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Tag Archives: education

From Fear of Writing to Becoming a Struggling Writer

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The title of this post may seem to indicate that hardly any progress has been made since I took the writing challenge eleven months ago. But if one reads it closely, some progress has happened in the sense that I have started calling myself a writer. A struggling writer would present a true picture of my current situation.

Around 11 months ago, I took up a writing challenge to deal with my fear of writing. Inspired by watching Brandon Sanderson’s video, I challenged myself to write 500 words daily. At that time, I had recognised my fear of writing, which was now affecting my everyday ‘compulsory’ writing activities. This challenge forced me to write 500 words everyday. Initially, I used to take more than an hour to complete the target. I would get stuck somewhere and wouldn’t know how to proceed. Gradually, it became easier.

Around two months later, I began to engage with my writing process and started reflecting on what I write and how I write it. I also realised that my fear is caused by the lack of control I have on myself and my writing. There are times when I write a lot and then there are times when I go blank. This helped me see this challenge as an exercise in disciplining my mind to write everyday. However, I am in the process of disciplining my mind to write everyday at a particular time. I also started attentively reading my writing. This writing also became therapeutic for me at the time I was going through a stressful work situation.

I reached my next milestone when I stumbled upon The Paris Review Interviews. These interviews inspired me to look at writing as a craft. Most of these authors described writing as a ‘physical’ craft. Their sense of ownership of their writing and their pride inspired me to write or to craft a piece of my own. Their writing habits motivated me to discipline my mind and body to write everyday. But most importantly, it helped me see writing as a never-ending re-writing exercise. The writer tirelessly re-writes his/her story even after it is published.

Now I am learning to hone my skills of writing and re-writing. It is tiresome for me. I struggle to look for the appropriate words. I struggle with the same sentence for days. I para-phrase it to express myself in the most accessible way. In this way, I am gradually understanding what writers mean when they say that they write to know themselves. It is a struggle and a never ending one, and I am elated that finally my struggle has begun.

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The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

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I just finished reading Deborah Ellis’s novel ‘The Breadwinner’. It was first published in 2000. The novel is a heart-warming story of an eleven year old girl, Parvana, living in Kabul, Afghanistan. The sensitive and careful portrayal of Parvana’s life and her struggle for survival is an eye-opening experience for readers who are not acquainted with such a difficult reality.

The novel has fifteen chapters in all and the author ends it with the beginning of Parvana’s journey along with her father in search of her mother and siblings. The novel has few characters and an uncomplicated plot. It vividly describes Afghan culture and Parvana’s life. It is an apt for reading for children between the age-group of 11-14 years.

Discussing Reconstruction in Philosophy by John Dewey

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We are initiating a discussion on John Dewey’s book Reconstruction in Philosophy’ from 26th May. We invite you all to read this book with us and contribute in our discussions by sharing your thoughts and reflections by posting comments on the subsequent posts based on the discussion on the book.

Looking forward for your participation.

Favour: A Malignant Tumour

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‘Favour’ seems to be a very innocent and positive term. But in practice it is a malignant tumour, which is hard to diagnose and when discovered it is too late for treatment. It multiplies uncontrollably. It dominates other cells by suffocating them and then it kills them or converts them. Gradually, it kills the patient.
Let me deconstruct this term for you. Dictionary meaning of the term ‘favour’ is ‘an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual’. By asking for favour a person becomes vulnerable in front of the person giving favour. She is then obligated to return the favour. One must note that in the definition itself, favour is described as an act of kindness that is beyond what is due or usual. Why would anybody help you beyond what you deserve? But before answering that question, let us just take a moment to think that if this person who is asking for favour does not deserve it then, is he taking something away from a person who deserves it? What becomes of the person who deserves it but does not get it because somebody else received it as a favour?
I have grown up hearing ‘there is no such thing as free lunch’. So, obviously now this person who has been favoured will have to return the favour. In the doing so, another person who deserves something will be deprived to accommodate this person. This goes on and on. If an institution has one such person who has this habit, he or she will bring another and attract a few others. The circle becomes bigger and bigger with each favour. Soon the institution has a number of people who have been favoured, in other words, who do not deserve this place but by an act of kindness were accommodated snatching it away from someone who deserved it.Can an institution survive with so many ‘favoured’ people?
Now what happens to the people who do not agree with this policy of giving and receiving favours? They are sidelined and are often part of the collateral damage. They are suffocated till the time they die or are converted. Converts, we all know, are never really included in the group. So what happens to the institution?

