Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to school

Oh, that bitter-sweet experience of "back to school"! It's all in the air now, kids running around in stores with colorful school-supplies packed in their new back-packs. Parents wondering how long it was since they did this last -- seems like...well last year. There must be a pretty good reason behind all this hoopla...

I still remember all stages of my back-to-school. The excitement doesn't change with generations I guess. I mean an aged person might say that, how would I know, haha

The almighty Kendriya Vidyalaya emblem
It's Elementary, Wason
I still remember my 1st day at school at grade school. The uniform and the books were a real deal for me...shiny black leather shoes, uniform ironed by Ma - navy-blue shorts, white shirt with a perfect-knot (elastic) necktie, and the hard-fabric school belt with a metal buckle sporting my school's emblem

And the little lunchbox with probably my favorite dish that Ma must have made fresh that morning, packed nicely in my new 4-pocket backpack with a new water-bottle that still had its price-tag on

Dad went to drop me at the school, probably dreaming that his young lad will one day grow up and bring good name to the family. But his son had different plans. I stood in front of my classroom while dad wanted to say goodbye and leave, and I thought "there's no way I am staying in school, almost halfway across the town from home, for an unspeakable 6-hours!"

My whole six-and-a-half-year old life flashed before my little eyes. I had never left my living-room alone for more than a few hours, and that was usually for extended nature's calls. When entrusted with babysitters, I had a tendency of either throwing a fit over going back to parents, or ending up being lost, depending on how I felt that day. I couldn't trust myself staying that far from home for this long!

"No papa...I can't do this", I screamed while throwing myself on the ground. I am sure I shook the enthusiasm of some of my fellow classmates right in front of my class-teacher, who took my dad to the side, and allowed him to let me take the day off. That's how yours truly escaped his very first day at school

The Middle School
I somehow survived the elementary, although my subsequent years in the grades went somewhat tolerably. The middle school was a different deal. I was fond of reading stories. So besides the summer stash of comic books and kids storybooks, the Hindi and English textbooks for the next year decorated my reading list all summer long. Of course, I skipped through the plays, poems and the boring biographies of dead people. My eyes were always on the adventurous, funny and the leisurely kind that always whetted my reading appetite

In those years, I always looked to the opening day, waiting for the teachers to get to those stories, which I had already enjoyed and impress my class with my fluent reading and quick answers to the "who said it" questions. All this however, never resonated with my grades at the end of the semesters...something to do with analyzing the stories, and memorizing...some stuff...I don't remember right now...

Another aspect of middle school was "girls". We seemed to get a lot of new students start of every school year, and at the then-sex-ratio of India, ten new girls would show up for every 12 boys. Which meant if there were 3 new students in the class that year, a little over one would be a girl, which sometimes was true literally, kilo-over-kilo! But on a good year, there was always a chance to impress a pretty hazel-eyed girl from Kashmir or an Army officer's daughter from Punjab, with my wits and good looks -- the looks were usually me looking good at her when she walked into the class

The Super Highs
Highschool...sigh! Four years of "crushes" that usually end up getting crushed between big books and career-counselling. But a crush is a crush

A highschool kid's reputation is next only to God, at least in his mind, that is. The school uniform is top-notch -- shiny black leather shoes, uniform ironed by Ma - navy-blue pants, white shirt with a perfect-knot necktie, and the hard-fabric school belt with a metal buckle sporting the school's emblem...I all comes around...

Our hero is usually missing an important textbook in his backpack, in anticipation of sharing the lecture with someone special in the class. Of course being a gentleman, he returns the favor with flower, chocolate or a thank you (for sitting in the next row, so we could steal glances during the class) card later

The customary fights with the "bad guys" (and that role changes depending who's our hero that day) are part of the curriculum. They usually start on subjects ranging from "what did you say about my girl?" to "what did you say about my mother?". A nosebleed is a must, mainly because it shows on the white shirt and makes the girls freak out. If you're not one of the two fighting and must stop one of them, never stop your buddy...that's considered betrayal

For some unexplained reason, these fights end up in the principal's office, usually followed by a day or two of suspension. But after proving the point, the winner earns the status of "the stud" and never gets messed-up with in the school year

