“Bombe aata” is a familiar scene at public events in Mangalore. But seldom is their arrival and company enjoyed so much as it was on Sunday. Special children, who had come to attend “Vishistarigagi vishishta mela”, held on Sunday in the grounds of the Canara High School, Dongarakeri, crowded around the “bombe” as they arrived.

By afternoon, a group of at least ten challenged persons was jiving away energetically, broad smiles on their faces, to the music of the “bombe”, who danced, whistled and entertained them. Several of the special persons – mostly adults -- were fascinated by the oversized “dolls” and curiously touched them. For many of the special people at the event, it appeared to be their “day out” as they excitedly ran from one stall to another, sampling snacks or trying a game. Many were enjoying guzzling the soft drinks in the midday heat.

While Gagan sat on a camel for a joyride, Siddesh, a boy of about ten, was running excitedly all through the grounds with a bunch of coupons to spend. He said, “I will play and go on the camel.”

Most of the games attracted many of the people. The carousel and a “mini giant wheel” were continuously occupied. However, an inflatable “Mickey Mouse climber-slider” was unused for more than an hour. It was only after volunteers came to help that the special children came forward to try the game.

Saritha (name changed), a girl of about six, sat quietly in her callipers watching everyone else play. But another older girl with impaired hearing rushed to her and lifted her till the camel for a ride.

Sachin Baliga was enjoying eating “paanipuris” and said he liked the “kudre” (horse carousel). His mother said he enjoyed dancing to film music. She welcomed the park with special features for special children. “Challenged children often get pushed by normal children so this park is a good step,” she said.

Sunitha, another young woman, was also enjoying the festive air despite her callipers which, she said, were uncomfortable.

However, older persons and those with complicated challenges sat quietly inside one of class rooms. Most of them were accompanied by wither one or both parents or a caretaker.

Shalini Bhat was felicitated and honoured for her talent in drawing and painting despite her challenges. Her mother, Shankari Bhat, said everybody, especially her teacher, have been very helpful. Shalini paints landscapes, figures and “Ganapathi”.

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