I want to start 2018 with the word ‘Change-maker’ I don’t want to be routine and mundane. I want to bring about some change and touch some lives

What do I want from my life? #MondayMusing #Goals2018

“Resolutions are meant to be broken!” this is an adage that I firmly believed in and hence never made any resolutions! Yup, not one in the last 30+ years! It just felt like a fad and something that people did to put on Facebook or Instagram or wherever. It just didn’t appeal to me, but something changed last year.

Till last year, I was always busy with something, earlier it was education, then job, then home and then kids. But last year, my kid asked me ‘Who are you?’ Apart from being my mom?

Now, let me take a step back here – My daughter and her friends were discussing what their mom’s do! Most of the children had their mom’s working or doing some kind of business and my child was not aware about the words freelancer or home-maker, so she was a bit lost, when it came to explaining what her mom did! She worked yeah, but not in the typical sense of picking her bag and going to office, nor did my daughter go to a day-care to complete the picture (her words, not mine!)

Explaining Freelancer, was the toughest thing that I have done till date and I am not quite sure she gets it, but terming my desk ‘home-office’ have solved the problems for now. But it made me think, ‘Who am I?’

Instead of going for a long quest and founding some religion, I chose a simpler path and focused on my ‘blog’ I wanted to make a difference in some way or the other and thought my blog will help me do that. I started 2017 with ‘Focus’ as my word. And as I did a #Rewind2017 post I realized I had a lot to be thankful for.

I want to start 2018 with the word ‘Change-maker’ I don’t want to be routine and mundane. I want to bring about some change and touch some lives

I want to start 2018 with the word ‘Change-maker’ I don’t want to be routine and mundane. I want to bring about some change and touch some lives! I want to light a thousand sparks that will keep someone warm and show the way to someone who is lost! #LearnNotEducate is one such spark that I wish to spread in 2018.

Linking my post with #MondayMusings

India and its obsession with 90 percent score

A few days back the results of 10th and 12th Std students were declared, across all boards. In one of the boards (eg: Karnataka State Board) exam, the student scored 625/625 and hence was the topper in the state. But this is not the story of a single state. Almost all states had numerous students with above 90% scores. While everybody congratulated the toppers, some lamented about the failures. There were many articles, urging students who failed, to take it positively, not take any drastic steps and work towards clearing the exams in the next attempt. While all this is good, nobody seemed to have spared a thought for the students who scored 60, 70 or even 80%. You might wonder what is there to worry about. Congratulate them, tell them to perform better in future and move on!

Let me break this up for all the non-Indian parents reading. India is a country with 1.25 billion people. In 2016 alone there were over 25 lakh students who appeared for 10th and 12th exams, opting for CBSE syllabus alone. Apart from this there is state board, ICSE board, IB board etc. So with these numbers stacked against them, the children are pressurized to perform well in these exams. Only if they score well in these exams they might have a chance of getting admitted into their preferred course or college. There is hardly any room for error, especially students who fall under general/open category. They have nothing, except their scores to take them through.

With this grim background, now think of students who scored 60-70-80%. With the high number of pass percent and high scores, in recent years these students won’t get seats anywhere. Atleast, not in any of the good colleges. There have been reports where even small town colleges have a cut-off percent of 90% So, where does a child scoring average and above average percentage go?

He can’t repeat the exams as he hasn’t failed. He can’t get admissions in his choice of college or even his preferred subject, so what next? He might think the easy way out is ending his life! While not everybody will take the extreme step, some might go to a less preferred college; if they get the subject of their choice, while some will have to change their preference. All these changes will further diminish their chances of opting for a preferred career course and thereby result in an adult who is dejected and frustrated with his situation, and life in general.  As a lesson from his mistake, he will pressure his child to focus on scoring only 90 and above. Nothing short of 90% will do! And thus the paranoia continues.

 

high score

Image Credit- All Poster

 

What I fail to understand is that after more than 60 years of independence and many such deject stories, how can we still depend on rote method of education? Shouldn’t our education system develop and enhance the creativity in English or any other language that the child studies? Same goes for reasoning in Science, fundamentals and quick thinking in Maths, Practical Knowledge in Geography and deep love for past stories in History.

