English

K goes to one of the best play schools of Gurgaon. Last year when I was researching on play schools for her, someone suggested this school. The fee was on the higher side, but when I read about it realized that it would be a good school. I went there and all my doubts were clear. Everything about the school appeared very promising, and husband suggested that even if its on the higher side fee wise, we should not compromise on her education specially the early years and go for it. K started going to school in January this year. Now, most of the kids who come to this school speak in English. Mainly because I guess their parents also speak in English with them at home, so they are pretty comfortable with the language. Teachers there also use English as the primary medium of communication. Earlier I guess K had some problem, because she was not even 2 when she joined the school, but she picked up quickly and can easily understand and also make some very funny English sentences. I will write a separate post on her English…but here the topic which I want to highlight is something different. We are a Hindi speaking family, except when I speak to my colleagues on phone or I am talking to someone who does not understand Hindi do I resort to English. So for K its the school from where her major inputs for English come from. Now of-course, I speak to her in English when she initiates it, which is very often as she has this new craze of talking in English…:)

Her class teacher never said anything about her using Hindi, until one day when she had a replacement teacher, who saw me interacting with her in Hindi. She was quite shocked and said..”Oh she speaks in Hindi..”..and before I could react and say..”So what’s wrong with that..” she immediately realized her mistake…and corrected herself..and said something to undo the damage. But that kind of set me thinking. We in India are obsessed with this language. I am all for learning as many languages as one can and of-course, there is no escape from English as that is the global language now, but we Indians tend to take our seriousness towards English to a totally different level I feel. Hindi is my national and native language, and I would love my child to know it very well. So much that she can not only speak but also read good Hindi literature if she finds it of interest. Yes, she should learn other languages too, but I would really be disappointed if in her own country she is judged for speaking Hindi. I know she would learn English in due course of time, just like the way we did. I come from a English Medium school of a small town in UP, where the atmosphere was such, that when teacher imposed a fine of 50 paise on speaking one sentence in Hindi- kids would give 5 rs to the monitor to get a license of speaking 10 sentences in Hindi!! I do wish that had I been introduced to better teachers and books at an early age, my command on English would have been far superior. BUT, at the same time I am really proud of the fact that till some time back I could read Hindi literature with much ease. Now since I have not been reading much Hindi, my speed has kind of slowed down, but I remember reading complete Ramayana along with Uttar Ramayana when I was in class 2. Yes, I was quite fluent with my Hindi. I learnt English over time, and today I read English comfortably. I really like and respect people who have good command over any language, and that may or may not include English. But I think by and large, we are slowly becoming a set of people who admire English and English speaking people more, so much so that, sometimes we consider others less worthy or capable of a task which has nothing to do with English! I have seen that in my office. As part of my job I interact with people from US and Canada; many of them have their origins in non English speaking countries. Many of them have difficult to understand accents…but I have never seen any of their colleagues from those countries showing any kind of discomfort with their pronunciation or their ease with the language. We Indians, however are first to judge anyone who shows any signs of weak English. A friend one day was telling how the British and Americans consider it absolutely ok that many of the Indian in the IT industry mainly struggle with English. They know that this is our second language therefore our struggle with it is justified. They do not get impatient listening to us. Fellow Indians however have a different outlook. We are very quick to judge people, when it comes to language, specially in professional context. I have seen it happening myself. And I have a huge problem with that. In India all of us do not have equal opportunity to learn more than one language. Most of the so called English Medium schools are only for namesake. So  it is not easy for everyone to develop English skills while in school/ college . Most of the people get hold of it when they enter profession, and with time get comfortable with the language. More importantly, at most of the places we can very well do with our native language whatever it is. So speaking with the customer care executive of a radio cab service and shouting at him in English when they struggle to form even one sentence coherently is so not justified!

Language is actually a very beautiful entity and much more deeper than what we realise. Therefore forming biases and considering one inferior to the other and showing that in our actions is in my view sign of a not very wise mind.

I remember a dialogue from one of my favourite movies- “Chupke Chupke”- A character says in the end which means something like this- Any language is too great in itself to be disrespected. And I so agree with that. Learn as many languages as you can, but never consider any of them inferior to the other, nor consider people less worthy or less respectable on basis of what language they know and speak.

