A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


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Applauding a Service-Oriented Effort



No child’s education should be deemed complete, unless the child has worked with his or her hands, and with the Earth, mud, soil, sand, whatever one might call it… this is has been my firm belief! Sadly nowadays, most children do not even get to see Mother Earth, let alone a chance to play in it, or work with it! The travails of development and urbanization!

However, for students who are part of the NSS or the National Service Scheme, things are brighter, especially in the rural environs, where there is still a glimpse of brown earth, an abundance of greenery and the mindset conducive to dignity of labour. I actually witnessed all of this at work!

 

Read about the same venture, here, at Hari Nedungadi’s blog, Kuchelavritham

നാട്ടിൻപുറം നന്മകളാൽ സമൃദ്ധം…..


About 50 odd  plus one students of the  local Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, studying for  Commerce and Medical Lab. Technician courses in Cherplassery had week long NSS Camp, at their school, ably guided and led by their NSS District Convenor, Shri Krishnanunni T., who was also their Programme Officer, and other teachers.

 

It was a joy to share in a day’s effort, on 28th December, 2010, the last of four days, they spent in the interiors of a bucolic, നാടൻ (naadan, typically of the countryside 🙂 ), widening a narrow pathway, ഇടവഴി (itavazhi, as we say in Malayalam) wide enough for a small vehicle to pass. The idea of linking the main temple, on the roadside, the famous Ayyappan Kaavu, with the Devi Temple atop the hillside, “Arakav” had long been in the offing, but the feasibility of it all not quite there, till a request came from the School authorities who were, simultaneously, looking for a place where their students could interact and work with the community, while serving them as well.

The road to the temple, Arakav, after which my dad’s house has been named, has been fraught with a lot of trouble and legalities. Finally, in consultation with all those in the neighbourhood, the area to widen the narrow pathway was decided, and the children arrived at the most opportune moment to hack out the boundary! Lo and behold! In four days’ time, most of the road was done. Of course, there is still a finer finishing, and the completion to be done, but the start could not have been better!

 

Last year, the school’s students undertook actual paddy agriculture in a field kindly provided by a local family. The experience, say the students, was indeed enriching!

This blog post is not about the hows and the wherefores, it is about them, the children, and their guides, the staff. Each of the four days, they had been provided with wholesome food, by way of the locals in the neighbourhood, and on the final day, they were given a sumptuous lunch, cooked by the members of the temple, and others who pitched in with whatever they could. Take a look!

 

 

 

The road, after their work, looks pretty much like this 🙂

 



There was also an impromptu thanking session, where the Panchayat President, Shri Suresh, made an appearance, along with the HM of the School, Smt. V. Girija. Some members of the neighbourhood also spoke, one of whom recalled the words of their NSS song, given below in Malayalam.

 

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ
മാൻപ്പൂക്കൾ വിടരട്ടെ

സൌഹ്രുദസിദ്ധികൾ പൂത്താൽ
സൌവർണ്ണാഭ പരന്നാൽ
സുരഭില ജീവിത മാതുരി വിശ്വം സമസ്തമരുളുകയല്ലോ

സത്യം ലക്ഷ്യമതാവട്ടെ
ധർമം പാതയതാവട്ടെ
ഹൈന്ദവ ക്രൈസ്തവ ഇസ്ലാമിക്രുടെ
കൈകളിണങ്ങീടട്ടെ

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ

The lyrics, quite simply put, speaks of the need to have a clear and pure mind, no matter what religion or community one may belong to. It exhorts us to have our duty or dharma as the path towards truth! It also urges each of us to join hands and move forward in harmony. The song, sung, full-throatedly, by the young children gave us goosebumps!

Another wonderful thing I noticed, as I walked around and spoke to them was their uninhibited expression, both, to each other, and to the staff and elders gathered there. Most the students were from families who could just perhaps afford to send their kids to a Government School, but then I was proud of them, the way they carried themselves, and their comport, during the impromptu speech session we had. They listened closely, no fidgeting, no giggling, no talking. Sheer amazement, it was to me, this sight! Ever so often, in our own elite and up market schools, the teachers have to work so hard, and insist on the kids keeping quiet during functions, and here… where they did not even need to control themselves, was a group of young men and women totally involved in the moment! Kudos, my dear children! It was inspiring!

