OBH-Shop wali Aunty: An interview

At some point or the other, most of you must have bought something at the OBH store and noticed her. For many of you Mrs. G. Sireesha Rani is just known as the OBH store lady, or perhaps you also know that she is flexible in terms of credit and quite awesome. We at Ping! decided to find out what drives her. There is much more to her than meets the eye. We held the interview near the juice wala, and she was greeted by most of the people who crossed us.

1. What is your typical day like?

I like to start every day by doing Puja first thing in the morning. I then cook breakfast for my family. I enjoy cooking. I am a school mathematics teacher. I’m taking a break this year. When I used to teach, school would keep me busy from 8:20am to 4:00pm. As my husband was a bit unwell, I started coming to the store in the mornings to help him out. The nights get pretty late. My husband comes back from the shop at around 11:30pm, after which I serve him dinner.

2. Tell us more about your school & kids.

I have a daughter who is in her tenth standard and a son in his eighth. I have temporarily stopped teaching in school so that I can help out with my children’s studies for the upcoming board exams. I have a diploma in Civil Engineering. I enjoy mathematics as a subject, and like teaching kids. I have taught at the 21st century School and the YSS school of excellence.

3. Your views on the current education system?

I feel that society focuses too much on marks and rote learning these days, due to which students are under a lot of pressure. They do not have time to understand and appreciate the subject. They are not actually learning, their learning is only exam-based, and focused on competitive exams. Students need to enjoy the process of gaining knowledge, and not treat it as a chore.

If my children are unable to answer essay questions based on rote learning, I don’t scold them or tell them anything. I ask them what the problem is, and try to sort it out.

I wish the whole concept of marking would change, and schools would focus more on practical learning. Schools should organize walks and tours to make students more aware of their surroundings.

4. What would you like to tell your students?

Education defines you, and you should strive to get the best quality education. Even if you lose everything, you can never lose what you know. You should try to enjoy the subject. If you do not get marks, do not get disheartened. Keep striving and working towards your goal, and you are sure to achieve it. There are no bad or incapable students. Students are just inclined towards different things. If you enjoy singing or drawing you should continue doing it. Do not let society suppress your different interests. You should inculcate reading habits, and also take part in other activities. Even if you can’t do well in your academics, don’t lose hope; there are many other things in life.

5. How do you handle naughty kids in your class?

Naughty kids are interesting ones to deal with. They provide comic relief in the middle of a heavy duty class. If students don’t listen, I normally don’t scold them. I let them be. If they are inattentive or troublesome over a prolonged period, I do talk to them and tell them to get back on track.

I don’t believe in hard punishment or in forcing someone to study. One must rather motivate students to enjoy the subject. They will eventually start learning and studying of their own free will.

6. Coming back to the shop, don’t you get bored sitting at the same place throughout the day?

Well, yes I do get bored occasionally, but I entertain myself by reading. I enjoy reading news, magazines and scientific books. I enjoy reading about inspiring people and other interesting incidents and current affairs.

7. What are the major challenges you face/faced?

I could not do my B.Tech due to financial difficulties. I became a teacher when I was 20. Initially, English was a big challenge for me. I had studied in a Telugu medium school, and when I started my diploma it was very difficult for me. I must add that my college friends and seniors when I was studying, and the school officials where I taught, really helped me a lot in coping up and learning English.

8. What are other things that you would like to do?

After both my children are done with their Boards, I’ll have more free time on my hands. As I said, I enjoy teaching. I would like to do my bit for society and teach children at orphanages. Everyone has the right to education. These kids too should be taught the importance of education and be given equal opportunities to study and excel.

9. A little more about yourself.

Although we sell “outside” food, I don’t prefer it myself. Home food is so much more tastier.

I don’t particularly enjoy watching movies, I just end up going once in a while with my family.

10. Some opinions on society

Student mindsets are changing, and so is their behaviour towards their parents. Steps need to be taken so that they give due respect to their elders.

Some teachers are prejudiced against boys and girls being friends. I feel society should be more open. Even I cannot go outside and work in my field due to the existing prejudices in society. I sometimes wish I was in a more open-minded environment.

Education, these days, has become more about earning money and less about actually “learning” and enjoying the subject. Something must be done to change this.
All in all, you’ll come to know that she’s a very friendly, trusting and helpful person. She’s a

favorite among her students and also popular among college students. From great financial hardship, she has risen to a life of comfort through nothing but sheer hard work. Her progress in life is truly inspiring to all.

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