Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Childhood Fantasy

It all started off when we decided to play hide and seek in the neighboring house. I remember the occupants had just left, making that house an ideal retreat for snoopy kids like us. We spent our time trampling that house, running amok in the compound and prodding every nook and corner to discover unknown secrets. It was then we came upon a very strange corner of the house, which was wilder and spookier than our vibrant imagination could ever describe. It was their little shed in the backyard—well, not a shed, actually, that would be a disgrace to that room in the back…it was a huge room, and if one peeked in through the window, one would get a clear view of the bizarre and unworldly….and I know the thrill of terror I experienced whenever I stared through the window, it felt like looking into that horrible darker realm that I believed existed. Now, if you were an adult, you would have found nothing to be scared of, but we whispered in hushed voices, and the room remained our topic of discussion for many days.

I don’t know who started the rumor. It would be better not to find out, but we firmly and secretly belived that room was haunted. It was always locked, you know, and we had our reasons to believe it was haunted. If you peeped into the room, even you would find out. It was a very dusty room, which looked like it hadn’t been opened in centuries, with an old family portrait hanging meekly from one wall—we had never seen that family inhabit this colony, we had never heard of them, we didn’t know if they still existed, which made things all the weirder, of course. Unsolved mysteries appealed to our growing minds and we were just beginning to understand the joy of discovery. And then there was this black, horribly old sofa set in one corner of the room which seemed to have been abandoned for quite a few years…the look of it, with a huge gash in the center made us reason that it was literally ripped apart by ‘the ghost.’ There was a chair too, nothing too charming about the chair, it was made of plain wood, but we were grateful it was not the rocking kind, because we were sure that we would hear it creak in the middle of the night, and crumbling, infested walls…we were scared. Well, after spending many an afternoon staring blankly into that room, imagining all sorts of horrors, nothing exciting really happened, the room remained untouched, and soon was assumed to be unworthy of attention.

Most of us gave up, but this avid ‘bird-watcher’ considered ‘room-watching’ as the most noble honour any kid could be blessed with. What more, she had a wonderful side-kick who believed in everything she did, and trusted her beyond belief. My friend Shruthi and I made this ‘room-watching’ an compulsory and routine event, as we were sure something exciting was bound to happen, and we took out time off, introducing every child in the colony to the ‘spooky house.’ We wanted more sentries, but we never got them, no one believed us, so we spun some fabulous lies, and grander tall tales which were quite convincing, but no one was brave enough to accompany us, and that is why we found ourselves so lonely on solitary afternoons.

You should have seen the ways we discussed our theories, which seemed so wonderfully probable then, and which look utterly stupid and hilarious now. My god! The detailed discussions nearly drove me mad with wild explanations, but believe it or not, after month long of waiting, our patience and hard-work did pay off, because something exciting did happen. Something which explained everything, anyway. Someone moved into the house. It looked like a disaster, but we still snooped around the house, finally, we did enough snooping to be noticed, and no one quite appreciates and welcomes the idea of a group of two girls mysteriously prowling around their house for no apparent reason. The house-owner was observing us; he even introduced his daughter Preeti to us, but we continued prowling around, hungry for some news, frenzied with curiosity, and finally, he was irritated enough to talk to us, puny little girls.
“You want to look into the back-room, is it not? Come, I’ll take you there,”
We followed hastily, it felt like dream come true. Somehow, entering into that dark hell of the room, which was always locked, blocking our entry had given in. After so many months of staring through the mesh-window, we were actually inside, right there, the only two girls in the entire world who were entitled to enter that room! It did strangle our curiosity, it dimmed our interest, after having finally understood there was nothing extraordinary about the room whatsoever. The man stood around scratching his head,
“What a mess to get rid of! People preserve all kinds of unwanted things here…it’s going to take me time to clean it all up!” The window had never given us a complete view, but now, the room looked paler than before, and most unattractive. We were enraged that our time had not payed off. He opened the wooden shelf in the corner, which too was stashed with unwanted, broken articles, he raised his eyebrows, picked up something, dusted it, and said,
“Here, you want this?”
It was some yellowed and illustrated book named The Tales of Odyssey, and we accepted the prize and looked into it, and tried reading. The pages were missing, and the story was too uninteresting and complicated with a tiny print for us to read, and we gave it up for good. But we preserved it because it was our reward for guarding that room. And we triumphantly showcased it as a souvenir of our endeavors, and most of our friends grew envious, now that I think of it, that book was even unworthy of envy! It could have been picked easily out of an old paperwaala’s cart! Finally, we ended up loosing the book, it too disappeared due to carelessness, but it spurted more of our interest, and we spent our time once again, murmuring that a ghost has returned to claim it’s book! Remembering this makes me think of how mischievous and incurably hopeful kid I was as a kid, my mischievousness has evaporated and I have grown out of that attitude faster than I can wispher ‘ghost’ in someone else’s ear.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More on my Book-binder

