Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Note to the reader: Reading, understanding and implementing the following facts and guidelines is the necessary beginning of the survey. So let's be thoruogh with all the following points. Read on!


1. We are dealing with someone who is way smarter than us.

2. Firstly, they don't come close to 'survey people'.

3. Even if they come, they don't talk.

4. Even if they talk, they don't tell the truth.

5. Even if they tell the truth, when we go to the same place in future, it is difficult to match this truth with the kid who told it. Because- we may not remember his/her face, he/she may not be around, there may be many kids with similar names, etc. (Hence the need for photo/video.)

6. Peak traffic hours mean business to them. So they won't pay any attention to us then. (Hence we may need to pose as customers and make them talk to us as we buy their product.)

7. During non-peak traffic hours they may not be around!

8. They are extremely busy and do many things in a day! They normally don't have time for us.

9. Underestimating their abilities is a famous mistake.
10. Past experience says that they may all actually go underground if they get to know that someone's out to survey them. (Hence the need for secrecy!)

11. Looking at the above facts, it must be clear that surveying them is not a trivial thing, and most certainly, not a one day activity.



1.    Carry camera phones/cameras, as far as possible. And obviously, pen and papers and anything more that you can think of, which would interest kids. Chocolates and biscuits would be helpful.

2.    Make sure that the prerequisite briefing is understood very very clearly. Feel absolutely free to ask as many questions as we like during the briefing. Without understanding this briefing, none of us would be able to conduct a fruitful survey.

3.    We'll be given SSA identity cards, which are not to be displayed on person. These cards are for our safety and are to be kept safely inside our bags/pockets.

4.    After the briefing, we will be divided in smaller groups and assigned a particular locality and then it'll be time to move to the assigned locality. Make sure that one group does not at all interact with other group.

5.    While at our assigned locality, do not interact with traffic police, do not let anyone know that we are surveying street children.

6.    Do not pose as typical survey people, with a pen and chart and writing pad! Just try to look like normal weekend visitors.

7.    Try to interact with street children at the best of our interactive skills. Some ideas- Buy the things they are selling and ask question (e.g.- why should I pay so much, what's the guarantee that your stuff is good, where do you make it, how, I want to order it in bulk for a party, etc). Take them along to have tea/snacks. Offer chocolates/biscuits. Attract them by showing some interesting things (camera, cellphone, creative artefacts, or whatever one can think of).

8.    One idea- One volunteer from the group may interact while the other can note down the details discreetly, so that the kids don't get alarmed and go away.

9.    Try to take photos/videos to solve the problem of matching a kid with the information that he/she provides. Even a 4 seconds video capturing face and name of the kid would be sufficient. We can then note down all the information against the name captured in the video. We may record the entire interaction, if possible! If the kids refuse to be photographed, let them do some photography with our camera, let them capture their friends'/siblings' photos and vice versa!

10.                     The questionnaire provided to us is for our reference. Study it properly and try to remember it. We need to fill in all the details mentioned in the questionnaire. But we need not do so in the exact order or format WHILE interacting with a kid. We should interact based on what the kid is trying to say, while keeping in mind the questionnaire. We may note down main points from the kid's narrative quickly on a blank paper, and once the interaction is over, fill in the questionnaire.

11.                     Write down the approximate total number of street children that we get to see in our assigned locality.

12.                     Our aim, is not to cover as many kids as possible, but to cover as much correct information as possible. Even if we end up finding nearly everything about one kid, we've already done a good job!

13.                     There is no time constraint! So let's do it meticulously.

14.                     Try to be in the locality as long as possible so that the probability of finding kids increases. Also, this way, we may be able to note down more details about the daily schedule of kids, their lifestyle, etc.

15.                     Note that most depends on our creativity and style and interaction. So let's try our best! Let's get them talking!

16.                     Be careful. People in the street may create a scene, for various reasons. In such cases, contact the Cluster Representative of our locality, whose number will be provided beforehand.

17.                     In case we get some free time in between, we may- get refreshed, fill up the questionnaires nicely, look around for more interesting observations and pen them down, try to write down comments of the survey experience so far, try to deduct something from the data collected so far, discuss, try to bring in new ideas, etc!

18.                     If the kids ask you why you're doing what you're doing, try to say things like- “I do such things every weekend. / I like talking to kids. / I'm waiting for someone and hence passing time chatting with you kids. / etc.”

19.                     At the end of the day, interested people can have dinner together, or go home. But no matter what we do, let's keep our eyes open for street children, not only for the day, but forever!

20.                     Note again that this kind of survey is not a one day activity. It's a process. So here's a word for those among us who are more interested in this activity- We really really need to keep going to the assigned locality till the time we find out all the details required, of all the kids. This may take a month. Every weekend we may spend 2hrs on this (we may fit these 2 hrs during different sections of the days, so as to get different glimpses of their lives). Just that, every time we do so, we need to submit the data to Pankhudi volunteers. Such long term volunteers will be issued certificates of active and persistent participation by SSA+Pankhudi.

21.                     All the data will then be analyzed and a plan of action will be finalized based on the analysis and then the plan will be executed, as per available resources. So let's help make a difference to Pune's street life!

Sat, May 30, 2009 at 2:45 AM

Here's a quick summary of our interaction with SSA (i.e. Mr. Bhushan Nalage, cordinator, SSA, Pune) so far:

The Problem:
School dropouts (and also, kids not getting admitted to schools at all) from low economic zones.

0) The basic problem is that we tend to provide remedial solutions posthumously! It's time we attack the reasons first!

1) School infrastructure: Unavailability of basic infrastructure such as toilets, drinking water, good classrooms, etc causes children as well as teachers to minimize their time in schools. Pune has 272 corporation schools running in 132 buildings! Imagine!

2) The Head Master (HM): Good HM = good school. HM is decided seniority-wise, which brings up the most tired-of-life person on board, usually. Wherever there are good HMs, the schools are doing well. It is in the HM's capacity to take almost all the decisions regarding the school, right from academic to infrastructural. There are specific zonal offices wherein he's supposed to send letters, in case of any problem at the school. Only if the HM knows the rules well and is willing, the system will work fine!

3) Quality of education: The very basic problem of "What's the whole point of spending so much time and money on education and then being unemployed" is addressed by some parents. We need to go for more practical courses (govt offers these as well) which would earn quicker returns.

4) Surroundings: Let's get little bit into some figures. Only about 1% of kids HAVE TO earn for their family. About 9% of the kids' parents are not willing to send the kids to school. 50% percent of the kids do not go to school because they don't find anything interesting there! Remaining 40% percent of the kids do not go to school due to 'bad' company!! This bad company is of kids who do not go to school and earn and learn their living through personal experiences of the world around! This non-formal experience bases education makes them much smarter than the formally educated school going kids and hence these smart kids can attract other kids more efficiently!
Other factors affecting a kid's life, especially girls, in the 513 slums that we have in Pune so far, is that the social burden is more on girls and hence they take more time to open up to new ideas. Most of them would need counselling before anything else. Also noticeable is the kind of hobbies these kids pursue. The surroundings decide these hobbies. Boys love to save up some money and use 'em later for short outings, watching action movies in local theatres, etc, whereas girls stick to in-house games.

5) Formal vs non-formal: The problem with the non-formal education that people like us give to the dropout kids, is that they are the rulers in our class. We decide, plan and execute our classes according to their moods and in a complete friendly and fun-learn style, giving personal attention to each of the kids. The scene in a school is totally different. The kid might never be even noticed in a mighty class and there would be zero importance attached to his actions, leading him to drop out again!

SSA does:
1) External exam: External exam for all stds is conducted by SSA, any kid (5 to 14 age group) can attend any exam, causing him to get into the respective std at any corporation school. This is of great use, since elder kids cannot go to lower stds.

2) Admission drive: A month before the admission season, surveys are conducted to search for out-of-school kids and they are admitted into schools later. Primary education is compulsory in India, for kids less than 14 years old.

3) Non-formal centers: Those kids who do no go to schools even after the drive, are taught for a year non-formally by some local recruited teacher and are then put back into the school.

