Wednesday, October 15, 2008


On 2nd of July 2008, we [group 1] were scheduled to visit Vidya Nivas at Kotturpuram. Ms.Mercy ma’am gave us a detailed, accurate map to that place. As none of us were familiar with the area, it was very helpful to us.
The clock struck one; the college bell rang [feebly] and the Adventure began!!!

Sahithya and I were hungry and so decided to eat on the way to that place as we were instructed not to eat anything there. Lithiya misunderstood this and thus misguided Diana and Inbam to the college canteen, while Mira, Sahithya and I hurried to catch the bus. We three got into the bus and realized that the other 3 were missing. Thus my cell phone came handy. I called Diana [who was in college canteen with the other two] and informed her that we got into 45B specials just outside college. They hurried and luckily got into the bus in the nick of time.

Sahithya asked us to buy a ticket to Defense quarters. I opened my bag and alas! My purse was missing! I had forgotten to carry my purse. Sahithya got a ticket for me. Thanks to her timely help. Then the bus started moving. I called my mom and informed her about my program. Then I had lunch, which I had brought from home, in the bus. I enquired the conductor about which bus would take us to Kotturpuram from Defense Quarters. He said 41 would do so.

Then we got down at Defense Quarters. Lithiya opened her beautiful pink umbrella and was happily enjoying its shade while the rest of us were burning under the hot sun. We couldn’t get any 41 bus immediately. So we decided to take an auto. In the left turning, near the Nandhanam signal all 6 of us got into an auto. The auto fare was Rs 60, [=> Rs 10 each]. We cross checked the auto’s route with Mercy madam’s map. We were going in the right direction! The auto man’s name was Rajan {/Є Saidapet autostand}. He was interacting with us in a friendly manner. We were discussing about share autos. As we crossed the bridge, we saw the cross [of the church] and rejoiced. From there we directed the auto man to the place with the help of Mercy madam’s map. Thanks to ma’am once again.

We finally reached the place. It is just beside St.Antony Church. It is a modest enclosure, just as big as a couple of stalls [which one can see in a vegetable market] put together. The roof is made of Asbestos sheet [wonder how the children study there in this hot weather].
As we entered we saw a number of smiling faces welcoming us. The children were excited to see us. Of course, we were excited too! There were enough desks and chairs for the students and there were black boards. The children were wearing uniforms.

Ms. Revathy, who is a teaching staff in that school, welcomed us. She then made each of us handle a group of children. Mira and I were handling two sweet kids, Lokesh and Vignesh who belonged to III std. We were conversing in Tamil, so that they feel comfortable and understand. Usually, kids don’t freely interact with new people they meet. But these kids freely conversed with us. Its may be because they are used to new comers visiting them frequently.

We learnt a lot from the kids. They told us a lot of things that were happening in and around the school. The one which sadden me was the mention of physical abuse [in the form of beating children using sticks] going on in the school. They exclaimed how they were terrified by a teacher who does so. Lokesh was sharing his experience of confronting Ghosts [whom he called MUNI]. Vignesh, who had heard about this before, was not ready to listen to him once again owing to his fear for ghosts. So he ran away while Lokesh was narrating his experience. Then Mira and I tried to convince them that such things don’t exist. But they disagreed. It will take sometime and effort to change this belief.

First we started with numbers. They said they knew numbers up to 100. Mira asked them to write selected numbers between 1 and 100. They did a pretty good job. Then we moved on to English alphabets. They knew the alphabets very well, couldn’t give examples for all. Anyway with our hints they were able to do so. We then came to know that they cannot read English words.

After that we started first lesson in science: Plants and Animals. When we asked them what plants and animals were, they were able to give us equivalent synonyms and examples in Tamil. I was glad that they understood the English words. But later when I asked them what was sedi and mirugam in English they were unable to answer, We then explained the difference between the living and non living things Suddenly a child came running and took the book from which we were teaching. He claimed that it was his, and it was a V std textbook. OOPS! We had been teaching the III std kids, V std science. The kids laughed! We giggled and opened the III std book and continued.

