Away to a Match!

” I come to the school everyday at 8 o’clock, ma’am ,” said Ajit.

“Why Ajit, doesn’t school start at 9.30 a.m. only?”

” I want to play, ma’am”

“What games do you play , Ajit?”

” Football, ma’am .”

A way had to be found to encourage these keen footies. Efforts to arrange for  coaching had so far not found the right person. Why not a football match was a brainwave that came floating in. And on that thought came another, Only Blue Mountain School will entertain these boys.

One call to Sophia, Headmistress and things got into motion immediately. Two coaches from the school came the next day to see our football ground ; theirs having some construction going on. Understandably, they were not too impressed. We will find a way they promised. And they did. They roped in students to clear stones and sand from parts of the ground . Students from 6th to 8th standards were ready and excited  to play against our team.

We are not an organised team. We’ve never played anywhere before, we warned them. Our children too are just learning the coaches assured us.

Just getting a team of 12 from the 3 classes was a task. Added to it was the fear that one or two would default , Saturday being a holiday. But the boys were super excited. Do we wear jerseys ma’am they asked. Next time we promised.

A van was arranged. The boys were ready from 11 a.m. , well before the scheduled 1.30 p.m. They had to be shooed home to eat some food before the match. Next time, we will give them lunch too, Sophia said later.  The girls too came, dressed colorfully as a bunch of birds.

We set off, with lots of singing and dancing on the way. At the school, we were led to the playground. It seemed huge. The stands were being built and everyone settled in.

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Coach Girish  followed protocol with both teams getting lined up and being introduced as proper gentlemen.  Kick off.. and the match began.

The audience was screaming , cheering and clapping for both teams.  BMS was more of a team and scored quickly. TMS school put up a great defence and kept the ball in one side of the ground. Half time came and the coach huddled with BMS, giving them plays. The TMS team stood forlorn. Until the van driver came along and got them into a huddle  giving them his views. Girish came later to encourage and give TMS some tips.

Everyone was hoping for a goal from TMS and just before time, they scored !

Sophia, graciously congratulated both teams and presented the TMS team with two balls.

All tired and very happy, we went in for a good tea followed by a tour of the school.

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When is the return match the boys asked?

Kutties Carnival

‘Play is the work of childhood’ – Jean Piaget

To give the children a day of play and fun – a Carnival! – with magic and colour and wonder and games… the stuff that is spun in the depths of dreams and longings of every child came from the head of Jyothi. And was backed by every member of Siragugal with heart and soul.

A couple of meetings to discuss what where when who and how put the framework in . A morning of workshops and an afternoon of magic and games at the Thalaiyattumund School was the frame work decided on. A trial run so we could expand later to include more schools and more events.

10th March saw Roopa , Sangeeetha, Jyothi, Desiree, Nivishna and others gather to decorate the school with paper flowers and buntings and balloons. In view of sudden rains it was decided to host the even inside the classroom.

11th March, 2017. Only the 8th standard kids were asked to come and help with preparations. 60 children turned up to add to glorious confusion. But it was their day after all!

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A last minute gap in the morning slot was graciously filled in by Karuna Sendhilnathan with storytelling that held the kids rapt.

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Simultaneously Sapna held another workshop making puppets with socks.Adding eyes and giving names to their puppets engaged another set.

Juniors lined up for some fabulous face painting , while waiting they watched Tom and Jerry. With some of the parents from the Main Bazaar school who were included in the group.

Break at 11 and the kids lined up for cake made by Desiree , biscuits from Jyothi  and an orange drink.

Groups get interchanged for the workshops. All eyes are on the juniors who dazzle as Batman, Superman, Wolf, Bird and a host of other creatures.

Everyone enjoys a heart vegetable biryani made by Roopa’s cook. And ask for more. The ominous look of rain cuts short lunch  break.

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Shahul the magician shifts his show inside one classroom. These kids have not seen a magic show before and watch with open eyes.  Loath for the magic to stop.

Meanwhile volunteers are getting games stalls ready. Go Fish, Darts, Hoopla, carom, 7 more, Pin the tail, Memory game, 2 buckets and a Ball….. the volunteers start making up more games as kids line up again and again. The games become the greatest hit of the day and the children don’t want to stop playing ever.

