Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Age is just a vague number

Age is not in the years we have walked the earth, it is in the mind, and I do believe in this adage. Have been a teacher for donkeys years so to say. and dont seem to have grown a single day since the day I began teaching. The youthfulness of the crowd I breathe with for the best part of the day I think never lets me grow old.The child in me never died ever. Just a while ago a good friend of mine commented on my previous blog, saying that I sounded like a kid opening a parcel that came to me all out of the blue, but thats exactly how I felt at that moment. An excited kid tearing up the stairs to get into my room to open the parcel.
My recent visit ti Chennai to meet my classmates at the 25th alumni meet, I realized how we only suppress the child in us, with all the worldly cares and responsibilities that life brings on us. We were like wild teenagers for that one day, no cares in the world.It made me sit up and and think that life is too short too waste away with tears and cares, let the child in me live till the day I die.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Assam silk saree

The arrival of the long awaited Assam silk, the typical dull gold Assam munga with gold thread work and a hint of red made my heart sing.It came last afternoon,a big white parcel, packed most meticulously, even unpacking it was a herculean task, or was it my excitement that made it so? i really dont know. It was beautiful in every possible way.
A little history on the purchase of this saree. I went on a sojourn to upper Assam last October. Even before I could begin on this trip, I had decided that I will not get tempted to make any purchases there. Keeping my promise to myself, i didnot visit a single saree shop during the six days that I spent there. We traveled extensively through Digboi, Shib sagor, Tezpur and Tinsukhia, passing by lush green tea gardens of Dibrugarh on the way. I was most facinated by visiting the ruins of the Ahom kingdoms, none of which were described in our Indian history books that I had devoured as a student since I was a great lover history anyway. The Jia Bhoreli river took my heart away, saw it from Bhalukpung and later moved towards the Eco Park and saw the river with high banks, more powerful. its amazing how the same river can look alluring and calm at one end and so much more virulent in another part. The Kaziranga trip was the most hilarious of the lot, we could only travel the outskirts of the sanctuary, but he kind of fun I had on the elephant back would require one entire blog to describe. Tezpur and its parks were fascinating. In short I came back with a love for Assam, its people and its rich history and culture that I had never ever felt earlier. On my way to the airport at Dibrugarh, I gingerly made a request to my companion if he could get me a traditional saree and post it to me back home. He did answer in the affirmative, but I was not sure if he really meant it. Back home, I got a shouting from my mom and good friends for not having invested in saree from there. I had almost lost all hopes of the saree when it finally came and thus this tremendous excitement.
This saree encompasses the 6 days of absolute delight that I had traversing the most beautiful parts of Assam. It carries within its folds a lot of fond memories that will always be a part of my life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

the frightening face of society

Am terribly disturbed, was on chat with a first year student and she narrated to me about how she was ragged by senior boys, who barged into her lab when the professor was away, inserted a pen drive into her comp, played a porn clip for her and asked her to comment on it. The entire exercise may have lasted 3 to 4 minutes but to her it seemed like hours. She sounded quite blaise when she said, "it was ok, managed somehow." She went on to tell me about her friend in IIT, who was asked to strip naked, and was given a handkerchief to cover any part of his body that he wanted to hide. The boy didnt take long to decide that what he needed to hide most was his face...I want to hide my face from the world on hearing of this too, the act of hiding his face is subject to psychological dissection. His face is his identity, he never wanted to identify what would make him stand out. It is a natural reaction to shame. We often see pics of convicts, being dragged by policemen who cover their face from public view. They are shamed to face the public because of their act. Here the scene is a little different. The ones who should really be ashamed of their act were in fact laughing with glee, and the poor boy who was subjected to humiliation was ashamed to face the public. His crime? That he studied hard to get into the most prestigious Institute in India and the world over, made his parents and well wishers proud. What makes the seniors, who are also from the intelligent populace, who had in their time, worked hard to join the same prestigious institute. get into this sadistic frame of mind. Cant believe that this mirror of society is actually the new citizens of the country, on whom the country banks to make the nation proud!


