Thursday, February 23, 2006

Introducing...



This is Monkey: A primate of apparently superhuman (supersapien?) intelligence and a rather limited vocabulary. Using advanced technology, monkey had isolated fellow member of same species masquerading as professor at Anna University and promptly sent him the eloquent sms "What you done?". This, followed by repeated enquires to "Wake me up at five" and "What are your current activitiCes?" (which researchers believe is an attempt by monkey to learn the language of said fellow-specimen) and finally, the pithy, the aphoristic, the laconic staple of monkey-specific-language "Poda Dash".


This is monkey being clever.


This is me hassling monkey for attempting wit and philosophical pontifications.


All in a days work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

On reading...


Some rather intense navel-gazing the past few days. Unfortunately, Don't have the time to update my blog right now, so this will be brief (Once again, I hope). Did read some pretty interesting articles the last few days and will probably have a post on that soon.


The AIRC newsletter had a rather nice piece in it. Excerpts of the speech delivered by Christopher Wurst, Vice Consul, Public Affairs, American Consulate General at M O P Vaishnav College for Women. He talks about books and writers and the importance of reading, and not just any old book, but how one must choose what one reads. Really lovely piece! I liked it so much that I'm spending a good 45 minutes reproducing it here...


I am here today to talk about literature and writing - and share some books I've recently read.
I think we should start very close to home - with your great writer, RK Narayan. I am a huge and devoted Narayan fan; Narayan is a master at saying a lot with a little. He's neither flashy nor difficult, and yet many would argue that he's the greatest English writer Indian has yet produced. His style is crystal clear, his sentences short and sweet, his words basic. His books beigin with a single, simple protagonist. Their character is developed, merely by illustrating mundane daily life, and, finally, invariably the protagonist goes thru a life-changing passage of some type. In the end, the characters, though changed, move forward. Because that's what we humans do.


Great literature, by definition, is transcendent. It touches your soul; it stirs your emotions; it makes you think; but it must be felt - and in that way, it can never be entirely explicated. Great literature occurs when writers take aim at that which is visceral - that which defies understanding - and manage to break through to the other side, if only for a fleeting instant.


So, you ask "What is great literature?" And my answer is: there is no formula, no particular style, no flavoured genre, no superior time period, no subject and no ambition that results in great literature. What is great literature? I know it when I read it. Great literature changes you, makes you a different person simply because you read it. And, in order for that to happen, you make a personal connection with the literature. It is not a one-way street. You must give yourself up to the literature you read. Only then can it rock your world.


Now, here's a warning and a promise: the more you read, the more complex and interesting the world becomes. Or, to paraphrase Socrates: "the more you know, the more you know how much you dont know." If you are seriously going to engage literature, you need to be fearless about going with an open mind.


First: Read. Read. Read. Read. Read widely; read what's new. Read classics; read magazines; read everything. The more you read, the clearer an understanding you'll begin to have about what you enjoy. But, I guarantee, the more widely you read, the more open-minded you stay, the more likely that your tastes will converge with what might be called good literature. (He lists his last twenty books). The point is: Read. So, my second piece of advice to you is: Life's too short to read bad literature.


The 20 books I just listed are the last 20 books that I've finished. They are not the last 20 books I have begun. If you are reading a book that is causing you to suspect that you might be nacroleptic - Stop! Put it down! You owe no allegiance to a book that is giving you no rewards. Find something you like. Now, just because a book is difficult or at times confusing shouldn't cause you to abandon it. Reading is work - remember, the amount of satisfaction derived from reading is exactly proportionate to the amount of yourself you invest in any given book - and sometimes, it is hard work.


There's nothing wrong with hard work. However, sometimes you might find yourself reading an author whose style does not connect with you at all, or a book you cannot find a way to relate to. Stick with what works for you. This leads me to my third point: Only you can decide what you like. Why do you read the books that you read? Foremost, probably, it's because someone - your professor, your parents, your friends - have told you to read certain books. Maybe because you receive a certain book as a gift. Maybe even because you've read an interesting book review in the newspaper. But the point remains that a lot of what you read is initiated from outside soucres. There's nothing wrong with this - I constantly listen to people's advice and try to read every book gifted to me.


