Saturday, September 5, 2015

Happy Teachers Day

We recently had the Joy of bringing home an ornamental Betta fish. The fish bought in a lot of Joy and excitement to our five year old daughter. We started thinking of a name for the fish. As adults, we started suggesting typical pet names like ‘jumbo’, ‘micky’ and as a child she started suggesting various sounds like ‘kiya muki’, ‘mee keere’ and it went on without a decision.

Suddently she shouted “Mythili”. She said “let us call it Mythili”. We asked her “why?”. She responded “It is the name of my teacher at Bodhana. I like her.” Such is the love kids can show to good teachers.  

Happy Teachers Day!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Uneducated Education System

Straight to the point. There are three incidents which made me write define today's education as "The uneducated education system".

1.       There was a natural calamity in my mind when I read this. "Life on this planet earth depends upon a variety of goods and services provided by the nature, which are known as Natural Resources" This is from a book on Environment education meant for Engineering students. Almost all Engineers coming under AICTE would have read this.

In what sense does the author defines natural resources as products and services. Are they consumables? If the student understand  water as a good and clean air as a service, then God help the Planet.

2.       This was written in an UKG kids book. "What does the cow give for us?", "What does the Honeybee give for us?".

Only a semi-literate can write such sentences. Are we teaching the kids that the cow and honeybee has no other job than creating milk and honey for us?. We take it from them. That is the fact. There is a lot of emotional difference between someone giving us something and we taking it from them. The system tends to teach the kids that we are supreme over all the other living organisms. Sirs and madams, Please teach them inclusiveness, inter-dependence and not dominance.

3.       A fifth standard kid approached me to help him in his school project, He has to build a wind mill model. He said he has a small motor using which he can rotate the windmill. I had to explain him that wind mill runs on wind and hence he can probably use the motor to create a fan to generate artificial wind in the model. Windmill running on motor will defeat the purpose of doing the model.

He went on to check with his teacher and the teacher disapproved of doing it as I suggested. She simply said that is not the way to make a model. The wind mill ran on a battery powered motor and there was a model done which looked like a windmill but behaved as something else. Long live the application based learning method which sells well today, but doesn't get implemented the way it should be.

The uneducated education system trying to educate the next generation. God help!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I have God in my stomach

-A father's note as noticed from his 4 year old little daughter.

It wasn't a regular weekend. My wife and I were completely occupied with meetings and local traveling for two days and came to rest only by 12 midnight on the Sunday night. Our 4 year old daughter was with us for most part and she too got to sleep only by that time. She got to go to school by 9.00am the next day.

12th Jan 2015: We got to wake up by 7.30am atleast to set things right for the day. It didn't happen so. It was 8.00am when we woke up. We could wake her up by 8.30am and she wanted to watch the rhymes video which she has asked me to buy the previous day. She was still sleepy but demanding for the video. We haven't shown her nursery video's for long time now. I knew it wouldn't be possible for me to win over her on the video issue. I allowed her to watch. We weren't sure of sending her to school and we decided not to send her to school that day.

By 9.00am, may be her biological clock indicated her that she should be at school. On a casual note, we indicated her that the kids at School might be preparing for Pongal celebration. May be she realized what she is missing on. May be, she also realized that she should have woken up early to be at School. She started crying, slowly but loudly. It wasn't a regular cry demanding something. It was the sound of a genuine guilt from the heart. Her guilt couldn't settle down soon.

She blames us in many situations where we  miss to buy her something. Today, she did not blame us.  She was definitely blaming herself. She couldn't stop crying. I offered a hug. She rejected it. Instead, she opted to move a little away from us. She moved to another room. She kneeled down and bent down. With her heads touching the ground, she wept for minutes together. Then, she kneeled towards the Pooja shelf. The shelf was open and we have different idols of God. She folded her hands. She stopped weeping for a second. She then stood up, folded her hands and started weeping again. She was in that posture for a lengthy few seconds. I watched all these without she noticing me. I managed to take a silent picture. Is she praying to God? I am not sure if she knows about praying to God. Her routine with God is just about stopping by and wearing the scared ash on the forehead. Occasionally singing a sloka or touching our feet for blessings. I am not sure if she knows God as someone who could heal her, help her.

