Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Learning English Words.

I, along with my brother, moved to a private school when I was in fifth standard. The reason for this switch was the English. English was not the part of curriculum in government primary schools at that time. We were registered in the government school, as the new school didn’t have the authority required to issue the passing certificates. The emblem of the new school seemed to be “bhay se bhoot bhi bhagate hain” (event the ghosts run by fear). Or in other words the students were terrorized by the teachers.

Coming back to English, the English teacher was himself a B.A. student and was working part time. He was younger brother of school owner and had taught in the school before. Since I was new in the school, I didn’t know about him. He came in the last period of the day and talked about how learning the English words was the first necessity. Then at the end of his maiden lesson he asked the class to come prepared with at least fifty new words beginning with “A”. Most of the students were worried because it didn’t seem feasible to memorize that many words. One of my friends warned me that he is as cruel as his brother and it will be better to do my best to come up with the task.
I went home, opened the dictionary and looked for the words with the length not more than six, so that they will be easy to memorize or will take less space in memory. I short listed around sixty words (Because if I will memorize sixty now then I would be able to recall at most fifty) and wrote down in a notebook. Now it was time to fix them in my brain. I broke the words in two parts such that “Abo-ut”. So that it will become easy to remember the spelling and the meaning. I revised all the words at least five times. I wrote the words in a separate paper to see, how many of those I could recall and revised again.

Next day it was again the last period of the day and the class was exhausted. The teacher came with a cane (fresh broken thin Neem branch). Without wasting time he ordered us to write down all the words, beginning with “A”, which we could recall in twenty minutes. There was no need to write the meaning of the word, just spelling was enough. I began writing and to my misery I stopped after thirty four words(I don’t know how do I remember the exact number now). I tried my best to recall the rest of the words which I memorized previous day. But it was in vain I could not write any more. He asked us to stop and collected the sheets. Now he with the help of another boy started counting the total words written in each sheet and wrote the numbers along with the students name on the black board for everyone to see.
Students had written in the range of 20 to 48 words. I had written second highest, 34. Now it was the time for all of us to face the music as nobody scored fifty. As the school closing time was nearing, the teacher knew that he won’t be able to punish all of the students, so devised a method to finish the punishing task (even for him). He subtracted the numbers of words written by the students out of fifty such as 50-48 = 2 to 50-20=30. These were the number of slaps. Now he asked us to choose our slapping partners, such that in a group of two one has to receive his slaps from another and viceversa. All the groups started with the job then suddenly he asked all of us to stop as we were not slapping hard enough, and called a boy to show how hard to slap. He slapped him so hard that the boy’s cheek turned red. Now he asked all of us to start the process again. This time most of us gave good facial massage to one another.

Now it was time to call it a day at the school and all of us packed our bags and started leaving for our homes. Everybody seemed to be ashamed of them for hitting their friends. But there were also some boys who were giggling about the entreating process.

I was thinking how that boy wrote 48 words even though he was not that much studious. I went to him and asked “how did you memorize that many words?” At first he seemed reluctant to tell but then he unearthed the trick with the condition that I should not tell anyone. He told that he thought that teacher himself may not know all the words and all he was going to do was to count the words written by the boys. So he just wrote the words without worrying whether the words he was writing were genuine or not. All he wanted was to make sure that he didn’t write more than fifty to avoid the teacher’s suspicion. He later told me that he wrote the words like “Aklmts”, “Apmtsd” (written for example by me as I don’t remember the exact words told by him) and it went as contrived. I was really impressed with his ingenuity.

Now that smart boy is one of my best friends. He is serving Indian army now a days.

Leave your comments and please report the errors.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Let the Nishachars be free:

Pundit Nehru popularly said "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,"

Yeah, how true it is even after more than sixty years of Indian independence that at the stroke of midnight when the world sleeps (not really though), millions of Indians wake all night to answer calls of some dumb heads, to tell them how their gadgets work, to do all the clerical work at the minimum wages, and obviously to get rid of the unemployment. Well, these people don’t have any option other then proving the Nehru’s statement true.

