Wednesday, May 10, 2006

House-wife for a day!!!


I've always wondered what it would be like to run the house completely for a day, particularly since I've had the envious fortune of living with my family throughout.

My mother went to Delhi for a break and I seized the opportunity with both hands. I decided to be the perfect house-wife for a day... after all, how difficult can it be?

My day began at 7:30am… and then all my house-wifey skills came into play… I started with the kitchen to prepare breakfast. The first thing I did was switch on the radio. I just can't do without music. With all the latest bollyhits shattering the morning serenity, I started making breakfast. Tea, buttered toast for dad, milk with drinking chocolate and buttered toast for my bro and buttered toast and coffee for moi.

With the most important meal of the day behind me, I folded the clothes which I'd put out for drying last night, washed utensils, filled drinking water from the aquaguard, got out ironed clothes for my brother who was going out, hunted his deo for him, got him to remove his wet towel from my bed (which he went and dumped on another bed – argghhhh!!!) and shooed him out. By this time, it was 9:30 and time for my maid to come. She started her work and I thought I should start cooking so that lunch is ready by 1:00pm.

Out came my Sanjeev Kapoor. I washed, chopped, mixed, stirred my concoction for 2.5 hours and finally was ready with my spread. I made dal, finger chips, bhindi (lady's finger) in soya sauce and vegetable kolhapuri… maan, by the time I stepped out of the kitchen, the sun was
right up and my body was wet with honest sweat! It was almost an hour to lunch so I went for a shower… it felt sooo good and refreshing…

Then, at 12:30pm, I put the rice for boiling… at 1:00pm, when the steamed rice was ready, dad and yours truly had lunch… The food was edible and bordered on the brink of actually being tasty!

When I finally cleaned up, I realised it was already noon and I was exhausted. As I lay down for an afternoon siesta, I realised only half the day was over and a major portion lay ahead of me. This being the daily routine of almost every woman, married or otherwise, I realised how much we take our mothers for granted.

I called her up and narrated my half day to her. At the end of my vivid description, I told her how much I loved her and missed her presence.

Although it was 'Mission Accomplished', I don't think I'll ever lessen the emphasis of house-work!

Gradzzz!!!

Now that the convocation's finally over and TISS looks more like a student campus than a police station with gumbles of policemen and women in every corner, I thought I’ll pen down the day's events chronologically...

5th May 2006

Time : 2:10pm

State : Asleep on the sofa

My cell buzzes, waking me up from my dream world. It’s a call from my college, asking me to come latest by 3pm since the Registrar wanted to see me. All kinds of thoughts ran through my head - my convocation was the following day and I wondered if I had forgotten any formalities. I was supposed to leave for the airport to receive my mother and had asked for the car around 5pm. I prayed I would be able to leave TISS before that.

I reached TISS only to find that my green institute was enveloped in sheets of white, cutting off visibility from curious passer-bys and onlookers. There were policemen and security personnel everywhere. In the midst of so many suspicious looks, I was glad to see my institute security guards recognize me and wave me in.

After completing the formalities and meeting the Registrar, I met up with Akila and we both left for my residence, thankfully in time to leave for the airport. After receiving my mother, we got ourselves dropped at Juhu beach where we talked and talked till a considerable part of the night. After a quick bhelpuri and dinner at ShivSagar;s, we decided to sack at Cafe Mochas where I indulged in a 4-storey chocolate temptation. Around midnight, we again left for the airport to receive Anu, a classmate of ours who was flying in for the convo.

Her flight finally landed at 1:00am. It was so awesome to meet up with Anu. We left for my home where we talked till the wee hours of the morning and then got up to get dressed for the convocation. We left at around 8:30am for TISS – my parents, Anu, Akila and Moi.

The campus was completely covered. All entrances were sealed and there were police personnel in all buildings and approach roads. There were metal detectors, scanners, body-scanning equipments and walky-talkies all over the place. No mobile phones and cameras were allowed. Entry was strictly on identity card basis and a complete scan was done before we were allowed into the enclosure. Since I was an awardee, I was given a special security clearance badge, which would allow me to sit in the front row. We were asked to wait in classrooms where we friends all caught up with old times.

