Monday, December 14, 2009

A Mis(s)fit

In this world, everyone is going through an identity crisis of some kind or the other.In my town the crisis is that one is easily and always identifiable.The likes of CIA and Mossad would blush at their incompetence if they knew that every citizen of this town carries a detailed dossier of everyone else in their head.If you were to have a temporary lapse of memory and dont remember my name or address , just say single and school, you will find yourself at my doorstep!!
When i started my school, i was always questioned about my personal life.I was offended, indignant and would curtly steer the conversation away to the child seeking admission.Soon i realized that these people were not being rude just provincial.I became more tolerant and forthcoming .The first time i defined my marital status the lady blushed a beetroot red, was thoroughly embarrased and uncomfortable.I felt sorry for her.One parent in a similar state of hyperventilation managed a feeble sorry. Told her, she neednt be as i was definately not!!
Soon it was rumoured that i was a NRI.I was working, spoke english, was divorced, even wore western outfits..I could only have been residing in an alien country!In the past few years , no direct personal queries are made,its not that the residents have been given a crash course in social etiquette, but most likely by now all the inhabitants are aware of my marital status and probably many other details which i myself may not be aware of!
Now , that i am a very respectable and accepted member of the society , i am invited for every possible event in this town.From births, weddings, deaths, inaugurations, exhibitions, school sports days, annual day, debates ...the list is endless. Inviting me is inviting confusion for listed below are the ways the invites are addressed to me..
Mrs.Shubhra S
Mrs.Shubhra G
Mrs Shubhra
Mrs.Shubhra S G
Mrs Shubhra G S
Mrs Shubhra ji
Mrs Madam Director (huh!!)
I often wonder when the town is going to accept me as a Miss..Perhaps never,so i guess i will just give it a miss..:-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My 'Spirited' Co-Passenger

Every year, during the fortnight which is observed as 'Shraadh' by the Hindus, my town is deluged by over a lakh of pilgrims who come to perform 'Pind-Daan'.It is believed that by performing this ritual we set the souls of our ancestors free forever.

The incident i narrate, pertains to a journey i undertook during this time of the year..

I boarded the Rajdhani from Delhi and settled down in the lower berth of a AC2Tier coach.I am a frequent traveller on this route and thus tend to be a little skeptical about my co-passengers.The train left Delhi on time and i was pleasantly surprised to see rest of the three berths unoccupied.During 'Shraadh', this is very unusual as the Gaya quota is full on all the trains.

Anticipating a comfortable journey, i put my feet up on the vacant lower berth and settled down with a book.Ten minutes later, a handsome young man of about 30 came up to me and told me that the lower berth was reserved by him for his father,he and his wife were in another coach and if i would be kind enough to inform the TT.I was informed that he was going to 'Gaya' to perform the'Pind-daan' for his father!!For a few years now i have had this nagging doubt that i have become hard of hearing, so i did not pay much heed to the discrepancy in the statement.

About 15 minutes later this articulate,seemingly well educated and obviously affluent man came up again and proceeded to place a bright yellow silk stole with a green and gold border on one end of the berth in front of me.That was his father whose final rites he was going to perform!

Needless to say, i was completely spooked.First i retrieved my feet back to my own bunk as a mark of respect for my fellow traveller.Next i took the bedding i had dumped and placed it back on my berth.I could not concentrate on my book as inadvertently i found myself gazing at the silk remains of the 'die hard spirit'facing me. After finishing my tea, i decided to give my overactive imagination some rest and dozed off..

When i woke up , i saw that the front seat was now occupied by an attractive, solitaire laden, plump lady.The son and daughter- in law had managed to get their seats changed so they could all travel together as a family ! 'Father',had been unceremoniously moved to the berth above mine.I was relieved, as i was no longer the sole guardian of the father, as he may have got pilfered enroute.

At night ,the son called for the attendant and asked him to get a bedding for the 'father'.The attendant asked where the father was and he was told that he would not be able to see him but he was there.I wish i had recorded the expressions of the attendant ,he was ready to jump off the fast moving train.Wanting to get him out of his misery and dilemma, i told the confused man that these people were going to perform'pind-daan' and this was also a part of the ritual.He was not convinced but did oblige.

All night long i wondered what was it that made even the educated, partake such extreme acts of absurdity.My thoughts and the uncanny presence of a'Spirit' ensured that i had a rather fitful night.