She came back to the hall and then we could convince her with food. She was emotionally down for having missed her school. She turned back to silence in about an hour. I was still curious to know of her interaction with God. I asked her once "What did you do at the Pooja Shelf?". She opted not to respond. I did not insist. I know that she will let me know on another occasion.

I left for office before she could completely recover. I requested my wife to ask her about what she did at the Pooja shelf.  She asked it to her post noon when she was completely recovered. The little one did not respond. My wife too did not insist. Post noon, her day went on as cheerful as any other day.

I met her again in the evening. We were talking about something and happened to be in the same Pooja shelf room. I sat at the same position where she sat in the morning. She sat next to me. I wanted to make an attempt to get my question clarified. I decided to ask her the same question one last time. "What did you do at the Pooja Shelf today morning?"

This time, I was lucky. She has recovered well to talk about it. She said "I prayed to God. I asked God to take me to School. I also asked God to wake me up early." I was confused, how could a four year old end up to God as her last resort. May be the issue of missing School on the day before Pongal celebration is so important to her. May be the most important thing in her life at that moment.

I asked a follow up question "What did God say?" She said "God said OK. God also prayed back at me." I asked "Why did the God pray at you?". She said " I have God in my stomach. Hence God prayed to me. We all have a God in our stomach. God prays at it".  I said OK and discontinued that conversation.

I am still amazed at how could a little girl be so excited about School. May be, her school follows Montessori methods which keeps the children first and respects them. She can't do injustice to the school by missing it. May be she misses all her friends and fun.

I am still amazed at how could a little girl have her own understanding of the concept of God. She knows that God isn't a fairy tale. If so, she should have prayed to Chotta Bheem and not to God.

I realized kids do have strong emotions and a stronger understanding of reality. It is just that adults couldn't see their reality as real. Can we understand what she meant as "I have God in my stomach."?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Every Bag Has a Story to Tell

Charmi agreed to be the model
and promote this bag
There is a bearded, well mannered old man in Madurai. He has inherited the art of making cloth canvas bags. For three generations he says, his family has survived on this business. His bags are not for the very rich, but for the traders who need a strong companion to carry their stuff.

He goes to the cloth market and sources good quality canvas cloth. He is worried as the price per kg of this cloth has shooted above Rs.200. This old man in his early fifties brings the cloth home in a cycle (the cycle looks half as old as him).  He carefully cuts it and stitches to make awesome bags like the one shown in this picture.

He carries couple of dozens in his cycle. Hangs them in the front handle bar. He has made it the right size so that the bags can swing , but not touch the front wheels of the cycle. It is a customer expectation for him. His customers will not buy if it is long and could touch the front wheel. Now, he says it is a market standard size for these bags.

His place of business lies about 9kms from his house. He does not ride his cycle. He just walks with the cycle. Walking with the cycling slows him down, but attracts the passers by and shop keepers. He could sell 1 or 2 bags on the way to his place of business. He reaches his place of business by 9.00am. He makes sure he is ready to be there till 7.00pm. It is an old and dynamic trading spot. You could see people selling everything from onions to ornaments. The sellers and the buyers would need a bag. His bags are not sold in super markets or in the shops. They all have moved on to plastic bags. Those who see the value of Rs.120 in his bag are his customers. They negotiate and he will be happy to sell it at Rs.110.

Once the sale is made, he makes a value addition. He says, "I can attach rivets to the handle. My bags are strong enough , but the rivets will make it stronger for ever". If the customer is convinced with this sales pitch, our bag maker earns Rs.10 extra.

At the end of the day, he is happy to sell 4 or 5 bags. I asked him, "Why not 40 or 50 bags a day?". He replied "These are expensive bags, do you expect to sell 40 or 50?". I saw the business-man missing in him, but I could see a man who loves his livelihood. He has to now walk back the 9kms home. I asked him, why not leave the goods and cycle somewhere nearby. He says, that will cost me Rs.25 a day. Why spend that when I can make some extra money by walking my way back.

Do you want to meet him? You should  go to Thermutti in Madurai. You could locate a cycle  on the platform near the first Ther (Temple Car).  You might see a cheerful, bearded old man with colorful bags near that cycle. He says, I'm open 9.00am to 7.00pm every day.

Such wonderful people, makes us believe further in our initiative. Happy to be the messenger.