Sunday, October 21, 2012

School Stories

It has been close to six months that I even opened my blogger account - whether to read other blogs I follow or to write a post of my own. That should be enough to give you all an idea of what School B has done to me. Anyway, however non-existent my personal and social life has become, the one thing that I LOVE about school are my kids! They are the reason I wake up and drag myself to school every morning. Because after all the hardwork, all the criticism from seniors, all the work piled on you because you are new, all the weekends spent in checking papers, when you enter the classroom and the children smile at you, you know in your heart that it was all worth it.

But you know it is all worth it even more when you have great classroom moments. Some of my hilarious ones:

Selective listening:
Me: During his early years as a poet, Frost got quite frustrated with the publishing industry in America and moved to England.
Student 1: But why, miss? He was married, no?!

Distraction techniques:
Student 2: Miss, if Robert Frost gave a hickey to his girlfriend, what would it be?
Me: I don't think that is relevant right now. Let's move on.
Student 2: Please, miss. It is really funny!
Me: So, in this poem, he...
Student 2: A Frost bite, miss!!

Silly jokes not meant for distraction but end up making the whole class laugh:
Me: Write a poem titled "Metaphors".
Students 3: Lets all Metaphor a drink. Geddit? *bobs head*

Make the teacher panic:
Student 4: Miss, don't you think K and I are the best couple ever?! Look at us!
Me: 1) Please stand at an arm's length from each other and 2) Lets have one cardinal rule in this classroom. No touching anyone. Whether appropriately or inappropriately. Are we all clear?
All the students: *burst out laughing*

Lastly, one non-hilarious but mushy moment for me: This Teacher's day, my ninth standard kids gave me a lovely card and some of the lines on it read: "What she lacks in size, she makes up for in energy./ We will never find a teacher who is so lively.." Made. My. Day. :D

Those have been my last few months. What about you all?

Monday, May 7, 2012


On Saturday, a cousin and I went to the Juhu beach and this is what we did:

1. Ate bhutta and chana masala.

2. Walked barefoot on the beach.

3. Looked at the airplanes until they disappeared in the sky.

4. Watched the sunset.

5. Watched the people.

6. Watched the clouds changing shapes and tried to figure out what they are. Some of the interesting ones we got were: a very fat crocodile trying to eat a rabbit, two camels sitting one behind the other, one dinosaurs, one witch, one ship, Pluto (the Disney dog), a hill, a rocking horse and two teddy bears, one of which looked a bit ferocious. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Following up from the last post, here are some of the newspaper headlines I've collected in the last month or so. These may help in understanding some of the deeply entrenched problems in the country, culture, society and times that we are living in right now.

1. President in land row over Pune plot size (This seems to have been resolved for the time being by her giving up on the humongous plot which was supposed to have been reserved for war widows and on which she decided to build her post retirement bunglow.)

2. State loses out on crores in rent on prime plots: CAG (There is no resolution out yet. Story in a nutshell seems to be: In a bid to get more votes, Government brought about Rent Regulation Act so many years ago due to which many people practically lost their properties to their tenants because they could neither evict the tenants nor increase their rents. One of the other similar Acts has resulted in commercial complexes in prime areas owned by the State Government paying as little as Rs. 10-80 as rents. Of course, if the Government employees' pockets wouldn't have been sufficiently filled over the years, such Acts would have been revoked aeons ago.)

3. 2 cops suspended for sexually harassing a woman-sub-inspector. (No comments here.)

4. Many drunk drivers caught but few punished, reveal stats. (In the last month alone, I have read of at least 10 different drunk and drive incidents causing in death of several people. Out of them, not even one of the drunk drivers is still in police custody today. And one of them (a Punjab minister's son) even abused the police and used his contacts to get off. So, 10 extreme cases of drunk driving in just one month reported in the media. Imagine how many potential accidents and deaths are driving around on the streets.)