Early morning , before the train reached Gaya, the attendant came to wake us up and collect the bedding.Very reverently he whispered in my ear' Bauji uth gaye kya, bistar le loon'?(has the father woken up, can i collect his bedding).This was the clincher! I sat their and guffawed..

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Post from Within...2

Living Alone...

Life becomes one of deep contemplation..
Introspection, acceptance, the only salvation..

Life is a non-arguementative discussion with existence,
Thoughts of varying depths haunt with a certain persistence...

Life becomes a reflection of the Soul,
a chance to redeem, a reprieve, oneself on parole..

Life becomes an awe aspiring act of Self Discovery,
A mandatory convalescence, a joyous recovery.

Life becomes one of diminishing needs and enhanced contentment,
Of Self Reliance, Self Discipline and a certain Detachment..

Life has to be made worthwhile..
To challenge limits and walk that extra mile..

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Post from Within...

Sharing some random thoughts .....

Have you ever wondered why the best and most important things in life like nature,the air that we breathe, love and happiness are all for free?
They were meant for everyone!

We are all blessed with the ability to love and be happy then why do we spend our lives 'disabling' ourselves..

If we call a 'ceasefire' to all the battles raging within us...we will be at peace!

All my life i pursued happiness and it eluded me, now that i seek it no more it is all encompassing..
it was always within me..

If we keep our hearts brimming with love ....we can largely overcome the need to be loved.

To make lifes journey a happy light and with worthy co passengers..

Why cant we love everyone who touches our life the way we love our children..unconditionally, selflessly...supremely!

It is imperative to like ourselves and find ourselves worthy..
it does away with the biggest impediment....what others think of us..

Why dont we inhabit the world of children...filled with wonder, simple needs ,joy and unconditional love instead of dragging them into our adult one of prejudices and discontentment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An unexpected arrival

Just when life had become a saga of an unshed tear
Came along someone, who seemed distant, yet so near..

Just when Hope was surrendering to Despair
A stranger gave me the strength to heal and repair..

Just when Silence had taken over the music of my soul
An uncomposed symphony filled my heart and made it whole...

Just when i thought, that love was forever out of sight
A very special someone became the wings of my flight...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Admission to Remember 2

ACTII(Filling an admission form)

On the appointed day and time Shri Infamous Yadav's family trooped in.His son,walked in with a young and stunningly beautiful girl in her early 20's who was introduced to me as the mother of the child , another taciturn lady of around 40, who was his elder sister and Jadu (magic)their daughter.

I offered the son a chair next to mine to fill up the form .He informed me that his sister who is MA English would be doing the needful.Meanwhile the beautiful mother had settled on the furthest corner of the couch and merged with the furniture.The son sprawled himself rather improperly at the other end.
Below is what transpired during the filling of the form.
Name of Child..
Sister- kya likhna hai?
Mother(meekly)- Priyanshi
Sister-Theek hai -Mansi Priya likhte hain
The christening ceremony of Jadu thus took place in my office!
I noticed that the MA English sister had filled out the name in an illegible handwriting.( the form clearly stated BLOCK LETTERS!) I decided to fill it myself.
Fathers name and qualification....
Sister-Kya likhen?Dr X Singh ya Yadav?
I was very perplexed at the Dr bit. I had presumed the gentleman to be semi literate since he couldnt fill out a simple form! The form finally stated Dr X Singh.Ph.D!!!
Mothers qualification...
I jumped up, had never heard of anyone thus qualified! On further probing i was told she was still studying.Told them her present qualifications would do.They settled for Inter(+2).I was very sure the girl was almost illiterate and equally sure that in a few years time she too would be a Ph.D!!!!
Postal Address for purpose of correspondence.
A deeply offended sister informed me that everyone knew their house! Had to patiently explain that i would still need the address..
Ph no..
A lot of whispering ensued and then a landline no was reluctantly disclosed.I asked them for a cell no as its more convenient in times of emergency incase there is no at one at home.I was told that their house is never without people and if no one answers i should keep trying ,someone will pick up eventually(?????)
Then we came to the section which requires some more information regarding the child.

