WHAT IF THERE WOULD BE NO TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS?

Man would be like the stone-age man living by depending on nature and its natural gifts. We would remain intelligent but ignorant about our intelligence. We could be content with the food we find in nature but would lack the desire to eat tasty food. In the modern age every man is busy running from one end to another in the process of doing his job, in the sense, to earn bread for his family. This he does because of the various opportunities and job options that he has due to his education.

But if there were no technological progress there would have been no education. We would only be looking up to the nature, experiencing the heat of the sun, rain, cold as and when given without any desire for beautiful roofs and shelters. Whenever we are hungry we would go in search of food and not behind the means to earn it. Parents would be free from trouble in the absence of demands for pizzas, burgers etc.

With no education there would be no competition and hence less violence probably. Demands for entertainment of the minds also would be absent. In the absence of technological progress means of communication and transport would not prevail. The atmosphere would be clean with no pollution anywhere. Priests would be busy trying to find solution to human problems by persuading the humble people to endure their hard lot as destined. There would be no need of yoga gurus or gyms as people would be exercising enough by walking long distances. There would be no need of counseling the minds about the art of living, since a person who has sufficed his hunger by whatever means is a happy person at the end of the day.

The British Council Library (1996 – 2011)

It was John Keats’ birthday when I became a member of British Council Library, Kolkata, in 1996. I had tried to become a member of the British Council Library earlier but the library officials stated that I had to be at least a graduate student to become a member. It was a haloed turf for me because the library had a great collection of English Literature books, which were of great interest to me. Located in Shakespeare Sarani (formerly Theatre Road), the library had an old world charm to it if a telescopic view into almost fifteen years past is taken from now. The wooden interiors, the manual catalogues, the lending of audio cassettes, the blue-covered notes on literature, all had become an integral part of my life.

As years passed by the interiors became plush, the audio cassettes gave way to CDs, computers took over cataloguing and issuing, the notes on literature got neglected, the cafe became in-house, a kids’ section was added, film DVDs were compiled, subscription of academic journals diminished, internet and photocopying facilities were introduced, and the library itself  shifted from its Shakespeare Sarani address to Larsen and Toubro Chambers in Camac Street. But my attachment remained undeterred.

It is so because when I didn’t have a college to go to, the British Council library became my college. When I didn’t have a university to go to, the British Council library became my university. When I didn’t have a professor to consult with, the British Council library became my professor. When I didn’t have a peer to lift my mood, the British Council library became my peer. I treasure the Pictorial Retrospective of V. S. Naipaul that I won at the V. S. Naipaul quiz organized by the British Council library. The six Best of Bookers shortlisted books, which I won in another British Council organized quiz, adorn my bookshelf. The library still provides me with books for sustenance and a space to cherish. It has been a constant in my life and will always remain so. I believe there are many people who have had intimate associations with this or other libraries in their lives.

One In Which I Mention Two Infections

It was the season of change and infectious diseases when even close bosom friends would avoid looking at your maturing infection. Into this change of season, one day, I let myself awake with my eyelids sticking together. But I shall avoid any sticky details here and rush straight to school because it was after all a school day and I have already been late searching for my goggles. In school I joined the goggle-eyed gang featuring spectacular spectacles over their eyes. We were the kings for the day and walked unopposed despite being late. Even Lawrence sir was not at his post to tackle the late-comers just to avoid us. Had He Man come out of the comics and held aloft his sword to say aloud, “I have the power”, he would have felt much the same as I felt that day. I would take out my goggles and in the same fashion say, “I have the Conjunctivitis.”

The classrooms were agog with students talking about the aliens penetrating amongst them. It was done surreptitiously as if in a horrifying science-fiction thriller. An innocuous-looking class, with no signs of extraterrestrial invasion, would suddenly become a Petri dish of chimerical infection. A boy, right in the middle of the classroom, would without warning stand up and declare that he has the infection. The whole class around him would burst out like a bomb being detonated inside a pomegranate. And if it so happens that an under-prepared teacher is present in the class at that moment then he or she is more likely than not to fall off his or her chair. Moreover, if there was one student, soon there were two and three and four and more until the despicable gang became a force in itself. The infection targeted without any discrimination. From the laggers and shaggers of the last benches to the pretentious elites of the front benches, all hierarchies and classifications were diluted.

Soon the word came in whispers that those who have conjunctivitis are to take leave for the day and to come to school only after they are fully cured. But who sent the word? Who authorized the mass leave? Was there any authenticity in the news? And what about the class tests that the students who take leave would miss? These questions remained unanswered. So the gang decided that we would go to Father Peter Arulraj, the Prefect, for confirmation and clarifications. Thus ventured out of the classroom the boys in white, flaunting their chic sunglasses, to seek out the Prefect. Father Peter, being experienced, anticipated such a move and was found nowhere in his office. We stood exasperated as did another similar group from another class. Christie blew at his fake Ray Ban. Talib did a Rajnikant with his sunglass. And we all decided to pursue Father to the remotest corner of the school, although the office staff did confirm our leave. We combed floor to floor, room by room, always missing him by a fraction of a minute. Many a class found Father entering their room at inopportune moments when he apparently had no business being there. It was only when we split into two groups that we were able to trap him from opposite sides into a classroom. Father Peter was a man of good disposition. And he dismissed us quickly with some words of consolation.

The second infection, which I have avoided naming in words, but which pervades the previous three paragraphs, is bonhomie. Anyone who enters the precincts of St. Anthony’s High School is bound to be infected by this spirit of exuberance and good-naturedness. The spirit seeps into the relationship between students and teachers. It is this bonhomie inculcated in me since my schooldays that helps me to spread the joy of living as I go about the world. But of late I find that some misguided people are trying to cure this infection by questioning the wisdom of the teachers. Providence forbids such a cure. Otherwise, how will the lamps be ignited without the spirit?

