Thursday, April 12, 2012

Of crying babies, teaching and Mumbai

1. So all the women I love and love talking to for hours on the phone are now busy taking care of small, wailing, peeing, pooping creatures and have no time to spend talking to me. So my sister (and hence my mother) and my best friend have been so busy taking care of little babies that they don't remember the last time they were devoid of baby vomit, baby poop and smelt like a woman. My sister went as far as giving birth to not one but TWO babies and the house is completely and constantly chaotic with constant baby squeals and gazillion diapers and thousands of bottles of formula and cute little baby clothes hanging on the clothes line. I miss not being at home in Jamnagar where the worlds best niece and nephew are growing up too fast for me to catch up and watching them grow on skype doesnt really cut it. And Milinta, my best friend, thankfully gave birth to only one but one super hyperactive boy who can sit still for exactly 4 seconds before indulging in some activity. In her own words, "Revs, he can crawl faster than me. I can't catch up with him anymore. Phew". Oh well. The day I have kids I will directly have 6 year olds and send them away to school.

2. So till about a couple of months back (before the baby boom hit our family) the mater and pater were getting really worried and had come to the conclusion that I will remain a spinster for the rest of my life and possibly run away to Africa and start teaching young kids in Sudan or something. From coercion to pleading me to get married my parents were quite at their wits end. It also doesn't help that I work as a teacher (earning a pittance) in one of the worst slums of Mumbai (home to Chota Shakeel) and teach slum kids for a living. Most "prospective" alliances are rejected because I am not qualified enough or because I am a teacher or I don't earn enough or because I work for an NGO or the BEST - "if she works in a slum won't she contract some serious disease? Sorry. We don't want our son to get some terrible disease" HAHAHAHHAHAHAH! I think I laughed for three days continuously when I heard that!
Oh well. You need all kinds of people to make the world.

3. Which brings me to my third rant of the day. I think it is very sad that parents want excellent teachers for their kids but they do NOT want their children to aspire to be excellent teachers. You can be an excellent doctor, engineer, pilot but God forbid if you became a teacher then your career and your life are fucked for eternity. Surprisingly though, in the slum I teach in, I am the MOST respected person. I get special seats in the auto, rowdies won't eve tease me, parents will wear their best clothes when they come to meet me because I am a "teacher". A well educated person who knows it all. But in the so called "upper and middle class" I am looked down upon so violently it is shocking. "A teacher," say most people with a sneer. Why? they want to know. As if I decided to sell my kidneys or indluge in slave trade to earn some money for myself. BUT they will be the first people to complain or take up arms if their child's teacher doesn't teach properly. Very sad state of affairs for a country if teachers aren't respected or paid well enough.

4.So come June, I shall shift BACK to Chennai from Mumbai. I remember when I had to leave Chennai last year to come to Mumbai, I cried buckets and was extremely apprehensive about moving to a new city and that too to Mumbai, a purportedly hostile and tiring city. But now that I have to leave Mumbai to go finish my fellowship and teach in Chennai for an year, I feel hollow from within. I have come to love Mumbai and i LOVE the life this city exudes. This is possibly the only city which matches my pace and is as fast as I would like a city to be. I have had the most amazing time living in Mumbai, traveling in the city, teaching and interacting with the people in this city. Much as I like Chennai, I think the city is light years behind Mumbai in every sense. I don't want to romanticise Mumbai because no doubt it IS a difficult city and is a city of extremes with stark differences and contrasts in the living conditions of people of various incomes. But the city has been kind to me and for that I will be forever indebted.

5. So the other day I was feeling really senti about leaving my kids in Mumbai and going to Chennai and I put up pictures of me with all my kids in Facebook, with a short note about each child. So I had put up a picture of me with the Math whiz kid in my class who can multiply faster in his head than I can do on paper. AND my favorite Math teacher comments on that and says the following. (Click image). This happened a week back but I am still floating on cloud nine. My rather flawed, fail and tumultuous life has come a full circle. :)