Thursday, June 19, 2014

Love in the Time of Cholera

Review of Love in the Time of Cholera

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lot of books have passed through these eyes however this book was different not because I have heard a lot about this author but may be because the way it is written, the way in which this book leaves you guessing or asking for more!

This book was different because while it was a simple love story but it kept me feeling ‘What was the reason for their separation’ or ‘Is love lies truly between the two lovers’.

This book was different because while you feel sad for the protagonist that he kept waiting for his love for his entire life but then somewhere you also feel that he enjoyed his life and despite the loss of his true love he had an ample amount of love in his life.

I may not read this love story again however it gave me a different perspective from just dying for the lover’s sake or turning into a monk for their lover to be someone who lives his life fully and still hopes for his lover to come back.

I still may not be able to express my views about this book however I do concur with one view of Observer i.e. “It suggests that true love is not blind, but sees all the faults and does not mind” What a powerful statement and how much it differs from all the other love stories…

I still don’t know which stories to believe where love is the ultimate or this particular ‘Love in the time of Cholera’, which suggests life, is the ultimate aim of every person.

For me personally, this was a practical guide & an inspiration for the millions of lovers who are not meant to meet.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What really matters to me “Is to see a world free from unbiased constraints.”

What really matters to me is to bring a smile on every child face and to provide them the same avenues, which each and every kid deserves.

What I mean by the above statement is ‘In our country where still one third of the kids are out of school, whereas a 4th standard student in a government school can’t read a text of 2nd grade and 60% of second year children are unable to read a simple paragraph, and 70% cannot perform simple mathematical tasks such as long division’ we today have to think carefully about the education and how we aim to target this mammoth issue and for this our youth has to come forward and take the lead to change and make the world a better place to live.

Also I don’t belong to a family of teachers or principals and neither my parents ever dreamt this career avenue for me, but I would say it was the stark reality which struck me while I was in college enjoying my life to the fullest but knowing of some gap being existing.

Let me briefly tell you about my journey and what makes me so much passionate about education.

One day I was sitting with bunch of my friends in the cafeteria having a normal conversation when the ‘Bhola came to serve us the tea’ .I randomly asked him how much he studied, he replied “Bhaya till 7th Standard “ and out of no where I asked him a simple multiplication and he couldn’t answer, Further moving ahead I asked him to read a simple paragraph which he couldn’t do. It really left me perplexed that if a kid studying in 7th standard, living in the heart of India and residing next to the best engineering college can’t do a simple mathematics and reading while in 7th what’s really is the future of this kid, our country and what are we the youth doing about this? Except criticizing the government for sure….

My friends and I decided to go to the bottom of the root and resolve this issue. With firm determination we went to his school where for the 1st time we saw a class being run by a 8th standard student and on asking him about the teacher he said “Masterji 8 din ki chutti pe hain”(Teacher is on a 8 day vacation).

While we tried our best to talk to the principal of the school, however she just refused to talk and brushed us aside giving an excuse that’s it’s not as easy to run a school with so many kids.

Later that day, we discussed this issue with our professor and while he was pleased to see our cognizant of what’s happening around ourselves but he made a comment that “While everyone of you has seen the dark side of India but no one is willing to change it or amend it for the better, everyone today is just thinking about himself rather than the society

Which really made me ponder on his words and with few more friends we started a project in our college by the name “sapney” which basically was the evening classes being run by engineering college students in the engineering college.

The model was quite simple: -

1.     We wanted to cover the basic arithmetic, reading, science and speaking
2.     The school would be open for 2 hours and everyone who is interested in learning would be welcome.
3.     We would make use of technology as much as we can to make the lesson interesting and easy to understand for them.

We ran that model for one year. While the response was good however we realized that we were not getting the results we had expected and that’s when I thought to take advice of the experts or people who have given their life for the educational cause.

Moving forward on my journey, I started talking more and more to my professors about the project sapney and how we are lacking in the results and one of them connected me to a person called ‘Deep Joshi’ who runs ‘Pradan’ an NGO and asked me to work for him during my internship and he is a really kind person who promised to help me and gave me an internship at kesla, Madhya Pradesh and there I found people aged 22-24 years and who has never seen a school in their life and who doesn’t know the basic alphabets or the numerals.

For the 1st time I realized how tilting the world is, we make lot of policies at the centre level however the people who should be it’s biggest beneficiary, never come to know about it and the more I thought about it the more I realized that most of the problems are connected and then I started talking with people and realized the crux of most of the problems is the education and if we can resolve this issue we can surely be on a better footing.

So, I decided to work for time being in the education sector and I started working on business plans to create the school I envision and everyone whom I met told me to 1st research more than just jumping into this education puzzle.

And that’s when the Teach For India happened for me and it was really one of the roller coaster ride, which I enjoyed, with my both hands held free. I taught 74 kids of 2nd Grade in my 1st year and then I taught 64 kids of 4th grade in my 2nd year and that’s where I found my three biggest learning of failing in ‘Sapney’.

1.     The value of differentiation i.e. why I shouldn’t have catered to all the age groups together.

2.     Assessment: - While It was a thoughtful idea to keep the assessment out of our ‘sapney’ model but Teach For India taught me that there has to be some form of assessment to know your impact.

3.     Holistic Education: - I was just focused on the academics but now I realized how mistaken I was because in the 21st century more than the academics it’s the life skills i.e. Creativity, Leadership which we are required to teach to our kids.

My fellowship got over, but not my journey, which has given me hope of a new dawn, a new dawn where everybody would be able to access the basic facilities and no one would be deprived of the education and his rights.