5. Thane cops issue gun license to gangster. (Apparently because he was a recognised criminal in Mumbai division police stations but this information was not know to the Thane division police.)

6. 23 held guilty in Gujrat's Ode carnage case of 2002. (This one is outrageous because Gujrat riots occurred 10 years ago and the justice is being delivered only now. Also, out of the 29 accused, 3 had died in the last 10 years without having to undergo any punishment for their actions.)

7. Bangalore baby beaten, bitten because father wanted a son. (No comments again. Such headlines have become too common in the last few years to feel comfortable living in such deeply misogynist society.)

Yes, I know this is a biased post. Yes, I know many happy, optimistic, we-have-made-so-much-technological-progress-we-are-so-awesome type news also come out in the newspapers and I chose to focus on these local news. But really, somebody launching a missile to Mars does not make as much difference to me as a potential drunk driver crossing my path or a misogynist police force does.

Bottom line is that this country is soon heading for enormous catastrophes and I can see some very difficult times for common, ordinary, non-political-related people ahead of us.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mera Bharat Mahan

On the first page of The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor, he says: India is not a developing country. It is a developed country in an advanced state of decay.

And every passing day, when I read the newspapers and when I find out new things about ancient Indian customs and philosophies via the Sanskrit classes/ books/ discussions with various people, I am more and more convinced of the truth of that statement. India is in such a pathetic condition today that sometimes, just sometimes, I feel super ashamed that I'm an Indian. And it takes a lot for anybody to say such a thing about their own country.

We are a country with such a glorious past. But for how long can we continue living in the past? Look at the condition of our country today, the psyche of the people, the political and economic condition. All you'll see is decay. One of the articles  that is doing the rounds of the internet these days shows what a substandard and absolutely filthy mentality the Delhi police has. (I'm sure you'll must have read it by now but if you haven't, here it is.) These are the people who are the first point of contact for victims of any kind, rape or otherwise. And this is the city that is supposed to represent our nation.

I started the list with that article because it is exploding the social networking sites these days. But there are thousands of such small and big examples which point towards innumerable problems faced by common Indians today. Every single day, we read articles about rapes, murders and thefts in our cities. In fact, it is so common that we read about it and we forget. It has totally desensitized us. A few months ago, one of my friends' grandmother, an 86-year old woman, was sitting in the park after her daily walk. A young man came and started chatting with her. After a while, he tried to snatch her purse and run away. What he failed to realise was that the purse was wrapped around her wrist and held on to tightly. The poor woman fell down from the bench and broke one of her bones. Of course, by this time, there was a bit of a commotion around there and the man ran away on his bike. But, in an attempt to earn a few hundred rupees, which he lost anyway, he cost the old woman a couple of lakh rupees for her hospital, fracture, tests, medicine etc bills. Plus, the added anxiety to the family members. What is more pathetic is that not everybody is able to afford such sudden and unforeseen costs. And this was a totally avoidable problem.

So, this moral corruption, which begins at such a small level has, today, pervaded every nook and cranny of our society. And it is this same moral corruption at little points that eventually become 2G, CWG, Cash for Vote and so many other scams. It is despicable how the common man is being taken for a ride by anyone and everyone around here. Corruption has rotten our Government to the core.

If all this wasn't enough, we have Anna Hazare and the Maoists, who think they can blackmail the government at the drop of the hat. The Government might not be right but this kind of blackmail is not the right way to deal with it either. Tomorrow, anyone who manages to gather a lot of media attention can ask the Government to make bikinis compulsory school uniform, donkey the national animal and demand that they kill Rahul Gandhi, can't they? Of course, these will be much more practical demands than the Jan Lokpal Bill but that is a totally different issue.

Another point I'd noted down in relation to Jan Lokpal Bill is about the people who supported it. I had once noted in the newspaper how a big group of Rickshaw wallahs were demonstrating at Azad Maidan alongside Anna Hazare, against corruption. But these were the same Rickshaw wallahs who rigged their meters and fooled the hapless customers into paying more than what they owe.