Name of Doctor..
Father- Hamare bahut acche mitr!(Our very dear friend)
Any known allergies--
Very lost looks..
Me- jaise saans ki bimari ( Couldnt find the right hindi word for asthma)
Mother-Iski baat nahin maante to yeh saans rok leti hai!(She stops her breath if she dosent get her way!)
Very dirty looks from father for disclosing such information!
Details of Sibling..
Sister-One male child named Aloo(potato!!)
Is the child fully toilet trained?
Mother-Toilet mein sirf pani se khelne jaati hai!(goes to the toilet only to play with water!)
What is the routine of your child from 9am to 12pm
Father,sister mother(in unison)-She sleeps!
I now understood why the grandfather was so delighted to see the beds.I told the family that they have to change her routine.I was informed that Jadu woke up at 4am went for a walk with her grandfather and then prayed with the grandmother for an hour!!!!Jadu was all of 2yrs and 7mths old!
Specify any strong dislikes of your child with regard to food and beverages?
Sister -promptly-everything her mother makes!
My heart went out to the mother who had now become a very ornate part of my very simple couch..

I have often entertained many friends with this story.Many have asked me to get it published.I decided otherwise ...I would rather LIVE to tell the tale!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Admission to Remember

This drama was enacted out when i was relatively new to the town and its people..
ACT I (the VIP visit)
One winter morning i noticed a sudden burst of activity outside my office.My otherwise hibernating staff, looking animated and very alert entered my office mumbling a name and admission.Close on their heels entered a short non descript man followed by a very tall gentleman in a crisp white kurta pajama with an imposing personality and a distinct air of authority.Behind him were two shabbily dressed non menacing security guards with very menacing weapons! I felt i was under seige.
I greeted my imp visitor as he settled down in the centre of a fairly large couch in my office.The sidekick stood and rambled on and informed me that Sir was well acquainted with my family and our work . He did not mention Sirs name as i was obviously supposed to know who he was! Time and again he would look at sir for approval .This interpretor of 'Sir's look' told me that they had come for a little girls admission,'Sirs' grand (said very grandly ) daughters admission.I told them that i had a vacancy and would take the child .Meanwhile i felt there were more people witnessing this meeting, i looked sideways and to my horror i saw my guard, driver, gardner, helper all glued to my window like flys.I obviously lack authority,as despite my looks they did not budge.
I offered shri VIP a tour of the school. He went around , without uttering a word. When i showed him my special care room with bunk beds to be used in time of emergencies his eyes lit up, and he spoke for the first time"Bahut Accha, sone ki bhi suvidha hai ".The sidekick and security guards were more forthcoming as they fiddled around with all the toys and puzzles and even sat on the alphabet mat!!!
Back in the office and back to business i was informed that an armed security man would be accompanying the child. I told them firmly that i have very small children and they get scared of the weapons so the armed guard will remain downstairs alongwith the CRPF Commandants guard who was also authorised security for his child.The sidekick looked visibly distressed but was silenced by Shri VIP's look. I was then asked to complete the admission formalities, told them that i need to meet with the parents and the child when the form is filled out.The sidekick looked mortified at 'Sir', Who magnanimously and rather bemusedly declared "Aa Jayenge" and walked out with a flourish as his entourage bowed in obescience.Even the leaves of my palmtree seemed to bend over. Not surprising, the plant had been in the pot and this town for over 20yrs so knew more than i did.
It took me a while to register all that had happened , called my driver and asked him the name of the visitor ..I was informed that he was THE Shri Yadav! My visitor was the notorious Ex MLA. He was heading the land mafia in my town ( an integral part of the political criminal nexus that plagues Bihar).Famous as the Extortion King and owner of 4 non recognized colleges!
My only fear at that time were the armed security representing the two sides of law hobnobbing downstairs for 3 hrs!!
End of ACT I..

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keeping it Simple...

As i read my own posts, i find myself chuckling, at the simplicity and directness of mywriting and at the transiton i have made in life and my writing..(have always been a sporadic writer , never a regular one)
Gone are the days when abstract held lure.Existentialism reigned supreme.It was the world of Sartre and Nietzche of Che guevera. All that was Left was right .Anything and everything warranted an intellectual arguement .Conversations were social commentries.We were young thinking individuals who spent hours rejoicing the complexities of life.Simple was banal ,as infradig as the music of Boney M nd Abba!
Creative writing meant the abstract.Disassociation of thoughts were encourged,Rhyming words were scorned upon. If a written word did not call for a days intellectual discourse and analysis it was trashed..
Today, i take a childlike delight in rhyming words,enjoy the simplicity and directness of my writing.In more ways than one it defines me....the way im placed today.
I believe, that life and thoughts should be kept simple and free flowing.Why spin a complex web and get entrapped.
To my young readers i would like to say..Think , question...Dream..Worship Jim morrison, head bang to metal rock.Its a beautiful it in your own unique way.Love life...even hate it if you want to ...just dont be indifferent to it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

All i want...


