Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Screwed Up.

1. Load X Load Arm = Effort X Effort Arm.

Mechanical Advantage = Effort arm/Load arm.

I devoted a good 30 minutes to explain this basic funda about machines to Class VI. And at the end of those 30 minutes, I gave them this simple sum to do.

Effort = 200N, Load = 100N, Load Arm = 25cm, Effort Arm = ?; Mechanical Advantage = ?

28 out of 30 students got a zero. The rest two did it half correct and managed to get a 2.5 out of 5 marks each.

2. What is the sum total of the three angles in a triangle? I randomly picked up three students from Class V, and asked them this, half dreading that they would laugh at me for asking them such an easy question. The three answers are respectively, 30 degree, 70 degree, and 120 degree.

I was shocked beyond expression.

What more, I ask them why cannot a right angled triangle have two 90 degrees? To this, one of them says confidently, “Who said so? They can have two 90 degrees in special cases”.

If I were a student now, I would not even step in this school, forget about studying here. And if I had given such answers in my schools, I would have been thrown out of there.

3. While correcting one of the chemistry copies, I find a CD inside, with Bipasha Basu’s pic on it. As suspected, the CD contains stuff you would not normally see in a sixth grader's collection.

4. My computer is screwed up for the last seven days or so. There are problems that I am unable to interpret. Okay, I know this for sure that the Norton thing has stopped working and the machine is virus infected. Also, the printer cannot be installed for weird reasons. Last Sunday, the printer just stopped taking in papers, and kept on printing lines and lines of coded expletives. And the machine just shuts down on its own and restarts without notice.

We do have a person who is supposed to fix these problems, all the more because we need the computer everyday. And this man has been telling me for the last 5 days, “I am coming first thing tomorrow morning”. And mom is like, don’t be rude to him, he might have been busy somewhere.

5. My ankle swelling is getting worse day by day. I am absolutely clueless about where all this is leading. On top of that, I get this splitting headache ever since I corrected those physics papers.

6. My project guide calls me up to ask me where have I disappeared. Snippets of the conversation-

Where have you disappeared?

Sir, I think I told you I got a job.

Yes, yes, I know, but why do you need a job?

The same reason as you need one, I wanted to say.

Anyway, he spared me a reply, and asked me to come to the lab tomorrow. We need to discuss a few research projects.

But sir, my job? The timings just will not let me work in the lab anymore. I am dog tired by the time I come back.

Just come over after school tomorrow. We will see.

I know what is coming. My weekends and Christmas vacations are gonna be screwed. And I am not even gonna be paid for it. Are the full time scientists there dead? Don’t tell me that a lab as huge as this is banking solely on a freshly graduated student.

7. Snippets of an argument with mom as I come home from work-

So you are not going?

Of course not. I cannot even move my ankles.

Is this your excuse this time? Why do you let us down? You do not attend a single wedding. But the moment you friends make plans to meet, you jump and go. 

I hate these weddings. There is nothing good to do there but sit and stare at others. I am not going. I have been up and working since 5 am.

She left without saying goodbye. Yes, she did give me a nasty look as she left. Intuition tells me that she will not be on speaking terms with me for the next few days.

8. Amidst all this, a small pin pricks my finger while I am arranging a few papers. It was like an ant bite I might not even have noticed. But then, I press my finger hard, and there I see two drops of bright red fluid oozing out. Blood! God, this is the life saving fluid called blood! I am bleeding. The next instant, strange images come to my mind. My head reels. My vision gets blurred and my tummy feels light. I rush to the wash basin and throw up.

From headaches to unruly and dumb students to sarcastic mommy comments to being pressurized by the guide to virus infected computers to objectionable CD contents to the sight of blood, I have had enough for a day. Right now, I just want to go to sleep, and never wake up again.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Role Reversal.

Strange are the ways of life. 5 months back, I was bunking classes big time, and whatever little time I would be in class, I’d sit in the last bench and talk non-stop! 3 months back, I was burning the midnight oil, studying for the exams, and cursing the teachers big time.

And now, I am supposed to control a pack of naughty kids and make sure that they do not talk in class. I have to set questions for them they will not be very happy to answer. How can I ask the kids not to talk? Their senseless chatter should fill up the rooms, don’t you think? It is a crime to shut them up. Yet, thanks to our strict principal who must never have had a childhood, I have to scream at the kids (at least pretend to be angry) to please her. If I were the principal, I would do away with exams, do away with the school uniforms, and never try to stop them from talking or giggling senselessly. It only shows their innocence, something we adults lack completely.

My life has changed drastically the last few days in more ways than one.

The alarm goes off at 4 am everyday. And everyday, I shut it up and go back to sleep. And then, I have to get up to the melody of mom screaming at me, "The day they fire you for being late, you will realize”. Well, my circadian rhythm has still a long way to go for these drastic shifts. I have to take the bus by 6 am everyday. And that means wake up at least at 5. I cannot even dream of touching the cold waters then, let alone take a bath. So these days, I shower after 10 pm, and read a book till I fall asleep by 11.

I can’t bring myself to have food early in the morning. And once I am in school, I just do not have the time. And this means I don’t get to eat these days till say about 2-3 pm, but for the cups of coffee. You bet, my family doc is gonna be rich soon, the way I am aggravating my ulcer.

My school is nothing but an army as far as discipline is concerned. Teachers cannot color their hair (mine is not), and cannot wear jewelry ( I usually do not). But you cannot wear jeans, or skirts, not even the longer ones, or anything that is sleeveless or is not a salwar kameez or a sari. Even a short kurti will not do! And that means 70% of my wardrobe has already become redundant.

