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182: Ma’s Touch

2 Jul

After what was an almost full day of work on a Saturday, I came back home to a freshly made and piping hot lunch courtesy ma. The table was laid with the spread adoring it lovingly. Dal, chawal, sabzi, raita, salad, rotis, pickle, chutney… it’s the biggest treat to have these burdens taken off your shoulders for even one day. I can’t be more thankful, really.

After a much needed siesta post lunch, we were off to my aunt’s for a Saturday night in, complete with good food, laughs, and company as always. Who says familying isn’t partying?

Tomorrow’s a brand new day and session, a final rude reminder that my holidays are over for a long time to come. But I prefer wallowing in the madness and beauty that was yesterday. :)

136: Dissociation

16 May

Dissociate (v.): to severe, to separate, to cut, to remove.

I just walked out of class talking about a certain classification of psychological disorders that fall under this category. And yet time and again, I find myself unable to do the same between my work and me. If flitting from one classroom to the other, inflicting one scolding after the other, taking one lesson after the other, being present continuously one after the other isn’t enough, I find my waking and sleeping zones plagued with all of this clutter too.

I can’t seem to dissociate.

I’m trying, but it’s taking much longer than I thought.

From ceasing bringing work home (as much as a teacher possibly can) to physically shutting every single work-related thought out of my way at home, it’s a monumental effort that’s not effortless at all.

It’s so easy to cut, break off, walk away. But I have no idea what the key to this severance is, if at all.

135: Red Pen Memories

15 May

I’m sitting with a red pen, armed almost, and remembering the seed of fear it had germinated in me. The sight of a red pen in any of my work was only welcomed when it re-affirmed the best of my capabilities; and dreaded at other times. I wonder if it continues its legacy with the students whose work I mark today. Is there fear, or just complacency now? Kids today fear less, or fear different things. How far or how effective this colour is on their answer sheets is one I can only guess or confirm upon clarification.

Flitting between the rustle of papers, I feel odd and out of place in a bodily experience. Is this really me? Never did I think of being here, again. Never did I plan for any of this. Little did I imagine making someone chase marks again.

It’s a strange feeling.

For now I’m caught in the urgent thoughts of many squeezed in a 60-minute clock. There are spews of panic, confidence, confusion, “silly mistakes” (oh how I hated that word, because I made so many of them), hurry, and a slight streak of calmness. I can’t help but smile, and also grimace at the same time.

117: Short Notes

27 Apr

In continuation of yesterday’s post and sick tease, we woke up to some serious stormy conditions – no visible sunrise on time, no colour-changing sky, deep black pregnant clouds, no flirty breeze, no dust storm and no wind storm. It was dark when I woke up, which was both comforting and weird (530am feels like 7am these days). We opened our balcony doors to the fantastic outdoors while sipping our respective cuppas. I didn’t soak clothes to be washed later – typical Bangalore mentality, especially when you wake up to conditions like I did today. An umbrella found its place in my rucksack, and off we dispersed to our offices. All of us – kids (big and small), teachers, guards – looked at the sky as we crossed our sports field en-route the main building. Kids exclaimed in glee dekho aaj to sky bhi nahin dikha, bas badal hi badal (look! we didn’t get to see the sky today, just clouds and more clouds). And then when I checked the quadrangle an hour later, the sky was right there in its blueness with all those promising clouds GONE.

If you haven’t gathered so far, I can’t handle this tease. It’s a cruel joke to play. :(

****

I’m beginning to get attached to my students, both seniors and juniors. I am a loyal and possessive person by default, so it goes without saying that this was bound to happen. A delusional me never imagined connecting or even getting attached to students here. We’re now clear why I called myself delusional here. I’ve picked my favourites – and most of them are the naughty kinds. The teacher in me cannot and will not be partial to anyone, but how can I not have expected my heart to soften towards kids who are in this like you and me were once upon a time. Damn it!

****

A came home early and when I opened the door expecting our AC to be delivered, it was him instead – :) . He brought flowers for me today – lilies – and I happened to bake the best ever banana cake I’ve ever baked, which I fed him with. There’s gratitude in this serendipitous synchronicity that was today. :)

****

115: The Ease Of Walking Halfway

25 Apr

It was till almost 11pm last night when I finally got up from my chair to head to bed. I knew what I wanted to do in class today, except I didn’t have the means to get it all done. It’s finally time to get into that part of my subject which I find both fascinatingly intriguing and painful to study as well. My mind only kept insisting that I begin this new chapter with either a reading from a book or by watching a movie based on the same book.