Housewife are Nation builders

On this international woman’s day I would request all men and women to pledge that the housewife be given the status of Nation builders. Please let not the census group housewives in “economically non-productive” category with prostitutes, beggars and prisoners. It is an insult to the community by referring them as non-productive community. If a mother is able to give just one conscientiously sensible son or daughter to the nation a major part of the problems are resolved. I am sure there will be innumerable numbers of great sensible sons and daughters who would agree with me and help housewife the required sensible respect and status in the society.

I have an accomplished background with great respectable achievements but just for the sake of my children I have given up my profession. Rather than giving excuses everyday in office for the sake of my family and children I would prefer to stay home to imbibe the culture and tradition I have acquired from my mother. I would dedicate my life to all those high achieving women who preferred to be an housewife and work only during their leisure by exploiting their inherent talents. I have no other way to reach the community for support rather than to sit at home and start his blog.

Simpy

To or Not To Homeschool your Child

When Pali came back from the US, deserted and heart broken, she had only solace, her eight year son Ved. Pali was fighting her battle with the family for a few years and finally terminated her relation with Rishi’s father for life. It wasn’t easy for her but what became more difficult is to ensure a good future for her child. India has grown since she had left after her marriage. People are more open, more accepting and more vocal. It seemed, it wouldn’t be difficult for Pali to live single in the small flat that she had inherited from her parents. The challenge came when she had to look for the schools for her son. No school was readily accepting the child who came in between the session. A countable few who did wanted a huge donation. After days of pleading every possible school she knew of, Pali decided to take it no more.

Homeschooling is a common concept in the US. With so many resources, and community support you are never alone if you are homeschooling your child. In India, it might sound a new concept but who can forget the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Shri Aurobindo who were homeschooled and propagated the true concept of homeschooling!

Pali decided to homeschool her son. She had had a Montessori training after she got her degree in Major. Even though, that would mean nothing, but she decided to pull up her socks to go about the best possible ways to educate her son with the best kind of resources while still at home. She had a few basics to be answered before that though.

How it works in India?

There is no separate syllabus for homeschooling children. The parents solely decide on that. Some follow regular board syllabus and others design their own curriculum by referring to syllabi of different boards.

Is homeschooling legal in India?

In 2009, a new education law was passed that mandated compulsory school attendance. This law (Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 – RTE) did not address home education options, or alternative forms of education. The RTE was designed to assure that the poor children would not be deprived of an education. But at the same time it did not intent to force school attendance when parents want to homeschool their children.

Can a homeschooler join regular classes ever?

On reaching Class 10, or whenever the parents feel their children are ready, can take the board exam privately by registering with the National Institute of Open Schooling or International General Certificate of Secondary Education. The degree is acceptable all over the world.

What about the expenses?

The cost of homeschooling varies on what and how the child learns. At times it may exceed the expense of regular schools. Apart from routine requirements like books, CDs, learning and fun kits, one also needs to pay for extra classes as and when required.

After getting into it, Pali had only one area of concern – Rishi’s social networking skills. So, she decided to join the homeschoolers community both online and offline. She also got her son enrolled for the guitar classes, something he had great interest in. She decided to work harder and worked on the possible flaws of the board curriculum that crammed the children. She went for her own that was more stretchable, practical oriented and fun to learn.

And, Pali never looked back after that.

Today’s Trend In Indian Education

When India got independence in 1947, the British government though was arrogant, had framed a law that all Indian citizens should get free and compulsory basic education, which was constituted later. It gave this authority to provide education only to charitable institutions having a thought that education should be a service. From then 63 years have passed by! What is the current trend in education? Too boring topic to discuss and none of us interested too! We say we are educated but it is not a service now but it’s just a business deal we got into. Truly to say, it has to be the charitable institution which should provide education to all. A charitable institution should be a non-profitable body. It is similar to a mother showing true love to her children. She won’t expect anything in return or won’t show love only if her children give her something as advance in return! But what is the situation now? The word called ‘Education’ is no more a ‘service’ but has become a very good ‘business’! Why? How? Firstly, it’s the education system we have to blame. The system today doesn’t aim to provide sound knowledge but provides just degree certificates. We are not realizing that education is for enlightening our mind not to earn money. We just think that it is the gateway to pursue jobs and earn thousands of money. Of course it’s true but it’s not just a 500 pages book  but the experience, exposure, knowledge  which we get during this period. So all want to get that ‘education’, even though they don’t have the criteria or the ability or sincerity in them. So they are ready to pay hefty amount just for getting degree certificates, having a thought that it is very valuable, even though they are zero in knowledge. Even the government provides education at less cost but the system through which we get into colleges makes it tougher to enter them. So the institutions exploit this opportunity and take as much money as they can. If you spend some lakhs as donation, you can get a seat in any college. But even this intake is not fully bad, because before 63 years it were just a board, some books all needed. But now because of technological development it’s the age of virtual class rooms today! Moreover the standard and cost of living now is no way comparable with those early days. In order to meet out these difficulties the institutions obviously need money. But the thing is that they spend this money just for them not for the cause. Not all to be blamed but most of the money is not going for the cause. Even running the colleges and schools money is needed but the ultimate aim of these institutions is getting changed today. The quality they provide is not up to the level of the money we pay for them. At this time we can’t expect education as a service but there can be some proper channelized ways which makes it not a mere business. The college management should try to reduce to take people just for money. Proper rules and regulations should be imposed to filter people only who are eligible to pursue. Proper scrutinisation should be done by the government on all these institutions. But more importantly the mindset of the people should be changed. They should aim at getting knowledge instead of certificates. In today’s scenario we can’t expect a service but all we need is just sufficient facilities for the money we pay!!

My Best Friend

I met Jane after a few years, at her new home, Ashiana in Chennai. She is my best friend, always been so from 1968. I think it was our uncontrollable giggles in the classroom which made us friends. Still that is the only common thing in us.. We both can laugh so easily in spite of all ups and downs in life. We can laugh with the same innocence & fondness of the childhood when we are together.

