Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1181 : Under my delicate skin … a shrivel and a shiver !!


As part of my organization’s corporate social responsibility, I had been today out to the “Acts of Hope School” in Bangalore, run by some Christian Missionaries.

The school is a decrepit school run for the children who come from broken or poor families. Our job was to try and share some computer knowledge with the students.

I went into this with very little expectation, possibly titling heavily on the cynical side. My point (usually) is, how  much (good) can you do in a day….save some glossy lip service.


I still sort of think that point remains, but I do believe such an experience can be quite eye-opening - literally from a personal stand point – it can hold a mirror to your own blind imagination.

Some of my key observations/thoughts ( fairly random. There is no point searching for structure in these points :-) )

1. Not all conversion is bad. A lot of the children were Tamil. Most of them were converts to Christianity. They genuinely seemed to believe that Jesus has saved them (and will continue to save them)….such a simple belief was refreshing. These kids were converted to Hope !!


2. Goodness comes in small sizes. These children, most of them, wanted to grow up and becomes doctors (to do “free” operations), army men (to protect the country), policemen (to fight evil), Their faith in goodness was charming to the point of making me feel totally “ashamed” of my cynicism.


3. Poverty runs deep and sinister. They all loved my Casio digital watch. They asked me “how much”….I lied, I said 1000 (it actually costs 5000) and they could not believe that I could afford to spend 1000 over a watch. I asked them how much should I have spent – they sheepishly told me 100-200.


4. Opportunity is everything. A kid there was just as intelligent as my son, or my niece, or my nephew, or any of the 1000 conformist (conveyer belt) kids I meet in my everyday life…..and yet, the chance that they shall ever make it to driving a Beemer (if that is any idiotic measure of having arrived in life) or Chief of Armed forces ( a more real measure) or the CEO of GE (a more more real measure)…..the chances of these are almost next to nil. They lack opportunity, guidance and perspective. Life, Success, Fame, Glamor – all of these are souped up out of their lifemix, completely f***ked up functions of chance.


( VinodRaj MohanRaj, KarthikSurya Kumar, Diwakar)

5. Reality is a  version of what we like to believe. Children told me matter of factly that when they need to be punished – they are either made to kneel or stand with their hand up for hours, or their principal clasps his knuckles and hammers their lower back (that should hurt) or simply he uses his nails to de-scalp their fingers(ouch!!). Their fingers were full of scars. (contrast this to the news of the kid committing suicide due to caning!!)


6. I live on Mars. Seriously, I could live there and it would seem just as sane….I am just as disconnected from these kids and their reality as I would be if I were from another planet.

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7. Every experience is a gift. These children sat in sweltering heat in the verandah of the school and ate a simple whole meal – as if it was manna from heaven. They smiled, laughed and kissed.

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8. They made me realize I was essential to the world.  I have never felt so wanted in my life. Little kids chasing me up asking “uncle – will you please eat with us”, “uncle – will you be here till 2pm” ( a “yes” from me, met with the broadest grin I have ever seen in recent times), “uncle – please sit next to me during the class”… child has ever told me in so many ways that I am so essential to their happiness.

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9. Get a perspective. Life is so much more than the next fancy SLR camera (which I just bought) or the SUV you always wanted.


10. Happiness is being. Just being.


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Anonymous said...

Very nice Amitabh. But you know these feelings are eye openers just for that day or maybe week. I too have felt such emotions but almost everytime I get back and busy in my "earth" life. It is not easy to bring a lasting change.
I like your blog!

Prashant said...

The post is original, but the photos are phenominal. Who took most of them ;)

Anup said...

So darn true!

We have a CSR team and am part of it, with your permission, am taking this blog post of yours and pics (amazing pics..who took them...really)and posting it in our intranet

Viji said...

There are so many things I want to say after reading/seeing this post - too many actually to fit into this comment box so will wait till we talk but yes I haven't visited your blog in days and today I do and I randomly(?)find the ABC of Happiness poster - hmmm been asked to talk to a group of young adults in Igatpuri on Happiness and i am going to use this for sure - also one more thing ; the magnitude of one man's sorrow does not diminish the woes of another however inconsequential they may seem ...if your SLR camera gives you joy it is essential to your happiness and the happiness you spread in the world through the pictures you take with it ! Go ahead and shoot child !!! Love You

Amitabh said...

Anup - Please use this wherever you want long as it helps the world be a better place....for that all copyrights are off :-)