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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Two years of marital Bliss :-)

It’s a special day.  We are celebrating our second wedding anniversary. And my parents have flown in from India. It is double dhamaka. Lalala. With a cool wedding anniversary gift. Lalalalala.

Two years! Wow and I really can’t believe it’s been that long…Thanks to my sweetheart who has shown me that life is more beautiful than what I can see from behind the pallu of Mom’s saree.  

And about my blue Christmas and all the long distance nagging about my current location. Parents have visited me for the first time that too during the best time of the year, and complimenting on how there are flowers on either side of the road, the cool climate, the romantic drizzles, occasional rains. Now I am the liar who said that temperature hit fifty and people actually melt here. I came in May-June. I am inviting them again in May !!!

Here is wishing everyone a peaceful and blessed 2011. Take care.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Blue Christmas...

Come December, and the mood of Christmas magically spreads on.

 My native place in Trivandrum gets lit up with stars and other glitzy decorations right from the first week of December. Mistletoes, Christmas wreaths, candles and Santa caps adorn homes and every building around... The songs of Choirs (customized or apparently slaughtered versions of the original ‘Silent Night’) bring glad (!) tidings from home to home. The extensive luxury of a ten day holiday, accomplishes all the ingredients of a wholesome feast -  the intimacy of family, joy of gifts, music of Christmas songs, sanctity of church worship, and above all, the unmatched warmth of togetherness.

Talking about Christmas, I am drawn back to my school days …and December is usually the month for midterm exams, and school Christmas celebrations. I used to be in the school and church choir…yes you read it right, and this was not entirely because I sang tunefully (self-realization). A choir practice session at school does away with two regular classes, which could include a Math class also, and any worry of a pending homework can be merrily sung away to glory …;)

Back home, my Mom would be busy, in the attempt to execute a fun-yet-tiring Christmas schedule, for which she assigns tasks to herself, and everyone else at home. The refrigerator would be filled with butter, eggs and meat. The noise of a food processor and smell of freshly baked cakes fills the house. No one forces my Mom to do any of these activities, but that’s how she has crafted Christmas for herself and for us. She makes delicious chocolate and plum cakes, beef cutlets, fish bake, and other delicacies…and pulls in Papa, to take time out of his busy schedule of reading the newspaper, to go with her to the homes of friends and relatives to distribute those cakes. I should say that my Mom is officially the most awaited Santa in town. I’d be busy too, decorating the Christmas tree and fighting away any reminders or warnings to the fast approaching midterm examinations. The evergreen Christmas songs of Jim Reeves and Boney M would play in the living room, at a decibel we can barely hear.

Visiting grandparents and gifting them goodies is another heartwarming memory. Only one of my grandparents survives today, and her home is silent and untouched by the waves of Christmas, as old age has already taken its toll on her. I dreamt about her yesterday, and in it she was healthy and happily running around the kitchen cooking her mouth watering Christmas lunch for us…her home hustling and bustling with playful kids, guests and lots of laughter…In the morning as I recalled the dream, I couldn’t gulp a heavy breath which resulted from holding back a few sobs.

This Christmas, I am miles away from home, and in a country where Christmas passes off like any other day. Circumstances are that I can’t be home this time around, but the fond thoughts of the soft music, and the warmth of being with family fills my soul…and I linger on those memories with teary eyes.

Click Play.

" You'll be doing alright with your Christmas of white but I'll have a blue blue Christmas...
I'll have a blue Christmas without you...

I'll be so blue thinking about you...
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won't mean a thing dear if you're not here with me..

And when those blue snowflakes start falling...
That's when those blue heartaches start calling...
You'll be doing alright with your Christmas of white but I'll have a blue blue Christmas..
And when those blue snowflakes start falling... "

                                                    - "Blue Christmas" by Jim Reeves.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

E for... English !

I’ve completed my entire school education in the same institution…for which I take credit (I don’t know how the school sees it)…anyway, the full sentences I write in English these days, with or without errors, are wholly attributed to this school and to my English teachers (and Microsoft Word spell check).

‘Talk in English within the school premises’ – was a discipline of this highly established Convent school, and this made us first grade inherent chatterboxes remarkably reserved and insecure. Hmm. Already we were busy with other routine activities like wasting lunch, losing pencils and other stationery, and tearing paper from text books(of other students, of course). Now see what a burden had befallen us. At 60, the Principal had nothing to lose to execute a discipline like this. But she did have something to lose. Her image. Once one of my English retarded friends wished her ‘Good Morning’- in the evening…and she also graciously returned her a good morning! So we aren’t talking about anyone’s image here anymore.

