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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Conducted a workshop for teachers on “Creative Teaching for Special Children’

It's been such a long time since I last taught the classroom of kids, so when the principal of ‘Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan’ suggested that I hold a workshop for her teachers on ‘Creative Teaching for Special Children’, I was hesitant in taking up such a task, fearful that I would make a fool of moi…but refusing this request would also make me a fool, so I opted to go ahead and plunge into this challenge.

The research was necessary to brush up my knowledge and study the latest trends, times have changed and the methods of teaching that were used during my days (15 years ago) are now outdated. I prepared a lesson plan, made some print-outs of the latest trends in teaching and on the day of the workshop, I faced the group of 12 teachers, highly charged to share my wee bit of knowledge.

On the topic of ‘Day of Christmas’ I involved the teachers from first sentence itself, asking them what ideas came to their mind when they thought of Christmas, how they would exploit it and how they would put across their message to the kids who had limited understanding and may not be able to grasp the point, like every other normal child.

The mental age of the student and their capacity to function physically and mentally are very important while planning activities for such children. Every idea has to be explained clearly and in details, nothing should be taken for granted. The lesson plan always follow the procedure from known to unknown as KWL (K-what I know, W-what I want to know, L-What I learnt). Each idea has to be explained from different angles, to arrive at the same point. If possible, all the sense organs should be used to send across your message. Recap is important to understand the grasping power of the child. Your lesson plan is a success, if he answers your query, three times in a row, correctly. Planning the activities related to the lesson is also very important and it enhances your lesson plan.

Next, I divided twelve teachers into four groups and gave them two hours to prepare a lesson plan giving them one object each. Group one had a large ‘toy truck’; group two had a ‘telephone’; group three had an ‘apple’ and group four had a set of ‘pant and shirt’.

Two hours later, we met again, teachers armed with a new lesson plan.

I was pleasantly surprised with the ideas they came up with. We had lots of discussion and debates on their lesson plan, suggesting pros and cons of the methods used and everybody was willing to share their experience.

The group with ‘toy truck’ made a lesson plan on an action word called ‘Push’ using toy truck to push. In her activities, she would include children (asking them to push) to send across her message.

The group two decided to teach the children to dial the correct number. They made a teaching aid with the help of sponge and big- numbers on the cardboard and would teach the children to press the collect number.

Group three wanted to cut the apple and make the children eat and then give them the activities of coloring or matching the different fruits and how they differ from apple.

Group four would teach the children how to fold the clothes.

Although all of them came back with bright ideas, I was surprised that none of them had thought of using computer as a teaching medium. Computer is such an important teaching medium in these times and its capacity of sight, sound and action can be used to show so many things. The last session of the workshop was spent in showing them how computers can be used as the medium of instruction even for the children with mental handicap.

It was day well spend and my greatest reward was when one of the teachers came silently to me and shook my hand, thanking me and asked if I could conduct such workshops more often.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Festive Fads

Christmas is here, just round the corner and there are reminders of arrival of the festival everywhere. It is good news for retailers, there will be sales, it is precious time that retailers look forward to. Sometimes the sales are so good that yearly back payments can be cleared during this season.

People are in festive moods and everyone is seen with a shopping bag, shopping for Christmas and New Year, buy gifts and chocolates and clothes, shoes and bags….the list is endless….

But what is really exciting is to visit the malls and see the decorations. In one mall the stage is set up for Santa with lights and balloon and a pretty iron seat….

While others have stuffed Santa beneath the large Christmas trees that amuse the kids…..

There are large Christmas trees in almost every mall with a big box in one corner where you drop your demand for a gift.

Parents and children do the Christmas shopping and deposit the gift with Santa to surprise the kids….

When I was little, I would wish Santa was Hindu and brought some gifts for me too……..

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Food Camp...comic strip

Whenever there is some festival, food is a must or else people may not come.

Yeah..true..I have seen very poor attendence when there is no prasad.

What one may call 'Langar', food is cooked in large quantities and people have wait  long queue, they start pushing and fidgeting, even before the food is served.

There is enough food cooked for all but still, people have this phobia of not reaching food stall in time and are always afraid of going hungry.(what if food finishes??) They are too lazy to cook after this disappointment and are not willing to order the food from a restuarant, specially when their taste buds are drooling over the chosen menu.

But the food is very delicious and has a special taste which cannot be replicated at home. There is always a sweet dish in the plate.

During Guru Nanak festival, there is always Sindhi Curry, Rice, sweet bhoondi and mixed vegetables, puris, papads and pickle. soooo very yummy,,, and during Durga Mata festival there is this khichri (look I m drooling too), roshgolla, bhajiyas, puri, pickle and fried papad...

No surprise then , that there is so much dhakam dhukki.......

