Friday, March 26, 2010

The _______________ Syndrome

Anybody with a similar syndrome ?

* My hands are never empty when I step out of a shopping complex (sometimes my purse is).
* I enter a toy shop and want to buy everything in the store. Disney store always fascinates me.
* I have this weird liking for stationery(Yes, the pencils, erasers, files, notebooks, sketch pens, papers) and end up spending more time in Staples and Ryman.
* Buying items on non-sale during a sale period does not make much difference to me.
* I visit furniture showrooms knowing pretty well I will not be able to carry even a tiny furniture from here to India, and still end up purchasing cushion covers!
* You can find me buying something during every sale in my office (Once in a fortnight), ranging from clothing, stationery, umbrellas(?)! The latest was the puzzle I purchased a couple of days ago.
* I have not spared HomeBase or Wickes.
* I belong to the category of people who get tired even when they do nothing,but I never get tired when I shop.
* Rain and sun do not have the slightest effect on my shopping trend.
* My close friends always make sure they visit in a coffee shop or home rather the town centre.
* Every month I budget something for shopping and I end up breaking it every single time.
* After every purchase, I say - just this one, I will be back in India in a few months and so just this one and it goes in circles…
* I make sure I buy groceries in Tesco as they have an attached clothing outlet.
* NEXT and M&S never fail to get my attention.
* My male collegue tries to make sure I dont pass this syndrome to his better half.
* My roommie blames me for she occasionally joins me burning a hole in her pocket.
* My luggage is full of new things, I doubt if I can carry even some of the things that I have purchased, given the weight limits the airlines specify, still I continue to buy.
* Everytime I try to control my shopping spree, it only worsens.
* The only shop that I have not visited in the town is the Pharmacy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Of Clients and Names

'Whats the SLA for user id creation?' I inquired my client Line Manager.
'Well, its two working days. Are you having an issue?'
'Hmm Not really...I raised a request for an id creation (for myself) for Test Director (Application) and haven't got that one yet. Okie shall follow it up with the Administrator. Thank you.'

He must have noticed the confused look on my face, for he reached his telephone and dialled the Environment Manager's(EM) number. 'Hi ya, the new user has an issue. I remember approving this request for N.Thirumalaiselvi three days ago. Can you please do the needful? Thanks!'

Amidst the various open Word documents and excel workbooks, 'You have got a new mail' popped up on my email application. As expected, it was from the EM.

Dear Sir (Me: ?????)

We found that your request for an user id is a duplicate request. There exists an user id 1001 on the application and is tagged to your name. If you have raised the request for a password reset, there is a different form to fill in. Please do not hesitate to email me if any clarification is required.

~Thank you.
Hi EM,

I reported to this account only a week back and have not raised any request earlier. I have also confirmed from my managers that they haven't raised any request on my behalf for the same in advance. Can you please provide more information on this ?

~ Selvi

Hi Selvi

Details of your earlier request are as shown below:
Name: Thamaraiselvan
User Id: 1001
Date of Request : 01-Jun-08
Status: Active User

For any clarifications, please ping me.


Thamaraiselvan Vs Thirumalaiselvi. I laughed heartily. Hmm the EM must have assumed something like the Steve - Stephen, Jan - Jennet, Bob - Robert shortname - first name pairs. I called him up, explained the same and ofcourse got my new user id created!

Not once, but many times, they found Indian names very interesting(sometimes confusing). Some of the interesting observations they made include:

Do not try to derive the short form of names, you might end up in a wrong one. You will never know where to break the name(in the front or at the back) - MuthuKrishnan becomes Muthu. But Thirumalaiselvi doesnot become thirumalai, rather becomes selvi
Shashi(Test Manager) when jumbled becomes Ashish(Project Lead).
Short form of Subramanian is Subbu and not Subu
Sathish and Satish are not the same
Some short names are not exact subset of first names. Bhuvaneswari becomes Bhuvana, while Vigneswari becomes Vicky!
Do not assume the gender of the person based on their first name. Sashiko is a lady, while Sashi is a gentleman.
Anand and Ananth sound the same!
Not to mention the confusion when we introduced three differnt members in the team -Kruthika, Krithiga and Krithika !!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Score please...