Is to wipe every tear, from the eyes of ..

all the children ,i hold so dear..

Is to convince every child on this earth,

that love alone, was the reason for their birth..

Is to tell the world,happiness is every childs' right,

Lets protect their innocence with all our might..

Is for all of us to keep the child within us alive,

make our barren existence, a lot more fertile....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Journey

I moved to this town 7 yrs back.On paper this had beenmy permanent address for over 35yrs ,in reality i was practically a stranger.I had no friends, could not relate to the provincial mindset of the people.Was deeply unhappy,and confused ! What was to be a new beginning was seeming the end of the road.
I knew i had to start working to retain my sanity.Had little experience of work, had worked for a few years with special children and done a few assignments of writing.I have a natural ability to handle children and immense patience, a skillset which made me successful with special children.I also wanted to surround myself with happiness and laughter to take away the bleakness i was feeling.This is what led me to establish 'Muskan ' my playschool.It will be prudent to add that i had never worked in a school or with small children, what saw me through was confidence, a certain vision and belief in myself.
My small school besides being a catharsis of sorts opened a whole world to me..that of the problems related to education, the myopic outlook of the existing institutions.I read obsessively, books on psychology,pedagogy,education systems..Started reaching out to parents and people around .I found them listening and i knew i could make a difference in some way.Thus started my journey of education in small towns ..
Ironically ,this small town that i resented gave me an identity, a purpose and much happiness.
I also learnt an important lesson ...It is not the place or circumstances which limit us ,we limit ourselves!

I was a patient of an unknown disease,
I was thunder after the storm had ceased,

I was a raindrop after the rain had gone

A long lost lonely song

I was a swing which knew not which way to sway

A traveller who had lost his way....

Now im an explorer , a pilgrim with a destination and at peace

No longer a patient...gone is the disease!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Much to cheer about

I was all set to write a rather dismal blog on the limited options available for schooling in my town,but felt the need to share one of the most cherished, uplifting and beautiful experiences ive had at work.
Few years back,a rather nervous looking gentleman stood outside my office .I called him inside , very reluctantly he entered after removing his rather worn out sandals.I offered him a chair but he remained standing in front of my desk.I was getting a little impatient and irritated by then and asked him the purpose for his visit.
He had come to seek admission for his just over 2 yr old daughter.He told me he owned a very small shop across the road and was illiterate.The day his daughter was born ,he decided that she was going to be his only child as he wanted to give her the best education available in the town.It was his dream to send his child to my school.He thought he was not worthy of the institution and stood with folded hands pleading to consider his daughter for admission. I was overwhelmed by this mans humility, honesty and sincerity of intent.Moved, I reached out and clasped his hand in mine ( a gesture which flouted all rules of propriety of this small town) and told him that he was very worthy and it was my privilege to take his daughter as my ward.I will never forget the look of disbelief, relief and pure joy as he broke down and wept...
2 months later, the couple was sitting in front of me as i was filling out the forms for admission for them.when i inquired about the phone number, the lady ,embarrased told me that they were going to acquire a cellphone soon ,till then if i ever needed them i could just ask my security guard to yell across the road! I sat there sporting my broadest ever smile as i filled out the rest of the form.When the time came for payment of fee ,the lady took out two thick wads of notes and placed them on the table.For the second time in two months i sat humbled,guilty ...for the first time ever hating my job.In front of me were crumpled 100 ,50 10 and 5 rupee notes ,with trembling hands i wrote out the receipt and remained pensive for the rest of the day.
Khushboo, their daughter was a bright, spirited child with amazing self confidence.She went on to procure admission in the best school of the town. The parents visit me once in a while and proudly show me certificates awarded to their daughter for various competitions.I find myself leaving my work and rushing out to greet and escort them to my office.
6yr old Khushboo now teaches her mother ..:-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

oppressive education..

My first blog , deeply felt often disturbing observations of the approach towards education in small towns.
Should education be an instrument of oppression for children and parents alike or an act of liberation?
I run a small playschool in a provincial town in the state of Bihar.I am often accused by parents of overindulging a child as they want to come to school on weekends and even when they are sick.When did unhappy stressed out children become synonymous with 'GOOD EDUCATION'...I wonder..