Which obviously leads us back to where we started. Corruption is not only limited to politics and corporate companies. It is everywhere around us. These rickshaw wallahs, you, me, all of us are guilty of small things. Everytime we pay the police to get our passports passed quickly, everytime we throw garbage on our roads, everytime we pay off the traffic policeman into letting us go, we contribute to the corruption problem faced by our country. We are ready to pay Rs. 150 per person to go watch a film on the weekend but if the Government levies some extra tax on some necessity, we crib. We don't want to pay the taxes, we want to throw garbage on the roads and we also want to crib about how the Government can't even keep our roads cleaned. Err, who is right and who is wrong? (I know that the scenario is quite the opposite. The Government not only collects taxes, it also doesn't clean up. I'm just talking about the mentality.)

What I'm trying to point out here is that it's a circle. Neither the Government nor the people can be completely blamed for the corruption problem. But what gets my goat is that I don't see any practical solution for it all. *This is where the anger begins.*

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Carol Ann Duffy is quickly turning out to be my latest favourite poet. I've been researching her poems for my students and while doing so, I came across almost all of her "World's Wife" poems, which are absolutely hilarious! In this particular collection of her's, she has presented the points of view of the wives of famous male personalities. (barring Elvis Presley, whose sister's point of view has been presented.)

And as a woman, sometimes, these stories just click so well and I can relate to them so perfectly. Today, when 3 women who are very close to me have narrated similar stories to me, just like the one in this poem, I feel the need to put it up.. Not only is this something that men often do and women often suffer, it is also a sentiment perfectly captured and subverted to achieve the right effect.

Pygmalion's Bride

Cold, I was, like snow, like ivory.
I thought He will not touch me,
But he did 
He kissed my stone-cool lips.
I lay still
As though I’d died.
He stayed.
He thumbed my marble eyes.
He spoke – 
Blunt endearments, what he’d do and how.
His words were terrible.
My ears were sculpture
Stone-deaf, shells.
I heard the sea.
I drowned him out.
I heard him shout.
He brought me presents, polished pebbles, 
little bells.
I didn’t blink,
Was dumb.
He brought me pearls and necklaces and rings.
He called them girly things.
He ran his clammy hands along my limbs.
I didn’t shrink,
Played statue, shtum.
He let his fingers sink into my flesh, 
He squeezed, he pressed.
I would not bruise.
He looked for marks, 
For purple hearts,
For inky stars, for smudgy clues.
His nails were claws.
I showed no scratch, no scrape, no scar.
He propped me up on pillows,
Jawed all night.
My heart was ice, was glass.
His voice was gravel, hoarse.
He talked white black. 
So I changed tack,
Grew warm, like candle wax,
Kissed back,
Was soft, was pliable, 
Began to moan,
Got hot, got wild,
Arched, coiled, writhed,
Begged for his child,
And at the climax
Screamed my head off – 
All an act
And haven’t seen him since.
Simple as that. 

For those who don't know who Pygmalion is, here is the wikipedia link for the story. I don't particularly want to dwell on the details of my friends' stories here. But suffice to say that three hearts were broken because of the hot-cold-hot-cold attitude that confused men often adopt. I wish men would understand that it's not okay to encourage a woman and then let her down by putting all the blame on her; that it's not okay to stop communicating out of the blue and then place the blame on the girl of actually saying the word "break up" out loud; that it's not okay to get into a relationship simply because you're lonely and then get out of it when you need space.

All relationships have to be worked at and they require efforts. If you don't want to put in the efforts but want the results, then it's never going to work out. And this advice goes out to everybody, irrespective of their gender.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Origins of Bollywood

I have solid proof that the plots and the extensive drama in Bollywood all comes from Sanskrit Drama. Don't believe me? This is one of the most famous plays in Sanskrit Literature written by Kalidas, one of the most notable Sanskrit poets and playwrights ever.