Can you answer these questions?
1.Do you know the venue of the next ICC World cup tournament?
2.Name the cricket series that India won recently.
3.Who is the captain of the Indian Cricket team ?
4.If you were to prepare a ranking list for the Indian batsmen, whose names would top your chart (list first five) ?
5.Name your favourite Indian Bowler.
Wow. Cool! You got them in a jiffy. Congratulations!
Now, scroll down for more questions.
Try these questions wrt ICC Women’s cricket.
1.Do you know the venue of the ICC World cup tournament?
2.Who is the captain of the Indian Cricket team ?
3.Name three Indian batters.
4.Name your favourite Indian Bowler.
5.Has India secured a place in the super six ?
Very tough questions? Come on! Try again !
Whats your score ?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Posters Everywhere

I was in a hurry to reach the office. Since I was already late, I hired an auto (Unfortunately at that moment my brain didn't hint me - trains are faster than autos in Chennai traffic). All along the way, I noticed many posters of varying dimensions, some banners, cut-outs etc. marking the birthday celebrations of a famous politician. They all had the same template.

•The picture of the politician with good poses (smiling / greeting people / helping the poor / thinking / signing documents) predominantly filled the core segment.
•On the top right corner - one can find the image of ex-politician, probably the one who founded the party.
•At the bottom, you can see images of many faces in a row - the photographs nicely bordered with a circle (mostly). The last row was not really visible even from a decent distance.

As I was traveling, my mind was trying to figure out the intention of the "last row" gang. I’m sure they must be the ones who set these things up on the road-side.

Is this a tactic to impress the big shot, and are these posters with their picture at the feet of the politician a normal practice in the process of getting noticed by the big shot? Naah! If I can’t view the "last row" from a decent distance, the probability of the big shot traveling along the road, with all tight security gang around, noticing the same is zero.

The life of a banner being only a day or two, is it just to set some rusted minds like mine into an analyzing mode? Nope. I don’t think they gain anything out of this and being politicians, I’m sure they would not do anything without gain!
Hmm still analyzing (Only during breaks!)...

Monday, February 23, 2009


I feel more happier for “Smile Pinky” than for “Slum dog Millionaire” for the simple reason - It enabled the eight-year-old to be accepted by her society.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Impact

My cousin had visited the beach very recently and wanted to get something nice for the troublesome little monster at home(my nephew). The result - a little hockey stick and a ball wrapped in a nice cover. My nephew was delighted to see this one in the morning and like all new toys getting a warm welcome at first, this hockey stick became his favourite in a day's time. He carried this stick with him everywhere, when he brushed, when be bathed, when he ate and when he got ready for the school. But he never played with it! It is always nice to observe his activities. I asked him - "Dear, when are you going to play with this, you have been carrying this everywhere? " He replied, - "Chitti, we need to dig a hole in our garden so that we can play and Im just waiting for it"

The impact of TV. Theres more of golf now than hockey.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Gift of Education

We all have it. I was travelling by auto to CDC. I saw many private schools on the way. I was just wondering what it takes to get a kid enrolled into a renowned school in Chennai….. Some schools register students belonging to particular community only, while some others insist both parents should hold atleast one UG degree. Sounded strange to me. Inequality begins at school! I said to myself - gone are the days when schools were started to provide first generation education to the needy and to serve the society.
I was also questioning myself what triggered these thoughts at the sight of the schools. (Not that I have a kid and looking for a seat in a school!). Then I understood - an email sent by my friend about a website. The subject read something like this -
“If you are interested in providing the gift of education to a deserving, needy kid, do visit this link -”
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” ~ Read this one somewhere !