I rushed to my Kindle (what a blessing technology is) only to find the book unavailable, perhaps for controversial reasons. A visit to the bookstore was out of the question. Besides, venturing into this heat towards zero guarantees is a risk I wasn’t willing to take. However, some thinking and help later, I had the movie with me, ready for my students to watch today.

They came halfway too, today. Having sacrificed their break to watch this movie made it seem worth my while. I wish I could be there to see them through the end of the movie (I had another class, but they watched the entire thing in one sitting, letting it spill into their next hour). One needs support, answers, closure when you’re dealing with something so real, yet so unknown and new.

I am looking forward to opening them up to more experiences with my subject, but in time of course. However, these small joys of working, learning, exploring avenues and potentials of learning seal the deal completely.

62: Right Into The Pool

3 Mar

It’s been well over a year since I quit my job and left Bangalore. I don’t ever remember what it felt like to sit at home without an agenda to turn to. The last time I quit a job ever so randomly was shortly after I’d joined the place –  a horrible experience; my first and hopefully the last – and I still recollect ma telling me that sitting at home wasn’t an option. Luckily, another opportunity came my way soon after, and it was one that would stick with me till I’d relocate.

The past year was immensely trying; never had it been this difficult to get a call from somewhere, anywhere. Never did silence bang on my door this loudly. Never had rejection felt this prickly. You’ll get something worthy of you when the time is right, I’d cajole myself. I do believe in the conspiracies of this universe wholeheartedly, in the need to surrender when all else fails. Call it faith in the synergies of forces much larger and stronger than us, if you will.

Not so long ago, I got an unexpected call from a school, and before I could comprehend what was going on, they offered me a job. I remember staring at that email well into the night, showing it to A repeatedly just to recheck if I hadn’t in fact lost my mind. Here I am today, a new joinee all over again. And here I am, trying to stay afloat in the pool I’ve been thrown into.

There’s a lot going on, and it’s naturally not advisable to compare anything, ever. Therefore what was once a cushy, comfortable corporate life, is now a walk down corridors ringing with the chaos and madness that is a school abuzz with all things it should be. I’m still trying to find my feet; I highly doubt it’ll happen anytime soon. There are children of all sizes, lengths, voices, hairstyles, and of course types, even though they’re all clad in the same uniform.

Yesterday, during an impromptu invigilation session, here’s what my mind was going crazy with behind an obviously strict demeanour.

A girl who had the best handwriting and was attacking her paper with a cool calmness that made me love her instantly. She meant business, but with such composure.

A boy who was my timekeeper – 1 hour 26 minutes left, ma’am; 48 minutes 40 seconds left, ma’am. He wore specs – even more adorable, and I wish he could be my timekeeper forever.

A boy who wanted my attention all the time – it didn’t help that he was made to sit right at the back. Ma’am, can I eat? I’m done with my paper. What even…hahaha!

A boy who wrote his paper with every ounce of seriousness that he could hold together, but in a jiffy (he was done over an hour before the bell went), who went on to rolling magnets all over his desk and throwing slips of paper with ghosts (Casper) drawn on them. (the girl in front of him handed me the piece sombrely, hoping to get her worth from that unruly distraction)

A front seater who wore specs that were very smart, but too big for his face.

A boy who didn’t know what was going on – with the paper, and the world at large.

That girl who unfortunately had it all in her stationery kit, especially during an exam.

A boy who promptly walked up to me after he was done and asked if he could play with a rubix cube. Where even? Apparently classrooms now have these ingenious contraptions for times like these.

And of course, it seemed like most of the class was on a trip to the washroom. In ones of course.

So yes, I’m right into the pool and giving it my all to stay afloat and informed and everywhere all at once and just enough to be out of everyone’s way.

And I also feel that this might just be the universe’s way of making me hands on with kids, because I just don’t know how to. :)

On Being Different

20 Jan

My brother and I owe many a thanks to our mother for her decisions and choices towards our upbringing. When she decided to enrol us in a school that was very different from the regular fare and in one which had an alternate perspective towards learning and the concept of education itself; plus having enticed us with the bait of it having no uniforms, no tests, no exams, etc, my reaction was a mix of anger and resentment – not because I’d envisioned the outcome of being different but because I wanted to go back to my regular school where I had begun my education and where I had already established a favourable reputation; but where I remembered zero of my classes or classmates and whose PT classes and teacher I despised (we were rejoining post a relocation from another city). I felt resentful at my fate for not being in my control because heck I would go back to my comfortable confines and to a place where the teachers knew me and where my report cards gave me the results any kid would love seeing. But that was (thankfully) not to be.