Friday, 4 December 2009

Book Launch’“Marwari Vegetarian Cooking’ by Sanjeev Kapoor

Serving the snacks and drink at the book launch is quite rare but not so rare if the launch is for a cookery book. Yes, that is what is so special about attending just that. I was delighted to eat 'Mawa Gujiya' and 'kanji 'drink and the recipes were right there in the book, although while we sipped the drink, the recipes was also read out. The ingredients that made this drink so tasty were crushed musturd powder, red chillie powder, salt and water, very delicious, I am drooling yet again.

Attended the book launch of’ Marwari Vegetarian Cooking’ by Sanjeev Kapoor at Crossword at Linking road.

When asked what had inspired him to write such a book, he said that even if five people enquired him about the recipe of a particular region of cooking, he is inspired enough to write, since he is then sure that there is demand for such recipes. Being a graduate in a culinary art, difficult dishes, he said, come easy to him, it was the simple dishes that are difficult to cook and he is known to try every dish before he writes the recipe, tasting each dish and writing in a very simple language so that even a beginner can try their hands on cooking and be successful in this art. In this book he has a punch line after every recipe and that is what makes it so interesting.

At the end of the session I bought 2 copies autographed by him hoping (secretedly) that some day, I will be signing my own published book on cookery perhaps…..

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Planning a trip to America - part 8 - Interview.

When I had fixed the appointment time for the interview at 10am, I didn’t know that there would be more than fifty people seeking the appointment at the same time. I didn’t realize that the interview for Visa was not only for Mumbai folks, it also included people from all the consular district surrounding Mumbai from west of India. I had paid Rs250 and had the comfort of waiting in the air-conditioned ‘Stars and Strips Lounge’ at Tirupati Apartments and there was bus facility to transport me to the venue at my appointment time, but those who did not want to pay that amount would be standing in a queue, on the road, outside the consulate. Therefore, when I alighted from my 'Stars n stripes' bus, I was surprised to see hundreds of people standing in a queue that was as long as one kilometer, all standing under no shade, in the hot sun, leaning against the wall for comfort. It pained me to cut that queue and walk in as a privileged client.

I walked into the building, through the glass doors and through security point. Here, they checked my documents again, leaf by leaf, looking desperately for some clues to boycott me, finding none; they let me in after a brief body massage with that metal detector. There was a bigger surprise inside the waiting hall. There were more than hundred people waiting before me. The room was packed with people, all staring at the non-function able indicator on the wall and straining their ears to hear the roll of call. I was directed toward a desk, who again checked my documents, then arranged and returned my passport, appointment letter and large envelop (that would be used for posting the passport if I was approved for the visa) and a token number. There was now another big queue to wait before I could sit down and wait for my turn. This queue was for tracing the ten finger prints.

At 12 noon, I waited for my turn. The number indicator was out of order; people depended on correct pronunciation of the number for their turn. Sometimes there was announcement of one number, and sometimes in groups, they were announced in three languages according to the selection of the people, in Hindi, English or Gujarati, surprisingly they did not announce any numbers in Marathi (Consulate in Maharashtra and no announcement in Marathi? Somebody should protest. hahaaa).

Surprise, can you imagine? Nobody chatted! Everybody was in deep thoughts, looking listlessly, some smiling, some staring and some just praying, but there was no conversation amongst people. Maybe they were equally exhausted like me.

Finally at 1pm I heard my token number announced and I walked inside a cubicle to talk to the officer, seated on a high chair behind a huge glass, talking to me over a mike.

10am was my appointment time; my turn comes at 1pm.

She has already decided that I do not qualify for US Visa because I am single, unemployed (according to them), have no ties attached and is visiting a relative who has a retail business. Chances are that I might make US my permanent home and never return, thus stealing a job that truly belongs to US citizen. My intention of just visiting America as a tourist is not very entertaining to her. I need a handsome bank account and powerful salary slips to show her that I can support myself. She is not even interested in seeing any documents that I had so neatly compiled and was waiting to show her. She has made up her mind. Probably there are certain quotas of refusals per day and it will be easy to include me in that list. I want to tell her that America is outsourcing its jobs in India, why would I want to go to their country to seek jobs? People who live in India have comfortable lifestyles, with live-in maids, and warm loving people. I, for one, have traveled around the world and have never been refused visa before in any country. I have already made up my mind to make Mumbai my permenent home and will never opt to live anywhere else in this world. The only reason one should be refused visa is if it a security threat to their country. I am the most harmless person. I like traveling and like to explore new places. I have also visited America before. During my last trip, I was able to explore only New York, Boston, South Carolina and Albany. This trip I was looking forward to visiting Chicago, Texas and maybe a road trip up to Mexico border.

My mouth is parched. I am hungry and am waiting to end these formalities. I am exhausted and I have no energy to argue.

Moreover, I am not too desperate to make this trip.

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