Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aren't we all hypocrites?

I know I am. Not always. Maybe.

I pretend to treat everyone as equal, but expect them to keep their place.

I say 'This is awesome' when I actually mean, 'This looks quite ordinary, but it will be unkind of me to say so.'

I say 'You've done a good job' when what I actually want to say is, 'It could have been better but it is not for me to point out your flaws.'

I say 'You've done the right thing' when I think 'I wish you had done something else.'

When my son asks me, 'Why didn't you let them do that?' I am such a coward to admit, 'They annoy me and I don't want them to do that.'

I say 'It looked excellent' when I mean 'I am sorry I did not get time to look at it.'

I say 'Everything's great,' because I don't want to tell them how awful it actually is.

This doesn't mean that whenever I say something is good, I don't mean it. There are times when I say 'it is awesome' and I mean 'it is awesome.' It's all very complicated.

When I see kids declare on their profiles, "I hate hypocrites" I want to laugh. And I want to tell them, "You don't know who a hypocrite is. We all are. If you hate hypocrites, there won't be anyone left to love."

But I don't because they will find it out. Sooner or later. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nasty (and then some) thoughts for the day

1. I wish Rain and Sun would not play hide and seek with each other on days that Moms have to take their kids outside, away from home, without an umbrella, without an auto in sight, on the highway, without a roof or a tree nearby to keep the child's head out of rain.

2. I wish the auto driver bloke, who tried to take advantage of the fact that I had a child with me and it was drizzling rather well with a heavy likelihood of pouring plenty of cats and dogs, would have sat at dinner tonight and said to himself, "Had I agreed to take that wet woman and child for twenty rupees less, I would have at least that money in hand." Yes, friends, I cursed him in my mind after the incident that he sits in that greedy seat of his, and gets no further trips that day.

3. I hope the family with the black car, whose child is in Kindergarten, and their driver would have a delightful week ahead of them for being kind enough to offer lift to the wet woman and child who were perfect strangers to them.

4. I wish the traffic police would come up with a foolproof strategy that requires auto drivers to start their meter and charge the passengers only the amount displayed on it, without demanding a fortune as if the responsibility of bad roads lies with the passengers.

5. I hope my little one has a blessed and happy life, and that no one exploits his innocence, for saying to me today: "Amme, because you were frustrated over not getting an auto, I prayed to Ambotti and see, Ambotti has sent an auto to us."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


"Children are so unpredictable." I've lost count of the number of times I have heard (and used) this statement. I suppose that is because our 'predictions' are based on adult standards, and not children's. If we are able to keep our grown-up madnessses and irregularities aside, and raise our expectations to their level, we would discover that their actions and reactions are quite simple and straightforward! True, as a parent, that is one of the most difficult things to do.

Take the example of my friend, who decided to teach her daughter verb conjugation. The little one was often confused between 'want' and 'wants'. After explaining the theory, they played a game where the little girl has to complete her Mom's sentence.
It went like this.

Mom: "I..."
Daughter: "...want a toy!"

Mom: "Good. My friend..."
Daughter: "mmm... wants chocolates!"

Mom: "Excellent. You're picking up very fast. Grandma..."
Daughter: "...wants to see me!"

Mom: "Mamma and Dadda..."
Daughter: "mmm... want... a baby!"

Mom: "Wha-???!!"


My son is probably one of the best examples of an 'unpredictable' child. My blood pressure would shoot, my cheeks burn and I will be ready to explode when I know he is going to misbehave, only to discover that my heart had gone into overdrive pumping all that blood in vain. He would be 'unpredictably decent' (as per my standards) that day. 

Like the day his friend from next door, C, came to our house. I called my son to me while the little girl was watching TV. Knowing the tiffs between the two, I warned him not to start one, and to let her watch whatever she was watching. He said: "No. I will go and change the channel. I want to watch Cartoon Network." (She was watching Pogo, I think.)

I was sure within three and a half minutes, the girl would cry and run off to her home. I delivered a quick lecture on behaving, good manners and such, which he gave scant attention to. I sighed and resigned myself to what would follow, as he went to her.

As I watched in surprise, he went near her, took the TV remote and asked gently, "C, can I change the channel? We can watch Tom and Jerry in Cartoon Network."

As my jaw dropped, the little girl nodded and said, "Yes."