A visual news caught my eyes the other day, it was one of a mother, in her attempt to save her son from the tumbling rubble during the recent Chinese earthquake, wrapped herself around him, perishing under the onslaught.The bodies were recovered days after the incident, under tons of debris. The rigormortis of the body showed a little gap between her body and her child's, an attempt on her part to save her child till the last...
I remember my mother, would sit with me awake the entire night when I had an awful attack of allergic wound on my palm. I was so much in pain that I would sleep , if at all, only on her lap. She would have to sit to accommodate me and would do it most ungrudgingly. The next day would be another hectic day for her, the trails of the night forgotten. This is just one stray incident that I mentioned. I could tells millions of stories of her unflagging commitment towards motherhood.
Today, I am a mother of an adolescent son, and I see the same trait in me, fierce as a tiger when it comes standing for him, I can negate myself completely for his comfort. Thats the quality of a mother universally, be it a human being or an animal. Fathers too are biologically linked to their children, but do they also feel so strongly for their off springs? A recent news to hit notice was that of a father, who deserted his child and wife because the child was born with a hole in the heart. A mosque adopted the mother and child and with a little publicity, sponsors have poured in to help the hapless child...thanks to the timely help, the child will at least get adequate treatment.What we need to see is the mother, who stood by her child who she bore in her womb..what do we say about the father? I sound gender biased I am sure, but I have stated only facts!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lunch Breaks and more!

Gosh Jolly!who would say u are a bengali after tasting your authentic sambar? "have some more" I would reply pompously, biting into her delicious alu wadi, so delightfully tasty.The ever meticulous Nishi would add dash of chat masala to her salad before setting it on the table for all to taste. Veni and Kalpana would open their lunch boxes to stir our tastes buds further to typical south Indian delecacies. I try to maintain a strict diet, but with sweets around on festive seasons as is now with Ganapati utsav, lunch break is guilt ridden for me with modaks, puran poli and the mouthwatering sweets, the temptations are too rampant to ignore!Love this little gathering we have during the lunch break, though all of have class at different times, we try to be together in the afternoon to grab a bite together and de stress ourselves. My recent visit to the WCC campus brought back live visions of my times there as a student. Niru, my best pal since college days, and I would often go on these no eating binges whenever we thought that our waist lines were increasing, and then we would sit at the clock tower for the entire hour talking only about food. It was a way of satiating our appetite I guess. And then we would have those total eating lunch breaks, with not a care in the world for increasing waist lines where he would gorge on all we could set eyes on. Lunch breaks at VJTI, where all english faculty would meet to correct university papers was another memorable event. It was like a veritable picnic with loads of food to binge on. Basanti would serve us kehwa in cups brought from home, mrs Rao's potato halwa with oodles of ghee and dry fruits, Rohini's Idli Sambar and mothewatering coconut chutney to go with, Usha's potato stew, Christy's crispy chicken and my mustard fish and bangla chumchum as grand finale...lunch breaks will always be cherished moments for the love and care packed in each morsel, the chats and the gossip flavouring every bite...I can already see Nishi adding salt and chat masala to the dahiwada she has brought today, I will have to run before its devoured by the hungry souls.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Teachers Day!

Todays headlines have a lot of thought provoking lines on teachers,,,"Teaching: Is it a truly noble profession?" "Are teachers Happy?" " Teachers as Mentors","Teachers- make or break young lives". Have been in this profession for donkeys years now and wonder at all that is said of this profession. My experience has been most exhilarating, love being in the class where I forget the world around me. Have had the most unusual encounters with my students years after having been their teacher. One was such in Bangalore, ma and I were window shopping in the stalls at Safina Plaza, when we chanced upon a stall named Rinku's collections. Ma the forceful bong, saw the name having a strong Bengali flavour and dragged me towards it. It was an expensive stall displaying lovely ethnic Indian wear. One of the two girls dealing with the customers welcomed us warmly. We had jsut about begun moving around the various clothes when the other girl came up to me and asked me, " mam did u ever live in jamshedpur?" I smiled and nodded in the affirmative. She came forward and touched my feet."Mam, you were my English teacher in the X std. I am Rinku Sen, and you were always my idol." It was indded a memorable reunion. More recently, I was working in the admission cell of my college, giving the nervous candidates information about the college, when a slightly balding man, may be in his early 30's came up to me and said, "Good morning Jayanti Mam". I said good morning as I would to all others present, his face not ringing a bell, when he identified himself as Punit Jain, my student in 92'. We got talking, he had come for his fiancee's admission. The demure girl acknowledged me and whispered something into Punit's ear. Later Punit told me that she had mistaken me to be his batchmate! Not that we remain the same, but students grow up and become adults. We teachers remain eternally young in order to keep pace with the changing generations we handle.
In the last 22 years, I have more student friends than friends my age. At times the age gap is visible to me, most often not since I do think like them. Thats why I say, I will die a teacher...love my profession from the bottom of my heart.