I’m into the last week of my first term here at Sahyadri. The last couple of weeks have been reasonably quiet, with few classes as the exams had started for 9th and 10th. I have been bogged down by a lot of correction and report writing work. Now it’s going to be a sudden jerk back into top gear, as the seniors finish their exams and start working for the Mela on the 13th.

It’s been a good time to reflect, and try to make sense of what I’ve been doing here for the past four months. At many points during the term I have asked myself what on earth am I doing here! What brought me here? And what keeps me here? Well, to tackle this question satisfactorily I would need to elaborate more on my experiences and thoughts over the last 5-6 years and I wouldn’t attempt it at this point. Someday I may.

If you look at it in a certain way, Sahyadri is no different from the mainstream conventional schools. It too is very conventional in the sense that children have to sit through 7 periods from morning to afternoon, subject after subject. The tenth standards have to write the ICSE board exams. As in any residential school, the children’s days are planned for them from waking up to bedtime and there is very little deviation from this routine.

I’m happy that I came here with a mind open to possibilities and consciously held back from being judgemental. I was not under any romantic illusions that I was walking into an ideal perfect school. That has probably helped me to be able to wholeheartedly appreciate the subtle factors in the people here, the activities of the school and the relationship between students and teachers that make it a wonderful place to be.

At times I have felt that if only there were no classes and timetables I could have done something worthwhile, but now I think it is also worthwhile to explore how far we can stretch the limits and construct a fruitful experience for the students in a realistic environment with realistic constraints. Getting the opportunity to interact and engage with children in spaces outside the classroom, like the theatre workshop or playing games has shown me a different aspect of their personalities. That’s one of the beauties of a residential school like this.

It’s been a wonderful learning experience for me so far. It’s been a term with lots of ups and downs. At times I’ve felt as if I was floating without knowing where I’m heading, and others when I have been absolutely at peace with the world, with myself and everyone around me. That state of mind when you really stop worrying about your destination- in fact, even forget about having a destination and savour the journey to the fullest. Also it’s a blessing to have people around who are at the same wavelength as you are, with whom you can discuss these issues freely.

Well, this term is almost over, and I’m looking forward to the vacation. Of course, the Mela is still there and I’m especially looking forward to the theatre production, where we string together different themes from the improvisations over the course of the term and come up with a production. But I’m also looking forward to going home, getting some time off after what has been a full term and reflecting more fully on my experiences.

I’m also looking forward to the start of the next term. This term has been one of settling in, growing into the basic aspects of my work here, becoming comfortable with myself as a teacher, as an adult with responsibilities. Now that the nuts and bolts issues have started falling in place, I’m looking forward to the terms ahead…