I was returning from a long and exciting Sunday, when I discovered some wonderful news which I want to share with you. Well, I went to the movie--Chak De at PVR Cinemas on Sunday, and having enjoyed the entire movie, I was returning home, when I saw my book-binder was open, and asked my friend to drop me off at the Ghandi bazaar main road. My book-binder, Mr. Manikyam, (I finally discovered his name) was not there, but his son-in-law was busy. In the beginning, he failed to recognise me, and then, after observing me closely, he remarked,
"Ah yes...your mother had come. Told me something about posting about our shop on the net. Could you give me the site?" I wrote it for him, and he seemed very excited that the entire world could now read about that humble book-binding shop down Ghandi bazaar road. As far as I have heard, the family is trying alternate methods of livelihood---I have a small request on behalf of Mr. Ravi, Mr. Manikyam;s son-in-law--if you want to purchase batteries or if any of your electrical applinces need fixing, and if you happen to be a resident of south bangalore, please contact Mr. K.P. Ravi, who works for Signil Batteries. His contact no is 9845727243. While I actually went about wrongly assuming that my book-binder was a very lonely man, I have discovered, in fact that he is popular and very well loved. Mr. Ravi showed me a small letter which was written in Kannada. He could not read it, but I could just decipher the shaky scrawly writing. It was not something extravagent--it was a simple letter which was adressed to my book-binder and it read somehting like this,
" Respected Manikyam sir,
I keep looking at your shop everytime I pass this stretch of road, and I admire your hard-working nature. Keep it up and best wishes."
"You see, that letter was written by another old man who lives close by. My! He is such a wonderful soul that he brings coffee here, makes my father-in-law drink the coffee, and even takes away the cup. My father-in-law is such a lucky man to be cared for by all people like you. He is loved so much by the people. I am grateful."
I was touched. I think, after worrying about my book-binder for so long, I have found an apt conclusion for my incomplete blogs--and this, dear readers, is for real. Mr. Manikyam might close down, but his family will survive, and the old man might consider retirement, having passed on his skills to his son in law also, but he will be comforted to know that he is loved and appreciated, not only by me, but by all sorts of people who live in my neighbourhood. Caring comes from the heart, and I feel my actions have been right, I have done all I could for the book-binder, and I am considerably pleased that he is happy. I was infact, so touched that I bought A second Bowl of Chiken Soup for the Soul book on the long walk home with my mom's money. Something which was not appreciated too much, but at that instant, I felt there was a need to read about like-minded people, trying to change the world with small steps...and I find comfort in reading about it, after all, books are my favorite freinds.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Why do Teenagers Blog?

There have been discussions on why old people need to blog on Mysore Blog Park recently, something which I am keenly following. I have read about the eldest blogger on Mr. GVK’s blog and how blogging can improve one’s health in Mr. Tharakan’s blog. It all sounds intriguing. Let me look at the other side of things…why do teenagers blog? Firstly, it does seem to be strange…teenagers can be easily defined in terms of TV, Barbarism, fashion, rock music and slang words. But serious writing? Nah, that is quite hard to imagine. You might think, being the computer whizzes we are, we use blogs as online diaries. Maybe you are right. If you observe the ‘teenage’ blogs, you can see we usually write about ourselves. We are those struggling souls, caught between childhood and adulthood, struggling on a path of self-discovery. That’s why we need a blog. We need to voice ourselves, it gives immense relief.