Writing was not an area my son was keen on. He admitted very frankly to me that he preferred playing or drawing or watching TV to writing. But his teacher says he needs "more writing practice" so what am I to do?
I ask him, don't you want to read?
He says, No. It's okay. I don't want to learn to read.
So I resign myself to the situation: I will have to fight with him whenever I have to make him write.

One day we were at our seats, finishing one activity for school. He had to write 2 lines about his friend. I asked him what he wanted to write and helped him with the spelling. There was a knock on the door and it was the very friend whom we were writing about.

"We were writing about you," I said to him.
My son showed the book to the friend, who is a few months older than him. The friend looked at it and slowly read aloud: "he - is - my - best - friend."

I was delighted and praised him for reading it so well. My son burst into sobs and said he wanted to "learn to read fast too". Surprised, I suggested gently that trying to write and read a little every day might be a good idea.

There is nothing more to be said, except that these days when he gets back from school and after 'play-time' with friends, he comes home, takes out a notebook and starts writing words, sometimes asking me how to spell them, sometimes not.

As a parent, every day is a surprise. Every day is unpredictable. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Friendship Phenomenon

If God had wanted man to have a hyperactive social life, he would have created virtual Social Networking when He created mankind, don't you think?
Yes, I thought so too.

Granted, when He started there might not have been enough people around to create a 'network'. He did spread the seeds of socialising enough to make us "Social Animals", but the Social Beasts and Monsters we turned out to be in a few thousand years of existence must have been a real shocker to Him.

Yeah, I'm talking about you, Facebook. What beasts you are turning us into! What monsters you are pulling out of the deepest and darkest corners of our hearts. What weird beings you are awakening from their safe slumber inside our minds.

We meet a lot of people in life, right from the womb. There are some who accompany us in our journey through life. With some, we're expected to part ways and move on after a while. Now imagine the whole lot of people we've known over the years sitting in our living room, staring at us? Intimidating. And what if they all start chattering?

Some people in life are meant to be kept at a distance. To their credit, many of them know where they should stand. But some don't.

Till a short while ago, I was naïve enough to think that after I find a few close, old friends, there was nothing much to do on Facebook. Maybe we'll just keep each other updated on our progress in life, I thought. I never realised this 'making friends' thing was an outward bound spiral that had no end.

Doubt not, I am an active Facebooker. But there are things that make me squirm in my seat. Like, the people who stare at me from the right frame, whom Facebook claims are people I must know. Common friends: three thousand and twenty five. I am just saying. Yes, I know them. But I tell myself, let them send *me* a Friendship request first, then I will accept. Nothing is going to make me send one to them.

Then there are Walls. What happens on the Walls do not really stay on these walls. Cold wars originate because of these public writings on the Wall.
Because one of them forgot to add an 'LOL' or a smiley to the end of their comment.
Because some thought they were still buddies they were twenty years ago and can still pat the other on the back and say nasty jokes aloud.
Because they thought the owner of the Wall can take a light joke in the right spirit.
Because someone forgot to respond to a comment on their status update.
Because someone posted a picture of you in your high school and tagged you without permission.

I know what makes me uneasy, and why. I also know that it is not going to stop me from visiting Facebook. I also know such a thing either doesn't exist, or don't have much significance in a place like Twitter. And I also know that when such things happen I will close my eyes and pretend it never happened.

After all, if the bus stop is too far and there is no auto available, you gotta walk all the way.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To Anna or not to Anna

We human beings are in general an uncertain lot. We do not know what we want at any point in time. We only believe 'this' is what we want.

We believe that there are two sides to any situation. We also say that instead of looking at the situation in question we should be looking at situations that have even greater importance.

We have an opinion on everything we know about. We have even more opinions on things we know nothing about.

We say that we should not talk, but act. But we talk and debate and argue about it - of all places in virtual networks where we cannot even see who we are talking to.

We say it is our decision, we are not influenced by anyone. But if someone stands before us and delivers an impressive speech we follow him eyes shut.

We hate bad men and bad circumstances. We want to wipe them off the face of the Earth. But when we are face-to-face with them we react just as a billion others would.

We expect people to practice what they preach. Even when we know that every juncture, every situation, every act makes people change, daily, and no one is today who they were yesterday.

We say History repeats, but when it does, we forget that we are not the people that History had seen the last time it visited.

We claim that we are not influenced by the 'results', what matters is only the action and the intention behind the action. But when the most vocal part of the group rises in our defence, we are tempted to believe that is the actual result.