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


After witnessing the match at Bristol, we reached Reading at 6.00 (AM). We(My roomie, another friend of ours and myself) did have plans to make the most of the weekend by visiting the Safari @ Longleat. My roomie just reminded me that we have to take the train at 7.15 (AM) to start our exploration. Huh! I could barely listen to what she said as I dropped on my bed, my eyelids longing for sleep, sleep and yes just a few minutes of sleep. “Please wake me at 6.30 dear. Please” is all what I could tell her, which she promptly did. Meanwhile, she had prepared wonderful breakfast and packed them in two boxes, knowing well that the time left is just enough for me to freshen up and get moving towards the Reading Railway Station.
We reached the station at 7.10 and could not find our friend who promised to be there by 7.00! OOps! I dropped my cute mobile(Samsung E870) on the floor. The feather touch, light weight cutie I bought for 140 Pounds failed to restart! How do I contact him? Thanks for the first few weeks without mobiles, I managed to memorise a few of my friends numbers. We contacted him only to find that hes just entering the Station. “Hey, look I made it in time!”. We settled in our seats, me still drowsy.. but the sight of the breakfast boxes my roomie opened, just put me in a reactive mode, for my stomach was grumbling! I ate without uttering a word. She smiled at me and said, “First time, you didnt speak anything for nearly 15 minutes”. Didnt comment.. for I was too hungry to give attention to anybody!
Salisbury - We got down at this station while waiting for the connecting train to Warminster - the nearest station to Longleat, we met another friend here, who said hes gonna take the hot air ballon ride at Salisbury. Without a second thought, all three of us agreed that our calanders for next weekend should point to this place. The route from Salisbury to Warminster was like travelling into a denser forest area. We picked up a small argument with an African family as the tickets pointed to the same seats, but they had boarded a different coach. We arrived at Warminster and took a cab to Longleat.
We were in the queue to purchase tickets for the safari bus. We were given the pamphlet that listed all attractions at the place including a maze, bat house, simulators etc. We unanimoulsy agreed that we would do the safari first! We boarded the bus, preferred the top floor (Who knows when the animals r hungry!). It had no grills, actually the top floor had open glass ventilators. Apart from the bus driver, all others in the bus were tourists. We anxiously waited as the bus drove(did I say drove? It should be “the bus crawled” - as there were an array of cars ahead and following too - all moving at a snail’s speed) into an open landscape with minimal trees. The first animal we saw was the giraffe, trying to come around our bus, yes it looked lovely. But we were more curious to see the cat family.
Time passed, we were now viewing foxes, wolves and deer- dont remember in which order!. My eyelids reminded me that I have to catch up with some more sleep. Some lions walked very close to the bus, the driver also played the role of a commentator. He said that these cubs were born and brought up here in the safari park and never knew what hunting is! They are really the “CATS”. I pitied them, for they are out of their natural way! I looked at my roomie and my friend, the world turned blank and and ….. I dozzed off in the bus! I felt better when I woke up in time to get a glimpse of the tigers. But ofcourse a bit embarrased to notice everybody looking at me when my friend commented - “Have you ever witnessed a person who dozzes in a safari?”.
Before I boarded the bus, I imagined all sorts of wild animals surrounding our buses (grilled), posing for our camera, a security escorting us etc etc. as though its going to be THE risk zone. But in reality, nothing thrilled me in the safari. I didnt get the feel that I was in a forest, where the wild animals felt at home!. They were actually caged, but just that the walls of the cage spaned several acres. The line of cars on the road making very slow progress added to the typical zoo effect. All my adventurous dreams got shattered
The way back, we debated on whether it was a visit to the Safari or the zoo. Needless to mention, I got a bizarre stare from my friends for suggesting this bizarre safari !

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cricket, Car and a Friday

4th August 2007, Friday.

My clients noticed me moving around the office with an extra tinge of enthusiasm in me. For the first time, I had to excuse myself from the middle of a discussion - all to start early from the office @ Reading,UK to Bristol - to witness the day & Night match between India and England (2nd ODI of the Natwest Series).

After many arguments, our gang of 10 (9 of us from Reading and one friend from Croydon) agreed that driving to Bristol was a better option than travelling by Train. The only mathematics in our mind was - The last train to Reading that starts around 11PM at Bristol would reach Reading only by 6 in the next morning. The drive by car would take us only 3.5 to 4 hours.
We literally prayed as our friend drove the car (For the first time in the UK!) from Reading to Bristol. By the time we reached the stadium, the match had commenced. It would take another blog to describe the match hours. Im surely not going to do this as the feel is something beyond words!. India put up a brilliant score of 300 plus in its innings. The Brit began their innings with a few beautiful strokes. There were unexpected twists and turns in the last few overs and England lost the match after putting up a very decent show.

With the excitement still in our eyes, we departed from Bristol after witnessing the Presentation Ceremony from the first row. The excitement was not over and all the five in our car sympathised for Ganguly and Sachin who missed their half and full centuries respectively by a single run. Anyways we were quite happy and relaxed for we won the match. We were discussing the moments again and again as our car headed towards Reading. The roads were deserted as it was around 11.45 in the night and it gave us all the freedom to zoom onto the roads.

