfect eyesight in Pondicherry during the first week of April.School for Perfect Eyesight is a place in Pondicherry and supported by Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The speciality of the place is that through series of exercises and relaxation techniques, the eye sight can be improved.
When we went, there were flock of children and young adults performing those exercises methodically under parents supervision.

Disclaimer : This is only a informative post. I’m not a doctor nor a trainer from the school. As mentioned above, I took my daughter for a week, learnt these and found good improvement.
The school does not guarantee the removal of spectacles.
Effect varies from person to person and depends on other factors too.
Healthy and nutritious food is recommended with plentiful of greens, carrot and orange coloured fruits.

The order in which we did the exercizes
1. Sun treatment : Swing with your eyes closed facing the morning sun or evening sun( advised to do both times). Swing with leg movement for 60 counts.

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2. Massage or Accupressure.
These are best learnt in the presence of trainer.
Close your eyes while doing this exercise.
1.Gentle press on the tips of the fingers .( 5 times in each finger. Starting from thumb, where the sides are pressed separately.
i.e 1. Press the left side of thumb 5 times
2. Press the right side of thumb 5 times
3. Next finger, press the tip of the finger for 5 times
4. Continue till little finger.
5. Between pointing finger and middle finger, press by making a U shape covering the upper part of palm.
Follow the same for next hand
2.Gently press the tip of ear lobe( where we pierce for studs)
3.6 points. Gently rotate 3 times on the 6 points around the eye.
1.Above the starting tip of the eye-brow ( near to the place where we keep bindi)
2. Above the center of the eye brow ( where there is a peak)
3. Tip of the eye brow -> near the ear
4. Down to point 3
5. Down to point 2
6. In between 2 eye brows on the sides of the nose bone
4. Massage gently in rounds ( 5 rounds) above the center of the eyes.
5. 1. Massage and move your pointing finger slowly above the eye brow, follow the eye brow, go over the ear lobe and massage 3 times in circular fashion behind the ear lobe close to the bottom of the ear.
2. Massage and move your pointing finger following the nose bone, over the cheeks, go over the ear lobe and massage 3 times in circular fashion behind the ear lobe close to the bottom of the ear.

Note, all these needs to be done with eyes closed. If you are doing for the child, use thumb wherever possible. If the child is doing by himself/herself, let him/her use pointing finger.

3.Palming :
Rub your hands and make it warm. Keep the left palm over the right palm and cover your eyes with the palm. The eyes should be covered with the hollow part of palm not with the fingers. Also not to put pressure on the eyes.
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4.Bar Swing :
Swing and see through bars and blink as you swing left and right.
Again, this is to bring in the habit of blinking often and to see thru the bars.

5.Game of ball:

V shape. Stretch your hands sideways and bounce the ball on the ground ( to make a v shape ) from the shoulder level and follow the ball with your eyes. Blink after catching every time.
i.e Blink, bounce the ball, follow the ball, catch it from other hand and blink.
Repeat for 40 counts.

U Shape : Throw the ball to form a inverted U shape from right hand to left or vice versa. The ball should make U at eye level and not too high or low.Follow the ball with your eyes and blink after catching.
Repeat for 40 counts.

6.Fine Print reading :
To read a fine print or a chart at a readable distance.
First with both the eyes.
Then one eye closed
Then the other eye closed.
Whenever there is a strain, close the eyes, open and read it again.

7. Eye Movement:
This is quite familiar and practiced even in yoga centers.

1. Without moving your head, stretch your right hand to front, making a fist and thumbs open, move to right side of the body. The eyes should follow the thumb, blink at the end, come back to front and blink again.
This should be repeated 5 times.
Similarly, with left hand and stretch to the left side.

2.Keep the pointing finger horizontal ( few inches away from body) move it from down to up ( slightly above belly button and till the temple) , The eyes should follow the finger, blink and bring it down.
Repeat 5 times.

3.Keep the pointing finger vertical , near chest level and follow the tip of the finger, stretch it full , blink, look at a far away object , blink and again bring it back.
Repeat 5 times.

8. Snellen’s chart reading :
There is a concept called “Central Fixation”
The child has to read the snellen’s chart from a comfortable distance.
Blink after reading each line.
Read with both eyes
Read with one eye closed
Read with the other eye closed.