Diwali

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Diwali

This was our 6th Diwali after our marriage. Out of these 6 years, I remember we were supposed to observe the festival only 3 times, since rest of the three times there was some death in the family, and as is the custom, we do not celebrate festivals for one whole year after that. Out of these 3 times, we were here in our own home only twice. K’s first Diwali was celebrated at our inlaws place in Lucknow.

As kids our Diwalis were a lot of fun. There was Pooja, lights, sweets, new clothes, and most importantly people around to celebrate the festival with. We would generally gather on our neighbour’s terrace and observe fire crackers, and have a good time together till late into the night. When I think about it now, what I enjoyed the most was, that there were always a lot of people around to celebrate the festival with. Diwali was celebrated big. People seemed genuinely happy and there was a festive air for days altogether.

I am married into a family who are not too much into enjoying such occasions. I mean, sweets are prepared, lights go up, rangoli is made and all Pooja etc is done, but the fun element associated with the festival is totally ignored. So the two diwalis we celebrated with family, were kind of mundane. I would say quite boring. I will not go into the details of what we did and what we did not. But it should suffice that it ddi not feel like a festival.

This year however, we got a chance to do Pooja etc at our home, and then go to in-laws place for dinner. We put up lights in our home, I made a nice Rangoli, there was Pooja, and all Diwali paraphernalia. However, still, I felt that there was something amiss. It did not feel like festival days for us. I thought about it a bit, because now I want to set trends in my home, for K to see and experience and enjoy these festivities and form some really good memories the way I formed during my growing years.

I am not sure what exactly I will do or add to make festivals special at my home, may be a small party for every festival, where I invite close friends a few days before the actual festival. Or may be, buying meaningful presents for family and friends, like a small indoor plant or something. Or may be donating goodies to an orphanage as it makes me feel very sad, when I see half of the population celebrating and the other half going about their routine jobs of pulling rickshaw, cleaning our cars as if it is just another day. Or may- be doing anyone of these each year or all of them every year during Diwali. Just something which makes it special and worth remembering. I want to make the celebration such that when someone asks us the next day- how was your Diwali- I can happily say –Fantastic!! How do you celebrate Diwali? Anything special which you do which is worth sharing…pls do share…J

Change

First of all- Thank you Pepper for asking me about my following posts. I had drafted the post with B and did not post it, because I was not very happy with the way it had turned out. But then, I have posted it now, because I am too lazy to modify it any further. Though I am still not sure if it brings out what I really wanted to say!

Change-

I know the topic is very broad, and I can actually fill many -many pages typing about –Change- the very essence of life, but here I will restrict myself to changes in our household, which have unfolded in the past 5.5 years.

We had an arranged marriage. Unlike most people we had the most turbulent first year. We would fight and disagree on almost everything. I remember more than not agreeing on stuff like which curtains and which sofa to buy- our main issues were much deeper. We had a huge problem with the way each one of us spoke. Husband did not like my tone, and I completely disliked his. Yes, we had known each other for 6 months before getting married, but at that time I had not fathomed that this would such a big problem. So overall, there were deep understanding issues. So the first year was spent having huge and bad arguments. Now I do not remember accurately, but I think as we entered the 2nd year, things had settled down a lot. I do not know what button was pushed, but our fights reduced drastically, and I think the 2nd and 3rd year were almost peaceful.

However, all this time, both of us had a list of things which we wanted the other person to change. Like I wanted husband to tone down his sarcastic undertone (he was very generally very sarcastic, and I hate sarcasm in general!! He comes from Lucknow, where the tone in general has a bit of sarcasm in it…so for him that’s how he had always spoken). He wanted me to be more polite. I realized that after 2 years- his sarcastic way of speaking had changed considerably. He worked on it and there was a marked difference which both of us noted. On my end- Err…there was very little perceptible change! Anyway, then we had K in early 2013, and that is when the second round of disagreements and fights started. With child come many responsibilities, and unfortunately Indian men are not taught to share them equally, therefore we again got into this phase of disagreements and fights. However, this time also, I came up with a list of things he needed to change in order to be an equally responsible parent. He still had the same old things which he wanted me to work on- that I need to be more polite and careful. After multiple rounds of discussions and talks and reasoning, over many months, Husband kind of understood it to some extent, and became a much more participative parent than what he was when we had started. The changes were very visible, like he took responsibility of bathing her in the morning and getting her ready for playschool. Before that, when she was still younger, he started giving her dedicated time without interference of any mobile phone or such. He told me that he thought over what I said, and has made conscious effort to improve himself in this area. Not that we share equal responsibility of K now, but we are much better than earlier. He knows that I give her more time and work more with her….but good part is we are on a positively inclined path.