4) Evaluation exams: SSA checks kids' performance through evaluation exams conducted every 3 months.

5) Teachers' training: 21 day training courses are offered every month for teachers. The syllabus is revised every 5 years and teaching methodology is also changed accordingly. Hence it's important to train the teachers. The training also aims at increasing the sense of belonging towards the school and kids.

6) Officers' training: Education officers are trained at Giriwan through various innovative methods. This is a residential training. (We are to attend this. Bravo!!)

7) Syllabus and material: They take part in deciding the syllabus, providing free material to schools, etc. We have the latest editions already! :')

8) Collaborating with NGOs: SSA works along with all the functioning NGOs in Pune. The aim is to take the help of whoever who knows things better. Good for us!

9) Workshops: Workshops, outdoor training sessions, etc are arranged for teachers. Summer camps (which include all-fun-no-study activities such as magic shows, craft, etc) are arranged for the kids just after their final exams, just so that their interest in the school does not fade away with the vacation.

10) Special projects: Special and specific projects such as the Pune Station project are taken up by SSA via sanctions from the central govt. The station project successfully dealt with rehabilitation of station-based kids, which, by the way, brought down the crime rate from 174 per month to 47 per month! SSA conducts special purpose health drives in slums as well.

11) Many more:

We can do:

1) Admission drive: We can help them by conducting the drive in the ares we know better.

2) Monitoring non-formal centers: We can monitor the non-formal center closer to us. We just need to go there once a week to check if the teacher's doing her job well, if the kids are enjoying the classes, etc. We might conduct some interesting activities for kids on weekends.

3) Monitoring schools: Volunteer should decide upon a conveniently located school, go there regularly to check out if things are in place, if they are not then make the HM take proper action, etc. This would have a great impact on the system!

4) Teaching: Train ourselves!

5) Counselor: As mentioned earlier, sometimes a counselor is a necessity. We can bring our own or point it out to SSA so that they can provide one.

We learned:
1) Attack the reasons: than the disease!

2) Formal first: For dropouts, formal education should be the first step, non-formal can come into the picture later.

3) Utilize existing system: It is of utmost importance that we shake up and wake up the existing system, which already has all the facilities on paper. This way is more sustainable than doing things through other channels temporarily. There's a system already in place, why not use it?! Why let the system stay idle and let increase corruption?! For example, conducting health camps in slums is a govt duty. They have a special office in Aundh (for Pune) for it. Let's make good use of it!

4) Study: Keep our eyes open, watch out for the policies and schemes of our interest, observe, study them in detail, and implement!

5) No immediate returns: Note that the effects might take more than 5 years to manifest! Chill!

6) Training: For primary education, proper training is necessary. We need it. :')

7) Kids first, parents later: Parents counselling was considered to be a major issue. But the fact may be that, if we start teaching and make a great impact on the kid, then no one can stop him/her from coming to the classes!

8) More thought, less action: Think more! Rather than picking up dropouts and putting them back into the schools over and over again, think about the reasons causing dropouts!

9) Notes later, execution first: In our way of teaching, i.e., the non-formal way, it is sometimes better to execute projects quickly than spending time in paper work. But do not forget to analyse the project and document it properly, once it is done!

10) The ugly world that it is: Now that we are considering working alongside govt initiatives, please note that we may come across bad officials or even some unpleasant news about good officials. Doesn't matter! Just concentrate on our basic goals and we'll be through! :')

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 7:36 PM

0) THE BASIC NECESSITY TO BE A TEACHER: A teacher should know at least 5 different and creative "punishments" at a time. A teacher cannot afford to be so stupid as to physically hit students everytime there's need for some punishment.

New volunteers:
1) Should be made to simply observe at least 5 classes before they start conducting classes on their own.
2) Can get better attached with kids while playing games.
3) Conducting activities in the class where 2-3 kids can be assigned to each new volunteer helps the volunteer know kids better.
4) Details in the attachment.

1) ALWAYS REMEMBER: DISCIPLINE IS A TOTALLY RELATIVE CONCEPT. I might be obsessed with kids sitting properly in a line while in class, someone else might allow kids to sit wherever they want and get better results!
2) So, whenever we ask kids to follow a certain rule in the class, always ask ourselves "Why???".
3) Try this- When some of the kids start fighting in the class, call the attention of the rest to them and say to those fighting, "C'mon kids, fight! We are all watching you fight for such small and stupid reasons! C'mon, you can be even more stupid and keep on fighting!!" ........ And they stop! They actually realise that they are being stupid.
4) Once a level of comfort and love is reached between the kids and us, conducting an unruly class becomes really easy. When kids are not paying attention to what we have to say, try to make them talk more, let them answer more. Keep a keen eye on all the kids all the time and make sure they understand everything that goes on.
5) If one has to face a totally bored bunch of kids and conduct some important activity, tell them, "Hey! Today we'll do something really really really boring! Let's see who gets bored more!" ........ Well, this isn't funny, it works. Take my word! :')
6) Ask them to make the rules for the class. They follow their owns rules with better conviction.
7) This list can go on if I don't stop myself here. You can get better ideas through the entire blog.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

22/11/09: Zarna madam. Along with some simple interest problems. At BC. Classroom not available. Me = not available.

Kids told her that I had promised them on Saturday that if they study well in that class then I would let them play on Sunday!

:D :D

I got to know of it when Zarna actually requested me to not tell such things to the kids!

They are so so so smart...

30/11/09: More by Zarna. Me = exams.
21/11/09: Banking. Children were made to answer it all.

What was it like when there were no banks? Where did people keep their money? What if someone needed more money than he actually had?

What will happen if all of us start keeping money in a safe in our houses? What are the dangers of keeping all the money like this? What are the advantages? Isn't bank a safer place?

How do banks work? What if I want to borrow some money? Where does this money come from? What if one fine morning all the customers go to the bank and withdraw all their money?

Why would anyone lend you any money? How will the lender ensure that he is profited through this deal? Have you ever heard of interest rate on loans?

Why would you put your money in the bank? Safety? Interest on deposit?

Why do fixed deposit schemes have greater interest rate? Do they give some kind of assurance to the banks?

Would you tell me, without solving for PNR/100, how much money will I have at the end of 1, 3.5 and 7 months, if I keep 100 rupees in a bank today, at a simple interest rate of 3% per month? Would you write down today's discussion after going home and show it to me tomorrow?

They answered almost all the questions eventually. Right from Saawkaars exploiting the needy to banks being supported by the govt through our tax money! Phew!

The objective behind this discussion was to study banks. The objective behind studying banks was to understand the meaning of rate of interest. The objective behind understanding the meaning of rate of interest was to solve simple interest problems. The objective behind solving simple interest problems was to study rationals and irrationals (which is yet to materialise).

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Work is Worship.
Work is Warship!


Monday, November 9, 2009

ये रे ये रे बाळा,
तुला मिळेल पैसा,
पैसा होईल मोठ्ठा,
कशाला हवी शाळा!

रस्त्यावर रहाणारी, कमविणारी मुले- प्रतिवर्षी वाढत जाणारा एक चिंताजनक सामाजिक घटक. चला, त्यांना जाणून घेऊया...

सर्व शिक्षा अभियान आणि पंखुडी पुणे ( १४ आणि १५ नोव्हेंबर २००९ रोजी पुण्यातील रस्त्यांवर रहाणार्या मुलांचे सर्वेक्षण करणार आहेत. सर्वेक्षणाची सुरुवात सर्व शिक्षा अभियानच्या कसबा पेठेतील कार्यालयापासून १४ नोव्हेंबर रोजी सकाळी ८ वाजता होईल.

ह्या सर्वेक्षणात भाग घेऊ इच्छिणार्यांनी आपले नाव व संपर्काबाद्दल्च्या माहितीसह वर इमेल अथवा
९२२५६५२२६८/९८८१०६६४९२ वर "Survey <आपले नाव>" असा SMS अथवा
आपल्या महाविद्यालयातील नाव - नंबर ह्यांना संपर्क करावा.

Twinkle twinkle little cars,
How 'they' knock your doors ajar...
Up against all possible odds,
Like the diamonds of unknown pods...