But there is another group of zealous Indians whom I call Nishachars (Nishachars is a Hindi word for those who roam around in night, synonym of Demons), pardon the discourtesy. These are the people aspiring for their much deserved Night life. Here the night life can have different meanings depending on the activities a Nishachar might like to pursue in night time, such as boozing, dancing and head trips.

Till now there doesn’t seems to be any problem, but there is a catch, the local administration of some of the Indian cities have imposed a “BAN” on the Nightlife, and Nishachars are in trouble. The reasons cited for the ban are multiple, such as proliferations of illegal activities, law and order troubles etc.

Now let’s ponder about this “BAN”. Is it really required to enforce this ban? After all Nishachars are also parts of Indian populous and they include some big honchos from Indian Industry and the cinema fraternity. It may be possible that they are in minority numbers but in a secular state like India, Minorities are the most cared about. So why the Indian states don’t let these ogres carry on their natural activities?

I have just this to say,”Come on you bunch of Administrators, don’t fear the Nishachars. Let them have the fun and improve your Law and order machinery. After all we are passing through the Kaliyug (Dark Age) and you are no better than the Nishachars”.

Hail the Nishachars…..I’m one of them.

What about you?

Monday, September 01, 2008

BMTC bus conductors

I have been in Bengaluru aka Bengalore for more than a year, and the (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) BMTC buses have been the most affordable transport utility. The buses seem to run as per a fixed schedule for commuters’ comfort and not for the sole purpose of revenue maximization for BMTC. The reason for the observation is that sometimes you may notice a bus moving almost empty like our lawmakers’ heads and sometimes accommodating passengers over the limit like bank accounts of overtly corrupt officials.

The system seems to be quite different than other states I have been in. In some cases the bus driver takes the of conductor’s responsibility of distributing the tickets along with motoring through the notoriously congested roads. It’s here, for the first time, that I have seen lady conductors taking on the task in glutted buses. There are also some serpentine buses, where the rear part of the bus is hinged with the main part in a train like fashion. These are moving merry-go-rounds, because the drivers seems to forget that there some less mortals are graveled in the other part of the vehicle, as they keep oscillating in all possible dimensions because of reckless driving.

Now let me talk about the bus conductors, as you are most likely to “Deal” with them while riding BMTC buses. If you happen to take a comparatively longer journey, then there is no problem as they give the right tickets. But if you are going to hop on for just one or two kilometers, then the ticket charges are in the range of Rs. 3 to Rs. 7. Now, this is the ticket price range where the “Deal” starts. For a Rs. 3 ticket you may pass on the coins in many combinations like coins of Rs 1 and Rs 2 each one, Two Rs 2 coins, or one Rs 5 coin, expecting a return coin(s) with the ticket in last two cases. But in some cases what happens is rather odd; the conductor takes just Rs 2 for Rs 3 ticket, or takes Rs 4 / Rs 5 if the ticket costs Rs 6 and so on, and returns you the extra amount without giving any ticket. In each Deal they let you keep one or two rupees and adjust the rest of the sum for them.

Now it’s up to the passenger, whether he/she insists for the ticket and not let the lenient and caring Conductors keep the money. In case there is any ticket checking by any flying team, the passengers are sole responsible for their tickets. The conductors are not liable for the ticketless passengers, as they can’t force them to take the tickets. If some passengers are caught without ticket, then there are higher chances that they will have to bear all the public embarrassments, the financial fines or whack of the laws.

So, the message is clear, whenever you ride the BMTC bus for the next time, don’t go for the little savings of your (or your family’s) hard earned money, Insist for the right ticket. I will also do the same.

Don't forget to comment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have you got the Balls?

If you live in India and don’t know anything about cricket then I can’t help you, because you happen to be an atheist as per the definition of the game. It’s a kind of religion with millions of ardent followers. I don’t remember when I was baptized into the game; probably it was when I came to high school and was old enough to throw the ball up to full length of crease. We (I and younger brother Pushpendra) got our first bat carved out of a scrap wooden plank and then what followed was like an obsession of a newly inducted believer.

