Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teacher haters - the most unfortunate people

"All teachers are like that. They're all a wasted, pain in the neck."

Ever heard someone say that? I have. And it totally pissed me off. I have my reasons.

The above quoted words of dislike are clearly spoken by someone who has never had a good teacher during their school and college days. It is indeed a very sad story for them because half of our childhood is spent in schools and if we don't like the big, grown men and women who walk in and out of our classrooms trying to make us believe things we've never heard of, then half our chilhood is spent in boredom and spite.

 I, especially, pity such people genuinely because I come from a school that had young and energetic teachers who were smart, skillful, efficient, interactive, empathetic and understanding. During junior college, I had a panel of teachers who made us go through five-hour lectures without making us feel the pressure. Their lectures were that enjoyably enlightening. It is highly improbable that I am one of very few people who have been lucky to have a fun journey with teachers. I am sure there are a whole lot of them out there.

Ahem! Now for some trumpet blowing...
To add to my beautiful student-teacher happy journey story, I confidently add myself to the list of teachers who has made a lot of students happy. It is not what I think of myself but what my students conveyed to me anonymously during the faculty-feedback procedure that happens in college every year. Being rated 'outstanding' for three consecutive years, I believe, is not a coincidence.

These observations bring me to the conclusion that this person who badmouths all teachers of the world must be someone with an abnormally low attention span, hence not being able to catch up with the other kids of the class and getting severely reprimanded by the teachers, or was extremely unlucky to unfailingly, always get a bad teacher to teach him.

I thought writing this post would calm me down. Guess it'll take a while.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The day after 26/7: Part III: My struggle to reach home

It's been ages since I wrote the first two parts of the story of my date with death in the dirty waters when Mumbai overflowed. For those who haven't read, and others who want to take a quick look through it, here are the links: Part I and Part II

According to Lini's instructions, I took off my mobile phone's battery cover and battery and allowed the insides to dry. In the mean time, I went to take a bath. Lini gave me clothes to wear. Getting into dry clothes after so long was a relief. Since there was no electricity, the water pump wasn't functioning and the residents had to carry water from the tank to their respective houses. But for now, there was enough water in the house. After Lini also got fresh, we had breakfast. I was eating after 19 hours and acidity had begun to act on me. A skipped meal usually gives me a killer headache which responds to no medicine whatsoever and goes away only after I throw up. Now, a headache had begun and I sure did not want to create a scene. Lini's aunt gave me a Crocin and I prayed that I'd be silently cured. Lini and I then went to bed, tired and famished, for a much needed sleep. I was woken up at 3pm by excited voices of men talking.

The relatives had returned. Thank God! They were alive after all. Unlike Lini's aunt assumed, the men had NOT stayed back at office. They were stuck on some flyover. Good place to get stuck in the rains. At least it doesn't get flooded over there. I realized later that my headache had gone and I had not thrown up. And I hadn't even caught a cold after so many wet hours! Miracles!

The day went by slowly, while I kept thinking about mom. How worried my mom must be! As if reading my mind, Lini's aunt came to me and said, "Your parents must be worried, no?"
I looked down and nodded. "Dad will be cool. It's mom that I'm worried about. She gets tensed very fast", I said and wondered how much my brother must be contributing to the emotions at home.

Night fell, finally. I really wanted the next 12 hours to go by in 12 minutes. It was surprising that in spite of all the apprehension, I slept like a baby.

Day 3: 28/7: The struggle to reach home

I woke up only when Lini shook me. The first thing that came to my mind was that I could only think of going home to my worried family if the roads were clear. I rushed to the window and stared with wide eyes at what I saw.

There was no water, there was no rain either. Yippie! I could now go home!!

Lini and I had our breakfast, I thanked and bid farewell to her family and then the two of us set out to find out whether taxis and auto rickshaws had started commuting. Also, since my phone wasn't working and everyone else's phone batteries had been discharged and landlines dead, we also went searching for open public phone centres so that I could call home and tell my parents that I was alive.
We learnt that people, like us, were only beginning to explore waterless lands in awe. But, there was not a single public telephone booth. So, we went to Lini's friend's house to see if we could get help there to make a call. No luck!
Next, we went to look for transport. Something had to take me home. If I could walk, I would. But it was too far and I did not know the way.

We saw a few auto rickshaws and asked each driver if he could take me home. When they heard where I wanted to go, they said, "You better wait before you go there. Too many landslides in that area. The roads are blocked and it's not safe. I asked them to take a different route but all of them kept refusing. Couldn't blame them. They loved their lives too!