This time I had something big to tell her..
“I write blogs”I told her. “What’s new in that? She was not surprised as I expected. You were always a good writer.”.
“Wait, I’ll show you something.” She said. I tried hard but couldn’t recollect any thing I did as to be remembered as a creative writer.
Then Jane brought a box full of torn papers.
Oh! God, she brought alive all those memories!

I studied in the best English medium school in the town. But I had been the worst student the school had ever seen. It may be because of my father’s constant requests, & my bright siblings who adorned good positions in their respective classes, I was promoted to upper classes.

They pushed me through till I reached 8th std, i.e. high school. The teachers might have changed my division on an experimental basis, & I found myself among a new batch of students. Though at first I was left alone, in a few days I found myself a part of the group, of best & brilliant students.

And that friendship gradually changed me. There was visible changes in my dressing, my handwriting & homework & studies. I started getting good marks in all the test papers..& that continued till I graduated as the top student, from college.

Visiting the public library outside school just to chat with these friends, later helped in developing a reading habit. The prizes I got for essay & elocution competitions were many. The group of 7 friends dispersed after school. Jane a teacher, 2 doctors, 2 bank managers, 1 owns a famous boutique . But me??
My traditional upbringing didn’t allow me to continue further studies, & the only option was to get married, & here I’m . How I wished to do a post graduation in English Literature!!

Oh! I was telling something about those chits, the messages passed between friends during class hours. That was great fun. We would tear a piece of paper mostly the brown paper cover of the books & write teasing the teachers or girls outside our group, or all that girl-girl talks. The day starts with a rose flower wrapped in that chit. All groups followed this.

As the teacher turns to the blackboard, these chits would start passing. Many a times we were caught & punished. Sometimes it gets in the wrong hands, just like musical chair it stops on the way, as the teacher turns. After reading she’ll surely pass it on to the teacher. It was fun, great fun. And now Jane says my messages were all poetic, romantic, & had good imagination too. Ho ho!!! I never knew that.

I know girls today exchange the same fun through their cell phones, but they get deleted. But my friend Jane kept our friendship alive all these 42 years..

Old Man’s Paradise

The Prologue

“Whose letter is it?” Brinda asked her husband, Ashok.

“Dad’s. He likes giving surprises!” Ashok replied “They haven’t gone to Kasi*”

“Then where did they go?” She asked.

“Old Man’s Paradise!”

“Old Man’s Paradise? What place is that?”

“We shall find out soon,” He said “As he has invited us over there.”

***

The train was going through a place which had greenery on either side. Ashok peeped through the window of the train compartment.

“Do you see him?” Brinda asked.

“Yes, I see him!” Ashok replied, he had seen his father’s friend Dayanand holding a sign board with “Welcome to Old Man’s Paradise!” written on it.

He tried to pull the chain down with all his might.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” asked a man, who was with them in that compartment.

“ We are going to get down the train!” He said turning back “I think it is stuck…come on, guys, help me!” He added looking at his family members.

His wife Brinda and his two daughters Priya and Preethi held his waist and pulled him back. The chain came down as well as the train came to a screeching halt.

“Who pulled the chain?” The T.C. asked, rushing towards their compartment.

“I did!” Ashok said, taking down the luggage.

“Oh, you should be that old man’s son” The T.C. said rather annoyed “You’ll have to pay a fine of…”

“Rupees five hundred…here it is!” Ashok said giving it to him.

“It’s nice to see you guys” Dayanand said with a warm smile “It is about fifteen minutes walk from here. Please follow me!”

“Dayanand Uncle, isn’t there a railway station nearby?” Ashok asked.

“Yes, there is one in the town.”

“And how far is this town from here?”

“Thirty kilometers!”

Soon, they reached the compound wall of the Old Man’s Paradise. As they entered, they saw Gulmohar trees and Yellow flame trees on either side of the path. It gave the feel to the name “Old Man’s Paradise”.

There was a pond with lotus flowers and a wooden bridge in the middle to cross it. On the other side, there was one huge banyan tree with a circular platform below. As they walked ahead, they found a big building with a beautiful spring fountain before it. The spring fountain was surrounded by colourful flower plants.

“Welcome to old man’s paradise!” Ashok’s father Kishore said, welcoming them inside.

“Hi!”Ashok’s mother Rukmini said coming.

“Why are your hands muddy, gandma?” Preethi asked.

“Well, I was plucking the vegetables for the lunch” She said.

“Plucking vegetables?” Brinda asked surprised.

“Yes, we grow our own vegetables in the vegetable- garden behind the house.” Rukmini replied.

Later, they all had lunch together on the dinning table.

“Well, hope you like the food.” Rukmini said.

“Yeah, we like it!” Ashok said smiling at his mother.

“Dad, how did you guys come to this place?” Ashok asked.

“Well, son, it’s a long story..It was long time back…” Kishore said.

“Grandpa, start it with ‘Once upon a time long, long ago..’” Preethi interrupted.

“Once upon a time long, long ago…when we friends weren’t even married…we all set out for a trip in our car. We had lost our way and reached this wonderful village…As it had turned dark, so we had decided to stay back in this village for that night. We were pleasantly surprised by the wonderful hospitality of these innocent villagers. The best thing about them was that they all lived like one big family…” Kishore started the story.

“Though they had their problems. They had power supply only for a couple of hours or so in a day. We, friends used to think that we should do something good and nice to others…which would give us joy and satisfaction in return..”

So we came back again to this village and talked to them about solving their power problem with solar energy. They co-operated with us and we solved their energy crisis.”

“Then the next big problem was that they used to waste their hard earned money by drinking, smoking and gambling. We tried to get rid of these three bad habits of these villagers and succeeded in the same, though this one took longer time to achieve.”

“The impact was so much that the person who was selling vine in vine shop was forced to close it and open a provision store in its place.” Dilip added.

“Wow! That’s amazing!” Ashok said

“Then we realized that these villagers weren’t educated and they were many times cheated in the town. So, we decided to come here some weekends and teach them to read and write.” Dayanand said.

