Sunday, April 4, 2010
and so that I am not entirely disloyal to the spirit … am indulging in a bit of “Spring Cleaning”…rummaging through my neglected hoards of books, bags and shoes…let me share with you the experience…!
I started with the noble intention of re cataloging all my books…the unread & unreadable ones that I possess to show off that I am erudite; the pulp that I buy and read to show that I am NOT a nerd ;the favorites of bygone days that I intend to savor ‘on another day’; the naughty ones that my son must not find…not yet; the utter trash that I hope to dump on people who are too dazzled by my reputation as a “reader” and will thus not dare to comment upon ; the “texts” that I must read or have read due to my profession and which I hate and cant get rid of simply because of the fear that I might “teach” them once again….. the numbers add to 700 plus….. and my math is bad!!
And thus with my newly acquired skills in Excel I started off : genre wise, author wise, title wise…a veritable professional librarian!! And then the picnic started….how can you not read a few lines…how can you not read the ending to check whether what you thought had happened had actually happened…how can you not make a separate list for the books that were before & after or by the same author and which you should have possessed and you DON’T…!
It was a banquet….and seven days down I am still savouring….and what a dandy time I am having….ofcourse nothing is still back on the carefully labeled shelves( yes…did that too …neatly typed & all!!)…nobody can enter the room and I have only two days of “break” left….
When I was young …we always got books as gifts…nowadays people give me purses( not that I mind purses!! and yes I haven’t sorted through them yet!) ….but isn’t it a pity after all……….
Anyways so that’s what I have been doing dears…and yes in a way this has been a true Spring for me…the winter of ennui ( I wrote…. but only curriculum plans, pedagogy issues, strong official mails that bore even me) is hopefully over and I possibly needed my two harbingers of Spring to say : Mrs. D!!!! It's been ages! How are you? ♥ and Ditto…..
Thank you dears!!!
So lesson of this blog: even though the Sun glares at me at 38 degree plus… I shall “look in my mind’s eye” and remember the “Spring Break” as I travel 45 kilometres one way till June 15 when the skies will open over Hyderabad and I shall start on my SUMMER BREAK! Ha…..
Thursday, November 26, 2009
What’s the reason to wake up …who gives a dime?
Grappling with Jane Austen…is that my fate?
Hated her in college…still hate….
Knowledge and further jargon of the new curriculum
Starting the day with a harrum..scarrum…
How does it matter , really??
The day is busy, busy….the evening is crammed
Bake a cake, write cheque
Read up for tomorrow’s class, has the maid cleaned the brass
Check in everyone’s dinner preference, have a family “conference”
“How was your day?”... “Oh the usual….”
“It was crap…three math classes in a row…”
“ The boss is a *&%##...anyway lets not talk about work…”
Nothing to share…. really?
What about books not read?
What about thoughts not said?
What about moments not shared?
What about joys that have left?
What about how bored you are…in general…?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Of being a stereotype from now till eternity............
A teacher, a preacher…whatever you call
It was a calling I have always claimed.
Not too sure now.
Whether it was just an excuse to take the easiest way
Not to stretch the mind, not to pit against the best.
The students get younger by the day, I only older...
A race to remain young at heart, if not in body!
The limbs drag…running from lesson to lesson
The mind rebels…confronting shallowness of knowledge.
The pedagogies keep expanding, the jargons get smoother
Are we really doing anything at all?
Are they good “because” of us or “inspite”…?
The answer is no longer so strident.
……………for about thirty seconds.
The bank statement at the month end inspires
………….till the credit card details arrive!
Alternatives must be just as mundane….
……that’s the only self-delusional comfort!
Friday, April 3, 2009
The chaos was not chosen.
It crept in unnoticed
through the ravines of routine,
through the ravages of complacency,
through the tedium of familiar coupling,
through the homework , through the mortgage payment,
through the Sunday movies and annual vacations,
through the eroding of fantasies,
through the cooling temperature of a crumbling relationship,
through the breakdown of “mutually beneficial multipoint interactions”.
