New School, New Girls

So last Sunday evening, I enjoyed the company of several people here in Forbesgunge.  One of these, Lalita Banyawala, runs a private girls school for 700 girls.  Additionally, she has established a hostel to take in underprivileged girls and give them a first class education while boarding them in a cozy dorm setting in her home.  Upon hearing about the hostel, which currently houses 20 girls, I offered my services for one class.

It turned out that the next day I had some time for a class, and Lalita Ji requested that I show up at 2:45 pm. After a peddle rickshaw ride through the mud, brick, and concrete patchwork of streets, I arrived at the school, a building of stucco over concrete (the preferred building material here).  A set of gates separates the street from the school, so after the rickshaw driver was paid, I slipped through the gates.  A pathway stretched in front of me for about 100 yards, at the end of which were some girls in school uniforms.  They seemed to be very excited to see me.  There were probably 10 of them…and then 20…and then 70.  OMG.  These girls were from the private school.  A bit of miscommunication. And so started my first class for Shishu Bharti.

For many of the school girls, the concept of hitting a pad was too much for them; of the 70 who had assembled, only about 35 actually tried some of the exercises I was showing them.  All shapes and sizes either jumped at the chance to strike and kick the pad, or were pushed (literally) or cajoled into participating.  Crowds of other school children also gathered around us, absolutely fascinated by the activities.  The concept of personal space is not practiced in this area of the world, so school girls and other children alike pushed, shoved, pulled, quarreled and jockeyed for positions to better see.  Several times, after almost stepping on a small foot, I had to request that the ‘non-class-taking’ kids move back…which lasted all of about two minutes.  While I don’t think the session was ‘productive’, it certainly challenged these girls in a way they never had been before.  I love to see the look of wonder and intense curiosity beamed out of a small sea of dark brown eyes, seeking to pick up and understand every word or gesture I make in order to learn.  It is really a remarkable feeling.

The school girl class concluded after about 30 minutes, and then began my next class with the hostel girls.  Twenty-two young ladies in all, ranging in age from about 8 to 16.  They assembled in a grassy side yard adjacent to Lalita Ji’s house.  Their faces were big question marks, which got even bigger when I started my class with the question, “Where are boys weak?”  Silence, eyes askance to pick up clues from a compatriot.  “Eyes,” I begin, “Nose.  Ears.  Throat.  Neck.  And…” (this is where I insert a pregnant pause for my conservative young audience, but make a small circular gesture in the groin area, causing gasps, giggles, averted eyes).  And so began our first class together.


1 Comment

  1. andy cottrell said,

    April 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    So there you are, in the ancestoral home of karate, having to cajole young women from a private school about….privates? AND boys weak points. It sounds like many are unable or unwilling to punch. Luckily, you, if anyone can convince them to kick and punch. But, it does sound like you are starting from the bottom of a steep hill. Just saying. ;{.)

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