Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Bird Claw

"It still doesn't look like a bird," my eight year old whined. She was still in her pajamas, and trying very hard to keep her eyes open. I grunt as I take the eraser from a pink (what else?) barbie pencil box, and vigorously rub off the parts that look like the eagle had a major cloning accident with an orangutan. I opened her science book to look at the image more closely before I finish the sketch.

"OK Mom, I think Ma'am will like this one," she says condescendingly, once she discovered that her mother's drawing skills were not quite as good as she imagined it to be. "No, no. Let me shade it a little better. It will look more like your textbook eagle then," I said, as I decide to get my hands really dirty with graphite.

I must hand it to my daughter  - she knows when to give up on persistent moms trying to behave like kids! She sighed and went right back to sleep.

BACKGROUND : As a practice, I try and open up the bags of my school going kids later into the night, when everyone has gone to bed. This serves two purposes : I get to go through the lives of my kids at school with a fine toothed comb, AND it gives me the pleasure of watching attempts of teachers trying to tame the human brain.

Anyway, here I was, trying to fathom the deep understanding my daughter has, of the difference between a  'perching' bird and a 'hunting' bird, when I discover a comment that tore my heart right out of the rib cage!
"Does not look like a bird. Redo" 

I mean, really? The nerve! My daughter? MY daughter? Redo? We'll show Mrs.Lady-with-stupid-looking-glasses-on-her-nose ! And that's when I first touched pencil to sketch paper...... and I was instantly transported into the 3rd grade, pencil, 'rubber' and sharpener in hand, all ready to make a sketch of the darn bird so that 'Ma'am' will make the class clap for me. This was not first time I enjoyed drawing lines that meet each other to convey messages, but this was certainly like a light year from the last time!

Ever notice the sound pencil makes on paper when you draw? It's different when you write, and different when you lightly scratch it across to shade a drawing. That was such an exhilarating sound! And it just isn't the same writing with a pen - you can't rub it off and start all over again can you? Now I finally get why erasers never last for more than a few days! The sheer pleasure of seeing pencil marks disappear from the sheet.......

And the joyful task of sharpening the blunt pencils were so fulfilling. Life is so simple in the 3rd grade. Made a mistake? Rub it off? Pencil strokes not giving you the lines you desire? Sharpen it! Imagine if she were using ipads or iPhone or igod-know-what to do the same function!

Back to my bird claws... I had now started shading with a different type of pencil. A darker pencil for the outlines, and a lighter one for the shading. I was like a child on Christmas eve! And my exasperated daughter was calling from the bedroom to knock off the whooping. How would she know the joy of having made a near-perfect picture with a pencil? She was a child of the Internet printout era, after all.

After nearly an hour, I was happy with my effort. I couldn't wait till the next day when she would bring me 'Ma'am's appreciation in the form of little red stars in the science book!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the Mail - bharata

There was once a time, eons and eons ago, when we had pens and refills; memos and carbon papers; registers and inter-office communications. Not only did we spend a good part of our lives (read that as classes 6 to 12 in the darn CBSE board) learning to write these letters, we also spent a lot of our salary paying time laughing at life forms that did not know how to draft that perfect letter. (oh! there are specimens that would cause minor heart attacks in language experts)

There were days when we finished one refill after the other, trying to capture all and sundry into words that sounded officious, sometimes intimidating, or knowledgeable and wise. We developed excellent wrist flexor muscles, since we used ample force to make sure the third carbon copy did not eat away half of the message! We also left space very generously for all the "cc"s to sign their acceptance. We really didn't have any "bcc"s - the letter writers of yore had the gumption (Ha! resisted the use of a stronger, more appropriate descriptive noun here!) to let people know who would be reading the nasty message they wrote! Ofcourse, unofficially, all peons, secretaries AND the discretely placed photocopy machine were all "Bcc"s! More on that later.