“You guys did all this before you all got married?” Ashok asked.

“Yes, It was then your dad got this wonderful idea of buying some land over here and settling after our retirement.” Pradeep said.

“When we told this to the villagers, they were more than happy and gave us thirty acres of land in the outskirts of this village for a reasonable price. They even helped us to bring this dream place together and took care of the same in our absence.” Dayanand said.

“ But, why thirty acres?” Ashok asked.

“Well, I and Vishnu wanted to grow grapes!” Dilip said.

“I wanted to grow mangoes!” Pradeep said.

“It was my dream to grow strawberries someday..” Raghu said.

“I wanted tomatoes..” Dayanand said.

“Well, I wanted to grow sunflowers..so we needed more land.” Kishore said.

“That’s very nice!” Ashok said smiling at them. “You guys have achieved your dream!”

“Son, If you believe in your dreams, then go after them and never rest in peace until you achieve them.” Kishore said.

You’re right, dad!” Ashok said.

“As a matter of fact, they didn’t tell us too. We all were under impression that we were going to Kasi.” Narmada, Vishnu’s wife said.

They all rested for a while after a delicious meal. Later, they played “UNO” game together. In a way, the game had become like a tradition amongst them. Then they took bicycles and went peddling around the green path. They passed by the sun flowers field, the mangroves, grapes yard, strawberry and tomatoes fields.

When they were returning back, it started raining.

“It is very nice to peddle a bicycle in rain, you know.” Vishnu cried.

“Yeah!” They all cried back in chorus.

When they reached back, hot snacks and tea was waiting for them.

“It’s a wonderful place!” Ashok said very pleased.

“Yes, you won’t regret growing old.” Raghu said smiling at him.

“How about watching a movie in the home theatre?” Dilip suggested.

Krishore led them to the large hall which had a big library of books, music cds and movie dvds at one end, and a home theatre in the other end.

Kishore picked up the movie “Big Fish”. They all watched this movie directed by Tim Burton and enjoyed it.

“I have seen this movie many times” Kishore said “and I have enjoyed it every time!”

Later, Kshore gave a book to his grand daughter Priya. It was a collection of short stories. She was surprised to see her grand father’s name on the cover page of the book.

“Grandpa, I never knew that you write?” She said.

“You wrote it, dad?” Ashok asked, taking it from her and going through it.

“Well, I used to write when I was young. Later, I became busy and couldn’t continue it. Now, I had time so thought of doing it.” Kishore said smiling. “Here is my first collection of short stories!”

“I’m proud of you, dad!” Ashok said.

“Thank you, son.”

The Epilogue

“I hope you enjoyed your stay over here.” Kishore said.

“Yes, dad, we sure did” Ashok said “It was like a dream come true!”

“All this will be yours along with children of my dear friends when you guys grow old.” Kishore said.

“Thanks, dad” Ashok said.

The End

Another Rainy Day…

She had finally managed to get an off day from work, after weeks of hectic round-the-clock work at the hospital. In spite of having made plans to sleep in late, her eyes opened to the six o’clock morn. Cursing her own circadian rhythm of waking up daily at six, she sat up on her cot. An entire day with no work seemed highly appealing. Smiling to herself, she walked out of her room. The quarter wing seemed empty, with everyone still in cozy slumber.

It was still drizzling; as it had when she had gone to bed last night. The rain sprayed itself on her as she walked over to the mess. A cup of coffee and the Hindustan Times paper in hand, she got back to her room. The raindrops fell at her window sill with a clunk, a voice she loved. Sipping the hot coffee, she skimmed through the daily news. Nothing ever interested her. As always, she tossed it across the bed, and switched her laptop on. It had been almost a year since she moved into this city. Kolkata boasted of colours, vibrant culture, fabulous cuisines and rich literature. It breathed a life of its own, and it was almost impossible for her to not fall in love with it. The melancholy of the Howrah bridge and the lushness of Victoria place; she loved every bit of it. It was as though the city read her mind, toyed with her mood and made her feel overwhelmed. And it had a lot many more reasons too.

While checking her mails, she found a name flicker on her chat messenger. Her fingers reached out on their own, typing out a hello. It had been months since she had seen that name in her list of online friends. He replied back. He had known that she had shifted to his city, she found out. But how, she did not ask. He spoke of his wife and family, his work and home and friends and life as such. She told him about her new research, her endless hours of hospital duty, her new life, her husband and lot more. He sent over his wedding pics, and they spoke about married life- about the good times and bad. Two good friends were opening up to each other after a while. A long while, indeed.

The coffee had dried out, but their conversation hadn’t. She remembered the endless times she had heard him go on and on about his city, his Kolkata. She had known the nooks and corners of the city, even while she had never stepped out of Madras. The best sweet shops, the oldest of Indian Coffee Houses, where Tagore and his contemporaries used to have coffee and discuss literature and art; the dingy bookshops across the markets where first edition prints were on sale, unknown to most. She knew it all. She had always dreamed of being here and today as she sat in her room in the very same city, she thought of how ironical life was.

The entire afternoon was spent in the bank, and she felt doggone tired by the time she got back. The day had been kind of funny. She felt happy after her chat, yet a part of her bled of a hollow nostalgia. She decided to not waste more time, and began to surf data for her research. She was startled by a buzz.

“Hi. How are you?”

“I am okay.” she typed back, wondering why he asked her so.

“But I am not.”

“What? Why?” she typed out in a flash. She did not understand him.

“Everything was fine until I saw you today- your texts, the new display picture, and the new you… Knowing you are in the same city had been hard enough. I would see you online most often, but I’d always be invisible. I never wanted to let you know. Just one general conversation, and I am shattered, Yami. I know you are married. So am I; and I know I should not be carried away. I also know that I’d be back to normal in a while. But still, I don’t know why, even after such a long time, you affect me. And, that too, to such a great extent.”

