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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Choir Gags

I used to be one of the forty singers of a popular choir. It was not a church choir, but one which was conducted independently by the grandson of a Christian musical maestro, who composed many popular Christian songs we sing in church to this day. Our choir master, who is a seventy-something old man, weak and frail, was very particular and strict about English pronunciations, tones and every other technical detail of Western church music. We practiced two hours on Sunday evenings, and held concerts during Christmas, sometimes on Easter and on the death anniversary of our choir master’s grandpa.

The attendance of choir members was consistent, regardless of the choir master being extremely strict. When forty of us sang in a harmony, this old genius would know who sang the wrong note, and made us sing from the start.

The two words our choir master insisted on were ‘round tones’. He pressed on the fact that for good vocal output, one should open the mouth and let the jaws loose. But most of us in the choir never did that, and the choir master kept on accusing us saying that we were tight lipped singers who sang through the nose. He was so annoyed with our lip movements and said that we were more concerned of how our faces would look when we opened our mouths, than in the tone quality of the song. He used to advice us to stand in front of a mirror at home, open the mouth in round tones and sing so that we can feel the sound from the chest. Well, you know we can do anything but sing in front of a mirror.
 Soon, our choir master became so infamous on this, that the church public commented that the dog at his house barked in round tones in fright.

One fine Sunday evening, my Mom was bathing my eight month old niece who was in turn, trying to crawl out of her grip. It was a usual ritual so my Mom kept on talking to turn her attention and said… “Does anyone want to see my little beauty here without clothes…no tickets required…it is a free show…free show…” . My grandmother also used to call it ‘free show’ when we were little one or two year olds and refused to wear any clothes. Anyway, after her bath, Mom and me quickly got dressed, waved at the little one, and sped to the choir practice. 

Soon after, our choir master appeared with black notes of a new hymn and distributed it. Along with his copy of the song was an off white envelope which clearly was an invitation card. He opened it, put on his spectacles and read through it seriously. He then slowly put the card back in the envelope raised his small, thin head looked at us, and said, 

There will be a Russian church concert next Sunday; All are welcome. It will be from 5:00 pm onwards at the Parish hall next to the cemetery

After a serious pause, he continued,I repeat. This is no joke. I should see all of you at the concert next Sunday and learn how lip movement and round tones make a difference in singing

Soon we all started whispering among ourselves. The choir master, noticed our concern, and proceeded,

No need to worry about entry passes. It is going to be a free show”

Monday, August 22, 2011

From rags to riches...a real story.

I was three years old when my parents built their dream home in Trivandrum. It was not in the heart of the city, but very close. My neighborhood looked more or less like a slum and our house was the only double storeyed structure which stood tall in the entire locality.

Every day, be it day or night, you could hear a tapping sound from any room of our house. Soon we got so familiarized to this noise that we couldn’t hear it anymore. Behind our house, was a small thatched hut, where a man who carved little elephants out of wood for his livelihood, lived with his family. His wife, three sons of whom the youngest was retarded, lived in this hut of two rooms. However all other houses here were more or less of the same type, and so we never felt anything so special about this hut or the people living in it. You could hear the tapping of tools on wood even at nights and many a time I have wondered the practicality of this to raise and educate two kids.

When I was in high school a major change came across this hut, as it changed from thatched roof to a tiled one. Tiled roofs are not very helpful on rainy days but are certainly an improvement from a thatched house. Then Papa used to tell me how hard work and modesty paid off. Me being a teenager at that time, despised advice and stories with morals - or lets put it this way, I hated anything which had atleast a remote chance of making me a better person. And not to mention at that age, parents would always sound wrong and outdated.

Years passed. Our neighborhood changed for the better. This month I came down to my home on a month long vacation. As usual I went to the terrace, and was in for a huge shock. In the place of the tiled roof house there is now a palatial double storeyed building, with modern amenities, granite floors and was huge enough to place our house inside it. Obviously, the man who made wooden elephants moved out and sold his land. I heard that his youngest son was moved temporarily to an asylum and this was a painful occasion for them and everyone else in the neighborhood. This could have made them move out. I stared blankly at the new house, which was getting ready for a house warming ceremony, decorated in blue and yellow lights.

Soon a lady emerged from the front door, appearing all busy and tensed with a huge vessel of a local sweet in it. She called out to someone and a guy took the vessel from her and went out. She looked familiar.Papa came on to the terrace for a smoke and told, that she was the same old lady, whose husband was the man who made wooden elephants. They’d saved and accumulated the meager income, and educated their sons, by living in poverty and sacrifice. The sons made good value of the money, got placed, promoted, worked in Dubai and London for almost a decade and gifted their parents with a home they deserved for sacrificing all their lives for them.

Do you know a better real story for the same theme?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stork Visit :)

There is absolutely nothing like being on a vacation at home and to be pampered by parents, I tell you. Once again, I got to be my real self, the crazy and lazy daughter, who opens the fridge every now and then wishfully searching for the appearance of a new dish. As my Mom and me had just returned from Muscat, we bought chocolates for relatives, friends and neighbors which were religiously consumed by yours truly. So now my Mom has to look for alternate methods to satisfy her acquaintances whose demands and expectations seems to grow each time she returns from Muscat.

As I was lazing around, gluttony took the better of me and eventually Mom had to toil in the kitchen to meet my ever changing menu. Soon after, my sister and six year old niece turned up from Chennai and we had a blast. Literally it was a blast, as I fought with her, and it hurt her bad. And to mention about the war-of-words, it was not with my sister, but with her six year old. I must be really sick to fight with a kid. Anyway, after leaving for Chennai she accepted my apologies over telephone. I hear she has high regards for me, as I do for her, I will continue to fight with her but if anyone else tries to hurt her I will kick their butt.

Kids, these days, I say. Well, if God gives us kids, then He must surely know how these little menaces are born gizmo freaks. My niece knows better than my sister about the varied options on her mobile phone and so my sister prefers not to reveal her qualification. Shh…She is an electronics engineer, you see. However my niece is not much convinced about this, as she was taught in school that engineers design and build bridges and buildings.

I remember another incident when a friend was expected to visit us with her family on a weekend. They had three kids, and we thoughtfully stocked ice creams and chocolates in the fridge. On their arrival, we proudly offered the kids ice creams first when the eldest of them snapped ‘Sorry aunty, this is chocolate flavored ice cream. My flavor is butterscotch. Anyway, thank you’. God will ask me justification on the judgment day if wasted ice cream. (Even before God asks, my ice cream crazy sister surely will). And so I had to consume that also. ( No, I am not going to conclude this article stating how and why I gained weight).

Another friend of mine, who owns a laptop which signs in with his fingerprint says, that his two year old takes his laptop while he sleeps, brings it to him, takes his finger and swipes it across. Now that the laptop is logged on, the kiddo has signed in to his world of games :D

Well, I am saying all this to conclude, that kids can be fun, tough to handle, a challenge to raise, and a huge responsibility to bear …but we were kind of ready to welcome one and see how we excel in it. God has blessed us with a baby boy on June 7th this year, and all posts after that were typed hurriedly when he was sleeping, and so they were not really spell checked. We christened him as Aaron. So that is the reason why posts these days are not as frequent as before, but you readers out there…don’t be happy that I am gone…I will continue like I always did…there is always time to type a few paragraphs!

Spread the word!