Menstrual taboos and ancient wisdom

Mythri Speaks

“Why am I not allowed to visit a temple during my period?”A student sharing her experience

“Will the pickle really spoil if I touched it during menstruation?”

“Akka, why do they tell us not to touch anyone, to sit in a separate room and eat from a separate plate when we get our period?

Two thoughts play hide and seek in my mind as I try to answer these questions from young girls. One, that I should help them understand that these restrictions are not because they become impure or polluted during menstruation. Two, that I should never, ever, hurt their religious or cultural sentiments beacuse I have neither the knowledge nor the right to make that judgement. The latter makes it difficult to do the former, and so round and round I go in my explanations, at best being able to tell them that these practises have been in place for ages to…

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What Teach India Taught Me

An Unearthing

As I entered the final year of my graduation, the urge to work as an intern and the need for some firsthand experience at professional life took over. I applied for some online internships in creative writing as I thought I could do justice to them. And then one fine day, I came across the poster inviting students to be a part of the Teach India initiative by The Times of India.  Teach India is a corporate social responsibility initiative of The Times of India group, which provides spoken English training to underprivileged youth from all across NCR & Mumbai to enhance their employability with the support of volunteers and NGOs. College Chapter is a new drive of Teach India, which aims at promoting volunteerism among the youth of the country with the help of esteemed educational institutes. Some colleges of University of Delhi have also agreed this time to arrange these classes for their non-teaching staff.

I realized that this was an opportunity where the benefits were not unidirectional. Apart from the experience that I was entitled to get, it gave me a chance to make a difference to someone’s life. Learning is a gift more permanent than any other thing you can give. I called off the thoughts of online freelancing and applied for it. After the screening of CV and two telephonic interviews, I was selected to attend the orientation and know more about the programme. The orientation made it very clear that this endeavor required a strong sense of commitment and diligence. The seven days rigorous training by the teacher trainer from the British Council was an experience to be cherished for life. It made me clearly perceive the amount of effort a teacher puts into imparting every single lesson; and how knowing something and teaching it are two completely different areas.

And then came the time to execute everything I’ve learnt so far. I’ll confess that I was nervous as teaching the non-teaching staff of a college had its own challenges. Initially, I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I’ll be teaching people more than twice my age. However the very first class made me very sure of one thing; I had some very sincere learners who looked up to me as someone they would learn something from. This made my anxiety vanish and I started to work honestly for my very own classroom. It was a great feeling to see the gradual improvement in their mannerism and the diminishing reluctance towards speaking English. I remember how proud I was to hear them making even a simple conversation. It was during this period of three months that I actually experienced phrases like pre-teaching preparations, targets, difficult learners, deadlines and time frame for a teacher.

I must acknowledge that this experience has given me a whole new perspective towards a teacher and the field of teaching. Apart from making a positive change in the lives of my learners, it has made me immensely responsible. It has marked my beginning as a contributor towards the society and I find no reason to put an end to it. No doubt, teachers are considered to be the foundation makers of any society. I am sincerely grateful to every teacher who has made me what I am today.