Pondicherry is known for the Ashram, the French Quarters and of course Auroville. But there is another part of Pondicherry -The Tamil Quarters, where the hustle and bustle takes place. This is where the temples, the markets, residences and the people live. Though I will touch upon the two different Quarters- French and Tamil, in some other post, this post is dedicated to a visit to a school for the hearing impaired- a great experience for me.
My stay in Pondicherry took me to the Patcheappane School for the Hearing Impaired, adopted by the Pondicherry Rivage Ladies Circle 47. Chairman Amar, a super host, picked me up from my hotel and first took me Hotel Surguru, a hotel that he runs in Pondicherry. Soon after, we were on our way to the school where members of Round Table and Ladies Circle had gathered to celebrate Taare Zameen Par, a painting competition. It was a great welcome, followed by a round of the school which houses about a hundred children. Ladies Circle has supported the school through color books, crayons, as well as prizes. As I already had many pictures of children painting in the last couple of weeks, I had come with a mindset that I would be through with this school in a matter of minutes. But after seeing the children, I couldn’t resist spending more than an hour documenting them painting. It was a fantastic experience!
Shri Patcheappane School for the Hearing Impaired (SPSHI) is dedicated to meet the educational and developmental needs of children with hearing impairment. The School was founded in 1994 to provide a learning environment that maximizes the use of each child’s residual hearing and to promote the development of spoken communication. This, we believe is possible through an exciting, interactive and cognition based curriculum. Since more than 75% of their students are from socially, educationally and economically marginalized families, the School has taken upon itself the responsibility of providing them with everything that they may require to complete their education from Pre-School to Standard X. In fact, the School also feels responsible to provide vocational training to equip them with a skill that could sustain them financially.
A free evening on that leg of the journey was welcoming. My connecting train from Villupuram was around midnight, which gave me ample time to catch the first half of the Quarter Finals of the World Cup played between India and Australia. Australia, under Ponting’s leadership was looking at another World Cup title, while India still eyed the trophy which was last seen with the Indians in 1983. Even if the Indians won this, they Pakistan to beat in the Semi Finals. Australia put up a good total and that’s where I left it. My taxi to Villupuram, 40 km from Pondicherry, had arrived.
The railway station wore a deserted look. It wasnt a big city station, a couple of platforms, but important enough to make each and every train stop there for 2 minutes. Even though it was only 10pm, it almost felt like late into the night, as there were hardly any people at the station. I walked into the waiting room, to find a lone family of three in it, all asleep, one on the chair and a couple on the floor. A lone tea stall was open, without much business at that time. I grabbed myself a cup of tea- somehow tea at railway stations are always good. A group of five people including the station master was in front of a lone TV on Platform 2. The World Cup was still on…and India had managed to come close to the target Australia had set. With every four and six, the six supporters (yours truly now included) clapped and shouted. In the next ten minutes, the game was over, and India was on it way to the Semi- Finals. Soon after, Pandian Express arrived and I was on my way to Madurai- the city of Meenakshi.