We used words like "To bring to your kind notice" and "To whoever it may concern". We spent hours wording the words just right so as to come across as a knowledgeable wise-crack with the right amount of wit and sarcasm. Mind you, that was an art not many people succeeded in developing. This gave rise to another phenomenon - the letter / memo / report writers in office. Masterpieces on memo sheets were spoken about for months to come, and the unofficial "bcc"s would be in high demand for the hottest gossip.

The memo / letter would then lovingly be signed by the writer - another art. Signatures occupied a place of pride in the days of the carbon paper! Every piece of paper that exchanged hands had a stamp of approval in the form of an official equivalent of narcissism called a signature. And we loved it! In fact, we had special pens to use only for signatures. Only for signatures! (The cost of the refills of such 'signature' pens could have been the contributing factor). From here emerged the trend of the "see-I-have-a-Sheaffer/Parker/Mont Blanc-in-my-pocket" fashion.

And how could one forget the ever-necessary peon ? The hand delivery of the letters written were the next stage of the office drama, which could be completed only by this important link in communication. The best peon was the one who delivered the letter at the most appropriate time (for the writer of the letter .... but may turn out to be the most inappropriate one for the receiver of such communication. I forget the number of times i have seen movies where a peon enters a room just as the villain is about to do something evil!)

Compare that to today's communication:

"FYI, the last FY did not give us the results we were hoping for. We need to do something. Any ideas?
Am copying Y on this mail. Y, will you sit and work out a plan with X?"

Or, even better:

"Hi all. Attached please find the report."

CC - your boss, my boss, THEIR bosses, the girl who gives me the looks in sales dept., the other cute girl who likes numbers.
BCC -  my friend who needs help drafting important - looking mails such as this

I mean, come on! Where is the drama here? Where is the lovely, sarcastic streak in that note ? Where is the kick below the belt? Morevover, where is that chance to spice up the lives of the gossip circles? And then we claim office is getting boring! Thoughts??

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rain is falling Chama cham cham

Sigh!! Every time the monsoons start, I promise myself I will NOT write a STUPID post on the way my heart has begun to melt. But come on, I am an aquarian! What do you expect? I start grinning unnecessarily, hum without provocation, and allow people to overtake me on the roads - something, I assure you, which is near impossible to do on a normal, sunny, aggressive day on Delhi roads.

But today, I am going to list out stuff that one should NOT do in the rains - much of it are learnings from embarrassing encounters with Mr.Murphy himself!
  1. Wear clothes that divorce their colors in water - explanation in this case is unnecessary. Just picture a person in an indigo shirt/kurta peeling off their clothes after a rain-walk to reveal AVATAR-like skin - get the picture, right?
  2. Take one's car / bike / bullock cart for granted : My trusted Maruti 800 (yeah I still have one - and it runs like a dream!) would decide she wanted more pampering. Not that I have a problem with that, but I am not too sure if I agree with the timing she chooses to go on 'Anshan' a' la Hazare!
  3. Decide to have an open-air party : Unless of course, you are talking about the hormone laden, beer induced screaming that people (er... young adults) like to call parties. The one I am referring to here is a slightly different variant, where the party guests are dressed in overpriced onion skins that need to go to the dry cleaners if someone sneezes next to them!
  4. Decide to visit your Aunt in Timbaktoo : Well this is ok for cities like Bhubhaneswar (There! I really seem to be obsessed with this place!) where the city ends before it begins, and when people say "Its very far," they mean you may need to take a rickshaw to reach there. But sure doesn't work in places like Mumbai or Delhi, where traffic signals are so technologically advanced, they know an hour before that its going to rain, and decide to shut down.
  5. Wear your Prada leather shoes : *Evil laugh here* No explanations - for those who need any - please just give me your Pradas (actually, don't mind if its Gucci either) so that you are spared the agony of being called stupid!
  6. Leave the papad out of the airtight box while you fix the dinner (or, for people on the other end of the marriage-kids spectrum, fix a drink). Believe me, limp papad seems to have this uncanny ability to pop up in arguments years later, and at the least, can be cause for a disgruntled meal! Same goes for all those namkeens and breakfast cereal !
  7. Get infected by the wash-everything-you-can-see bug : The washing is easy - but try getting the damn things to dry. In a few days' time your home will start to smell very much like the inside of the 5 year old sports shoes that you want to throw away, but can't because its still new (and to think you paid a fortune for a useless thing like that!!)
There! That's the end of my list. Can anyone think of anything else? 