And so my brother and I began yet another journey in a place that reeked of a newness that I didn’t want to have to deal with. Everything was new and everything was unknown and everything needed me to start over from the very beginning. It was painful initially; and then each day rolled into the next at a speed that made me let go of any feeling whatsoever, like this universe engineers it every single time for each of us. Our entry began with a trip to a rainforest; something that was a way of this new school’s life. You almost always had to be hands on if you wanted to learn about something; including the art of learning itself. And so it was very customary for the kids to go on very educational, very adventurous and very enthralling trips that always centred around a particular theme or topic or subject. And so rainforests it was – my first ever close encounter with something I had only read about in books and whose names I’d gobbled up only to spill out very efficiently in the many tests I’d written. However, here was a name I hadn’t heard of and here was an actual, live rainforest, very far removed from the confines of a page and its writer’s perceptions. This was a rainforest for me to experience, explore and learn about.

As it turned out, the experience was both agonizing and exhilarating for someone who had never been to one and for someone who was amidst people who seemed to have visited rainforests like they did their backyards. It was a class/classroom I still remember, a lesson whose teachings are engraved in my mind’s library for I can still feel my heart racing the moment I encountered what seemed like an endless hanging bridge over a gushing river that I had to cross and was the last one to (I’m not a fan of heights), I can still hear the rising crescendo of the Common Hawk Cuckoo’s song (or the brain-fever bird, as it is more commonly known) in which I found my lullaby, I can still recollect the stories my mind told me so I could ease into a more fearless sleep surrounded by an absolute blackness that resonated with scary sounds and rustles and creeks with just a jute mat in between me and its bare floor. I told myself that even forests have stories to tell and here’s a bedtime story you’ve got the privilege of listening to. That just had to work because there was no plan b; and it did. I remember coming back home a little less scared and a lot more thirsty to learn.

At the cost of sounding preachy, I do believe that straying from the path and the norm is something we do so less of and should indulge in a lot more. We turned out pretty okay, my brother and I (as did all the other kids who graduated from that school). We fit back into mainstream educational institutes with more ease than the general public feared we lacked. And whenever I look back, I never see textbooks, report cards or confined spaces; just trees, the sea, a full moon, lakes, fields and meadows, galloping horses and elated dolphins, mountains and skies, shooting stars and telescopes, sunrises and sunsets, art, that thirst and the satisfaction of quenching it, music, dance and drama, yoga and martial arts, travel and stillness, discipline and a depth of knowledge that needed no constraints and compulsions. That’s perhaps why I hated and still do hate the word ‘compulsory’ as much as I do. I think we passed the biggest test of education and schooling because we grew up with the burning desire to think, question and understand; a facet in us that is, and always will be forever present and at the forefront.

Thank you mom, for taking us on the road less travelled. We are so proud to be different.

To And Fro

24 Feb

If there’s one habit I’m trying to inculcate this year, it is to write more regularly; sometimes because I want to and sometimes because I think it is absolutely necessary to. I guess it’s on the same lines as how important it is for a singer to do their riyaaz every day and for a sportsperson to be physically active on more than just a regular basis. I’m trying to see it like that because, well, I’m no seasoned writer and I have no stories or books to write just yet, but because I love writing too much and I realize there is just so much I’m missing out on because I don’t seem to document them enough.

Of course it would be a tad too insipid and teenager-ish of me to jot down each and every single detail of my day, every day, for you. I’m sure none of us wants that sort of reporting. But I’ve begun realizing how important it is to be able to put down one’s thoughts, feelings, experiences and expressions with as much ease. I find it hard to do so on a regular basis and I’ve got to give somewhere. I’m going to try. I’m going to keep reminding myself. And I’m going to try some more. Wish me luck.

In light of what I just said, I must give my innumerable thanks to power naps. Why? Because, yes, apart from me being a completely random weirdo (which you guessed right), and because I love them dearly, I had so much to tell you about the weekend that passed and since it was so hectic and writing today would just about make my post to the not-so-stale-chunk, that power nap snapped me out of a budding migraine and allowed me to be here. Writing about the last three days tomorrow would just not be okay, especially after all that I just began my post with.

photo 1 (5) photo 3 (4) photo 2 (7) photo 4 (4) photo 1 (6) photo 2 (6)A friend and I were long thinking of visiting one of the city’s most popular parks. Apart from being something one must do in order to refresh one’s soul (and lungs), it’s something that seldom strikes us as a thing we must do for various reasons. We always pass this park when we’re out on weekends especially and we’ve always wanted to just go for a stroll in it but it never happened until this past weekend.

