Sunday, July 27, 2014

Excellent breakfast. Two slices of fried bread and fried potato. Two cups of rice, first with rasam and potato, and then with curd and curry leaf powder. A cup of cold, cold coffee and half a cube of cheese. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The magic fades

When I lived in Tamilnadu, I often heard praises of "Neeya Naana" a talk show that encouraged participants to share their views and conducted debates between groups that held conflicting view.
After I moved to hindi speaking state, where I started working from home, I happened to watch snippets from this program, and then got to watch a couple of these shows along with my daughter.

Although I sensed a bias and an 'I already know what you gonna say" attitude in the facilitator, I was deeply hurt at how he handled the teachers in the public vs private schools debate,

Firstly, how can you ask teachers in private schools what they provide for kids? These teachers are paid very low salaries, and rarely have a say in what the management decides. Secondly, how can you dismiss their claims of being motivated, and their ideas as empty jargon? And point out that their jobs being insecure, they could not be motivated as they claimed to be? Can we quantify their honest approach? Also, how could you praise government school teachers on facilities provided by the government when they also never get to participate in the process whereby the govt decides how much to spend and what to spend on these schools?
He clearly wanted to say that government schools provide a lot for student community, all of whom should rush to be admitted in them. But it looked he was anxious that he could not get his point through, without cutting private school teachers in the middle of their speeches, and without springing questions at them almost as soon as they finished each sentence. The government school teachers however, were not meted out the same treatment.
I worked as a teacher in private schools for over ten years. May be that was why it hurt a lot. I know numerous stories of government schools without walls, without teachers, with dust laden equipment that no one knew how to operate.Poor young men from villages have shared horrendous stories of how their teachers used to demand Pepsi from poor kids and told them if they got him what he wanted they could go home. The teacher would fail all of them,and then call the parents asking for favours such as goods from their shops, and promote them only after the parents gave them what they wanted.

I am not digging deep, because people in my state know how much worse these stories can get.
Coming back to the program, the facilitator conducted an impromptu quiz for the teachers. Fortunately most of the private school teachers managed to do well. This episode made me realize how humiliating it can be to be at the receiving end of such public debates.
The expression of the private school teachers turned dead, and even the smug smiles of the government school teachers soon became forced and fixed.
Such programmes are supposed to have enthusiastic participants. Now sensitive people like me should keep away from them, I guess.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lost Magic!!!

There is a huge post office near my daughter's office. It is at the corner of a street, surrounded by high walls, with a coat of brick red paint, and with a prominent bi- lingual board saying that it is The Post Office. I can imagine how the authorities of a bygone era might have conceived of it. Allotted a spacious piece of land , placed strategically in the most easily approachable part of the city, and close to the national highway! A public office altruistically designed to provide space for this public work and that public service.

Some lucky school graduates would have got appointed there. They would have spent busy days doing the important work of dispensing information to people from employers, from the government and from their near and dear. It was also part of a network of thousands and thousands such post offices.

Today it is dwarfed in stature as well as in status. Everyone uses the phone, or the internet or skype and its importance in the past is remembered by middle aged people like me who used to constantly peep into the mail box or peer into the street waiting for the post man. As for the construction itself, it is hardly a landmark in the middle of towering high rises. Hmmmmm!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Genie in a bottle

Today I prepared a brilliant play thing for zelda, my crazy puppy. Two flies got into a two litre plastic bottle. I shut the lid and there it see through fly aquarium. Zelda is transfixed and all attention. She has been watching the flies move around, and trying to lick them and paw them.  I am a genius and my dog is not bored.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What a great opportunity this is... for all of us to publish ourselves, to be heard and above all to write.Unfortunately, we are not making the best of it.
There was a time when I would click 'next blog' and read some soulful, witty, smart or casual comments made by people from Singapore, Japan, Ireland, the States and many other places. But today when I do the same thing, every other blog page shows that the writer has moved on, or has stopped writing.

This offer of public space - It may not last forever. One day they may start selling this space. I am not a techie predicting this based on some foreknowledge gained by logical insight. I am just an ordinary person talking about the transitory nature of opportunities.

Use this plenty folks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The confusing collage the world would make today!!!!!

What a strange world we live in!!! The television shows so many lives, each one varying from the others so much that no comparison is possible.
 On the one hand we have the yuppies shopping, touring  and fine dining; their lives swathed in layers and flavours of sophistication.
 Then there is a country that has legalized marijuana. Public can buy it without a prescription. More than 60 percent tax, I believe. Black market black market black market boom!

And then there are the asylum seekers, legal and illegal immigrants having strange futile adventures on sea, through forests, deserts.....

Terrorism, war, injury broken heads, destroyed homes, deaths and constant strife in certain parts of the world

The diligent hard working Japanese are battling a typhoon, while football fame and fall is being documented in detail.
All kinds of marginalized people are clamouring to be heard, and accidents are destroying the fabric of several lives into tatters

And there's me! middle class with comfort and indulgence being two parts of my middle name. Cloistered in the security provided by an uber traditional life and feeling guilty as hell!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Black Magic called Politics

When the Prime minister gives a speech you can stop channel surfing. Because every broadcast is going to be the same. Today when he inaugurated the new train to Kashmir and started giving a speech, I checked this for one more time. It was the exact same broadcast. CNBC was showing a weather report. Twice the report went mute, and a smiling
news reader announced that there was a technical glitch and we might as well listen to the Prime Minister's speech. You might have noticed that I have not mentioned his name. Well, it's not required in my country, because every medium , the newspaper, the radio and the television is singing it out in rapture.

Reminds me of a comment made by a friend, the editor of a respected daily. He said that if anyone seemed to be in the news a great deal, something was definitely wrong with him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

These are magical days

My school teachers were convinced that I was an excellent writer. I won prizes in story telling, essay writing and was always a topper in language tests. Teachers in college sometimes pinned my answer sheets on a board for other students to read.
I was sure that I would be a great writer one day. But a couple of attempts to get published did not work, and I stopped trying. Once a reporter friend of a friend, who saw some lovelorn poetry of mine in my diary tore the pages ou,t and had them published in the Times of India. She said readers wrote appreciative letters.

As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to write reports on classical music performances for a reputed newspaper. There at the concerts, I was amazed to see how some people, who were knowledgeable about the intricacies of notes and variations, became stiff if I asked them to help me out, when I was unable to attend a concert. They were connoisseurs of music, who knew when a certain piece had first been played, who popularized it, how it has undergone subtle changes over the years, and many such gems of information that would have added weight to my article. But when you asked them to tell you about it for the newspaper they would freeze and say inane things in a rigid manner. And I became popular in that small circle of music lovers as a writer, although I was not thoroughly knowledgeable about it as I should ideally be.

Now comes the part when I have decided to write for money. For the first time in my life I have started getting loads of negative feedback. Some magazines found my writing to be too simple. Some felt my style did not suit their blog. And today, a student of mine, for whose blog I wrote something said that the essay I sent her had 'too many grammar mistakes' and 'language problems'.. Every day is new and inspiring, it seems.