By Manish Kamdar
(Manish is the proud father of Kavya, a student of Std. II at Shishuvan. She joined the school last year. This piece first appeared on http://manishkamdar.wordpress.com/ and is being republished here with the author’s permission.)
I was wanting to post about this for sometime now but did not find the time / inclination to put down my thoughts. This was the first project day that Kavya attended and I knew that the theme was Matunga but did not quite know what to expect. Having been born and brought up and lived in this area for 44 years I thought I knew Matunga like the back of my palm. How mistaken I was!
Kavya was narrating to us her part of the speech at home. She spoke about Hindustan Petrol Pump which is the HP Pump behind Aurora Cinema. I did not even know the name of the pump till then. So much for my back of the palm gyaan! Kavya was to report at 9 am on the 3rd for her Project Day duty which sounded intriguing to me.
At the appointed hour we reached the class and she was with some other student. I heard her narrate to some parent (she was all giggles when she would narrate to me) and then went around the class listening to other children who told me about trams and horse carriages being in Matunga.
What impressed me was that they had put up their curriculum outside on the pin board in different shapes so you had rockets, helicopters and the likes of that. Added to that they had children’s work sheets displayed on the board too. Interesting to know that children were very creative in their imagination. They literally thought out of the box and not the conventional manner that we adults would think of.
I went around to some of the other rooms to see what they had. One of them was named Post Office. Intrigued me as I was expecting stuff on philately, my hobby. But it was something else. It was a mock Post office complete with a Post Master. They had different counters explaining different products that the post office sold such as Registered Letters etc. Learnt that you could open a savings account at a post office (at the young age of 44 from a child several years younger to me:-) Thanks to the project day!) Took pictures of some of the charts to show other children and also share with my dear friend, Marina in Venice (Kavya’s Marinafai) who works at the Post office in Venice.
One of the rooms spoke of charitable institutions in Matunga. Again me being me (a typical Scorpio), I thought I knew all the institutions. How wrong I was yet again. Found out that there is an institution called Pragati Kendra barely a kilometre from home (straight down that too) which I was unaware. Thanks to the camera on the phone, I could capture these posters.
I was scheduled to be one of the panelists on career counselling for the students of Class X. It was my first time doing such a thing but it was fun meeting different people like this doctor who happened to be a year junior to me from Ruia College. After that they took us around to some of the rooms. One of which was on Educational Institutions so heard them speak on Podar College, UICT (erstwhile UDCT) and then finally had to go hear about dear VJTI, my college! Honestly Matunga is an educational hub and I was lucky never to have missed Mom’s home-made lunch which also explains my Size 0 figure:-)))
Saw some science projects of which one was on Water Harvesting by the children of Class VII. The report itself was meticulously made and I was amazed at the depth these children went into these days even if it were thanks to the internet. Honestly at that age, I doubt if I knew even 10% of what they all knew. Saw this amazing robotic vehicle using Lego. And the children were using a PC to control the whole thing. Children this age know far too many things than we knew at their age! Took pictures for Siddharth, Hitesh’s son who is a Lego freak.
Just a few classes I could visit due to paucity of time but honestly even if would have spent 2 days there, I would still not be able to get to all the rooms. Came away impressed that Kavya was in good hands and she was learning a lot more than the rote learning that we had (not that I am complaining…. Things have changed for the better. That was then and this is now). But yes I must admit that by living in Matunga for 44 years did not make me the gyaani baba of Matunga. I learnt this for children much much younger to me:-) Look forward to the next Project Day and this time I will be going there sans my knowledge, just a clean slate.
Pictures that I took are here.
PS (September 28, 2012): One thing I forgot to make a mention of (and I wonder how I missed it) was the brilliant song on Matunga which was written by the students and enacted as well by them. It was truly a brilliant song and anyone familiar with Matunga and surrounding areas will love it. The video is taken with the phone so pardon me if you hear me laughing or commenting but thank your stars that I am not performing the song else you would have run away:-)))