Finally, we were made to stand in a queue and escorted to the enclosure. The first row has sofas, which were occupied by personages and invited guests. The awardees were seated just behind them. Behind us was our entire batch of 170 students. Faculty, parents and television crew brought up the rear.

The PM had been provided with the top "Z" plus security cover. Protected by the elite Special Protection Group, the Prime Minister's route was guarded by men drawn from the Delhi Police, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Rajasthan Armed Police. He landed on the helipad in BARC and his convoy was escorted to the venue.

The dignitaries were Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, and Mr R.K. Krishna Kumar, Chairman, Governing Board, TISS, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, Maharashtra Chief Minister, and Mr S.M. Krishna, Governor of Maharashtra. Ours was the 66th Annual Convocation.

The convocation was simply superb. Right from security arrangements to decorations to the dignitaries on the dais was awe-inspiring. TISS conferred the degree of doctor of literature on renowned social worker Mr Murlidhar `Baba' Amte and Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, in the presence of the Prime Minister.

Some students expressed their solidarity with the continuing struggles of people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the Bhopal gas survivors, when the Prime Minister inaugurated the "Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management". An alumnus held up a black banner, protesting in silence.

I was announced on stage for receiving the award for securing first position in my department. To be receiving the certificate and my degree from the hands of the Prime Minister of India was a huge honour.. There are convocations and convocations but how many students get their degrees from the hands of the PM and in the presence of such eminent luminaries? I felt deeply humble. I went up on the dais and when I took the degree, the PM smiled and said – congratulations. God bless! – I returned to my seat and realized I was trembling. It was an absolute honor and a moment of deep pride. I was overwhelmed at the magnanimity of it all.

Loved the limelight, loved every bit of the cheer and applause that went up when I received the award. The lunch that followed was sumptuous and I was happy to have made my parents proud.

And so… that’s how I graduated… went from my bachelor’s to master’s degree… this is one moment I’ll not forget in a hurry!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Salaam!!!

From the time I remember, money has always mattered to me… I always believed and still believe that money is important in life, which is one of the reasons why I joined TISS in PM&IR – I always wanted to be financially independent… freedom and self-reliance have been my dream goals in life…

As a part of my course curriculum, after my fourth semester, before we join our respective corporate worlds, we are required to spend one month working for any NGO. Its self-regulatory and it does not matter whom we work with and we have to just produce a certificate at the end of the month stating that we ‘have’ actually spent the month in social service.

I’ve always wanted to work with children and teaching them is something which I’ve always wanted to do. I realized once I step into the corporate world, I’d never get a complete month to devote to children. My love for children drove me to approach Salaam Balak, a trust which works with street children. The boys, ranging from 17-19 years work here, making paper bags, candles, diyas, rakhees and they are provided with afternoon lunch and education. They have English Speaking classes, drama workshops, judo classes and a host of activities. They have a room in a school building at Grant Road, Mumbai where besides these, they are also given access to computers. This trust has a night shelter for 30 girls ranging from 10-16 years where they are sent to nearby private and municipal schools for formal education and taught various activities throughout the year. They live in the night shelter. There is a center at Chowpatty where some boys are sent for formal education in schools nearby. Besides, local municipal school children who are under the Salaam Balak trust are also given similar facilities.

My project of two months includes providing the older guys with computer education – teaching them MS-Word, MS-PPT, MS-Excel as well as internet. The smaller kids would be exposed to computers, learn basics of MS-Paint and very basic computer operations. My project also involves providing life-skills and inculcating in them good habits and values.