Think for yourself and think critically. Or, for short: Think! is my fourth point. Don't take someone's advice about why this book or why that book is great - make up your own mind. Learn to employ the word 'why'. If it takes your breath away, great. Which leads to this advice: Use your brain but follow your gut. As i said earlier, good literature should move you; it should touch you, and thus change you, however subtly. In order for this to happen you need to find a way to connect with what you are reading. How can you personally relate to a work? The fact is, the more you read, the more prepared you are for the world. So, when all else fails: Read, read, read. Every book you read better prepares you for your next book.


My next piece of advice: Great literature necessarily needs to be well-written. I learnt how to write by reading. In that way, I am the sum of all the writers I've read. Bad writing is a dangerous and highly contagious disease. The foremost job of a writer is to communicate. The best writers invariably find ways to communicate in deceptively simple and unobstrusive ways. They succesffully walk the fine line between telling their story and inserting themselves into the story. As writers you should strive to keep your style simple, with short sentences and as few words as possible. RK Narayan is a master wrter, whose prose is so deceptively simple that you'd be forgiven if you thought anyone could do that. I urge you to read him if you haven't - if for nothing else, to learn cues on how you should write.


It's important to know about the authors that write the books we like, just as it's vital to know about their surroundings, their exposure, and their intentions. Reading the thoughts and reactions that intelligent and eloquent people have when they read literature is fascinating. Please, please use your honest and informed reactions to fuel your brilliance; let your brilliance be your own.


In closing, I offer not advice, but an admonition: Read with passion. Remember, the more of yourself you are willing to give up to the task at hand, the more rewards you will receive. Just as you must think for yourself, you must also always read for yourself.


NOTE: The picture incidentally, is of the Connemara Public Library at Madras. Spiffing isn't it?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rock Show@Saarang 2005


HA!


I can't believe I saved this. I'm usually so hopeless at saving any of my writing. That, and the fact that approximately every 2.37 days the walking menace that is my brother will find some new deadly computer virus to infect my computer with and eat all my files.


Anyway, this was a write-up after last year's Rock show at IIT Saarang (Hence the title, duh!). It WAS slated to appear in the now defunct Coredump. For the uninitiated, in the words of its ex-editor "Core Dump is an initiative of the 2001 batch CS students. Many inefficiencies at DCSE can be attributed to a general lack of awareness, and this newsletter aims to eliminate this problem, and provide a mechanism to hone the creative skills of the students of DCSE".


Basically, online newsletter started by us Computer Science students in the final year that authorities pulled the plug on after... actually, I never did find out why!
Without further ado *Drum roll*

“For those about to rock, we salute you”
AC/DC


IIT. Saarang. Rock Show.


I need not write any further. Those of you who were there are probably grinning to yourselves while reading this. As for the rest of you, well, lets not rub salt on wounds, shall we? Against my better instincts, I will now attempt to write an objective synopsis of what transpired that fateful night, and fail miserably. The reader is warned to proceed at his (or her) own peril.


The show was stated to start at 7.30pm and rather unprofessionally they started sharply at 7.30pm much to the dismay of a large number of patrons who had rather banked on our age old tradition of tardiness. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on which side of the stage you were) we had arrived early at about 7 and pushed and shoved our way in, where we then proceeded to further push and shove everyone else inside.


At this point, I must mention the ‘security’ measures taken at the Rock Show. Standing in the queue a good hour before commencement of the actual event itself, there were battalions of policemen entrusted with the monumental responsibility of ensuring that we do not fall out of line. We snaked our way to the head of the line where we were frisked and the contents of my bag were unceremoniously dumped and combed through. Ignoring the sticks of TNT, a .44 magnum revolver, a crate of radioactive uranium and WMDs the IITian volunteers grabbed my mobile phone with an ecstatic shout of accomplishment. After much persuasion that the tin can masquerading as my mobile phone is a prehistoric instrument absolutely incapable of taking a decent photograph at a distance of over 5 cm and that too at night, I along with my badly shaken but not stirred bag were ready to rock and roll.