Lokesh and Vignesh started fighting. We had no other choice but to teach them separately. I taught Lokesh. He said he loves Maths and thus wanted me to teach him Maths. I was happy to hear that. But when I wanted to start Maths I realized that the very first lesson required the knowledge of three digit numbers. Ms. Revathy ma’am advised me to teach something else. I suggested English. He instantly disagreed. He said It’s very difficult to understand English. He then turned the pages to science and wanted me to teach him the lesson 1: Living Things. Ms. Revathy ma’am said that the lesson was already been taught earlier. But he protested saying that he never understood anything. Then I taught him the next lesson which highlighted the difference between and Humans and Animals. He was excited to know the differences. When I asked how we walk and how the animals walk, he gave a live demonstration to me. I was happy that he was involved in the subject. Then we were discussing about the language of humans and animals. He made sounds of different animals and got even more excited. We also discussed about human’s ability to think and reason which the animals cant. Finally we finished the lesson by identifying the different animals whose colorful pictures were displayed in the lesson.

Then we agreed to study English. I motivated him by saying that it was a story [as I knew he loved listening to stories]. It took me a long time to make him understand the meaning of “Three Fishes”, which was the title of the lesson. He knew what Fishes were but he was confused between “Tree” and “Three”. Then he was being distracted as it was a single room in which all lessons for all students of different classes were taught simultaneously. He was interested in what his friend Vignesh was learning and wanted to learn the same from me. So we went to another lesson where we were asked to form words from a snake whose body contained a number of letters. I found the words for him and made him understand the meaning of each word.

It was 2:30p.m., time for us to start. We bid them Good –bye. Vignesh wanted to know my name. He wrote it down in his note book and said that he would pray for me in the evening at the church. I was moved by his kind-loving gesture. Seeing this Lokesh wrote down my name too. Then I asked him to write his name. He wrote it in English and told that he did not know how to write his name in his mother tongue – Tamil. It was quite surprising!

Then, I don’t know who started it, all children moved around the class to get the autograph of the 6 of us. It was quite funny! Then we gave them the clichéd advice, “Study well, Behave well, Earn a good name!” Lokesh and Vignesh came forward to shake hands with me and bid me good-bye.

So we started walking back to the main road. We were very hungry. It was very thoughtful of Inbam to carry a biscuit packet along with her. She shared with us. It surely gave us some energy. We spotted a bus stop nearby and enquired about the bus which would take us to our desired destinations. Sahithya and Diana had to cross the road to get their bus. Inbam, Mira, Lithiya and I got into 21G. This time Mira got me a ticket to Mylapore Tank. Lithiya bought a ticket to Parry’s. Mira got down at RA Puram. Inbam and I got down at Mylapore tank and bid good-bye to Lithiya. Then Inbam got into 29C and proceeded to Perambur. I crossed the road and continued walking back home.

I called my mom and informed her that I was at Mylapore tank. Then I called Sahithya to enquire her position. She said that Diana and she had got into a bus at Kotturpuram soon after we left and she had got down at Gandhi Mandapam while continued her travel in the same bus. Sahithya was waiting for a bus to T Nagar. While we were talking her bus arrived and so we discontinued our conversation. After reaching home, I called Mira and learned that she had reached home half an hour before I did. Then I got a message from Immaculate asking about Inbam. Inbam hadn’t informed her mother about the program. So her worried mother had called Immaculate to know about Inbam. I replied to the message and then had a big mug full of pomegranate juice. Then I called Sahithya. By that time she had reached her place.

On the whole, it was an exciting, wonderful and a different experience. I am eagerly looking forward for my next trip.


Our second trip was scheduled on 14th July, 2008. As Sahithya and I were participating in Fresher’s Day dance, which was to be held on the following day, we wanted to practice for it. Thus with the permission of Ms.Mercy ma’am our trip was postponed to 16th July, 2008. Instead of us Komala’s group volunteered to go. Thanks a lot Komala!!! I was very much looking forward for this trip because both Vignesh and Lokesh were sending me their warm messages through my friends who belonged to other groups. [And hey, this time I made sure that I carried my wallet with me.]

!!! Ms.It was 16th July [Day 5] last hour – STAR hour Fancy ma’am had given us a test in Normal Forms and Principal Normal Forms. We were writing the test sitting under the trees [of course under the supervision Ms. Fancy ma’am]. Mira, Lithiya and Sahithya were unable to write the test as they had to conduct Library Orientation for our juniors. At the stroke of one, I finished the test. By the time the orientation program was over and the three retuned to join us. But Diana and Inbam were still sincerely writing the test. So, the four of us, Mira, Lithiya, Sahithya and I, were patiently waiting for them to complete. Meanwhile Sahithya, not wanting to waste time, started applying sunscreen lotion to protect herself from the hot sun. It was indeed a hot Wednesday afternoon! We were all ready by 1:15 p.m. This time we all agreed to follow Lithiya’s directions [It was a big mistake!!!]. She said that we could get into 29C, get down at Kalyani Hospital and then get a 21G to Kotturpuram.

