Simble School Teacher??? Eh!!!

“So, you are a school teacher! Hmm… well its not about your knowledge, I can’t dispute your expertise in your subject but for the corporate… well! madam, I don’t think you are fit for that. You see we deal with the top, the very top, the senior most in management. Sorry, Good luck!”

“You know it is your simplicity that is getting in the way. You should dress differently. The corporate style! You see our clients are used to seeing our trainers differently”.

“It’s a fitment issue, I am not sure you will be able to make it, sorry”.

” You need to dress differently madam, you really need to, ours is a upmarket set up.”

Well, I was dressed decently enough, I had worn a sari. And since I was going to teach or train, I didn’t think that my dressing should come in my way of growth or employment but it did, many times! Some times the board was kind enough to tell me on my face otherwise the excuses were pretty stale but it was always the prejudice against a school teacher that I found hard to take.

I have always been a proud school teacher and had thought that the ‘respect’ in the Parent Teachers Meet was mine to keep, a well-deserved reward.

I now realize that it is not the lack of money keeps the youth from teaching, it is the lack of respect.

Yet, the founder president of a huge educational institution talked to me as if I were his best friend. I am told that he talks to every one in the same manner. When I quipped, ” Why are you so modest? I almost forget that I am talking to a CEO,” he smiled. ” I have been like this always and don’t intend to change now.”

A colleague who could have ‘simplicity’ as her middle name asked me, “What could I do to make that grand first impression?”

I had no answer to that. Is it the grand brand you wear? Is it the bright hues you sport? Is it a certain cockiness in your manners?

A young girl on an outing said,” At the mall, I was dressed in a Sari and was hanging out with my boy friend, when a certain some one rudely pushed me aside. I was so annoyed. What did she think? Just because I was dressed in a sari! I gave her right back in my convent- English and shut her mouth. She could only gape at me!” . ” After all, I am a toastmaster, I give as good as I get”, she giggled.

My classmate at college, Lilly had once said, “When I go to post office or any other public place, I always speak English. The service is fast and respect I get is great.” And that was in  Kerala in 1996!

Recently a lady security guard was unhappy with the way the warden talked to her. She said, ” Swalpa respect bekalva! Should I not get some respect? How dare she scold me in front of the maid? Does she know that I have land that costs more that 3 crores. If I sell it I can employ her. Stupid woman! I come here for this meager for a reason!”

When I first came to Bangalore and went around looking for a house to rent, the cab driver remarked pointing at an old man driving his luna, “Madam, see that man, he gets 2 lakh as rent alone for his apartments, yeh, Bangalore hai madam, you can’t say what  a person is worth by just looking at him.”

I am reminded of a certain ‘missile man’ who spoke slow, in simple English, yet had the whole nation fawning over him.

With such role models, what is there to fear and why change now? ” To quote the gentleman” I have always been like this and don’t intend to change now.”

 

 

 

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To the invigilator from the hapless student

caught in the web of time,society, security, expectations, expressions and exploitation

having no time to breathe when constantly tracking data on social media

while simultaneously sharing attentions with friends/parents/endless nameless aunts and uncles

and looking cool, ‘yo bro’, hot and sexy

struggling to keep pace with the demands of the time and the tortures of the teacher

the loads of books and terms incomprehensible

the series of interrogatives thrown at us in the form of a paper

based on a subject we rarely could put our thought much less mind to

given that our  lives are endangered, obscured by data and ruled by devils

hard pressed for time to bite into a burger or a potato wedge

managing to reach that dreaded place ruled by the dictator

who has no pity, no shame and is never a game to copy

when we as friends, brothers,sisters and lovers shall collectively perform

as pals  wedded to loyalties beyond the exam hall

but you wretched creature have no understanding of our torment

nor the height of joblessness, the music of failure or the threats there after

you evil incarnate,scouring the class and each one of us

with an eagle’s eye, troubled by a past where you never had the guts to do what we do

nor idea, nor thought, nor courage, nor comrades

looking for  victims of desire of academic excellence in an exam that matters most to our parents, to our institution and the job market

you man/woman/whatever shall walk the gates of hell

burning in fire and then shall pray for mercy from us, your students, hapless now, leaders tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Begin with trust

Begin with trust

a new job

a new place of stay

a new person to know

trust before you distrust

sometimes be ready to break your heart

sometimes be ready to lose

yet

do whatever you do with trust

you have been cautioned not to trust a stranger

you cannot be friends with everyone

not every place is great

not every experience is just wow

yet

begin it all with trust

coz you may just miss the bus with distrust

Anu Stalks!

