By Neha Abraham
Vinay always wears a warm smile on his face, and if you look closely, you will also notice the warm and colorful socks on his feet! He lives in Teliwara where his family runs a sock packing business, something his father started over 20 years ago. Work begins at 10:00 am and ends at 6:00 pm every day. First the ‘mal ’or material comes from a factory in Sadar Bazar, then the socks are ironed, stickers pasted and labels attached. The socks are later packed in polythene, and made ready for the shelves. On an average, they manage to pack around 120 gaddis or bundles per day, each bundle having 12 pairs, receiving around 10 rupees per gaddi. This income provides for their family of five.
Being the only son in the family, helping with the family business was a responsibility which Vinay took on soon after finishing with school. But he felt the need to get a job and so he joined ETASHA’s Computerized Office and Data Entry (CODE) Course, to learn English and computers, carefully diving his time between work and training.
After the 17 week programme, Vinay feels he has developed his communication skills, and has emerged a more confident and positive person. “I was an introvert, and I used to spend most of my time at home. After joining the course, I made friends at the center, and I found an environment where I could speak to people in English” he says.
Interestingly, his mother’s family is from Agra and he used to regularly text his two uncles in English, both of whom work as English speaking tour guides there. He admired the ease with which they could interact with foreigners, but he didn’t have the confidence to do it himself. Through the course, he was encouraged to make use of knowledge that he already possessed. “I could write well, I knew a lot about English grammar from school and I had studied on my own too, but that knowledge remained in my notebooks. It isn’t useful to just write, it is important to be able to speak”.
Speaking helped him polish up his pronunciation, “I have worked hard on my pronunciation; ‘aalso’ (also) has become ‘aulso’, ‘vas’ (was) has become ‘wos’, and I am still working on it.” This progress has also made him bolder, and he doesn’t shy away from conversing with strangers. “I used to feel embarrassed. I was always concerned about what people would think. But I don’t think about this anymore” he says.
Vinay now has a more positive self –image; speaking to managers and being taken seriously by the staff at high end restaurants in Connaught place, while enquiring about job vacancies as part of an assigned task has made him surer of himself. “I had never gone out like this before; I had onlybeen to McDonald’s a few times with some relatives, but never alone, so this made me a lot more confident.” In a way, the last few months have been about stepping out, trying new things, and expanding his comfort zone, like stretching a pair of snug fitting socks!
All these experiences he says, have contributed to his new found confidence, and will hold him in good stead as he prepares to begin his career.
About the author: Neha Abraham is Communications Coordinator at ETASHA.