We walked the lanes and by lanes of Indira Nagar yesterday looking for room.
With the rains upon us and a failed negotiation with a proposed room owner, Megha, Sheena and I walked with a group of about 17 children.
In the tradition of narratives, I am reminded of the search of Mary and Joseph the night before Jesus was born. It seems a fitting episode to bring here, because the people who live in Chimbel would also know of this story or similar.
We too had an urgency, we had around 20 odd children waiting for a story, eager to look at books, anxious to draw, write or paint and we had no room.
We were turned down repeatedly, but in that process we learnt many things. Some of them, I share here
1. That we are outsiders, we are different and therefore need to earn trust of a community.
2. That the language of the community is different from ours. The children ‘know’ the language but we do not and therefore our approach and requests might have not worked. This has very little to do with THE language, but more about how you ask, what you say, manner etc.
3. That the children were more committed than us to find room. Asking, explaining, requesting, thinking… but all in vain for yesterday. Children are not the ‘ core decision makers’ of any community.
4. That many children walk a long distance to the bus stop to access the library program and that is a worthwhile thing. It shows the interest and the motivation.
5. That the lanes are busy, cheek by jowl and people are so tightly packed together, but that does not mean chaos
6. We saw kids ( baby goats) frolic with hens and chicks.
7. We were offered some shelter from the rain and I was offered tap water to wash my feet when I stepped into a gutter.
8. That in the midst of it all, one of our children had a birthday memory and shared sweets with us.
9. That Sheena felt she had received an education with this walk and that is a powerful experience
10. That Megha, is a Commander. She was unflagging until the very end, when we had walked for 1. 5 hours through rain, mud, overflowing drains, litter, suspicion, hostility, curiosity, scorn.
11. That a rainbow will come through because I am willing it. We have seen how dense the area is , how many children live in this pocket of the world and how a library room ANYWHERE will be a rich resource for both us and them.
Some curious ones joined us, some old library children peeked at us, but through out the walk, we felt that the scales had tipped. We home owners in affluent locations with hot water and civic amenities, walked looking for room and there was no room – not yet. Not even a manger !
If you know of ANYONE who can help us access a room in Indiranagar , Chimbel Please let us know. We are willing to pay rent. We want access.