“It is nothing but stalking, said Anu. “That I was doing all these days. I am ashamed. I truly am.”

“You know what, I am the kind who thinks of him as my soul mate. This is exactly how I was justifying my actions. What do I do now? Is there any way to apologize?”

She looked at me red faced, her eyes brimming with tears.I got up to hold her hand and ask her,” What happened?”

“I do not have any right, didi. I should have gotten over this infatuation cum love cum obsession long back. But I did not. Instead I let it grow inside me, grow to such an extent that I was  always sending messages or looking up his name on the search engine. I don’t even know if my behavior has harmed him in some way.”

“May be I was looking for an escape from the realities of my life,”she sighed.

Apparently Anu has been trying to connect to someone who was aloof. She would send messages, jokes, complaints, cooked up hysteria and everything else to make her love interest respond to her.

It did not help that though mostly aloof the man did respond once in a while. This gave her hope she said.

I have known Anu for quite a while now. I know that she would not harm any one. But being obsessed about is not a pleasant feeling either. The victim of such stalking has to deal with much unwanted or unsolicited attention.

Anu is a creative woman, bubbly and vivacious as she is moody and quiet. It is difficult to know what goes on in her mind. I never had any inkling of these petty things that she was into. I genuinely love my friend and wanted to help her.

I asked her to do three things to get over this madness and focus on what she should, her career, her passion for gardening and her love for cooking . I always encouraged her to think about the big opportunities that she could create for herself.

So I went to her and hugged her tight. It is kind of her to have trusted me and shared her weakness with me. I was in no mood to criticize for nit-pick.

Instead I made her promise me to do these things:

  • Stop searching the person on net.
  • Remove everything that reminds her of him, out of sight, out of mind!
  • When ever such thoughts arise, pinch yourself and get back to reality.
  • Start yoga
  • Meditate and control the wanderings of the mind.

I am confident about Anu and her abilities. There has been many instances in the past when she surprised me with her thoughtful, informed decision making and planned course of action.

I have given Anu three months time to get back to me with the results. I hope to see some positive results and a very focused and successful Anu in front of me.

 

Did you not?

Did you not hear the song unheard unsung?

Did you not stop while you rushed ahead?

Did you not notice while you so determinedly looked away?

Did you not listen close with your eyes fixed else where?

Did you not know when you acted brilliantly ignorant?

Did you not follow when you ‘unfollowed’?

Did you not look up while trying to be unknown?

Did you not stop to admire when you wore sarcasm on your brows?

Did you not taste what you almost spit out vehemently?

Did it not scar even when you balmed it with fairness, blemish-free creams?

Forget it friend, foe or fiend

Move ahead

As equals we meet, soon!

If only you never knew what you couldn’t do….

If only you never knew that you couldn’t dream,do or achieve

if only you never knew that your wishes will never come true

if you only you never knew that you are nothing like a super human

if only you never knew the gods and the men who said they know the gods

if only you never knew the quirks and twerks of being you

if only you never knew the fears of being you

if only you never knew the cowards who stopped you

if only you never knew the language of those who smirked and those who jilted

if only you never knew the truth of what was always a lie

if only you never knew the meaningless mumbo-jumbo of ‘high fashion’ and ‘high society’

if  only you never knew that to fall was never about the fall

if only you never knew the power of those crisp sheets of paper

if only you never knew the ways to poison yourself slow with hate,arms,advice,’I know it all kind’ or belief

if only you never knew the need for a ‘status’ update and otherwise

if only you never knew what you couldn’t do

who could stop you, friends,enemies, believers and non-believers?

You would simply be who you are.

Lay off : The other side

I have to prepare for a lay off – months in advance.When I get the hint of it coming, I panic.

I spend sleepless nights and agonize over presenting the news to the concerned employee.

My family senses trouble and leaves me alone to mull and munch over ways to deal with the situation.

At the office, the HR prepares me for the daunting task and arms me with a script and I , if you know me well, am blessed to have the gift of the gab , but here I stand tongue tied.