We were all waiting at the bus stop [opposite to SMC] for 29C. Ina few minutes a 29C deluxe bus arrived. But it didn’t seem to slow down at our stop. So Mira quickly moved forward to stop the bus. God bless the driver! He did stop. Lithiya, Diana and Inbam hesitated to get in as it was deluxe. But seeing that the bus was almost empty Sahithya, Mira and I ran and got into the bus. The bus started moving and oh! I was having Inbam’s money [which she gave me to get the ticket for her] and Sahithya was having Inbam’s cell phone [which Inbam gave to her as she didn’t want to carry while getting onto the bus]. Thus we left with Inbam’s money and cell phone, leaving behind Lithiya, Diana and Inbam. The ticket was worth Rs. 5/- . We didn’t know where Kalyani hospital was and so we safely got down at Mylapore Tank, as I was sure that we could get a 21G there. Diana kept giving missed calls to Inbam’s cell [which Sahithya was carrying at present]. Sahithya was unable to call back as Inbam’s cell didn’t support outgoing. We got down at Mylapore Tank. Irritated Sahithya, not able to do anything with Inbam’s cell took a photo of me.

Shortly 21G arrived. It was deluxe again! Anyway we got in. This time we didn’t get a place to sit. The ticket to Kotturpuram was worth 7Rs/- . We soon learnt from the conductor that the bus would not stop at the Kotturpuram Bridge stop. Thus we realized by paying more we needed to walk more. Diana tried calling us again. This time Sahithya attended the call. It seems they were walking towards VM Street [which is 2 stops before Mylapore Tank]. Hearing this we felt a bit better as we were in a better position than them. We thought of getting down from the bus while it’s running. But of course we can’t do it! Mira tried shouting ‘stop’ when we were crossing the stop where we wanted to get down. No use! We were cursing Lithiya and were designing new, better plans for the next trip. Finally the stop arrived were we had to get down. Then, we crossed the road and retraced the bus’s path; back to the stop were we wanted to get down.

Finally we reached the place by 1:45 p.m. The other three hadn’t, of course reached the place. We were once again given a warm welcome. Lokesh and Vignesh were very excited to see me. I thanked them for their messages. They told me that they didn’t like the gap between my two visits and they wanted me to come everyday. I was very happy to hear that [c’mon kids don’t lie!]. As the other three were detained, Mira volunteered to take care of Vignesh and Lokesh while I handle II grade. There were four students in my class. They kept asking where the other three were. It was difficult to convince them that they will be arriving shortly. The four, Thirunavkarasu, Swetha, Bhuvaneswari and Rupika, were silently copying down the sentences written on the black board. It was general knowledge for class II, about computers to be specific. I speeded their writing by introducing a competition between them as to who would finish writing first. Rupika finished first. Bhuvaneswari was second. The other two were still writing. Rupika was curious to look at what I was hanging down my neck [my ID card]. Looking at my picture in the ID card, she exclaimed that I have become fatter. This increased the curiosity of the others. All of them wanted to see my ID card. Almost everyone agreed that I looked better then. Then I taught them about computers. Vignesh and Lokesh kept calling out for me as they wanted me to teach them.

Finally Lithiya, Inbam and Diana arrived. My class was happy to see Inbam. I handed over the class to Inbam and joined Mira to teach Lokesh and Vignesh. The two were teasing Mira as she didn’t how to read Tamil. This time a new girl, Vijayalakshmi, who is not a student of this school, was giving us company. She is the daughter of one of the teachers working in the school. She seemed very young, smart and she was neatly dressed and well mannered. Then Ms. Revathy ma’am asked them to copy down the Thirukural meaning which ma’am had written on the board. Vignesh finished first and got his notebook corrected by ma’am. He was not allowing Lokesh to finish writing. He kept troubling him. Ms. Revathy ma’am hit Lokesh on his back as he had still not finished copying. Mira and I readily protested against her act. She tried convincing us saying that it was the only way to make them work; and she said even if we [Mira and I] worked in the school everyday we would be doing the same thing. Adding to it, she gave a stick to Mira to hit Lokesh. She refused to take it and said she wouldn’t hit any child any time. Mira, with her sweet encouraging words tried to motivate Lokesh to complete his work. Meanwhile Vignesh and I were discussing in general about Thirukural and Thiruvalluvar. I learnt from him that he wanted to become a Police officer when he grows up. I encouraged him to follows his dreams.