So, the first day in a highschool year goes like this: a brief inventory-check on the girls, and re-label them as  F/S/N category (Fast, slow or non-moving stock). An "F" girl found to be going out with a kid in another school is considered "top priority" and dealt with with great care. The "S" or "N" girls that moved up a category with supplementary material including (but not limited to) contacts, braces, wax, nylon and silicone are treated with high respect for the year, and the guy successful in scoring them is awarded an honorary title of "the stud"

All "adventure" stories from the buddies are heard and measured on the scale of truth. The final word usually rests with the big guy in class, because he's probably the oldest. Speaking of oldest, don't you remember the guy from highschool who shaved daily? His ever-green cheeks would remind you of your dad and his buttoned-up shirt would sometimes give away a peek at his stash of chest-hair. The female aisle wasn't deprived of such examples either. There was always a spot for a "lady" in the house, who could easily pass for your Biology teacher (the reference to the subject, of course is for occasions where you'd match the side-view diagrams in the textbook to your "ripe" colleague who should have graduated with your older sister)

Of course all this seems too meaningless while you're still in school, as you just want to trade this childish life for the ever-promising "College Career and Beyond"

But yet now...won't we all give a world to get even a single day back to school?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stars on Earth

Watched Taare zameen par the other day - amazing story! Thumbs up to Aamir bhai & Co.

"Every child is special" is the message to all parents. I agree, the story addresses one extreme - where the kid is dyslexic and the school and parents both, instead of identifying the problem, deem the kid as "abnormal"

But deep inside, aren't we all made different? Aren't we all gifted in one manner or the other, and probably would have been better off pursuing what we're "good at"? Yes and may be

I am all for parents helping their kids make the right choices in life until the kids are adult enough to sit in the driver's seat. I mean, that's what parenting about, right?

  • Kids are like small plants at first. They need care and feeding at every step. Even a ray of direct sun could wither them. So you look out for them

  • With time, the plants grow up a little. The stem shows some strength. It can take a little bit of sun and wind on its own. But you still look out for them - cause they're not there yet

  • Then the plants show some new colors - colors of youth! They stick their head out a bit. Even challenge the sunlight and winds once in a while. You let go a little, keep your distance. Watch mostly, and caress

  • And then as they say - one day - the plant looks more like a tree. Providing more than it takes in. Ready to serve its surroundings with fresh air and fruits and shade
You let go here, don't you?

Nature (or God, with a capital or small 'g') has its way of making us, letting us grow up and flourish in our own manner. We, as parents are to our kids what a gardener is to a plant

Again, I don't want to say one should not discipline their kids, or not guide them as to what's good - that's probably our biggest role right there

But, stereotyping our kids into a livelihood that we deem is "best for them" is a tricky one. And I am not sold on that one yet...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I can not sing

I can not sing

To sing is to be a flute,
your body being the wind
and flowing with it be your throat

Or to be a violin,
your chords strung up,
giving way to the bow of your mind

I lend a sincere ear to a song
For it is as vital
to let the notes play inside you
just as they came out of the chords

With my ears, I sing
I sing inwards

Monday, March 12, 2007

The coats are off

...No really, they are! Spring is peeking through the blue-greyish skies and it's going to be here any day now

First of all my apologies to all my readers...yes, all 5 of you (one of them is my wife) for not writing all these days. I was dormant for the winters - in a state of minimal metabolic activity

I was sleeping in 'til 11 in the morning and going to work without brushing my hair. And yes, I am talking about weekdays. Weekends were even worse - I wouldn't even get up all day, or even if I did, that would be for short intervals of heavy Indian meals which would put me back to sleep

Sometimes I wonder, what if sleep was the 'normal' way of life. Who knows, may be we are supposed to keep our eyes shut for the most part and dream all day. And opening the eye is actually the resting cycle - just to glance at the world if it were a dream...But that only I wonder..haven't proved yet

So, let this post be the ice-breaker of my lull, and like I was saying throw the dang-on coats off, and show the bright (In the case of guys, read 'white') clothes off and bring the shapely bodies out (again for guys, read 'lipid tires around waist line')

Speaking of clothes, I was in the common laundry in our aparment building, trying to find an empty dryer for the clothes. But all the dryers were full - churning heavily and smoking the clothes within..So I did what you do when you see all the dryers full