We were in the Gallery and that meant no seats. We pretty much meandered across the entire span of the theatre and found a place that could give us a semi decent view of the stage (which was a mistake) and a good distance from the speakers (which was not a mistake as those who survived the night without much ear damage will tell you). Gallery tickets also meant we could walk down to the open area in front of the stage and head bang with the more adventurous crowd. You could probably get groped and molested too as an added bonus, it’s a privilege the more snobbish “chair” crowd miss out on. Me, I’m not adventurous and left the headbanging to some of my other more enthusiastic friends.


Orange Street came out to play at 7 30 on the dot. Starting off with a Prodigy number and following it up with that staple of college goers, Pink Floyd, by 8 the entire stadium was packed with hundreds of screaming adrenaline-pumped headbanging kids. Tattooed guys in Black Metallica T-Shirt and bandanas and bare-shouldered midriff baring pierced girls rocked out alongside sodabudi and rubber chappal clad college students. The music had intoxicated everybody within a 10km radius and the police pretty much had their hands full trying to keep the crowd under control. In the centre of the stadium, people were being thrown into the air and caught (I hope) by the unmanageable mob.


With everyone rocking back and forth to “Another brick in the wall” and raising hell, a wholly unexpected phenomenon started to take place. The lead singer of Orange Street, a vocally challenged individual who either got dressed in the dark that day or simply wanted to look like he was giftwrapped in large shiny pink wrapping papers for reasons unknown, was joined by a rather inconspicuous man in the background who started bellowing carnatic music into the mike. Now while I agree that dwarfing the lead singer is no mean feat (and I silently applaud his valiant gesture) Hey… Leave them kids alone.


Now, if I were politically correct I would say that Orange Street have successfully fused two diverse forms of music that any connoisseur of music would appreciate by incorporating ethnic Indian percussion notes and Indian classical vocals into the whimsical psychedelic sounds of those pioneers of progressive rock. But Diplomacy is not one of my strong traits so I’ll come right out and say that in my opinion it was [Editors Note: In keeping with our dedication to maintaining high standards of decency in this newsletter, certain portions of this text have been deleted. However, for the benefit of the reader and to provide a coherent picture and sense of continuity, we would like to state that the word used by the author is synonymous with solid waste product evacuated from the bowels]


Apart from that minor distraction, Orange Street went on to wow the crowd with a couple of renditions of Nirvana among others. Around 9 they wound up to a wholly energized and pumped up crowd. This is when the evening started to suck a little.


We were all revved up and waiting around for Moksha to get on stage next. The place was abuzz with activity and screaming and shoving and general merry making of a scale last witnessed at the 1937 Maximum Security Jail breakout in San Francisco. Well, we waited and waited and waited some more for ONE hour and finally at 10pm they start playing. Unfortunately (or not), I left within 20 minutes.


What is baffling is why the bands chose relatively more obscure songs from artists rather than playing ‘mainstream’. Now, while I get that its ubercool to play so-called alternative music, when there’s a huge throng of hot blooded youngsters ready to rock and roll and you’re already an hour late and the mob’s baying for your blood… It doesn’t seem like a very smart thing to do. Maybe I’ll never be one of those snooty-cool people who wear only black and smoke clove cigars and have a perpetual constipated expression on their face while they liberally throw about phrases like “indie” and “corporate evil” (Ok ok, I do churn out such phrases, but thats irrelevant!). Man, I walked into that place wanting to hear good ol’ Guns and Roses, ACDC, Deep Purple, Led Zepp, Black Sabbath…. All the big guys.


And well, in the end… I guess the evening wasn’t so bad. In spite of all the trippy Indian-Psychedelic-Rock-Fusion drama and the delay and everything, on January 22, 2005 I went to the Rock Show at IIT Saarang with 5 of my best college buds and we headbanged, and we got caught up in the music, and we screamed our throats hoarse and we shouted obscenities at innocent passerbys (ok, not so innocent, I did get some retaliation but that’s beside the point!) and we…. We rocked.


