Thursday, November 29, 2007

Only vegetarian kids allowed

Oh for god's sake, again. How many more ways can religious nuts come up with to create divisions in society? Even among the followers of the same religion?

One other thing strikes me - do Muslim schools or madrassas insist that their pupils MUST follow Islam? I really dont know if they do or dont.

Whip some sense into them

Oh my God! Or rather, Ya Allah! Plenty has been written about this poor woman who got her class of 7-year-olds to name a teddy bear and unwisely went with the kids’ choice of “Muhammad”.

But I'm still putting in my two bits, so I’m going to say that this sort of ridiculous over-reaction from Muslim governments/clerics/leaders is EXACTLY what makes people think that Islam is a totally intolerant religion whose followers mostly have no access to reason and no recourse to common sense. And not much compassion in them either, from all accounts.

If Gillian Gibbons IS going to be flogged for letting her pupil name the teddy bear Muhammad, and ignorance is no excuse, then somebody should go after the parents of the Muslim kid or kids who chose to call the bloody teddy bear Muhammad! Give them a flogging as well for not telling their children enough about their sensitive religion.

I mean, those kids who were Muslim should have known, shouldn’t they, that you shouldn’t name an inanimate thing Muhammad in case it becomes a representation of the Prophet which of course is forbidden. You can’t flog children (that is, I hope you cant), so why not give the offending parents a religious lesson with a whip?

(If you ask me, a cuddly teddy bear seems SOOOO much friendlier as a representative of a religion than… oh, let’s see, a bearded guy with a hook hand. Now HE was inciting hatred and violence allright, but did anybody threaten him with a flogging? Hmm… let me think.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Things I did today at work:

- Sorted out my paperclips according to size and arranged them in neat piles.

- Tapped my fingernails on the desk to imitate a horse clip-clopping along, then trotting and finally going at full gallop.

- Tried to compose a new song by patching together old ones at trotting tempo

- Ran said imaginary horse off the table to a sad death hundreds of millimetres below on the floor, so held imaginary funeral for it. (No neigh-sayers there.)

- Tried to look out of the window without moving my head, sending my eyeballs in that direction instead. Tried so hard that I popped a contact lens out.

- Spent two minutes popping contact lens back into eye and blinking madly to settle it in.

- Drew dust flowers on my monitor screen.

- Tried to twist a coil of my hair into a ringlet, using my pen.

- Spent five minutes disentangling the pen from my hair.

- Spent two minutes removing stray hairs from my pen. Gluestick didnt help re-attach it to my scalp.

- Drew a doll face on my thumb and played with it, using a piece of tissue as a head scarf or veil.

- Used the power of my boredom to fast-forward into time, but apparently only succeeded in stopping it.

- Yawned 457,983-1/2 times

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More memories from school

- My brother spent the most time at St John’s, starting from Std 2. My sister started from Std 5 and I from Std 8. At first my brother was in a separate building, about 3 minutes walk from the “big” school, which housed kids from LKG to Std 4. But soon enough we were all three in the same building. I’m afraid I tried to pretend that they didn’t exist, finding for some strange pre-teen reason that it was embarrassing to have siblings younger than me. Of course it was impossible to keep the teachers and our classmates from finding out that we were – ahem! – related. One time some kid came running up to me and said “Your brother’s had an accident, he’s broken his leg, he’s crying in the auditorium”. I rushed down to the auditorium (but as calmly as possible because you see I didn’t really have a brother at my school) and pushed through the crowd of students to peer through one of the windows… and to my huge relief it was some other kid who was lying on a table bawling his head off. Not my brother. Just as I turned away from there, my sister came up all wide-eyed and anxious – evidently she’d been told the same story. But all I said to her was “It’s not Kumar”, and then I went off to my classroom. Because you see, I didn’t really acknowledge that I had a sister at my school either.

- With the three of us in the same school, I occasionally came in for the “why cant you be like your sister” variety of remarks from teachers of subjects in which I didn’t excel (which incidentally was anything maths or science-related). I know that my brother definitely got more than his fair share of being asked “Why cant you be good like your older sisters” – but then he probably deserved those remarks. Heh.