These are the children living in the street. Would you care to come and meet?

Join Sarva Sikha Abhiyaan and Pankhudi Pune ( in conducting a survey of Pune's street children on 14th and 15th Nov'09.

Starting point: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan office, Kasba Peth, Pune.
Starting time: 0800hrs, 14th Nov'09.

Those interested in participating in the survey need to register by sending your name and contact details:
To or
SMS Survey to 92256 52268 or 98810 66492 or
Contact : _________________________ (College Coordinator).

Note: Would you not prefer to be away when some unknown surveyor with a lengthy questionnaire comes to your doorstep? Same is the case with Pune's ever busy street children. So let the survey be a surprise to them; don't let them know!
03/11/09: Shrikant. Dropped Raj and Vijay. Need to take their parents along, while dropping them to school. Putting them into school is very crucial now, since we have admitted them through a special letter by SSA and special permission by Hermann. At least literacy IS important!
12/10/09: No class. Family engagements.

14/10/09: No Shrikant. I'm not supposed to go alone!

15/10/09: My exam. No class.

Diwali vacation!

23/10/09: Shrikant alone! Without telling me! x-( And I kept thinking that I should not wake him up since he was working till midnight the previous day!!

24/10/09: Krunal. Sham, Sheetal, Sarika. Sheetal + Sarika = secret discussions. Sham got bored. Ajay came and went. He's busy today. His sister's going back to her in laws.

25/10/09: No class. Office office.

Long vacation. Sad things around.
13/10/09: Election day! No class in the morning. Rain.

Class from 6pm to 7pm. Guess where?! BC badi court!! Finally! Ajay, Sarika, Sheetal, Karishma, Vidya, all are present! Sarika played well. And Ajay, of course. Sheetal and Karishma were at their best misbehaviour! Vidya, as usual, got an inferiority complex, since she couldn't play as nicely as others. Encouraged her max.
As a by product of this class, Shrikant too, revised his game. :)
10/10/09: Krunal and Shrikant and Nivedita. In short, all except me. :-( I have exams. So this class is a reproduction of the details provided by Krunal, which I have nicely forgotten by 'now'.

Kids were busy exploring Nivedita and Krunal's cellphones. Karishma called me. Ajay called up his sister and actually had a talk. She's to come home for Diwali! Karishma also called up some unknown number and was talking arbit things for quite some time. Shady.

Ajay's going to go to 'work'. Where his elder brother works. A mobile shop in front of Dagadu Sheth Ganapati temple.

Shrikant dropped Raj to school and joined all at BC later. Vijay not well.

P.S.: I joined Krunal at Eklavya in the afternoon, after my exam. Interesting visit! Thoroughly enjoyed with the kids!

11/10/09: Sunday. Krunal alone. So this class is again a reproduction of what Krunal told me later, coupled with my brain's capacity to forget.

Sambhaji Park, as promised. They wanted to eat something on their way back, but at nice good looking hotels... :) So all had breakfast (= misalpaav, :-)) at some hotel on J. M. road. Krunal had a tough time trying to refrain kids from washing hands in plates and from throwing tissue papers around!

Then, while walking back (no auto due to the new one-way system), Krunal took them to the ATM! They were so excited to see a machine throw up those paper pieces which mean most to the whole of mankind! He let them operate it too. I like it when they are exposed to new technology. Then they all wanted Krunal's ATM card so that they could have all the money they wanted! He, obviously, explained the impossibility of the situation! :)

And finally, he got them back to Patil Estate on foot! B-)
08/11/09: Class by Zarna, Nivedita and Murthy! I'm busy with something at Modern Cafe Chowk, along with Krunal and Amruta! :-|
25/10/09: No class. Office office.

Long vacation. Sad things around.

07/11/09: ClassesInBrief. Had planned to give a holiday due to some family engagements. But when Nivedita called me from Patil Estate saying "Kids are asking about you...", I had to go! :) Their exams are on. All except Reshma and Swati were present.

Revised the "04/10/09" class. Then studied rationals and irrationals and reals. Studied the set theoretic resemblance between 'our classroom, Patil Estate, Pune' and 'Natural numbers, Whole numbers, Rational numbers'. :-)

Have been meeting Karishma's mom on and off. Her hand pains properly. :-| Realised that one can only take the horse to the lake...

P.S. : Girish came!
11/10/09: At SambhajiPark! Thought of taking these children to the park too! :) As usual, had loads of fun.

 And yeah, the first thing kids told me on this day was, "Didii, we had so much fun yesterday!" Yesterday = Class by Krunal = B-).

Diwali vacation!

24/10/09: Krunal. I joined post 6pm. 2-3 were busy solving their English question paper. Others were least bothered. We let them be. No Swati. :-/
10/10/09: Krunal alone. Patil Estate classroom's not avalable. But nothing deters Mr. KD! Class in the small hall near Ambedkar School!

They solved some Math problems. 'Finding the next term of a sequence', to be presice. Kids enjoyed doing it! Akshay would always be the first one to get the formula right.

Krunal's a very good teacher! No arguments!

Friday, October 9, 2009

09/10/09: I have exams. So I'm supposed to be studying. (Off the records, I kept thinking of kids all morning...) Shrikant went alone. Dropped Vijay to school. Also took his mother along. Good. They must start dropping the kids to school themselves someday. Raj's got fever, he didn't go to school. :-|

Guess what! The teacher at Bharat school told Shrikant to let the kids come with me only, so that they don't cry! B-) :')

No class today. Intermittent long vacations have hampered the system and plans of this class greatly. We hope for something good... Let's see.

All those divides and those rules!

04/10/09: Point to be noted- Swati's not been coming since past 2-3 classes. She's there, I see her, she sees me, I call her for the class, she says she'll be there shortly, I go back to the class, class starts, class ends, she never comes! I should actually keep going to her house and keep calling her for the class several times. Will do so next time onwards. She's such a lovely girl! Works a lot! Manages her house and goes to school regularly. Always found working... Never have I ever seen her sitting idle...

I wanted full attendance for today's class. But that's beyond my control. Sham, Mahesh, Tushar, Priti (had to call her from her home twice, as she simply didn't turn up the first time), Poonam, Reshma. Wanted Pooja and Akshay to be there too. Akshay's in the market and Pooja's gone to some relative's. (She returned before the class ended, but didn't come inside. "Non-useful" classes do not seem to interest some of them much. I hope they'll remember at least a couple of these classes when they grow up...)

Krunal and one new volunteer is there. Oh yes, he's called Aditya. Class begins.

How to evaluate something? How to assign marks?? What's the most important thing to be remembered while giving marks in an exam?? There were many answers. General ones. Told them that it is very important to know 'out of how much'. If you think of an answersheet to be absolutely correct, you'd like to give full marks to it, right? Right. Thus, 'out of how much' becomes important. So let's learn to give marks today, out of 10.

Each kid listed 2 favourite things from various fields such as cellphone networks, fruits, flowers, vegetables, food, clothes, picnic spots, relatives, friends, teachers, subjects, animals, birds, insects, trees, etc. Now they were supposed to grade these things on a 10 point scale, as per their liking. Fine. Done.

2nd round of grading- Suppose you like gulaabjaamun. Fine. Good. Now think from gulaabjaamun's perspective. Does the gulaabjaamun care if you like it?? If you think it doesn't, then give zero marks. If you think it does, then give marks accordingly, out of 10.
Thus, with a lot of difficulty, they graded all the items in the big list yet again. Asked them to arrange the items in descending order of marks, biggest first. They agreed that all the things noted down can be characterised into two remarkably distinct groups- group1 (relatives, friends, animals, birds, trees, teachers, etc) and group2 (cellphone network, clothes, movies, picnic spots, food, etc). Things in group1 care for our feelings for them while things in the other group do not much care about how we feel for them.

So, to which group should we give more importance?? Group2 things don't even care for what we feel about them. If I wear some other clothes tomorrow, it won't make much of a difference, neither to me, nor to the clothes. So why bother?! Why give importance to group2?? All agreed that what we wear, what we eat,  what place we live in, which cellphone we use, etc do not really matter much! Instead, we could give more importance to group1 and behave accordingly! Yippie! Good.