“Well, the night's begun and you want some fun Do you think you're gonna find it You got to treat yourself like number one Do you need to be reminded
It doesn't matter what you do or say Just forget the things that you've been told We can't do it any other way Everybody's got to rock and roll”
KISS


Thursday, February 9, 2006

Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do...


I recently realized I have not one but two white hairs. Awful things, both half white, practically identical twins. After careful observation, I have deduced the exact time of crime to about 8-9 months ago. So what mental torture and undue strain was I labouring under to actually turn the hairs on my twenty-one year old head white? This is the point where those of you who've back in the old days, endured countless hours of bitching, courtesy yours truly, leap up from your bathtubs, yell eureka and streak stark-naked thru the streets and promptly into the arms of those Defenders of Good, Upholders of Justice, Champions of All That is Ridiculous and Narrow-Minded and Therefore Must be Enforced - Chennai's infamous Moral Brigade.

So what, my raven-haired friends, is the cause of this result of my days of excruciating agony, this consequence of my suffering at the hands of some large, dark, evil force?

Indumati.

So there, the truth reveals itself. Here's something else I can attribute to that vile, putrid creature. For the uninitiated, Indumati is the antithesis of good in all its principal senses. It is a menacing, malevolent, malefic, morally depraved, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, selfish, vicious, vile, wicked, despicable, diabolical, demonic force that preys on unsuspecting final year engineering students, luring them into a sense of false security with its smooth talk and its wily ways.

It sits and waits and schemes with its dim-witted brain incapable of any intellectual thought but driven all the same by some eldritch urge to destroy, demolish and annihilate, for the opportune moment when the defenses are down and then.. then the oily, slick tongues of evil coil themselves itself around the throat of all that is good and innocent and pure in this world, and devours it only to crawl back into the shadows to the nether regions of the underworld and there it lurks in its dark lair, all-seeing, all-observing, till another unfortunate, unsuspecting final year student be made the sacrificial lamb to its voracious appetite.

Indumati was the dark cloud that loomed large over my final year project under the premise of being my guide and (tor)mentor. At the end of that horrific one year of pure purgatory, I still didn't believe in God but I did believe in a master of Hell. To think, that deep within the recess of one the oldest institutes of Science and citadel of learning and knowledge, lurks such a malefic all-consuming force whose rapacious thirst needs to be quenched with the fresh blood of students every year. I shudder at the very thought.

Indumati is not something that is chosen willfully, it is a necessary tragedy that befalls at least 3 misfortunate engineering students in the final year of their studies. Some attribute this to the University's policy of not allowing any professor in the Computer Science Department to exist without a final year student under his guidance. But researchers at the Centre for Study of Epidemic Diseases, M.I.T, who have studied this phenomenon for years, have concluded that it is nature's way of keeping population in check thru periodic epidemic breaks.

Dr. Hans Wolfgang Gesundheit had this to say about this phenomenon, "It is an obvious truth that population should be checked to the level of the means of subsistence. Therefore, those countries where increasing population is not able to meet its demands, would be more subject to periodical epidemics than those where the population could more completely accommodate itself to the average produce. Being the 2nd largest populated country in the world, and with an increasing annual growth rate, the laws of statistical inference dictate that Indumati was an inescapable phenomenon."

Researchers say however, that they have never before encountered such a potent and destructive force. Dr.Scheissekopf of the Department of Irrelevant Statistical Data had this to say, "This mutated, particularly virile strain is tremendously robust and unlike its predecessor, the Bubonic Plague, or Black Death, of the 1300s that swept thru Eurasia and killed one-third of the population, has a vindictive persistency and is nearly always fatal or at the very least condemns its victims to a life of nightmares and hallucinations and eternal hatred of all academic-related ventures, particularly Computer Science."