Bang! The car stopped. We heard a loud noise and experienced a jolt! For a second I could not realise what had happened. Our friend had hit the barricade on the road side. We just confirmed everybody inside the car were safe. The next set of friends in the other car halted realising that we had a problem. We got down and tried to identify the damages on the car. The right tyre at the front was of no use now. Except for that, everything was alright. We knew that we had a backup tyre below the seats and when we hired the car, the owner had confirmed that the car is fully equipped with the required kit. All these days we never thought the kit or the backup tyre would serve its purpose. How wrong we were! Today is the day to check that out. But how are we going to fix that? None of us had the experience of changing the tyres. We did not even know where to start!

We called the helpline. They promised to arrive within a couple of hours (!). Meanwhile we decided to try and figure out the problem by ourselves and anything that we could find out was only a bonus to the help team! We put our minds together. To be frank, I should say all of them except me put their minds together and started to explore the kit. Since I didnt know much about the cars or the kit, I was quite curious to know more. I would peep into the kit(where there are already 9 heads peeping into it), ask them questions about the items in the kit(they dont know the answer either!) and challenge their skills to get things fixed. The guys begged me to do just one help - and that was to keep my mouth shut and sit INSIDE the car. I had to follow their words as I felt the tension that crossed their minds especially as we now stood stranded in an unknown place in the midnight without help.

Seeing our cars with their help lights on, another car which passed by the roadside stopped. That stirred some fear in our minds. We were suspecting anything and everything that passed, as the place was very notorious. The occupants of the car realised that we were into some difficulty and came forward to help us. They gave us instructions on how to use the Car Jack and the other tools to change the tyre. We thanked them as they left and started working on their instructions. The situation eased. All the guys were fully engaged in trying to get the jack in the right position, raising a part of the car to the required level, undoing the tightened bolts in the wheels etc. I was given all the priviledge to just sit and watch what they were doing. The only task given to me was to keep the bolts safe and hand it over back to them when they get the new tyre in place.

I sat on the barricade, with the bolts in hand and started counting the stars in sight. The cool midnight breeze made the night more beautiful. The strange place looked more lovely now. I picked up the snack pack from the car, distributed it to the guys and reserved the bigger share for me!. To kill the time, I would imagine a line in the MIDDLE of the road and try to walk over it, photograph the damaged tyre, the barricade and the car. I should mention that my friends opened the bonnet and posed for the photographs - like real engineers in action (though that was not true!).

Finally the wait was over! (Or we thought so.) The new tyre was all set. And hurray, we are starting now! We jumped into our seats and started the car. OOps! the vehicle doesnt start. What could be the problem ?
The hunt for the car manual began. It was in a small corner near the dashboard. The guys located a section “Diagnose problems” and tried to comprehend the details given under the section. After some analysis, we came to a conclusion - since the car encountered a sudden jerk, the inbuilt safety measures have set the car to a “lock” mode. The manual also pointed out that the car can be brought to the normal mode by pressing the unlock button positioned @ the left side of the car just beneath the front window. My little brain could only understand that much. Probably car geeks can explain what would have really happened.The next thing to do is to look out for that magic button. The manual had a neat diagram of the car and a pointer to the magic button. The guys read the diagram, they were sure of the spot but… it drove them crazy - nothing like that in the left side beneath the front window!!!.

“Why dont you try locating this one? Girls are good at figuring out details from pictures!”. “Yeah, why not?. You guys cannot trace a tiny switch! I am going to get this for you in a jiffy!”. The picture was crystal clear. But… THE SWITCH IS JUST NOT THERE! What do I tell them? “Please put a full stop to your sanguinity in my comprehending skills”. We waited for the helpline guys to come….

We jumped into the car again and started playing dumbcharades to kill time. We emptied the snacks. Some were still trying to locate the magic button. Time was ticking. We misinterpreted a couple of cars for the helpline cars! I had a small nap. At 3 AM, the help arrived. We told them about the magic button. They promptly said “Gentlemen, its on the right side!” . Yes. the magic button was beneath the right front window. The manual was the same for the right hand and left hand driven cars (how stupid!). We had a hearty laugh and started towards Reading. We sang songs - yeah horrible it was! - yet we had to keep ourselves awake or our friend who is driving would slip into the sleep mode.

By the time we reached Reading, it was 6 AM! The train journey could have been better, but it wouldn’t have given us this unforgettable moment !

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lost in Melbourne

No! the topic is not a typo for “Lost in the beauty of Melbourne”.

