Life on a Tuesday

Luciana Ribeiro da Silva - India


February 12, 2019

[português no final]

I remember being told that to be on a gap year you had to get used to not
doing much. To embrace the void in the hours that can fit in a single
Tuesday afternoon. Well, before I could learn how to manage the stillness
of being bored, I was struck by the hundreds of different experiences
Hyderabad could offer me. Since I was never too fond of breaks, I decided
to live them all.

So, here is how my life goes on a Tuesday:

*7:45*
I wake up and practice a quick lil yoga right as I get up. I found this
amazing yoga therapist (for free!!!) that creates a daily yoga routine
based on your personal needs – mine focuses on my sleeping habits,
menstrual cycle, and ankle strength.
Gotta love starting my day with some stereotypical “Indian spirituality”.

*8:30*
After putting my cutest pink kurta and matching pink scarf on, I leave the
house running late, of course. Because I can’t have breakfast at home due
to my poor time management skills, my host grandpa always gives me an
orange and a banana to eat on the way. Cute!!!

I start my journey to school by walking 15 minutes towards the main road.
Although I can’t speak their language, Telugu, I still manage to wave to a
few known faces that are on their way to work, just like me.

This is the first auto rickshaw I take to get to my school!! Bless shared
autos!!!

*09:45*
After walking for 15 minutes, taking a shared auto, walking more 10
minutes, taking another shared auto, one more, and then finally walking the
last five minutes, I get to school.

From Monday to Thursday, I work as an assistant-teacher at a free private school that runs based on individual donations. I’m mentored by two amazing fellows from Teach for India, Aishani and Sandya, with around 50 students from 4th and 5th grade. Teach for India is a non-profit organization that aims to end education inequality by building a movement of young leaders that work in public and low-income schools all over the country.

When I get to school, my kids are still having Hindi class, so I use the
time to grade notebooks, plan lessons and do some paperwork.

*10:30*
During break time, we have breakfast together and share food from our
tiffins while I catch up on the school gossip. In the beginning, I was a
little scared of accepting the food my students offered me. “What if it is
prepared in unhealthy water and I get sick??”

Well, today, if they don’t offer me, I end up asking: “Anjumma, I can give
you five grapes if you give me one idli!!” or “Abdul, you can have the rest
of my chutney if you get me a cup of chai!” Best buddies, I’d say.

*11:00*
I supervise 4th class working on their math assignments for a while. Look
how lovely they are!!

After that, I go to 5th class to facilitate a lesson on emotional
intelligence (will explain later on the post!). Before I start, we always
play a game to get some good energy going on – here, the kids are playing
“Dictionary”: I write a big fancy word on the board and they have to
rearrange the letters to make new words!!

*12:00*
Once a week, 4th class attends reading sessions in a school nearby, where
they discuss books and read together. There is so much going on in this
picture, it really reflects us as a group!!

*13:00*
When we come back, it’s lunch time!!! Most days of the week, the school
provides food for students and faculty. It’s usually vegetable curry, rice
and curd. Veeeery tasty, actually, I’m a big fan.

After that, we go back to class and play games until the break is over.

Here we are playing carrom board, an Indian game where you have to aim the
coins in the holes and it looks simple but they find a way to make it very
sophisticated, trust me.

*14:00*
Before I got to Nachiketa Tapovan, my mentors already had a partnership
with the “Learning Curve Foundation”, an organization that aims at
“enabling emotional and social development to children in under-resourced
environments”. In 45-minute sessions, teachers facilitate the learning of
life skills such as forgiveness, active listening, self-confidence and
identity through stories and activities. The kids love it!

Since September, I’ve been taking these Learning Curve sessions in 4th and
5th and the discussions turn out to be truly breathtaking. The children are
very emotionally mature and demonstrate an understanding that my 9-year-old
self definitely didn’t have.

In this session, we were talking about the value of TEAMWORK. “It is much
easier to keep the balloon in the air if we give our friends a chance to
tap it, didi.” HOW AMAZING CAN THESE KIDS POSSIBLY BE??? I’m constantly in
complete awe.

*15:00*
My shift at school ends and I head to my second apprenticeship. One bus and
20 minutes by foot after…….

*16:00*
I get to one of the most colorful, chaotic, energized, functional,
inspiring places I have ever been: Rubaroo!!!!! Rubaroo is a non-profit
organization where “young people are empowered to understand their self and
society, and take action.” Literally meaning “face-to-face” in hindi,
Rubaroo facilitates workshops and fellowships to young people on the issues
of gender, interfaith and youth development.

What started as a “two times a week, two hours per day” internship became
crucial to my experience in Hyderabad. I’m currently working on the
Emerging Leaders Fellowship, that aims to end Early and Child Marriage by
educating adolescents about puberty. I’m responsible for the impact study
of the program, doing interviews, writing profiles, observing sessions, and
organizing the closure event. I’ve met so many incredible young people +
brilliant women and wow. Always learning.

*18:00*
Before heading home, whenever I have company, I grab an “evening snack” on
the way home with one of my colleagues. Indian street food is always the
way to go.

This is Amar eating punugulu!!!!!!! Amar is probably
one of my best friends in Hyderabad but I hope he doesn’t read this because
he will get too cocky, as usual.

*19:30*
I get home and go get “freshened up”, which means washing my hands, face,
and feet, before interacting with my host family. Before dinner, I gossip a
little with my host mom Kavya and play a lot with my sisters, Sahasra and
Sahania. My rays of sunshine!!!!!!!

*21:30*
After we have dinner, I go to my room and catch up with work from Rubaroo,
take some good BuzzFeed quizzes, do some pilates, hit that Netflix,
procrastinate or enjoy the prime time to call my mom and best friends back
home. Or I just stop doing all of that because Sassy, my little sister,
comes running to my room and doesn’t leave until we watch a movie together.
Always good to finish a day like this.

Well, this is my daily life!!! Way too many exclamation points used in this
post just to give you a sense of my excitement about all of it.

Not all my days are this great, I admit. Just as in any other place, some
days include lost phones, broken glasses, headaches, food poisoning,
frustrating lessons, cultural shock, misunderstanding, and homesickness.

To be honest, I often forget I’m in India. The exotic, magnificent,
spiritual, famous, mystic, mysterious, stereotypical India. Sometimes I
feel like I could be in São Paulo or some other big city in Brasil.
Sometimes I think I could be at home. Maybe I am at home.

!!!!! IMPORTANT!!!!!! This is my narrative. The way I see India in a
specific moment after a good day. The experience my students have does not
represent the experience of most of the students in India. Hyderabad does
not represent the whole of India, with the greatness of all 29 states, 7
union territories, and 22 official languages. The people I interact daily
do not represent all 1,3 billion people in this land.
I’m a small little Brazilian butterfly learning in this beautiful place. My
experience should not be the single narrative you have ever heard about
this country. There is so so so much more.

Luciana Ribeiro da Silva