Now comes the golden question. The question which I wanted to put forth since the Rakshabandhan incident (these kids were walking out of the classroom at the sight of dropout batch kids entering into the classroom).

Tell me then, my dear little friends- Into which group do Sarika-Karishma-Ajay-Sheetal-Vidya (dropout batch kids) fall???
All: Well... Err... Yeah. Group1.
Good! If you agree to this, then, my dear little friends, think whether your behaviour on Rakshabandhan day with them was right or wrong...
Goodbye! See you next week!

P.S.0: Mugdha, Meghana and Asim joined in later. Mugdha was busy observing and writing something all the time. In the end, she handed over 'happy thoughts' to all the kids, including me. These were some positive observations about each kid written on small pieces of paper. Kids were all excited to grab their piece and read what's in it!

P.S.1: After this class, attended the new batch at BC too! Couldn't just go home soon, as I was meeting all the kids after a long long gap...

P.S.2: As Krunal dropped me back home this Sunday night, he handed over something big, created by Zarna, to me. And... Well... I... I was spellbound! I always loved the kids and loved teaching and had some idea that the kids loved me too... But here was something which kind of said it out... Something which I could touch and feel and read and respond to... Something which I could physically preserve and be proud of... Something which was 2 feet long and 1.5 feet tall... A full cardboard sheet made into a greeting card! With long messages from kids, lovely thoughts by Priti, great guidance from Krunal, awesome creativity by Zarna, ..., ..., ...! For me! For the teacher within me!

So now we know... Now we know what Zarna was upto on that 'teachers day special class' on 06/09/09... Well... What to say!!
Guys, everytime a situation demands me to wear a hat, I'll take it off in your honour first, and then wear it!! Thank you for handing over my most prized possession!
05/09/09: My famous IPR course at ILS! No class.

06/09/09: Zarna conducted this one. I'm at some family engagements. Tried to give my ideas regarding that class, asked her to conduct some activity related to teachers day, etc etc etc. But Zarna, being Zarna, was already upto something super creative!!

Terrible days. Long break to the class.

03/10/09: Simply chatted with kids for some time. Catching up, you see... Told them the story of the edible things within me, which came out one fine day in reverse gear, while I was on a plane, and then how I disgusted the 'apparently smiling' air hostess with the surprise package in my hand... They were all laughing out loud. They too talked of varied things and made me feel left out by discussing some bollywood shots!

Decided topics for each one. They're supposed to teach something for 20 minutes in the class, whenever possible. Poonam was the first one to choose.  She'll be teaching 'Tenses'. Pooja- anything in Math that others find difficult. Settled on 'nitya samaantaa'. Asked Sham to tell us about assembly elections. Very relevant topic! Priti jumped from Marathi to Geography to Maths. Finally settled on Marathi grammar. Akshay- Chemistry, after some confusion about the right choice.

The guys outside didn't seem to be in a mood to cooperate. Were constantly knocking at the door. I went out and told them that they could come inside and attend the class if they are so very much interested. Duh. No use. After a moment, knocking starts again! Finally left the door open and conducted the class. Now no one could knock!

We studied the world atlas today. Earth, then the watery world, then continents, then countries, then Maharashtra, then Pune! Studied the differences between political and geographical maps. Sham wanted to check out Goa all the time!! Also studied 3d projections. Asked them how'd they draw a mountain. They drew the usual front view with the rising sun. Now asked them to draw the top view. They couldn't... Then asked them to observe the maps carefully and they pointed out that on a plane paper, height differences can be pointed out using different colours!
Long vacation due to swine flu. Missed 2 weekends = 4 classes. Most importantly, missed 15th Aug'09.
Date structure changes hereafter.

29/08/09: The great wall of China is seen everywhere, camouflaged as loudspeakers... It's Ganapati time, after all. Impossible to even lip-read what human beings speak out... What amplitude! Ah!!

Ran away to BC to conduct the class. And what a surprise! The tiny little Ganapati, usually sitting peacefully watching us from a corner, was being intimidated by yet another loudspeaker wall of China...

Duh. No class. Went to the river with kids and watched the household Ganapati immersion processions. Today's the seventh day of the festival, which is also a 'visarjan' day for many. Talked to kids about the environmental hazards of immersing Ganapati idols and other related things into the river. Also noted, yet again, that each year, couple of guys at Patil Estate get drowned during Ganapati festival.

30/08/09: Party time at home till 4pm! Krunal's birthday. Even otherwise, there was hardly any point in conducting a class either at Patil Estate or at BC, from yesterday's experience...
Day-13: Nivedita conducted this class. Me absent. Every kid was supposed to write few good and few bad qualities of the kid next to him/her. Good exercise! Nivedita also collected the pages on which kids made the notes. I have all those sheets preserved properly with me. Some kids wrote total funny stuff! I guess it was Aruna who sincerely wrote about someone- "Good qualities not found." :D
Will write more such excerpts from kids' writings later...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day-12: Raakhii celebration along with dropout batch. Priti, Reshma, Pooja, Poonam, Mahesh, etc hate these dropout kids who mostly live in the lower half of Patil Estate. Class difference, you see! They absolutely did not like these kids coming into their classroom that day. So much so that they got up to leave. I suddenly became stern and told them to stop whatever they were doing because it was WRONG. Did not say anything specific as the dropout batch kids were standing in a corner of the same classroom.

Then came the celebrations. All made a HUGE chaos while tying raakhiis to everyone possible and stuffing me and Shrikant with soft sugar-coated pedhaas... I hardly managed to keep just enough raakhiis with me so that I could tie those to all the boys in the class. Girls were snatching the raakhiis from my hand from all directions!

Time for class now. Dropout batch junta left the classroom. Even they wanted to get away as soon as possible.

Told the kids to close their eyes and think of someone from those present inside the classroom. Once this is done, they were supposed to think of 3 questions in such a way that they should be able to know most about the person of their choice.

Wanted to achieve 2 things- To know who comes first to whose mind, and to understand what it means know a person...

All chose their classmates only. Pooja was the most popular choice; chosen by two of them. Shaam chose me! :') And what questions!! And what answers!! 2-3 of them did ask seemingly stupid questions, though... And they were immediately questioned "Did you really understand anything about xyz through these 3 questions???" They themselves evaluated and reached the conclusion.
Let me reproduce some of the conversations-

Priti to Mahesh: What would you like to be in life? If you start earning a salary, would you give money to your mother? How would you feel if you get a prize in a game of football? (I accept that I never ever expected this from Priti!!)
Mahesh: I would like to be an automobile designer! Meaning, I'd take old cars and make them look like new ones. It's a great profession! I'll earn a lot! (His uncle does something of this sort...)
Of course I'd give money to mom!! Suppose I earn 500 rupees a day. I'll only need 50 rupees a day for food and some fun. Rest 450 to mom!
What's there to feel if I get a prize?? Huh?? It's only for that particular moment. Nothing after that. So I'll feel nothing!

Pooja to Akshay: Which subjects do you like? Why? (I don't remeber the 3rd question. See! This is what happens when one doesn't note down things in time... I have lost a treasure forever!)
Akshay: I like Science and Maths.
Why??? Well, because... Well yes, Science make one understand the surrounding in a better way. And if you know Math, people cannot deceive you. That is, suppose you go at a shop and ask for 3kg sugar and if the shopkeeper puts only 2.7kg on the weighing machine, you wouldn't understand the difference if you don't know some Maths.
Mahesh: (Screams out loud) Pooja's dad owns a shop!! Pooja's dad owns a shop!!
(:D :D :D)
(But here, everyone immediately agreed that Pooja's dad sells things honestly...)

Akshay to Pooja: How is it that you scored 83% in the last exam???
Pooja: What do you mean how??????!!! I studied hard and I got it!