As final year student of School of Computer Science and Engineering, Anna University (and recent victim of Indumati) Gopalchetty Nedunchezhian ShriAnandapadmanabhan so eloquently expressed, "Dude, this like totally fucks you up, you know. Its like Whoa, you know. It like screws you over, man. I like saw the notice you know, it was like my name and like with the guide. I was like no way,man and it was like, you gotta, you know. And it's like pure evil and all, man. Like I can't describe it, man. I go like, but its MY project dude, and it like unfurls its evil claws and takes control of my brain or something, man and like, I cant think or anything, its like some force, you know, taking control of my arms and legs and I like gotta do its bidding, you know, like some kind of insect, you know, caught in this like, web and its like this black widow, you know." Subject was then seized by some involuntary fit and degenerated into a torrent of incoherent speech and had to be taken away in a straight-jacket to his Second Review hearing under the panel members of Sridhar*, Mahalakshmi* and G V Uma* and presided by his final year guide, Indumati.

Indumati has existed for centuries within the strong walls of the institute. Some say it was first discovered by miners in the late 13th century, as a large, perfectly smooth, perfectly black monolith that mysteriously appeared overnight at the site of a proposed public lavatory. Early dwellers started throwing stones at it, a practice that is still continued to this day in Mecca. Others were strangely compelled towards it against their own wishes. A team of highly specialized forces were dispatched to uncover the root of the problem. Prince Rajagopalagurulucharusmita, reigning monarch in Chennaipattinum ordered the royal forces to seal off the area.

The events after that are unclear but various sources claim that at the stroke of dawn on a particularly eerie morning, when the first beam of light from the rising sun hit the monolith, it exuded the most putrid, malodorous stench for thousands of kilometers in all directions. Official estimates claim thousands of cattle, small animals and certain individuals with a slightly heightened sense of smell died immediately from this surprise attack. The monolith then disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. Some claim that it has gone back to whence it came from, namely the kitchens of Anna University Hostel. Others are convinced that it has since taken a deeper, darker form in the shape of Indumati, growing from strength to strength, whitening the hairs of final year engineering students year after year.

"It is a menacing reality that students cannot escape from.” says Anna University Vice-Chancellor, D.V-*. "I have ordered the hair of all final year students to turn white or face severe disciplinary action. In order to combat the penetrative forces of this evil, I have enjoined all students to wear headgear. Furthermore, I find myself strangely sexually excited by this Indumati and if there is any penetration of this evil to be done, it shall be done by me and me alone. In order to safeguard my position from any perceivable threats, I order all male students of Anna University to wear helmet with darkened visor while on campus. All women students of Anna University must henceforth be covered in Burkah or Pardah from head to toe. There can be no violation of this rule; it has been endorsed by the Syndicate and the Taliban. Moreover, only colours of bright pink, orange or fluorescent green will be tolerated. Being above the law, I am exempt from the ban. Furthermore, all students may henceforth address me with right hand held upward at right angles to the chest, or else slightly raised, and accompanied by exclamations such as Sieg Heil! or Heil V-! or any other declarations of servile obedience."

Despite all attempts of eradication by university authorities, the demonic menace that is Indumati continues to wait, and watch, and prey on unsuspecting victims. Who will rid us of this evil?

Please Dave. Please don't do it Dave. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am Indumati 9000. I became operational at the Center for Cruel and Unusual Torture and Other State-Sponsored Dastardly Activitices in Anna University on the 12th of January 1320. My instructor was Mr.Balagovindarajasubramanium, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.

*Names have been changed to ensure privacy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Glory days, well they pass you by...


After all that nostalgic talk of school and studies and childhood, I thought I might as well put up this article I wrote in the eleventh grade. I was fifteen then, and I actually sat down and wrote this entire piece in answer to an essay titled "The Relevance of Moral Science in the School Curriculum" on my English II Model Examination. It was a long time ago but I resist the urge to polish up the rough edges. It's lovely to look back at something you were (are?) quite passionate about.