She felt lost. She hadn’t wanted to bother him, or cause him any trouble. It had been so very long, that she never considered such a possibility to have existed. Her fingers traced over the keyboard aimlessly. A pang of regret stabbed at her. She should not have initiated the conversation, she realized. Somehow, it hurt her.

“I am so sorry. I never thought it would be this way. It has been a very long time. I just could not not say hello.”

“I am not blaming you Yami. It feels wonderful to know how you are, and what is happening with you. It really does. But at the same time, a part of me is reminded of what could have been, and what could not be. I am very much happy with my wife, my family, my work and life as a whole. I know you are happy and life is smooth, with your husband. I know the long distance might be hard, but at the same time, I know you are happy together. So am I. Life is good. Yet, today as you came in, fresh as ever, I feel empty. Maybe I am not as strong as you are. Maybe I never expected it, so the shock. I don’t know…”

She sat back, a lump forming in her throat. She typed back: “I understand what you mean. Just as you said, we’ll go back to being normal, in a short while. It is just a moment of nostalgia, a rewind of those memories which never blossomed. Nothing more than that. So, please cheer up, and maybe another couple of years later, we’d talk again, and then we’d feel differently…or maybe we’d feel the same…But that does not matter. What matters are the present, the daily routine and the often boring normalcy of our lives.”

“Yes. You are right. I am glad I have had those memories with you. I just have one regret. I want to see you once. Once in this lifetime. And at the same time, my mind says I don’t want to; I should not want to, rather. And I know, I would not, too. Well…it’s been a long conversation. I guess I’d get back to the life, which I left behind, the moment I saw you online. Take care, Yami. You are special, and always will be.”

“You take care too. I am glad that we both are happy and enjoying life. At one stage, I never thought you’d be. Nor would I. But time does heal a lot of wounds. Prayers, always. Until life decides to grant us a moment like this from the past, God bless!!”

“You too Yami… Wish I were as level-headed and strong as you are. You manage to move on so well. And I am so glad you do. Hope you have a wonderful life with your husband, and I hope you both get to be together soon. Take care. ”

The green dot next to his name died away. She laughed at the irony of his statements, the irony of her life. Strong and level-headed; having managed to move on with life- ah, ironical. She shut her system down, and walked over to the veranda. The rain still drizzled on. She stood for a long time watching the raindrops die away, merging with the soil.

“Yamini, what is it in the rains that hypnotize you to such an extent?” she heard someone ask. Shaken up from her reverie, she turned back to her colleague.

“I have always loved the rains. I often feel as though the droplets fall for my sake… Just for myself…As though the rainclouds delve headlong into my thoughts, and rain my thoughts away… ”

“As always, I cannot comprehend what you speak Yamini. Anyway, how is the groom-hunt going on at home? Did they finally find someone, who matches all your criteria?”

“Never.”

She said no further, turning back to face the rains. And the rains lashed on in a new fury, as though the clouds were indeed reading her mind. And she smiled at the irony of her life!

The Letter

Jaime is an ill young woman with so much hope in the heart, cheerful, with a sweetest smile as everyone could ever see. But everything in her life has changed until the tragedy strikes, as bad dreams that she will not be able to wake up. She can never see the beauty of sunset; she can never see how life is beautiful and even to walk on verdant fields of summer.
Sitting on a rocking chair swaying to the gasp of wind she feels the morning breeze that softly touched her pale cheeks. Waiting for someone that for today it could be a brand new day, a letter that she keeps on waiting for many days that turn into years, but her hope is still in her soul. Maybe it just a delayed, well she knows that one of this day, there is a letter for her.

She hears steps that sounded familiar, there you are again a soft voice coming from her back… she nodded and says nothing.
Your breakfast is ready; you want me to bring it to you. She just looked at the old woman with her sour smile. Is there a new letter for me? She asked the old woman.
There is no one for this day she answers Jaime.
I wanted to hear again the letter, he sent to me she says with her eyes shimmering on sadness.
Can you read it for me… asking a favor to an old woman who loves her with all of her life. She just nodded and touched her cold palm. You have heard it for many times.
But I wanted to hear it again… please, agony in her voice.
Okay as you want it.
Then she starts to read the letter for her lovely princess.

Dearest Jaime,

For today, I have been missing you, I wanted to show you the beauty of blue sky and those flowers that bloom in spring season. How I wish you would be here with me. And together we were having fun. I want to hear your laughter and to see your eyes that shine like a star. How wonderful, isn’t it? And I can’t wait for that day to see you and hold you again.

Miss you much,

Shane

She sighs and looks outside. Sadness is painted on her face, a grief that everyone could feel just like what her heart feels striving and fighting for life, hope and a leap of faith that she keeps on holding.
Nobody knows how much joy had been brought to her by those letters. It’s like a medicine that healed her illness, how much hope that lift her to live a life again, how much laughter that she collected just like a thousand times.

Days move fast, still the letters that she keeps on waiting were buried in force together with the flow of water that forgotten by the time. Day by day, she gets a weak and totally loses her weight. She is dying like a candle that melts under the burning sun.

She tried to get up on her bed and go outside to feel the sun that warm her skin, to feel the wind that closes to heaven, but then she has no strength to do that, calling help from someone to give her support.
She wanted to feel the sun that giving her strength to live for one another day,

She laid her head back down sobbing on her parched voice. She gets something in her pocket and gives it to her Nanny a letter that she wrote for Shane.

I want you to give that for Shane, I know he will be there one of these days but am afraid I could not be able to see him. She whispers softly.
I can’t be with him anymore my time is over, later I will go with the sunset that never shines again… crying in her Nanny’s shoulder.

Autumn had come earlier than time, golden leaves were scattered on empty streets wind to whistle in their lonely tunes. No more birds singing in her window pane that made her day bright, the sun was hiding on a darkened cloud no more rhymes that sound like an angel voice.

