Juvenile Home is a better euphemism. But still the old name lives in my head, and conjures a collage of images.
Saturday, 30th July - big day for many of us - for we had a logistic challenge/day-mare in our hands, 10 thousand notebooks to be distributed at 40 govt. schools. But, by 4pm, as an exhausted gang of us had an hungry lunch, our cluster of 10 schools were covered, and I guess almost all of us were thrilled with the experience.
Post lunch, we seemed to have a couple of hours, and wondered what next ?
Joining Sunand's gang for some more book distribution was not pragmatic (he was lost somewhere). Hiking to nearby hills formed by the mining slurry, near the entrance of KGF was an option. But, more appealing was a visit to a Remand/Juvenile home closeby. Notebook distribution amongst the kids was a pretext, I was keen on meeting the kids & getting to know the place.
A 5 minute walk took us there, a big building invited us in, we see lot of kids wearing green shirts bunched with an old man. They were apparently doing some pooja(prayer) in a small temple - made up of a small slabs - The God's we didn't notice. But, was the kind of temple children build in minutes to play.
A quick talk with the authorities, and they were happy to have us. This is an home for boyz. 66 boyz were present. Most of them seemed to be below 10 years, and just a few in highschool. A lady warden told us most of them are here for they are orphans. And left unsaid that the rest are sent by the police/judiciary.
So soon, we called over the rest of our volunteer gang. And, the kids were seated in a quadrangle with a cement floor. They introduced themselves with their name, class, the cricket player they like, and optionally could suggest who would be a better captain, Saurav or Rahul ;-))
There seemed to be a lot of kids in 1st/2nd standard. They all had short cropped hair, and sat very obediantly. Looking back that strikes us. For we have hardly seen kids in that age-group so silent & well-behaved, they generally are un-rully, highly energetic, jumping jacks!
Okay, I was pretty impressed with their cricket sense. Sachin & Sewag move aside, the more popular one is Dhoni!!! They also zapped me with Mc Grath, Inzamam, Kambli, and hold ur breath - Suresh Raina!!!!! - he was playing only his 2nd ODI that day!
It was times for games.
We started with 1, 2, clap-clap, 3, 4, clap-clap....kid1 says 1, kid2 says 2, kid3 shud only clap..kid4 says 4 and so on......basically check the concentration of kids....and some basic math...well, this game was not such a success.
So we moved to bombing the cities!! We had Bombay, Delhi, Madras & Bangalore. The kids keep runing around - chanting 'Fire on the mountain run run run' - and when asked to stop, run into the nearest city/circle. And, one of the volunteer would call out the city to be bombed, and boom....all of them are out of play!!!
One volunteer stood in each city as a pole. Soon, S***(don't recall her name) cities were bombed like hell, while Abhishek seemed not to be touched!!!
Next, we wanted to play Dog & bone, but had very few takers. So, thats a challenge, getting games they like, and getting them to participate. Kurian & others got into playing cricket with some kids with a short log as a bat. It was 6ish....the volunteers wanted to get back to Bangalore....so the TCS & Infy crowd went back. And, the kids were sent for their coffee & snacks.
I was waiting for the notebooks from Rohit. And that was to take sometime. So got talking with the wardens there. One of the warden was young, and he seemed to have control over the boyz. How they do it, I am not sure. But this chap looked reasonable & keen on his job.
I got down to a class room session with the kids. Taught them spoken english for some 25 minutes - basic sentences etc etc - the kids were interested. But, seemed very submissive/shy, so hardly any questions from them....Then moved onto some GK. Well, I thought explaining how banks - ATM banks work - would be interesting, so showed my cards, and gave some funda's. And, then though planes must be fascinating to them, and asked them how does an aero-plane fly ?? Well, they said 'white-petrol', and then 'fans'.....At this point, Rohit walked in carrying 150 books. And, we got distracted, and forgot the plane.
Rohit, got an hang of the place & people. Some kids recognised him, for they were in the Bangalore Juvenile home, were Rohit, Sunand & Murtuza had been quite a few times.
Rohit got them to multi-author online story telling. Each kid has to carry forward an online story. And, the start line was 'Ondh uralli ondh Kothi ithuu ;-)'...most exciting line for kids I wud say...'In a village lived a monkey'....well, the high school kids carried the story with a flourish, the smaller ones simply stared!!!!
It soon oscilated between a shopkeeper who was chasing the monkey, and the monkey getting back at him....and suddenly, one kid 'killed' the monkey....well...some silence....whatz this our monkey is gone....the next line came from Rohit....The monkeys ghost came out!!!!....The kids strangely protested..'How is that possible'....their warden said...'Its possible in stories!!!'.....well, I thought the kids would have just accepted such a line....and am surprised by their response....major rationality ??? or no exposure to folk tales ????
We moved on....this time it was 'Name, place, Animal, thing', 4 teams were made, each was given an alphabet and they were to come with those stuff. I wasn't keen on the idea....the kids hardly knew english is what I felt....but R persisted and got them going. Cool....we had 2 rounds...the warden said..itz time for their lunch....so we distributed the notebooks - 2 each - and for 6th std & above, we gave one more book.
And, the warden insisted, that some prize has to be given....well...delicate area...there was one boy in 10th std....we declared him as the winner...gave him some more books....and the kids clapped like hell....there was another younger boy who was pretty clever & very imaginative during story telling....we gave some books to him too.
At this point, Sunand, Murtuza & Dinesh walked in.....some kids recognised them.....and it was time to get back to our bus....almost 7:30....I gave a short speech...extolled them saying hardwork & a keenness to learn will take U places....the rest of the gang used to my long speeches....butted in & pulled me away!!
At this point or b4 my speech, the warden thanked us. And asked the kids to observe a minute's prayer for us. Well. The kids immediately seemed to get into some ghor tapasya ;-)) rapt attention....eyes totally closed....and some of them muttering something.....somehow...at that point..... in that silence....I felt yes, this prayer is genuine......
Yes, in between a couple of times, on popular demand, I SMSed and found the scores of the match....Sri Lanka was chasing....and they were some 68/3 in the 17th over....the kids jumped & shouted....asked if Jayasurya was out....I thought hez an opener, so must be gone...the kids went delirios!!! (Well, Jayasurya apparently batted later with a dislocated shoulder & won the match).
We shook hand with kids. And, one kid kept saying 'Uncle...don't forget me'
As we walked away, the warden asked...'please tell me, whatz lacking here ?'....well, suprise question...Rohit seemed to say this, 'I feel the smaller kids are a bit dull, we need to look into it'.
Yes, that seemed to be true, smaller kids are always running 'bout, full of energy. But, here that was missing. And, I don't know why ??
PS: This was at the Juvenile home, KGF, Kolar on 30th July evening. Camera was not permitted.