Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A flyover near Peddar Road at peak hour due to a strike that disrupted the traffic
My journal would be the best place to translate these thoughts into words but I choose to do it here for many of my friends are curious to know what my first day in Teach India was like. I will describe it bit by bit. After a hectic day in college, I took a bus to my destination which was a municipal school in CP Tank. Which age group I was going to choose, what would be my days and what subjects I would teach were playing on my mind all along. As I was looking out of the window, I saw these highly decked up women in low cut blouses standing across the road. One woman outside almost every house, staring at the traffic. I had seen a red light area only in movies before and it dawned on me where I was. I shook myself out of daze and focused on my prospective students again.
In no time I was climbing the stairs to the third floor of an obscure municipal school building. What I saw there was a far cry from what I had anticipated. Children of age groups 5-12 were to be seen on the floor, some scribbling in their notebooks, some running around and others simply yawning away their time. Kids as young as a few months old crawled beside their elder brothers and sisters. I was greeted by an enthusiastic ‘namaste didi’ as soon as I entered the room. The coordinator informed me that teaching in that centre was considered the toughest challenge as the kids there were literally from the streets. Children of the commercial sex workers and single parents and the ones who had fled from their homes formed the bulk of the crowd.
I tried to break the ice with most of them. I largely succeeded barring a few of them who stared at me as if I were a Martian creature. This five year old bundle of audacity was keen on knowing me inside out in the very first few minutes of our meeting. I couldn’t stifle a grin when he asked me in his broken Hindi if I would come to his place with him. Not so politely though, in an almost intimidating tone. In the adjacent room, the older lot was preparing a dance for an upcoming Rakhi programme. Most of them slept on the pavements and the market areas as I found out in course of their introduction. They wanted us to view their performance and even told us what they would want to learn. The two hours I spent with them seemed so less. They all wanted to know when I would next come. I returned with a promise of seeing them the following week. I can’t wait to go back to them. After all, I have so much to learn. Life’s way beyond what I have lived so far.