Day 141: 2017 Highs – PsychGoddess

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

PsychGoddess

This lady has definitely been the best find of 2017. We spent a week together in the summer, at Bhor, and it’s been a jolly ride ever since. As someone with a Doctorate in Psychology, with a post-doctoral work on autism and I was already floored. Some people have an innate tendency to not look their age, to make you feel at ease at get-go and to have abundant clarity in life. They also bring in the fun and the humor into any group, bonding with all evenly. The PsychGoddes had them all.

  • I understand and respect her clarity on the societal arrangement called marriage. Two people that like one another, can stand each other and respect each other, do not need a marital contract to spend their lives together. Marriage is not the beginning of the glorified happily-ever-after and the sooner we accept it, the less people will be stuck in this rut.
  • The way she’s raising her son is inspirational and is something I’m going to refer back to for a long time. Open communication, even with a ten year old, is an absolute must. It should start at that age for them to realize that their mother is in their corner for life. I still remember stories of their little arguments, writing reasons for being mad at each other I’m crumpled chit and throwing into the other’s room. Communication,  at its best!
  • Psych Goddess, the adopted mommy. My love for the dame grew millions when I heard her story of how she adopted her son. And then it grew a little more when I heard the story about how she told the little one about it. I’ve always felt strongly about adoption; there are too many abandoned souls looking for love and a life, too many to make any further procreation seem unjustified. But I’ve always wondered about the acceptance from the child’s end, would they ever think that we made a mistake by adopting them. The PsychGoddess made me realize a step to the answer: Open communication.
  • For someone like me that’s easily impressed, she’s taught me to wear the Black Hat every once in a while. Any awe or pleasure that one typically feels immediately after an event, a training or a lecture or a show, is purely because of the feel-good factor arising from the novelty of the experience. While it is a good thing to be happy about any new experience, and to enjoy it with an open mind, the stable mind will be grounded in reality. It will see through the tricks and the showmanship and will be able to spot the plot holes in the event. That’s a great power to have, something I’m going to consciously try this year.
  • The learning never ends and she’s taught me that from the first day we met. The quality of her reading, her academic proficiency and her quest for learning have all been impressive. Something to look up to and emulate.

The maanga-curry cookscapade, the rum and breezer  circles, her theatre games, the cuddle sessions with Scotch and the ramblings about everything under the sun will hold a special place in my heart. She’s introduced me to some brilliant people and some exciting new areas of learning and I’m looking forward to some more. She’s been an ardent reader of my rambles and the best PR in the world. What more can a girl want! Much love, PsychGoddess! 

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Day 140: 2017 Highs – Bhored

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

Bhor-ed

The summer spent in a little town, south of Pune, definitely tops the list of highlights for the year.

The internship started at the end of Year 1 in the new career, at a point when the University and the teachers had left a strong sense of doubt in my mind. While the subjects were novel and insightful, a welcome change from the days of Engineering, the methods of teaching, the mindset of the teachers, and the management, in general, where a hard reality-check of an industry overflowing with archaic ideologies and bureaucracy. I was left questioning their ancient ways, and the effect that they were having on the minds of the next generation. The pain compounded when the realization sunk in that this was a department training teachers, tasked with equipping the citizen for tomorrow.

It was with that broken morale that I joined the group of educationists in Bhor, and the group saved me from the dark dungeons of my own mind. I realized that while I was stuck in a place that was still shuffling in the industrial era of education, there were agencies out there that had moved on to the modern ages. The group made me realize that all it takes is a few like-minded souls to get together in order to bring a change in any area that one is passionate about. The gang reinstated in my mind the belief that all one needs in life is hope to keep surviving. The team also reaffirmed the idea in my head that it was very easy to join a certain school of thought, make its registers our own, but that it took an open mind to walk the middle path and understand both points of view.

  • The whole experience reinstated my respect for simplified living. One does not really need three different sizes of coffee pots or five dupattas in varying shades of the same black. The clarity that comes with losing clutter is very powerful and the month at Bhor helped me realize that.
edf

Some chai and samosas at the school

  • The weekly Tuesday markets were absolute fun. We were the outsiders that got stared at every time we went out of the house. And yet, I did not feel the awkwardness that typically comes with walking out in public in the cities.
  • The sunrise and the sunset were absolutely out of this world. We did not have to drive 100 kms away from the city, hike up 2 hours and fight off a crowd for the best views. I looked out the window at day break and there it was, the beaming ball of fire. Equally easy was the sunset. And the million stars that popped out when you looked up at the night sky are hard to come by even 100 kms away from the city.
  • The planning that goes into running a household is beyond compare. From picking up groceries on a Tuesday for the whole week ahead, to planning dinner-breakfast-lunch for the next day, everything was done systematically. This completely removed the last minute frantic run that one normally does before a meal. This experience helped me tremendously in planning for Keto. Yay!
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And, we made amazing an Chocolate Cake!