 

Here are the videos of their effort! Enthusiasm personified!


 

The second one, the song they sang during a short break!


 

The last one, walking up for lunch, having successfully completed the task!

 

 

 

On a totally unrelated tangent, I find it v difficult to insert pictures into the blog post 😦 Have been trying endlessly, but to no avail. The insert picture tab simply does not open! I have to open it into a new tab and do the needful and then only one appears 😦 😦 One picture ie! Help! 😦 😦 Sigh!

That is why this post has been delayed, else it would have been done yesterday. Thankfully the videos are working :D!

29 December, 2010

 

Edited to add, on 30 December, 2010: Finally managed to get a few pictures in! The problem was with the memory cache.. which was cleared and then the required menus opened 🙂 Still adding pictures 🙂 2.40 pm 🙂


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Job Description: Teacher. What’s that, you say?

It’s Teachers’ Day today. 5 September. The Birth Anniversary of Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, eminent Statesman and Educationist. Educationist. (I have a red squiggly line under this word, as MS Word refuses to accept such a term. Grammatical or spelling error! And I wonder why, because even online dictionaries do seem to recognize this spelling!)

While the nation, especially the younger folk go ga ga over wishing teachers all over, I wonder at the diminishing relevance of setting the day aside to acknowledge the community of teachers. Given the job description of a teacher, what does it entail? Once upon a time, the Guru was placed on a pedestal, and Indian tradition still does that, in very many minds and schools. What has it come to now? With a more discerning student body, more openness in discussions on teacher profiles, more multiplicity of perspectives on roles teachers need to adopt, and finally, the need for a qualified teacher to recognize that he/she is not the end or even the means, but merely a tool of learning, how do we perceive the “job” of a teacher?

The line, I find, is very thin between being teacher and learner. For, if you cannot be still learning, you cannot teach. Richard Bach whose quotes from “Illusions” are here, speaks wonderfully about teaching 🙂 I remember referring to this page, when I first started writing in this blog space, on A Quest Spills Over. This is what he says about learning and teaching and doing.

Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers.

I simply cannot let this day go by without sharing with you something a lot of you would have already read before, something that I find is more and more relevant these days, for teachers. It is supposedly a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to his son’s Headmaster. Here it is.

Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s Head Master

Respected Teacher,

My son will have to learn I know that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for ever scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend.
It will take time, I know; but teach him, if you can, that a dollar earned is far more valuable than five found.
Teach him to learn to lose and also to enjoy winning.
Steer him away from envy, if you can.
Teach him the secret of quite laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to tick.
Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books.. but also give him quiet time to ponder over the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill –side.
In school teach him it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat.
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if every one tells him they are wrong.
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when every one is getting on the bandwagon.
Teach him to listen to all men but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness.
Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders; but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob… and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently; but do not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.
This is a big order; but see what you can do. He is such a fine little fellow, my son.

Abraham Lincoln.

(You can google it and see many versions of the same text, as verse, and as a prose text, in the form of a letter too. I picked this out from one of those many sites.)

For me, it is a visitation to my inner self. Like any other day. 🙂 Many say teaching is a thankless job. I wonder at that. I have found the most fulfilling of moments in the connection a child makes to what you say in class, even in the disagreement a learner has, with what you say. In sharing something that connects instantly with them. In the sly looks they share sometimes, when they think you aren’t looking. In the notes they pass to each other, which takes me back to my own times sitting on the back bench. In just being with them, tedious though it can be, at times. In the sudden sorrow too, when I realize that I am unapproachable to some, because of my rather standoffish attitude at times; in the firm, strict “teacher”, the dragon that I am too! While, at the same time, I take heart when some of them come back after leaving school, and tell me it was fun being in my class, no matter that they could not play the fool :D! That is the best of all. When they remember you, years on, and just come up, smile and talk to you. Not thankless. Not for me 🙂 🙂

Something else to share. Something I concur with entirely. Read for yourself 🙂 This is from an email I received ages ago, the source of which I simply cannot trace. That account got deleted so I cannot even figure out who sent it 🙂 Luckily I had written it down.

