I like play football

One of the perks of dating a teacher is hearing incredible stories from the classroom. Some are hilarious, some make you want to face-palm, but mostly, they’re stories of ingenuity. Children are so clever, and so resourceful, it’s no wonder they have to beat all creativity out of you. We can’t have a world full of geniuses walking around after all. 

One such story is about a class of young ‘uns. He asks each child a question in English. If the kid answers the question right, they get a name tag. Once this ritual is done with all the students, the class begins. 

Sample Conversation: 

Teacher: Hello, how are you? 

Student: I am fine thank you. 

Teacher: What is your favourite sport? 

Student (demonstrates kicking a ball): I like play football.  

A lot of students seemed to like football. Mr Teacher was pleased that unlike with other schools where he teaches English as a foreign language, these students seemed clever enough to not only understand his questions, but to also answer him appropriately. 

The next week when he was in class again, the conversation went something like this. 

Him: Hi. What is your favourite food? 

Kid 1-30 (demonstrates kicking a ball): I like play football! 

Turns out, the kids had learnt from their seniors to expect a foreign teacher to come teach them English. And if they were clever enough to learn a few choice phrases in English, they never need actually learn any English at all. Quite clever of these kids to do the absolute minimum to get by. I wish corporate life was similar. 

I vowed to take inspiration from these kids and apply it to my daily life. 

Dad: So when are you going to get married? 

Me (kicking imaginary ball with slightly too much gusto): I like play football! 

Life is so much easier now! 


It’s officially summer

I haven’t blogged in over a month – shocking? Not really. I’m the queen of procrastination when I’m in between travels but then, I have been busy this time. Not really trumping around the woods near Kilimanjaro, but just as exhausting and thrilling.

I was asked to facilitate a summer camp for 10-14 days for 40-50 teens, some of who were first generation learners in their communities, their parents having never been to school. More than that, they had just finished writing the big 10th Standard exam which has been a rarity in the villages from where they were coming. A few years ago, we had just 5-10. The numbers itself show that somehow, something good is being done.

It was the first time the children were getting out of their villages and experiencing this kind of freedom. They didn’t have to study Algebra and Math anymore. They could sleep in. The “lessons” were all activity based so they never had to take notes or try to take a nap subtly behind two other students which meant that apart from all the drama that comes when you put 40 teenagers in a room, there was a LOT of energy and fun to be had. I was given creative liberty so in typical fashion, I really went for it.

The activity was for the kids to draw how they saw themselves - things they loved, hated, what they identified with. Then we made a gallery to show them they're not as alone as they think they are.
The groups were given an egg which would be dropped from the highest terrace. This had the most innovative packaging
Making the longest line possible with the things they had on them at that moment
We opened a study centre in one of the villages. This is the village band celebrating
To celebrate, we treated everyone to ice-candy (for dessert)
The ice-candy man had a busy day
Back at the camp, an evening game of Kabbadi
Group Discussions under my favourite tree

Clay Modelling Day
Love how they used leaves for the keypad
Clay Modelling slowly turned into Zombie wars.
The boys making a vow in front of the girls that they will not take a Dowry.
The highlight of living in a village? Views like these.

What did I learn? That I’m more confused than ever. I love working with children and youth as much as I love writing. So instead of my life being a series of “Harry Potter > Hunger Games > Twilight” sort of equations, it’s “Travel = Writing = Art = Training = Social Work = Family = Mangoes”

Is this the balance they talk about in old Kung Fu movies? Needless to say, I’m in my happy place – instead of me whining about how restless I am to my friends, I get to listen to their problems in a Zen like fashion. It’s also a great opportunity pretend to be this wise old turtle

or this tea-brewing uncle

Or just call them “young grasshopper” . Oh yeah, I live for the cheap thrills

Love is such a pain in the ovaries

I notice that no matter how we dream – travel, fame, career – our happiness all boils down to possessing love. To know it, to put it out there, to take it to bed with us as a shield against nightmares. I know successful entrepreneurs who are making such tremendous impacts on the world, I know ladies who’ve beaten the odds and have fought for their right to make a difference, I know people with such talent to make these black and white characters come to life and move you like your breathing depended on it.

They all cry themselves to sleep at night.

And when they wake up in the morning, it’s another long march, another glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe the next one that walks through the bar with kind eyes and dimpled smiles, the next one who keeps you awake at night with intellectual texts, the next one who bumps into you at the bank would be this “The One” character everyone seems to be in search of.

When we see something breathtaking, there’s always this thought of “Oh, someday I will bring my special someone here to witness this with me!” Never mind the two Masters degree. Never mind that in a few months there would be the opportunity to be the youngest partner yet. Never mind the chance to travel the world and pump fists with leading activists from around the world. Everything they ever teach you about in school, everything you ever pick up in life – we’d give it all away to find this other half of our split soul.

If unconsciously this is our life aim, why not teach it to us at school – how to respect someone, how to cherish, how to make a house a home, how to hold someone with just the right amount of space so you don’t suffocate them, how to let yourself go and be and in being, become. These are not easy to learn. It may take years to get a hang of this but imagine if we were all taught how to love, instead of how to make money because given the choice between the two, most people would pick the former.

And imagine going to a school like that? We’d never have wars. We’d learn how to be gentle and how there is no North India/South India, no India/Pakistan, no Black/White. No borders and most importantly, no boundaries. We’d be better prepared to grow up and listen for heart-songs. Better prepared to deal with this mess of living. All our lives, we’ve been taught the wrong things!

Giving and Receiving love in our day and age? THAT is the real Life Skill we ought to be learning.