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Walk-Its the same road. September 9, 2007

Posted by K in Diary, Life.

This post should have come up earlier, but owing to my insufferable laziness (more on that later…maybe), I left it till today.

DU demands that you do one of three compulsaries-NSO(sports), NSS(social work) or NCC(walk around in police uniforms) while you get B.A’d. Early on, I discovered the system was hollow- ours was one of the few colleges that actually enforced the diktat. My friends from other colleges would look at me like I’m from some other planet when I would ask them how they intended to finish their hours. Moreover, if the idea was to inculcate the love of sports or embed a sense of society in the undergrads, then they failed miserably-atleast in the case of the majority.

I had picked sports in my first year, and enthusiastically played more than the required one hour. The first year timetable was very easy(ah, the good ol’ days) and I never played for less than one and a half hours, and very often, would stretch it to two hours. When I inquired if the extra hours could be added to my daily quota (after all, I was coming a fair distance criminally early in the morning) I was told no. No matter how long you play, you can only put down one hour against your name. Thats when it hit me that this was all about mechanical rules-not the love of sports.

In my final year, I switched to NSS; not because I was struggling for hours, but because I felt I was now ready to interact with people (it was my fear of teaching and teaching little kids that had kept me away from opting for it in the second year, post-NSO disillusionment) . I was attached to a project which required me to do admin work (phew! 🙂 ) and last saturday was my first day of work.

My project is located in a clum cluster close to home, and when I met the project coordinator from that particular NGO, the first thing she asked me was whether I’d ever been in a slum. She said she’d let me discover what it was like on my own.

She took me to two of their centres within the slum, and it was a new experience for me because I had never been in one. Village,yes, not slum; and as she pointed out, the two were quite different.

One thing that hit me was how…not different…it was. It is a very big slum cluster, and all the little huts had an address painted on them. Children were doing children things, and the coordinator seemed much at home. Two pre-nursery teachers were engaged in painting one of the rooms. One kid was beating up another kid-a mock fight, apparently, with the beater and ‘beatee’ forgetting the ‘mock’ part of it. More kids were playing, what else, cricket, with improvised bats and balls.

She walked me around the area, and I saw the narrow but clean lanes, the cramped quarters that housed families, and more narrow lanes. I felt I was in Calcutta. I don’t know what I sub-consciously expected- an aura of sadness and anger? A pervasive sense of hopelessness? I was there for a mere two hours, but in that time I felt neither. Ofcourse the time was too short, but maybe I need to rearrange my sub-conscious(and patooee to those who say one can’t).

I’m looking forward to my next visit, when I shall paint some walls and do up some boards. Maybe one day I will teach.



1. anonymouse - September 10, 2007

Is this merely a poor quarter, or a slum?

Perhaps you need to work in Mumbai’s slums instead. *RUNS*.

Oh, and you have a typo.

2. sporadicblogger - September 11, 2007

A slum. And yes, Mumbai’s slums would be worse,I’m guessing…space being such a problem.

And yes,typo…shall correct that someday 🙂

3. KnotKeats - September 11, 2007

Who’da thunk it. You have higher-class slums in India than we have in the United States. Another stereotype shot to hell. Damn this Internet! How am I going to maintain my mindless biases in the face of truth!

On the other hand, I had a friend in Salt lake City many years ago who told me she was losing her house because her entire neighborhood had been declared a slum. It wasn’t much different from the neighborhood where I grew up, but some developers wanted to expand a shopping area, so the city obliged by condemning the neighborhood as a slum, so they could take the land and sell it to the developers.

At least your slum is an honest slum:)

4. sporadicblogger - September 12, 2007

KnotKeats- Did I paint too bright a picture of the slum? 🙂 But yes, the slum is authorised. The one behind my colony is not, though.

What kind of slums do you have in the US?

5. KnotKeats - September 13, 2007

I don’t know what kind of slums we have, it’s been so many years since I’ve been in one. There are none near where I live. You’d have to go south a couple of hundred kilometers to Las Vegas to find a slum, I think.

30+ years ago the inner cities across the US were run-down and there were slums everywhere. Then corporations decided to come in from the suburbs, and the cities were taken back, rebuilt, old buildings were gutted and turned into condos. I don’t know where the poor people went.

The homeless have a kind of quiet war being waged on them. Nobody wants to see them. They camp out down by the river near here. As long as they are invisible in daylight, they aren’t harassed too much.

But I don’t know what happened to the slums. I haven’t lived in a big city for too many years. I know they are there, I just have no personal experience with them since I was in college, 30+ years ago.

6. keshav - October 1, 2007

our college lets us do AIESEC work instead of NSS, NCC and the rest of the shitty shit.

7. sporadicblogger - October 1, 2007

keshav- What?!? But but but…AIESEC is a blatantly corporate organisation that seeks to generate corporate brats!!
NSS isn’t shitty shit…its good fun 🙂

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