- Urban legends abounded in our school, with rumours doing the rounds far longer than they deserved. (I’m sure this happens in any school, though). The one that made the biggest impression on me was the tale about the kid from our school who drowned when he fell into an open drain during the monsoon downpours. He wasn’t walking on the pavement like he should have been, he was apparently walking by the side of the road. It could even have been a true story, because the kerbs and roads quite often were flooded knee-deep with rainwater… so the corporation guys sometimes removed the gridded manhole covers for the water to drain away quicker. Which is why, if I couldn’t walk on the pavement or tell where the raised kerbs were, I would walk right in the middle of the road where I KNEW for sure there weren’t any drain holes that would be left open! I risked being run over by rickshaw-wallahs and cars and scooters and buses, but at least I wouldn’t drown somewhere underneath the road in the drains.

- Mondays were “all-white” days - white canvas shoes and white skirt with a white shirt. The rest of the days we were meant to wear black Mary-Janes and a blue skirt and white shirt. I preferred my canvas shoes, so I would get regularly pulled up by the gate minotaurs (I’m going to leave that Freudian slip in, but what I meant was “gate monitors”) for being out of uniform. Until I overheard a classmate and got my perfect excuse - “The shop didn’t have leather shoes in my size, so my mother has ordered them specially from the factory/is getting them made specially at the cobbler”. And that was pretty much it. My permanent excuse, as nobody remembered it from one week to the next. It even worked on the PT teacher. (I should add here that my classmate’s excuse was one-time and legitimate.)

- Wednesdays were my favourite day, because there were only two classes after lunch break, then we had PT for the rest of the afternoon. Our school didn’t have playing fields, so we marched two-by-two to a municipal playing ground about 10 minutes walk away. It was a bare open ground with two goal-posts provided and just one tree to provide any shelter. Most of the girls in my class would just sit around under the tree and jabber about things that didn’t ever catch my interest. Very occasionally one of them would consent to play badminton but mostly they would just sit like gossipy old women. I used to envy the boys greatly because they never sat around – they were always playing football or cricket. It wasn’t done for girls to join the boys in playing anything. Bah!

- A few weeks before School Day, we would start practicing march-past in the playing ground – no sitting around then for anybody! Those of us that were taking part in various sports would practice for the heats. I always wanted to be the flag bearer because I was such an uncoordinated klutz. The flag bearer didn’t have to swing his/her arms, just had to hold the flag stiff and yell “Forward March” or “Eyes Right” or “Eyes Left” or “Halt One Two”. My feet marched beautifully in step, but could I ever swing my arms in sync, without hitting the person in front or at the side? Could I hell as like. But I never got to be flag bearer. That was always the privilege of the PT master’s favourite girl, Padmini. One of those all-rounder-type perfect girls who was the apple of every teacher’s eye. Bah again.

- As School Day came closer, we’d have classes only in the morning. All afternoon was spent marching and by the time we finished, we’d be absolutely parched from the dust and heat. No matter how much water we took along, we’d finish it in an hour or so. Some of us who’d brought along our bags (to save having to go back to school to fetch them before going home) would beg for some water to drink from the houses on the way. Some of the houseowners would threaten to complain (especially if the boys were extra boisterous) to our headmaster, but there were a few who were very kind. There was one old lady in particular, bless her kind heart, who would have a huge kodam (pot) of cold water ready just for us, every time. We couldn’t thank her enough, and I cant begin to describe just how refreshing and welcome that water was! She was definitely an angel.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The teachers of school years past...

Random teacher memories over the years from school (St John's Jr College in Mandaveli):

- A substitute history teacher of whom I was terrified because I was always afraid he would pick on me like he did with another girl who was fat. He found it very funny to sing a corrupted version of an old Tamil movie song at her. (His version: "Miaow miaow poonai kutti, class-la sutthum yaanaikutti" – literal translation "miaow miaow little kitten, a baby elephant in the class"). He never did pick on me, for whatever reason, but 45 minutes of sitting in the class waiting for him to "discover" me was almost worse than any actual teasing. I wish I could remember the b*stard's name. To that girl's credit (cant remember her name either) she never seemed intimidated by him, whatever her feelings on the inside.

- A very pretty geography teacher who spent a lot of her time standing at the entrance to our classroom, flirting with the senior PT master (their classes coincided that way) in the next classroom. She had a somewhat nasal voice and would insist on calling me "SYAAmala". I liked her – well, the entire class did, because we could pretty much do as we pleased. She would only exert herself if the noise level rose beyond tolerable. Occasionally if we were really noisy even after being warned by her, the PT master would poke his head into our classroom and threaten us with dire punishment. We kept quiet for a little longer when that happened. Oddly enough, I cant remember the names of either teacher now.

