Monday, December 19, 2005

Braggart No.1.

If you want to master the art of bragging, you should meet my kids. Specifically, the second and the third graders.With their innocent faces and smiles, they can even get away with murder. Given their imagination, it doesn't take them much time to come up with ridiculous stories.

A few excerpts from some of the recent conversations I had with them-

X: Ma’am, my dad has a red car.
Y: Ma’am, ma’am, my dad drives a biig Wagon R and an Indica.
Me: (feigning interest) Really?
Z: (almost shaking me from behind) Ma’am, my dad bought me a new car as a birthday gift. Not a toy car but a real big car.
X and Y turn pea-green with envy.

P: Ma’am, my brother was vomiting yesterday.
Q: Ma’am, my uncle had white white things (which I interpret to be foam maybe) coming out of his mouth before he died.
R: Ma’am, yesterday I cut my hands and there was “so many” blood.R showed me his injured hand, but I could only find a tiny spot that might as well have been a mosquito bite.

A: Ma’am, I am going to Bombay for my uncle’s wedding.
B: Ma’am, my dad will take me to foreign in the winter vacation.
Me: Really? How far is foreign?
B: Very far. One hour. You have to take an aeroplane.
D: Ma’am, my dad took me to aeroplane yesterday (whatever that meant!).

J: Ma’am, will you play cricket with me in the picnic?
K: (before I could answer) And football and beyblades with me? I have 2 beyblades.
L: I have 4 beyblades.

Ma’am, my dad is a doctor.
N: Ma’am, ma’am, my dad goes to hospital also.
Me: Children, look out of the bus. This is a very big hotel. It is called Taj Bengal.
P: (feigning a blase attitude) I have come here. But I did not like the food.
Q: I also. I also.
Whatever that meant.

Well, there are endless instances of senseless conversations like this. But I have to smile and feign surprise and listen to all that they have to say.

We were in the school bus, going for a picnic. These kids were their usual noisy self, with their my-dad-gave-me-this and my-dad-gave-me-that talk. The bus had just crossed Rabindra Sadan and was on its way to New Alipore when the endless stretches of greenery appeared at my right.

Me: Look children. This is the Calcutta race course.
I was just going to add that they can see the horses running here when a small boy screamed in excitement out of nowhere-

I know this place. My father and my grandfather come here to run in the fields every morning.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Golden Period.

If there has been a particular time in my life I have been the happiest, this is it. Sometimes, all this seems like a dream. School life ended years ago, taking away with it all the magic. College life was much harder, with competition, weird syllabus, weird questions,  and the inevitable “What Next?”. Same with university.

All this seems to have happened a whole lifetime of suffering ago. A job has changed it all. It has made me realize many a things about myself, and the people around me. People no longer take me for granted. Most importantly, I do not take me for granted any more.

I still think of the day I went for the interview, sitting uncomfortably among others. I kept telling myself that I had nothing to lose. The job has made me realize what is it that I want out of life. For more than being employed and earning, I realized what kind of work made me happy. I am sure working in a call center would earn me much more than I do now. Five of my cousins are already into it. But teaching is something that I immensely enjoy, so much that it seems effortless. The timings and the ambiance suits me fine. Correcting piles of copies can be draining at times. But I plan my questions well.

Also, when you are the youngest teacher, people always look after you. I have started socializing with the other teachers, and I like it. The occasional treats and the parties they throw feels good. I have the advantage of age. Children love teachers who wear bright clothes and teach enthusiastically instead of sitting on a chair and complaining. I discuss everything from Harry Potter to Beyblades with them.

My school gets over by 2 pm. I have all the time to myself after this. Sometimes I go to the library or go visit friends, maybe even go for a movie or lunch. But most of the time, I get back home, shower, and settle with a book till I fall asleep. Sometimes, I write. Unlike earlier, I do not have to burden my brains and study, go for tuition, or prepare notes. Sometimes, I pick up books from Gariahat, College Street, or Wellington market before heading home.