As the child is able to read, slowly increase the distance.
If the child has difficulty in reading any line or letter, close both eyes, count slowly till 10 and gently open the eyes and try to read. I could not clearly understand the concept of central fixation. But I saw after closing the eyes for 10 counts and opening, the letters are more clear.

9. Vapour : Close your eyes and allow vapour on your face for a minute.

10.Cold Pack : Use cotton or cotton handkerchief, dip in water at room temperature.Apply it on the eyes and rest of 10 minutes.

General advices :
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Note:
There could be errors/mistakes in what I mentioned above. Certain positions and movements are best learnt in person.

I firmly recommend a visit to the school if you are interested. The ashram helps in accommodation( to be paid by ourselves) but at reasonable rates.

We stayed in Sea Side Guest House which is at walk able distance to the school and also facing the sea.
The Pondichery city is nice to roam around and Monday can be used to go to Pichavaram(Mangrove forest) or Auroville. I would recommend Pichavaram as Auroville could be very hot and needs some prior permission to visit Matri Mandir. But it is your choice. We did not go to both the places. Instead enjoyed the guest house and sea view morning and evening.
All the days, exercises are to be done both in morning and evening.

Few links for further studies and information :

https://rajn.co/can-shortsightedness-myopia-be-cured-by-william-bates-method/

http://motherandsriaurobindo.in/#_StaticContent/SriAurobindoAshram/-03%20The%20Ashram/Departments/School%20For%20Perfect%20Eyesight/-00%20Contents.htm

Feel free to write your queries.

Thanks,
Sangheetha.

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Toy Hammock

Hi All,

In any household with kids, the space occupied by the toys is more than the space occupied by any living creature of the house.
So Here I’m with a Kids room storage idea. For sometime, I wanted a hanging storage space to shove away the toys after use. We already have cardboard boxes stand but that stands on ground swallowing floor space.
But I found something that is off the ground and moreover easy to toss the toys.
Here is what I’m referring to

Initially I stitched the hammock using a lacy material. My mistake, the material was lacy but not strechable and so it became useless in few days.
Now I decided to try using crochet and here it .. fully loaded with soft toys.
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It is easy to organize, easy to search and all the more, the kid can play aim and throw 🙂
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It can be made for sale. So if you are interested, pls let me know.

Cheers,
Sangheetha.

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Circle Skirt Frock :)

Hi All,

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Circle skirts are my favorites to stitch and my daughter’s favourite to wear.
For me, the drafting and cutting are simple.
For her, the waves generated in twirling and spinning gives her happiness.

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I had cut this circle skirt for my niece but then postponed to stitch and soon she outgrew the size.
I was hoarding it as I loved the print and did not know to re-purpose.
So after quite some time, I used the same circle pattern as frock skirt.
The yoke material is from Nalli Silks from Marthahalli.
The shop has good collection of cotton materials if someone is interested.

The yoke I drafted from an earlier frock.

Anyone is interested for such frocks.
I can make for commission.

Cheers,
Sangheetha.

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From the Jurassic World

Hi All,

I made this Amigurumi Dinasaur for my daughter as her birthday gift.
As I was doing it, I was forced ( by her) to tell that it is for her and it is a Dino , so no more surprises there.
But yet, she was expecting a Brontosaurus ( long necked dinosaur) whereas the one I made was a Triceratops.
That’s a surprise for me that she expected a Brontosaurus because I was very confident that she likes Triceratops and always seen her playing with her Triceratops Dino toy.

Kids!!

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Pattern from here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/plod-the-african-flower-triceratops
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Cheers,
Sangheetha.

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Pompoms and Pretty things- Nursery mobile

Hello All,

I made this felt hanging few weeks back and wanted to post immedietely and so after few weeks, I was under the assumption I had blogged this. After scrolling up and down and clicking next, I realised I did not 😦

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So here is the better-late-than-never post about this felt hanging/mobile made for a new born in family.I made this greatly inspired by Crib mobile of Josie. I just added pompoms because it was there in stash and I liked them and I did not do enough number of felt circles 😀

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So I made circles in 3 sizes and glued( only hot glue works, fevicol did not work for me) them in concentric circles and then glued 2 pieces back to back.

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Hope the kid enjoys seeing those vibrant colors.

Cheers,

Sangheetha.