My first blog award

Ok. I have an earth shattering confession - I have no clue how this award thing works. I mean I have wondered, hours on end, how bloggers get awards, and then resigned to the fact that I would never actually find out. But the kind gesture from The Meditating Lion changed all that!

So, here I am, a copy-cat in the true sense of the word, just doing all that was done in the wonderful blog that gave me this award. Seems there is a tradition to it - 

# Link the person who gave you the award ....... done!

# 7 random facts about you ... here goes
  1. I can drape a perfect sari in 3 minutes. No kidding... I think all the ragging in college helped me discover speed-draping and speed-walking in it!
  2. I am perfectly capable of falling flat on my nose without much reason. I mean a well paved road, a well designed corridor, a considerably well maintained stairway - I somehow, have fallen on all of them! But give me a rocky, hilly, village road and I can bet you that I will be the last man er.... woman standing!  
  3. My first reaction to a shocking revelation will always be a guffaw, followed by an embarrassed "oh-I-shouldn't-have-done-that" giggle. The same reaction when someone else takes that fall we were talking about.
  4. I talk to myself - a lot! So much that I sometimes miss myself when I don't get the time to converse!
  5. I love dogs - all kinds. From pampered little pugs to the scared street dog that wants scraps from me, I stop to talk to all of them.
  6. I can eat any kind of cuisine - happily!
  7. I love the rains. I can smell it before it actually rains, and I have a happy, stupid grin when it rains.
#My favorite song : Gosh, that's like asking me to count every time I breathe!! But of the ones that caused major havoc in my life, including one that resulted in me agreeing to getting married to a crazy fellow is Please Forgive me - Bryan Adams (yeah yeah.... I am the hopeless romantic !)

My favorite dessert : Newly married, I got laughed at when I said 'Jalebi' to my connoisseurs-of-Indian-cuisine in-laws!! Apparently, Jalebi doesn't count as a dessert! Hmmmph! I love them - not only the true blood northy stuff that is crisp and hot and "right out of the kadhai" variety, but also the Kerala version of it - the thick, slightly sour, yellow thing that you find in glass jars of 'bakeries' in Kerala. Also anything sweet thats made at home - kheer, payasam, halwa.... you name it!

What pisses me off :  Doing the same thing - in other words, I get bored damn fast!

Best feature : My sense of (sometimes dark) humour

Everyday attitude : The time to be living in is NOW! Carpe Diem - Seize the Day!

What is perfection? : How every little baby looks beautiful !!

Guilty Pleasures : Chocolate - in any form, including the kids' Bournvita - in the powder form!

# Give the award away to 15 bloggers
Living Queensize : Lady, you were the one who got me addicted to blogging! That she doesn't write much these days is heartbreaking!
As I Muse : The incurable romantic who writes beautiful poems
Atrocious scribblings : The blogger with an amazing sense of humour
Coconut Chutney : Who caused a mild heart attack with her hilarious posts
Shobha : who has finger-lickin' good stuff in her blog
Godyears : the amazing Doc with a heart of gold, and writing skills to match
Bikram : and his Random thoughts - which are so thought - provoking!
Measured Steps : the Super Mom with such lovely posts
Spaceman Spiff : I know you've been tagged - but couldn't let this opportunity go by without the drum roll for you!! The awesomest posts i have seen !!
Simply Speaking : The guy who simply speaks wonderful thoughts
Varsha and her little fragrant flowers - snippets of wisdom!