After some time we got our new bat and a plastic ball. Team size kept increasing, some time even more than conventional eleven. I kept on being sluggish in all three departments namely batting, bowling and fielding, while other friends were budding promisingly. One day Pushpendra was bowling and I was on the facing side, rooted like obstinate tailender, neither scoring nor leaving the bat to another boy. Next ball was full toss, directly came at the handle of the bat and struck at right hand thumb, as there were no gloves, it took off the nail. I came home taciturnly hiding blood soaked palm. But it could not be hidden for long from the caring gaze of my grandmother (Dadiji). The bat was snatched and used as firewood, and ball was hidden out of reach. For the next two weeks there was calm but after that the bug of cricket won’t let us be at rest. Dadiji would not let us buy a plastic ball as it was too hard to play according to her. There didn’t seem to be any option other then getting a soft ball. Tennis ball was unheard of for us by that time.

So we decided to make a soft ball by using cloth and jute yarn. First attempt was not up to the expectation. Ball was totally out of shape and could not be used. Second time we used another method, tore off the cloth in inch wide strips, wrapped these tightly over small ball made of jute threads, and then the damn thing was sewn with plastic strings taken out of empty cement sack. It was perfect sphere, looked nice and we were proud of our efforts. But it didn’t bounce enough and lost its shape in few rough shots. Now the only choice left was to get a plastic ball somehow.

That time around I read news that waste plastic can be reused for making roads and other purposes to dispose it off. So we decided to make our own plastic ball instead of buying a new one as we didn’t had any money for that. The task was tough and required ingenuity and willingness. We started collecting polythene bags. I took a fused bulb and removed it aluminum cap carefully such that the glass didn’t break. Now the idea was to burn the polythene and put it in this glass mould. We took the stuff to rooftop so that nobody notices our plans. I stated burning the plastic bags and dropping the liquid plastic in the glass shell. But the job was not as easy as we thought; one bag burnt fast and clung to my fingers. The wound was not big but I was severely in pain. We dropped the things there and came down silently. The plan was canceled. But we wanted to make the ball again; this time may be just for curiosity rather than the use of it. We took another fused bulb, lot more plastic bags than before, and started burning it. The bulb was filled in almost half an hour and we left it to cool down.

We broke the glass shell after some time, removed the glass pieces and there it was, the ball. It was like a black stone and too heavy to be used as a cricket ball. But we could not stay without testing it; after all it was made by so much effort and inquisitiveness. We played with it only to break a friends head.

Well, quite an “October Sky” effort. Isn’t it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Need for education

When we have something, we hardly think about unusual questions like “what if we don’t have it?” Whether these are day to day basic needs like food, clothing and shelter or little more ensuant things like medical care, education or entertainment. Earlier I never appreciated my education because it was really boring to dig into the books which I never liked or may be because it was hard to meet the expectations of my parents. But I never thought about the life of the people who could not afford the formal education. Some time I even envied them because they don’t have to go through the hardship of classes, assignments and exams. But then an incident occurred which changed my perspective about the need for education.

It was when I was preparing for a competitive exam to get into a good college after my school education. I came to Kota, rented a room and joined a coaching class called “Bansal Classes”. Exam date was close and everything was working fine. But life is not that easy, very next day ran out of luck. I had an accident and was bedridden. My father came with my grandmother and left her with me to take care. It was the first time she came out of village to live in a big city like Kota. I had my books to pass the time but for her it was really difficult. She felt like being in self made prison. She used to pass the time looking at the pictures in the news paper, sleeping and talking about the happenings in village. First week glided by, but soon it was too difficult for her to stay with me in a shell like room, she had no one to talk except me, nowhere to go. It was totally opposite to the village life she was used to.

Then I asked my landlady to take my grandmother along with her whenever she went to vegetable market. It turned out to be better; she now started adapting herself to the surroundings. For the first two days she went with landlady, who showed her the way to grocery shop, fruit market and nearby temple. Next day the landlady was not at home. My grandma insisted that she would go alone as she knew the way. I denied first but then gave way and asked her to be careful of the unruly traffic.

