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Chapter 12
Changing Times

My name is Chetandas. Many years ago I used to teach children like you. These days I spend my time by writing about the days when I was young. I would love to share some of these with you.

A train on a platform full of passengers with a huge crowd.

A Big Move

I remember the time when I was nine years old. It must have been over sixty years ago. That was when we lived in Dera Gazikhan. Today this place is in Pakistan. At that time, there were a lot of problems all around us. I could not understand what was happening. One day Baba told us that we had to leave our village and move to another place.

For the teacher: Before starting this lesson, you can talk to the children about how India got freedom from the British rule, and also about the partition. Show them India and Pakistan on the map.

People working at a construction site.

I was sad to leave my house and my village. That was where I had all my friends. All of us - Baba, Amma, my younger brothers and sisters and I took a train to come here, near Delhi. Like us, many people from our area also moved. People were saying that our country was being divided into two – India and Pakistan. Many people from India went to Pakistan just like we moved to India. For some time we all stayed in a camp. We lived in big tents that were put up in a huge ground.

A New Home

One day Baba told us that we had been given some land in Sohna village. He said that we could build our house there. I was very happy. Baba and Amma worked hard to make the house. We children also helped. Baba dug the soil, and we quickly filled the pans and passed them on to Amma. Gudiya and Amma mixed husk in it. Baba put up the walls.

Lady mixing cow dung with mud with the help of a girl.

We brought cow dung from nearby houses. Amma mixed it with the mud. She coated the floor with this mixture, just like she used to do in our old house. Amma used to say that this would keep the insects away.

Then, it was the turn for the roof to be made. Baba made a frame by joining strips of wood and fixed it on the four walls. We put branches of neem and keekar trees on the frame, so that termites would not harm the wood. Amma put old gunny bags on this and covered them with mud.

Most of the houses around our house were made like ours. A few were different. But I liked my house the best. It was just like our old house.

Find out and Write

  • Talk to any one of your grandparents or any other elderly person. Find out, when she or he was eight-nine years old –

    • Where did she or he live? Name that place.

    • From what material was her or his house made?

    • Did they have a toilet in their house? If no, where was it?

    • In which part of the house was food cooked?

    • A lot of mud was used when Chetandas' house was made. Why?

For the teacher: Sohna village is in Haryana. Ask the children to locate Haryana on the map. Point out that when Chetandas’ parents built their house, most of the material they used were locally available. Discuss about locally available material and their uses.

A Changing House

Time passed quickly. I finished my studies and got a job. Amma-Baba wanted me to get married. I thought that before I got married we should repair our house and build one more room. In those days, people in cities were using cement. They said that this made the houses stronger. We also thought we would use cement. We used iron and cement for making the roof of the new room.

Lady cooking food and other family members sitting on the floor and eating their food.

In those days unbaked bricks were also available in the market. We made the walls with them. The use of bricks was useful – we did not need to coat the wall every week. Once a year we would whitewash the walls. We also built a small kitchen in the courtyard. The kitchen had a mud chulha and place to keep the vessels.

Then I got married, and my wife Suman came to our new house. To cook, Suman used to sit on the floor in the kitchen. We all used to sit on mats in the kitchen and eat together. It was a happy time!

People used to go out to the field for their toilet in those days. Some of the houses had a separate place for this. We also made a small toilet with unbaked bricks behind the house.

For the teacher: Encourage children to ask their elders about toilets at their times.

  • Chetandas tells that people from the basti used to come to clean the toilets and take away the waste. 

    • The people who used the toilets did not clean them. Discuss.

    • Is there a toilet in your house? Who cleans it?

More Changes

My two sons and a daughter were born in that house. Time passed. The children completed their studies. Fifteen years ago, our daughter Simi got married and moved to Palwal. When Raju was to get married, we felt that we should get the house ready for the new bride.

A big house.

By then, everyone was using baked bricks. We also used them for the walls and put a lintel for the roof. We used marble chips and cement for a strong and fancy floor. In the toilet we put pipes to take away the waste. The kitchen was made bigger. Now, Raju's wife does not use the clay chulha. She stands while cooking on the gas stove.

For the teacher: Ask the children what they think about the cleaning of toilets by others. Do they know of places where this is still done?

Big high rise buildings.

Seeing New Things

My younger son Montu moved to Delhi when he got a job there. Now he stays there with his family. Suman and I stay with Montu for some months in a year, and with Raju in Sohna for the rest of the time. On the way to Delhi from Sohna, we go through Gurugram. So many big high-rise buildings have come up there!

A few years ago Raju renovated the toilet and the bathroom. He used coloured tiles in his bathroom. Imagine, spending so much money for a place to have a bath!

I am now seventy years old. In all these years, I have seen so many changes, even in my own house. I don't know where my grandchildren will want to live and how their house will be! I wonder what the houses are like in Dera Gazikhan today. And how about all my friends – where will they be?

  • What material have been used in making your house?

  • Find out the material from which your friend's house is made? Is there any difference? Write about it.

  • What kind of house do you think Chetandas' grandchildren will live in?

  • Where would you like to live when you grow up? What kind of house would you like?

  • You had written about the things that your grandparent’s house was made of. Has some of those material been used in your house? Name them.

  • People are given names according to the work they do. For example, a person who works with wood is called a carpenter.

    • In your place, what do you call a person who works with wood?

Now, look at the picture and fill in the table.

A construction site.

What kind of work is being done by different people here?

What tools are they shown using in the picture? Write them in the given table.

What is the
person called




Do you know people who do these type of work? Talk to them and find out about their work. Discuss it with your friends.

  • With your teacher or someone from home, go to a place where a building is being constructed. Talk to the people working there and find out answers to these questions.

    • What is being built there?

    • How many people are working there?

    • What kind of work are they doing?

    • How many men and women are there?

For the teacher: If there is a construction site near by, you should take the children to visit it. Let them interact with the people working there.

  • Are any children working there? What are they doing?

  • How much money do these people get paid daily? Ask from any three different people.

  • Where do these people live?

  • What are the material being used for making the building?

  • Try and guess how many trucks of bricks and bags of cement will be used for making the building.

  • How do the material reach the building site? (By truck, handcart, any other vehicle) List them.

  • Find out the price of

    • One bag of cement

    • One brick

    • One truck of sand

For the teacher: Invite some of the people from the construction site to your school to talk to the students about their work and tools.

  • Ask a few other questions and write their answers.

  • Over the sixty years, different materials were used at different times in Chetandas’ house. List these in the correct order.

Let us make houses

  • Divide the children in the class into 3-4 groups. Let each group make a model of a different house. For this you can use mud, wood, paper, pieces of cloth, shoe-boxes, match boxes and colours.

  • Place all the houses so as to construct a neighbourhood colony.