Tushar (I guess) to Pooja: What would you like to be when you grow up? Do you like helping people? Why?
Pooja: I'd like to be a doctor and help the poor. (!!! The class difference, you see! The upper half of Patil Estate, where Pooja lives, is relatively well off.) You know, Didii, some people are really poor and they cannot afford to pay for the treatment. I'd love to work for them.
I like helping people, of course!
What do you mean by "Why??" !! I like it! That's it!
Irfan: Didii, it's very simple, if we help someone today, that someone will help us tomorrow. That's why!

Sham to me: Tell me, Didii, how to reach your home from here?
Swati: Wait wait! I'll tell you!! (And she actually pointed out the way! Almost correctly! These kids have been to my place once, but I never thought she'd be able to reproduce the route to such an extent!)
Sham: OK then, next question. Tell me the names of your friends.
Me: Sham, Irfan, Tushar, Mahesh, Akshay, Swati, Priti, Pooja, Poonam, ...
Sham: Enough enough! Next question- What exactly do you do at work?? (This guy had asked this to me earlier, and I had dodged the question then, fearing that I wouldn't be able to explain it all to a 12yr old... He's so keen on knowing all the technical stuff. So here it is, and I have to face it!)
Me: Well, it's a long answer. All of you will have to have patience and listen carefully. Now let us suppose that somebody has some problem; and then we'll ---
Sham: Wait!! Why suppose?!! I'll tell you. Suppose I built a big huge building and then realised that my hammer remained down under. And now I want that very hammer back, not a replacement. Now. Tell me. What would you and your company do??
Me: Well yeah! Listen! At my company, we'd first think of various ways to recover the hammer.
Sham: Like bringing down the whole structure, reaching the hammer from underground pathways, blasting some portion of the building, etc. Next. Tell me.
Me: Right. Then what I'd do is, I'd make a scientifically correct replica of the building and all the ways to recover the hammer, in a computer. This is a tough task! I'll have to use lots of Maths, Physics, Material Science, etc and feed the computer with lots of instructions, you see! So that, at the click of a button on the keyboard, I'd be able to actually perform all the options inside a computer, and will be able to see on the screen, the effects of each of the option. Thus, without actually doing anything to the building, I'll be able to decide which is the best option! Then my company will tell you the best option and you'll pay us in return! :')
Sham: I see! I have one more question- Do you HAVE time to come here or you TAKE TIME OUT to come here?
Me: (!!!! No words!!! I dodged this one!)

Myself, Shrikant and his roommate returned home in a state of intellectual surprise...
08/10/09: Dropped Raj and Vijay. They were not ready. Vijay woke up early and ran away! After the usual running around, we reached Bharat school by 7:34am! Thanks to the teachers who let the kids come late!

Time for the class is being used up in this Raj-Vijay drama these days. But that's OK. Karishma-Sheetal-Ajay-Sarika-Vidya drama is a lifelong process anyway! Raj-Vijay drama may have an end if they get used to Bharat school in a couple of weeks and start going there all by themselves, just like Rohit-Nilesh...

Sarika and Karishma decided not to come! I hope tomorrow they decide otherwise. Vikas joined in. Ajay asked me, "Didii, remember those rackets and shuttlecocks which you were supposed to bring for us? Are those inside your bag??" :D This guy is awesome!! Will play badi with them all on Saturday...

Had pohaa at BC canteen and left, since there was hardly any time... Sham's younger brother Nilesh came in while we were at BC, all alone. We discouraged him from doing so next time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

07/10/09: I'm late. Poor Raj and Vijay had to face Shrikant first... :D Dropped them to school. Then BC as usual. Let's note some things about amazing Ajay, sweet Vidya and worry-inspiring Karishma and Sheetal.

Ajay rocks! He acts so well! He's got such vivid imagination! Sharp eyesight to spot all the curious things around! He's smart and practically intelligent. And such an athlete! He's excellent at whatever he does! And he's always so happy, so satisfied with whatever comes his way! NEVER cribs about anything... Such a lively, fun loving kid! You'd burst out laughing every now and then if he's around... He rarely demands anything. Even if he does, it's with such natural ease, that you're already allowed to fail to satisfy his demands... If I owned a school, I'd pay donations to get him admitted in my school!

Vidya. Good girl. Quiet. Not interested in the shady talks of Sheetal and Karishma. Stays away from them. Likes to stay with Shaam and hear everything that the clever boy has to say. Sweet girl.

Sheetal and Karishma most of the times pair up and sit aside and talk! About boys!! With excited voices and appropriate songs by Sheetal in between (e.g.: "Main raajaa tuu raanii..."). Very disturbing. In Sheetal's absence, K is normal. But when Sheetal's there, the topics always revolve around what some boy told her, then what happened, then how she responded, then a few details of the boy's family, then some excited reactions, then songs! Sheetal's too grown up. K too, is. But K is mostly under control. Bhushan Sir was telling me about a group which works specifically for girls of this age... Need to find out soon. Good luck to us. And a bright future to K and Sheetal.
05/10/09: Shrikant's here! Like the good old days! And what scene by Raj!!! Can you believe it!! He jumped and pushed and pulled and kicked and twisted and ran and screamed and cried and hooooffff!!! Vijay was walking silently. All junta watched Raj's resistance... We were all soft and cool with him. Just told him once that nothing's going to work and you'll be put in school anyway. We literally picked him up and took him to my vehicle. He cooled down a little and I whizzed off. Dropped both to school. Raj was standing at the entrance of the classroom untill I left!

I know that I am not completely convinced over making kids go to school, may it be little ones like Raj or big ones like Karishma. All I believe in, is that they do better things at school than at home.

Anyway. Class time now. Kabaddii at BC with n junta! Shaam, Nilesh and Vikas joined in with Karishma, Sheetal, Sarika, Vidya and Ajay. Played only for 17 minutes and off we went!

06/10/09: With Shrikant. Dropped kids to school first. Their parents told me that they are OK with Didii (that's me) but they cry if they see Shrikant. (Shrikant has always shown deepest interest in inculcating fear in the minds of Patil Estate-ians! :D) Kept him away from the kids. And, to our surprise, both the kids came with me after showing only 1.00009% resistance!

The post-monsoon monsoon hit Wakdewadi upon my return from Bharat school. Shrikant was half way through with getting-kids-ready-for-the-class process. We had to cancel all plans due to heavy downpour. Class cancelled! Kids happy!! :')
03/10/09: Saturday. Krunal's here. Woke up Raj and Vijay first. These are two of the four 1st std kids, enrolled at Hermann Center and hence at Bharat English School this year and who have been bunking school since long. School and Hermann authorities expressed concern and thus we start this wake-up-send-to-school mission yet again... Both cried first. Their guardians hit them physically and linguistically, just to make a show of their non-existing educational concerns for their children in front of me and Krunal. And thus we left the slum with two sad little kids... They cheered up after having chocolates from Krunal! We dropped them to school, which happens to be just across Shivajinagar station and came back to our weekend home. :')

Karishma's mom finally accepted that the massage thing doesn't work and her hand pains tremendously. Urged her to think of an alternative AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Tried our best to prod her. Told her that money isn't an issue. Rest is upto her. I feel helpless.

Sheetal's all bathed and ready! Her kaakuu said that they're all going to visit her maternal grandma, since she's not well. Sheetal, the famously adamant and arrogant girl, lives with her paternal grandma. Her father expired long long ago and her mom went back to her native place soon after. Anyway. They always have such stories attached to them.

Vidya's got morning school today. Vidya- the only one who's kept attending school consistently... Guess she just needed that little push from us. Great. Sarika used to go with her but stopped eventually.

So, finally, it's Karishma, Sarika and Ajay. We just sat at BC and chatted for a while. Upon K's inquiry, S disclosed that she has finally left school forever, for the good of it! They're very much excited at the thought of working; as a house help. They very much want to, but people aren't ready to take them yet, due to their small age; they said. I tried to take this thread further, trying to explain child labour laws and the need for kids of their age to study and play and enjoy life, than to go to work. Response- "No matter what, we'd NEVER go to school!"... Huh. Told them that if they cannot read and understand, anyone can ask them to sign on any document and they'd be fooled easily. No use.

