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Showing posts from 2010

Yes, Boss!

Emirates Parent Plus. December 2010

As usual, it began with a bang! There were tears, there was loud ranting. There were ground teeth. There was a lot of huffing and puffing. There would have been retaliation too, but this time good sense prevailed upon me. And had he clenched his fists any tighter, I am certain his fingers would have come through the other side!

My crime of the day: Cutting the chart paper into the “wrong kind of half”!! “Argggggh!”

Wanted: 'Natural', diagonal half.  I dared: 'Silly', rectangular half straight down the middle.

He was right. There is no way, “this can be made right”! And even the stationer was closed for the day, so a quick replacement was out of the question.

This is one of those occasions when it is best to stay very quiet and adopt a reverse conduct – do as told and do as expected (mind read, if that’s what it takes!). So I kept very quiet and hoping that it would appease him a bit, I laid out his colour cards, his paints, his glitter i…

Word forword

Emirates Parent Plus. November 2010.

The vagaries of the English language have always been fodder for much entertainment. While non-native speakers continue to cook its broth most relentlessly, only those who have had personal experience with the in-house battering of this phonetically challenged dialect, mother tongue, or not, can understand that the murder spree of Queen’s English is a heritage that is as old as the very origins of its speakers.

History not-withstanding, the scope for sheer variety underscores the speaking fraternity of its faithfuls, where strong accents make for individual languages in their own right. So while there is the Geordie or the Brummie from its lands’s own, we heb our own ramifications, that stand proud, as far as the empire stretched then and as rampant as its influence has spread since.

Compounded by phonetic similarities between words among these languages, while they hold no semantic parity, the results of their combinations become epics in themselves.

I wonder

Emirates Parent Plus. September 2010.

Dread is a notoriously lucrative career. Open any literary anthology, the tales will most usually be spun around depravity of thought or futility of body. The spirit, the free spirit within, remains imprisoned not only in real life but also in those masterful webs of words that win awards upon awards, inspiring more in that line, winding its way across media, slithering, hissing and spitting its juices incessantly iterating the same things variously. And we call this entertainment. Spare a thought!

What is it about despair, doom and disillusionment that they always find abundant audience? They manage even the smallest part in the drama we live out every day, and yet they enthuse insatiable appetites for more! After the morning newspapers and more on television and the internet, are people not tired of their own share of these realities that they will go out and spend money to delve into the same of someone else – even when it is a mere product of im…


waka waka everyone!
Emirates Parent Plus. August 2010

Never mind the many fouls and unsavoury tactics that dotted the World Cup, and let’s just wait and watch if technology will ever lend a third eye across the line and post, but it was the actual ‘football’ that came as a problem to many. England’s Robert Green blamed it for the mess he made of that shot with USA in their very first match and at the end of the deal, Jabulani has more than a few questions to tackle. For the wrong reasons, there will be some others too, who won’t be forgotten soon.

And then there are those that will be remembered, fondly, for much longer. Ask psychic octopus Paul, I’m certain he will concur. Though, I must admit, I suspect our clam-eating soothsayer par excellence, had eight hands full of patriotism influencing his predictions. Should he last beyond the expected lifetime of his species, the cephalopod might well be consulted again, to the cheer of many. From India, Pappu the parrot and even Chandoo, a fr…

Past Perfect

Emirates Parent Plus. July 2010

It was a sunny afternoon. A surprise in itself, the day ahead provided us more.

Bright faced and in increasing order of height, we, ten women, one man and fourteen children, trudged into the room, boys in one file and girls in the other. Sunlight flooded in from windows on the outer wall. I followed the girls and filled the benches on that side of the room. The boys sat on the other side. That is because, girls did needlework and such nimble activity needed all available light. Boys were given the rough bits like carpentry – not so intricate and less strenuous to the eye.

During the rest of the day, all those below the age of seven wrote on slates; others wrote with metal-nib pens dipped in ink contained in small ceramic troughs built into the desks. All implements of use, like blotters, rag cloths and booklets were provided and had to be tidied away for the next time.

The rules:
1. Silence.
2. Speak when spoken to.
3. Sit with your back straight, chin up and…

The little big things

Emirates Parent Plus. June 2010.

I had just clicked ‘send’ on the laptop when my little man, deep in thought, dragged his feet into the room. From experience, I knew that I could not have timed the completion of my job better – this was going be a long chat. Or a really short one, depending on how ‘child-friendly’ his thoughts were.
Leaning on my knee and rocking a little, he slowly started.

“Ma, I am a little worried about when I grow up”.

“Why’s that, sweetheart?”


He had started fiddling with his fingers.

“mmm... because when I grow up, I’ll have a wife...”

Of course, I am glad to know that. But any opening like this is best served with stoic silence, for the climax comes soon enough.

“...and she will have a baby one day...”

The wheels in my head were turning at 11,000 RPM. I had to be ready with either the right answer to satisfy him or the perfect evasive tactic so we would both be satisfied.

“... and then she’ll spend all her time with the baby and I’ll be all alone!”

