Our month-long journey across different towns, cities and country-side began exactly a week back. As I sit down to capture my thoughts about our journey so far, and especially the part about learning by traveling – remember, I told you in my last post that I’d be sharing our travel with you through a series that I want to call “Learning by Traveling” – I’m unable to decide where to begin, what all do I write about, which learning moments do I present to you and which ones can I skip. For the reality is – each and every moment came wrapped in oodles and layers of learning. And we unwrapped those moments enthusiastically and made them part of our life….
And yet, I want to share a few wondrous moments to affirm how learning takes place, in its richest and purest form, when we take cues from our surrounding, get connected to our sense of wonder, let our imagination soar, allow our curious instinct to take the lead and give a free reign to our five senses – that will soak up the nuances of sound, smell, sight, touch, feel…
So, in this series titled “Learning Every Moment”, I’m sharing the first of our numerous favourite unscheduled, unplanned learning moments in the week that went by and the next few weeks to come.
Here’s our FIRST favourite learning moment – utterly unplanned but deeply driven by the curious instinct that every human mind is gifted with but loses along the way…
Learning On the Railway Platform
Now, this particular learning moment presented itself at the most unusual time and place and in a rather oblivious form. We were waiting for the Rajdhani express at the Delhi railway station. Inspite of taking care of all odds and ends related to the packing for the month-long travel, we ended up with a bag whose handle was ripped. The stitches had come apart and there was no way it would take the load. But, it wasn’t on our minds – not when we’re dreaming of Goa’s sunny beaches. But then, at the platform, a shoe-mender turned up quite out of the blue. When he offered to fix the handle, we said, “why not”. Infact, it seemed like a happy coincidence.
Here comes the moment of learning led by curiosity. As the shoe-mender starts his work, I’m fascinated by how the thread moves from one side of the bag to the other with a needle that looks nothing like the normal sewing needle.
I squatted on the ground to study how he did that. Looking at my eagerness to learn, the shoe-maker slowed down his moves to show me exactly how he works at it.
Pari bent down too, taking pictures and video all the while. Avie (hubby), too, was showing keen interest by this time. We then went on to take a closer look at his tool box, which was chock-a-block with the nuts and bolts of the job that he does.
By the end of it, all three of us had figured out how to fix a torn leather bag or a shoe for that matter.
Had I not allowed my curiosity to take over thinking it’s a dull job, not something for us to explore, but done as a chore by a poor and shabby man, this precious learning opportunity would never have been ours.
Had I considered it not worthy enough of attention (I feel sorry to say this – but this is the attitude of the majority in my country), I and my family would have never understood the value of this guy’s very useful tool – the tool that earns him his bread every day.
And, last but not least – we’d have missed a moment of connection with a fellow human being, who felt valued, appreciated and loved by being able to share his knowledge with us. He felt important. The satisfied expression on his face said it all.
I have learned that learning is present in every moment of living. Learning is NOT separate from living. We only have to be receptive by being curious and humble. Yes, humble. For when we think we know it all, our learning journey stops then and there – for ever.
What we learned in that moment is not prescribed in any curriculum – no matter Indian or some other country. And yet, our society continues to harp on curriculums. And they talk about a scheduled time for learning. Also, a scheduled place (classroom) for learning. As if the life outside of this scheduled place and time and curriculum is a waste of time. As if the scialization that takes place outside of school – with parents, with siblings, grandparents, neighbours, fellow travelers or shoe-menders like the guy above, does not count in the scheme of things. I believe that the socialization that happens in this maner, beyond age-groups, beyond social and economic backgrounds is real and meaningful.
What do YOU think about all this?
What did you learn today that was NOT planned or scheduled?