Abhijnana Shakuntalam: A sage (Sage1) is enticed by a nymph (Beedi jalaile jigar se piya, jigar ma badi aag hai!) and as a result, they have a daughter. Sage1 is furious that his izzat was lootoed by a celestial nymph and goes away leaving the child behind. Nymph can't take the little girl with her to the heavens and so, she is left abandoned in the forest. Sage2 comes and sees the little child and decides to take her home. Nymph-child grows up to be as enticing and lovely as her mother.

20 years later: A handsome king comes to the forest for hunting. He sees the nymph-child who's now a beautiful nymph-child-woman and promptly falls in love with her. (Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam, pyaar hota hai deewana sanam, ab yahan se kahan jaaye hum? Teri baahon mein mar jaaye hum!) They get married in the Gandharva fashion (which basically means they have sex without letting anyone know that they are "married".) A few days later, he has to go back to his kingdom urgently. So, he gives her a ring as a souvenir and promises to come back to get her. (Can you picture a Shahrukh Khan saying: Yeh anguthi meri aur mere pyaar nishaani hai! Ise sambhal ke rakhna. Main jaldhi vapis aaunga aur tumhe mere saath le jaaunga.) Why he can't take her with him at this point is a pointless question to ask. Like you don't ask any logical questions in Bollywood, you don't ask them in Sanskrit drama either.

Sage3 comes to visit the ashrama. Nymph-child-woman is busy thinking about the King and doesn't see him. He is enraged and curses her that the person she was thinking of will forget all about her. She is scared and explains her situation to him. (Aisi kadi saza mat dijiye, Gurudev! Main bas apne pati ke baare mein soch rahi thi! Pata nahi kaise honge, kis haal mein honge, khana khaya hoga ya nahi! Kripaya mujhe maaf kar dijiye!) He concedes to lessen the punishment and says that when the King sees an important souvenir that he had offered her, he will remember everything again.

Nymph-child-woman leaves the forest to go to the King. All the plants and animals are sad to see her go and give her farewell presents. (Picturing a song here?) But when she comes across a lake, she loses her ring in the water. She reaches the King's court and the curse kicks in action. He fails to recognise her. She comes back. (Tujhe yaad naa meri aayi, kisise ab kya kehna? Dil roya ke ankh bha aayi, kisi se ab kya kehna!)

A fisherman finds the ring inside a fish's belly, recognises the royal symbol and goes to the King. As soon as the King sees the ring, he remembers everything (Mujhse yeh kaisa anarth ho gaya, bhagvan! Main use kaise nahi pehchaan paya?) He immediately goes back to fetch the Nymph-child-woman, who now has a son. And they live happily ever after.

See what I mean?

I have several examples like this one which will prove that Bollywood plots originated in Sanskrit Drama (Vikramorvashiyam, Mrichhkatika - to name a couple.) An interesting topic for a paper or a conference, methinks. :P What do you think?

*Image courtesy: Google images

Friday, March 16, 2012


1. Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.

~ Theseus, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

2. Love is merely a madness, and I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punished and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.

~ Rosalind, As You Like It.

3. Alas, that love, so gentle in his view
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.

~ Benvolio, Romeo and Juliet.

4. Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.

~ Rosalind, As You Like It.

Shakespeare sure had some right notions about love.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The "We should..." Syndrome

How many times have you all heard "We should blah, blah, blah..." and then ended up doing all those blahs yourself?

I am so tired of everyone constantly telling me "We should..." Next time someone says that, I'm going to get a dictionary and show them the REAL meaning of "we".

Recently, a cousin: We should do something special for (another cousin)'s b'day.
Sure. I planned her party, made her gift, got it printed AND paid for it all. Where was the "we" in it?

Worst part: since this is family, I "shouldn't say anything. Just be careful of such situations next time." My parents are the worst doormats ever outside our house. And inside, they teach me how to be the world's worst doormat.