We finally shoo them home with the help of the teachers at 5.30 p.m. and go home very happy and tired!

With our faces and hands painted !!  The child in each one of us !

The next day saw the painted faces in the HIndu and Thina malar.

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Up me Up High!

Up me up, Daddy,
Up me up high!

Up you go and down again,
My little pumpkin pie!

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“It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents”.

Eric Hoffer

Looking at the desolate concrete of the School at Thalaiyattumund, we decided to create a small play area for the junior children, a swing, a slide and if we could stretch the budget, add a seesaw.

When we consulted the ever-buoyant HM, Radha, she said “Why buy? Use the equipment stored in our shed!” To our horror, she assured us that a couple of swings, a climbing stack, a seesaw, volleyball posts, were all kept in storage for a number of years under lock and key.

Recovering, we got happy, thinking that our budget would be greatly benefited. Little did we realise that resurrecting old equipment would actually stretch the budget. Dealing with masons, smart-ass welders and  ‘mud-guys’  took a toll on patience, time and resources. Work was done, undone and redone.

The slide was the easiest part. Ordered from a manufacturer from Coimbatore, it got majestically installed  in a corner of the play area. As a bonus we bought a rocking seesaw which needs no installation.

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But then, children sliding down got hurt when they hit the rough concrete . The landing area beneath all the play equipment had to be covered with a soft material. Mud contractors quoted ridiculous amounts. Sand prices  had shot up incredibly. The felt like soft landing material seen in the play areas of fancy high rises was too fancily priced.

Research on the Net, consultations with a Professor at IIT, Chennai ; trips to school playgrounds followed. Local play areas had  beaten down grass underneath.  The IIT Proff suggested wood chips or strips of old rubber tyres instead. The new ideas met with resistance from the school staff . Eventually they turned out to be too expensive and we had to go back to haggle with the  the mud contractors.

One fine morning.. ‘ Its done’ he announced. Rushing there we found that he had covered the area with more rubble than mud. Asked him to remove it . While we searched for an alternative. For days after that, he would appear like Hamlet’s Ghost whenever we were in the vicinity, asking to be paid for the ‘work done’.

More consultations, haggling , and several peace talks later, he accepted to get better mud in place and cover with turf. The work is still in progress.

But looking at the happy faces of the children, its all worth it , don’t you think?

The smell of Baking!

What can be more wonderful than making your own cookies in any shape and size you can dream of , watching them being baked and then taking them home proudly to show the neighbourhood?

Jyothi of Ooty’s Goodies gave the children of Thalaiyattumund Municipal School this delicious opportunity. On 28th January, 2017, Nivishna and Kalyani ferried 12 kids of standard VIII to Jyothi’s cookie factory on Peytons Road, Ooty.

Dough in two colours was kept ready on the kneading table for them to cut shape and create to their hearts content. The kids used all the cutters of different shapes and sizes, competing to produce the most different cookies. Even the adults were drawn into the fun. Jyothi had to cry halt and push the trays into the oven. Meanwhile they were given a tour of the process . Questions flowed on and on.

They went home happy with their cookies in special bags. And of course, all of them want to become bakers when they grow up!

 

 

 

 

How many more Days to my Birthday

Birthdays are the most awaited event in a child’s life. Surpassing Deepavali, school day and even excursions. Its a day when anyone, from child to adult, feels extra extra special. A day when every moment is spent in the hope of being singled out and made a fuss of.

But for some children, the hope dies out at the end of the day; with just an extra note of attention being showered on them. No cake, or candles, no gifts, no song, nothing much singles out this day from others.

So Sapna of Siragugal came up with the idea of birthday parties. We would host one every month to celebrate all the birthday kids of that month.There would be cake and song and games and gifts!

Sapna bottles up her fizz to let it out on special occasions and how the kids enjoy it all. There she is with her team of Sangeetha , Prema, Geetha and whoever is available to sing and dance and follow her lead in uninhibited gaiety.

Special thanks to Jyothi and her family who supply the gorgeous cakes every month

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