Day 15: Disinterested adolescents

I went in to the 7th grade today to fill in for another teacher that was sick. Since I didn’t take any formal subjects with this class, I decided to run a couple of exercises and games from TO with the class. And boy, where they a disappointment! Well, I shouldn’t blame the entire class for a group of 7 or 8 boys that absolutely didn’t want to try any of the activities. They did the activity for half a minute, gave up and stood there, disinterested. They longingly looked at the basketball court, wondering when I’d let them go play.

It was a huge lesson for me on having a backup plan and on being mentally prepared for a disinterested class. For the first, I was covered. But the second hit me hard. I had to take a solid 5 minutes to let it sink in that a majority of the class was not interested in the activity and that I had to try something else. And this was the one that affected me the most and I had a lot to share about being in power versus being powerless and whatnot.

I abandoned that, picked another trust game. And it worked like a charm. It started slow too, in fact, and almost went downhill. So I quickly got in and teamed up with a couple of these notorious boys to show them how it could be fun. Soon enough, they were trying real hard, switching partners to get it right.

Validation came in the form of them talking about it before lunch to the 5th and 6th graders, and them coming over to ask me how to do it. Before I knew it, there were pairs of little kids doing trust see-saws in the ground. Totally worth it!

Aunty, you are under arrest.

Why? What’d I do?

You gave us all a – 1 in the Change maker chart.

Well you did leave the lights and fans on.

You’re still under arrest.

Ooh! Aunty, you’re a good zentangler.

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Day 132: Oppressors unlimited 

The weekend started on a great note, the 4OfUs met to watch a forum theater by the TO community working with Srishti school of design. SoulSurfer stuck to the plan of  my first metro ride in the city, and I was glad that he persisted. The anonymity that comes with public transport and the novelty that came with the ride in the city was very energizing. A little stroll in and around Cubbon Park and we were seated in for the play.

For all that I read about the uniqueness of forum theater, I was impressed by seeing it in action. It’s quite likely that most of them in the audience were there, like me, because of some basic introduction into TO. But it was also likely that they were just random passers-bys, ones that were really moved by the scene that was playing out in front of them.

It was very encouraging to watch some men come up, and take on the role of the oppresed lady. It was very disturbing to hear some men talk about how they had experienced such violations of their personal space too. It was most disappointing to hear more and more stories of women facing these violations on a daily basis. Ten minutes back, half an hour back, 1 day back, 2 months ago, since 15 years; and the tyranny continues.

Being in the role of a spectactor was unnerving, especially to realize that the obstruction or the oppression that my role was facing could be faced in real life too. There could be a creepy Vijay slowly falling on you in the bus, there could be a driver who’d refuse to listen to all your protests, there could be a situation where you’d have no other option to try; and at that point, you might not get a retake.

It makes me angry to think about how inhuman mankind truly is, to be able to ignore another’s will and interest entirely, and to thrust one’s own want and needs. What bothers me more is to see men of the privileged backgrounds act like there was no problem at all. I’d like to see more men, like the SoulSurfer and MadO, step up and realize that women all around them – girl friends, mothers and sisters – were stepping on thin egg shells every time they were walking out the door. I’d like them to join the dialogues and become a voice of sanity in this deafening discussion.

I believe that without enough voices from the other side of the fence, we’d just be prisoners rattling our cages in a sound-proof room.

Pics4mswiss: When darkness prevails, the heavens open up and a new sunrise is seen.