Just before we lost hope, we spotted a halted taxi. In spite of the passenger in it, we asked the driver if he could take me home. He first hesitated and said that he already had a customer - a man. But after a few seconds of god-knows-what-went-through-his-head, he told the passenger, "Your location is nearby. Let me take this madam to her place. Please allow her." And the passenger willingly stepped out!

HUH? Doesn't this guy want to go home? Do I still have "HELP!!!" stuck on my forehead?

I was happy and wary at the same time. Why would this driver suddenly bend the first-come-first-serve rule and offer to help me instead? It was no time for suspicion, but it is always safe to be sure. So, I took out a pen and paper and in a tone that was audible to the driver, I told Lini, "Here is the taxi's registration number." I copied it from the number plate and gave it to her saying aloud, "I'll call you when I reach home. If I don't call you even after one hour from now, you know what to do. You have the taxi number." I winked at her and I know she understood.

And there began my journey home. It took 20 minutes of driving through clear roads with hardly any vehicles commuting, to reach home. I thanked the driver and paid him more than the meter fare. I was full of apprehension while I climbed the stairs to my house. I could imagine the hugs and words of relief that would be showered on me by my family.

I was at my doorstep. I sighed home sweet home and rang the bell. Aha! There was electricity at my place!

My mom opened the door and loudly announced without a smile, "She's here." My brother came rushing to the door and gave me an angry stare and told mom, "Give a call to Kurla Police station."

...to be continued...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Guitar string's'weak point discovered!!

I discovered a phenomenon on my guitar today. I have sore fingertips while typing this out because of the sudden excessive time I spent experimenting on it after a long hiatus.

My findings are such. We all know that unless the string is pushed down to touch one fret, the sound made is not clear. The sound kind of loses itself into the solid body of the guitar and into our fingers. When we touch a string slightly and strum, there is again a lost note, a non-sustained sound.

What I discovered today is that, for each string, along its length, there is ONE point where the light placement of our finger produces a soft, sustained note (even though we aren't pressing); as if we were gently strumming while pressing the string down on one fret. Also, the pitch of the sound we hear at that point is very nearly the same pitch that we would hear when we press the string down to the fret exactly below the point where our finger is (and NOT the pitch that we hear if we strum when the finger is not on the string). Oh it's so amazing!

The phenomenon occurs only at one point along the length of each string. I don't know if anyone has noticed this before!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

'Foreign Body' by Robin Cook

I finished reading the book.

Being a Mumbaiyya, I have got used to seeing filth all around the city. There'd be vegetable remains acting as  slimy carpet in the crowded marketplace, human excreta and plastic bags full of waste thrown across railway tracks; all this was regular sight in my daily life. It's normal for a Mumbaiite.

But such a sight, I have understood from the words used in the book, must've been a sore to Robin Cook's eyes when he came to do his little tour of India while writing his book 'Foreign Body'. He has described the overcrowded buses and people traveling on the roofs, dirty, barefoot children running around on filth and begging in front of five-star hotels. He has also described the stink and dirt in the holy city of Varanasi.

Such a shame! He has tried to be as nice and respectful as possible during these descriptions. If it were me, I'd add a line that said, "How in the name of God did people manage to live in so much stink and muck!?"

Another book's on it's way!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Hangover Part III. And a book.

The Hangover Part III releases today and I have prepared myself for it by watching the other two parts in the last two days. I have hence watched two of the craziest nights that a trio could possibly have! When the ending is happy, we mostly tend to want ourselves to go through such incidents. But the adventures I have seen in these movies? Oh! I'd never EVER want to be a part of that!

To add sanity to my day, I am back to reading. It's been a while since I got my hands on a novel. My genre has not changed. I still stick to fiction. Ever since I read 'Coma' by Robin Cook, I've been wanting to read all other his medical mysteries too. The reading flow has begun. I have started with reading Robin Cook's 'Foreign Body'. Unlike before when I barely notied, I have now started appreciating the research that the author has put in, to write this book. A large part of the story is based in India and to explain the culture, practices and geography here, is surely not a piece of cake for someone who has spent all his life in various parts the United States of America.

In case anyone's wondering, I quit my brain-gnawing, nerve-racking job a while ago and I feel like a normal human being again, not having to smile at faces of men that add terror to my day or women who love to act that they wish me well. I feel safe and secure out of that place.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cats and Dobes

I became an animal lover when I was in the 7th standard. It was almost sudden.

