This post is long overdue, so without making any flimsy excuses, here it is. It was actually written a couple of weeks ago, so it should be dated August 21, 2014.
Each day could be its own chronicle. The past two weeks have involved unit tests, my parents visiting, and lots and lots of good food.
Invigilating (i.e. proctoring) unit exams was not what I had expected. I thought I would just chill for an hour while they silently took the exams, peppering the silence with an occasional “eyes on your own paper” and that would be that. I did not realize that they would zip through most of the papers and finish with half the time to spare. And despite teaching them for almost a month now (Wow! It sometimes really surprises me how quickly time flies by!)…I still didn’t anticipate the degree of their restlessness. If they were not asking “Didi, bathroom” or “Didi, water” then they were busy arguing over which book to read after they were done. Which brings me to my next point…
The Library Question
My school is lucky in that the previous fellows have started a library here, so there are books available within the school. The problem is that the librarian quit, so the books kind of just sit in a pile on the table in the library. The school doesn’t want us to lend them out because there is no way of tracking them. Which makes this entire effort that the previous fellows put in into collecting the books useless to some extent.
For me, reading is critically important. I credit my vocabulary and my grasp over English in large part to how much my teachers always motivated me to read. To me, the measly six hours of English instruction they get in school needs to be complemented with more exposure to the language at home, otherwise we are not doing nearly as much as we can.
Now here are the potential solutions, some combination of which I want to implement:
- Create my own library: ask for books and donations and keep the books separate from the library books, at least for the next couple of years. Lend them out to students and create incentives around reading them!
- Make time for reading in school. As I have previously mentioned, sometimes the Hindi or Marathi teacher does not show up, or we just gain some extra time. That can become a reading period for them – because in school they are allowed to read library books.
- Encourage their parents to buy books for them. Many of these parents are not as badly off as others and can certainly buy a few books for them, especially the cheap used ones. The students can then exchange books amongst each other.
I will certainly enact these, and will probably ask for your help soon, so please keep an eye out for that if you’re interested in lending a hand!
Like we all know, it’s sometimes the little things that you remember. After one of the exams, I asked them to sit quietly and not disturb the others who were still working. Durgesh, a bright boy in the class, started entertaining himself. His hands would follow each other across the table, and then he would make “woosh” sounds of things blowing up – all accompanied by illustrative hand motions. I couldn’t control my laughter as I watched him amuse himself; sometimes it helps to be reminded that these kids from whom I have such high expectations are really just that at the end of the day: kids!
The next moment is not so positive. A couple of days ago, a rat ran across my foot, and I freaked in the middle of a history lesson. But literally, it ran over my foot! I felt a furry thing on skin as I was talking about how Vasco De Gama discovered the first sea route to India, and I couldn’t control a tiny yelp. The kids reacted by either laughing or freaking out themselves as the rat quickly scuttled under their benches.
Hopefully, I’ll get to write a lot more under this section in the months to come. Since my parents were here over a (kind of) long weekend, we took the opportunity to escape from Mumbai for a bit.
Unfortunately, half of the city had the same idea.
We couldn’t even get a proper hotel in Lonavla, so ended up staying at one in Pune. On Sunday morning, we went to Lonavla. After all I’ve heard about the place, I expected it to be more than it was. Honestly, other than beautiful sights (see the photos) and the most number of chikki shops in the world, I’m not sure what the attraction is. Perhaps people in Mumbai are just so starved of greenery that any respite becomes a haven.
We did have an adventure of getting soaked in the monsoon rain as we stood at Table Land, overlooking a beautiful sight. And while I would have loved it no matter who I was with, there was definitely a special kind of joy being with my fifty plus parents to enjoy the feeling of cold rain on a muggy day.