A Ride Like Many Other…

Here, I have described just one of the many trips I took while in UP. Each venture out of the school, for even little things like internet connection (it was at a three hour drive, mind you) would turn out to be an adventure.  Political rallies, detour at regular intervals are a part of daily commuting.

Frustration personified…

It’s spooky, the driver’s hungry, there are basically just potholes-one after another that makes- (what they call) the road! The dry, parched fields on either side and large wide shrubs and bushes growing wildly, entering the open car window.  The moon’s high up in the sky, the sound of wolves in some distant field. Flashes of torchlight every few minutes…

And then just as you turn a corner, there! Dim lights, blaring Bhojpuri songs and random people sitting together in groups- smoking or talking loudly. They are the people who want to defy the village custom of sleeping early, and so this is their city adaptation of the market place. The village kids going to these markets call them “bumbai!” Totally bumbed me! LOL.

And here’s a funny part… We are returning home, my dad and I. It’s 8.30 pm, conditions as mentioned above. I have traveled this part quite a few times lately. Now concentrate on the part ‘the driver’s hungry’…. So as we turn from the loud, annoying Bhojpuri music to take the road home deep in a village. The driver takes another road cut through the fields.

Dad inquired and  he says this road is better, with fewer bumps. Turns out, totally the opposite! After passing through the fields, and a canal and fighting quite hard to keep as still as possible to avoid tumbling over, we reach a house that belonged to the cook who would have food ready for our hungry driver on his way home. So all this for reminding the cook he’d be there in half an hour for his dinner. The cook barely looked up from the mobile phone(?!) he was talking on, but simply nodded, as another bump…

What to Teach and How.

Running the school administration and my stay in the village has been an eye opener. Seeing people struggle, debate and quit at things I considered obvious and, “what’s there to ask in it?” comes as a surprise and the realization that indeed we have a long way to go.

Take Education- its food, clothing, shelter and basic education is a necessity for life. Isn’t it? And then- I heard from a local girl, who I was helping with English for her upcoming tenth grade exams- “I a not giving my exams, no need to study.”

“Why?!”

“My brother says “The exam centre is not my own school, so there is no need to go. What is the need to study, and besides we have already let you go to school, how does exam matter? You don’t have to go show your degree anywhere!”

And that was the end of discussion. She couldn’t say anything to her “older, wiser” brother. And the parents too were- “He knows the world, he has seen it. Maybe it’s better this way.”

Then I spoke to the girl’s mother and realizing how helpless she was, I asked my dad to speak to the girl’s father. After talking to him all my father could say was, “They are really stubborn, but after this, they may send her for the exams as the son is going to the city in a couple of days.”

The girl however, was more than pleased at the idea of not having to give the exams. Even if she would give, it would only be a temporary solution. A permanent remedy for the people’s mindset…urgently needed.

This is the day I finally realized the magnitude of my work- teaching children where education is not even considered important enough for an extra half an hour drive from home to school.

I have only kindergartners in my school right now. I have time to prevent something like this happening to the tiny tots I’m teaching. And that is the day I resolved the number one agenda for my school would be to develop an interest and love for learning. If I could ensure that in the early couple of years they were in my school…I could be at rest, knowing that they will fight odds to learn. And for that I started using the method of teaching which focused on creating curiosity among the children.