My journal: Day Four

Our trip to Malta for teaching practice.

On our first day in the institute of education class we were told a few things to keep in mind. One was we will travel to North Wales and Malta for teaching practice. North Wales I’ve already mentioned.

Next was Malta where we will spend one month beginning in June, we the students of Teaching English As A Foreign Language, boarded the plane from Heathrow airport to Malta. We landed at the airport in the afternoon. It was a sunny and warm day. We were welcomed by a number of people from the department of education. We followed them to the airport building. There we were given addresses of places we’ll call home for the month of June.

We were separated in groups of three. I belonged to the group of Zakiah Ibrahim from Malaysia and Yukiko Adachi from Japan.

Zakiah kind of took the role of our leader. Yuki and I had no problem with this arrangement. Zakiah took the responsibility of cooking supper, I was responsible for breakfast. Yuki would be our dishwasher.

Zakiah and I were doing our job, but Yuki was not. Each morning before breakfast she’d yell out from her bed, ‘Chaman wash only the dishes we need for breakfast, the rest will be done by the women who come to clean house.’

Zakiah was unhappy, she said, ‘do not wash the dishes, we’ll drag her from bed and make her do it.’

I had a problem with this skirmish first thing in the morning, we had to be ready to go to our respective schools for teaching duty. I let it go and did not make a fuss about this.

Things went well, Yuki did not change, so I was doing double duty. I consoled myself by thinking, it’s only a month, and chances are good when we complete our studies, we will never meet again. Which is true. To see any of them I’d have to travel to Malaysia where Zakiah was from and, Yuki Japan.

Malta was the country we stayed in the capital, Valetta. It was a beautiful city. The sun shone brightly every single day of our stay there.

Going from where we lived in Valetta, all I heard is the fury of the Mediterranean sea, the waves were quite high. It was a scene I saw daily.

Then there was a little dog who barked as loud as it could every day it saw me. Since I was scared of dogs I used to walk on the other side of the street.

One day while coming back from school, I saw one of our classmates from Israel, petting the same dog, I went over and said, ‘WOW!’ this one is not barking at you.’

She said, ‘are you scared of her?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘This is why she barks at you, she can sense it.’

I learned something about a little animal, whose barking made me think of all kinds of things, but not how clever it was.

Someone once told me, ‘learning doesn’t stop with finishing school, it’s an ongoing lesson one learns until one leaves this amazing world.’

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My journal: Day Three

It has been many moons since I had the privilege of going to North Wales for teaching practice. I remember we were going to Llanberis, a small village in North Wales. Our trip was organized by the Institute of Education, London University.

They booked our stay in a house belonging to a local family. They were three individuals in this family, the father, mother and an eleven year old son.

It was the month of November, it was a cold snowy evening when we arrived by bus. The lady of the house was very charming, she showed us our rooms. In those days there was no central heating. The family spent early evening in the drawing room. There was a fireplace to heat this room.

When we came, they let us spend the evening until bedtime in this room. The bedrooms were cold, so we were told to take hot water bags to keep us warm. The bag of hot water only kept the bed warm for about forty five minutes, after that we depended on the quilt provided by the landlady.

All in all it was a new experience, we were ready to face it with a smile.

In the morning we went to the school where we taught English to the little Welsh children. The children were delighted to have us strangers for a fortnight. Perhaps they felt freer for a a few days without their regular teachers.

I was nervous because our Profs went with us, they sat in the back of the classroom to listen and watch us.

The part that worried me most was I was supposed to explain how I did. There was an empty room where we gathered with the profs and each of us became our own critic. One of our Profs whose name was Mr. Hill, was very easy going, he was pleasant, every now and then he’d joke with me. I happened to be the youngest student in our class . Most of the students were professors from India, who did this course once in India. This was their second time.

After two weeks we came back to London. I enjoyed our trip back and forth.

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Journal: Day Two

My Dad is transferred from New Delhi to Rawalpindi

Our journey from New Delhi to Rawalpindi ( by foot, tonga and train): first we had to walk from our house to our Dad’s office on foot. It was a Sunday, the streets were quiet, there were no tongas in sight, only some humans who were having fun watching us, dragging our feet to reach our destination. They knew we were in trouble, there were some who asked, ‘where are you going?’

My Dad and all of us pretended we did not hear them. Finally we stopped at a place, where there were two or three tongas waiting for passengers. Dad felt it was safe at that point to hire the tongas to go rest of the way to reach his office.

From the office we were transported to old fort, New Delhi. We stayed in tents for a couple of days. My Dad was informed, arrangements have been made for us to travel by train.

How we went to the station and got in one of the compartments of the train, is a complete blur on my mind. I only remember the compartment was pitch dark and filled with passengers, there was hardly room to move. My baby brother was thirsty, he was crying, one man said, ‘it’s better to kill him or our enemies will kill all of us, if they find out there are passengers in this compartment.’

This is how racism looks when man does not hesitate to kill another man because of religion.

Our train was stopped for a long time, we could hear shots fired by Indian army against those who wanted to kill the passengers of the train. The train tracks had to be cleared of large branches of trees before the train could move.

After many long hours our train stopped, we finally reached our long awaited destination. We were welcomed by Pakistani officials. There was water, food and everything to make us feel at ease. But the fact that we were safe made our day.

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My Daily Journal

I’m trying to start writing. I could not think of anything, I’m therefore taking the help of a regular journal, to keep me from getting bored.

This evening I’ll take myself back years ago. I was in Lady Irwin Higher Secondary School, New Delhi. I was a primary student. We were waiting for Mrs. Biswas to give us some work that morning. To my utter delight she gave each one of us a picture of a person. We were asked to make up a story. The picture I had was of a lady. She was dressed in a sari.

Since we were learning Bengali, we were encouraged to write in this language to improve our written work.

I started writing in Bengali. I said, this lady’s name is Roma. She is wearing a sari. Sari is usually worn by Bengali women. Roma is a very pretty girl. I like the colour of her sari. It takes six yards of material to make a sari. The border of her sari is red and the rest of the sari is blue.

Roma has to be careful when she walks. If she’s careless she may fall and faint. I wrote this because my older sister wore a sari to school one day, she could not deal with the six yard sari she really fell and fainted. Her headmistress said, ‘Firdaus tell your mom to let you wear the dress until you get used to a sari.’

I thought I’d add that little anecdote to make my story interesting.

I started feeling tired, because Bengali alphabets are tricky to write.

This is what I wrote that day.
You are welcome to give your opinion about my story, remember I was six years old. Compared to millennium little girls who learn from television, our vocabulary was not a whole lot. Television was not invented in those days. We could listen to a radio. But our Dad said, ‘no the children will not study if they have the privilege of listening to a radio.

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