A cat walked into my house and got instantly adopted. It walked in with not just lady luck but also with loads of confidence. So it not only got adopted but also instantly inherited the throne and became the head of the family. Isn't that what happens when you become the centre of attention of the head of the family? He was our first pet and mom named him the most obvious name - Puss.

Luckily for Puss, I was the only one in the family who was scared of cats. So he stayed. But my fright was mere lack of experience. I too relished the fantasy of cuddling a soft ball of fur that had life!

Only a week had to pass before I had myself gleefully running around the house with Puss around my neck.

In case you're wondering, yes, Puss DID get into dad's boots!

After Puss got stolen after a year and a half (that's the reason for his disappearance that we'd like to believe), we were cat-less till dad surprised the rest of us one day with a quarter sized white kitten. I thought it was a male that got fatter by the day, till one day she gave birth. Only then did I realize that it wasn't obesity. Just pregnancy. That was the first time. And then, several deliveries later, my house had almost a cricket team of cats.

Aah! It was a cute, furry world with cats of 3 generations running in and around the house. While mommy cat licked herself clean in her bed, her older kids would be out in the balcony sunbathing after a heavy lunch and her younger children and grandchildren would be busy finding their way up to my thighs while I struggled to complete my drawing sheet. True story this! Cute story. I have lots of permanent cat-scratch and bite marks. But, who's complaining?

No more cats now at home (reason at the end of the post).
What my family now has is a black Doberman. A she-doberman (doberwoman would be easier to say).
Maggi is not the perfect replacement for all those cats, in the physical sense. I can't pick her up and put her at the back of my neck. I might crack my spine. I can't have the fun of feeling a prickly tongue cleaning the curd off my palms. Mag's lick is smooth, silent. And she doesn't fit in my lap.

Maggi loves to be petted, just like my cats did. She is a great mood enhancer too. Isn't that what we all need our pets for? Oh, we youngest-in-the-house people have another reason too. When we get scolded by all the elders, we can scold the pet.

Now here are the other differences between Mag and my cats. Mag treats us like Gods. I'd like her to be more respectful about herself but she just acts like... like a dog!

And the other difference? Mag won't elope.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Julie and Julia - yet another prospective inspiration

Watched this movie called "Julie and Julia" starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. It is based on the lives of two people- Julie and Julia. They never met. They lived in almost separate eras.

Julie wasn't too fond of her job; and just so she could do something that she liked to, she decided to cook. To motivate herself, she created a blog and published about giving herself a deadline of 365 days to complete all 524 recipes in Julia's book. Julie posted about her daily cooking fun and fiasco. The movie shows how she started getting readers slowly and then started getting comments till the point where she got interviewed and published in the newspaper. Julie then went on to publishing a book on cooking.

It's not the cooking in the movie that caught my interest, with less than a minute of camera time for every recipe shown to us, after all, its part of a published book; what caught my interest was the blogging part of it. And now I am inspired to set a deadline for myself and get into serious, fun regular blogging. The difference being that Julie used her blog to keep up her deadline for completing the 524 recipes and I am using one blog post to make myself blog. Ha!

I miss being the spontaneous writer I used to be. I won't force myself into the blog marathon's a-post-a-day rule because overdoing that for two consecutive months in 2009 is what killed my spirit and passion for writing. Till before that, blogging was fun. Then, it became like a job. It was a challenge and I didn't want to lose and look like a fool. I want fun again. I am going to set a very easy target for myself so that I don't end up getting pressurized by my own blog. 2 posts in two weeks, it's going to be. That way, I won't have to take obvious efforts to make time to write a post during a possible family vacation.

The rule is that I can make 3 posts in two weeks but that doesn't let me write only 1 post in the next two weeks. So, it's more like- "At least 2 posts in 2 weeks"
Yay! Deadline! Been a while since I knew the terror of having one.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pre-marriage confusions

I was going through the list of my blog posts. It wasn't nice to see that I had more drafts than published posts. I have always been a victim to abruptly ending thoughts. I start writing when there is a gush of thoughts and then I get easily distracted. "Save Now" And forget. That's what kept happening.

Aah anyway. I found a gem that I had written in 2011. Pasting it with no modifications at all. Here goes--
Saturday, October 1, 2011

I want to marry a tall, dark and handsome baldie with a scar. That would make a rugged sight for the rest of my life. I wouldn't get bored watching...