This has happened so many times before, I'm tired of it. Thankfully, this time, at Sanskrit department, when my friends told me "We should plan something for Second Year students' farewell party.", I was on full alert mode. I didn't open my mouth and kept it shut until all the tasks had been assigned. Obviously, if I don't open my mouth, I can't look over-enthusiastic, making people think it's okay to pile me with work. So, now, I just have to write a play in Sanskrit and the others are taking care of food, songs, invitations etc.


Anyway, I'm smarter than I thought I was. I wrote a mime. :P

P.S: I realise it's the first time I'm writing about Sanskrit Bhavan or anything related to Sanskrit ever since I started learning it almost a year ago. Wow. Both Sanskrit and this blog need more attention from me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


My stint at Xavier's coming to an end soon, I applied for a job at a school, here in South Bombay. Luckily, I got selected after just one demo class. So, congratulations are in order once more. :)

So, come May, I will be an English Literature teacher at School B. And I'm pretty excited for this. The same prof, whom I'm covering for at Xavier's right now recommended me to the school and told me about the position available. Cool, eh? :)

Why Poems, you ask?

Because, for my demo class I was asked to do an unseen poem with the students. Thus, I got to researching, bringing out all my old poetry books et al. Finally, I selected I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou because Angelou is an important figure in literature and I wanted to introduce them to some African American literature. But during all that researching, I discovered and rediscovered some gems of poetry and wanted to share that with you all:

1. Refusal ~ Maya Angelou    

In what other lives or lands
Have I known your lips
Your Hands
Your Laughter brave
Those sweet excesses that
I do adore.
What surety is there
That we will meet again,
On other worlds some
Future time undated.
I defy my body's haste.
Without the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die.

It's just so beautiful a sentiment, so well-expressed and so touching! Most of us (well, girls, at least. I don't know about boys.) know how important it is to meet that one last time before saying good-bye. And that sentiment has been captured with such lovely and tragic imagery here. It's become one of my absolute favourites. And this is saying something because in general, I don't much like poetry as a medium.

2. He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven ~ W. B. Yeats
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. 

I was discussing the previous poem with Moon when she remembered this one from our poetry class with Chhaya Mam from 5 years ago. I came back home and immediately googled it and got it back. Some poems just take your breath away with the lovely images that they paint for you and this is one of them.

3. We Real Cool ~ Gwendolyn Brooks
The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

This was the second poem I did with the students during my demo class. I used it to show the students how two very different voices came from the African-American community during the same time in mid-20th century and how they brought out two completely different aspects of their way of life and their relation with the rest of the society. This one is so poignant and dark, it gave me goosebumps when I read it. And so, this one also goes in along with the other "favourite poems". 

There are a few more that I really like. Some poems by poets like e e cummings, Ogden Nash, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Eunice D'Souza, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats and sometimes even some Elizabethan (16th century) and Romantic (early 19th century) poets are included in the list of poems/ poets I like. I hope you liked these ones and that these names inspire you to go and research and read a few yourself. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Obligatory annual V-day post

Come back, fellas! I'm not going to rant/ wax eloquent about Valentine's Day. I still think it's an excuse of a festival and totally unnecessary.

This year, though, 14th February is a special occasion. Because of this. Please read it before continuing reading here.

This is just one of my favourite posters made by Sanjay Sipahimalani for the Free Speech Day. Of course, as a big Rushdie fan, I'm totally for supporting this movement. Best part is that I talked to a few of my students about the #flashread and they're very enthusiastic about it as well. Unfortunately, we didn't get enough time to organise and do it today but we're definitely going to do it soon - like next week or so. :)

If it does materialize, I'll definitely put up pictures/ videos. Until then, support the Free Peach!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Big News

Subtitled: Twenty-fucking-three

So, I turned twenty-three yesterday. (And no, that's not the big news.) I know most of you who read this blog will hate me for being so young and then, for cribbing about growing old. But dude, honestly. I feel so old. :/Like, it was all okay until I was 22. But 23 is a big deal. Scary.