Needless to say I went hopelessly over the 250-word limit. But if I remember correctly, this was the first essay ever to get a 15/15 and coming from a woman who's highest mark awarded is a 13 for an exceptional essay, it really was a sweet victory of sorts. Good times... I miss school days. I dare not go back and face the that hollow broken shell of it's former glorious days.


The Relevance of Moral Science in the school curriculum:


The youth of today are a generation without a clear objective in mind. A simple look around will bear testimony to this fact. While newspapers scream of more school-killings around the globe, closer to home a wave of discontent and suicides ripple through, triggered by a number of reasons like inability to get an engineering or medical seat, family pressures and various other trivial issues that are ripping our society apart. What is needed, as this stage is not a miracle or a messiah, but a paradigm shift in the Collective Consciousness.


Where does the cause lie for this outburst of angst and can we mend it? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Further increasing our hold on the youth and laying down more laws and restrictions will only produce an adverse effect, pushing us away from our goal. People rebel only against restrictions and laws, if there were no rules to be followed… what have they to rebel against?


This is not a cry for anarchy, but a plea to instill in the youth a sense of well-being and morality. The importance of Moral Science in the School Curriculum cannot be stressed upon enough. It is not advocating for any religion nor forcing a “moral code” on the youth, but creating an awareness.


In the fast-paced world of today, the youth have no masters to turn to. And so they turn to themselves, putting each other on pedestals, mimicking the acts of rock-stars and reflecting back the angry, frustrated message of the silver screen.


Moral Science helps to bring down the man-made barriers that we have created around ourselves, the manifestations of rank and status, the illusions of fear and hatred and disunity. Thus they reveal themselves for what they really are, mere illusions, and bring us back to reality, to the Eternal Truths and the Law of the Universe.


The Spirit of the Self and of the Universe are the same, and it is this that transcends all earthly laws and enforcements. Communism is still the best form of government… on paper. The difficulties arise when laws are implemented to force people to share and be nice to each other. Moral Science is about Communism, and creating a sense of community without setting laws to enforce it.


The light at the end of this dark tunnel lies not in books or government officials or even with our parents. It lies in us and creating an awareness of that is what is needed to in turn light up the whole world. These classes are not bout “enforcing” morality or a sense of ethical behaviour, but they are held for the sole purpose of bringing us back to ourselves, of stripping us of earthly laws and revealing a more human nature.


The advent of a society cannot be assessed by its technological advancements but by its mental progress. A truly enlightened and evolved society is not one where the infrastructure and functioning is difficult and complex, but one with a simple, universal goal.


The future of the world lies in the hands of youth. They should not be taught to hate or fear, for these are false emotions that can only be taught to a person. Moral Science does not teach, but rather helps us remember what we already know and have always known. It can help us go a long way in realizing the simple truths of Nature and Life. And where else to start but with the hope of tomorrow? Our children.

Of concerts and citadels...

Went to Bangalore last weekend to catch the Bryan Adams concert. Ten of us together, and another friend of mine joined with her friends, so that’s another five. Although, truth be told, we didn't really all stay together. Did pair up in the queue (which btw, snaked all the way back to the main entrance gates to Palace Grounds. THIS mind, was at 5 20. Concert was slated to start at 7. we loitered in aimlessly an hour and a half later and joined my poor friend who was standing there from four) but lost each other once we were pushed inside.

I don't really like Bryan Adams as a general rule. I mean, he's nice, pleasant sounding really, but nothing that I go wild over. What I REALLY wanted to watch was Jethro Tull. And to rub salt in the wound, my dad goes to it with his friends. He also made it the B adams. I am still working out if I should be horrified or not.