What a surprise! I am one among the team of three to fly to Melbourne to participate in a workshop for a period of 5 days (Yes just 5 days - monday to Friday). The other two members being my project lead and program manager,I took no time to make sure that I called my friend in Melbourne and requested him to find an accomodation for me @ his place for a week. To my surprise he readily agreed. I remember the numerous quarrels I had picked up with this friend when we worked together in the earlier project. A kind hearted person he must be to say “Yes” to the request.

The day arrived and my friend promptly picked me from the airport and drove all the way to his place, while the other two took the other means of transport. We departed agreeing to meet the next day morning, at the Glass house conference room in the office. He introduced me to the other inmates of his big apartment. They were quite excited to welcome me. I had also performed the role of the courier person for them. 70% of my luggage was filled with gifts, clothes, snacks and sweets for the inmates from their families in Chennai.

I never knew that this small gesture would go a long way(Not just this, but in general, they were quite friendly by nature and thats what we call luck). I had a royal dinner at their place. I realised that they have done a lot of homework to make my stay comfortable, which included - cleaning up one of their rooms in the apartment so that I can readily occupy, booking a weekly pass for my travel, getting the details on train and tram routes to my office etc. I didnt realise that I had to leave the house at 6.30 to reach my office at 8!. An alarm was already set to wake me up. A refreshing cup of Coffee and hot breakfast was already on the dining hall - waiting for me. I ate in a hurry and slipped the lunch my friend had packed into my back pack, grabbed his Sony digicam and was struggling with my shoes.. My actions only invited a stare from my friend, who was already at the door ! He promised to accompany me to my office the first day - though our offices were located in opposite directions, miles apart and there he is while Iam still getting ready!.

We walked for a couple of minutes, took a tram and then a train. I carried a small notepad and a pen with me. People who looked us would have wondered if he were my boss and me a steno. I followed him like a little puppy, noted the junctions where I should alight and where I should change platforms. All the way, I was writing, writing and writing - my notes included landmarks that I can identify, timings between stations etc… He bought me a rail route pocket reference timetable, explained me the zones, the button systems that aid in crossing the roads and what not!.

My first day at the office was quite interesting. My manager and TL were present well before the workshop began. They were surprised to know that I had to take a tram and then a train to reach the place. They wondered why I preferred to stay so far, when both of them were staying in a nearby hotel, at a walkable distance. I chuckled and gave a broad smile(You know why).

Back at home, royal dinner again and some sight seeing in the evening followed by a visit to the nearby beach, in fact by the time we returned it was mignight. I slept like a log.

The next day, I knew I had to travel alone to my work place. I promply took my notepad and pen, started following the directions. I patted myself after I got into the correct tram, waited for the tall beautiful blue building with KFC billboard at the top (land mark!) and alighted at the railway station. I scanned the Train Arrival timings at the digital display and noticed that the train to my work place would arrive at platform 5 in the next 2 minutes. I rushed to platform 5 and there was a train already waiting. I entered it and relaxed on a seat next to the window. I told myself “Good dear, you were on time, otherwise you would have missed this train”. On the same day, my session was planned for two hours in the later half of the day at the workshop. As I was confident that it would take solid 30 minutes to reach my destination, I started to think over the anticipated queries from the audience, as the train slowly entered the next station.
25 minutes passed, the flash board inside the train read in red - “The next station is..(Some station name, I haven’t heard of it and alas! its not in my notepad too!)”. I opened the rail route pocket reference timetable and tried to locate where I was. I could not believe that inspite of all my notes, I travelled in a different train and was totally out of route! I closed my documents and prepared for alighting at the next nearest station. I cursed myself. I have taken the wrong train! How could that be? I checked the train timings board twice and it pointed for sure to Platform number 5. But now its not the time to do an R&D. (I realised later that my train was supposed to arrive in the next 2 minutes and I boarded the previous train that was already on the same platform). Immediately my friend’s words came to my mind “Hey always keep your weekly pass with you. Ticketless travelling will invite a huge fine here.” I could feel butterfiles in my stomach. The zone concepts came to my mind. I was not sure if my ticket is valid in this train or not! No souls in the compartment, I alighted at the next station.