A succesful teacher must have (it goes..)

The education of a College President (A Dean)
The executive quality of a financier
The craftiness of a Politician (!!!!!)
The humility of a Deacon
The discipline of a Demon
The adaptation of a Chameleon
The hope of an Optimist
The courage of a Hero
The wisdom of a Serpent (!!!!!)
The gentleness of a Dove
The patience of Job
The Grace of God
And….
The Persistence of the Devil!

The last line says it all actually. Only with a certain amount of persistence, gentleness, humility, craftiness and patience can you be a teacher, for sure 🙂 🙂

And finally, let me leave you with this video of Taylor Mali, speaking about “What Teachers’ Make”. The idea may be a bit outdated, but there is some truth and some meaning in what he shares 🙂 Happy Teachers’ day to all the Teachers, Mothers, Fathers, Mentors, Instructors and everyone who, by their own lives and their actions, teach another something. Anything.

God Bless.

Taylor Mali, on “What Teachers Make”

5 September, 2010


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A Conviction that Garnered Courage!

From this morning, I have been watching and wondering, and praying that all the protests everywhere on the expression of exercising our Constitutional Rights, would go peacefully, and successfully.

And successful this was, the Delhi meet, which was the result of the courage, and conviction born out the indefatigable heart of Namrata, supported admirably by others, as you will find at these blogs:

Indyeah’s

Aneesha Mathur’s

Poonam’s

Also, here is the video, from CNN IBN, with Namrata being the Citizen Journalist of the day!

Had to share it here :

http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/85356/cj-raises-voice-against-moral-policing.html

Congratulations and Kudos to all, for a job well done 🙂

****

Also, in the Indian Express, on the edit page, the link of which is given below is a very uplifting article, though its overtones sometimes make it rather flippant :), about a Gandhian ideal being sustained, in the loin cloth, being metamorphosized into a pink panty 🙂 It made for good reading as I waited for the day to unfold, this morning 🙂

Can’t seem to get the exact page clearly, so here is the link at which you will find it; the title will make it easy for you to get it 🙂

It’s on Page 11, of the Saturday’s edition, on the Edit page 🙂

http://epaper.expressbuzz.com/NE/NE/2009/02/14/index.shtml

The voices were heard.

Thanks to the PCC, the Protest Marches, and all the peaceful displays of affection for All 🙂

And, as Indyeah has mentioned, there have been instances of sheer violence by some SS workers, and in Ujjain, a couple beaten up, forcible marriages. But just think, a lot more that could have happened, especially in Mangalore today, was actually prevented. I think that counts for a lot.. a lot.

And this is just the beginning. That is what is most uplifting.

Kudos and Congratulations to all who wished so hard for this upliftment, the thoughts count as much as the actions 🙂


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Inked in Pink

Inking the world, in India, lol, has only one colour for those who value sanity and will not cower in the face of injustice, however infinitesimal it’s perception might be. Pink.

This is not a protest to just say we want to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It goes beyond that to preserve a culture, indeed, of having the privilege of being an Indian, with a Constitution that grants one a freedom, as Indyeah’s wonderful posts, here and here, have spoken.

While celebrating a day set aside of love, however it is perceived, from the West, North, South or outer space, has anyone forgotten, [read, Ravan Sena] that finally it is a beautiful sentiment, and a feeling of comfort that one is celebrating? That no other country save India, right down the ages, in its more than 5000 years of heritage having come under the influence of so many differnt religions, culutures and influences, ingrained from each the best to emerge a beautiful mosaic of beauty and sense. Again, there is wonder of discovery of the Universality of the beautiful emotion of Love at her blog [Indyeah, you rock!]

And while we gather our selves to show that we shall not bow down to the dictates of an earthworm like vision of those who would like to send the nation back to the Dark ages, I find this out of the world. Mr M. in a new outfit, blazing an entry this weekend, at a Theatre Near You! Solilo, my dear, You Rock Too!

