Up My Wall

Of course house lizards must climb my walls in summer. They must eat up the nameless insects and the mosquitoes and the what-nots. I don’t love them, though I respect their role. And the translucent babies are amazingly cute.

Moths must rest on the walls of my room occasionally. Grey, brown, black, white, small, big. Love all of them. Also spiders.

I have found a slug or two climb the outside-wall. Don’t mind too much, though they do leave a yucky trail.

But the one that really stunned me was a tree frog up my bedroom wall, next to a portrait of my mother! The wall of my first floor room, on the side with no window. How did it even get up there? Climb a tree, jump through the open window, hop across the whole room and then climb the opposite wall? Wow!

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Ten minutes of full-on excitement. Lots of jumping around ( frog, Raghu and me, with the frog winning on agility and grace— hands down, or is it feet down??); screeching (mainly me, not at all the frog);  some sleight of hand with newspapers and a bucket. And we managed to get the frog out safely.

Oh, how boring  life would be without things that climb my walls!

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—Meena

 

Trash Toy Story

The Matriarchs were groomed in the eighties with regard to ideologies, ideals, ideas and their chosen vocation—education and what is today called sustainable development. There were many khadi-clad people who inspired them and several of their generation. One such inspiration was Dr. Arvind Gupta, who received the Padma Shri last week.

Arvind Gupta, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, has dedicated his life to popularizing science and making science education accessible–through demonstrating how everyday, low-cost materials can be used to teach science. His core belief is that children learn best ‘by touching, feeling, cutting, sticking — pulling things apart, putting them apart..’ and his mission is to empower educators to create simple toys and educational experiments using locally available materials—the ‘Toys from Trash’ approach.

We stand testimony to the fact that adults too find this fascinating—I can recall informal sessions at our Centre, where he would enthrall  all of us with a series demonstrations using drinking straws, balloons, ball-pen refills, match sticks, rubber bands etc., and suddenly things we had learnt years ago in our science classes, made sense at last!

In today’s world, when we increasingly think that quality education means high-tech, high-cost kits and labs and aids, the Padma Shri should in fact reinforce the message that quality education has little to do with money, and much more to do with the ingenuity, creativity and commitment of educators and teachers. A good way to encapsulate his message to educators is his motto:

‘The whole world is a garbage pit
Collect some junk and make a kit.’

Thank you Arvindji, from two people you have inspired!

Meena

PS: Do view his TED Talk: Turning Trash into Toys for learning, rated among the best education related TEDs by many.