Friday, May 25, 2012

Commitment errors

On a crowded street of New Delhi, you see cows eating from dumps very close to people standing in queue to buy milk from mother dairy. The animal which is a second mother to millions of people is treated with indifference and "none of my business" attitude. When I see such problems of the street, I question how through   me, a permanent change in this sort of mindset can happen. 

By being an educator, I solve problem of literacy to an extent. But human life needs to be trained for "How to Live" and I myself have no idea of how to do that. This has been a serious struggle for me as an educator, a daughter, a neighbor, a sister and a human being. In last two weeks, I have done some running for my parents both of whom have been ill for a long time. As much as emotionally traumatizing it has been, it has been cruelly treated by our medical world. At this stage, I have no longer satisfaction of whether they have been given right medications and I am losing hope whether I can find that in our Nation's capital. I see myself as an ignorant fool for not being able to dig through this till now.
Running for my parents meant an absolute withdrawal from work. For three days, when I visited the school, I felt how important it was for me to teach these kids. Shashank Bhaiya, who have been teaching these kids for past one year, with his extraordinary effort led these kids to mainstream schools so that they could get a life like you and me. The mainstream schools are however cruel. They beat these kids, shows frustration when they ask again and tell them from NGO students come to eNGOy. Their companions are faster, smarter, neater and more equipped. They face reality of their backgrounds much more than when they were in shelter home or even on the streets.The schools are far off from the shelter home - three hours of travel everyday. The schools that were nearer would take these kids two grades below their current levels.

Knowing these realities, when I started teaching, I knew I am doing a very important job. These boys were morally torn apart. Their attendance to school was continuously declining and they were giving up. They were so tensed about beating next day, that all I did was patch work to save them from beating. They would want to study only for tests they might have tomorrow. They belong to all grades, IV to XI and I am supposed to teach all of them subjects of their choice. It was absolutely chaotic. A day passed when I was teaching Maths of Grade IX, Biology of Grade VIII, Maths of Grade VI and Accounting for grade XI.
Not very hard to see that what a disaster I was!

Lots of my friends ask me aren't you afraid to teach these boys who might have been involved in all sorts of crimes? I would answer that here. Consider a case happened on the third day in the school - One of these boys waited for one hour without speaking a word for my attention. While another boy brought me dinner from their mess and I was in middle of having it when I noticed that this boy was still patiently waiting without food, to have most important thing that could bring him a good score in the test - a teacher's attention. Do you still think I should be afraid of their crimes, their past or their background?

Before I could settle down in the new house, in the new school and do a job which seems to me so important, I got a call from parents and I committed two weeks for their well-being instead. Everything is so important. Family of course comes first but I have been so much torn apart - for how much possibility through this human life, I want to achieve but unable to do it. How much is the work that my mind wants to do but my body cannot do it! An astrologer looking at my hand, said to me that you tend to commit more work than you can do. How true! I commit more work to myself and to people around, and bring disappointment. For all the things in the world, I really need "How to Live" wisdom because I am just not satisfied with what my human body does when my mind wants to do lot more.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A new journey of Ummeed

It has been a while that I wrote a sane article on this blog. My friends tell me that they don't get what I write these days. The truth is that I have lost for a while an appetite to share my learning with others. I have additionally lost peaceful writing time as so many things have been happening concurrently.

I can tell you few things what's going on to get some sanity back on this blog:

1) Today was my last day at National Public School, Shahdara where I was teaching 3rd graders. I left this school because I figured out a very brutal truth about private schools in general. They are low-income on facade. Their lands are illegal as well as their financial documents are forged. The teachers are forced to sign on the salaries they do not receive. They sign it because they are not aptly qualified. Students' parents are paying Rs 50 for socks that costs Rs 5 when these parents are not able to afford school notebook of Rs 18. Teach for India strongly believes that this is where we are more needed as the kids coming out from these schools are deprived of basic rights to their education. Right now, I don't have any tangible evidence to this information that I am writing here. So, I cannot do a whistle-blowing at legal level.I was not able to give my 100% however to this forced poverty environment. And the only way I could impact this school at the macro level is only when I have the authority over the actions of my principal. One day probably I will. Leaving my students have been a tough decision but I am certain that it is going to take me closer to their overall merit. I accept that discontinuing in this school is an unfinished commitment but I have realized it was critical.

2) I have started teaching at Ummeed, near Qutub Minar since day before yesterday during the evenings. This school is a residential shelter home for street children. These students have not seen an alternate comfortable way of living. They have been exposed to extreme poverty symptoms from drug exposure to murder covictions to rapes. I will be concurrently teaching assorted group of boys of different age groups and grade levels. My work will not only involve imparting academic knowledge but also life skills and overall management of students' lives.

3) I am shifting to a new house tomorrow. I have been staying alone for over four years now and it has been a great journey. I was looking for an economical rented "Home" for myself and for rare visits of my parents. In South Delhi, since everything is so illegal, unplanned and exorbitantly high-valued that it took me around 1000kms on my Activa for almost daily East to South Delhi road trips to finally accomplish this feat.

4) I am having few social confrontations these days. The other day I confronted Deluxe toilet authorities at New Delhi Railway Station for allowing men in Ladies Toilet. A day before that, I confronted a Senior Bank Manager who refused to accept a Rs500 damaged note withdrawn from his Bank's ATM.He redirected me to the company which fills cash in the atm, which redirected me back to the Bank. The words "This is a great story for Aaj Tak" did the trick for me!

5) I have been out of Facebook for over five months now and I have not been missing it at all. I chose to do it because by being on it I was somewhere accepting the contradictory lifestyle it propagates - of social show-offs and fake public displays of relationships. I miss however photographic skills of few friends sometimes. Rest all important news makes it way to me!

These five points hopefully gives you a slight idea of what is going on in this blogger's life. Let me know what do you think of them!

P.S. Notice the change in my profile. I have left my blogger avatar and have come out with real me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I have been a teacher

I have been a teacher, when a boy about to lose his sight, stood up to reach the stars in Nehru Planetorium in school picnic

I have been a teacher, when I said to a student I was like you, and her smile told me that was a great compliment for her

I have been a teacher, when students broke a promise to me, understood  why is it wrong, and next day a new promise was 100% fulfilled

I have been a teacher, when students asked me why I was talking in Hindi when they all can understand English

I have been a teacher, when in other classrooms I visit, I am asked why I can't give them the same thing I am giving to my class

I have been a teacher, when they want me to eat with them, play with them, talk with them and scold them
I have been a teacher, when in midst of a game of Kho Kho, they say that I work very hard for them
I have been a teacher, when they want to learn punjabi dance as much they  want to learn rounding

I have been a teacher, when the team leader does not eat lunch until no team member is left behind

I have been a teacher, when they walk to me to say that they just didn't understand

I have been a teacher, when they call because they know that I can make their parents understand 

I have been a teacher, when on this last day, my heart is heavy to sit with them in class

I have been a teacher, when I can hear their voices in the empty classroom

I have been a teacher, when I can hear their laughter in silence of my house

I am going to fill this silence with their laughter tomorrow for one last time.....38 students for lifetime