Life could not be better. Ma wakes me up every morning, makes me some coffee, and makes me lunch. The only thing I have to do is to get myself ready. Back home, my steaming hot dinner is always there on the table. The only thing I do is clean my room in the weekends. I can save up my salary and spend it whatever way I want to.

I have friends who are still putting in long hours to prep for the NET exams. I'm not going to write one, I know that. This job I have is a great one-year stint, perfect as a transition job. Hopefully, I will get into a good doctoral program in the US by next year. Until then, I have no responsibilities to cook, pay the bills, care for family, and raise children. The other teachers come here to work. It feels like I come here to picnic. I am saving up my salary for my dreams. And being with the kids at school is a great stress buster. The moment I get in class and start scribbling formula and equations, I forget my worries. I feel certain and more confident about myself. And even if things don’t work out in the US next year, I'll get a B.Ed.

This golden period might not last forever. But the fond memories definitely will. So I am trying to make the most out of it.

Time to get back in the arms of Morpheus. The God of Sleep. Good Night.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Very Special Feeling.

I got my first salary yesterday. I guess the first things in life are always special. First boy friend, first date, first salary. When I was out of school 6 years back, I started tutoring English to a young girl living close by. The first time I had held those 3 bills of 100 rupees each in my hand, I had felt that I was the richest person on earth. I had the same feeling when I signed the receipt and held my first salary check yesterday. What more, I am a taxpayer now!!

Late at night, I had held the salary envelope this way and that way, swaying it again and again in front of my eyes, just to make sure that all this was true. I have friends and classmates who still haven’t managed to get a job. I feel so fortunate that I did. Dad treated all of us to some great Chinese food in Gariahat. I know I should have treated them, but dad never lets me pay.

Have planned my Christmas vacations. Am taking a week off. Just got my tickets today. Am going Switzerland. Wanna come? Just kidding. Switzerland will have to wait for a while. May be until a few more "first times" happen. Like taking a plane for the first time. 


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Annual Function Day.

The last few weeks have been a very different kind of experience for me altogether. Everyday, I get to do a lot of “seemingly unimportant” stuff that I could not have done otherwise. I use the term “seemingly unimportant” because a lot of my so called over-achieving friends think that I am wasting my talents and skills with this job. They had the nerve to tell me a lot of things on my face. Like-

“You are meant for more meaningful jobs”.

“You must be kidding when you say your job is hectic. How can teaching be hectic?”.

“If you had to teach, you should have had a college or university in mind. Why a school?”

“Don’t you have ambition in life? A school teacher at last?”

I will not go into the other senseless remarks I keep hearing. I don’t even feel like explaining anything to anyone. The people who said this must have all studied in a school at some point of time. And my job is no sinecure. For, making a child understand the principles of Newton’s laws can be more difficult than making codes run in plush offices.

Well, I was a Ph.D applicant when I got this job. And I just love it now. I can be with kids all day. This might not be equivalent to participating in board meetings and making business deals, but to me, it means much more than that. I love the way kids wish me with a smile every morning, the way they cling to my sari while complaining about their friends, the way they give me chocolates and pens on their birthdays, the way they tell me- “ma’am, you are very sweet”, even if they don't mean it. I love the shine in their eyes when I play “quiz quiz” with them in the off periods. I love the way they give me their opinions when I ask them about the latest Harry Potter movie. The kids have accepted me as a part of their life. So though I teach in much higher classes, I sneak into other lower classes whenever I can.

But engineers and doctors and managers think that no job is more important than theirs, and their contribution to the society is way more than mine.

Tomorrow is the Annual Function Day. Today, the stage rehearsal was extremely tiring. Now don’t ask me what is so difficult in making a few kids sing and dance in rhythm. The kids are doing a great job. You should see them dressed as puppets and jokers and monkeys. Tomorrow, I am in charge of the green room. And that means trying my hand at another new job. I will have to dress them up and see to it that they have the proper make up. A good 300 kids. Can you imagine that?

Try telling me, what's so great in that?