Pushkar Fair: Story Behind This Picture

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Camel With His Friend

The moment captured by a camera often has a story hiding in it, which only the people involved are aware of. This photograph also has a story. I clicked it a few years ago in Pushkar, small town in Rajasthan during the camel fair. It was a business trip for my sister and I was accompanying her. At the last minute, she suggested changing our itinerary to include a visit to Pushkar Fair. Pushkar was around 20 km from Ajmer city where we were staying. Our plan was to go to Bhilwara, a district in Rajasthan, which was on the other side of Ajmer. I was not interested in looking at camels and other livestock put up for sale. So I fought hard to but I failed and so, as soon as we reached Ajmer, we booked a cab for Pushkar without taking rest.

Afternoon was too sunny for the month of November. Since it was a last minute plan, I did not have time to gather information on Pushkar. The route to Pushkar was scenic. We crossed Aravalli, the oldest mountain range in India. Sun played hide and seek with us when we crossed the mountain range. We crossed a famous Dargah on the way, which marked our entry into Pushkar. Then after more than half an hour, our driver pointed out Pushkar temple. It is the only temple built in the honour of Lord Brahma, one of the Hindu Gods. We did not stop anywhere. As we were reaching closer to Pushkar, sun was becoming unbearable. Finally, we saw colourful stalls on both sides of the road. Then the driver stopped the car and told us that this is the Pushkar Fair ground and we should call him when we are done.

We got down. Pushkar Fair ground was on the outskirts of the town. Then we started admiring the colours of the hand made decorative objects. Suddenly, I felt as if the ground was sucking my feet in and the sand was getting in my shoes, covering my feet. I looked down irritated and shook my feet one by one to get rid of the sand. But then it happened again. The stalls were hiding the reality of scene.

Finally, we decided to walk inside the ground. Still troubled with my sand covered feet, I was looking down, instead of looking in the front. The sun was so harsh that my sister was also very inattentive lost in her bag looking for an umbrella. Finally, we both looked up and what we saw was unimaginable and overwhelming for both of us.

All we could see was sand all around us. We turned and looked around and then looked at each other. Then we again turned around and finally we simultaneously said, ‘Desert’. The stalls, which initially appeared to be hiding the reality looked so small in front of the vastness of the space. Endless open space covered with sand, yes, it was a desert. We were standing in the desert.

This was our first experience of desert and it was overwhelming. That’s the day I clicked this picture. It was clicked on the ground where camel and horse races are held during the fair. In the background are men from all over Rajasthan and neighbouring states. People visit this fair to buy camels and other livestock. We rode a camel-buggy (cart) for the first time. We also saw horses dancing in the fair. Villagers were staying this this large space in pitched tents.

This photograph brought back a beautiful memory  in my mind.

First Issue of the Magazine is Out: Reflections

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After much delays and hard work, first issue of the wall magazine was out amidst a lot of confusion. We are yet to decide the price of the magazine. However, while children were busy colouring the magazine, I began reflecting on our two month-long journey. There are many lessons to be learnt from this experience. I am listing some of them in this post:

1. We decided to bring out a monthly magazine using Nai Talim but this process made us realise that if we want to keep our costs to the minimum in order to be self-reliant; use machines as little as possible, in other words, do everything by hand; and if we only work for two hours every Sunday, then we cannot possibly bring out an issue every month. So, we had a meeting today and it was decided that we will publish an issue every two months. So, that we can engage with the process.

2. Today, there was a lot of confusion because we were working on two issues at the same time. Confusion leads to stress, which defeats the purpose. We are publishing this magazine to know ourselves better; to understand the process of publication and most importantly for the fun of creation. Thus this confusion needs to be addressed. I found that the fault lies with me and not with my group of children. I need to first prepare a calendar of activities and share it with children and then take their suggestions and implement it. Children need that kind of fixing of dates in order to work systematically. Since all of us are doing it voluntarily, it is the last item on our list. We remember it only on the day we meet. So, I have now decided to work on a calendar of tasks.

3. Collective Meeting: Meeting and discussing various issues is pertinent in order to engage children intellectually. This is another point I need to work on. I need to fix a time on every Sunday to discuss details of each process. This will help us all in making sense of the process and improving our work.

4. Task Orientation: As already mentioned, I need to specify a task for each Sunday, which I need to keep reminding children in the beginning and end of our Sunday activities. Secondly, we all need to work on one task at a time as a group. This will help us focus and on that particular process and will help us think together as a group.

Right now, these are some of the things on my mind. I need to work not these details during the week so that I am ready for the coming Sunday.
If you have any suggestions, then please leave a comment.

Writing Challenge

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I have decided to take up a writing challenge to write 500 words everyday. It will be a fourteen week challenge in which I am planning to follow the writing process in order to write reflectively.

My performance in the last challenge was embarrassing. But that challenge definitely helped me deal with my fear of writing. I write more often now and writing also comes a little easier. That challenge also helped me post more actively on the blog.

Though quality of writing is a concern that needs to be addressed. So in order to improve my writing qualitatively, I have decided to seriously follow all five stages of the writing process. I am hoping that going through each of these stages will help me engage with my writing more. It will also facilitate reflective thinking.