Now, its not that there have not been any changes in me in the past 5+ years. I have become much more responsible as compared to what I was earlier. I was a total laid back lazy individual who would not move a finger if not absolutely needed. Oraganized stuff, clean home were things I never associated myself with. But I changed, as responsibilities came up…Some of it was post marriage, and birth of K changed many things. I still do not claim to have become a very organized and efficient home maker, but I am much better than earlier. I am happy about it. But all these have been subconscious changes. Changes which came on their own, without my having put any conscious effort. Yes the effort of working is there, but thinking effort was never there. These things gradually happened as time passed by.

However, like husband, I have not been able to work on issues that he pointed out long back- and which are still his complains. I have failed big time on the being more polite one. I know for sure, that there has been little or I think no improvement on this front at all. Unlike him, I have never tried to make any conscious change in my way of speaking. I think its too much effort to think about how I speak, and then modify it for good. Whenever he brings up that point- I tell him..how there has been a change, and support it with some random examples..basically fight it out in the court to win the argument. But the truth is, that leave apart this, I have never given any conscious thought to change anything about myself in my life. Whatever changes have come in my attitude towards things, or my thought process, or even my habits, is all very organic, where I never put any conscious effort and planning to make it happen. This sometimes disappoints me. I cannot claim of any drastic or even moderate changes I brought about in myself as a result of any active thinking and efforts. Things happened as time passed by and experiences led to changes, without any active involvement on my part. Honestly, at this stage in life this thing bothers me. It makes me feel as if I lack the drive and determination to mold old patterns of my life. I just go along with the tide and evolve only when life forces push me. And that I guess happens with every human beings, and even animals for that matter!

I am not sure if other people also think like this…Do share if the above strikes some chord with you too…

Bollywood

Bollywood

This post is about Bollywood, but more than that it is about my acceptance of the fact that it is my most favorite way to kill time. I have been a Bollywood freak since the time I can remember. Earlier it was a fascination, which now has turned into a deep interest in anything related to the Indian Film Industry. I like watching films, and love listening to songs; but more than that what I love doing the most is digging out information about anything and everything related to films. I have a fetish to know whatever information I can lay hands on about films. With the ease of access to data now more than ever, this has now taken form of mild obsession I would say. I do not limit myself to any particular type of information- I read/ watch everything when time permits. It generally starts with a query in my head about something I do not know- Like few days back I discovered that I had not realized the magic of Mhd Rafi’s voice. I have been listening to his songs for forever now, but that his voice was so mesmerizing and so breathtaking, was like a new realization. So, I started listening to his songs and meanwhile, scathed the internet of whatever information I could find about him. I spent many nights- listening to his old interviews on Youtube- whatever was available, about other people talking about him and so on. I even listened to interviews of Pakistani celebrities –as even they also laid claim to his legacy- Rafi had lived in Lahore for some time. I read whatever was possibly available on the internet. Then when my hunger was still not satisfied, I went to Flipkart to look for any books I could buy on him. I found one- and ordered it immediately, and started reading it. (That’s a different story though that I had to leave it half way because of the poor quality of writing!!) So this is my level of obsession. Infact in my spree to find out about the music scene in the Indian Film Industry during the past 4-5 decades, I discovered that Lata Mangeshkar was romantically involved with Raj Singh Dungarpur (that cricketing guy). About the transition from singers of the likes of Noorjehan and Surraiyaa to Lata Mangeshkar. Which was Waheeda Rehman’s first screen act- and that she use to be very sick as a child!!