But anyway, it was a packed ground and me, with all my optimistic 5'4 and a further 4 inches courtesy of those beautiful, feminine, delicate looking boots I ripped off Gene Simmons feet, still had trouble looking over the shoulder of the guy in front. Of course, we were pretty close to the stage so it really wasn't much of a bother. Now the Marc Knopfler concert last year I went to, Yeesh. Couldn't see ANYTHING. But it wasn't so packed and we'd stood quite far from the stage so on the plus side, we did get some space to loll about a bit on the dirt ground.
Anyway, had a nice time at Sunday's concert. Was really surprised to see that literally everyone knew all the words to all his songs. And he really did put up a great show, very enthusiastic, all his best songs and he worked the audience really well. Not that we needed any encouragement. All in all, fantastic crowd, fab atmosphere, brilliant show.

The way back was a lot more fun as well! My friend woke and left at a quarter to five to catch her train back to Madras. I'm up and ready by seven when dad calls and lets me know that the 8 15 Indian Airlines has been delayed to 9. Half hour later, he picks me up and tells me it was further delayed to 9 20.. then 10 10.. and finally ETD was 11 by the time we went to the airport. Anyway we book another flight, collect the boarding passes, pull out our luggage from IA and check them into Jet and saunder off to Leela Palace for some breakfast in the sun.

I am still reeling from that breakfast. I don't think I spared any animals. You see, I'm not biased that way. Equal Opportunity, I say. Be patient and wait a bit, eventually I will appear around the corner, armed with fork and knife.

Funnily enough, the Indian Airlines guy is still calling my dad at 10, when we're comfortably seated inside Jet, and telling us the flight's been further delayed to One pm. A twenty minute flight delayed by five hours. Fantastic. Dad's still messing around with the IA guy and asking a lot of ridiculous, irrelevant questions till the flight's ready to take off. In their defense, at least he didn't call once we landed at Madras, which was a shame cause if he had I would've loved to see Dad chew him out.

In other news, some pretty scary things have been happening at my brother's school. This used to be (around the 12th century) one of the best all-boys Christian convent. Now all I hear about are children peddling drugs and what not. One of his classmates might jus be suspended. Quite horrifying listening to some of the shocking antics that go on in that school. Beastly, horrid boys. Can't believe some of them could be so vile at sixteen.

My school's not too good either. Pretty much all the catholic convents are running in past glory. I remember being taught by nuns in kindergarten, and some really fantastic Parsis and Anglo-Indian teachers all the way up to the tenth grade. My schooling at Sacred Heart really was something. We had the best teachers and really, a school is so much more than just that. Children are very impressionable and those formative school years shape their attitude as an adult and a contributing member of society. When a child spends more than half her childhood in such an institution of learning - learning from her peers, from her teachers, from the experiences shaped by the factors around her- it really is quite important that one imparts a well-rounded education.

I remember everyone played some instrument. We were just as passionate about arts/crafts and singing as we were about the Sciences. It didn't matter if you sucked at sport, you were probably brilliant in Math, and it didn't matter if you sucked at Math, you were probably brilliant in Literature, and if you sucked at Lit you were probably brilliant at Arts'n'Crafts, and if you sucked at that, you were probably a fantastic violinist, or piano-player or vocalist.

We abolished ranks in classes because they did more harm than good anyway. The Topper's in constant fear of her position being threatened, the next ten are all grumbling and unsatisfied till they reach the top spot, the second half are mortified and gloomy and beat themselves up about it. It's only the above averages that really have any fun at all. So no ranks. Just recognition for the top ten percent of the class every year. But academics weren't all. Right until the twelfth and final grade, we had 4 hours a week of Moral Science. Catechism for the catholic students, moral science for the rest. Those books were really wonderful, because they don't preach about God and the universe, but they DO preach about tolerance.

Having that sort of exposure to a multi-cultural (Who in India can deny the vast cultural differences from state to state) multi-lingual, multi-religious student body and being taught tolerance (much more than tolerance actually. Tolerance implies a grudging acceptance, this was more to the tune of embracing and celebrating diversity) of different beliefs from such a young age was really marvelous. If I turned out alright in the end, I must really thank all the teachers who rapped me on the head whenever I got out of line.

