Times of India 13th Sept 2016 – Splashed with pictures of yesterday’s public wrath..I sit quietly with the newspaper and the coffee in my hand and think back of our lives yesterday….
12th September 2016
1.10 pm: We received our first whatsapp news that Cauvery Galata has started somewhere and expected to spread. Immediately I share this with my team, put on live news on the laptop and look at the seriousness of the situation.
1.15 pm: We send messages out to all the parents of the 195 kids we drop everyday, that we are sending our girls to the school to pick the kids as things might get worse from here on. They need to co-ordinate with the schools to give us permission to pick the kids early. Utter mayhem contacting so many parents, on the whatsapp groups, calls to those where the messages did not get delivered. There was no time to think and decide of what else, all there was was the determination to move. Not a single parent made any issues, all co-operated..each and every one of them.
1.20 pm : We speak to each and every Roo, getting them to move from wherever they are to the designated school to pick the kids. Giving them instructions on regular routes, alternate routes, where to go first if things not in place. Ensure you carry your pepper sprays, you just might need them today. While instructions being given to them, also spoke to them and ensure their own kids picked up from their respective schools by family and friends..
1.30 pm : Each one on the route to their schools. Absolute chaos on the streets, people running around, bus stops absolutely full with people and children, traffic moving at snails pace. Our hearts beating – rather thumping with the fear of what might await us…Parents on the whatsapp chat constantly calling/ messaging whether we reached or we didnt. Complaining schools want letter that child to be released, frantic to get their kids home safe. I told them – schools dont listen? Lines Jammed? Send out mails, we will reach school and figure out what needs to be done next. Lets be practical and just move, no time to crib, nor complain. Work needs to be done, kids need to be safe..
2.30 pm : We reach our respective schools, there itself total chaos again, which child needs to go with whom, whose letter has come, whose mail has come. Children start pouring out to us. Their little faces happy at the holiday given, but worried about what our faces look like, know somethings not right with all the kids running around. Had to pacify them, assure them we will reach home safely. Dumped their bags in the dicky, gave them their tiffins and water bottles in hand, gave a nice smile and said, lets go guys!!
2.30 – 3.30 : All our Roos enroute with their cars stuffed with kids – even additional ones who usually don’t use our services joined in with the others in their apartments, special requests from parents. We didn’t even think once and accepted them gracefully, our only agenda to keep as many children safe as we could.. Then came the difficult part, in the whole traffic jam, seeing the fire and the rage and parents calling all over to find whats happening.. My own son was with me in one of the vans I was driving. I armed him with my phone, he went on the live tracking system we had, where we tracked each and every van location. This lil fella went on messaging all parent groups on the location of their kids – every 2 minutes. All I had to guide him was this number vehicle details to be given to this group! It was like live commentary, more exciting than any cricket match I had every watched. You remember how as kids we would be glued to the radio, now whatsapp it was with the tracking software!
3.30 : All kids home, safe, thank yous pouring in from all corners. Our eyes moist with the overwhelming feeling that we protected these kids, they had all become our own lil ones in these past months of transporting them..We had become mums to so many kids….195 of them!! Wow!!
Then each Roo had to reach their own homes safely, like we had a live tracking session relay to the parents, we were now having this for our own Roos, and sat down in peace only after each one finally parked the cars in their own homes..Till then we could barely breathe…
Even today, while I write the above incident, my hair stands at the end, my heart pounds – don’t know if its fear, excitement, happiness that we did it..And while we sit back and relive the moments, the following points flash across my mind :
1. None of my Roos refused to go to work in all this stress. Not even one. They were called, and each one left immediately. Gathered themselves, informed their families to pick their own kids, and left like warriors to keep other children safe. What a set of responsible moms who have taken this job! My salute to my Roos, I love you all! My eyes moist with pride!
2. None of the parents made any chaos – 195 kids with 400 parents. Each one responded quickly to our messages, connected with their schools, patiently waited with us following our messages. It was like a full fledged war operation being put into action…
3. Schools – inspite of the mayhem of parents there and pick up responsibilities, went all out and helped us, screaming to their support staff – all TAXSHE kids please come this side, move with your respective Roo – like a whole loudspeaker system – without their loudspeakers ofcourse. What I was amazed at was the school staff – filtering out our kids, like those old kiranaa stores where people would send out little biscuit packets on someone’s instructions. The fact that they were doing this for TAXSHE – we come to school through their parents, rather than the other way round, as we have very less staff at the moment – the fact was that in their own way, they respected us and gave us the right to take the authority to take kids safely, they STOOD BY US. In the midst of all this, many schools had withdrawn their own transport facility for the fear of their own safety, on the other hand, they called out our kids, their eyes full of respect for our WOMEN DRIVERS!
Ufffff!! The day ended finally, but my heart beat still did not simmer with all the action…all faces in my dreams, kids with their tiffins, smiling, whatsapp messages pouring in, news all over…
All I can say is I AM SO PROUD TODAY - of my Roos, my lil clients, my own little assistant at home, and all the support and love from the parents. THANK YOU ALL….