A day after Jaime has passed away Shane was coming to visit her, back from the strangers’ land that he spends his time in studying. A time that he spends a lot a dedication that he gave that someday Jaime will be proud of him, but then all this effort was been vanished away, he likes a candle that totally melts, his body shivers and his hands shaken, no more tears fell from his eyes on that moment he comes to know what Jaime had been through. Speechless… starring the letters that he is holding on that Jaime was written for him.

With his cold hands, he opens the letter, and then his voice was parched controlling his tears and sobs so that no one could ever heard him. Until he shouted out loud calling Jaime’s name.

Dearest Shane,

How wonderful is it? And I wish I were there with you, no more days I was not able to think of you, how much joy you brought to me for just a simple letter that you send to me. I am missing you so much, but I m afraid that day would not come for this time you have read my letter, I can’t be with you anymore, I’ll go with the wind and clouds, with the angels singing sweet symphony. But it is more than OK right? So at least I would not feel any pain and always fighting for life, you more like it and I m sure with that.
Don’t cry just because I can’t be with you, I wanted you keep your smile as always as you always do. I’m just here around watching over you.
Just one thing I asked for a favor….
Would you burn this letter together with the clouds passing by so then I will feel that I am much closer to you.

I will always missing you….

Jaime

For Jaime’s last favour, he burns out the letter. Where the ashes were scattered and go with the wind.

Its all about time is’nt it?

Between you and me don’t you agree that time is everything around which our very existence revolves. Remember those movies where the hero and heroine meet there is a clap of thunder and “time stood still” and both were unaware of the havoc this situation plays on nature (strong winds blowing etc)  Similarly often we feel that time has “stood still” or “time flies”. Whatever be the case we blame time, but should it be blamed really?? I think it all depends on the mental conflicts that we face and our state of mind. It is human nature that we defend ourselves if situations are not favourable.

Right now my state of mind is a mixed bag. I wake up with a jerk in the morning thinking I am 21 in 4 years I will be married. Oh My God!! I have spent almost 5 years here in Canada from 17 till 21. I have such less “time” on my hands… But then …. when I meet people around me or even when I tell people at work about myself  they feel proud of my achievements. Sincerely they commend me and say that I have come a long way without knowing the pitfalls of my journey so far… I feel much better!!

And then there are days when I don’t work I feel “time” is moving so slowly… I can’t wait to go for work the next day!! Also people around me are at a stage in their lives where they have met the minimum standards of living (as I would like say it!!). For instance, everyone has a permanent full-time job, everyone has a license, own vehicle and for God Sakes! their own credit card!!! I am amongst people who have all this and I am always questioned or critiqued since I have none of the above mentioned credits. It worries me that I always have to remind them of my age and I will only achieve it with “time” or when the “time” is right… but I get nervous of being jinxed (as I am superstitious as hell!!) what if I am never able to reach that stage sometimes I feel jittery when the future is unknown and uncertain???? My mum always tells me ‘insecurity come with age and security with experience and when both merge then a confident person emerges’!

I have always been a restrictive, shy and nervous person. I have hidden confidence otherwise I am a chicken in front of people, as every critique or comment gets to me… and yes I must clarify every negative comment, the positive ones don’t affect me. It is as if I am waiting or looking for someone to critique me in a negative sense or else it is not normal!!!

Hey!! Does that mean I am a pessimist??? I will know it with “time”. All my fears will overcome, my questions will be answered and my achievements will happen with time!! So Am I really dependant on time or is it all a cover up??

With these conflicting and volatile thoughts that keep crossing me  but then I eventually get rid of them and pick singular un complicated path that keeps me going and that is of working hard and planning my future step by step, as that is something that is not decided by time and I am happy it is that way. Time  can never be a cover up .. time is strength, time is our chart of growth as a person or in any relationship, fame , fortune you name it!The day you are born you login with time..  the day you die you logout…again with time. Therefore time is quintessential for our days on earth!

The Fuel Price Hike.

Indian economy is considered to be a developing economy. However the policy formulators are hell bent on making India a developed nation within a short span of time and that’s why they have decided to adopt all the policies and measures that are followed by the developed nations.The fuel price hike is just one of those measures.The Government of India decided to deregulate petrol completely and it also reduced the subsidy on diesel,cooking gas and kerosene. Now there is no harm in reducing the burden to the exchequer but what stuns us is the timing of the act. Presently we are witnessing inflation and the prices of the food basket has almost sky rocketed. Increasing the fuel cost will only aggravate the problem as the rise in fuel will have a rippling effect on the economy.Prices of all the commodities will rise by quite a few times in order to neutralize the fuel price hike and the customers will feel the pinch.The deregulation could have been done when the inflationary pressure was wiped out. Alas the policy makers decided not to wait any longer.The increase in the price of the so called food basket affects the middle class and the lower middle class as they spent a major part of their earning in food. The affluent people spend only a minimum percent of their income on food and so they will be least affected.The signal that is going out to the masses is that the rich will become richer and the poor poorer. In fact to remove subsidy when we haven’t achieved equality of income is a crime.It is the duty of the Government to assure that each and every individual can at least get the bare necessities of life like food, shelter and clothing and only then it can think of deregulation.We witnessed a transport strike in West Bengal as a protest against this price hike and there will be meetings and demonstrations but one feels that all these will be used to achieve political mileage whereas the suffering of the common man will continue. If we go by the international crude oil price then a liter of fuel costs roughly Rs.22. Add to it the cost of refining which is at the most Re.1 and so the cost comes to Rs.23. Add to this Rs.6 for maintenance of the refining plant. Now the total cost is Rs.29 at the most. The market price of a liter of petrol is Rs.56 nearly. So the remaining Rs. 27 is taxes that are levied by the government , the customs,excise and other duties and the profit of the dealer. If the Government had reduced this share then the prices wouldn’t have been affected and at the same time the oil PSUs’ would have reduced their losses. But the Government chose the “soft target” the consumers to pay for the losses which is totally irrational and illogical.

