Thursday, June 18, 2009
An Emotional Rollercoaster
June 18th, 2009- Thus
It wasn’t until today that we realized what we got ourselves into. For me, these 24 hours have been an emotional rollercoaster that I often don’t really experience. For me, it was because of a cumulative set of things going on in my life at simultaneously that were catching up. From Zohar, I sensed a similar vibe.
Sriya couldn’t come today as she wasn’t feeling too good and Ria had decided to drop out of the program since she had to start her internship on the coming Monday. Things felt completely shaken up and for some reason Zohar and I were not in our normal high-energy-exuding-positivity mode. Today was the first day that Manjul came with us to meet the children. We introduced him to Ganagadhar first and then walked over to the classroom. This was the first time that we had reached early, before the class started and before the children were there. So we entered into an empty classroom- I freaked out at first but slowly the children started to fill up the room. Once we had around 20, Manjul took charge and started singing songs with them. For the first time, I got to experience being the quite observer and I took advantage of that opportunity.
It still amazes me how much these children value the simple pleasures of life! Who would think a chicken song would be as exciting!? All this time that Manjul played with them, I watched, analyzed and stood perplexed. I started to film, wanted to capture every moment. Manjul was careful to not stand out as the only ‘teacher’. He still wanted to keep us in charge, so we alternated activities with him. All of a sudden I lost my spontaneity and didn’t know what to do. Zohar and I looked at each other with a familiar sense of loss. It look me a second to shake myself up from an observer to an active participant. Although Zohar and I had planned the day like we do everyday, the energy levels were too high for us to follow through with our plan. So we had to improvise as usual, only problem being, both of us felt completely ‘out of it’.
So when in doubt, my strategy has always been if you can’t lead, allow to be led and see where that takes you. So that’s what we did. The children taught us how to play ‘Kabadi’- a game that requires 2 teams. Zohar was in one and I was in the other. Other than this being a team building activity and creating a higher level of infirmity, it was really nice as the children got more vocal and took charge. We observed the leaders amongst the kids and eyed them for the rest of the day.
As expected and planned, Manjul took the children out on the street so that they could get a feeling of what it was like to be confident and noticed on the street. He got them lined up against the wall (in the corner) of the street, got them clapping in unison and got them to simultaneously make a large circle in the middle of the street. It was there that they started to sing their song “Hum Bache..kehna chahe apni baat..suno suno..suno suno”..(We Children..want to speak our thoughts..LISTEN LISTEN..) Just the first to words have extreme power in them- empowering themselves as children. After a few rounds of singing this song, about 20-30 people/ passers by gathered around to watch the commotion. They stood and watched expectedly. It was an amazing preview to what would be a week from now..
We went back to the room- Manjul gave the children back to us. Again, in high energy, didn’t know what to do. By then, Zohar had a break down. Understandably, she didn’t want the children to see her so she preferred not to be a part of the next activity. I really wanted to be there for her. All this time, I felt like I had lost my sense of positivity and calm and that there was too much happening around me..but for Zohar- I can’t even imagine. This is definitely not a project for the weak hearted, but Zohar has outdone herself so far, and I couldn’t have asked for better team members than her and Sriya. It would have really been nice to have Ria or Sriya at that moment because I never had felt so alone in this project. Having had no theatre experience and having had seen a very limited number of plays in my life didn’t really help. Again- shook it up and took charge while Manjul guided. Within a few seconds, rebuilt my energy and got excited again.
We decided to start playing the ‘acting out a scene from the streets of the slums’ game. I picked up on the mini-leaders and asked them to build different objects. One became a house, the other a water pump, a boy taking a bath at the water pump while the other filling water at the same pump. We also had a goat and a random kid going to school. At first, it all felt chaotic and I felt like I lost control- when Manjul jumped in subtly helped out. Then, we redid another scene that was followed through with much more control. I was proud of our little street scene- I think we did a good job :D
We closed the day as we usually do- with some sort of reflection and then meditation. Seeing the confidence of these children rise was amazing. I felt a sense of pride in them embracing their project, slowly building faith in our presence and giving our purpose more seriousness. Later, in the car, Manjul mentioned the meaning for the children to feel noticed and of value by the exercise on the street. I agree, but again, I feel the beauty in the simplicity of thinking of children. They just follow without really thinking. These children probably didn’t really notice what was happening. It’s the community that probably felt the presence of the children more than vice versa. However, I hope that when they go home they think about this. We won’t be going to Parivartan tomorrow or on Saturday as we will be going through an intense training from Manjul of our own.