Teenagers can be unusual bloggers. All of us simply don’t use blogs as our personal journals. For some people like me, it all has a deeper meaning. There are actually a group of people who are out to prove that teenagers are not careless bloggers. That includes me. We can be serious writers, logical and profound thinkers, touchy, sentimental, we know we are capable of spreading awareness through blogs and online articles, some of us can understand adults, we can have a philosophical inclination too, at times. All of us are not those brainless chaps who only care about junk food and don’t know respect. We do. We too can be humane. Although today’s teenagers seem to be synonymous with wild and barbaric, try to look inside. You’ll see half of childhood innocence, and the maturity and strength of a growing mind. You’ll see a confused brain…a mixture of delicate thoughts which need assortment….there is also the pressure of dealing with things, of proving yourself, look deeper and you’ll see we are not at all as complex as we seem.

I have met some talented teenagers on blogpark, and I think I should introduce them to you. If you can read Telagu, you should go through the local magazine called Eenadu, it talks about a thirteen-year old blogger and magazine editor named Shambavi. If you cannot read Telagu, you should buy a recent copy of Tinkle and go through the Tinkle Times column. Shambavi is very talented. She’s on blogspot at www.invincible-themag.blogspot.com. She edits a children’s mag called ‘Invincible’ and she gives useful tips about studying, and keeping cool about it. That’s the sort of advise people like me need. She even wrote about our former president Abdul Kalaam and he was so pleased that she was invited to meet him!

Another active writer is my dearest friend, Deepti. She too is thirteen, and although she only recently took to blogging, she has enormous talent, and has written a large number of essays. You shall be baffled if you do read them (Deepti is shy in revealing her written works, and basically uncomfortable with others going through her works), but her writings reflect the thoughts of a mature person, there is underlying philosophy and a rich understanding of how life works. Something which is hard for even me to digest. Her essay named ‘Another Day in Paradise’ needs to be read and promoted, and Deepti has promised to blog it next. Although she has found time to only blog a single poem on her blog http://www.deeptiraghuram.blogspot.com/ , I ask you to go through it, you’ll understand what I mean.
So you see, people who want to write always will, immaterial of weather they are thirteen or thirty year old’s. And some people need to understand that even that wild creature of a teenager who irritates you with his weird ways and repulsive looks does have a heart…perhaps, if he starts writing, he’ll be able to prove that even he does possess talent, a skill, and the urge to prove himself.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

To my teacher

I remember the first day she entered the class—her long saree rippling behind her, her face lively and utter pleasantness etched on her face…ah, you should have seen her then. She looked like the teacher. Meera mam—lovely memories of my best school year cloud my mind when I speak of her. That was in fifth standard, and I still haven’t forgotten her. Obviously, we don’t forget our best teachers. There was initial reluctance, you see—she was new, and she taught boring science, and she was our class teacher. No one knew her, and everyone thought ‘new’ teacher meant an outsider. But her winning smile and her passion for teaching won us over. She was something apart from a teacher—she was someone who understood. She was someone who taught the joy of sharing, of the values of friendship….she was different, and all of us loved her.

Meera Mam had strange ways. For example, if you didn’t finish your lunch, she would sit with you, with your spoon in her hand, and feed you the old curd rice your mom had packed!
“You should not waste what your parents send you,” she used to say. Now, if Meera Mam fed you, she would do it in front of the entire class, and it was something of an embarrassment to be fed, so we used to finish our entire lunch. That was a clever plan of hers, so ingeniously designed, yet so simple.

Did I mention she had the greatest handwriting on earth? I have tried to imitate her long slender l’s and curvy g’s but it was never possible to get it right. I remember one day when she was particularly strained, and she arrived to class quite late and started off on something. Now, the backbenches were creating quite a racket, yelling and shouting and she repeatedly asked them to stop. I was a backbencher then too---but I was the meekest girl in class, you wouldn’t find me talking for anything. Finally, Meera mam decided to punish us.
“The last two benches will stand up and remain standing until the end of the period.”
Others obliged quite cheerfully, but I was shocked. I had never been punished before—I was the perfect student. I stood up on wobbly legs, tears clouding my eyes—I had not talked, I had not done anything wrong.
“Keep quiet, Lakshmi, don’t be such a cry-baby,” Sharanya jabbed me, which made me cry further. By then, Meera Mam was staring at me, “ It’s all right, dear. That was my mistake. You haven’t done anything wrong, you can sit down.”
I sat down gratefully, I remember how regretful Meera Mam seemed that day.

