Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March. 5. 2008


The members of Team 63 are somewhat more subdued at guest house meals as our time together in this adventure nears the end. I, for one, don’t like to think about it. We have shared so much, gone the extra mile to get each other through a service program not for the faint-hearted.

My colleague at the Grace School who teaches the Kindergarten told me during our morning break that she was sad Friday was my last day and that she will miss me. She added that I had had an effect on the children which made my time of special significance. I know Friday will be tearful as I hear the last “ma’am’s but I’ll just “soldier on” until the end. I was also heartened by the chorus of “Old MacDonald” I heard from the little ones heading for lunch.

Larry polished up his lesson on American slang for the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. He felt that it went well in the afternoon and immediately followed it up with the now imfamous rope trick we can do in our sleep. He felt he had dazzled their young eyes. The cudos from Sister Imelda on the themes his older students had written on the United States based on his geography lessons was truly the icing on the cake for him.

Peter could report that the renovations on the Study Hall at SEAMS are going well. He and Team 64 members, some local workers, and the older boys applied the first coat of pink to the exterior and brightened the shutters. The boys were a complication he could have done without.

Rae was dragging from the heat when she arrived for lunch after a morning as the disc jockey and karaoke star for the vegetable and nursery rhymes. She said that the speakers had enabled all the kids to join in and that the kindergardeners
sang like the Vienna Choir Boys moving her close to tears. She and I have zeroed in on a new strategy for classroom management thanks to Sheeba. We will employ the Tamil words for “listen” and “sit down” with a loud bang on the desk for good measure. We’re hoping for a stunned response.

Anne’s week improved as all the littlest kids were clothed and no one vomited on her today. She cheerfully reported that all the children participated in “Simon Says” as Viking Jeff led them with his booming voice. If you see her with a bull horn tomorrow, you’ll know why.

At SEAMS it was the tug-o-war challenge nite. The score was 2 – 1 for the SEAMS kids verses the adults 0 – 1 older boys verses the adults and 0 – 1 older boys verses the younger kids who whooped with delight.

We made a hasty change back at the guest house for our weekend visit with Jothi and Chinnappan for a supurb home-cooked meal with Team 64 joining us. Stephen’s parents are such gracious hosts and we have been fortunate to have had this aspect of our GV experience. After dinner, Stephen turned on his favorite TV show to share with us. It is the nightly saga "Sandlewood Forest" based on a true story and India’s answer to “The Fugitive.” According to Peter’s book, Being Indian by Pavan K. Varma, the ‘hero’ Veerappan was a “forest brigand”, ivory poacher, smuggler, murderer, kidnapper, and bomber.
On tonight’s episode, however, he was portrayed as a likeable folk hero, a Robin Hood who gave generously to the less fortunate and always had a large following of local women and children. He stroked his mutton chops for good luck more like a diety than a villain. Yet in real life, during his 36 years on the run, Veerappan killed numerous police officers, gunned down rivals, mutilated their bodies, kidnapped civilians, bombed police stations and buses, and beheaded forest officials. Yet much of the uproar over this mayhem was due to the ineptitude of the police to stop it. Corruption in politics, fear of the forest, lack of coordination, out of shape lawmen all made a mockery of his attempted apprehension.

But it is in sharing this aspect of Indian popular culture that has contributed to our feeling of intimate personal involvement with our host community which will stay in our hearts as we return home.

Not doing more than the average is what keeps the average down.

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