Saturday, February 20, 2010

Endless Nonsense

Since the time seems to have come for everyone around me to think that I am ready for marriage, the following possibilities arise:
1. A god-fearing, very pious, verry nice guy - probability = 0.01%. No more talk about this!
2. A kinda-sorta-god-believing guy - probability = 80%. Some more talk warranted.
3. An atheist - probability = (100 - 80 - 0.01)% - More talk less warranted. But warranted nevertheless.
Given that I'm an atheist, this is a very good, first, high level classification of possibilities. Ok. Now I'll get to the next section, titled, Next What?, and talk a bit about some of the interesting possibilities in each case, leaving out the boring, lived-happily-ever-after ones. It could turn into a tragic movie or a comic movie from here on, depending on the case, depending totally on who is seeing it and more totally on how you see it and so many more undependable factors. Ok. That won't make any good movie. But let me talk about it anyway.
Case 2 - God believing guy: This guy believes in the benevolent god. He sees me. Within two weeks, he decides god cannot be benevolent. He turns atheist!
Case 3 - Atheist guy: Within 2 weeks, What have I gotten myself into? Is this the fate the god almighty has decreed because of my past sins? He becomes a pucca god-fearing guy (now that he has been punished, the fear cometh automatically, No more punishment please), seeking forgiveness for all his past blasphemous thoughts. Oh dear merciful lord! Will I ever get to heaven?
And are we stopping with the nonsense here? No, no! There is a sequel too!
Case 2 - Part 2: I become like the guy in Case 3(Part 1)!
What fun it is for conversations with people whom you know for far too long to turn into such banter! Moments of enhanced nuttiness indeed!

ps: My next post will not be about percentages. God promise! And no, this one was only about probability.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am old enough!

I was 18 and it was the first time that I had planned to be away from home for five full days in succession. Leaving home on Monday morning, the plan was to stay in the hostel until Saturday afternoon.

After multiple enquiries of "Anninu ethunaina??" (yep! I'm a pucca fraud Telugu... and a pucca Tamil, so that translates to "Have you taken everything?") from mom, during the grumbly eating of the worst on my list of breakfasts, waving off the packed lunch box with, "Hostel food is supposed to be decent ma, and I'll have to carry the box around for a week after today's lunch!?", paying 10 rupees to the auto driver instead of doing the 10 minutes walk which could not be afforded that day (as many others), I was happily sitting in the college bus and dreaming about the five full days of independence. And purposefulness.

I was to teach 3 kids  who worked in the hostel and the canteen, Ilakkanam (Grammar) and Ilakkiyam (Poetry), for their SSLC exams, every morning and evening of that week. We had two months to go for the exams. Going home alone by MTC after 8 pm from my college in Vandalur to my house in Adayar was not something I wanted to do for a full week. And if I didn't stay in the hostel, we couldn't study in the mornings too.

I was excited that the kids were also very excited to be studying most of the text in a week! Ofcourse we had apprehensions, but we had a plan!

It was my first time teaching for a week and on a schedule! And the first time away from home. How nicely I was proving I was an adult!

That evening it all started off well. Our study session gained momentum after the first 20 minutes. The kids we were dealing with were super smart. If they had had anywhere close to the general atmosphere I was brought up in, they would have been shining stars wherever they had gone. Mornings from 6 to 7:30, after which they had to go back to their work. And evenings from 6 to 7:30 which is when they had begged for time off, after which they had to get back for dinner time. The kids, I realised, were super eager and super awesome! The study session was very well spent.

But not the dinner and lunch times. Being a vegetarian in a Muslim minority college's hostel, was NOT fun. Parota with lamb curry was the special dinner on Monday. I got to eat the famed parota, but with a sad twist - it had to go down with watered vegetables, aka vegetable kuruma. And then this:

"Seri. Naan poi thayir saadham eduthutu varaen." (Let me go get curd and rice)
"Enga irundhu?" (Where from?)
"Mess dhaan... edhukku kaekarae?" (The mess ofcourse... Why do you ask?)

The two friends had nothing but a "Idhu thayir saadham case aa?" look that I was to figure out much later. They were patient enough though, to explain that there was usually no curd nor rice during dinner on any of the days.

"Nejamava? Eppadi thayir illama digest aagum?" (Really? How  does the food get digested then?)

Amused Silence.


And to myself, Don't ask stupid questions.

Next morning. Up at 5:00 am. So that I could get to the canteen at 6, where our class was scheduled. Bleary, because my usual awakening happened around 7 am with multiple snooze button presses, I took my brush, paste, soap and clothes and a bucket with a mug, which was on the way out of the room and required no guessing on my part. Saw a few girls with their books in the corridor. So early. Girls actually can wake up that early to study?