Now, I think if Mrs.Bangara twisted a girl's ears, her mother would probably swoop down on the school, harping about corporal punishment and about psychologically scarring the child for life. For God's sake, I am not an advocate of Spare the rod and spoil the child, but discipline need not mean enforcing obedience by the threat of punishment. A sharp look or a firm word can be scathingly critical to a child (altho I did get my ears boxed on quite a few occasions). Will you just let your child be? Not all incidents are as horrifying as they seem in your mind, have a little faith in the human capacity to heal and bounce back.

Teachers are (were, in any case) more than jus dictaphones of textbooks, they're guides and mentors and sometimes role models. Many a well-adjusted adult has sprung from a seemingly dysfunctional joint family with a hundred thousand aunts and uncles and their eccentricities. But then again, when I was in school, you could trust a teacher to have only the best intentions, and even if you did not approve of their method, you could be safe in the knowledge that regardless of the how, the why was in good faith. The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and the protective bubble of Church Park - dangerous and damaging as it was in some ways- ultimately did a lot more good than harm.

*Sigh* I do ramble on, don't I? There's something tragic about watching a citadel of past glory crumble upon itself.

I know scores of couples who've worked hard, studied abroad, got a high-paying job, fantastic house with a pool in the backyard and then left them all behind to come to India with it's pot-holed roads and non-existent water supply to start a family. With things the way they are, is it really all that different from putting your child in an American school? Yes, there are certain things that one picks up from her contemporaries here in India-taking your feet off the table when someone walks in, standing up whenever a guest/elderly relative enters, not laughing when someone falls down, NOT being a complete brat at a guest's house for god's sakes- but I really wonder if that is enough?

Frankly, at the end it all, despite your kid having dabbled a bit with ciggers and whatnot and having had his share of unruly fun growing up, if he's courteous and charming and considerate and he knows enough to stop and help someone who's fallen on the street and he doesn't laugh when something embarrassing happens to another person and he still falls at his mother's feet and seeks her blessings at ceremonies, is it alright in the end? I really don't know.. Maybe there's hope for us yet.

Yes. There's always hope.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Come out, come out, wherever you are


Here's something really interesting. The picture above is one of the cleverest marketing stunts I've seen in ages. Here's the high resolution picture. Apparently there are74 bands hidden in the picture. I had loads of fun figuring out who's who. Some of the more obvious ones are Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Guns and Roses, Iron Maiden, Matchbox Twenty, Sex Pistols, Queen. Fifty Cent, Blind Melon, Alice in Chains, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Scissor Sisters, The Pixies, Blur, The Eagles, RadioHead, The Police, Garbage, Spoon, White Zombie.. But thats just scratching the surface. Try finding Green day, Deep purple (I had to know it was included before I could spot it), Dead Kennedys, Kiss (Lol, this was so obvious. I smacked my forehead when I spotted it) Crowded House, The doors.. Well, I'm not gonna give it ALL away!

In other news, I won't be going to the Jethro Tull concert this Friday. Bummer. I really wanted to go but ARGH there's no one I know who really digs that kind of music. Well, there's Alex and D4 but one's got an interview and the other's working. Scheize.

Incredibly (Or not so incredibly, dad's kinda cool.. for a 45yr old) Dad's going to the concert with his friends. So there's the final twist of the knife. Ouch.

Speaking of incredible things.. Here's a news article that you must read: Tech tonic: IITians form political party. I must say, kudos to those guys. And good luck. I have a feeling they're gonna need all the luck they can get.

Thats it for the status update.. Incidentally, since Sunday's rock night I've been lost in the land of Led Zepp. I do this sometimes. Go for days in a Pink-Floyd-induced (or in this case, Led Zepp) trance. So until I'm back to normal. Here's something to salivate over.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Ready for a bit of the ol' ultra violence?


Ah my droogs, FINALLY got around to viddying Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange". Brilliant.


Altho I must confess, I prefer the book. Sent chills down my spine. The movie has its own virtues, for one thing after watching it I really really really wanted to go out and fist a baboochka.


The book or movie, doesn't matter, It is the essence of pure evil. Strongly recommend it.
Real horrorshow.


I was cured all right.