During our primary school days the struggle was topped with embarrassment. Although our parents were well versed in English, we spoke in Malayalam at home. So, one can equate ‘talk in English’ = ‘stop talking’. This eventually resulted in comparatively calm classrooms, and the class leader would have limited or no job, much to the delight of teachers.  This was a period when passing of messages in folded papers was invented. This enabled free and full fledged communication between us friends, in Malayalam. Later, full notebooks were attributed for this purpose! But remember, all this happens within my circle of friends only; class leaders and studious girls were carefully avoided. Papa had advised me not to be in the company of bad girls, you know?

As we grew older, the ‘talk in English’ rule was prevalent, but we dint care anymore. This was a time when we had become fully grown brats and walked the corridors with heads up, and both hands in pocket… even when a teacher passes by. The same teachers at whose very sight, once upon a time, we used to wish, bowing our heads so low with humility and respect, that after she leaves we get a head rush and can’t see anything for the next few seconds. But the good thing was that all the English grammar, poetry, short stories, and the articles in the Hindu newspaper which was forced on us by parents, had borne fruit. But then the Indian Council of Secondary Education dint like what had happened; they dropped a bomb called 'Merchant of Venice' on us in the tenth grade.

Shakespeare lessons rewrote all our fundamental concepts of English grammar. ‘Aside’ and ‘Soliloquy’ became the order of the day. Oh my…and the turtle pace at which the ‘Merchant of Venice’ classes were going…! One paragraph or four lines in an hour!

Hidden meanings + Most likely other meanings + literal meaning + what the critics of the 16th century thought + what Shakespeare meant + what we are supposed to infer = five 200-page notebooks for Merchant of Venice.  It’s likely that Antonio and Portia wouldn’t have been aware of a sea of meanings attached to their casual conversations. Or maybe they meant something else. Ah who cares? We want marks.

Essay type questions demanded original Shakespearean sentences to be reproduced in answer sheets with quotations marks. And the teacher enlightened my friend N that ‘Even if you don’t quote, please don’t misquote’. So the bad news was that, we are not supposed to write our own sentences, beautify them with ‘thou art’, ‘Thine’ etc, topped with semicolons, commas and tildes, enclose them within quotation marks and expect teachers to award marks. They actually read these. Sigh.

Anyway our teachers, in the days when Google was not so popular, gathered enough information from the British Library to change our lives from miserable to pathetic. How we all overcame it all without tainting the image of our then teacher is another feat, and I hereby dedicate it to the sweat, BP pills, prayers, hypertension and support of our parents. *bowing head in gratitude*.

But the battle was not over yet! Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost ! HAMLET happened!

Shakespeare’s Hamlet began in the 11th grade with a conversation of the ghost of Late King Hamlet. The characters which were living had already done enough damage. If a Shakespearean character had to appear after death, it means that it had something earth shattering to say. God what on earth did this guy miss to say during his lifetime, I wonder! We’d be immensely grateful if this ghost silently murdered an existing complex character. But this was no ordinary ghost. It went on to utter a few passages which made integration, differentiation, and Physics theorems look like nursery rhymes. Misery and more misery awaited us.

That’s when she came. Our new English teacher, Ms.Lakshmi.

She had big expressive eyes, and an unbeatably excellent vocabulary. Her style of speaking English…mode of teaching…and how she loved and enjoyed what she taught…was definitely a class apart. Sometimes we even felt the urge to make mental notes of her casual conversations! Oh for the impact she made! It was so perfect. Come what may, we never missed her classes...not even me. Well, if a teacher can keep people like me engaged in a subject for an hour then I needn’t explain any further. She made us realize how we Indians had customized the sound and pronunciation of certain words to our convenience…and ventured out of her way to teach us how it really had to be pronounced. Wow. She could read the confusion in our eyes and the wrinkles on our foreheads. She captured our concentration with smiles and not frowns. She talked, and did not scream. And finally, she walked us through Hamlet like a dream… and one of the many things I miss about school are these Hamlet classes. We virtually watched the entire play of Hamlet unfold before us…the effervescent voice, and the expressions that kept changing on her face. Live. And that’s how we loved English. And why we still do.

 Thank you, teacher…because of you, I have a blog today.

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