Then the fights began...
over rights that have been overlooked,
over favours that have not been returned,
over sacrifices that that have not been recognized,
over responsibilities that have become burdensome
over an ardour that was not stoked,
over “delicate issues of mutual concern”.
Mediation was not acceptable.
Matured people, independent countries
Term mediation as interference, “loss of identity”.
The white flag was not waved.
The bolsters snarl at each other,
The boundaries are demarcated.
One heaving nation wets the pillow;
The other is silent in tight lipped withdrawal.
The wounds of the past weeks glisten...
Skirmishes of innuendos, hateful words,
pleadings and uproar of sudden barrages
The beginning of an end
is neatly packaged
in the deceiving oblong envelope
propped up against the silver frame
of two laughing faces.
The unclasped watches, in their familiar places ,
across the gulf of disintegration
as the new borders take formal shape.
The innocent troops
aged nine and four sleep in the next room,
limbs twitching in nightmare
of an impending war.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Murdr she rote n did
Love of creation,a dark need did feed.
Art boroz frm life
4 sake of art,She extinguishd a life.
on the theme of CHEATING:
Heera’s eyes watered trying to decipher the formulae from the narrow pleats of the uniform, ignoring the toilet stink and incessant door banging. 20 marks correct definitely! “You come with me!” How? Why? She got up and the entire hall sniggered. She looked down. The skirt was inside out...fine cross-stitch of equations snaked all over.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Sunita came to Chabri Tea Estate as Ranjit, the Assistant Manager’s new bride.
Sunita had heard rather quaint stories of tea-life from her maternal uncles. Both of them were in the Army, had been posted in the North-East and told tales of the ‘planters’ and their exploits , their huge bungalows and retinue of servants even in these times, the wild parties and the “club days” and given the general feeling that tea-life was good life...far from the maddening crowd with a luxurious lifestyle as bonus.
Sunita was determined to be a success as a “tea-wife”. To that end she had questioned Ranjit about every aspect of the household structure, how many cooks, gardeners and bearers she was entitled to, what kind of socializing and entertaining was expected, what kind of clothes she would be expected to wear and what kind of home decorations she had to “carry”( she had taken for granted that Ranjit must be slumming in the typical bachelor fashion). Ranjit had tried to assuage her burning curiosities and laughingly accused that she was perhaps more interested in the life rather than the man being offered in the marriage. Sunita could not honestly say that he was wrong.
Ranjit was a very junior assistant, barely two years into the job and thus the bungalow he merited was decorously dilapidated. This way a bit of a blow to Sunita but when Ranjit explained to her that their bungalow had been originally the “bada –bungalow” or the Manager’s bungalow, she was a little mollified. Once the hiccoughs of settling in were over and the first round of “welcome the newly weds” parties were done with, Sunita started the process of making her “home”.
The Bungalow was truly enormous, not only by urban standards, but by any standard. It was a wooden duplex bungalow-- the ground floor was devoted to a good sized foyer, formal and separated drawing and dining rooms and an enormous kitchen ( a converted pantry ),. On the first floor, apart from the master bedroom and the adjoining “baba-kaamra” or children’s room, there were three “faltu” or extra rooms which were used as guest rooms. The original kitchen was a little distance away connected by a cobbled archway. The servants’ quarters were just outside the bungalow’s periphery.
Sunita looked at the large unadorned spaces and realized that in spite of all her meticulous planning, her belongings would be pitiful. The furniture that she found was a curious mixture of solid teak and ugly modern. As she talked to the servants it was revealed that Chabri had been an independent estate and that indeed this had been a manager’s bungalow inhabited by “boga” or white planters. Later on as Ranjit’s company bought up several estates, Chabri lost its independent identity and became a sub- division of the larger adjoining Chirok estate. The Manager now resided in Chirok and this bungalow was occupied by a series of junior officers in charge of the sub division and at times remained unoccupied. It had also been officially vandalized by the “bada –mem” or the manager’s wife, who had taken away the good pieces of furniture, furnishings, crockery and even some of the rare plants from the garden. The junior officers, whenever in residence, had requisitioned for replacement furniture and been granted the modern flimsy bits that clashed horribly with the antique residues but either it had not bothered the aesthetics of the occupants or they had been too low in the feeding order to be granted anything better. Sunita talked to Ranjit. He had an easy solution...they did not need so many rooms, why not store what she did not like in a couple of them and do up the rest? He promised to try for some new furnishings.