It is great to hear “Good morning ma’am” thousand times a day. I was so not very used to this, I’d initially turn around to check if that was me they were wishing.

Last year this time, I was interning at a state government environmental lab for 3 months. Running gas chromatographs. Doing hardcore research. Grim faced scientists running around all day. Not a noise but for the constant drone of sophisticated machines. Speckless labs that reminded you of Robin Cook novels or a Steven Spielberg movie. People talking in hushed tones all day.

But this place is so very different. You will go deaf with the amount of noise children make. I had always fancied teaching in a school and being surrounded with kids all day. But I had never expected it to materialize so soon. It is amazing, how even a “very good” you scribble on someone’s copy can make his day and earn you their toothless smiles. And I just love those “ma’am, he is tickling me, ma’am, he is pushing me” complaints.

Plenty of stories to recount, but it is already past ten, and I should try and get some sleep. Have a long day ahead. Just a funny incident before I sign off.......

I find two boys from the last bench whispering into each other’s ears. Distracted, I roll my eyes and ask in a feigned but stern tone, “What is it so interesting that you boys are discussing in class?”

One of them stands up, guiltily smiles a rather toothless smile, and says, “Ma’am, he is saying you are very cute.”

Well, if you expect me to be harsh to these kids after this, you might as well put a few stones where your heart beats. As for me, I just love the kids, and all the indiscipline, and all the noise that they create! Makes me feel alive.


Monday, November 14, 2005

A New Chapter.

Two weeks back, there was a job interview ad published in the newspaper. I naturally overlooked it. And my sis naturally found it. And my mom was naturally like....... when would you grow up and learn to read the newspaper properly? Why do you just skim through the headlines?

Four days back, they called me for the interview. My sis naturally got all the credit. And my mom naturally started calling up all the relatives, as if I had already got the job!

Two days back, I had the interview. The first job interview of my life. I screwed it big time. Okay, I din do that bad, but I wasn’t that good either. Sitting in a plush air conditioned office among some 25 other candidates, I felt like Shashi Kapoor in Deewar....plain, simple, middle class with loads of qualifications and degrees, yet jobless!

The first thing they told me is.....Oh, you don’t have a teachers training? They then said..... Oh, you don’t have the experience either? When it came to salary discussions, they bargained big time. I was very upset by the time I got back home. They had said they “might” get in touch with me after 4-5 days for a second round of interview. For all the diplomacy, they might as well have told me on my face that I had failed to impress them.

My phone rang the moment I reached home. Surely I must have left my phone or purse in a hurry. Strange, I had both with me.

You have been selected ma’am. Please be there Monday morning, 7-15 am sharp.

Was I imagining things? It was not yet 4-5 days. Did she call up the wrong person? Naturally, I was dumbstruck!

Today was my joining day. My first job. The first time I have signed in the school register as a teacher. For the first time, I was on the other side of the stage for the Children’s Day celebrations. For the first time, I sat in the teachers’ staff room instead of a classroom. And tomorrow, I’ll be teaching classes for the first time.

I am sure a lot many first times are gonna happen for the next few weeks. My mom has already made a list of the places I have to take her out for a treat, not to mention the number of movies I’ll have to take her to.

The job is very well timed. Just when I complete my masters, clear the GRE/TOEFL, finish off with the SOP and recommendation letters, and am just about to parcel everything, and am still wondering, “what next?”, I get the job.

Among the many things about this job, the best thing is that I can be surrounded with kids all day now! I am already looking forward to it.

School starts tomorrow morning 7-20 sharp! A good 1 hour 15 minutes from my home. Someone wake me up at 4 am sharp, please!


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My First Baby.

I still have faint memories of that rainy Monday morning. Nobody had woken me up or made me ready to go to school. When I woke up, grandma told me that a holiday was declared in my school due to the rains. Rubbing my eyes, I asked where mom was. She said that she has been taken to the hospital. Dad was there too. And I have had a little sister now.

That was way back in the first grade. Later that day, I went to see mom and my new sister. It was still raining heavily. I don’t remember much, but for the fact that my sister was sleeping wrapped in a bundle of clothes. Everybody was talking about what a healthy baby she was born. Even with my mom suffering from jaundice during her pregnancy, she was born a good 4 kg plus, and was very tall for her age.

The birth of my sis proved to be more of a disappointment for me initially. She would sleep or weep all day, she would not smile or recognize me; she would not say funny things or talk to me. I had expected her to at least ask me my name and my school’s name, or share lunch and dinner with me. But she did none of those. So when she would be sleeping and no one was seeing me, I would silently sneak into the room, tickle her tiny feet, and wake her up. They would not even let me take her in my arms.

With time, dad told me that she was my own kid. I would have to take care of her in every way. And from that day, my sis became my responsibility. I would help mom bathe her and feed her, I would funnily dance to songs in order to amuse her. She was so strong, she would crawl up to me and take a fistful of my hair in her tiny hands and shake my head. But I would never cry or complain. She tore my books, puked on me, and scratched my face with her tiny nails. When I was in the fourth grade, she started going to school with me. So I fed her food, arranged her school bag and carried it with me, helped her do her homework (most of the times I would do it myself while she would play), and made sure that nobody bothered her in class. She was a real lazy baby who would never be ready on time. So I would help mom in getting her ready for school as well. And when we would be real late, I would carry her in my arms, with the school bags and all, and run all the way from the school gate to her class. Most of the days, I would get late for my assembly doing all this. I always treated her as my kid, my responsibility.