CHILDREN, little millennium, marathon, Olympics, school, Surat, Uncategorized

THEY RARELY MAKE HEROES LIKE HER ANY MORE !

img-20190120-wa0224It would definitely not be a hyperbole to state that the Indian Track & Athletic  Queen, PT Usha, belongs to the limited edition series !

A wonderful opportunity enabled me to interact with the Payyoli Express at the Little Millennium Kids Marathon at Surat. She was the Chief Guest at the event , aimed at motivating parents to nurture physically agile and alert children (along with cognitively alert) . The city was excited at the news of her arrival, the parents of young kids even more so !

Tall and athletic , she carries herself with the grace of a seasoned athlete.  Her face bears attractive lines of a well experienced International athlete . She is a much travelled lady and she understands  people and cultures rather well. She wears her celebrated feats  with such a charming ease that it comes as a pleasant surprise to all who meet her. You would expect a winner of 103  International and 800+  National medals, the winner of Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri ,  to carry such weight heavily on her shoulders . But not PT Usha. She carries her accolades , her achievements, her talent , her perseverance with an angelic simplicity and charm.

She carries her own bags. She travels without a fancy entourage.  She moves around unfettered without a posse of sychophants.  She happily stops and poses for selfies. She shakes hands with people who way lay her at the airport , the shopping mall or the kerbside. And always with a smile . There are many who walk up to her with a questioning brow (while raking their Olympic memory) and ask, “What is your name ?”. She smiles and says, ” PT Usha”.

She doesn’t stand in a special queue at the airport check-in and nor does she expect any preferential treatment. You may keep throwing endless questions at her and in the middle of it, if you chirp in,”Are you getting late ma’m ?” . All she says is “No Problem. Please carry on”.

And she is like the girl next door when she quietly quips in nonchalantly , “Can we manage to go shopping  ?”.  Hallejullah , she’s a true blue female like us 🙂

She talks about her first International exposure  as a 16 year old to the 1980 Olympics , when many of us saw her on our ‘black and white ‘ television. She travelled without her coach , saw a synthetic track for the first time and was in awe of the burly athletes competing with her. Yet , she made her mark.

She talks of travelling to Pakistan for a tournament  on an unreserved seat in a train and how it was absolutely normal for athletes in those times. They did not concentrate on the frills , they concentrated on the performance !

If I could do it then………..your children can do it ten times over , now “, was her address to the parents .

Parents thronged her to seek her blessings (and selfies). Some made their children touch her feet to draw upon her magnetic strength, someone brought their 3 year old straight from the hospital and still on a drip , while another brought a 2 month old baby – just to seek her ‘touch’.

Long hours of travel , delayed flights , hours of waiting make most people restless and short -fused. But not our lady. She  has a short power nap, stretches a bit and smiles and turns around and asks, “What’s next ?”

One of the biggest lessons that this International athlete taught to many of us was ” Good things do come in simple and honest  packages as well !”

To the children at the marathon , she was a perfect Real Hero . A real hero to emulate. To learn from & follow.

Cinderella and Red Riding Hood have been a part of their bed time stories.
PT Usha is their ‘hero at dawn”. If she could do it , so can they .

For the world, she is the “Golden Girl of Indian Athletics”

For us , she is the “Girl with a Golden heart and purposeful stride

PT Usha, you left behind a trail of fans at the Little Millennium Surat Kids Marathon …..

 

CHILDREN, school, teacher, Uncategorized

ALTRUISM AT ITS BEST

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The dictionary states the meaning of ‘altruism‘ as unselfish regard or devotion to the welfare of others .

If that be so , there can be no better champion of altruism than a teacher .

A teacher is ‘born’ for the sake of children.

Its very difficult to pinpoint the moment when her / his altruistic journey begins.

There is no course or syllabus that can totally equip the teacher  with the much needed  ‘ child facing techniques’. There are hundreds of theories that she/he rote learns but none prepares them for dealing with the most spontaneous , pure and intelligent of the species – the child.

All theories fly out of the window when the teacher is left alone in a class full of expectant and dynamic energies.

There is no single glove that fits all hands , there is no single trick that works the magic.

Gauging , innocent , mysterious eyes watch every single move of the teacher (no mother in law in any Hindi serial can beat this 🙂 )

She is ‘one’ and the class is ‘ many’. And the teacher is devoted to all.

The teacher  does not give up.

Emotions are at the heart of what teachers do and why they do it. Educators take up  teaching with dreams of changing the odds for disadvantaged children, inspiring a love for learning or developing critical thinkers.

Maths and Language are taught through books  but there are no periods  for teaching ‘thank you ‘ ‘please’ and ‘ May I ?’.

Those are not a part of the teacher’s  penned down role and responsibilities , but it’s a given.

Teaching is an emotional practise but no teacher training college has a curriculum that helps them build these competencies.

The teacher takes it up very very bravely and goes ‘beyond the curriculum’.

She still does not give up.

A teacher is required to be omnipresent . The Prime Minister of a nation can manage to take a trip overseas but the teacher finds it impossible to leave the class even for a minute . Tired muscles and aching feet – a smiling child is all they need !

The school bell rings but it doesn’t cut off the teacher’s umblical cord. She carries the children in her heart and mind (and these days the phone 🙂 as well )

Her family is the audience to a hundred tales of  children in  her class. Their antics , their concerns , their behaviour is passed around more than the casserole at the dining table . Her students squeeze into her ‘family time ‘ so very neatly.

There are so many rules in the school almanac that talk about how to deal with children.

But there is no rule  in the Parent Handbook that talks about ‘How to treat your child’s teacher?’.

She faces parental disappointments , their anxieties and fears like a champ.

She still doesn’t give up

Literacy is a given goal but she takes great effort in cultivating emotional literacy as well. She diligently makes progress notes, tracks family history and studies children’s behaviour in the playfield, library and all arenas out of the classroom as well. Does she need to do that ?

I guess not but still does so , for some strange reason.

There are many  who dare to mock and call her ‘just a teacher . The pay cheque at the end of the month never spirals her  to the HNI segment , nor entitles her to enjoy  a bank’s wealth management services.

She still does not give up.

Children graduate to the next class and eventually storm the world and make their own niche place. Some come back with an occasional thank you note and some do not. She knows that years later , she may just be reduced to a middle spot in the class photograph .

She still does not give up.

Rules and policies change more often than the text books  and many a times they clam and choke her.

She still does not give up. She is doggedly loyal to her children.

All she remembers is that those 20 or 30 or 40 cherubic faces in her class are dependent on her . And that gives her a motive.

No pay slip , no promotion and no appointment letter drives her. What drives her is that she feels ‘good about doing good ‘. She gets a helpers high . It is the children who energise her.

She neglects her health and willingly sacrifices her ‘me time ‘ for her class children.

She dares to nurture those ‘not borne from her womb’

Can there be a better example of altruism ?

On this Children’ s Day , let us salute these altruism unsung heroes and send out a cheer for them.