Awaited update

My sister had to call me to figure out what was going on in my life. It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had the chance to write anything. I’ve been keeping notes to myself and trying to figure out when I would have the time to elaborate at length. Now is the time. I decided not to go to Mumbai this weekend for several reasons. One of which is that I’m just tired. Work has been quite hectic, in a good way; again, I like to be busy. I haven’t yet had a weekend to myself in a long time; I’ve been working for at least one day each weekend; Last week the sports day, the week before, the teachers’ meeting.

I’ll start with an interesting event. This week I came home and Manoj was out of the house with a friend. All the windows and doors were closed. I walked in and turned on the light. Two seconds later without realizing what it was, I ran out of the door to realize that there was a bat flying around the ceiling of the living room. Through the gated door I just watched for a few minutes trying to figure out, a, how it got in there, b, what to do. I decided to get the watchman from downstairs to help me out. I felt bad for doing that for also two reasons, a, for disturbing him, b, for the bat. He took my jacket and started flinging it at the poor bat until he knocked it down, opened the doors to the balcony, and shook out my jacket. I want to say that he set the bat free, but, that’s just what I want to say. I’m not really sure.

On a more serious note, and this might take a while, I’ve had several serious discussions about the state of education in this country lately. Some of the conversations have been with coworkers, potential teachers, and my friends. The Indian education system is really good at teaching kids to memorize. This is good and bad. I think that if I knew how to memorize a bit more, I might have done better on tests. However, there is no thought when kids learn. Kids don’t understand how to think for themselves. I think this is evermore so dangerous. India, as soon to be the most populous race in the world, has an abysmal track record in education. A new study came out that ranked India 172 out of 173 nations in terms of education, only Kazakhstan falling behind. A new ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) just released a press release saying that although enrollment of students was up, private school enrolment was up even more, and, attendance declined from 74.3% to 79.9%. In some states, attendance fell over 10% points in four years. How is this possible? The report offers blanket solutions such as the fact that India needs to start thinking about quality as opposed to quantity, that enrollment should not be a measure of improvement but attendance. I know it’s just a press release, but come on!

Our kids have a hard time coming up with questions about a book based on its cover. They fail to realize the importance of an education. They copy and paste answers from a reading directly onto a test paper. Teachers teach kids to do this in schools. They mark those kind of questions correct. Obviously, we try to teach them the opposite; we try to teach them to think, to formulate their own answers, to grow. It doesn’t make our job any easier if the school system doesn’t encourage free thought. I’m sure there are some schools that do, but for the most part, our kids don’t come from those schools.

Another interesting happening in the month of January has be cancelled weddings. Two of my friends were to be married quite soon, both arranged, both on different levels of happiness about the prospect of getting married. Needless to say neither of them is having an easy time dealing with the fact that their weddings were cancelled.

I’m also planning, or attempting to help my parents plan their visit here. I’m kind of useless on those fronts. When my friends came in March last year, I merely made suggestions. I freaked out when it came time to booking train and plane tickets. I’m not a planner. I haven’t really had time to sit down and plan for them.

Mosquitoes are back in full force. There’s the Good Night thing you plug into the wall that releases some kind of signal to deter them. That works minimally. I’ve taken to sleeping with the mosquito racket by my bed. The racket, at times, is my best friend. It’s basically is a tennis racket with a battery charge that electrocutes the poor mosquitoes. I feel such achievement when I get them. Manoj says I look like a crazy lady. I sleep with the racket right next to my mattress so that when I hear the buzz in the middle of the night I just pick it up, press the button, and wave it around my head. Even in a sleep I get happy about killing mosquitoes. It’s a really bad guilty pleasure.

  I’ll end the long awaited post with something amazing. We’re having a Read-a-thon at work where all of our centers are in a competition to read the most books. As a manager, I have to go listen to the student tell me a synopsis of the book. Many of our kids, for reasons mentioned above, have a hard time with this, especially because it’s in a different language. Many of our kids don’t have a hard time and love telling us what they’ve read. This week I came across one amazing student who has read a ridiculous amount of books in the past three weeks, one of which was Hamlet. I listened to her for about 15 minutes recount in detail the story of Hamlet. This girl is 13 years old. I was blown away. This is when I know that something is working. She also eavesdropped to another girl telling about the story she read and inserted sentences here and there about details the girl was missing in her story. It was an amazing experience.

The muchards (mosquitoes) are eating me up in the living room. I don’t have the Good Night plugged in and my racket is waiting for me by my bed, which is where I’m heading now.

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