The most deserted station I have ever seen! Not a human being around. A Ticket vending machine and a telephone booth are the only things and … a few benches. It looked like a village, greenery around, not a single building or road in sight. I sat on the bench. Im already late to the office! my bosses would be searching for me by this time. Oh God! They dont have a mobile (Who would take a mobile number for just 5 days stay?) and I dont remember even the extension of my conference room. I cursed myself again for my carelessness. Luckily I have noted down my friends number in my little notepad. I gathered some coins from my bag and tried the number at the telephone booth. “Hey what ya? Hows ur day?”. “Not so good. I dont know where I stand now, I am lost!”. “What ? (Laughs!) Joke of the year”. “Im REALLY lost. I took a different train. Now I dont have coins to explain you the details. Try to pass this msg to my bosses that I will be late. Ransack the emails I have sent you earlier, they will contain the office number. Thanks.”

I carefully explored the map and identified my route back to a junction and then to the office. A girl in her twenties entered the station and sat next to me. I inquired her about the validity of my ticket. She confirmed that my ticket is perfectly valid for this zone. I took the next train that entered the platform. I was more meticulous now. I kept my ears open for every little word uttered by the announcement device. I would have landed in another blunder if I had not done this - “This train is re-routed. Passengers are requested to alight at the next junction”. I got down at the next junction and started exploring the route from there.
I laughed at myself when I reached office in time (atleast for my session).

p.s. This was in 2004

Do you remember her ?

Years ago……
Its my turn today. What proverb shall I quote? Hmmm last time when I went through the WISDOM magazine, I found a proverb - “God is the supreme Alchemist”. Let me quote this one in the class today. It is a practice introduced by our new Chemistry miss and every student takes his/her turn to quote a proverb a day and provide the interpretation for the same. Neatly clad in a blue cotton saree, her hair carefully rolled into a bun, with her favourite purse in one hand and the chemistry text book on the other, her entry into the class room with a smile on her face, reciprocating our “Good morning” would be a worthy moment to catch ! . Lucky we! this is how the classes usually begin for us - the 30 and odd students of a private school in the suburbs of chennai, before our chemistry miss starts her lessons on elements, compounds, equations and valencies. She is all other students’ envy and Class VII ’s pride.
My joy knew no bounds last week when she had sent a message through a X std girl - “I have corrected your answer sheets. You can enter the marks in the register.Come and collect the same from the class X laboratory”.The LAB!- the word always put me into a graceful, imaginary mode. How I always dreamt of becoming a scientist one day, just for the very image of - a person with the white coat and spectacles on, moving amidst solutions of different colors filled in vast range of shaped bottles, with some precipitates waiting to be crystallised! I considered myself very lucky as none from my class had the chance to enter the class X laboratory. I entered the lab with a lot of excitement. Dreams again …. She showed me two bottles. The bottles were unnamed. Reading the curiosity on my face, she smiled and said, “Open bottle 1 and smell it”. I follwed her words in no time, “Yuckkkkkkk”… “Can you guess what it is?” “No miss”. “Ammonium chloride”. “Hmm I knew Ammonia was pungent smelling. But I never had any idea of how pungent it can be horrrribleeee it is!”. “Okie, please take your answer sheets, bottle 1 and 2 to your class, I need them for a demo”. Bottle 2 was very small, but my God! how heavy it weighed!. Anybody would be surprised to pick that one! She told me it contained mercuy - quick silver. She poured a little of it into my palms and showed me the great degree of cohesiveness that it contained. It was all like magic for me.
She is always the last one to distribute the answer papers, when compared to the other teachers. You can be sure that she will not let a single word written by you in the answer sheet go unnoticed. You can see a lot of comments in red - pointing to right and wrong answers with explanations. You know what, this time, it was quite surprising to note that Bala has scored well above average. We all knew that Bala was one of the very slow learners in the class. He was termed as dull headed and was put into fit-for-nothing category by other staff. She invited Bala to come to the front of the class and appreciated him to the core. First time, we could see Bala smiling. We had groups within the class - you are wrong if you imagined it to be friends’ group. This is a differnt kinda group, again introduced by her. She said the purpose of it is to learn and share. Each “Study group” as she called them, had five to six students from differnt grades and were named. I was happy too as Bala belonged to our group. Siva scored the highest and I missed the centum this time too .
The next week is a celebration week for us. “Teacher’s day”. There will be a fight among the students for playing her role. I need to book that role for myself
Years later………“Dear Students, Im glad to introduce Ms. Nalini Jagannathan, the new Chemsitry teacher for standard VII and above”. - This is how she was introduced to us by our Head Master years ago. At that point, I never thought she would leave a lasting impression in my life.
She was the first teacher in many aspects …

