Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Wake-Up Call and a Teach For India Fellow

This evening I went to watch a play at India Habitat Centre called Wake-Up Call with two other TFI fellows and a fellow’s friend who has been recently selected as IAS Officer. The play was based on Delhi Bombing and the acting was superb, to an extent that you wish it was your profession. The cries of family members who lost, the media reporters who needed ostentatious video feeds, a cynical beggar advising everyone to commit suicide and the gorgeous Vasundhara Das who encouraged people to live and cope-up, gave the play so much life that each member in the audience must be having anger towards the inconvenient truth of “Life is not fair”

When the play ended, Vasundara, in one of the most melodious voice I have ever heard, asked the audience if they wish to make a promise to themselves to take ownership of their country in any small but impactful way. That’s obviously a favorite topic of TFIers. We have reflected so much on these kinds of topics that we would be first to grab the microphone and speak about it. And so we did. One of the 2010 fellow spoke about how we are teaching in an under-resourced school and the kind of impact we daily make. The audience applauded and it was that kind of applause when you know it's for real. Another gentleman said that he has seen his neighbors washed his five cars wasting so much water and that he will never use water to wash his own cars from today onwards. The audience sighed. A lady spoke that after living abroad she has returned in one of the most posh colonies of Delhi and found that people have lost that sense of knowing thy neighbor, so she will work to bring that culture back.

Suddenly out of the blue, a gentleman asked what was the purpose of this play? His point of view was that we already know that we don’t do anything about anything evil in our country and that EXCEPT the gentleman who teaches for India, no one else is actually making a point here. Vasundhara replied with lot of grace that the idea is just to have mind over most important matters and that people don’t forget the losses they make because they have chosen to look the other way.

I just want to go back to the speech that Anand Shah gave, about which I wrote few days back. If there is a tree on the road then you really have to drive around it and you cannot ignore its presence. The word EXCEPT in the sentence of this gentleman was the real example of that tree. I saw a change happening. If it wasn’t for that fellow’s contribution, this gentleman would have said “No one is and no one will do anything about it. Nothing is practical and your play spreads no message and solves no purpose.”

The power that a walking TFI fellow can give to a platform like this, where only rich and famous who owns five cars and lives in the posh colony exists, is unique. For all the things that TFI has made me reflect, I think that one of the greatest powers TFI has is to bring live issues from floors of underprivileged to coffee tables of privileged, from “Nothing can happen in this country. You try to start and you will meet your end” to “Oh Yeah! We are doing it Baby and we will live long enough to tell you how!”

By the end of the event, I could easily tell there were more people who were envied of the job of a Teach for India fellow than the jobs of those brilliant actors. And that my friend was a real proud moment!


  1. Great thought :)
    I understand the feeling, thanks to TFI :) :)

  2. A good write Saloni! :-)

  3. Very well written Saloni!!

  4. This post rocks Saloni..your writing skills are getting awesomer with every post :)