We believe we are a very mature lot. Nonetheless when we get to be part of a child's adventure we rush headlong into it without thinking.

We like to convince ourselves that facts like age, caste, or dress do not define a man. Yet when the man rises above us, we make discreet observations on his age, caste, dress, shoes and the company he keeps.

We human beings are an eternally confused and unthinking lot...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day: a tribute

In memory of...
The blood that was shed,
Men and women who gave up lives,
The selfless fight they led -
The fiery Saffron flutters in the wind.

In memory of...
An old man, a faithful son,
The path he firmly held, and
The Peace that finally won -
The proud White flutters in the wind.

In memory of...
The ravaged Motherland
Her edges trimmed, eternal hurt;
Destined to bow to a cruel hand -
The bold Green flutters in the wind.

In memory of...
A dreaded, forgotten past:
Honour, respect for lives lost,
Eyes forward and face upwards -
The elegant Tricolour flutters in the wind.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100% literacy rate

I don't know how many times in a day I encounter the phrase about "Kerala's 100% literacy rate" - Malayalis on Facebook, Twitter and blogs constantly throw this around, especially when the topic is on how 'uneducated' we are or how 'unbecoming' our actions are.

As far as I understand,
Kerala achieved 100% literacy in 1991 - that was a long time ago. The numbers slipped over the years, the people forgot what they learned because they never used it since, new generations did not (or were unable to) show interest in learning, and many children continue to drop out of schools or fail to make their appearance at all.
But, yes, Kerala still holds the highest literacy rate in India (94.59%).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mobile phones are personal

... as personal as a personal diary. Or if possible more personal than one.
Only a person who uses it for personal purposes truly understands the personal nature of the personal mobile phone.

I hope the message has been properly rubbed in. The truth is that many of us do not appreciate that another's handset is not for us to explore.

A couple of months ago, a boy who sat next to me at a wedding, a total stranger, held out his hand for my handset: "Can I see it?". Too surprised to say a word, I handed it to him. He turned it this way and that, quickly figured out how to unlock it, and started hunting for games. Gosh. It was awkward, to say the least. The moment you unlock my phone you are hit with a number of reminders and notifications and such luxuries that I need to survive. I would not want my vulnerabilities so displayed in the open. No one would. Not to speak of the state secrets I carry within the gadget. He was clearly used to playing games in great many types of devices and knew exactly how to locate them. Luckily for me, his grandmother noticed him fiddling with it and told him to return it.

I remember being curious about handsets when they first hit the market. At the time, people used them only for making / receiving calls (true to the name 'phones'). It was okay to be curious about a new handset and probably look at one. As soon as SMS-ing became a craze, looking at others' new handsets meant running into messages you should not be seeing.

Little boys these days have learnt to play games in their parents' high-end devices, and have discovered that every new handset contains a better and more thrilling game than in the previous model. They know more about mobiles (as they used to, once upon a time, about cars) than their parents do (they sure know how to embarrass us in public with those model numbers and mobile jargon) and believe it their right to borrow from adults and play, showing off their game-finding skills to their peers.

I do not know how long I can hold on to this belief that little five-year-olds should not borrow their parents' phones or anyone else' phones to play, even when they become six-year-olds or ten-year-olds.

For the time being, I declare that mobile handsets are the owners' personal property and it is as unique as the person's Unique Identity, and borrowing it even 'just to see it' is not recommended.

Of course, all this opinion may change in a few months...weeks...days? I have seen my son eye my phone when I leave it unattended on the table...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Save the Tris!

I am afraid I would some day lose all these precious pieces of paper. So I decided to scan them and store them in a place where they would remain moisture-free and moth-uneaten for years - my blog. If ever goes out of fashion, there may still be servers I could move these to.

I don't think I have seen a better or healthier looking Earth. I really must thank his Art teacher at school - because till last year he did not show too much inclination towards drawing or painting. Apparently the teacher is introducing them to a lot of things in this World and teaching them to observe. The brown scribble on the right, next to the tree, is a lion. To see a close up of one of those fierce lions that roam the neighbourhood, please see the last picture in this blogpost. 

If any of those bad guys (who cut trees) sees the above picture ("save the tris"), I am sure they would not cut any more trees in their life. That's a happy butterfly next to the tree.

Lion - close up, in his drawing board.

Artist: My five-and-a-half year old son
(Pic-1 drawn with suggestions from his Dad. Others are completely his own creation.)