There is the Pink Chaddi Campaign, having got everyone’s attention, the details of which you will find below. A bit of pink hoisery one hopes will go far in restoring respect where due.. :D!!!

Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women

And then there is the Flood Pink, here, at IHM’s blog, which is turning pink at the onset of flooding the virtual world and the real, with the Wonder of Pink! Each of us can in our own way contribute to ensuring that one does something, anything that day, that emphasizes that we shall not be subjugated to a backward thinking policy!

So where ever you are, if you can, show the faith in thinking Pink, to ensure that our Culture stays safe, and is not gagged and bound and trussed up like that chicken who simply squawked and did not voice her notions!

If anyone or anything has to stew, or be barbecued, let it be the notion that our culture is at risk. Celebrating love can never put any culture at risk. Never. [I guess I am using never too much :)]

Wishing each and every gesture of faith, for Love, on Valentine’s Day, all success.

Love will show the way.

12 February, 2009


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Children

As each day goes by in our nation, seemingly destined to score another point in a step back in time, to the dark ages, I wonder about what we are finally going to leave our Children. And each day in class, I provoke, prod, instigate and incite them [lol, and pssst… please do not tell the Magagement of the School this :D!!] to be aware, and react.

I think back on those old days when we grew up without a thought of what the world would be like because we knew it could only get better 🙂 and wonder what the kids now would think.

And to go on about children, I thought I would share what these two wonderful writers had to say about Children 🙂 All time favourites for me, both of them.

Thanks Indyeah 🙂 Meg your trip down memory lane, and the sight of Erma Bombeck’s name on the post where you did the tag, triggered this off.. 🙂

Erma Bombeck (February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996)


Ever since I read this [Indyeah having done the Images and Words Tag:) on 3 rd Feb..:)] in the morning, I have been wanting to share this priceless extract from a book by Erma Bombeck… a writer, mother, Person par excellence! One of a kind…

Erma Bombeck on the growing up process!

She writes :

Children Are Like Kites…

I see children as kites.

You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground…
You run with them until you’re both breathless…
They crash — you add a longer tail…
You patch and comfort, adjust and teach…
You watch them lifted by the wind, and assure them someday they’ll fly.

Finally they are airborne.
But they need more string, and you keep letting it out.

And with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy because the kite becomes more distant — and somehow — you know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that bound you together and soar as it was meant to soar —
Free and alone!
Only then do you know you did your job!

Erma Bombeck

She has said it all so beautifully for all of us. Period. 🙂

This is the link, from where I found it on the net. I have it hand written in my old diary [the priceless collections:)], but could not find enough time to sit and type it out. Thank God for the Internet :D!!

http://www.cardthartic.com/reads/a4.asp?fname=children~are~like~kites.txt

Other links to more on Erma Bombeck, if you are interested:

http://www.ermamuseum.org/netscape4.asp

http://www.geocities.com/hotsprings/spa/9599/quotes.html

http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/a/qu_erma_bombeck.htm

***

Khalil Gibran [1883-1931]

Another amazing writer who has been an all time influence for the depth, the simplicity and the profundity of his writing is Khalil Gibran. Here is what he shares of his thoughts, through his book, The Prophet, on Children:

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Do read up more on this link, for extracts from The Prophet.
Also here is a website that gives you all of his works, both written and art work as well.

***

Finally a thought, that the wise Indians shared a long time ago [the Red Indians, ie :)]

We do not inherit the world from our parents, we merely borrow it from our children.

I rest my case for children there.

7 February, 2009

Edited to add 🙂

I had to include this video of Whitney Huston’s, “The Greatest Love”. I loved the movie “Bodyguard” that she acted in with Kevin Kostner, and her cover version of “I will always love you” [original by Dolly Parton in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”.. a hilarious rollicking comedy :)]

Lyrics:
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well
And let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty
They possess inside
Give them a sense of pride
To make it easier
Let the children’s laughter
Remind us how we used to be

Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone
Who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me.

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadow
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity

Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well
And let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty
They possess inside
Give them a sense of pride
To make it easier
Let the children’s laughter
Remind us how we used to be

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadow
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe.
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity

Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

And If by chance that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

7 Feb, 2009, 4.05pm:)