Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tales from an unusual childhood [1]

When I was 7 my family lived in Bangalore in the south of India for three months.  Bangalore was much larger and snazzier than the small country town in the centre of India that we were used to. 

I don't remember a lot about that time.  I do remember that the students in the flat above us used to play ABBA's 'Money, money, money' all day and I learnt the words for that song very well.  Ironic as I reflect on it now that they were theological students headed towards pastoring small Indian churches ...  Mind you, not much of my Indian childhood was untouched by music - it was just that this was Western music, music in a language I understood well. 

I remember my brother learning to take his first steps.  But most importantly I remember reading a whole book on my own for the first time.  It was 'Wind in the Willows'.

It was during those short months that I started to catch the reading bug.  There wasn't much else to do.  I wasn't going to school, my regular friends were far away and there wasn't any TV for entertainment (just ABBA).

One of my precious memories was my father taking me out to the British library each Saturday afternoon on the back of his pushbike.  I'd hop on the back and cling on for dear life as he negotiated the busy (terrifying for a small child) streets. 

I don't recall much of the detail of the actual building but I do remember the thrill I had being able to look at so many books.  So many books in English and written for children.  I'm sure they were mostly dusty classics but it was such a new experience for me.

I'd only been attending a small, local Indian school until this time, so there had been no library in my life until this point in my life that offered more than the heavy theological tomes available in the college library.

I do remember feeling sad leaving Bangalore and it's wonderful library and returning to our home.  It was probably about this age that I started to label and number my own books and created my own little library! 

And here I am today working as a librarian.  I've never put all the pieces together.  I started studying to be a librarian because it felt like a right fit when I was reflecting on what I'd really like to be doing.  I can get a bit  emotional at times about what a marvel a lovely library is in the lives of children. 

You never know.  Maybe one day I can use my new skills to set up a lovely library for a group of kids who don't have access to one like my own children do today.

4 comments:

Alison said...

I love this story!

Have you heard of the charity Room to Read (http://www.roomtoread.org/)? It sets up school libraries and publishes books to help improve children's literacy in places that don't have libraries! :)

Jenny said...

I do - it's fantastic isn't it? I would love to actually go and set up a library somewhere though - maybe a missionary kid school or something like that.

Karen said...

Funny that you remember reading a lot in Bangalore. I do too. It was where I first learnt to read. I clearly remember the first book I read was a Learn-to-Read version of The Billy Goats Gruff. Mum and Dad very generously bought me a new one each time I mastered one. We had quite a collection by the time we left Bangalore.

I wonder if Mum and Dad remember these memories of ours?!

Graham and Heather said...

You should be careful about spreading the story of cycle trips in the streets of Bangalore. I might be liable to child-abuse charges! Still, happy memories of many years ago.