  • Fooood! The mallu mango curry, the great chicken curry, the super-thick lassi/malai, the chocolate cake, the banana bread, the yellow pumpkin pooris, the overly simple yet tasty sabudana poha. There was just too much of too yummy food to keep us going.
  • At the end of the day, the highlight of the whole trip was the quality of the conversations. Whether we were arguing about something or agreeing to the same perspective, whether we were discussing the men in our lives, there was a high level of involvement and zeal in the conversation and immense respect for the parties in the discussion.

 

They were very different people, with varied interests and life experiences. They were very successful in their lives; Doctorates, educationists and designers. Some walked the straight-out leftist path, while others trod a little left of center. Some wanted technology to play a larger role in education while others didn’t care too much. Nonetheless, they loved talking education, especially with each other; they loved goofing around while getting serious work done; they had an open mind to try varied things, and were learners for life.

Here’s to more such great company in the years to come!

dav

Day 139: 2017 Highs – EduMan

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of hopes for the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

EduMan

I knew the man had material to impress way back in 2010-2011 itself, when I had reached out to him for TFI. There was something about him, the energy and the passion that came with his discussions, that was admirable at the least. I should put it out there that it must be those discussions with him while firming up the application for TFI that established my interest in the education sector deeply. So, if it works out, he is on my Vote of Thanks for sure. Even it spirals down, I’m sure he will get a positive mention.

EduMan carries a certain calmness and simplicity about him that is inspiring. For someone like me that is always trying to make her words keep up with her thoughts, I believe that his personality is one to emulate. Over the period of the internship, I saw him as a great leader, a visionary thinker, an avid reader, an inspirational academic, and a great companion.

  • He has taught me to weave the professional and the personal seamlessly so that they are not absolutely discrete and yet do not overstep their roles. This is something I’m still struggling to master in my own life. The man has a smooth way of treading into the professional aspects amidst a personal interaction, and still keeping the conversation contextual.
  • He has also made me extremely conscious about acknowledging and employing skills that people have. After that month with him, I realized how little I share praise for a person’s good deeds. EduMan does not hesitate to endorse quality work or inputs as he sees it, and I think in today’s cynical world, we need more such minds. We need more people celebrating more, even the littlest, successes. With enough positivism, the world might just become a happy place after all.
  • The final learning from my watching EduMan work more closely was how insufficient my network truly was. He was a collector, of people. He had surrounded himself with people that could motivate, teach and help him so that he was protected from any situation that life might throw his way.

He is the first to officially pay me for my editing duties – all based on a silly college editorial team that we were a part of ten years back. He brought to me people and experiences that have enriched my life so far. He has taught me to smile and to goof through it all.

I’m excited for the year ahead and the work that will come our way.

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Day 125: Valley and Flights 

Valley

A week and a half in the Valley School, and my mind was more rejuvenated than a long time. I had walked in with a conflicted heart and a dark cloud hanging over my head. But I also had an open mind and that brought in such experiences with it, that I was changed.

  • The most important standout from the experience was how interested people were in sharing their life. There was a willingness to open up and let another in, something that is becoming very difficult to find in the modern world. They wanted you to live their life, walk their path and see how life was.
  • The second highlight was the quality of conversation. Not once did anyone ask my why I hadn’t married yet, why I chose a career I didn’t like or who my newest boyfriend was. They knew that they all lived in glasshouses and any judgment sent out would return their way eventually. Instead, they spent their times talking about the life, the universe, meaning to life and things that mattered.
  • They were content in their lives and unmoved by the trivialities that come with modern affiliations. They did not have the newest fancy smart phone and so they did not spend their together-times staring into each other’s phones or wondering why the wifi speed was so poor. Something bigger mattered and they knew.
  • The relationship that the students shared with their teachers was inspirational. They called them uncles and aunts, hugged them around in class, and openly spoke to them about period pains and worries. There was a stark absence of fear for the role of the teacher. And teachers walked with a mindset that they were co-learners too. This made them awfully powerful, with a direct connect to young minds.
  • “Are you trying to kill us, uncle vipul? “, yelled a 6year old, as Vipul opened his laptop in class. Technology was a necessity and nothing more. It did not take up such a dominant part of their lives that they forgot to smell the rain, hear the birds, or be sensitive to each other.
  • A study center discussion that explored the difference between the mind and the brain sent me on an unknown path, one where I had no footing. I still felt comfortable enough to try out the discussions and I was stunned. Mind is what thinks not merely based on facts in front of us, but based on all past experiences, heartbreaks and successes. So, it automatically becomes a source for conflict. If we could think, but without all those added baggage, then imagine how powerful our brain would really be.
  • Another intriguing conversation was with Saqhib, where he shook my foundation about alternative schooling. By calling yourself alternative, you are automatically boxing yourself into a system, simply by trying to opposing to the mainstream. That invariably means there’s very little you can do differently, because you have a level of comparison in the form of another schooling system. What we should truly try is to be different in all forms, not bound by norms.
  • The highlight of the whole time was how ready the whole school, from the principal to every other teacher was, in inviting me to join their team. Very rarely do we see a case where an institute invites you to join in, only to learn from them, and contribute back. No resumes, no portfolios, no past experiences. Just an open mind.