So Sunita set about looking for the pieces to discard as well as the rooms to lock up. Each one was large with huge bathrooms which by themselves could be construed as rooms. There was a particular room, at the rear of the bungalow which appealed to her. Some strenuous heaving of furniture had revealed that the uninspiring linoleum on the floor actually hid fine teak boards and the terrible pink on the walls covered a wall paper that could be salvaged. What attracted her most was the huge, claw footed porcelain bathtub with its lapis lazuli engraved fittings. It seemed to belong to a different era altogether and Sunita dreamed about the exclamations of the visiting relatives on seeing this. She decided to “keep” this room and beautify it with some pieces from other rooms. She sensed a strange reluctance about this among the servants specially the cook and the head bearer who had been with the bungalow for a long time. Not knowing whether to impose her authority or ask them outright, she kept quiet. Neither did she want to confide in her husband, whom she wanted to surprise with her decorating talents and therefore had strictly forbidden an entrance.
At last the room was done.
One day at breakfast, Ranjit announced that for the next three or four days he would not be coming back for lunch as they had some training programme at the tea factory. Sunita decided that it was the perfect time to “try” out the room- take her afternoon siestas there. Indeed the room looked inviting with the gleaming floor boards, well polished furniture, the old patina of the wall paper shining, the new curtains up and the intricately embroidered bed spread from Sunita’s trousseau giving it an elegance that seemed entirely natural and almost due to it.
It was a glowing afternoon of winter. Sunita propped a book on her chest and started to read...but somehow her glance kept on sliding away from the book to the room as she patted her own back and admired anew every change she had made. A huge window was to her right. A huge litchi tree bursting with flower buds covered it almost, casting dappling shadows into the room. Sunita didn’t know when she had drifted off to sleep....an uncanny sense of someone looking at her brought her out of an unremembered dream .She glanced about...no one...the bedroom door was closed though not locked...just as she had left it; the bathroom door was ajar. She got up and looked in. Everything was as normal as possible. She rang the bell. The second bearer, a young lad came and knocked. She was a bit more brusque than usual and asked where everyone was. He looked blank and then said that since Memsaab was resting they had been at their late afternoon tea a little longer than usual and was very sorry. Did Memsaab want anybody? Sunita nodded him away. She couldn’t settle down any more. Annoyed as well as a little uneasy, she decided to go down to the garden. Her steps, almost by their own accord turned towards the rear of the house, towards the litchi tree. The two gardeners were working in the kitchen patch and glanced towards her. She called out to them, pointing out the wide spread branches and ordered them to be trimmed...they were too near the window, she said and obstructing the light. The head gardener demurred saying that now that the blooms were coming, it was not a good time...he will do the needful after the crop was over. Anyway, he said , that room was not used. Sunita said, with a grim look, no, it was her room, she was using it now. The Mali looked at her in agitation, seemed to be on the verge of saying something and swallowed his words at the last minute.
Ranjit noticed her preoccupation in the evening and commented on it. She did not share anything.
Next afternoon , she noticed that the bolt was drawn across the door of the new “guest room”. She called the main bearer and he confessed that he had closed it. He explained that it has been fully cleaned and he has closed it so that no body will disturb it. Before Sunita could stop herself, she announced that she was again going to sleep there that day. The bearer gave her an inscrutable look, then nodded and unlocked the room and turned the bed. As she was settling down with her book, he hesitated and mentioned that if Memsaab wanted he will not go off duty then and will stay the afternoon in the kitchen. There was some pending cleaning up, he hastily added. Sunita found herself telling him, it was fine, he could go home.
She was determined not to sleep that afternoon. However her eyes seemed to close of their own accord...again to be opened suddenly by that now familiar and almost expected sense of being inspected. Sunita looked at the doors...both were closed firmly today. She looked under the bed, feeling a little ridiculous. She crossed over to the window..the sensation was stronger. She looked at the branches...though the tips seemed to be touching the window, the branches were too weak to carry any body. Anyway they were fewer in number this side. She noticed now that the tree was in fact a little lop-sided, as though some branches towards the room had been lopped off some time back.
