If you ever consider protesting against absolutely anything under the sun, in the city of Dehradun, Gandhi Park is the place you will be found at, with your placards and posters and banners. One would think a nice public space like our Gandhi Park would be put to better use by the fine people of Dehradun but no! They choose to use it to shout slogans, gather under the magnificent trees and display stupid banners that make absolutely no sense at all and then in the process they scare away birds and litter the whole area with disposable cups and paper-plates.On Monday, the 14th of March, I walked along the boundary wall of Gandhi Park to see a large contingent of police personnel with their sticks and helmets swarming both inside and outside the park and it is naturally not good news. Then this enormous rally of one political party or the others charges out of Gandhi Park and walks on the main road, effectively blocking traffic and thereby ensuring that our teachers Seema and Usha have to get down from the bus at Clock Tower and walk all the way from there to Gandhi Park. I know who my vote is NOT going to these coming elections!Then, to add injury to insult, the usual spot where we run Street Smart at, everyday is being hoarded by a bunch of doctors who, in between sipping tea and hogging on samosas, shout a few slogans against the State Government on the issue of their security. They were right in their demands of course, since I was ready to cause serious injury to each one of them for littering the whole damn place with the left-over food and empty water bottles!But we sat down right in the middle of it all- the chaos, the police, the protesters and the stupidity- and we painted! And we drew! And we did numbers! AND WE DANCED!! It was a great feeling and there was a little bit of the rebel flaring up inside each one us as the kids ran around policemen to win the short relay race that we had.
We also have two wonderful additions to our team of volunteers- Kavita and Ira, both involved in theatre and dance respectively- and with them, we played dancing statues with the kids. Nobody really followed the rules but it was still a lot of fun. Here are a few photos:
Little Adi dresses up as his mother! And sits like her too!
PS- Note the two boys standing on the right hand side in this picture? We have ten, twenty, thirty and more people like that, standing around in circles, watching the kids and WE HATE IT!! This is not a circus show and we cannot have people staring at us like we are from another planet. More cribbing about that in another post.
The Groton students and Doon School boys joined in the dancing. Notice our Kundan in the blue shirt. He is an ace dancer! Here are a few more of his ‘moves’!! :
Then when the time came for us to eat lunch (we are now doing lunch at the end of the class, remember?) we realize that our thela was nowhere to be found! As were almost all other thelas that provide food and snacks along the length and breadth of Gandhi Park. With so many policemen swarming the area, the thelas had to shut down for the day, lest the policemen and Nagar Nigam folks take away the thela.
So here is what the inspired political rally yesterday did for us: create a massive traffic jam so our staff was late, litter our space with paper cups and paper plates and scare off our food-supplying thela! Oh and did I mention that the doctors’ strike meant that the Pathology where we stock our papers and colours was closed so we had to jump over the gate to retrieve it?
One of these days, I would like to hold a massive protest rally against these protesters but I do see the irony in that!