It has been 2 months since I moved to Pune. Moved into a nice apartment with two friends from college. Surrounded by the hills and plush greenery all around, Baner is a nice and peaceful neighborhood. The routine is set for weekdays. Saroj, our cook, comes makes breakfast and lunch.
During the weekend, I've got more time in the mornings. One Sunday morning I asked about Saroj and his background. He told me about his wife and 3 sons. My first question, "Are they in school?" Don't judge me here but most of the labour class folks don't want to send their kids to school. They would rather have a helping hand at home for errands and other sundries. He told me that on the contrary, the scene has changed. The kids are being sent to schools and education is the top priority for the families of these kids.
His sons are in Std 4, 5 and 6. I wanted to know more about these kids. So I plonk myself on the kitchen slab with a beer in hand while he is making some lip-smacking Chinese food ( If you are in Pune, you must come home to taste Saroj's cooking). During our conversation, I realized he has painted a colourful future for his sons. He wants them to study, get good grades and good jobs. I believe every father wants his kids to do better than him. Starting at 6 AM, he cooks at 5 different house twice a day 6 days through the week. By the time Saroj heads home, it is well past 10 PM. He told me that his only mission in life is for his kids to do well and was amazed at how we spoke such fluent English. As he was leaving, Saroj confides to me that he wanted his sons to speak fluent English. His words touched a chord. I told him to send his sons to our house every Sunday morning.The kids started coming home. Perhaps, the cricket lover in Saroj was alive when he named his sons Sachin and Rahul.
The first couple of Sunday's were tough when the kids came home. On both occasions, I was supremely hungover. I told them to sit on the Dewaan and start reading loudly while I rushed to take a cold water shower. Now the challenge - How to teach these kids? While my grammar is in place, I'm not supremely confident in what my Prepositions, Past Participles are...
I've gauged the kids to be real smart and fast learners and realized that familiarity with a topic is always a good way to get started. So Cricket was our topic of discussion. The stress was on speaking only in English. Initially, they had their inhibitions. I encouraged them to talk about cricket, their favorite format ( No prizes for guessing... T20 ) , the brutal power of Chris Gayle and why Dale Steyn is a world class fast bowler.
Been 2 months now. Their fluency is improving and confidence is slowly growing. Teaching them has helped me become a patient listener.
Hats off to Teach For India. They have permeated through to Rahul and Sachin's school and the government schools in the cities of Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Madras and a few more. With youthful teachers under their wings who love teaching and aids including laptops and placards, India will soon see the change we've all been waiting.