My head p…

Battlement, bagpipes and a billion bustling colors

Deccan Herald, Sunday, 06 June 2010

My eyes are closed. I am aware only of a cold autumnal breeze caressing my face. I take a long whiff of the crisp air and open my eyes, rejuvenated. In front of me, far away, I see a curtain of fog slowly revealing in its translucency, the unmistakable outlines of a fortress. As if hypnotised, the cloud of mist sways to the light filtering in from the street lamps in the distance. The moonlight waltzes in, making the ramparts of the fort suddenly shine out in splendour. It is mesmerising, this sensuous dance between the elements.

Such a magical welcome sparked my romance with Edinburgh almost immediately. Even the taxi ride felt dramatic. The moon was generous with her light and each cobblestone, smoothened with use, glistened its age. The dark, the empty streets, the narrow lanes, the high walls, higher church spires and those cobbles, all told tales many years old. It was…

Past perfect

The windows were on the left wall of the classroom. That is the side where all the girls sat. The boys sat on the other side. It was a good day and sunlight flooded in to show us why it had to be this way. Girls did needlework so light was essential for that sort of intricate activity. The boys did carpentry; not such a strain to the eye. Other than that, all students below the age of seven wrote on slates and those over, dipped metal-ended nibs into ink contained in tiny ceramic troughs embedded in the desks. Blotters, soft cloths and other implements of use were all provided, to be put away tidily at the end of a task.

The rules, at all times: 1. Silence. 2. Speak when spoken to. 3. Sit with your back straight, chin up and hands folded behind your back.

“You will call me Ma’m” (pronounced: maahm), the teacher for the day announced as she took the cane off the blackboard into her very accustomed hands. Dressed appropriately for the period classroom, I in a frilly white tunic and my …

Sweet dreams are made of this

Emirates Parent Plus. May 2010.

At the end of her first day in grade-I at a local school in China, Ma Xiuxian thanked her teacher and five year-old classmates. A front-bencher, Ma, promised to study hard and contribute to the country. She is 102 years old.

Starting work in a cotton mill at 13, she was married at 18 and has produced nine children, seven of whom she has seen through to university. One would think Ma’s contribution to the country was complete many times over but there seems to be more in her arsenal; and she’s not beginning to hold back now.

For the family, she sold much of her jewellery. For herself, she caressed a dream. That dream has now come true.

This is not something many of us can even comprehend. But ingest this: Ma Xiuxian, at 102, is not just one of the eldest living people on earth, she is its oldest formal student – a first grader with 12 more years of schooling to complete. Her reasons, whatever they might be, can only inspire.

In April 2010, a very old wom…

Better eight than never

Emirates Parent Plus. April 2010.

Five perfectly formed, shining examples of excellence lay neatly arranged in the order of their size on my little fighter’s palm.

Fighter, because he had gone off in a huff, to do my own thing, after grudgingly doing me the favour of drinking his evening milk down to the last drop.

The shining examples were five clay models of vegetables that he moulded in the anger of having to do tea at tea-time. Of course, it didn’t come free – but more of that in a bit.

He does this to me often. Eating quickly enough, just doing anything without a well-wrought explanation, not stopping a task to why? at everything (this is Why?-Phase II; you will be subjected, resistance is futile) are all events I have to be grateful for. And when any of these rare feats is achieved, God knows, I am eternally grateful.

Then he takes off stomping and returns before I could have regained my breath, with a stunner. Maybe for only a little, teeny, weeny while, but at that exhilaratin…

Scrumptiously, with love

Bangalore Mirror. Tuesday, 23, February, 2010

I was born in this city and all my adult consciousness has been moulded in its quiet tenacity. Firm ambition laced in placid motives somehow silted by the shores of tradition and I trudged back home.

Only, home was not what I had left behind. Home, I took with me in my heart and that’s where it dwells now – there’s no disputing it: Bangalore is not familiar anymore.

That’s until more returnees surface and crunch, like a force, down ruffled alleys into old nooks that will not change. And within those resilient walls, flavours continue their dance in tandem with quick-footed and practiced waiters who know exactly what their purpose in life is: tireless service to those who walk in and groom their individual banana leaves of perfect proportion, colour and, soon, content.

Like a happy infection, the spirit takes over within moments. It’s like sitting in a sepia mirro…

A Date with Time

Deccan Herald. Sunday, 03, January, 2010

The Temple of Divine Caesar immortalized the greatest ruler of the largest empire in history, by inscribing his words ‘Veni, Vedi, Vici’ on the altar erected where his body was cremated. While each and every remnant of Roman imperialism that stretches across the Forum opposite the legendary Colloseum evokes strange feelings of awe and humility, this temple held my attention a moment longer than most.

Snippets and visions loomed large and after an emotionally draining experience of touring the Colloseum earlier, dreamy tales of each ruin in the Forum lofted me into ages most delectably drawn in Shakespearean reams.

Noting numbers that bore little relevance to him as ‘dates’, my son had already put forth a remarkable query to me as I dragged my very tired feet from pillar to shrine to palace fronts. A year later, the same question was asked of me, this time very clearly: why do …