I went home to come back in about 15 minutes. When I came back, there were 2 empty! And they seemed like having stopped for 5 minutes now. But no one to claim the clothes..So I did what you do when you see dried laundry and no one to claim

I went home to come back in about 15 minutes. When I came back, there was still no one to claim the laundry! So I did what you'd know..the throw-out. I opened the dryers one by one, and emptied them flat on a side-table

Now, here's a moment when you're most vulnerable in whole life - well, apart from the one when you are a kid peeing on the side of a highway and you fear someone will jump out of the bushes

So, in this throw-out moment, you really want to be as quick as possible, as you don't want to be seen doing this. You don't mind explaining to someone later, that you took their laundry out because they didn't show up. But you don't want to be caught doing that! So, you're quick. But you also don't want to haste it so much that the landry falls on the floor while you're throwing it out

And even if something falls down, you scan the floor quickly to see what actually fell off - coz you don't want someone entring the scene when you're picking their red polka-dot underwear from the floor!

But in my case nothing happened that would make anyone doubt my integrity and I managed to load my clothes in and start the dryers

And since I would not need my woolens for at least 9 months now, I smoked them dry and packed them tight in my suitcases - also hoping that that will give my hands some free air between my fingers and my head some new thoughts to keep this blog running

And give my readers, yes all 4 of you (my wife just read what I was typing and balied out of the group) more reasons to love yours truly...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dad's Home Alone - part 1

Do you remember when you were younger, and mom used to say 'your dad was once on a 6 months trip from work, and I managed it single-handedly' you thought - 'Oh! poor thing! Six months is a long time. How did she manage?'

Yeah...and you never asked dad about his story, did you? Tell you what, I am living dad's side of the story these days. I am living alone for some time - my wife and daughter are off to India for an extended vacation

Naturally, the worst part of living alone starts when you come home. There's always that smell of emptyness in the apartment. You know the one I am talking about? The kind that you get when you first moved in the apartment

Another change you notice is the voice messages. Since your wife and kid are gone, your voice message reduce to only one-third of what they used to be. And we all used to get about 2 message per day. That leaves me with only (do the math) 0.66 message per day

Next comes the laundry! Ish!! Its amazing how soon you run out of clean clothes when you're alone. I mean if anything you should be able to hold out your clean clothes for longer, since there are less people around you now. Especially the ones that like to hug you and drool all over you. Ahem! I meant the baby, of course

One thing that surprisingly doesn't change is the amount of dishes you have to do. No matter how many people live in a house, the dishes are bound to get dirty at the same rate. You look at them and ask yourself: "Are there ghosts cooking at home when I am not home?". Because there's actually not that much food around - so, there's got to be a parallel party going on when you are not home

Another thing about living alone is that your life is no longer consistent. Things come as some sort of spurts to you. A lot of ups and downs:

For instance, there would be days or weeks straight when you'd not clean your bathroom, or leave your shoes on the dining table or just walk out of your clothes when you come home and (thankfully) get into them right before leaving

But there will be these occasional 'cleaning-spurts' when you want to clean everything in the house. You'll even notice the slightest stain on the coffee-table or dust on the TV screen. I even find myself wiping the the cushions on the sofa and turning them upside down. Even the thinnest piece of hair in the bathroom catches my eye and I suck it up (in the vacuum cleaner that is)

Or, 'cooking-spurts' when you'd suddenly feel like renouncing the regular-crust pizza and breakfast buffet in the neigborhood place, and feel a strong urge to cook a full 3 course meal for lunch and that too from scratch. 'Scratch' by the way is the most disturbing used word in this context. I mean, think of the first humanly act that comes to your mind when you think 'scratch' and then people brag about how they made meals from it!

Nevertheless, I have had incidents when I made tomato-soup, pakoda-curry with rice and chilled rice-pudding all from scratch! These by the way, are things I didn't even know how to spell before!

The funniest was the 'ironing spurt' when I caught up in the idea that I haven't ironed my clothes in a long time and I actually steam-pressed all cottons and silks from my wardrobe. 'Silk' here refers to the finest underwear, of course - a topic that's worth another post - more on which later

So, here I go on with my single-husband-single-dad oddyssey these days and I'll keep you posted with my findings, my friends

as always, Yours Truly