Archive for June, 2011

Driving back from Sindhudurg [and the newest SOLEs] 10 days ago in torrential rain through the ghats, after a scorching 5 days [It always reminds of how appropriate the term ‘jeev ghena ukada‘ ( life sucking heat’) is!] reminded me of our SOLEs and SOMEs Cloud and why that term is so apt. With or without the word ‘Granny’ attached. I’ll settle for eMediator.

It’s something Sugata and I have talked about – the possibility that the term ‘cloud’ might not have the same connotations elsewhere in the world. But here in India….the clouds bring much-needed rain for the crops as well as respite from the heat. And they are anticipated and waited for eagerly.

And that’s what the ‘CLOUD” is all about too… Bringing new ideas, showing the children different worlds, sprinkling parched minds with various possibilities, encouraging the children to bloom.

Yet, all of us, also have a healthy respect for the rains and the havoc they can wreak when they are relentless. The thunder and lightning is often scary, specially when you on the edge of a cliff and visibility is close to zero! And I understand the concerns of the community in the context of the possibility of children exposed to ideas they cannot control, that could take the children far away, that could leave them conflicted and unsure of  the direction in which they should turn, thrown every which way by this deluge of conflicting thoughts, lifestyles, cultural values and much more.

And I feel grateful, yet again, for the commitment and responsibility with which the eMediators choose to be involved. The effort they take to understand the context and culture these children come from brings the best of the clouds and the rains.

It’s the key to what Sugata is talking about in terms of the goals of the SOLEs. It is what is going to help develop that rational belief system.


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Anand asked this question over 20 years ago… and I still don’t have an answer… at least not a convincing one [to me at any rate!].

We were headed to the Bust Stop at Flora Fountain, at Bombay [Hutatma Chowk, Mumbai] to get into the long queue for our regular 84 Ltd that would take us straight home from college [Anand used to attend the lab preschool at Nirmala Niketan where I taught Child Development in those days].

And the families of flower sellers that were in semi permanent residence near the stop was busy with their afternoon chores as usual. Some busy with the task of stringing together garlands that someone like me might buy to adorn their hair with, others grooming themselves or combing their children’s hair, yet others washing their few utensils post the mid day meal.

A few kids were off to one side, playing in the dirt with stones and broken bits of toys. Unkempt hair, snot running down from their noses, torn and dirty clothes. Quite different from the care and attention lavished on Anand. As we passed them, he commented [fortunately directing it at me] “Dirty!” Embarrassed, I tried explaining to him that they couldn’t help it… they didn’t have a nice home like us to live in, with running water 24 hours a day… the usual attempt to get away from feeling guilty about the socio-economic difference. He seemed satisfied and we proceeded to stand in line.

It was a long wait, not unlike other days. One of the slightly older kids from the flower seller’s family [couldn’t have been more than 6], with a year old baby on her hips  started her begging round. Something I always wished I could escape… Feeling bad, yet not wanting to reinforce the begging habit. Feeling that contributing to organizations that would support them was a more meaningful way to help out. But that day I was out of luck… The little one came and stood right next to us, looking beseechingly at us as she held out her hand asking for 10 paise [It was still valid currency in those days!]. I, with averted eyes, after saying “no”…

Till I was brought to another plane of realization… Anand accusing me – “Why aren’t you giving her any money? Didn’t you just say they didn’t have any?”

Over the years, I have continued to work in different projects that are aimed at making a difference in children’s lives. But I am still haunted by the look in that little girl’s eyes and the question that remains unanswered ……

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