Day 92: Am I getting all religious now? 

I knew it the minute I got ready for my drive to college that it was going to be a different day. The mind said so. And the difference became evident when I started the car, connected it to YouTube, and started playing Kanda Sashti Kavacham. I mumbled the words, sometimes matching up with Soolamangalam’s pitch, and drove along. I had only one manic outburst, and I don’t even remember who it was right now.

But the rest of the way, there was a certain calmness in my driving today when compared to the usual manic rage. I’ve told a number of people how drivers typically went through the 5 stages of grief when it came to Bangalore traffic and that I was stuck in Anger for almost two years now. I felt that stage wane and I realized that I had directly moved to acceptance. As the black Honda behind me honked his way between lanes and zigzagged around, I knew he wasn’t going far. As I pulled up, calmly, by him at the traffic signal, I gave him the look a mature adult would give a vagrant teenager. Grow up child!

Acceptance

There was a similar acceptance in class towards GDs pettiness as well. As A told me more about her antics, of how she created an attendance sheet just to mark me Absent and how she warned A to grow up or ‘everybody’ would bulldoze her, I smiled internally and reminded myself that I was an adult. And that such pettiness did not affect me.

It had affected me yesterday. Deeply. But today was a brand new Tuesday and I choose to be the adult. Was I becoming religious now? :=)

Richmond

The song reminded me of Sundays in Richmond, VA. I’d visit the shopping mall of a temple, to get some quiet and peace. Well, not really; because the country itself was quiet when compared to India. Maybe I went every week to feel a little hit of home around me. They had printed books with the entire lyrics and they played the exact version of Kanda Sashti Kavacham that I was used to. Strangers, in different corners of the temple, would follow along with the song, and I would join in. I would sit for the 20 odd minutes it ran, and get up almost immediately when it was done and leave. There were very few days when I’d wait for the Aarti afterward.

A weird routine. A regular routine. For two long years. Had I been religious all along?

Religious? You? C’mon, S! I’ve seen you wave at the puja room and run out the door. Amma is religious, what with her flowers and incense and all. You? Ha! 

Anyway, how about some of that omelet for me now? Maybe if I rest my nose on your leg, the force will be strong. ” Scotch 

Day 91: You can’t win here and there 

Winning, one mark at a time

I came back from the 2 weeks of Radio Namaste to feel extremely targeted and marginalized in class, specifically by GD and SrA. An internal assignment, for which I’d asked GD repeatedly for her mode of evaluation and submissions expected, suddenly had a report to be submitted on the school visits. When I told her about the school visits I had to miss because of the project, she said it was only fair for me to lose marks, because “you can’t win here and there”!

She kept repeating about how timely submission would have 1 mark out of the 20, the 20 that would eventually get halved for the final semester marks anyway. She took extra effort to create fake attendance sheets, simply to mark me absent in these. It was almost like she received some sadistic pleasure out of marking me out.

And SrA was the diligent little puppet that followed all these mindless instructions.

Evaluating the right way

I’ve ranted many times before about how poor the current evaluation systems are. Here is a teacher who makes it seem like even half a mark in an internal assignment is something worth fighting for, or worrying yourself about. She flaunts that 1 mark as a prized carrot that students should compete for. And it makes me wonder what the significance of that 1 mark really is. Are we saying that by getting that 1 mark more than me, SrA is more knowledgeable in that area that I am by 1 count?

An interesting perspective about evaluating that I realized through this episode was the excluding environment that it created. Through simple, random numbers assigned to students, we are bucketing them into simple, random strata that make logical sense nowhere but in our own heads. We make one group feel special and extra important, for doing exactly as we wanted them to, and shun the other group because they colored outside the lines.

What surprised me was how much this episode actually mattered to me. It affected me in ways that I did not anticipate, and that caught me off guard.

Support from outside

As I sat, disgusted by the pettiness, Marathoner walked in and almost knew instantly that something was amiss. He knew them all because he had gone through the same rubbish two years back, and was at their mercy for his M. Phil. He made me realize that the learning I had from the two weeks at Radio Namaste were much more than what any of these teachers had provided in the last year. He pointed out how little these marks mattered in the grander scheme of things. Sense!

On the drive back home, the conversation continued with Sarkar. She made me realize the whole world was hypocritical and there’s very little we’d be able to do about it. She told me that the only ones who mattered were your family – mom, dad, husband, wife and children. If you had to waste effort changing their principles and opinions, these were the only few who were worth your energy. All others were mere variables in your life’s equation. Sense indeed!

That is some serious deep stuff, bro! I see the halo of enlightenment around your head. ” Scotch 

Day 25: Of misunderstandings and not learning 

The day started with a huge brawl with the class teacher. A series of misunderstandings led to the argument and she eventually commented, ‘You don’t have to teach me right from wrong. I’m not here to learn from you!’. Stern words coming from a teacher.

It got me thinking, do we ever stop learning. Every time I go to the Special school, I learn something new. And those kids are not even average intelligence. So, when do we become so arrogant in our intelligence that we refuse to learn from others. I have been wrong to judge people in the past and am learning, very slowly nonetheless, to accept my mistakes. But in this case, I am confident that the teacher was in the wrong. And yet, her role as the teacher, and mine as the student, automatically shut her doors to correction.

As teachers, shouldn’t we be open to be lifelong learners? If we are in the profession of teaching, shouldn’t we be learning something every day? The milk man, the street vendor, the local urchin all have some valuable to teach us. Should we be so haughty as to shut our ears and minds to what they have to say?

May have just been a bad day at home, S. And the most obvious thing would have been to shove her monkey onto your back. 

Just tell her to bake something and add an extra dash of chocolate. Always works, I hear!” Scotch