Sunita decided that she was being over imaginative and that evening she was extra cheerful with Ranjit, asking him about his training and complaining that they seemed not to be with each other at all. Ranjit said that another three days...he would be all hers...even the afternoons. He teased, catch up with your sleep now that you can.
On the third afternoon, Sunita decided that she would watch television rather than sleep. Now the TV was in the master bedroom, so there was no way that she could go to the guest room. However she couldn’t on concentrate on the limited channels and tired of flicking, threw the remote and almost angrily marched to the guest room. Arms akimbo, she surveyed it...may be some alterations can be done. She picked up a few oddments from the drawing room, and spent some time arranging and rearranging them in the guest room. Suddenly she felt very tired. She lay down on the bed ...and as she felt herself sinking into sleep, the uncanny sensation began. This time, Sunita did not open her eyes. She tried to guide her sensations to the point of intrusion and felt herself turning to the window. She opened her eyes and found herself staring into a face....in broad daylight....some one was looking at her through the window. Her frozen mind registered that it was a man’s certainly and that it was connected to a body. The face was staring straight at her ...there was no expression save for a puzzled one. Sunita did not know whether it was for 5 seconds or 5 minutes. A sudden shout from outside her door shook her into consciousness....Ranjit coming in early, was hollering for her. Sunita did not know what to do. She had certainly been scared out of her wits by what she had seen, but as she thought back, strangely enough the sighting had been a non threatening one. A part of Sunita wanted to keep this encounter very private. She decided not to say anything to anybody.
That evening when they went to the club, Sunita managed to turn the conversation towards her bungalow. Most of the people hinted at a tragedy though nobody quite knew the details. It had been too long ago...or no one seemed inclined to share the details.....one thing however became clear...the bungalow and all its rooms were being used by a “family” after a long time.
The next day would be the last afternoon to be left alone, Sunita realized that. The whole day seemed to drag. She had her lunch early and as if preparing for a ritual picked up a book and settled down in the guest room. Her instincts said that there would a closure that day. Unlike the other days, Sunita felt unusually alert and seemed not able to settle down. She knew this would not do. She forced herself to close her eyes, to relax. Unknown to herself a strange lyric started spiralling from her lips...an old English song she had never heard....almost in a trance she got up from the bed and undressed herself. The window was open, the curtains lifted as if by a hand. Her legs moved of their volition to the bathroom. She pushed the door open. The bathtub was brimming with blood....bright, inviting, and swirling in soft motions. Sunita stepped in.
Ranjit works in a merchant bank now. He is a widower.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Of a school which is naturally the crème de la crème.
Offering the Edwardian vision of achievement
Coupling zeal for perfection with attainment
Where the students are all true copies of Dilton
Comprehending with alacrity both Mendel and Milton
No truants like Holden Caulfield to upset the applecart
No Tom Browns to gently question the system from the start.
The story of each teacher would like the last chapter of “Goodbye Mr. Chips” read
But could all touch their hearts and be able to deny any deed
That smacks of favouritism, nepotism and petty politicking
Of small cruelties, rank injustice and deliberate backbiting
That may a shatter a young mind, or a promising career
Tearing decency and integrity into shreds like an angry terrier.
I would also dream of an ideal management
That would consider teachers god and bleat in agreement
To feather light workloads and bountiful of cash
Shut their eyes to parents’ concern and consider their opinions trash.
‘The children will to their potential grow’- would be the explanation
If your child does by merit fail, send him for private tuition
The infant may with his bag load of homework faint
The syllabus is completed on time – so let there be no taint
Upon the school’s reputation which shall shine ever bright
For in the darkness of illiteracy, have we not brought the light
Of spoon feeding, thought control-call what you may
Remember, Education is also an enterprise- so don’t stand in the way!
From such a nightmare I woke one day
Fearing the vision that ahead lay ….