- A bad-tempered physics teacher, whose name was Miranda. He was disgusting – oily lank hair with a parting far over to one side and combed over, although he wasn't balding. Longer than normal, his hair came up to his earlobes and if he was seated when he called you to the blackboard, you could sometimes see oil-stains on his shirt collars. Yuk. But the worst part was that he was a closet pedophile… he always made me uncomfortable, but I didn't know why until a much more worldly-wise classmate (who was my best friend for a brief 9 months before she moved to Bombay) made us aware of his sleazy tendencies. She told me and another friend never to be alone with him in the staffroom.

- A history teacher, a Mallu lady who was terrible at her job, and who was utterly unable to earn the respect of our class because we knew exactly what button to push to get her flustered. All one of the boys (sitting nearest the corridor) had to say was "The Princi(pal) is coming, miss" and she would rush to cover the blackboard with dates and names as proof that she had been hard at work, raising her voice and trying to get us to be more responsive. She never seemed to twig on to the fact that he hardly ever turned up. ("It's okay miss, he's gone into VIIIB miss").

- A chemistry teacher who never picked on me, but was renowned for the nasty painful nips she gave with her fingernails as punishment for not answering questions correctly, or for making a noise, and so on. She was very fond of my sister, so that could be why I escaped the nips even though I was dismal at chemistry. She was quite kind at heart, really, but her attitude in general was as politically incorrect as you could get. Her usual way of addressing the 2-3 guys in the class who were Jains, was "You, moneylender" or "You, pawnbroker". (Jains were mostly from Rajasthan, and the majority of them were pawnbrokers or money-lenders, usually on a small scale although reputed to be as tightfisted as they were rich.)

- A young(ish) botany teacher who, along with a couple of other Christian teachers, was in charge of the school choir. We referred to her as "Vidi miss" – I don't know if that was her surname or her given name, or even if "Vidi" was the right name! Her most favourite instruction to us was to "open our mouth wide" while we sang. I didn't understand that until much later, when I saw a proper "Western" choir sing. They certainly opened their mouths wide!

- An assistant PE teacher, Alagappan, a minor tyrant and wannabe head PE teacher. Unfortunately named, because he was the opposite of good looking. He tried to terrorise the boys in my class (when we were in the 12 th standard) but ended up with egg on his face because those young thugs were more than a match for him. The way they dissed him was pretty awful, but then Alagappan shouldn't have tried to bully them. The kids in the lower classes bore the brunt of his bad temper, sadly.

- Our English teacher, who looked like Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh. That exact same pinched look, that fussy air, skinny and high-strung, with thin hair pulled back very tightly into a bun. (It's because of her that I was convinced for YEARS that Rabbit was a She rather than a He.) She stood absolutely no nonsense from anybody, wasn't afraid of slapping down – literally – recalcitrant teenage boys twice her size and was the first to tell us off for calling her "miss". ("Call me 'Ma'am', or "teacher" or even 'Hey you', but for god's sake don't address me as 'miss'. I'm a married woman.") She was my favourite teacher by far, although I'm not sure she returned the favour. I do know from personal admissions that a couple or three of the boys, who argued with her all the time, had a crush on her! Go figure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Rhett...

Well, how about that. There’s going to be another take on Rhett Butler.

I don’t know, though… I mean, do we really need to see a “soft” side to Rhett? Do we really need the details of his life (abusive father, awful childhood blah blah), to see why he is what he is? Do we really have to see him march his every emotion out on parade, whine about his lot and so on? Me, I’m content to have him as the cynical-yet-ultimately-soft-hearted man created by Margaret Mitchell. It’s easy enough to imagine a past for him without rewriting The Book (yes, it deserves capital letters, it’s that sort of classic) from a point of view that I'm certain will end up whiny.

I read Gone With The Wind before I saw the movie. Actually I'd read it several times before I picked up the 2-video set from Tic Tac Videos in Chennai. I cant actually remember with whom I watched it, but I have a vague idea that it was my best friend from college. The reason everything else is vague about that movie experience is the one overriding memory that has been burned into my brain – the utter, total, devastating disappointment that Clark Gable had played Rhett Butler. That middle-aged man (I was a teenager then and he really did seem old to me!), with his Halloween pumpkin head, stick-out ears and Halloween-pumpkin crooked teeth… how could HE be the Rhett Butler of my dreams? Not even his dimples mitigated my disappointment – and I’m usually a sucker for those. I hated him wholeheartedly for years, taking the side of Vivien Leigh who had disliked her co-star enough that she chewed garlic every time before a kissing shot with him!