It’s amazing what the combination of a walk, nature, friends, the setting sun, the sound of birds at dusk, rustling leaves and a multitude of childhood memories can make you feel like. There are moments when the experience of all of them put together shuts the world out; where passing traffic out in the distance stops making a difference, as if muted by more beautiful sounds that rustle out your life’s book you’re reading and experiencing all at once. There were people around, but there was no intrusion. There were children but we felt just as young. There were bamboo thickets bustling with crow families having their evening baths in the park’s brooks. There were memories of picnics; school day trips complete with a straw hat, a hanky pinned in a triangle on our pinafore, a tiny green Frooti tetra pack which was too much to finish back then, and of course, a pack of Yummies in mint or chaat masala flavours. There were waves of time lapses where you wondered how far back it was that you were physically a child but still had some bit of that time left in you because you were here, today, and still felt the same sense of awe.

photo 4 (3)

My friend and I were perhaps the only ones who made it for the impromptu toy train ride as the only “adults” unaccompanied by minors. It was strange and it was a ride down memory lane. It was a weird mix of everything; old and new, past and present, past and future, present and future, the twinge of my childhood gone by and the current phase of life I love so much, of reminiscing and creating new memories.

photo 3 (3)

I guess there’s no right time to embrace the moments that have passed. Yes, rounds of beers and old school music do the trick most often, but it’s nice to forget time and let go. It’s lovely to have reality take you back apart from the regular, cliched way of having memories disembark your time machine over peals of laughter and sighs at pub tables and faded (but still sensitive) crushes. There’s no good time to go back. And there isn’t a better time either.

(Coincidentally, it took me some rather sharp whistles from a guard on duty to realize that I was in a playground for kids aged 10 and below. Clearly, I wasn’t looking. Or thinking. For once.)

Perception

26 Jun

I’d like to believe that I have the skills to put together a mean PowerPoint Presentation (ppt) complete with the looks and finesse a good ppt ought to have. I don’t go overboard with flashy lights and music popping from unforeseen slides, etc etc because I have a style and I like to keep it that way. And here’s what happens when someone sniffs the skills out – you become the family ppt maker. Especially now that my baby cousins are in the throes of understanding and learning about technology in schools that revel in the vast amounts of competition they inculcate, it becomes more than necessary to have a so called “ppt maker”. I’m not bragging because I’ve way more to learn. I’m just saying that when you’re even decent enough in your family, you get put on that pedestal. And even if my views on education and learning differ, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. And so I make ppts for my babies.

The point isn’t as much about being a ppt maker as much as it is about learning and relearning. Making presentations at work or for clients is one thing. Making ppts for kids is another. And I find that the most challenging. It’s been an insightful experience throughout. Where one could come up with a ppt within minutes because a client was drumming his fingers in wait for it, here it takes more than just that. The experience of it all actually made me come here and talk about it because it really isn’t easy to get back down to a child’s level, or a level that isn’t akin to your own cognitive levels. I don’t know if it involves unlearning as much as it involves accommodation of new perspectives. I’m not unlearning how to do a ppt or make a presentation/project. I’m accommodating new perspectives and perceptions to put a point of view across. And like I said, that has been most challenging.

I don’t know what a 12 year old thinks like. I’m far past that mark to go back and recognize how exactly a child of that age comprehends his/her world. And yes, I was 12 once upon a long, long, long time ago. But that doesn’t help. It really doesn’t. For one, times have changed and I think a 12 year old me would feel completely out of place with a 12 year old today. I mean, that’s just natural and it’s called a generational gap. But it’s interesting nevertheless to have yourself in such a situation because it’s not often that you get to shift levels of perception and thinking.

Having studied cognitive process and developmental psychology does help in that I know there are various levels which comprise numerous characteristics pertaining to each stage of growth. But like I said in my previous post, life isn’t and never was a text book because no matter how much you read, you’re always gonna be back on page one when you’re bam in the middle of life and trying to figure it out. I love it nonetheless. It challenges my mind in ways my mind hasn’t been challenged because I obviously do not need to think about how children think, feel and communicate just about yet. So the only hands on experience I’ve got with kids is making ppts. And I really do not know if what I do is what is required. Have I deconstructed knowledge and its presentation more than I should have or have I become too technical or have I done too much are questions I have. And perhaps always will because education today cares about the end result in marks and competition, not the processes that make us who we are and how those can be nurtured and bettered.