She took some money and went happily. I was back to book, flicking through the pages. Clock kept ticking and to my utter surprise it was more than one hour since she left for a job which could not have taken more than 15 minutes. I was worried, waited for another 10 minutes. Then I could not stay in the room, I thought she was lost. I ran out of the house with plaster on my right hand and severe pain in the back. I rushed to market looking for her. She didn’t even know the house address and telephone number. I was really disturbed and felt. On the other side she was more upset then me. It has been more an hour for her roaming in the wrong directions. People could not help her as all she knew was color of house. Then she told a gentleman that her grandson studies in Bansal Classes. He took her there. Receptionist at the institute looked through the student’s record, found my address and sent her with an office boy. I also came back to inform my landlady about the situation.

I was relaxed after seeing her in the room with landlady sitting beside her. She started sobbing as soon as she saw me. Landlady scolded me for letting her go alone and asked me to teach her at least about home address. For the next few days I spared some time and taught her the rudiment of alphabet and counting. She learned house address, telephone number and how to look for time in clock and set a morning alarm.

Well, now she would confuse between the Hour and minute hands of the clock. When its quarter past midnight she would say that it’s three in morning and I should not study so late.

So, this incident was a kind of eye opener for me about the people who are illiterate. May be you also got some insight about it. Friends!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Terrible moments of life.

well, I'm stuck again, fingers on keyboard....forgot all the ideas, I was think about to write in this post.....but i have got to begin because this is the only way i can reach unto you all and share my feelings and experiences and all those things we care about.

OK, let me ask one absurd question.... Have you ever been stung by a Scorpion?....yeah you're right. I'm talking about a Scorpion bite. if you have experienced it then there is no need to move your eyes further.....otherwise get along with me.

I was around 12 yrs old, preparing for "Gramin Pratibha Khoj Pariksha (Rural Talent Search Exam)" after my 8th std passing exams. It was 16th June 1997 and my first competitive exam was scheduled on 2oth June just after few days. My parents were off to my maternal parents village and I was at home with my brother and grandmother. I put down the notebook happily as soon as light went out, and felt relaxed after hours of cramming. Suddenly the sand clouds came up in sky, as it regularly does in Rajasthan in summer time, and it was total dark as the moon was engulfed by the sand storm. My brother and I ran towards verandah dragging our cots in darkness.

The next moment was something which I had never felt before. I could not figure out what happened. My body dropped loose, my mouth wide open trying to inhale as much air as it can, and suddenly i cried as loud as Al pacino did at the end of God Father movie. My brother left the cot and hold me in has arms asking vehemently...."what happened to you? what happened to you?" and he started crying as well. My grandmother came running towards us, so did the neighbor, and whoever heard the hollo. I could not describe what happened to me, I was just saying something had bitten me. In the meantime somebody came with a torch and noticed the deadly scorpion, hiding few meters away from the scene. Now they came to know what a terrible thing had happened. I was bitten by it in my right toe. someone took his footwear off and destroyed the little beast in a slug.

On the other side i was inconsolable, feeling thirsty and praying to all the Demigods, whose names i could recall. some one called the Ojha. He broke one Neam tree branch and started revolving around my body, chanting something enigmatically. But it was of no use as i was still crying at full volume. my body was burning. my brain felt the electric pain. Next, some body suggested to soak a cloth in water and wring it hard to extort the water out of it and drop it on my toe. The supposed concept was to expel the pain out of my body like the water out of cloth. But all of this was useless. Then finally some sane person suggested to rush me to a doctor. one of my cousin loaded me on his back and others followed as i was busy with the squall, drinking water in between to wet my throat.

The doctor was trained in Ayurveda medicine but he rolled a small rubber ball over my diseased toe to take the sting out of it, but nothing came out. Finally, he took a big bottle of wine out of his wrack and a glass syringe out of his small bag. He filled the syringe fully with the Liquid and drained it in my toe. The pain subsided and i was relaxed in few minutes and stopped crying after almost two hours. I felt terrible exhausted and couldn't stand on my feet. the doctor gave the bottle and syringe to my cousin and asked him to give me the dose whenever i feel the pain again.

All the night i could not sleep, kept drinking water to quench the unsatisfiable thirst. Finally I slept in the wee hours of the morning after many insertions of the alcohol filled needle.

This was the second most pain I ever felt, first being a broken heart in teenage. I was alright in next two days, and cracked the exam being the first in the district.