On second thoughts I'd have a tall, dark, handsome bald, scarred statue, keep it in my bedroom and marry a guy who earns well. That would give me eye candy as well as a good life.

Ack! That isn't a good idea either. I know what I must do. I'll keep the statue. The earning is something I can do myself. I'll just marry a musician. Now THAT would provide me some lifelong entertainment.

Eh? Entertainment? Okay, correction! I don't want to marry a television. I'll earn and keep the statue. I have a good musical quotient too! I can learn whatever I want to and make my own music. I'll just marry a.. what do I need to marry for?

Heh! As stated here, I have undergone life transforming procedures and most of you probably know what it is. And for those who don't know, well, I decided that the statue wasn't enough ;)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"We help you die slowly"

I found this promotion post on facebook today. It was a post by 'PHD-Party Hard Drivers'

and it said-

 "You drink. We drive. And you get Rs.100/- off and a free pint from Doolally! Sounds like a good deal! :-D"

It wasn't very surprising for me to see that people 'liked' the post and gave good, happy comments. Everyone is advised to never drink and drive. No one ever put up hoardings asking people not to drink. I think they know there isn't any point in doing so.

"You drink. We drive" is euphemism for "We'll help you have a slow death."
Organ damage and organ failure is waayyy slower than an accidental death after all.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The day after 26/7: Part II: Homeward journey continues

Continued from previous post... (I really did not mean to delay this post so much. I was just too occupied with other things.)

To go or not to go was the question. I had no time to stand and analyse. I wanted to reach home fast. Very fast. But my common sense knocked hard at me, or so I'd like to believe, and told me to believe in the majority of people who were coming back from the deep water warning us not to go any further. BUT I was being ruled majorly by my fear of the dark. Water or no water, I was sure as hell not walking into pitch darkness. Nah! I told them I'm not going any further, did not wait to see their reaction and like a few people around, got into the first bus in the line. It was a double decker and there was no place to sit. I saw there were some seats where a third person managed to squeeze in. I did the same. I saw a seat with two females, asked them to shift just a bit and tried to fit in there.

There was knee deep water all around and I was glad to be out of it for a while. Called mom and told her the situation. She agreed with my decision of spending the night in the bus. I was quite comfortable in my seat after a while of shifting and adjusting. The rain did not stop. The lights in the bus were on- by public demand :P Everytime the bus driver put the lights off, there'd be a loud 'AAAEEYYYYY!!' and the lights would be on again :)

At around midnight, I noticed a Maruti 800 parked just outside the bus. The water had reached about 2 inches below the window of the car. That was my reference level for the night, to check how much the water level would change. I kept dozing off through the night. Mom called many times to make sure I was safe. I often checked the car window. Not an inch difference in the water level all through the night :(

Day 2: The day after 26/7

It was 5:30 am when it was bright enough for anyone interested to start walking or swimming. I was wide awake listening to people's discussions about what they were planning to do. Many of them formed small groups and left the bus. Someone tapped on my shoulder. I turned around to see a girl who seemed to be my age.

"Where do you have to go?" she asked me.

"To the suburban side."

"Are you coming with us? My friend and I are going to start walking. We stay in Kurla. You can go ahead after that."

"Walking? In so much water? No, I rather wait in this bus for the water to recede. You carry on. Thanks! *smile* "

*no smile* my my the girl was serious! "How long are you going to wait? You think this water is going to vanish? Its going to take very long. I'm telling you. Join us."

She sounded convincing, but I wondered why everyone wanted me to go with them. Did I have a 'HELP ME!!!' written all over me or something? I called mom and we decided that I should go with her. Well, mom knows best!

I was sort of dry by then and shuddered at the thought of walking in water again. We stepped out. :( the water was sooo cold at that time of the morning. But we didn't step back. And there, once again, started my journey back home. We were about 6 or 7 people in the group. We held hands so that no one would fall and die.. unnoticed. On our way, we met a man in his fifties and asked him the way. He was a local and had come to help people find their way. :)

"There is a short cut from here. Follow me."

"Uncle, is the water level high where we're going?"

"No, no, there's no water anywhere ahead," he assured us.

