What T6 means to me...
If there is one thing that I have been telling everyone who shows interest in my experience on Youreka (T6) it’s that I simply have not been happier in the past four years. I had been extremely happy in school; carried a bagful expectations to university, was stifled and dissatisfied; came to Delhi, only to be shocked at the cultural deficit of this wretched place. Then T6 happened.
Ok, I’m writing this “My experience” thing way after when I should have originally done this, so I may not be able to communicate to you the emotions that I experienced, in their original degree. For me, T6 was, let’s see... …, like dipping my face in the Tirthan River. For those of you who’ve done that, you may appreciate that this involves not just that single chilling, thrilling sensation but a lot more: a lot more, to know that your face has gone red and it’s not a blush; a lot more, when you know that you are enjoying it just as much and at the same level as the kid next to you; a lot more, when you delve into those erstwhile unnoticed pockets in your bag of emotions; a lot more that really can hardly be expressed on paper.
When setting out, I was apprehensive and nervous. Apprehensive, because my methodology involved some exercises in self awareness that I was not sure how children would react to. Nervous, because I had forgotten what I was capable of: I was rusting and atrophied. But, come the station and I had changed. I had been regretting that I had not been through that ice-breaking-games literature that I had asked AD for. Within minutes of being in the train I found that none of that was required. We have in a certain slice of Allahabad this quality and habit of instant mixing with strangers: we take hardly any time at all to convert strangers to acquaintances, and acquaintances to friends. Within ten minutes, I discovered that I was travelling with a lot of these Allahabadis. There was so much warmth within that bogie that one could not notice the heat outside.
But coming back to the face-wetting thing, I think I realized why I had been so happy in school and not thereafter. I know now that children mean a lot to me, particularly in a large number, particularly the middle school age-group. I had had a lot of exposure to these in school, as head boy. There is just so much energy here, with these kids (we never talked numbers, but joules!). They were exploring themselves for the first time, I for the second. The glee in our eyes was the unifying factor. I had had these lovely moments of exploration when I was their age: I wanted to help them see, feel, and experience these the best that I could facilitate.
If there’s one thing that I would put my finger on as my best experience on T6, it will probably be the minutes that I spent conducting the Public Speaking minor. This is something that I have always enjoyed doing, and it was special. I did not know what I was doing (it was hardly structured), I was picking up strings from their words and bringing them to come to the “gold-spot” and speak for two minutes. It was mad, yet there was method in it. Some would speak for two, some three, some half a minute; some had to be bound and gagged to their benches. But all spoke. Not even a single kid (from the two groups that I had with me) could stay away from the gold-spot. That to me was an achievement, an accomplishment, a reason to keep my smile alive for weeks.
Yes, I can’t stop smiling. It’s crazy, but I’m in love. That group of kids has mesmerised me. This, too, had happened to me in school. I’m so glad that I have been able to taste it again.