Shahrukh Khan or Dr. Shahrukh Khan, as he always insisted on calling himself when other kids teased him about being his famous namesake, is one of the children from one of the earliest SOLE Labs in India. He has been written about in blogs that have decribed the mentoring and support he continued to get from Granny Liz long after the project closed down and he left school. Today, Shahrukh is well on his way to becoming a doctor and is in the last year of his medical studies in the Philippines. But that’s not what this tale is about….
The tiny – 3 computer – lab at ISG overlooking the busy main road. 2009 [Photo: Suneeta]
This story is about when Shahrukh was still in school and the Granny Cloud had just begun its interaction in the tiny lab at ISG, in the Bahadurpura area of Hyderabad. Three computers groups crammed into the tiny lab at the front of the school adjoining the busy main street… It didn’t matter whose session it was, which Grade was supposed to be in the lab, or which Granny was going to connect. If Shahrukh could find a way to skip class and be in the lab; there he was!
Shahrukh hanging around Granny sesions for younger Grades  [Photo: Suneeta]
A Granny would be reading a story to Grade 1 and there he was. It would be a session with Grade 2 and there he was… I couldn’t help asking him if he didn’t find some of the stories ‘childish’. After all, it was a concern that many of the Grannies had (especially those that interacted with the older age groups, and Shahrukh was in Grade 10!). Shahrukh just grinned. “No” he said, “No, I haven’t heard these stories before. Nor have I seen such lovely picture story books. It’s all new to me. Besides, my English is not very good. So if I sit around I learn quite a lot.” And more in the same vein as he pleaded to be ‘allowed’ to just hang around irrespective of who had a session. And I wasn’t about to send him back to class if he could find a way to convince his teachers!
Shahrukh and his classmates in a session with Liz  [Photo: Suneeta]
Shahrukh showed then, as he has continued to show since, a particularly useful capacity to convince the person in front of him! And he often got away with it. So glad he did!
What he also spontaneously offered to do was help out in the lab and keep the connection going especially when the really little ones were in the lab. He had figured out what wires to check as well as other basic stuff if the connection fluctuated. So even in the absence of the lab technician who would arrive once a week, Shahrukh kept things moving. “I won’t interrupt. I’ll let the little ones do the talking. I will just watch and listen.” And what did I need to be convinced? As you can imagine, not much! So Shahrukh got what he wanted and he made the most of the opportunity.
Shahrukh helping out  [Photo: Suneeta]
That is probably the hallmark sign of a child who is going to ‘make it’ later in life. Not just materially but in terms of learning. Shahrukh still harbours dreams of other children being able to have the kind of “Granny Cloud” interactions that he experienced and Liz and I are particularly happy to be called “Aunty”.
Here’s a flavour of his motivation…. [through excerpts from some of his emails to me]
Just a month into The Granny Cloud, Shahrukh wrote in July 2009:
…………About my self I live in jiyguda and I want to become a DOCTOR in feaure and I am interested in compter.” ………….
And then on 24th April 2010 , several months after the project had closed down and we were struggling to keep the schools involved, with his motivation and concern for the other children still strong, he wrote:
How are you?I am fine and I hope the same with you.Soon we will talk with SKYPE.
…………………. ………………… ……………………
I hope you will continue the work in my school.Take the same timing and day of talking with LIZ and tell present Tenth class to talk with her.They can improve there english.” ……..
Today, Shahrukh is busy as an intern and just a few months away from getting his basic medical degree in the Phillipines and well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming a doctor. Proud of you Shahrukh!