Yay!! We smiled at each other happily and followed him in knee deep water. It was still raining, but thankfully, not too heavily. After a while of walking in knee deep water (I can't really estimate right now for exactly how long I walked), we reached an area where the roads were just wet - not even any flowing water there. Happy happy we were :D After all, local uncleji was right! :D

Further ahead we walked, water rose and this time we were in waist deep water. Felt so funny walking in that :-S

Such a wavy road it must have been.

Knee deep - no water - waist deep - no water - chest deep - no water - neck deep - no water - knee deep again... and then... we saw a crowd of people ahead of us. And there was a lot of shouting and screaming too. Something was surely wrong there. We went ahead. (This time, only 3 of us from the group were left - the girl who called me (Lini), her friend and I. The others had gone their respective ways) As we neared the crowd, the men turned back to look at us.

"Females can go back. You cannot go any further. Go back."

!!! Go Back?? Ridiculous!! That's what I feel now. Back then my thoughts were: I have to go back. Have to look for another way to go. Or will have to wait here till the water is all gone. I was so scared and sad at that time. I was so weak.

My brave companion came ahead. "Why can't we go?"

"You are short. There is 6 feet water here."

Even if I want to go, I cannot. 6 feet!!! Good lord!

"The men here aren't that tall either," she told me. "Let's go."

The men who were discouraging us were suddenly supportive and helpful. There were many locals out there who had come just to help people reach their homes safely.

With every step I took, I could feel myself getting submerged a little more. Soon, the water was touching my chin. We were on the tips of our toes trying hard to keep our noses above water. I was actually concentrating more on keeping my mouth above all that dirty water!

"Madam, chhaata bandh karo na!" (Close your umbrella)

Isshh! That's when I realised that I had my umbrella open all the while. As always, I did the best I could, to not catch a cold! :P

"Oh Jesus, oh Lord Jesus..." Lini kept chanting.

We were so worried, almost in tears when the water was just below the mouth. That's when someone yelled, "Hold the ropes" and then told us, "Here, here, hold this."

I held on to the thick, horizontal rope and as instructed, kept moving my legs in the water when I could feel my legs getting automatically lifted. We were made to hold bamboos too. I couldn't feel the ground for a few minutes there. It felt good.. as if it was a swimming crash course. I didn't know how to swim, but still I managed to stay afloat. It felt really great! :)

Soon, I felt my toes touching the ground and then I was walking on earth again and the water level kept decreasing. I was alive :) They had asked the females not to go further and we had managed to cross that barrier. That was one part I really loved. Before going any further, I turned around to see where the bamboos and ropes suddenly appeared from.

Aah! That's was a good arrangement they have there. Bamboos were fixed to the ground at a distance of about 20 feet from each other and ropes- very thick ropes- had been tied to them forming a link. There were people holding the bamboos to keep it in place. They even held some bamboo sticks horizontally. The purpose? To help people less than 6ft of height keep their heads above water!

"Come on. We're reaching. My house is just around the corner." Lini had already convinced me that trying to go home would be very dangerous for me and that I should stay at her place till things were manageable. I turned and we started going ahead. After a few minutes, we reached the last dangerou spot of our journey, where we all had to walk in a curve, follow the person just in front of us and not step to the sides. There were invisible boundary lines. Anyone who stepped to the sides we slipping and falling. Of course, the locals were there too, positioned and ready to help people out of any danger. Last barrier crossed successfully :)

We were again on a road with only ankle deep water and reached Lini's building's gate. The compound was at a lower level than the road. So, through knee deep water we waded into her building. Inside, we saw the wet building walls and realised that the ground floor was totally submerged on the previous day. Lini stayed on the first floor.

She pressed the doorbell. Silence. No electricity. Knock knock! A smiling lady (Lini's young aunt) opened the door.

"Aah.. you're the first one to come back. No one has reached as yet."

"No one's back? Were are they?"

"They stayed back in office itself."

"Oh! They told you that?"

"No. I'm just assuming."

Assuming??? :-S Good lord! Bring them back home, whoever they are!

After a few minutes of introduction and explanations for why the hall was full of things from the ground floor house (it was because the ground floor was submerged under water), I fished out my phone from my wet bag. Blank screen. Click click cluck cluck.. Not working. The last I spoke to mom was at around 5:35 am. Lini's phone? Blank. Landline? Dead.

Mom is a bag of worries. I just HAVE to let her know I'm safe. Have to find out if dad and brother reached. Hope that Lini's relatives will reach. Safely.

...to be continued... the next post is going to be really delayed because I'm caught up with life transforming procedures!)