Two years later, Meera Mam left school to care for her newly adopted son. I just felt like I should dedicate this blog to her on teacher’s day, to my best teacher. To meera mam with love. …

And if there are any teachers here today, I would like to wish them a Happy Teacher’s Day too, including my mom. My mom is a commerce lecturer, and although I have heard she is one of the greatest teachers at PES, I don’t really know how she teaches, I have never attended her class, sometimes I wish I could. But at home, mom has been a great teacher, tenderly teaching life-lessons, and I realize I ought not to be angry with her, for her lessons will ultimately help me in life.
(I would like it if some of you could talk of your favorite teachers—teachers day, after all is for honoring and respecting them)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Teenage English

(Having analysed my previous post, I realized I have glorified teenagers a little too much...of course, I do not wish to take back anything I have said, but I think I should devote this blog to what's wrong with teenagers. We also have some drawbacks...we cannot be perfect.)

Here is the sort of conversation you might come across if you dropped by a college these days.
“ Hey, waadiiupp, dude?”
“Nothin’, everything’s groovy,”
“Whacha doin’ man?”
“Nothin, chillin,’”
“Awesome, Where’s MJ and gang?”
“Dey were hangin at that funky and totally hapenning mall and hoggin’ some chips, like, whatever, man, who knows? They were, like, bunkin’ class, you know, like, dey were bugged to the core, chem.was totally freakish today, so Dey took a break and decided to hang!”
“What’s she do in chem?’
“You bunked class too?”
“Me bunked class, mate ”
“Cool! She did aldehydes and ketones,”
“The What-sits?”
“Some boring organic stuff dude, chill, don’t go cracking,”
“Was she mad, da?”
“Totally Burnin’!”
“She’s such a bull-crusher!”
“Alrigh’ buddy, gottago, me mom’ll toast me if I don’t turn up! Catchya!”
“Adios, Amigo!”
Now, if you understood half of that conversation, very good, it means you are fully updated with the modern trends of English Langauge, if you haven’t, you are someone like me, who prefers not to understand at all, because it hardly makes sense. The present day youth are largely responsible for brutally disfiguring the English Language. Seriously, I thought my grammar was bad! English, firstly, is not English because teenagers mix it with Kannada, Malayali, Spanish, French, American English or anything that sounds barbaric to the tongue. What is most irritating and common habit among school children is adding a ‘da’ at the end of every sentence! I’m not trying to degrade any language, but English is rapidly deteriorating into a mass of misspelled words and utter gibberish, and people change it according to their fancy. The funny thing is deteriorating English has become a necessity among us! Inferior English is ‘cool’ to put in the right terms. They try to associate even the language with fashion, new words are ‘in’ and others are ‘out’. For me, it’s illogical and highly nonsensical, and I have to make a deliberate effort to ignore slangs, because I have the fear my writing will decay with them, if I catch up to it. What a pity! Shakesphere would have drowned himself if he was alive!

Another annoying habit is to use shrt frms (short forms) every other day, which is more common with the girls. The ‘SMS’ language is creeping into daily usage.
“I’ll be back, A.S.A.P.” (as soon as possible) and "OMG OMG OMG!" (Oh my gosh!) somehow annoy me. Drooling with words too, like “Coooooooool!” is most common. And whenever you don’t find the right words, just insert ‘whatever’ or ‘like’ and it makes a fabulous sentence, filling in all the blanks! Words like ‘snazzy’ ‘hip-hop’ ‘chic’ have replaced ‘different’ ‘nice’ and ‘fashionable’. If you speak like this,
“It was such a nice day, yesterday, that I decided to have a long walk, and I took some cream biscuits along, just to munch along the way. And then there was such a cool breeze, I was happy, and contented,” people would stare and think you are exotic, because only a few speak like that anymore. That would translate into something like this in the ‘teenage’ English:
“ It was a cool day yesterday, man, so, I like, decided to chill, and I chucked myself out, got somethin’ to hog on, and de wing was like, whatever, you know? Made me feel sort of gud,”
If this continues, I fear the entire world would be divided into normal and abnormal English speakers, and in the course of literary evolution, who knows? This might become a new language(although a primitive and an inferior one, no doubt)and we might require a translator in the future! Teenagers, are you listening?