My Struggle for Independence

On Independence, interdependence and Individuality

Being independent and living up to being one is an act of great responsibility which everyone yearns for. Some are, apparently, independent as early as in their post teen years and some, in country like ours, are still not, even in their sixties. Does that mean being independent is a frame of mind that depends on our thought processes, the way we perceive things and the extent we are affected by our surroundings?

In our society, it’s still OK when a person, single but of age, to stay with their parents, with their families. But, being in a family and having to do less stuffs, does not make one dependent on others or vice versa. True independence is not just being able to do stuffs by ourselves and having to make a living out of our profession, going to the market, buying vegetables and then eating and tomorrow is an another day! I have seen people, who are in a family, with many authoritative people around, yet having a strong opinion, a sense of decisive choices. They think, they talk and most of the times, live by what they believe in. They have individualistic traits that make them independent. On the contrary, some who have been living alone since tender age still do not quite have their opinion, their free thinking power, their might. What I want to say is, independence is not as much as in our apparent decision to live all by ourselves as in being able to think, reason and live independently. I agree, living by our own means and deciding on several small earthly issues and subsequently, seeing it happen does make us individuals enough to take a decision. But being independent is not just that at the end of the day.

My ability to think for myself and having the power to see the broader view of what we are thinking and what we are not make me strong. The power to decide between the right and the wrong, the power to reason as I believe in and to stand by it whenever situation arises and be responsible for what I do and what I do not, not only makes me independent but also beautiful.

It’s about making one’s own choices and getting less limited to physical restraints. Having said this, no one can be fully independent or dependent for that matter. The base of every society ensures our interdependence – the cohesive force that binds us together. That way ‘true independence’ might sound like an oxymoron. But then, when we wait for our parents’ nod or our spouse’s choice or our kids’ opinion, we are still independent. For all of these manifests our love and integrity to our families. It’s important that we instill this power to think independently, to speak our minds, to have our own reasons, choices and preferences, the sense of righteousness, the power to judge unaffected in the formative years of the children. The children should also learn that freedom comes with responsibilities. The responsibilities that they would grow up to do justice to.

I have been trying to have a terrace view, alienating myself and believing in my understandings and the perceptions. Trust me, nothing is more beautiful than having to determine and resolve the things we believe in, for ourselves. It makes us beautiful and the world too.

My daddy angriest!!

Life starts early and what ‘Life’ is to us depends on how life has been to us.

Disha is the only child of her parents. Her father is an engineer and have been working for a government sector firm for last 25  years or so. He is dominating by nature and has the last say for every matter at home. Her mother is a house wife and soft by nature. During her childhood, the only thing that terrified Disha was the thought that her father will scold her! She would study in order to get good marks and avoid her dad’s scoldings. The most terrifying days of her life were those when she had to take her report card to her father for his signature on it.

Oh! did I tell you Disha is 24 now?  She is an engineering graduate. Actually she got this degree when she was 22. During the campus interviews in her college, she got a job in then one of the top most IT companies in India. She was happy. More so for her dad. For her dad, settlement of his daughter means everything. He is not among those who want their daughter to get married in a good family and this defined ‘settlement’ for them. For Disha’s dad settlement means ability to take care of ones own life and that means financial independence. He has been like this from very beginning and whenever Disha didn’t do good in her studies, he had always given her  lectures on how life will be without a job and all.

But you see life can’t always be the way we want it to be. Disha studied well, got her B-tech degree, bagged one of the best jobs, got the offer letter and even got a tentative joining date but then the company was dead. It was one of the biggest IT scams. Along came the recession phase of economy and there were no jobs! Disha was sad. More so for her dad. This time I think you can understand why. She was depressed. As time passed she became more sad and depressed. This time for herself because now  she can actually feel what her father has felt for her. Disha realized that how important it is to stand on her own feet. It’s time she should be responsible enough to not only take care of herself but her family as well. And this realization made the difference. She tried like never before. This time not to avoid her dad’s scolding but to give her father what he truly deserves. And there was no looking back.

Her struggle lasted for about one and a half year after her graduation. In August, she appeared for an interview for freshers. There were 300 odd candidates along with her, maybe all like her. There were 4 rounds of interview and it all lasted for 2 days. She along with four more had qualified till the last round. It was 11.30 pm of the second day when final result were declared. Two of them were selected for the job. Disha was one of them. Disha was relieved and happy. This was the turning point of her life. She flew to Delhi the very next week for her joining.

You must be wondering why I missed her dad! Actually I felt I need not write how her dad felt as you can imagine it well. For a dad  nothing can bring a bigger joy than the joy of his child’s well being. Disha’s dad is happy and so is her mother. Oh!, I missed to tell that Disha has a boy friend as well. I’ll tell about this in some other post.

umbilical phone

One can get so lonely inside a crowd. I was ,all alone when I first went to a near by city from my small town,in pursuit of higher studies. Maybe my parents too felt lonely, for my next visit they surprised me with a sweet gift…a brand new Nokia mobile phone. I felt like they had given me an oxygen cylinder for my travel to a far off place, somewhere out of space. I still remember my first phone and how lovingly I held it each time I made a call. Its ring-tone was pure music to my ears. My phone was like my umbilical cord that connected me to my loved ones.

Now years afterwards and many phones later, I hold that phone alone with care. Technology has grown beyond the hill and over the valley and my first phone has become a crude outdated   communication device. But, I still cherish it for what it was, coz I still believe that I could reach Aditya, or my dear ol’ Aadhi through this phone alone. We had grown up together and we were supposed to spend our lives together. When he had gone for his higher studies to a far off city, I felt being torn into two. Mobile phones were unheard of then. But letters kept us connected and the once -in-a-month visit held us close. When it was time for me too to leave, I was afraid of  not only missing my family,but also his visits, though I was to go to a much nearer place.