Asked Karishma about her father. She said that he has now started going to work (waste seggregation) but comes back home late and drunk. Terribly drunk. Everytime. We thought we saw remarkable improvements in him after the fracture incident, since he had started working. But no. K's father has not grown up yet.

S's family- One big brother. Who is actually employed in some office currently. He's one of those guys one meets outside Shivajinagar station who keep selling aloud various travel packages... E.g.- "Bolaa Nashik Nashik Nashiiiiik ..."
Her mom goes to the same place to collect waste paper+plastic. Her dad does the same (waste segregation), but somewhere near Mariaaii gate. 2 sisters. Elder ones. They too go to work, as house maids, early in the morning, and hence are never seen in the house.

The watchman at BC chatted with Ajay for a while. Ajay didn't bother to reply.

Played suurpaatyaa. Asim joined in. Left after some time.

04/10/09: I'm unwell, by order. !!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day-9: No class due to Pabal visit. :-(

Day-10: Football time! Only 4 of them turned up. Rest were on a self declared holiday! :) Let them take it!

Day-11: Raakhii-making session by Zarna! Very innovative and creative and nice! All kids thoroughly enjoyed making raakhiis with beads, threads, ribbons, sparkling colours, etc! Will ask them to use the hand made raakhiis during raakhii celebration on the coming weekend...

Day-8: At classroom. Some kids were late. They spoke 5 sentences in English each, as a part of the punishment for coming late. :) Their self-decided punishments! They have to follow! Shareek (new), Biswajeet (new), Sameer (old, but came after a long break), Ranjini were present. Assigned 2 kids to each Bhaiiyyaa/Didii. The plan was to take a walk till BC. Rules- No kid would utter a single word on the way. Everyone would observe things around quietly, while walking with their respective Bhaiiyyaa/Didii. After reaching BC, they would all write 4 good and 4 bad things they saw on the way!
Each one of them read out what he/she had written. Nice things they wrote! The first bad thing that Irfan noted was that some of them did not follow the rules and were talking while walking!
They themselves realised that, had they talked while they walked, they would have missed a lot. While one kid would read out his/her observations, others would make rules for him/her. E.g. : Irfan said "I saw 2 kids fighting, which is a bad thing". Others noted in their notebooks, "Irfan will not fight with others from now on"...! After all the notes about each other, they all agreed on following those notes collectively.
:') They had fun!

What's with all the Math?

Day-6: Played a lot at BC. Didii was late and hence, according to the rules made by the kids, she was to be punished. They unanimously agreed upon no-studies-only-play punishment for Didii! :) 2 new volunteers Deepika and Ranjini had come to the class, and playing a game together helped in better bonding of new Didiis and the kids.

Day-7: At BC. General chat about 10
th board exams. They all agreed that it'll be better if the “board” nature of the exams was changed to a normal local exam. Why? “Because otherwise students may unnecessarily commit suicide if they fail in such a big exam”, they said. Upon my comment about suicides being foolish, Pooja immediately interrupted- “No Didii, it isn't foolish!” Great. She's right. Would you do such a thing if you failed in an exam? Poonam & Pooja- “Yes! Because we'd feel awful!” Priti- “All at home have big hopes for me. I'm the only one who's studied till 8th std. So it'd be a great shock to them and me. But I won't commit suicide!” Irfan- “Fail toh fail! Big deal!!” Awesome! :') The discussion ended with their realisation that they're wasting their play time in unnecessary discussions! :-) Played for some time. Study time now!
Drew a number line on the ground with a pointed stone. Asked all of them to stand a little away from the line. Didii was to call out certain numbers and then they were supposed to come running towards the line and stand on the numbers announced. E.g. : Even numbers, odd numbers, prime numbers, all factors of -9 (they were supposed to factorise first and then run), etc. During each round, once they took positions on the number line, they were asked to do additions and subtractions. E.g. : Adding -0.5 to the number they are currently standing on and then jumping to the resulting number.
Ranjini had come to this class as well and was very much interested in the entire process of conducting a class.
Day-5: Nobody is in the mood to study. Played "Message Received" for some time. :) Then gave them each a sheet with around 20 pairs of decimal numbers written on it and asked them to encircle the larger number in each pair. None could get all answers right! Poonam got only 2 wrong, but she was more surprised than confident about her result! Hence started studying the number line. Asked them to draw number lines in their notebooks and asked them to mark some numbers on it. Swati was unable to decide whether 5.2 is to be marked between 4 and 5 or 5 and 6. Irfan, the 'bhaaii' kid, instantly converted the numbers into rupees and asked Swati the same question... And she understood!! Smart Irfan!
As we were busy explaining some Math to Swati, the know-it-all-kids Mahesh, Poonam and Pooja were constantly giggling about something. I got impatient and a little angry over the constant disturbance and finally told them strictly, “Please go away! I'm not teaching you. I'm here only for Swati.”
While leaving, I found a piece of paper on my bag with a smiley face drawn on it, with “Smile please Didii, we're very very sorry. -Mahesh, Poonam, Pooja.” scribbled on it... Speechless I was! I went to them and said sorry! They taught me patience and love, which I had apparently forgotten that day!
You see, if you're a person who never scolds kids, you'll get sweet surprises when you scold them for the first time!
This piece of paper is my most prized possession now...

Day-3: Kids were asked to go out of the classroom for an hour and interview people from their area on "How students should behave in class"! What is to be asked and who is to be interviewed was left to them! I wanted to see both, whom they choose and what they ask.
The interviews + kids' thoughts on the learnings of the interviews, were put together and then the kids themselves made rules on how they should behave in the class. These rules are now stuck on the classroom door and kids seem to follow them so far! :)
By the way, these kids mostly chose boys and girls from their age group. Which finally made my position stronger. Because I could now tell them, “See, your own friends think this way... You have to follow it now!” I had asked them to ask “WHY??” to every answer they get. This made the interviews reasonable! :') Kids came up with surprisingly good questions and answers! Someone also asked “What do you think the teacher should do in order to keep her students interested??”
:-) They are too smart, you see!

Day-4: Marathi newspaper reading! Lots of new volunteers were present. Assigned 2 kids per volunteers. Gave newspapers to all kids. Aksed them to first scan their newspaper, find what interests them most, read it carefully, keep the newspaper aside, and then, write about what they found interesting and why. They chose news like the 'problem of waste disposal in Pune', 'water scarcity', 'solar eclipse', 'leafy vegetables and health', etc. They wrote intelligent reasons too. They do understand all these issues! :)

Explained about water cycle. All of them agreed upon one more rule, “If we come across running taps with water being wasted, we'll close the taps immediately!”
Day-1: General chat about where each one of them had gone during vacations. Tried involving a little Geography here by asking them details about the places they visited and the location of these places on the map of our country.

Day-2: Avehi pilot by Amruta! Chaotic! :) But kids enjoyed playing with balloons. They were each given a balloon. Rules were – to not let your balloon fall on the ground while you make others' balloons fall on the ground. The various rounds of the game increased bodily constraints such as using only one hand, using one hand and one leg, etc. (There was so much noise generated in the classroom that it overpowered the noise on the chaotic pataangan outside! People outside actually complained! :D :D It was fun!) The moral learnt was – if one doesn't trouble others and concentrates on one's own efforts, one can win easily! After this, Amruta told a nice open ended story and kids were supposed to complete it. They came up with some amazing ideas!!

These kids seem too big to enjoy Avehi morals, though...
27th June'09: Some new volunteers turned up. Oriented them! Kids are no longer available on Saturday afternoons, since their schools have changed. So weekend classes would be conducted at 5pm on Saturdays and at 2pm on Sundays.

From 28th June'09, classes are being conducted regularly on every Saturday and Sunday. This year, we're stressing more on sharing knowledge which would be complementary to what kids do at school. It was observed that these kids are a little self-involved, just like all of us... :') We're working on that first. Then we'll move to scientific experiments, Maths and Marathi. Speaking in English while conducting classes would be encouraged. Thus Spoken English would be a by product of these classes. NCF, learnings from Girivan training, school books, etc are being refered. No syllabus is set. To give a rough idea of what goes on in the class, here's a note on some of the classes, under the label 'ClassesInBrief'.

