23rd Feb 08, 11:40 to 16:20, Chalghatta school kids.
Second year in running for the 7th kids. The big difference was the volunteers. Last time, tons of people had turned up, but this time, it was just me! A reflection on my marketing skills ?? The teachers had other chores, and they left the 32 kids to me. 26 girls & 6 boyz. And soon, after their mid day meal, we marched along the wind tunnel road, passed a choclate to each, and we walked merrily, as we walked along the bridge across the gutter, I felt like a pied-piper. No wonder, as we descended the bridge, the HM stood there, waiting for us, saying she would also like to join. Ok! with her retirement in a week, guess she wanted to take no chances!!
We first checked out the galleries - itz all 'bout HAL history - threw some pointers here & there, kids asked quite a few questions, and took them out of the gallery quick before they got exhausted. Kids seemed more disciplined than last time. I could handle most of them as a group.
Next scene, at the cockpit, a simulator, the kids watched as the fighter tookoff, turned left-right based on the instructor's joy-stick, and soon crashed!! Some kids had to lifted onto my shoulders to view the happenings. Guess, itz major pain if you are short, and the tall ones crowd in front.
Next scene, was at the...observatory....where U get to see the run way......kids just lazed around happily as we waited for the flights.
And then, we went to audio-visual centre, where a movie on the Kuwait war was shown.....with the role of aircrafts being depicted......it was a well made documentary....and kids were glued.
Then the aircrafts came in to picture....had explained earlier 'bout how they fly....wings...rudder..propellor etc etc.....and some of them remembered it.....It was fun for them to see the real machines...touch them...look into the cock pit etc etc
The sight of flowers in the garden, mango trees, made them swarm towards it. Luckily, the security guard, an old man, gave one good look, and kept quite. With minimal damage I took the kids away, and got them to the fish pond......again helter-skelter......they just loved it.
After some biscuits, and choclates, we started back....guess...it was good to see the kids who grew up watching the planes take-off- & land so close to their homes...get a first hand feel of it.
Bus back, HM went home, and we walked back on wind-tunnel road. It wasn't a hot day, and soon all of us got treated with a vanilla ice-cream. Most kids handled choclate wrappers, ice-cream cups well.
Soon...it was the bridge across the gutter....as we walked over it...the kids started calling a girl in the gutter..'Roopa...Roopa...Roopa...'...I looked across and found two small girls rag-picking in the gutter. Thats a big gutter that cuts into the airport, guess goes under the runway, come out & feeds to the Bellandur lake. So, here were these two little girls, around 10 years, walking on the debris of the gutter. Both were wearing pretty clothes. The kinds I would like any little girl to wear to a wedding. And, they were busy looking into the amased debris, & pulling out useful stuff.
'Roopa...Roopa..' continued...the kids gushed....'Saar...shez from our school.....was in 5th std......and now has dropped out'.....................Roopa looked up, became conscious of the peering heads, and just kept to her rag-picking. I wanted to have a chat with her....calling her failed......so I decided to get close to the gutter....the kids followed enmass....and soon....after convincing her I just wanted to talk to her...she came over climbing the sides of the gutter.
A shy little girl, had the dried up black sewage mud plastered all over. Her brother was in the gutter at some distance. Conflicting replies came from her & the students. No father...mother is a sweeper, mother wants her to study..she is not interested....she is interested....but they need money at home etc etc. Decided to speak to her mother to get her to school from next year. The other girl with her, was younger, and as I called her to come over, she simply ran into the waters away from us. The kids gasped...'Uncle, see how shez running in the gutter'
We walked back to the school. The kids for a while, kept talking of their friend in the gutter......and soon as their homes and school came close....they ran...with big leaps....and joy on their faces.