It was Aadhi’s idea, to get me a mobile phone. My dad couldn’t think of a better gift. Aadhi taught me how to use it. He fed his and my home number into my phone. He gave it to me with a smile and a promise to call each day. We did, everyday..until Aadhi had to go to never return. A college tour that  turned disastrous. A boat wreck in the ocean and he went missing. Thats all! He is merely missing, not dead. Though the society has declared him dead, his family had moved on and my parents have given up hopes on my marriage, I know, he is merely missing. Its been only8 years and  my job keeps me busy. And my new 3 G mobile makes my communication perfect.But I still switch on my first phone. I can’t hear any ring, but in that silence each time I press it to my ears, I feel him whispering. My phone is my only device to get to him and I still keep it alive all the time, so that when he calls, I can answer. One day he will….

wanna go to school again

Wanna go to school again
Wanna learn to read n write
Did not teach me in school those days
How to colour my dreams
How to write smiley using tears,
How to defend verbal spears n
How to paint smile on lips
Your all being aching inside.
The school gave me data about
The boiling point of water
The speed and acceleration
The age of father calculated from son’s
The kings and queens
The winds and tides n
many, many more such things
And asked me to find solutions for
Life’s linear and not so linear problems.
Wanna go to school again n
Wanna learn to read n write
Write will I with a coloured pen
My dreams viewed in black n white.
Wanna learn to read book called life n
Wanna write my name on sands of time.
Wanna go to school again n
Wanna learn to read n write

What Is Your Identity

Remember there was a time when lineage determined your class and social status in India,well all that has changed now. Get the drift all this and much more is decided by the level of corruption that exists in your life. What innovative techniques you adopt to ensure your place in  the organization that you serve. It amazes me to be even talking about it. Corruption has reached scintillating heights and it makes me proud to be an Indian whereby we can claim our tenth position as the most corrupt nation in the world! Pardon me if my statistic is wrong.

When I went to school our teacher taught us ” Honor before Self “; now its ” Self (gratification) before Honor!” Individual goals howsoever misplaced it may be is the sole purpose of ones existence. This is a serious problem affecting our society today. Corruption is the way of life you can realize your life’s mission this way. Some specific examples you can be ‘regular’ student in a college without attending a single lecture. A few thousand rupees in the right  places in the university office ensures your examination seat. Girl students in the middle-school has to buy a ‘free’ bicycle meant for her for an x sum of rupees from her school!

Well suppose I am an affluent member of the society in the posh upscale neighborhood of Delhi or the NCR yet it bothers me to pay the heavy electric bills(heavy usage of Ac). How do I innovate when I can’t bypass the installed meter… Exactly that’s what I do… I will take a direct connection from the electric source  bypassing the meter. Hello are you listening?

The other day I took a ride on the auto from my office to GIP Noida. I struck up a conversation with the cabbie. I told him that pollution level had gone down with the use ofCNG and I said I am glad your auto is run on CNG.  He said I use gasoline and not CNG the sign was to dupe the authorities. Tell me how many auto rickshaws are being run that way in Delhi and NCR.

We devise so many ways to dupe the authorities and who in turn devises newer ways to dupeus !! I am confused what are we… are we a society with high moral values or a society withlow moral values, decadent, non-progressive and utterly corrupt one. If one wants to see themirror one needs to visit the state of Jharkhand to know, witness, experience corruption first hand! Seriously, I want to be in an India which is progressive yet traditional of high moral values.

Teachers’ Day….The Day of the World!

A day I await so eagerly,

A day of added sweet memories as a mentor of my students,

A formator of their heart and soul,

A teacher of their thirsting mind

Inculcating wisdom and enduring virtues!

Teachers’ day is one of my happiest days

To hear from my pupils their inspiring words,

To receive the freshest flowers that never wither in my heart,

The flowers that bloom in every corner of my person,

The colorful flowers that define my soul as a teacher.

These humbly presents that speak straight through my heart,

That strengthen my call to continue teaching,

That edify my conviction to be their best teacher.

Teachers’ Day shall be celebrated once more,

My day and the day of every teacher,

The moment which I can never express in words

The happiness I feel inside

That even loneliness never peeps to cry,

The day when our dearest students

Pay tribute to us,

Humbly thank us.

Teachers’ Day

Is the day when our students

Build a new path of encouragement,

Make a bridge of optimism,

And the most of all…

Shape our hearts..

The genuine heart of a TEACHER!

Success Is….

Crumpling ourselves to almost tearing is great indeed for it mold us into a better person. The inevitable adversities shaped our whole being.

A person who is thirsty for achievement always find positive vibration in every struggle.

A person who is hungry for success finds strength in every failure.

Here are some of my collections of thoughts about success:

Success Is…..

..the opportunities you’ve created for yourself through diligent, dedicated work.

– Donna Gephart

… to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

– Booker T. Washington

… being who you are, and feeling proud of yourself for every task and challenge that you face and conquer along the way.

– Deanna Beisser

… counted sweetest by those who never succeed.

– Emily Dickinson

.. not measured by how well you fulfill the expectations of others, but by how honestly you live up to your own expectations.

– Linda Principe

… not achieving what you aim at, but aiming at what you ought to achieve, and pressing forward, sure of achievement here, or if not here, hereafter.

– R. F. Horton

“When My Students’ Tears…..”

When tears shed from my student,

My heart breaks into pieces.

When their tears burst because of confusion,

My soul blankets with despair.

When their tears are caused with family turmoil,

How I longed to be their caring father!

When their tears cry from petty teasing,

How I had wished to be their guiding angel all the time.

When their tears sob for inequality,

How I had wished to be their loyal pal.

When their tears speak for revenge,

How I had wished to be their spirit of wisdom and humility.

When their tears are hidden inside,

I had wished to be the conqueror of their weeping within.

When their tears yell for emptiness

How I had wished to be their vessel of hope and love.

When their tears fall with anger and hatred,

How I had wanted to be their candy of sweet justice.

When their tears flow with triumph,

How I had wanted to be their crown of unbeatable success!

When their tears aflame with faith to Almighty One,

How I had wished to be their humble bearer at the doorstep of Heaven!