I find it difficult every time I have to say the unspeakable. It breaks my heart to say those traumatic words and shake the very foundation of a family. It is also true that I have no escape.

Having memorized the script, I proceed with a straight face but as soon as I reach the third line, the employee in front of me breaks down and I have no words of consolation to offer him.

Do I think of myself as the ‘Hangman’ in the famous Carl Sandburg poem? No, not really.But I do know that the wheel of fortune is turning continuously and soon it will be my turn to be the hapless listener who has to pack my bags!

IT is today a not-so-great-a-place to be in.

And then I think about the young graduates and post graduates who are entering the job market or preparing to enter the same wondering what awaits them.

Sometimes I think it is time to consider your career in the IT sector as short-lived or as unpredictable as that, say, in the film industry.

I mean each one of us need to be prepare ourselves for an alternative career as well.

Those days of one job, one life is over. A well thought out  Plan B or C is our only life saver.

What do I tell the youngsters then?

Invest time and energy in your passions and your hobbies. If you don’t have one, develop it now.

Try to marry your interests and learning in the IT sector with other subjects or areas of study.

Find out more about what is happening around you.

The chances of your migrating to a developed nation with your IT credentials to live a good life and be happy for ever after, is, perhaps, not happening anymore.

So, look around, read more, stay abreast with current affairs. Use technology to solve the day to day problems faced by the common man. Forget being the tech geek, go ahead and be the all rounder.

All scar remover! Guaranteed remover of scars!Of the heart too?!!!

I remember reading about Albert Einstein growing up in a noisy action-packed neighborhood where scars were worn like medallions, with pride and honor.

Now I drive a rather sturdy but not so chic Maruti Alto. Last time while I  driving back home, a gentleman cab driver who was in a tearing hurry to reach wherever punched hard on to my back. A policeman rushed to the spot and luckily, noticed that I was driving safe and took up my case with the cab driver. Since both parties were equally affected, I decided not to press for any police case but just get on my way back home. The dent on the back of my car stood out like a sore pimple.

Being who I am and what I am going through at a particular point of time in my life, I refused to make it up or stitch up the loose parts and make my Alto look dandy again.

While I continue to drive in and out of the city despite a sore car bump, I get stared at all the time.

Some times I am stopped by absolute strangers who want to know, what happened to my car? Who did it? When did it happen? What did I do to the culprits? To explain all this to curious by-standers is a great task.

I wonder why all cars have to look show room new. Well, considering how we drive around in Bangalore isn’t that a tall order?

So, if you are wondering if I am planning to get it mended. Yes, when I am in a situation to do so!

Similarly people keep asking me about the scars on my face. Is that a pimple scar? So big? Looks like you had chicken-pox and so on it goes, speculations about what might have happened to make me a scare crow. I can only smile in reply.

At an upscale school, where I taught, I was often reminded by my colleagues,  “It is time to go to parlour. Go get yourself waxed, your eye brows shaped etc.”

I am not particularly keen to be dolled up always. I might sometimes indulge myself but otherwise, I am ok being the way I am.

My friend today was talking about the scars  laid deep onto her soul. ” I cry when I pray, no body gets to know what I feel. I feel so lonely and life looks meaningless to me.”

It is not just the physical objects that we want to maintain scar-free even the heart, but is it even feasible?

Those who talk to me are sometimes taken aback when I say what is as it is. Perhaps they regret starting off a conversation with me,later.

Knowing that life is not blemish free for any single person, why should we be shy of saying what we feel? Why should we feel the need to suppress the truth instead of saying it as it is?

 

Invictus – The Film

I had picked up A Lone walk to Freedom but it is a huge volume and I gave up soon.

I did however watch  the movie Invictus  thrice in a row. I was mimicking my daughter to whom I had recommended ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’, based on the life of Michelangelo. She smartly watched BBC videos  and came back to quiz me on the topic. It goes with out saying that I scored poorly.

I cannot but be amazed at my own ignorance of the people who lived in our times, their greatness, their deeds and their legacy. Was I not curious enough? How could I not know enough about the movers and shakers of our world,of at least these recent times? For that ignorance I know I have no one to blame but myself.

But here I am redeeming my pride by watching the best in the cinema, or at least consciously trying to and listening to the best in the music and hoping to visit the best of the places while munching up on great food… now that’s a beautiful dream…isn’t it?