  • Chemistry miss (as we would address her), introduced us to the world of proverbs, help us in organising our schedules(probably thats y im a bit better off than others in planning now ) and never failed to appreciate any tiny/little progress made by the learners (which I try to do for my team now!).
  • As a student from the suburbs, there was a myth “Teacher = authority personified”, which changed after her arrival.
  • She knew each and every student very well and employed her own ways to bring out the best in them and most of the times she was successful which was more of success to that student than to her.
  • She was always successful in transforming the words in the books into concepts and registering them into our tiny brains.
  • She had all the patience in the world to answer all of our questions convincingly irrespective of whether it was illogical, intelligent, insane or unworthy! (though those questions sound utter stupidity to me now).
  • She was also the first one to be approached by the students whenever there was a conflict. (Ranging from missing sketch pens to punctured cycle tyres)
  • She was successful in persuading us to have a shift in the thinking process and our views and thoughts about the examinations.
  • She made us realise what was really expected out of us - not a bookish knowledge and a great skill to produce exactly what has been written in the prescribed text books, but understanding nature and the science behind it and trying to apply it to life. (In simple terms, applying thought! .
  • She taught us to see the beauty in different things and helped us overcome tough situations. She was more confident in us than ourselves and would always encourage us to chase our dreams.

I would swear that I would have hated chemistry if she was not there to explain the beauty and bonds in it. It was a passion for most of us. Not being in touch with the subject for many years, I can still write the formula of any complex organic compound and can tell you what happens when an acid reacts with a base !
I owe it all, and many intangible things that I have learnt from her, to her. She is the best teacher I have ever met and has a strong lasting impression in our hearts. Yes - I now strongly believe that A good teacher is worth a thousand books. I have been a lot fortunate to have her guiding us in our school days, without her, I doubt if I will be blogging here.Im gonna meet her in the same school this friday - September 5th - to tell her the difference she has made and what she meant to many others in our class.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. -Henry B. Adams”

p.s. I took a print of this blog and gifted it to my teacher on 5th September (2008), which was received with overwhelming sentiments and emotions that could never be described in words.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The cute little Monster

The cute little monster - the best way my nephew is known as…. Like all little ones who are at their best in making others run around them till they drop, he is no exception.

He is 4 years old and sometimes he claims that he needs to be addressed as “anna” (Meaning “Brother” in tamil). His view point is hes been promoted to UKG and there are a lot of little ones in LKG much younger to him, who still cry at school. He likes to button his shirt by himself and takes pride in saying that he can do complex things (wear the right shoe on the right leg, carry a small bucket of water to the garden for granny to water the plants, switch off the alarm in my mobile, play Active games in Tatasky, get all points in mario etc… ) on his own. He reminds us often that he is now able to reach the tap at the sink (meaning now a bit taller!), and take his brush from the stand without anybody’s help. He warns my brother not to get too close to the pits on the road and provides some unwanted advice at times! He can relate that my manager at office is somebody like his teacher at school.

With all his “Anna” kinda image, he never forgets to frown at my dad if anytime he came to know that hes been away a little while to his friend’s place, leaving the little monster at school. On one such day, when my dad had been to one of his friend’s daughter’s reception, he left the little one at home. He told my nephew that he will be back after sometime as he had to meet somebody at the police station (The only place my nephew is scared of!). We knew that he will be back only at 10 or so in the night. My nephew kept playing for a while. When it was time for dinner, he refused to eat or sleep. He kept waiting till 8 and dozzed off without eating.

When my dad returned, he observed my nephew sleeping with his arms around his strawberry cushion. My dad stroked his hair gently. The little monster woke up immediately and started crying loudly. He never gave any reason for crying, he did not let anybody (including my dad) to come near him. Everybody in the house tried something or the other to calm him. My sis came with a box of chocolates, but got a few pinches from him :) , my bro promised to take him to the beach the next day, my dad got his favourite toys to him, yet nothing worked. He literally pushed anybody who came near him! Any action to calm him would only provoke his anger further! (Are you asking me what I did ? I knew I was very bad at this and was only a silent spectator). Then suddenly my dad hugged him a bit tight to his chest and kissed him on the forehead. The little one immediately stopped crying, hugged my dad and slept like a cute little kitten.