So, the D-day finally arrived! I joined the Teach for India 2011 cohort on the 10th of June. First impressions, man, there was some diversity! We had people from IITs, BITs, NITs, IIMs, LSE, Oxford, dramatics, law, humanities and corporate like TCS, Cogni, Stan Chart, Deloitte; phew! The list just does not end! There was no dearth of talent and enthusiasm.
Days at the institute were indeed memorable, thanks to the people around. Early morning sessions, summer school, submissions and late night chats, just awesome! Of course we find some cranky creatures everywhere and people who take such great efforts to make themselves visible, always (sorry, but that’s me, as straight forward as I can beJ I have tried to be as subdued as I can be ;)) Also looking at some people, I would get puzzled, as to what are they up to and are they really going to do justice to their students? I mean, just imagine a thief telling his son that stealing is bad or A. Raja participating in a rally against corruption! But, leaving the values and integrity part (though the most important one for me), at the end of it I knew that each one of us was going to take some really unique things in our classrooms.
I joined a classroom of 35 kids at Varshanagar MPES in Vikhroli, a central suburb in Mumbai. I think it was just the type of classroom I desired. First year of intervention; we have a great team of TFI fellows there, Sagarika (my co-teacher) and Prasid. Sagarika, so sweet with the kids, but at the same time well balanced in her approach and Prasid, so dedicated towards this movement and so focused, yet so grounded! They had already put in lot of efforts before I was placed there, hats-off to them! I think that has been the best part of my life, always landing up with likeminded people, who believe in no-nonsense stuff.
Now, about the school, the problem as everywhere, the same, mindsets of other teachers and parents, quality of education; these kids were taught by the supporting i.e. cleaning and peon staff of the school! They were used to getting beaten-up and could seldom read English except, just reciting the letters in the words in front of them. But, the best part, unlike others we have got a great infrastructure, in terms of space and the kids! Kids have been the best part. The learning has been definitely happening and the credit goes to the kids of course and little to us J In all the city meetings and conferences, I have been hearing some horrifying accounts from some of the fellows and we are so lucky that we have a bunch of angels with us in terms of behavior. Yes, there are always some exceptions, but it has been a good journey overall, till now.
The second half of the year also had some unfortunate events in its bag and even worse, those events were all related to health of me and my family L It started with a mosquito attack! I was diagnosed with dengue and was out of action for two and the half weeks. And the bad part was, the full recovery actually took more time than the illness and made a mess of some of my plans….”Ek macchar aadmi ko kya kya kar sakta hai”…grrr! It followed with health issues of my father and grand-father. And all these things took place during the festive period which really upsets you. Then, I lost my grand-father post diwali, which again came as a shock to the family. It was really frustrating sometimes. But, all the unfortunate things too need to stop somewhere and so they did, as we welcomed a new member in our family, my nephew J It was such a relief and a moment of sheer happiness to see him!
So, a new year dawns and with this new year comes a realization that I’ll be a year older soon :P :P But, seriously, with some paths still unexplored, few territories still unchartered and some questions still unanswered, it will surely be a memorable one with lots of self-realizations and challenges in the bag! J