I am one of those people who would know that- Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Vidhu Vinod Chopra are related to each other (they are first cousins infact!!), or that Raza Murad and Zeenat Amaan are first cousins!! I know that Gulzar worked as a mechanic before becoming a poet and it was Rabindranath Tagore’s work which he read made him fall in love with poetry. I must acknowledge that of all the sources that I have exhausted during all this time, I am in love with the national network. Be it DD or AIR- they have the hugest collection of songs and information, their anchors especially on DD are really good and know how to talk. Anyway, this was just to tell that how much and what all I read and see..:)

Its not that I am only on lookout for gossip and frivolous information. After reading so much, I try to analyze the person I am reading about and make a mental picture of his personality traits. How does that help me? Honestly, it is of no use to me – and that is the precise reason why I feel guilty of spending so much time on this fruitless activity! In-fact I had never even accepted this earlier that I take so much interest in Films. I have been doing this since as long as I can remember, but I never acknowledged it. Off late, I have been trying to discover things about myself. You know that Who am I kind of question. I realized many traits of my personality and the whys behind them. That is a subject of another post, but in this Who am I quest, I think it is also necessary to accept your interests and hobbies. To know and acknowledge what you like and what you dislike. So, here I am accepting my immense love for anything Filmy.  Btw…if anyone’s interested- here is Waheeda Rehman’s first screen presence…I like the song..:)

“Average”

“Average”         

This is an old story- around 11 years old. We had completed our graduation (B Tech) and I along with a friend had moved to Noida in search of a job. We were staying in a pigeonhole of a room in one of the posh residential area of ex- army personnel. These people had understood this new rising need of unemployed people like us for cheap accommodation, and had sublet their servants’ quarters to us. So basically, it was a very very small room which my friend and I were caged in. The days use to be very boring and mundane, and our only objective in life at that time was landing ourselves a job. Frustration was setting in slowly as days passed by. It was difficult to face the harsh realities of life when all we had done till then was enjoy ourselves in the protected environs of college. Money was definitely an issue, and the worst was travelling in public transport. Metro has not come up then, and DTC busses were a nightmare. Overall, life was not great and every failed interview was taking away a slice of our confidence slowly.

There were some people from our batch who had already found a job, and they were the revered lot. One of them was a guy S, who was always considered a rock star of our batch. He was technically very sound and possessed a very pleasing personality, and we all felt that he must have done something terribly right to get a job straight out of college.

One day, amidst the heat and humidity of July, T came up very excited to me to tell about a brilliant “about me” she had created to introduce herself in an upcoming job interview. She told me that just like S, she has also prepared a very good introduction for herself which she plans to use in the next job call. S- the rock star batchmate – had come up with this very cool sounding “about me” (which sounds terribly cheesy now, but remember this was like 11 years ago, and back then our definition of cool was something else altogether.:D). He would say- “ I can describe myself with three P’s”…and then he would go on using some fancy words like Persistent, Perseverance etc etc to describe himself (and of-course we were yet to come across the 4 P’s of marketing).  T told me very excitedly that she had created something similar for her, and started describing it in an animated voice as if she was in front of an interviewer- “I will say that…here are the three A’s which describe me..”A- Agility, A-Adaptability…”..and some other fancy A word..! “hai na..how does it sound??”..she said with a gleam in her eyes…I was very impressed…so impressed that mentally I started making a similar introduction for myself and was thinking of the letter which had the biggest adjectives to its credit. Only to be stopped by T to share …”You know what…I will also add one more A to it…”…”A-AVERAGE”…..she said in a matter of fact and serious tone. “That’s what describes me the best!!” I went into a total- “ha ha ha ha…” mode after this. For many days, infact even now…I laugh mentally when I think of this episode. The timing and the humor was so correct that it could straight away go to some movie script…:)

Infact on a serious note, this one sentence totally captured the essence of our life then. Aspiring for plum corporate jobs, projecting ourselves as the master of all trades, we were some really ordinary brained folks, who were out there competing with thousands like us to get a job and more importantly a direction for our suddenly uprooted lives. Thankfully this period of uncertainty lasted for only few months and both T and I got a job by winters. But I would never forget that phase of our lives…it was very special and taught us some critical life lessons.