Until we nurture this how can the children can go beyond the thought of a good paying job? If we want innovators and creators, we need to teach them to be fearless. We don’t need a system which cushions the child from every challenge, rather a system that helps them raise up to every challenge and that can happen, not with roting, but by acclimatizing them with real world challenges. Why do we need exams with MCQ? Why can’t the children be exposed to the many career options available right from middle school with some practical exposures so that they can make informed decisions when they reach high school. It might help many children to look beyond Engineering and Medicine, thereby creating an inclusive and thriving environment.

Kutch- A Soulful Odyssey

I saw an advertisement of Amitabh Bacchan booming on the television saying “Kutch Nahi Dekha to Kuch Nahi Dekha” . This was in November 2012. The next morning I open the papers and see an advertisement of the ‘Kutch Festival’ . I had never been to such ‘Festival’ before, and this idea excited me. All I could think of was the beautiful Kutchi embroidery, the white desert showcased so beautifully in the movie ‘Refugee’ and the awesome photos that my friend Divya had shot while she had travelled to Kutch as part of her photographic assignment. I told N, we had to do this.

Camp tent cluster

Camp tent cluster

Travelling to Kutch for the ‘Kutch Festival’ turned out to be a humbling and a profound experience. Reaching Kutch requires one to travel to Bhuj and from thereon the Tourism Depratment of Gujrat arranges bus to the Tent City at Kutch. We reached early morning in Bhuj and reached the pick-up point. It was a simple building but with good seating arrangements and arrangements for tea and drinking water. The buses too were plying every half an hour, taking tourists to the camp site. It takes approximately 2 hours to reach the site. Bhuj is a big city, but as you leave Bhuj behind you are greeted with wast expanses of nothingness. The contrast is a hard hitting one and you realize the harsh realities of Kutch.

We reached the campsite and the campsite was a wonder in itself. There in the middle of nothingness stood a huge tent city, bustling with people, entertainment and some touches of luxury. There was a huge banquet tent churning out 3 meals a day for the travelers. There was an exhibition tent showcasing various artifacts, tourist locations and other interesting exhibits from the area. There was a cultural section that had cultural presentations on all days that we were there and there was a flea market to buy various artifacts in one place. The tents were comfortable and offered touches of luxury like heater, newspaper, teabags for early risers. The tents were self sufficient, the food was great and the overall experience in tent city was wonderful. Watching around all I could think of was the hard work and planning that must have gone into establishing this huge city and the smooth functioning of it. The people behind this huge festival worked with briskness and clarity of goal. A rare thing to see in government organized events that are conducted at such a huge scale in India.

One of the villages we visited

One of the villages we visited

Our tours for the two days that we were there were well planned and IMG_2118undertaken with great time management and punctuality. Another interesting thing that I saw was the way this festival was helping some far flung villages with their livelihood. These people lived in some very harsh conditions. These villages share a border with Pakistan or are in close proximity. The weather is extreme and the water scarcity is acute. The land has a high concentration of saline and hence farming or cultivation is impossible.

Waste land till eyes can see

  Waste land till eyes can see

The wasteland provided them with little comfort, yet the women in the villages decorated their homes with such skill and bright hues that it just masked the bitter realities. Beautifully embroidered quilts, bedsheets, dress materials and even shoes. There was brightness and exuberance in every design.

Anybody who is struggling to fight depression should meet these people. Always smiling, hopeful and determined. I for one learned that no problem is larger than life! These people taught me that.

IMG_2070

36 Hairpin Bends…

IMG_1141PP

Nestled among the blue green peaks…

And wafting scents of eucalyptus trees

Ooty envelops me in a calming embrace

As I climb the winding hairpin bends.

The lush tea gardens and the crisp air

Beckon me to a liberating journey.

Away from the city bustle and the maddening crowd

A day in the hills… idyllic and fair.

A day without an agenda…. A day without a routine.

Just pick a quite road and roam…

watching the nature’s glory in full bloom.

Cascading waterfalls that tear through the silence

Or the birds chirping about in the woods.

Tiny homes neatly lined along the slope,

A football match in action with equally enthusiastic crowd…

Carrot farms and local shops selling souvenirs

These are simple lives enjoying a slice of paradise.

This is the quaint side of Ooty not many see

But equally beautiful and far more enchanting than the touristyIMG_1139

Photo Credit – Prasanna Joshi