Today was a one-trip-to-the-pump (OTTP) day. That was a plus. We picked up the list of registered pension-receivers from the Block Coordinator in Baneda. This means we can start the survey tomorrow. Another plus. The two hours spent preparing daliya and bhindi for lunch led to non-burnt and delicious, deeply satisfying results. A constant breeze was a natural air-conditioner. The day just kept getting better.
We planned for our first children's meeting today at 5 in the evening. A group of four kids showed up at 4:30. We told them to come back at 5. At 4:50 they showed up again and we politely shooed them away. Ten minutes. Come back in ten minutes.
It was 5, with no child in sight. We waited for ten minutes. To my relief, those four returned, more shy and very giggly. A few more joined, bringing our attendees to about twelve. We made a neat circle and were on name intros when a cacophony of high-pitched voices made their clamorous entry. They were still in their school uniforms, a blue button-up shirt, dark pants. Some buttons were missing, some patches were roughly sewn up. Now we had about fifty 8-10 year olds on our veranda, along with a few in the post-toddler stage. Forming a circle took some time.
For the next hour, we played a highly disorganized game, asked who went to school (a little more than half the kids), and asked them to ask us questions. A few brave ones spoke up, or volunteered others as the question-askers. What's your name? Where do you live? What village are you from? That was all we got from them.
They were hyper. They were loud. I talked too much. When Nikhil clapped to get their attention they all clapped. A few curious adults stood on the stairs, doling advice as they saw fit. Get hold of a stick. They'll listen then. We made it clear there would be no beating here. The next meeting is on the coming Sunday. Suggestions on how to hold the attention of pre-pubescents are most welcome.