Overall, I came back positive, both mentally and emotionally, ready to take on the next semester head on.

Flights

The flight out to Switzerland, the multipart journey, started off with a rocky start. Met H and HMan at the airport and the fissures were very evident. It is scary to think of how much one would change by simply being in close proximity with another all their life. We seek relationships to comfort us in times of need and despair. But what if those relationships are the reason for the despair?

The trip from Bangalore to Amsterdam to Geneva was hilarious, with the kids trailing around, completely distracted by the glitz and whatnot. It was kind of all too powerful, knowing the ways of traveling, especially international, while the others struggled reading boards and signs. I was constantly conflicted between helping them out and letting them be. I wouldn’t have enjoyed being told every step of the way. I see myself as the teacher that would let someone try for their own before I step in.

And so, I sat around and played the silent observer.

The flight in to Amsterdam brought a strange new companion to chat along. Punjabi was a good person to talk to, knowing when to not push it and when to bring in his views. We had a good talk about road tripping to Ladakh, about the power and the need to go on solo trips, and about Engineers becoming Management consultants. For a Punjabi living in Bangalore, he seemed aware of the differences in cultures and was filled with the desire to try life out.

For all the writing I wanted to do on the plane, it was a rested time, where I managed to get sufficient sleep. It also reinforced my principle that being nice brings it back to you. The airhostess was awfully nice, bringing me refills even when I didn’t ask for it. Punjabi enjoyed the benefits of my niceness too. The warmness felt evident when he invited me over to walk along to our next stop as well.

Pics4mSwiss: When you have a fond heart, hearts smile back at you from the sky. 

Day 55: A fitting finale

I remember watching a few cultural performances by special children in the past. Mostly when I was a child myself, and I had not yet been introduced to the concept of disabilities. I majorly remember feeling disgust, and some shame as the kids flayed aimlessly on the stage. I almost felt a tinge of disgust when the adults appreciated such a half-assed performance, while the normal kids had done much-much better. I have a second cousin with some developmental disabilities, and I remember always making some excuse to not visit that aunt. Even when I was there, I’d try my best to avoid any eye contact. Her loud voice and a lack of personal space all scared the adolescent me.

As we sat at Bethany School, watching the students of the Special School perform for their Prize Day, I felt none of those old emotions. In fact, I felt an abundance of pride while watching these students perform the little skit that we had scripted. I felt awe and amazement as the kids danced for one of the newest Bollywood numbers, never batting an eyelid away from their dance master amongst the audience. I felt mirth as an autistic child broke step from their action song to wave at Ms. Shanti sitting in the first row.

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Jeslyn’s Jesus Loves me 🙂

We reached a good 15 minutes early and I had an opportunity to observe the audience very closely. Most looked like any other parent in any other school; eager to watch their child perform on stage, engaging the other child who is too distracted to see his brother or sister on stage. Most of them had an empathy that is often missing in the competitive nature amongst us normal folk. They had a child that was suffering, and in that they were all united as a community. I felt that powerful bond in the hall.

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We also noticed parents react very differently to their child’s condition. I know it is very naive of me to judge an experience purely from the 15 second interaction that we were purview to. But we saw our dear Stuti run over to her mom and dad sitting a few seats away from us. The mother, first in her path, did not change her morose look at all, as she simply passed the daughter over to her partner beside her. The father was all smiles at Stuti as he hoisted her up on his lap and checked emphatically about her upcoming dance. Just in that body language, the mother somehow seemed to come out as the less supportive parent of the lot. Who knows what demons lurk under her breath there! Did she blame herself for her child’s condition? Does she fight the demons of depression that our society very conveniently ignores? Did she battle complications during her pregnancy that have scarred both her daughter and her for life?

If nothing else, the experience through this teaching practicum has taught me how normal these special children are and how abnormal our ‘normal’ lives are. The two lead boys, who vocalized our entire play, could have been kids in any normal school. I’ve already talked about how a major lapse in awareness can result in children getting taken out of normal schools, and pushed to a slower track.

It pains me that the society still has a strange but deep-rooted taboo associated with disabilities. The current schooling has definitely progressed since my time, and integrated education has brought our kids closer to disabilities. But there is still so much to do. Parents and students need to be caught up on so many issues faced by these children. Only when the mainstream starts worrying about these special children will the policy makers start worrying too.

While you were busy enjoying your morning at the Special School, I’ve spent the morning stalking mom and dad for food. So much so that now daddy refuses to look at me while he eats. 

Look how silly he looks, S. And that’s him eating my fave dosas. How can I let him be? “Scotch 

And I’ll be right here, waiting for you, dosa!