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!!!