I didn’t know then and I still don’t know who would have been the ideal Rhett Butler. And now I’ve watched the movie enough times that I’ve gradually been able to accept Clark Gable as Rhett. I just hope nobody tries to re-make that movie.

The other thing I hated about the movie was that large chunks of the book had been left out… but in hindsight and with numbum* experience, I guess that wasn’t such a bad thing or the movie would probably been 14 hours long rather than 4.

No, I haven’t read the rewritten Rhett-as-New-Age-Man version… yet. If I do read it, it will be only to prove to myself – unnecessarily, yes – that nobody can rewrite perfection. Pretty much like I skimmed through Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett”… and what appalling crap that was!

*numbum = that deadened feeling you experience in your hindquarters when you’ve been sitting too long in a movie theatre

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm the Librarian!!!??! :D

Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with
You scored as The Librarian

You’re the Librarian! Once a wizard, now an Orang-utan (due to an unfortunate magical accident), you refuse to be turned back for a few reasons: In this form, it’s easier to reach the shelves and hold more books; having the strength of five men makes people return their books on time; life’s great philosophical questions boil down to “when do I get my next banana?‿ You say “ook‿ but are usually understood well enough.

The Librarian


Carrot Ironfounderson


Gytha (Nanny) Ogg




Cohen The Barbarian


Lord Havelock Vetinari




Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


Commander Samuel Vimes




Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The other face of parental love

Today I read a very interesting item on the BBC site – basically, a father informed the police that his crackhead son had beaten, stamped and violently mugged a teenager and left him unconscious… all just to get a mobile phone. (More details here).

I personally think the father did the right and responsible thing. I cant imagine how difficult it would have been for him to do so, but he’s a hero for bringing his son to justice. He should be given some sort of award for setting an example well worthy of emulation!

If someone you knew had committed a violent crime, wouldn’t you let the police know? Wouldn’t it be your civic and public duty to do so? Why should that change just because the crime-doer is a son or daughter or some other family member or friend? Would you really, as a mother or father, keep quiet about your offspring’s crime, knowing that he or she had seriously injured or even killed someone else? Would you keep quiet about it, just because you felt that jail wasn’t “right” for your son or daughter?

Perhaps murder or violent crime is too much to imagine. Let’s say your child cheated at school to win a prize, or bullied another kid - and you alone knew it. Say your child would be expelled from the school if the school authorities found out. Would you keep quiet about it to protect your child? Would you let another child continue to be cheated of a prize, or be bullied, just because YOU love YOUR child and cant see your child punished?

I’m not a parent, but I’m pretty sure that I would not be able to live with my conscience if I knew a friend or relative had committed a serious – and especially unprovoked – crime, and I did nothing about it. Granted it would not be easy to give that person up, not at all easy… but it would be more difficult still to ignore the fact that my child/relative/friend had brought terrible grief to another family. And if MY friend/family member was the victim, I would most certainly want the criminal brought to justice.

Which I why I cant understand how Patsy McKie, whose son was shot dead, says she could never tell another parent to shop their child to the police because, in her words: “You love your child; you want the best for your child. And ending up in prison isn't the best for your child”.

If you ask me, ending up paralysed or dead isn’t exactly good for the victim of “your child” either!

I bet there are plenty of people who feel that Patsy McKie is a wonderful mother, all the more wonderful for saying that she doesn’t want the parents of her son’s killer(s) to shop their children to the police. Well, I beg to differ. Patsy McKie and her admirers might think she is a saint, but I wonder if they have considered that leaving the killers “unshopped”, as it were, could endanger the lives of other innocent people! Innocent people who could well be the beloved children of loving parents! What about the fact that the victims and their surviving family need justice? Is all that less important than the need for parents to protect their violent/murdering/thieving offspring from the law, out of parental love?

One other thing also struck me. How, exactly, does Patsy McKie want the police to find her son’s killers, if she doesnt mind the parents keeping quiet? Is it okay for someone other than the parents to “shop” the killers, perhaps?

Going by her logic, I guess all rapists, murderers, muggers, thieves and really anybody who commits any serious crime at all, should just roam about free… because after all, they’re also somebody’s “child” - and since prison “isn’t the best for your child”, they shouldn’t have to pay for their crime in prison. Never mind the victims, they’re dead anyway.

Parents who knowingly shield their criminal children and obstruct justice aren’t worthy of admiration. That isn’t love – it’s pure selfishness. It doesnt matter how exemplary they have been as parents till then. The truth is, such parents are as contemptible as their offspring, and should be considered as guilty of committing their offspring’s crime.