Friday, February 22, 2008

Holiday Blues

Its a week's holiday on account of the country's national and liberation days.

I look out and the sun glows white like it thinks it is the moon. There is a dust storm that's been on for two days now. You breathe in dust, walk in dust. The dust gets into the house and covers every surface, frustrating your efforts at cleaning. The 7 holidays stretch out with nothing to do. Braving the dust and cold winds is not attractive. I think back to my childhood holidays in India.

When our schools closed for summer, all my cousins, my brothers and I would descend on the bungalow on the hillock in the rubber estate where my father worked. My mother would pack goodies in picnic packs and all of us kids would burst out of the house, run among the tall green green trees, walk across the primitive bridge that swung dangerously, and jump into the small rivulet of clear clear water in our petticoats or shorts. We passed happy hours laughing and playing in the cool water as the sun warmed us. Hours later the maid would come to fetch us. And we trudged back home tired and ravenous.

In the evening, my father would tell us stories of Soorpanekha or Bheema or some vivid character as we chewed on salty steamed corn. A Kathakali and music enthusiast, my father was a great story-teller. His was no bedtime story of the west. He brought alive the figures that peopled those tales and we laughed at the antics of Hanuman, wept with pity for the young Dhruva, got angry with the mischief-maker Kooni, felt awed by Bheeshma's pledge..

We acted out these stories or performed dances and songs before the appreciative audience of my parents, neighbours and sundry servants. We played cricket(with commentary), ran after the calves, fought with each other over a piece of Cadbury's chocolate, got our hair and bodies oiled and stood together without a stitch of clothing, drawing pictures on our oiled bellies. We read books, we sang bhajans, we played cards, we blew bubbles, we followed frogs, we lay together on mats spread in the hall and giggled when we were supposed to sleep ....

I look up from the key board as I write this. My son sits alone with a tin of pringles on the sofa playing a computer game and watching Shahrukh doing the OSO dance for the nth time. My son is happy.

Then why am I feeling sorry for him?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Flirting Tips

Another Feb 14th has come and gone. I missed the controversy that the Indian people cook up every year as Valentine's Day approaches. This year there was none of the usual condemning of western culture and accusing them of infiltrating the Bharatiya sanskar.The Saudi Govt did ban its celebration in that country- a great loss for the red rose exporters. My spoilsport school begins the Annual Exam on this date every year. So boys and girls have no time to exchange candy or love-notes; they are busy trying to pass chits and copy, outwitting the eagle-eyed invigilator.

So that's where I was on 14th- in XB, supervising. I'm neither eagle-eyed nor vigilant, but have mastered the art of looking like Iam. So with the strict expression in place, I let my thoughts wander...

They strayed to the significance of the day and went on to the topic of flirting- tips for girls on how to flirt. Here they are:

Flirting is an art,a game.
It's Cupid's arrow's other name.
Every dart carries a flare -
a sexy pout or a brazen stare.
So budding flirts must coach your faces;
never mind that your teeth are in braces.
Teach your lips the flirty action,
your nose to flare in subdued passion.
Don't worry that your hair grows in traces,
as long as you have curves in the right places.
And if your legs are shapely and long,
the attraction is bound to be strong./ the boys will come panting along.

I had got till that when I was called to give extra sheets,putting an end to the profound musing.

These thoughts are the result of keen observation, not my own experience. I never flirted.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The other day I watched Taare Zameen Par and wanted to thank the director for pushing the issue into our faces, into the Indian mind. Kudos also for allowing the child to steal the show.

Be that as it may... Despite the good intentions, the plot is overoptimistic. I've seen many parents and haven't found any who accept that that their child has a problem. Actually dislexics are not so uncommon. Colleagues will not change their mindset. Not so fast anyway. In short the life of a dislexic usually remains a solitary nightmare.

So why can't teachers be like Amir's character. The answer is simple. They are simply not trained to handle such cases. The BEd course should be equipping a teacher to do so instead of / along with the history of education and statistics.All that a teacher can do is identify the problem and inform the counsellor or parents. In a class of 30-40 students it is not fair or even possible to give time to slow learners. Even if an attempt is made it can't be consistent.

The film also left me wondering- What if Ishan hadn't won the prize? What if Einsein had not figured out the theory of relativity? What if Da Vinci had not painted? Why do we as a society admire only the larger-than-life achievements? Why don't we acknowledge the simple conquests, the everyday miracles? Would Ishan's parents have loved, respected or cherished him less if he hadn't been great at something? Should parents expect their children to bring in results? I wonder and I find solace in Gibran's words :

'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.'

Another reason why teachers can't be like Amir's character (whats his name?): No teacher I know can do cute bumshakes like he does......

Stop! Don't even imagine it.