Of the young Frankensteins that we would help to nurture
Who being cheated of a cherished childhood would build a monstrous future
Without the warmth of empathy or consideration beyond self
A genius without conscience, a selfish giant who will crave for help
Yearn for love and weaknesses that make him human
For such qualities also resided in every Aristotle and each Henry Truman.
Can’t we therefore envision a different school?
Where the future Noble Laureate may parley at ease with the fool?
“Where the mind is without fear and the head in held high”
Where the sight of the school gate may not let out a sigh
Where education becomes a search for learning the treasure within
Where a team player is moulded and not a king pin.
Let us hold our child’s hand and become a guide
Help him to seek and not allow to hide
Under a mountain of incomprehensible knowledge that for him has no use
For he knows not his aim, no one has given him the ruse
To hanker for answers that his fervent mind quests
And to cross the unexplored vistas his first footstep sets.
Let us train each child to lift his eyes to the sky
And unfurl his untested wings in order to fly
With Jonathan Livingston Seagull and gather wisdom of his own
To light the first spark with an early man and to know how the first seed was sown
Let every child put together his first two plus two
Watch the falling apple and learn the way Newton knew
And to arrive at the concrete e=mc2 from the abstract yet mundane
Features of life that range from the hissing of the tea kettle to how pigs are slain.
Let us allow a child to know a little less geography
It’s no less important to bring in that cricketing trophy.
My dream school therefore shall such a syllabus follow
That spurs a child to think and absorb knowledge and definitely not wallow
In a quagmire of information spouted from a frothing teacher
Frantically demonstrating his memory power, feature by feature
Spoon feeding is to be banned along with tongue-lashing
Gone are the days when each lesson was taught along with a thrashing.
In my dream school no question can be stopped by a foreboding frown
Any quest for knowledge by anyone is as priceless as a reigning monarch’s crown.
In my school’s timetable a lot of colours are used
Study time, play time –the contours becomes diffused
Feinting in the football field, messing about with glue
Throwing a fit in dramatics and diving into the aqua blue
Singing, dancing, debating -our days are quite full
Our children are not the ones to passively learn and let their heels cool.
A mixed bag of students we’ll have- feisty, brilliant and quiet
Yet in each will burn the love for others-steady and bright.
A medley of teachers there will be-as friends and discerning guides
Holding the hands of their young companions along the narrow and wide
Knowledge will be dispensed here with clarity and verity
Discipline will be tempered with understanding and charity.
The focus here will be on the child, his growth and his mind
There’ll be room for everyone, every creed and every kind.
Lessons will be framed keeping in mind his age and his need
For teaching-learning is both a reciprocal and a continuous deed.
Books will not be the only resort…
Technology, field trips, television-the ship of learning will touch many a port.
The teachers will indeed be the captains of their ships
Working alongside the rawest crew to prevent any slip.
Their hearts too will be ‘with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.’
They too will marvel at ‘the tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night.’
“Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya” the ancient sages had intoned
To that end will be our journey, to that end our skills honed.
The ideal management will not be the one with palm open for donations
It will have to be the one with heart open for students and ears open for suggestions.
Is such school a figment of imagination, a Hogwartian piece of magic?
To dream of such an ideal, can the end be only tragic?
Still I will dare and dare to dream such a dream
I shall await that enchanted hour and wait for it to chime
I know that the road ahead is going to be steep
And also that in future “I have miles to go before I sleep”
But I know that I no longer want to hear Pink Floyd say with conviction
That teachers do “ Thought-control “ and children say“We don’t want no education”
Therefore my new motto is “I can and I will”
If needed I will part the sea and move the hill
The journey is not easy, but the path is clear
There is trepidation but no longer any fear
For I know that, I in my quest ,shall companions find
Many voices echo these words that are in my mind.
Fellow educators, pupils and parents, together we’ll go
For friends are we, neither antagonists nor foe.
(i had just joined Oakridge and fuelled by the excitement of becoming a part of a brand new pedagogy, had simply reeled out this poem...believe it or not.... at one go......looking back it seems hopelessly optimistic and definitely sophomoric...but what the H...did get a national prize anyway. ....)