Tuesday, June 23, 2009
June 23rd, 2009- Tuesday
It FINALLY rained today! Although there were some obvious downsides we were dreading of while planning this summer program, it made me really happy. Like yesterday, we left early this morning to brief up before going to Wadala at Sriya’s house. Although we had a long conversation last night, there were some things that needed to be finalized- like the actual games, back up plans. Believe it or not it became increasingly important and challenging for every minute to be planned. The biggest challenge (amongst the many that we face on a minute- by –minute basis) was the script. We knew that it was to come from them, but given the fact that they don’t write and have limitations on what to express, we felt almost stuck. We had to be innovative with our ways. We decided to work on different aspects of the children apart from creating a script. We focused on building more confidence of the children, opening up their minds to more creativity, and finally probing them to think of the concept of “change”. We made a quick plan and got on the road soon enough however, stood victims to one major downside of rains in Mumbai- traffic.
As soon as we reached we walked in the muck (the second major downside of rain) over to Gangadhar’s office.. little did I know that I was picking up a whole lot of muck on the back of my salwar ..courtesy, my not-so-muck-friendly flip flops. Gangadhar’s office didn’t have any electricity so he was standing outside where we decided to stand and talk. We went over the alternatives to our “exposure” plan and settled on showing the kids a video of a performance or something of the sort. We also quickly went over the plans that we have for the kids and informed him of our future plans with this project. He said that he was reading the blogs (as I suggested yesterday).. I’m really happy to hear that since it might help to understand our intentions and work process as well as keep with the value of transparency.
After that, while Sriya and Zohar were talking to Gangadhar I peeked over to the little theatre next to Gangadhar’s office I’ve always been curious about. On Thursday Manjul had looked in and mentioned that the theatre was “quite impressive”.. and that only increase my level of curiosity. The first time I intended to look in, there was a large group of men standing outside- so I decided to check when the crowd was less. So this time, there were only a few men standing around- three at the ticket table. I looked over and a man (..eyes lined with kohl pencil) gave me a peculiar look. I took this opportunity to ask him if I could go in and see the theatre. He said I wasn’t allowed because I’m a woman. I was visibly quite taken aback by that statement so he replied by explaining that if women came to the theatre, they would have to be accompanied by men. So they’ve restricted it to men only. On asking, he told me that the only theatre that allows women and men was IMAX, which isn’t necessarily accessible to most of these women. When I asked Gayatri teacher her opinion later, she mentioned matter-of-factly that women wouldn’t be there because men would smoke and so on in the theatre. Besides women can watch the movies at home, its not like they have a restriction there. Anyhow, I convinced the guy to let me take a quick look. He did and I was surprised by how big it was! They sat on the ground and had fans that brought it to a comfortable room temperature. They play mostly old movies, but they have a minimal charge of 5Rs per ticket. I noticed Sriya getting slightly uncomfortable with my interaction, so we quickly left for the classroom.
We got there and decided to let the children study till 2:30pm. We started with recapping on their learning since we arrived at Parivartan. In addition to theatre and games some of them mentioned that they learned to keep up their confidence and hope from us. I was extremely glad to hear that- because that’s exactly what we were there to do! We started off asking them if they knew what the word “Parivartan” meant- i.e. change.. did they believe they could bring it? How were they planning on doing the same? We made them repeat the song that Manjul taught them on Thus- “Hum bache, kehna chahe apni baat” and “hum bache, hum badlav laynge” –we children will bring change!! Again, we went over the intentions of the play and the importance of creating a script. We then opened up the floor for anyone to volunteer and act out what they learned/ or imitate any of the teachers. There are several things that came to mind from this activity- one being that they seem to have a high level of respect (especially for Gayatri teacher) so they wouldn’t really act it out. The other thing that they acted out about their learning was just the same household scene of one girl washing dishes, cooking, cleaning the floor, etc. Again, showing the limited vision. We gave them a 10 minute break until we got them to the next activity of painting.
We split up the groups into the same groups as yesterday- older, middle aged and youngest- each with their respective topics of gender discrimination, education and cleanliness respectively. We had bought paint, 3 chart papers and a bunch of brushes. We asked them to paint whatever came to their minds w.r.t. these topics. There was a good amount of guidance needed, however, they were quite creative with their thoughts and techniques. They were also forced, yet again, to work on teams together without yelling and hitting each other. We put up the charts on the walls along with their previous drawings. After that we played another game suggested by Zohar which I completely loved.
Keeping these groups, Zohar gave each team one random object from the class and each team had to envision different objects it could look like/ become. Whoever has the most, would win. This time the kids were smart to ask of what the prize would be. I just said that same thing that one of the kids told me- “..if you win, you’ll be the king of the day!” They gladly bought it. :D The imagination levels were amazing. In my experience with my team, I noticed a significant difference in the level of cooperation within the group. Each got a chance to speak and each directed each other when they had a chance. However, I was getting a little worried about the leaders since their role now seemed of diminishing importance. There’s always been that struggle of overpowering versus empowering..I’m still working on this front.
We then finally played a game they wanted to play. Since by then it was already 5pm, we asked only those who wanted to stay to stay to write the script. We started of with about 7/8 children between Sriya and me. While we scribbled down our notes, we tried to ask them standard questions from a given day at their houses. We went through every minute detail for a general consensus. However, slowly the number of students decreased to 2 boys. One of them around 8/9 while the other would be mid-teens. The older boy was not only more careful of what he was revealing, but also had a relatively supportivet experience with his family. The other boy slowly opened up to us, and shared with us the issues in their house. He spoke with no expression as if it was something normal- something that was to be accepted and doesn’t really matter. He voluntarily continued to tell us stories and some horrifying facts about the family dynamics. We realize that although there are a lot of families that might not have the same experience, there are many others that do. We asked the boys to give us lines for a message that they would like to give society that they wouldn’t be able to say in person. Given these ideas, we decided to go work on a skeleton, a story with some lines and have the children fill in the lines with their own dialogues while we note them down.
Due to a prior commitment of mine and the fact that the traffic took up an hour more of our time, we couldn’t meet after coming home from Wadala as usual. We called Manjul to give him some updates and ask for some more guidance on the next steps. Although the conversations with him never lead to a concrete answer, he entertains all our doubts and works through experience.
Tomrw morning Sriya, Zohar and I will be meeting early to actually, finally, get down to the script.