Monday, October 5, 2009

11/09/09: Krunal's here. Along with Sheetal, Ajay and Vidya. Shrikant joined in later, for a few minutes. Junta were so happy to see him!
Played a very interesting girls' game at BC. Tipriipaanii. It's like a video typical cellphone game which has difficulty levels and one has to win and move ahead level by level, earning the rewards... Shrikant! Sarika and Karishma didn't come. They were busy with their families, collecting cooking oil spilled over a road nearby. :-/
Ajay, an expert of all games, was busy teasing Vidya creatively. Poor girl couldn't cross the first level for a long long time...
Ajay and Vidya were discussing strategies to hit each other on the way back. Very violent imagination at times!
Her unsuccessful attempts, plus Ajay's teasing resulted into her getting totally irritated in the end. She refused to come the next morning. Sheetal too, refused, since it's her basic attitude to refuse! Requested and urged them to come the next morning, since I'd be getting rackets and shuttlecocks for a game of badminton... To this, Vidya said that anyway it'd be Ajay who'll succeed in any game, so forget it! Well, she's got a complex! Told her that I'd teach her properly and then there'll be no stopping her!

This day is the darkest day of my life.

Vacation continued due to various issues on home+office front...

29/08/09: No morning class. But met all the kids when we went to Patil Estate for weekend class. Ganapati time. Karishma took me to her place to show me the Gauri decorations! And so well kept and well decorated and huge it was! It occupied half of her house! She and her mom invited me so many times! Went inside, did the poojaa, and tried eating only half of the prasaad- which happened to be a huge bundii-ladduu...
Extraordinary happenings include: Karishma's mom and family have found some person at Chandni Chowk, very famous for his massage techniques. Only 50 rupees per visit and she said her hand was feeling better already, just after 2-3 visits. Currently, her hand was placed between two wooden strips, tied with a piece of blue cloth. !!! I GAVE UP!! Told her that no massage can join a broken bone. No use. She showed me how she was able to move her hand around, which she couldn't at all do earlier. Me and Shrikant decided to visit this Chandni Chowk guy in person someday.

04/09/09: One class by Shrikant. I have no idea what happened here. Except for the fact that kids inquired about me! :')

06/09/09: Krunal came! It's always so peaceful to have him around...
All were at BC. Played a lot. These kids are such keen observers! Since when I lost my wallet at Shanivarwada, I've become more carefull with my bag. And today Karishma said, "Look at Didii!! Always so possessive about her bag!"  Hmmm... Point noted, Karishma madam!

Then there was a surprise! Zarna came! This lady is a quietly creative creature... She had glue, coloured paper, scissors, etc in her bag. But kids had a surprise for us too. They were NOT interested! :D We then pretended to be busy with all the material, ignoring them completely. And slowly, one by one, they joined us and made interesting pieces shown by Zarna and Krunal. I, obviously, joined the kids, not the teachers. :)

Had a tough time with Sarika yet again. Dunno why my patience ends earlier with her. :-( She never liked me, I believe. I was decorating a piece carefully and she wanted it before being decorated and I wanted to decorate it and then present it to her! Duh! Finally when I was done, and I gave it to her, she was not a bit interested, neither in me, nor in the craft. I need to grow up, it seems.
Long vacation due to swine flu. Date structure of the diary changes hereafter, since it does not make any sense to count so many holidays.

08/08/09: No regular class. Combined Rakshabandhan celebration of 2 batches- 'Diary' batch + 'ClassesInBrief' batch. Combined them on purpose, since the 'ClassesInBrief' batch looks down upon these 'Diary' kids. And they did show it yet again! They were very irritated to see Karishma, Sarika, Sheetal, Ajay and Vidya enter their classroom that day. So much so that they actually got up to leave. 'Diary' kids were standing in one corner, watching all this. They were little annoyed, but tried to make them stay. I simply and strongly told the weekend batch kids that whatever they're doing is WRONG and hence they should immediately stoop doing it.

Fianally started tying raakhiis. All girls wanted to tie raakhii to "Shrikhanda - mann thanda" aka Shrikant! Ajay seemed little overwhelmed upon seeing me tie a raakhii to him. All had dhaarwaadii pedhaas from Chitale later, and then they left, making space for our regular weekend class.

One notable thing: Karishma wrote something again! She wrote "I hate you" on a piece of paper for her dear Shrikant bhaiyyaa! Good enough! She does find us worthy of writing something about! (This piece of paper has been safely archived by me. :'))

This very same day, in the morning, when Shrikant and Nivedita generally visited Patil Estate, Karishma told them that she wants to go to a boarding school! Then she said she wanted to attend Hermann Center classes that day!! Too many sweet surprises for us within a day!!! Shrikant immediately called me to give me the news and I rushed to the scene, overjoyed! But, by the time I reached, they had made a trip to Hermann Center, Karishma taken an about turn from the entrance of the center and they were all back to Patil Estate! :D

18/08/09: The runaway fracture...
She ran away! Auntie ran away! Karishma's mom ran away! From Sassoon! The very next day of her admission! As expected! With an expressive story of the happenings there...

She's awfully scared of hospitals in the first place. Swine flu was causing 2-3 deaths per day. She got all the more scared. She was asked to stay for a couple of weeks. Only then she'd be operated, they told her. A lady on a nearby bed said she's been there for the past 3 months. K's mom, being the sole earner of the family, cannot afford to be idle for so many days. Moreover, in spite of the MLCs, the free treatment assurances, etc these guys were made to pay some 250-300 rupees for some tests which do not fall under the free departments! They were asked to bring in some material and tablets on their own too!!

Amazing loopholes! Amazing bypasses! Amazing non-efficiency! Learnt A LOT MORE about the system today.

Poor mother still remains untreated. Plans of getting her operated from Sancheti are in place. Financial assistance required. She herself went and asked one self help group! Even we can help her financially.

One good thing: Her husband's become quite concerned of the proceedings. At least he shows to be. Hope he is.
Day-32: No class.
Day-33: No class.

Day-34: A great day at Sassoon! (Sorry Shrikant, very sorry!)
Finally got the lady admitted!! She'll be operated upon, soon! And she'll be safe!! And everything's free. F R E E.
Learnt a lot about THE SYSTEM. Learnt a lot about Karishma, her mom, her dad, her auntie, their financial situation, doctors, nurses, workers, police, MLC (a no-objection certificate granted by the police which is necessary if you wish to avail free treatment), paperwork, etc etc etc ...
Awe inspiring Sassoon!

The MLC is actually a document in which the patient agrees, in front of a policeman, that he/she has no complaints against anyone about his/her injury and that the injury is purely accidental.

Our man in the picture, that's K's dad, who smelled of alcohol, was literally shivering while he handed over the paper to the police officer at Sassoon, and assured that the lady has no complaints against anyone and that the fracture was caused when the lady fell off a staircase. Only I know how I stopped myself from screaming out the truth! *@#**%*@#**!!!
I hope our man learns a lesson here.

Day-31: No class. Had decided to take Karishma's mom to Sassoon at 8am. It's been almost 2 weeks now and she's not done anything yet... Had to take some of her elder family member along, to do the paperwork at Sassoon.
Karishma's mom has 4 daughters and 2 sons. 3 are married- 2 at Patil Estate and 1 at Borivali. Both sons are younger to Karishma and go to school regularly. One of them attends Akanksha as well! Karishma's father's at Borivali today. Will be coming back in the evening.

The lady looked hesitant. Her son-in-law also entered the conversation. He tried convincing her to go with us. He was ready to send some of their family member along. She said that she'd go with her husband once he's back. Her son-in-law laughed at this and told us how useless her husband is. He even scolded her for having been so good to him. He told her to teach him a lesson this way- first save some money, then don't make food at home for some days, your kids and you can eat outside with the money saved, and the father will finally realise something if he doesn't get anything to eat. Anyway, she still asked us to take her husband along with her to Sassoon.