4th April 2006 was my first class with five guys – Fajal, Satish, Manoj, Shiva and Suresh. In one word, their speed of assimilating knowledge is brilliant! They’d never worked with MS-Word before. All they used the computer was for music and games. Getting their attention to a class-room set-up was one of my first difficult tasks. I was also not too sure how comfortable they were with English and I really didn’t want to put them off. I told them to list down articles they see around themselves, in Word. Then they learnt how to create tables, cut-copy-paste, insert pictures, save documents, rename documents, password protect them. They thirst for knowledge surprised me. Once they started the work, they were on a roll… insatiable! I finally called it a day since I started getting tired. The class, which was supposed to last for 45 minutes (and I was apprehensive that their attention span wouldn’t last more than 20-25 minutes!) actually lasted for 2 hours.

This was undisputedly THE best time I’d had in years. To teach a group of eager kids is the best thing any teacher could want. I converse with them in Hindi, Marathi and Mumbaiyya Hindi… now, we are able to relate to each other. Theyu make fun of the fact that we Bengalis ‘eat’ everything, even water (khabar khabo, jal khabo!) and I learn so much from their lives on the street… I had my first lesson on resilience and spirit when one of them told me that the Municipality had destroyed all their settlements the previous morning and now, they had nothing but their belongings and the open sky but by evening, things would get back to normal… things HAD to get back to normal. He takes each moment as it comes. That’s his key to happiness and I realized how true it was since from the time I’d met him, I had no inkling that things were this bad till he said it.

Today, in addition to them, I had a bunch of ten of the noisiest and enthusiastic municipal school kids from II – IV standard… I realized that MS-Word was way too advanced for them and so I taught them MS-Paint which they enjoyed immensely. All their houses had a multitude of colours and shapes and each had his / her name as the saved graphic’s title. They were so proud of their little creations.

I think, at the end of this one month, I’ll learn a helluva lot more from my students than they’ll ever learn from me!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Things I live by...

1. Give the other person the benefit of doubt... may / may not hurt myself in the process but just can't let this habit go!

2. Will be brutally honest about anything and be fanatically proud of whatever I do!

3. The main purpose of my life is to be happy and i'll do essentially whatever it takes, within the limits of my personal beliefs, to be happy.

4. Restrict confiding in too many people - in short, use caution in trust.

5. Trust unconditionally - nop, this is not in contradiction to the above statement... just that, whomsoever i trust, i'll trust unconditionally...

6. Be a free spirit, always and forever.

7. Laugh openly... cry whenever I feel like and dance at every party or get-together.

8. Simplify my life... reduce complications...

9. Be a true blue friend to my closest friends but not take their problems as a load on myself.

10. Look at problems with dual perspective : either i can solve it or I can't... if i can, i solve it and if i choose not to solve it, i will not crib about it... if i cannot solve it, park it for future consideration.

11. Look for happiness in the little things in life...

25 things that make me... Me!

  1. I love the smell of freshly powdered babies.
  2. I’d love to be a pilot.
  3. I love the feeling of defying gravity.
  4. I think Mumbai simply rocks!
  5. I can listen to John Devner’s ‘Annie’s Song’ forever!
  6. I love the war of words.
  7. I like chivalry in men.
  8. I love wit, humour and confidence to convince or confuse!
  9. I love to wear white & black.
  10. I believe that if I want something from the bottom of my heart, destiny will take care of the rest.
  11. I love the smell of wet earth and petrol.
  12. I’m straight-forward to the point of being blunt.
  13. I love my name!
  14. I’m paranoid of rats!
  15. I’m scared of loneliness.
  16. I’ve discussed cooking fish with Rani Mukherjee (Bollywood Actor).
  17. I day-dream all the time.
  18. I’m a self-confessed narcissist at times.
  19. I want to scream from the tallest tower.
  20. I want to live on the 14th floor of a sea-facing apartment so that I can feel the breeze in my hair at all times!
  21. I love fish! I love fish! I love fish! And I love sweet corn chicken soup as well!
  22. I give only meaningful gifts or none at all.
  23. I’ve seen 3 movies back to back in a sleazy hall with seedy crowd.
  24. I absolutely love theatre.
  25. I will write my autobiography titled ‘Steaming Cups of Coffee’ someday