It’s interesting to step out of your zone and look around. The worldview’s drastically different. And that’s maybe why I make those ppts. And as we speak, I’m stuck on making an 8 slide ppt on the physical characteristics of our country. It’s easy-peasy, you might think. But try making one with pictures and diagrams and text and all the vast amounts of knowledge that’s out there in the great www. Just try silencing the million squeaky voices in your head that shout out to be heard – take this, take that, no leave this out, no this has to go in!!!! It’s cray! See, I’m resorting to newer terms of words and expressions as well. When the hell did crazy become cray or cray cray? Like did you sleep and miss the z? Or does z stop existing anymore? Oh wait, I’m sorry, I understand how difficult it must be to add just another teeny, tiny letter to a huginormous (I made that up right now!) word! Sigh.

No. I.do.not.feel.old.

I feel awesome that I still get to think and comprehend like a kid from term to term.

And I love crazy.

<Goes back to ideating for an 8 slide ppt.>

10

24 Aug

As soon as the calendar read May 2012, it hit me that it’s been a decade (a whopping, screaming decade!) since I finished school. Wow. Did time fly? Of course. I have no idea where to. You can ask him/her when he/she comes back. 10 YEARS.

And I (surprisingly) don’t feel old at all. I don’t feel ancient for writing those ghastly boards 10 years back. I don’t feel reminiscent of those days at all. Not one bit. Nada. Zilch. I feel a sense of relief instead. Honest. Who wants to ever go back to that phase? I sure don’t. I know I’m sure to get the ‘are you out of your mind?’ look, but go make that face at someone else peeps. Those days are far behind and as far as I’m concerned, in this very present moment, I feel like hopping, skipping, jumping. OK, maybe cheering in my head will do for now.

I really wonder where time goes. How a phase as massive as a (figurative) 10 could dissipate. And so quickly. The last time I checked, I was having a farewell at school where I was the only one graduating. Yeah, I went to an alternate school that had only 23 students in all, had no uniforms or exams and bloo blah. More on that later. So yeah, as luck had it, I was the only one to graduate in the year 2002. With abysmal marks in math (I just managed to pass). But I cared two hoots because that was that for math and me. We had a very amicable break-up. I left him, rather. And never looked back. Except at his cousin, stats a few years later, but we’ll talk about that later, too. So yeah, I was having a farewell, I was getting cards and speeches and the last thing I remember was bawling my eyes out. I didn’t really fancy my school years either, but bawl, I did. I bawl. When it’s the time to bawl. Anyhoo.

The next thing I knew, I was thrown into the world of mainstream education after what felt like a kazillion years. I was running around for admission everywhere. I saw Christ College and ironically saw the dress code notice first. I never went back. It so happened that I became a Carmelite. Joy. It was quite a transition – to move from the kind of school I came from to sitting in a class of 112 girls. It was so damn hard. But then you manage – thanks to chechi’s sugar dovenuts, I think! I think a lot of us bonded over rounds of those dovenuts. And there has been no looking back ever since. Heck, I went on to do my Bachelors over there and was it a ride! I never EVER thought I would spend so much time at MCC. But spend those 5 years, I did. Graduate with much joy and relief, I did. Move ahead, we all did.

And because I’d had enough of studying, I took a break and worked on one condition; that I get back to my Masters ASAP. It was a fair deal then, because I don’t really come from a background where the concept of taking a year or two or three even exists. But I consider myself very lucky. I worked at a brand marketing firm and I have never ever learnt as much as I did there, at my first job. My first true job. It made me miserable; dealing with nasty corporate filth. Those were times of such a struggle and such learning. I figure you never really learn unless you get your hands in and go test the waters. You cannot learn sitting at a distance. So dive into the world of hawk-like clients, I did. Fight, I did. Cry, I did. Deliver, I so damn well did. And then, quit, I did. Do my MSc., I did. Graduate, I did. Get more jobs, I sure as hell did. And quit them, aye, I did.

So that’s that. 10 years. Today, I’m at another job. Doing my thing. And it didn’t take me much to realize that a decade went by as fast as it did. And through it all, I know I’ve had relationships and friendships I never thought I would. Ever.

Here’s to 10 years of awesomeness. We’ve seen each other through life and death. We’ve seen each other through boyfriends and break-ups. We’ve had our distances and our moments of closeness. We’ve dreamed our dreams together. We’ve seen those dreams fall apart. We’ve built new ones. We’ve stood by. We’ve walked away. We’ve moved on. We’ve hung around. We’ve been crazy. We’ve discovered the madness in each other.

10 years is a lot. I refuse to count anymore. All I want to do is to live in today’s moment, in the now – because when I think about them now, I feel a sense of history shared which I haven’t shared or felt/experienced with anyone else. What I feel today is a sense of contentment. So that’s all that matters – today. Because when I have a decade’s worth of a book to cash in on now, I couldn’t be bothered about what happens tomorrow. 10 years sort of does that to you.