Friday, September 23, 2016

Some Life lessons from my students

I volunteer as an English teacher at a Government school once a week through an NGO. My mode of teaching conversational English and life skills  is through Story telling.

There are nearly 40 children in class with a few absentees often. Some children are absent because their parents have taken them to work as house helps, or masons etc. Some children come from an orphanage to study. In general, most children come from household which lives on daily wages  and can't financially support their living, leave alone education. And in rare cases, you will find a teacher's daughter too.

I arrive at this school on a Thursday and interact with them  from 10.45 to 12.15. A story later which is generally a history story for higher classes emphasizing on life skills while it is a story with repetative lines for lower classes, we play games or plan exercises. The schedule is never monotonous or no heavy syllabi like grammar.While i teach them life skills, i end up learning many life lessons myself.  There was always something new I learned and made some interesting observations about these children.

One interesting observation about these kids that I found was how happy and joyous they are with less materials. They do not necessarily have the things we take for granted like  parenting, materials like books, pens , technology like wifi, mobiles  or  for that matter even  good food or clothes. Despite the lack of all resources, I could see that these children are intelligent, imaginative and appreciative of  what we had to offer and very eager to learn what we teach.

Everytime, I finish my storytelling session, I encourage the students to open up and step out of their comfort zones and  ask them to volunteer  to retell and each time i see a student retelling and adding a few words of his own and framing his own imagination inspite of the fact that they have less exposure. To see so much of enthusiasm in them  to absorb, infuses me with energy.

 After the inter-active story session when I  walk out of the class, some times, I see a few  boys  dragging a huge drum of cooked rice down the slope to a small room which acts as a serving room. The rest of the kids joyfully run behind them with their steel plates.  The kids are so joyous to eat the steaming hot food with just a ladle of sambar. No pizza, pasta or no elaborate indian meal. They look so contented . While  i enjoy watching their joyous faces  when  feeding themselves, I am interrupted by one of their teachers who  said, most kids enjoy their mid-day meal here cause when they go back home not sure if their parents can afford them another plate. So many stories, so many observations......  whenever a donor gives them books, pens etc..One can't miss the gleam in their eyes, even a person who is not an expert in reading  body language would notice the joy in those eyes, I always end up with a prayer of gratitude to god on my way back home. 

I could realize from Mary of Class 8, an orphan who is extremely intelligent ,  that some of them live in the moment and utilize everything that comes their way to its greatest extent. What dangerous lives they live!...Mary was almost kidnapped a few weeks back outside her school said her teacher.

Everytime, I get a handshake from the student or they run behind me for my signature, it fills me with so much of  happiness and joy.    As a volunteer, I am glad I help realize their dream and shape up the hero within them even if I can play just a miniscule part or make a small difference in few lives.

Thank you God for this opportunity!

This post written for Living in Gratitude#WorldGratitudeday
Volunteering and Small gestures of kindness to give back or pay it forward for Writetribe

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kaani Nilam vendum

I have grown up listening to Mahakavi Subramani Bharati's  songs, Thanks to my mom who was a fan of his compositions and played his kuyil pattu( cuckoo song) melodiusly on the veena. My mom would play "kaani nilam vendum" especially, a song in which the poet asks the supreme power ( God) to bless him with an ideal home in exchange for his verses. This is one of my favorite song too.

The Ideal home he describes in the song is something i dream to have....a small independent home on a piece of land surrounded with greenery...only to that i would add my dream home would be a simple sustainable environment friendly home.

A home that would completely be off the grid for energy, harvests rain water for its daily needs, an organic kitchen garden and is built with native wisdom and sustainable and recycled materials and has a feel of the past.

And I did come across such a beautiful new  home right in the heart of Jayanagar recently at Bangalore and had a chance to stay there a night, where i felt i time travelled and lived in a home of the past.

The rusty earthy red oxide flooring, yellow oxide and black oxide in other, The athangudi handcrafted tiles, the wooden stair case, the rough granite seater ( sopanakallu), the central courtyard (nadu mittam) which has a skylight from where rain , breeze and sunshine filters into the home, the pin mittam ( back yard) with an oonjal (wooden swing and mural...all these and more evoked a sense of familiar native warmth combined with a fine sense of design aesthetics.

The house showed signs of saving materials everywhere, the main door and all the doors, windows were restored and repurposed from old discards from Karaikudi. The bricks for the home were made at the site from the mud excavated and mud plastered ( along with some native gum).

Overall a beautiful eco-friendly energy efficient green home.....just like my dream home, hopefully i will build and live someday. 

Below are some of the pictures,

                                               The elevation
                                                             the main door
                                                way to guest bedroom across central courtyard
                              The sky lights over nadu mittam( below) around which the rooms are built
the  w ooden staircase leading to master bedroom at one level and the sopanakallu 3 step stair leading to study and a bamboo stair in another room
                                 The drawing room view from the study above note the mismatch in windows since they are  restored  discard windows no two are the same
                                                    Drawing room view and the louvered windows of master bedroom
                                                             a view of the entry to master room from study and a section of the skylight lighting.....enjoyed the warmth and glow of the sunshine in the morning with a cup of hot tea in the drawing room.
                                                 The well ventilated big open kitchen facing the drawing room and a side door leads to pin mittam where one can relax on  a lovely wooden swing
                                       Ssome reminders from paati's kitchen
                                   how many remember this switch board?

This post written for the prompt "Use the lyrics of your favourite song as the basis of a short story or a post"  #Friday Reflections @ Write tribe and the lyrics of my favorite song which is the basis for this post is the tamil song   Kani nilam vendum 

I need one kaani (1.32 acres) land, Oh supreme power!, I need one kaani land! 
In its midst, with pillars and multiple storeys in pure and pristine colors,
you should build me a palace (home) in it,
In there should be a well, near which should be placed coconut tree leaves and tender coconuts,

Around ten to twelve coconut trees should be near,
there should be moonlight like the lustre of a flawless pearl,
the melodious music from cuckoos chirping should subtly touch my ears,
amidst all this, as my soul(intellect) rejoices, the soothing breeze should flow!

As my song mingles with the breeze, at that magical moment, I want a chaste woman by my side,
As we are joyous, poetic verses should start flowing freely,
In this land, amidst the forest, Oh Supreme power! You should stand guard and protect us!
In return, with the prowess of my poems, you may grace (or save) this world!