The beauty of a well made film is  that it goes straight to your heart and leaves you changed. That is what ‘Invictus’ did to me. With some great acting by Morgan Freeman who impersonated,Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Peinaar, Adoja Andoh as Brenda, Mandela’s assistant make the film memorable. I particularly loved Brenda’s swaying her hips as she waltzed in and out of the presidential office, some times a friend, sometimes a confidant and even a strict governess to the man.  She stood out as the most graceful woman in the entire film. The best acting of course is by Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The maid at Peinaar’s home also deserves a special mention.mandela1980x1100_l82b9c5h_pec6xvug

I must also say something about the poem Invictus by W.E Henley of whom I had first read about in Maxbeerbhom’s essay ‘Speed’. That was long time ago, but the poem is something I go back to for the rugged feel of mastery over life, especially when you read out the lines,’I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’.

So it turns out that the poem was Nelson Mandela’s corner stone in his 27 years of imprisonment. 27 years of imprisonment in a narrow cell where you are humiliated and ill treated can turn any one insane, but Madiba as Nelson Mandela was called by his clan, emerged strong enough to put an end to apartheid in South Africa and also set the country on a course of progress and togetherness.

While he did so, he stood alone, his family was estranged from him for what they perceived to be his bowing down to those who perpetrated unimaginable crimes and violence upon the black people for years together.

Yet, this man, Nelson Mandela stood strong and with conviction in his vision for a rainbow country steered the course, amidst violence, distrust from the blacks as well as the whites and used a game, rugby, to bridge the gap.

Call it strategy or mere accident, by striking a friendship with the Rugby captain, Peinaar and egging him on to connect to the black people, Mandela created a momentum that eventually catapulted the South African team to win the Rugby world cup in their homeland.

What makes such men? Where does such conviction come from?

Most of us lose the courage on receiving a bank notice or losing a job or failing in love, yet men such as this rare as they are stick to their goal and are relentless in pursuing what they set out to achieve.

Mandela goes on to become Peinaar’s first son’s god father. In an interview, Francois Peinaar recalls how his second son at the age of five had walked up to Mandela to ask’ Will you please be my godfather too?’.

The film makes a case for sports and its phenomenal ability to create connect against deeply set apathy among people.

India should take a leaf from the South African example. We should free our children from the burden of heavy books to the freedom of the play ground so that they emerge stronger, with a better discipline and a clearer vision of life itself.

We should play more to connect on the field and off the field because the bonds are stronger and lasting in nature.

About the film, need I say more, it is a winner and needs to be watched again and again.

Gratitude Wins

It took me time to understand how it works and when I found out the magic of gratitude, I held on to it.

It has since become my lifeline to count ways to thank every single minute of living.

Sorrows, complaints seem to vanish and new found joys appear as if from nowhere.

What would be called miracles become mainstream leaving hope alive and ticking even when gloom, hopelessness and the worries of  existence crowd the mind.

Ahead the dark abysses of fear, sadness and whatever other feelings of insecurity and unhappiness may there be, the heart convinced by the power of gratitude manages to retain a summery sheen.

At times there is even the audacity to hope for the best in the worst and I am amazed at the power of the mind.

Yes, there are complaints and wish-it-were-so’s but the spell of the doom that such thoughts would otherwise  cast are short and far in between.

In the unrelenting march of challenges that life throws at me as if I were a batsman facing the fury of an opposing bowler,I manage to retain what might look like impractical, dreamy, ungrounded, fly high kind of  hope and faith that is ridiculous even to my common sense but that which eventually pulls me out and sets me on to a path of change for good.

I realize that change being a constant it cannot guarantee itself to be good always. It has to  be bad or not so good at times and that is the character of life.

This being the case I certainly have no reason to complain but to enjoy the ride the bumps, the lows and the highs when they come,as they come.

To waste time in cribbing and counting sorrows would only take me backward than forward.

So it is then decided that  each day I sit down to count, to count the blessings, to be thankful for experiences that make me for better or worse what I am.

It is a long list usually to thank those who stood by and those who turned away, those who sought to help and to be helped, to those who taught a lesson fair or hard, to those who showed the way and led me astray, to that which helps me stand every time I fall and those that cause the fall, there is much to thank and so gratitude wins, every time!