Went inside the bath room at the end of the corridor. Brushed. Turned to let the bucket fill up. There was just one tap. Not two? No hot water??!!! Boo hooooo  hooooooo!!!!!! A freezing bath at 5:30 am later, I was out shivering and ran to the room. Dhaksh was groggily awake.
"Adhukulla kulichitaya? (Yawnnn) Sudu thanni yaaru potu kudutha??" (Took bath already? Who put the hot water?)
"Varavae illa. Bayangara cold aa irundhadhu" (It never came. It was terribly cold)
(Awake now) "Loosu!! Ezhuppi irukalaam illa?? Adhuku dhaan heater vechirukkomae!" (Stupid! You should have woken me up. We have a heater!)


And to myself, Ask questions.

I will get better at this. Better soon.

The morning session though, was a hit. The kids were up and ready and I wasn't late either. And mid-session, we were giving the awesome tea by the canteen folks. "Padinga ma. Pasanga nalla mark vaangi pass pannatum." (Study well. The children should get good marks and pass the exams) I had energy flowing into me from all directions now.

Back to the hostel and breakfast. The cribbed about breakfast the previous day was past. I was having Pongal with friends. Life is good.

After college, I was chatting up with the dorm folks. As I knew just two girls in that dorm, I was having the history finding, sharing conversation with the rest. "Endha oor? Amma enna panraanga?" (Where from, What does mom do?) and my "Amma, appa Madurai. Naan Chennai dhaan." (Mom and dad are from Madurai but I'm from Chennai only) The pride!

A study session (we were ahead of our time table by now!), another disastrous dinner, and an upset stomach later, the 5-meals-a-day-me of the past was malnourished.

I called amma from the phone booth on Wednesday morning after another study session and feigned total bliss. "Annimae super ma. 10th tamil lessa nyabagam undhi. Super ga undhi, moonu vaalagunu lessa purunjusundhi. Parotta thintini!!". (Everything is fantastic. And I remember 10th grade tamil very well. The three kids are following very well too! I had parotta! )

Then made 2 more calls to ask Sudha to bring lunch for me for Thursday and Manju for Friday. A friend in dire need! I also decided I would ask amma to pack 2 tiffin boxes whenever she could, so that I can give Dhaksh.

And then there was some lady in the hostel (someone whom everyone used bad words about) who created a fuss that morning saying I hadn't gotten the required permission to stay in the hostel. I had gotten all the permissions and even after explaining to her about that and the reason I was staying, she had to bring the roof down. Screaming at me and my friend. Bad taste in mouth. Now my friend might have problems, but she didn't seem too worried. "Andha amma eppavum kathikittu dhaan irukkum. Nee tension aagadhae." (The woman forever yells. No tension!). This decided it for me.

After Thursday's delicious lunch and the evening study session, I called my mom at 7:30. "Amma, naenu naedae intigu othaanu. Naagu manchi dinner chae.. Please!"  (Ma, am coming home tonight. Please make good dinner for me)

Waited for the PP21 and was home an hour and a half later. Smelled ghee that was being made and followed it to the kitchen and to mom. There was paruppu thogayal and menthulu pulusu. And my mom talking about her day at work.

Home had never felt better. Mom sat me down for dinner and listened to all the praise I had for home food. She knew.

When I gulped down breakfast with "super a undhi!" ("It's super!"), after that particular product (along with many others) had gone up much higher in my now expanded list of what people eat, she really knew.

My friend asked me that morning in college, "Seekaram veetuku poitaya? Amma ku surprise aa??". (Did you go home early so that you could surprise your mom?)

"No way! Apram enakku saapadu micham illama irundhirundha angayae sethirupaaen!" (No way! I would have died instantly if I had to find that she didn't have enough food left for me)

Yeahrrrright I was an adult! Didn't even want to be one.

ps: Food, is the all powerful driving force, for all things there is.
ps1: The children who worked in the canteen and the mess were technically, legally not children. They were above the age limit after which they could work. But that is legality. These were kids, according to my 18 year old brain even.
ps2: We did finish the Tamil text next week. Two kids passed their Tamil and Social Sciences exam and one didn't. They were scheduled to write the other exams the next year, but none of them stayed long enough in the same job for us to help with writing their next set of exams. After repeated attempts in writing to them in the address we had on their SSLC application forms, we gave up trying to get in touch with them
ps3: If you are against reservation, please go and first level the playing field for these kids and kids who have educated parents doing everything they can to get the best education for their kids. All your energy is needed there! There are enough people to do all the talking already.