After my fellowship completed, I have joined an NGO called S.T.I.R. whereby I have to recognize the teachers who are doing great work in their classroom and who are striving hard to transform their classrooms.
I try to work with them to resolve the problems they are facing in their classrooms and also try to make them realize how important work they are doing by being a teacher.

Moving forward, this year I am planning to open the community centres in my networks with three basic aims: -

1.     Anyone can come to these centres (i.e. irrespective of their caste, creed, economic strata etc.) however they would be differentiated on the basis of their age group.

2.     Their won’t be any restriction on what a student should be doing over there i.e. it’s his/her wish to play, jump, shout or study but there would be few guidelines. No fights, no stealing, no abuse etc. (which I am sure they won’t be doing once they would be in community centres)

3.     Connecting the elders to these kids because I truly believe that somehow we have started losing the wisdom of our elders and they have a lot to provide to these kids, so if we can connect these kids to them we can really provide the valuable education, which we all dream, for these kids.

So, I will end by saying that what really matters to me is to provide a better place to live in for my kids and to make that happen I have to change the surrounding .I have to work on the society and the mind-set with which people strive today and that all can be done only when we offer the dignity of a human being back to every people. It will only happen if we make them aware of their rights and duties.

And, all of this would happen if we give back the childhood to the kids who are right now begging on the road, who are sitting on railways with their brother in hands or moving out when their parents for work every day.

And the solution which I can conceive of it is education  “a Quality education for each and every kid despite it’s background because at the last it’s not his fault and he shouldn’t be paying for whole his life for what isn’t his fault at the first point”.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A discussion on women Empowerment

Something’s are just destined to happen, so was the lecture I attended last year. I visited one great school and wished to sit in their classroom and luckily I sat in an English class whereby they were discussing the Arunudhi Roy ‘The God of small things’ and as this novel is based on women empowerment, the discussion shifted in that direction.

It was a smooth and a very nice discussion but not what I anticipated as it was without any boundary, the teacher was just there to refine their thoughts but at no point she blocked them and they were free to express their thoughts in any language they wanted to.

However, the best part was the discussion that was happening in that class and I would try to ponder as much thoughts as I can over it.

So, it started the way a discussion started with the teacher raising her views stating that there are movements like ‘Take back the night’ which makes women feel empowered and reinforces the support and tragedy which still lies in our world.

But, it was interesting to see a kid refuting the discussion saying but what does these movements serves, as it happens just for a single day and for the rest 364 days the life moves as normal, is it surely a solution. But then there were surely points in favor of this movement as they give support to the women and make them aware of the situation and prepare them to face the worst.

Then one girl raised the point that these movement do serve their purpose it’s just that they are bit slow and takes time and backs it up saying that in Delhi Metro now girls have separate compartment to travel and it is surely because some people must have realized it’s importance.

But then is it really a solution, because somehow it has separated the women from the men and it is portraying that for the women to be safe they should just separate themselves from men. Also, somehow in my personal opinion the today’s movement is more regarded as a fight between the men and the women.

Teacher, at this point didn’t agreed with me and shifted the discussion saying that still many women get rapped and the proper definition of molestation says that ‘If a person touches you without your permission aggressively’ it’s molestation .At this point, girl backed it up with some facts from UNICEF Website that states that one in every four girl get rapped in the world.

And she pointed to the girls in the class only that we can see 14 girls in this class, so according to the statistics 4 of you would be raped in the next 10 years and I can never imagine a teacher posing such a difficult question back at the students who are just in 11th   standard.
At which, a student again raised his voice that he don’t value on data as most of them are fake at which the teacher replied that these statistics are based on reported data rather than the number of cases actually happens in our country and it could be a very number as most of the women who get molested never report knowing they would be the one who would be at loss after this.

So, a boy raised his voice saying that everyone get’s molested who thinks that boys don’t get molested or abused its just that we just talk about women and have started thinking it as a weaker sex which needs protection and the women’s should make themselves strong rather than joining these movements.

At which a girl asked but how can they do that? Also, a girl from Saudi Arabia pointed out to some scary details i.e. in Saudi if a girl get raped then she get 40 lashes without ever judging whose fault is it actually? And if a girl don’t gives to the sexual demand of her husband after 4 days of getting married then her husband has legal rights to rape her? Isn’t it shocking?

At this point I thought to share my ideas and I said ‘I do know that somehow right now the society is facing a uncontrollable situation in case of women’s movement and their rights but it’s because of what we have done in the past, it is because we have stretched the pendulum to one extreme in the last 50 years and it will surely go to the other extreme before coming at the normal position.

Also, I don’t know how women can make themselves strong but I can just give my own example i.e. I have an acrophobia but then I decided that I could overcome it only by working on it so I started going on trekking and then I also started looking at people who do succeed in trekking rather than the images where I see people falling from the hills.

And I suggested them to start going alone, most of the times bad things won’t happen to you and just keep a positive mindset, if there is bad happening in the society then there is also good happening and start looking at the incidents where people are doing the good things and they all should stop reading so much of the statistics and the scary news.

At which a girl raised her concern that ‘Ignorance can never be the solution’ and I do agree with her, and now thinking more about her statement I can just say that ‘I also do know that girls get raped and people do fall from the cliff’ but should I be concerned about how many numbers fallen this month, this year etc.

Because our mind is like a notebook from which we can read only what we will write, and it’s us who have the power to decide what we want to write in it.

This is really one of the best sessions I attended on Women Empowerment and students of XI Standard were doing this. I was  amazed by their openness, frankness, confidence and the belief that they are surely going to get something out of this discussion.

This is one of the best part of my job of seeing so much power in these kids and having a belief that our world is surely in safer hands however it also puts so much responsibility on our generation as still 2/3rd of our country doesn’t understand the meaning of women empowerment or what rights do they have in this amazing country.