Field Note: Daily Life

Being a Kid in Madurai, India


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up in another country? Here I’ve interviewed Afshan, an eight year old girl from Madurai, India, about her life at home and at school. She’s also taken some photos for you of her home and things that are important to her. Keep on reading to learn about the similarities and differences between her life and yours.

  •  What is your house like?

It has seven rooms. I live upstairs and the neighbors live downstairs. I have lived here for one year. Before that, I lived in a house nearby.

  • What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

I eat dosa for breakfast, rice and vegetables for lunch, and dosa for dinner.

(Note: Dosa is a kind of fried flat bread made of a mixture of rice and lentils that is very commonly eaten in south India.)

I help my mother set the dinner table. Sometimes I help wash the vegetables. I also help her hang the laundry. What jobs do your parents have?

  • What jobs do your parents have?

My mother is an administrator of an NGO that helps Muslim women. The NGO also provides education to children. My father is the manager of Micronutrient Initiative India.

(Note: Micronutrient Initiative India is an organization that seeks to provide the world’s people, especially those in developing countries, with the vitamins and minerals they need.)

  • What time does school start, and what time do you go home?

My school starts at 8:20 in the morning and I go home at 2:40 in the afternoon. My school is called Mahatma Montessori School and is very near where I live.

  • How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?

I ride on the back of my mother’s motorbike. I could go by myself but there are a lot of cars and motorbikes on

the road at that time. The busy road makes the way to school dangerous, so I don’t go alone.

  • What do you eat for lunch, and where do you eat? What is your favorite food?

At school I eat rice with lemon, curd, sambar, potatoes, or vegetables. At home I eat the same. At school we get food from the canteen and bring it back to our classroom to eat. My favorite food is tamarind rice and potato.

(Note: “Curd” refers to yogurt. “Sambar” is a soupy south Indian vegetable dish that incorporates many spices. “Tamarind” is a pod-like fruit.)

  • What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello”? in your language?

We speak English at school but a lot of the kids speak Tamil even though they are not supposed to. At home we speak Urdu. “Salamualaikkum” is hello in Urdu.

  • What are some common kids’ names at your school?

Krishna, Priya, Vignesh, Mohamed, etc.

(Note: In India many children are named after important people in Islamic or Hindu religions. Krishna is a god in the Hindu religion while Muhammad is an important religious leader in Islam.)

  • What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?

I study English, mathematics, science, social science, Tamil, and Hindi. My favorite subjects are science and Tamil.

  • What is your homework like?

The school used to give us English grammar sheets and math sheets. They would also assign us activities like drawing, collage, cutting and pasting, and other crafts.

  • What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?

I usually do my homework, watch television, and help my mother with whatever she is doing. As for sports, I really like to play badminton.

  • Who is your favorite famous person?

Mahatma Gandhi is my favorite famous person. We call him Gandhijii.  I also admire Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He fought for India and died for our country.

  • What kinds of music do you listen to?

I like patriotic music.

  • What would you like to be when you grow up?

I would like to be a neurological surgeon.

  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would like to go to many places. Some of them are Switzerland, Paris, Venice, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, France, and Dubai.

  • What do you know or think about the United States?

The United States is in North America. I did a project on North America.  America is a developed country. So many people from other countries go to America to try and get jobs.

What questions do you have for kids in the United States?What kind of games do you play? How many subjects do you study in school? What do you think about your school? What is your ambition when you grow up?

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