My Laptop Hates Me
I had an easy ride to Mango that day. Inside, there were two enthusiastic kids, and a few adults seriously typing away on their laptops. I, without any particular skill set, joined Mango to Intern and make some good use of my Winter break.
I walked in, clueless about what to do. After the introductory greetings, I was given a spot at the centre table and asked to open my laptop.
My laptop decided that that was the precise time to trouble me – it refused to open. Waiting for about an hour, I sat entertained by the kids’ conversations until Aaru anna reached out to check on the progress. Realising the wait was worthless, he gave me one of the office laptops, and we got started. I was asked to document all the course files into one database.
It was interesting to see all the activities for each workshop (they seemed easy too). When searching for the course documents, I saw how much thinking goes into the job – so many questions are asked, and so many answers readied.
Are Meetings Supposed To Be This Cool?
The next day, a meeting was scheduled. After a briefing on how the system at Mango works, everyone gathered around. The meeting was completely out of context for me, but it helped me understand the organisation’s functioning.
It was such an easy meeting, without unnecessary formalities, files and papers.
They are millennials, and they reflect it in their work. They are contemporary in approach and dedicated to their work. They’re familiar with the struggle of youth and want to change it for others.
How Did They Know I Like Field Trips?
Vidhya Vanam, an alternate school in the Anaikatti hills, was conducting its yearly exhibition the next day. We gathered at the school, and the event started with the conventional school proceedings.
Based on the theme of space, the children had done extensive work. Space, to them, was not only the entities that existed in the vast expanse of the universe but also the history of what has happened on Earth. There were replicas of ancient civilisations and excavations.
Learning about their teaching philosophies was a new addition to my list of research topics. Their projects were at par with what we had done in school. Unlike the others in the team, it wasn’t surprising for me. I had seen similar things at school. What was surprising was, we students think in very similar ways when making something. The difference was that the students at Vidhya Vanam were able to relate the creations to themselves, but we weren’t, because our education didn’t let us.
I Got Promoted After A Week! (aka next task)
I returned to office on Monday, and was looking for Aaru anna for the next task.
When he explained that I had to do a small scale research on Homeschooling, he made it sound like the most interesting job on the planet, and I was sold. Excitedly, I went through websites and put together a questionnaire by the next day. In the meantime, I had contacted a few friends about the same. I was going to do something I have never ever done in my life.
It was a Wednesday, which meant Deepa ma’am would be present. She was my first victim for questioning. As I heard her, all the constructs I had about homeschooling fell apart. Even after what I assumed was extensive research, I hadn’t exactly understood the system’s working. The questions, therefore, lacked the capacity to capture the practised essence of Homeschooling. I had to tweak the questions to receive the answers I wanted. It was tricky but educational, making me more prepared when dealing with the others, and leading to fruitful conversations.
I realised that homeschooling is not a readymade concept. Everyone has the choice to alter it to suit their needs and convenience.
All the parents that I spoke to seemed confident and had a clear vision of what they wanted for their child. The same was reflected in those who had undergone homeschooling. I was surprised by the extent of possibilities available for homeschoolers, and astonished to know that alternate universities exist in India!
Cars That Look Like Dogs
That day I was going on a “field visit” to the museums of Coimbatore because it was the next task allotted to me.
The GeDee Car Museum was my first stop. It was beautiful! Everything was antique – from the lanterns hanging at the sides to the cars. I even experienced the automatic fan that works with the help of a sensor. The cars were pretty and looked like huge, loyal dogs.
The GD Science Museum was another sight to behold. They had a mind-blowing collection of objects from different time periods. It was past lunchtime when I finished my tour and moved on to the next site.
The Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery and Textile Museum is a place that every art enthusiast should visit. They showcase the work of many contemporary artists, and the ambience is professional and beautiful. The artwork pleased me so much that I was spent on all my adoration by the time I moved on to the Textile section which included the history of dressing, and huge machines.
Coming out of the gallery, I realized I hadn’t had lunch. I never knew I loved something more than food!
No, I’m Not Crying
Honestly, I’m happy that I got the chance to be at Mango.
Most of the things I learnt here came from simply existing in the office space. I observed homeschooling by Meena ma’am. I saw how passionately Obuli, Aasif, and Aaru anna make calls and sell their products. I saw how carefully Prativa akka enters accounts. I’ve seen Kavya akka furiously fight for her chair and work on schedules. I have seen Varun anna keenly working with his laptop, and heard Deepa ma’am suggest ideas. It is just by listening to these people work and adjust with each other, face failure of reaching set goals and find creative ways to solve them that I’ve learned the most. I am thankful for all the conversations I had, and the spaces that were shared.