Eh. Anyway. I had a lovely day yesterday! :) Involving flowers and chocolates, tea and cupcakes, shopping and jewellery, cheese dosa, kamrakh (star-fruit; my favourite!), lots of books and lovely cards! :) And crazy surprises from two of my cousins. So much fun. I wish I could have birthdays without having to grow old. *sigh*

So, big news. :D 2012 has started off with a loud bang for me. I've not felt happier than I am right now in a bloody long time. Remember my 30 before 30 list? Well, I have been scratching things off that list for some time now. Also, daresay, some things on the list itself have changed and I might have to edit it or make a whole new list. But for now, I have news about having scratched an important thing off it. Something that I didn't think was possible until I turned 28-29. Or 30 even.
27. Teach at Xavier's. Even if it is only as a visiting faculty or filling in for someone.
Chhaya Mam (my favourite prof from our college) called me a few days ago and asked me if I can cover for her for the next 2 months, teaching her First Year and Third Year students Literature as she has to urgently go on a medical leave. Luckily for me, I had only one batch of students that I teach in the evening going on at the moment. So, I could take up that opportunity and I started immediately. :) The best part is that I'm teaching Modern Drama and Film - my favourite subjects from college! Mam remembered that and decided it'll be best if I covered that. I feel *so* lucky!

I remember entering Xavier's for the first time and being totally awed by the first quad(rangle) and the chapel. Here, I have felt a sense of belongingness I've never felt elsewhere - not in school, not in Leeds and not at any of the places I've worked. And last week, when I entered college as a teacher for the first time, I felt the same sense of wonder and pride. I love my college. :) It's so true, Xavier's gave me my roots and my wings. (Ref: Xavier's anthem: Xavier's, you gave me roots and wings...) So, I could take flight, go abroad, learn a lot of things. But it also gave me the roots which have always made me want to come back here. I hope I can do full justice to my role as a teacher.

Wish me luck! :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Stuff geniuses* are made of

(*Where you decide what/ who genius stands for. :P)

So, it seems that even though I have A LOT of things to say, I might not yet be ready to blog again.

Therefore, all I will tell you is that I've had a lot of time on my hands in the last few months and one of the things I've done in that lot of time is cook. A lot. (This is where you feel jealous of me/ not being able to live with me.)
Chocolate Overdose: Chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, chocolate sprinkles and Cadbury Dairy Milk shots. - For Hoppy's B'day
Vegetable Thai Green Curry with steam rice - One of the tastiest and healthiest dishes ever! :D
Pear and Caramel cake
Jalebi...errr...Jaleba bhai

Creamy White Sauce Pasta - was *so* good!
Achaari Bhindi (Tangy Okra) - So crisp, it felt like a healthier version of chips! :D
Samosas with sweet Date chutney

Wheat Samosas - basically, a healthier version of regular samosas :D

Amla Khichdi - recipe from Food Food's Health Maange More show - if you like khichdi, you'll like this. :)
Freshly baked Cheese Garlic Bread - So droolworthy! The BEST of all these dishes. 
Ginger-Carrot cupcake - Was lovely and moist! :)
Ricotta-Mushroom Risotto
Strawberry Cake with Fresh Cream Icing 

Orange Cake with Fresh Cream and Kiwi icing - For Moon's very, long overdue b'day cake! 
Fresh chocolate chip cookies for a Christmas gift
There are many more dishes (like one Mexican rice which was so easy and delicious, I suggest you go and find a recipe right now!) that I made but didn't click pictures of/ can't find pictures now. But I think these were enough to prove a point. ;)

Okay, you may now beg me to invite you over for food. OR, if you live in Mumbai and won't interfere with my cooking, (and preferably buy me all the ingredients and pay me to cook) you may also invite me over to use your kitchen from time to time. :P