She and her son-in-law explained why Sassoon has a bad reputation at Patil Estate. 3 deaths from Patil Estate have occured at Sassoon, due to mistakes on Sassoon's part, they said. One of the 3 deaths being that of Karishma's mom's father! Asked her to go to some other hospital then. To this, the duo agreed that Sassoon is the only option. They also agreed that in spite of all these incidences, Sassoon is having great doctors, etc... We insisted that we'd go there only if they wished to. The lady herself agreed to go, on Monday, along with her husband. We ended the discussion and were leaving.

Karishma's mom and Karishma joined us on our way back to our vehicle. It is here that the lady disclosed the secret. She never fell off the staicase. Her husband hit her. So badly that a bone would break wide apart??!!! “Baambuuch ghaatlaan baapaanii!” Karishma added, with a smile. (She said that she was going to tell the truth to us long back, but her mom stopped her.) They seem to think there's something funny in it; do they???!!
The lady insisted upon taking her husband along because she wanted him to take some rounds of the hospital, so that even he understands how much work and money and time and efforts are needed for the entire healing process. That is why she has not yet been to the hospital. She wants him to come along and realise.

After few minutes, she asked us to leave, otherwise we'd be late for office.

Shrikant would be better able to explain my state of mind.
Day-27: No class.

Day-28: At BC. Kids got up late... Reached BC by 7:40am... There was hardly any time left as me and Shrikant had to rush to office in some time... Played for a while. Shaam and Ajay were not at all interested!
Krunal called up! He received all the letters. Kids talked to him for so long!! Karishma told him to get married before he gets any older!! Sheetal went on talking talking talking talking...
Karishma asked/told (:-)) us to take her mom to Sassoon the next day. Nice to know!

Day-29: No class! My mom's unwell. So I'm playing home-home. Shrikant's playing office-office, leaving office in the midnight and entering office early morning (after all, one has to pay the price of overloading)!

Day-30: Same as above.

Snake Park! Finally!

Day-26: Katraj. Snake park. F I N A L L Y. Kids pained us with this snake park demand for a long long time! Ajay's absent. :( All left Patil Estate with Shrikant. At around 9:30am. Park opens at 10am. I went directly to the park. Asim and Nivedita joined in too.

Dhaaman and Manyaar and cobras and crocodiles and peacocks and eagles and what not! They observed and argued and also cribbed about the things around. Sheetal went on to say that she's getting bored with all this and complained about having come here! Awesome! It was she who was forcing us the most! Anyways. Need to do something about this attitude of hers. (Let me first work on mine. :'))

Then came the electric car ride! And we all enjoyed it so much!! Open, nicely modelled, 10 seater electric powered vehicle it is. With a creative driver! Saw elephants, leopards, a tiger, bears, neelgaay, black bucks, etc on our way.
Karishma and Vikas had an argument. And Karishma came up with such amazing 'gaaliis'! Even Vikas said a few bad words. Both couldn't digest what each of them had said to the other. Were angry at each other. Didn't talk to each other on the way back, too. All our attempts to bring them together failed. Huh.

One unusual thing- During the car ride, Shrikant handed over a paper to me. Karishma had drawn tirrible pictures of us on it and written some comments in English too! Awesome! She WROTE something! This paper seemed to be some old used piece, because, on the other side of it, I found these lines scribbled long ago- "Jalnewaale jalte rahe, jalaanaa meraa kaam hain; Patil Estate mein rehtii huu, Karishma meraa naam hain!" Oohaa! What can one say! These girls already have all the grown up talk in their mind! (The paper preserved safely in my collection of most prized possessions!)

Had Paavbhaajii, Misal, Bhuttaa, Kaakdii, Paaniipurii, etc! I went home, Shrikant and Nivedita took kids back to Shivajinagar. Nivedita took the girls to her house. Shaam and Shrikant and Vikas returned to Patil Estate.
Girls returned from Nivedita's house by 5pm. Karishma's entire family had not had lunch since Karishma was not there to cook it!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day-25: Talked to Karishma's sister. Her mom was out somewhere. Sister showed the x-ray. It was terrifying! The bone is actually broken wide apart! They got some first aid done from some hospital near Mhasobaa something. Sancheti people told them that her operation would cost 25,000 rupees. The lady cannot afford it. Hence haven't done anything yet. Told her to go to Sassoon. Sister said that her mom's scared of Sassoon! More on this, later.
Today's class at Agriculture College ground! With a brand new football! :') Shaam, Sheetal, Karishma, Sarika, Vidya were there. No Ajay! :( I so very much wanted him to be there on a football day! He's gone to Kurduwadi, to bring his sister. Will be back in a couple of days.
Karishma, Sheetal and Satika didn't wish to play football. Shaam was all game for it! Vidya was interested too, surprisingly! Ignored the 3 girls and started playing with Shaam and Vidya. The three started screaming and complaining about the place, football, etc... Especially Sheetal, as usual. Played Suurpaatyaa for sometime then, with all the girls. Then observed long jump and 'golaaphek' practice for a while. The sports-women there started talking to our girls. One of them also showed how to go about a long long jump! Our kids took some time to come out of their shells, but later had loads of fun trying to long-jump!
Meanwhile, Shaam kept up with the football... People practising football there got interested and were teaching him for a long time! How I wish Ajay were there too!!
Too much of physical exercise! More than 2 hours of constant running and jumping and kicking! Exhausted!!
Tuk tuk, Shrikant! Nobody missed you! Since I was all alone with the kids, I had all the chance to impress them with my football skills. And impress them, I did! Especially because they did not have any expectations from a 'didii' as far as football is concerned... :')

Talked to Karshma's mom after the class. Explained her how important it is to get operated. I simply cannot imagine how painful it must be for her! Asked her to go to Sassoon. The lady wasn't speaking up... One uncle nearby told us that, at Sassoon, they have to do so much of work to get things done properly, that sometimes 25000 rupees look affordable! Sassoon has got such reputation as well, I didn't know! We assured them that we'd take them there and then they won't have to do any of those things... Urged and requested and tried our best to tell her to get something done quickly.

While going back home at the end of my Saturday-at-Patil-Estate, at around 8:30pm, spotted this lady working at the garbabe collection center at the entrance of lane-1 while the rest of the junta was busy celebrating Shaaheer Annaabhaauu Saathe Jayantii with loudspeaker-walls... Karishma's father doesn't do anything at all; even when the working lady has a broken hand.
Day-23: They aren't going anywhere. :) Crazy girls!!! I guess they like threatening us time and again, with such warnings!
Sheetal asked for Pabal again again!
Played 'Coconut Please' and 'Suurpaatyaa' at BC. Karishma and Sheetal were discussing something 'very important' in between... We weren't supposed to interrupt...

Day-24: Karishma and Sheetal went back home while we were walking to BC from Patil Estate. They wanted to go to Sambhaji Park. They said they didn't like us taking them to BC everyday, at all! We let them go back. :-) REMEMBER – The FIRST rule of this morning batch - “No rules. No regulations.” :')
Ajay's mother works. Father works on small lighting tasks as and when he gets 'em. Otherwise drinks. Ajay keeps his cellphone transaction money with mom. He doesn't even keep his cellphone with his dad. He says that his dad would sell it and drink away the money!
Asked Ajay why is it that he never behaves like Karishma and Sheetal, and is always ready in the mornings to come with us without demanding to go to places other than BC... He said, “Kunii nhela tarach jaaycha. Naaiitar naaii.” Funda!!
Thus, Ajay was sitting with us at BC, generally chatting about his life. And... guess what?!!! We spotted Karishma and Sheetal hiding behing a bush!!! They couldn't go back, after all! What more would we want from life!! :) :) :)
Karishma too, said that her father doesn't do anything. Her mom has to go to work even with a fractured hand. Otherwise how would they get money for food, she said! Her mom's hand is temporarily bandaged now. But she needs to be operated. :-? Need to find out the exact information tomorrow.
We wrote colourful 'get well soon' letters to Krunal! Tried telling them where Surat and Pune lie on the map, with our limited map-drawing skills. :) Tried explaining the postal system as well. They looked interested! Tried explaining how nice someone would feel if he/she gets such loving letters when ill. Ajay said that now even he wants to be sick!
Get well soon, Krunal!