Our next subject was Origami. Vignesh made a boat from paper and presented it to me. Lokesh was disturbed by our activity. I asked Mira to take care of Vignesh. I helped Lokesh in copying the Thirukural meaning from the board. He successfully finished copying in few minutes. Then he got his notebook corrected. The he too made a boat for me. Mira taught them how to make a rocket. Then we four played flying the rocket. Ding Ding Ding Ding!!! The school bell was sounded with help of a metal rod hitting one of the supports of the roof of the school. The children rejoiced. They bid us good-bye and happily ran out carrying their back pack and lunch bag.

We all walked back to the bus top. Mira, Lithiya, Inbam and I got into 21G and left. I reached home safely by 3:20p.m. It was yet another memorable trip.


Our 3rd trip to “Vidya Nivas” was scheduled on 24th July, 2008. It was Ethnic Day. Everyone in the class decided to come dressed in saree on that day. We six hesitated because we didn’t know whether we would be able to manage ourselves in sarees during our trip to Kotturpuram. We therefore requested Ms.Mercy madam to postpone the trip. She suggested that we can come dressed in saree to college and change to salwar before starting to the school. We readily agreed. But somehow God was determined to stop us from wearing saree. It rained buckets, that morning and there was no way one could try a saree! But still the others [non group 1], the strong minded ones, came dressed in sarees. Hats off to their will power!

It was 1 P.M. This time we all agreed to follow Sahithya’s directions. We reached the DMS by walk and got into less crowded 18A. I got a window seat just before the second door of the bus. It was a cool day and hence the breeze [coming through the window as well as the door] was simply enchanting. Mira was sitting next to me and was enjoying the breeze with me. We got down at Little Mount. Sahithya said that we must board a 21G next. But we waited for long and no 21G turned up. As it was a new route which we were trying, we thought that 21G might not stop there. So we enquired every bus that stopped there, whether it goes through Kotturpuram. Unfortunately none of them did. We were quite tensed. After much wait we rejoiced at the sight of M21G. We quickly got into the bus and started moving towards our destination. By about 1:45 p.m. we reached the school.

This time Vignesh was absent owing to high fever. I missed him a lot! As there was only one student [Lokesh] Mira volunteered to teach another class. Lokesh chose to learn Geography. The lesson was about The Earth. Lokesh found it hard to pronounce the terms like “geoid”, “latitude, “longitude”. I kept repeating the terms to make sure he was able to pronounce as well as remember the terms. I drew Earth which gave him a faint idea how Earth looked like. Then he was eager to know where Marina beach was! So I highlighted India in my diagram and then drew India separately and pointed where Tamil Nadu, Chennai and Marina beach were. He was excited. Then he pointed to me where his village was, by estimating its distance from Chennai. Unfortunately he pointed to some place in Kerala. He thought it was part of Tamil Nadu. Then I drew the country borders. He got confused. I didn’t want to confuse him more and hence left it there.
Then we learnt the names of the oceans around the world. I made him memorize the names of the Continents. This attracted the attention of Sahithya’s students. They joined Lokesh in learning the names of the Continents and Oceans. Each student was given a chance to tell the names of Continents and Oceans without referring to the book. With a little help they succeeded in listing out all the names. Then we discussed about Olympics; what the five rings in its symbol signified.

After the lesson was completed there was a small questioning session. The students enthusiastically volunteered to answer the questions. Then we decided to relax and have fun. The students started exhibiting their drawing talents on the desks using chalk. Lokesh drew a beautiful peacock and claimed that his sister had taught him how to draw it. Magbul Baasha, Sahithya’s student, came forward and asked me whether I knew how to draw a ship. I said I had no idea. He smiled [meant: hah! You don’t even know that huh?]. He took my rough note book and drew a ship and proudly presented it to me. I praised the artist inside him and accepted his work with a big smile on my face. Seeing this, everyone started drawing ships and compared each others work. Everyone felt that their piece was the best. I was happy that they didn’t fight amongst themselves owing to the difference in opinion.

It was Three P.M. I was quite exhausted at the end of the day. Sahithya advised me not to strain much in teaching the students. Anyway I did enjoy my stint at the school though I was tired at the end. Then we started walking back to the bus stop. Mira was making her students list the days in a week. It was lovely to watch Mira walking with her students and listening to her students answer. We finally bid the students good-bye and reached the bus stop. Within few minutes we boarded a 21G. I safely reached home by about 3:45, had something to eat and slept off.