A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


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The Done Thing…

… out here, is to be predictable, 😀 and do an anticipated write on an honest-to-goodness-you’d-expect-me to-write day. When you’re finished reeling from that piece of hyphenated nonsense, you’d have figured out where you are, and where I’m still not. At. (Yes yes yes, I’ve heard that yada yada yada thingy about ending sentences with a preposition, but that doesn’t stop me from stretching that to acceptable vs unacceptable forms of language usage, you might have heard of. There. I tell ya, there is something immensely satisfying about thumbing one’s rather busybody nose at things. Sigh.)

So yes, we come to the anticipated part. A blog on teachers, teaching, learners, learning, on 5 September, each year, since we recognized the ultimate teacher in Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, statesman and scholar, and an ideal to live up to. (Dang! that preposition hands over the abyss again!)

It’s expected, yes. (Do take a look at the years paraded at the end of this blog. If you manage to wade through this riff raff of words. Better yet, hit Ctrl+End, and look at them years, 2010 – 2015 -no I don’t expect you to read anything more than the hatke blog titles – yet another predictable feature of this space  😛 ) I missed last year. So I’ve got to make up two years’ worth.

We’ve covered the anticipated, expected, the “day”, or rather the reason for it, and now to the honest-to-goodness part. I’ve been pretty much confessional in the 2015 wala post. I need to go a step beyond with this one. Something weighs heavy on this heart, and it needs sharing, to ease it. Or maybe, in the long run, add to it. It shall come, as it is meant to.

Teaching is a vocation. Duh. A noble profession. Double duh. A selfless service to humanity. Duh duh…cough cough cough. It’s been said enough times, that saying it anymore takes everything away from even the etymology of them words. When is the world going to look at teaching, “teaching”, if so, as a profession also? If indeed one looks at the entire idea of having “professional”qualification, and having to take endless tests at different levels to “qualify” to “teach”, then it also follows that one should try to look at the whole situation with  the objectivity of other professions.

Yes, there is more of heart here, perhaps, and a delicacy to the process and progress both organic and linear, in teaching, since we deal in live material, but doesn’t that, in turn make the entire exercise more relevant, and therefore enforce the need to be more professional? Yes, you are now going to tell me about Doctors, Nurses, the Services, the …. do, please continue to enlighten me. Of the entire list you bring in, I hope you realize that “Teachers” are perhaps the most over-worked, and least recognized. Except of course, on Teachers’ Day. And I assure you, one is deeply thankful for it. I kid you not. I am. And I am not being sarcastic. I look forward to this day, because that is when the naughtiest child, as always, ups the most studious, in voicing them wishes. Every danged year. Trust me. 🙂 And I love that. Oopsie. I digress. This post isn’t about me, it is about what is expected.

When you work with live material, such as young hearts, young minds, passions unbridled, potential yet to discover, bushels hiding shining lights, can one even imagine the pressure brought to bear on this one individual, in a class of 30 +? I’m being Utopian here, for most classes in India, except for the exclusive schools, have 45+. I actually have a class this year with 60+. Forget the numbers though. In a class of even 10 children, this one individual in to monitor, administer, counsel, guide, grade, “discipline”, instruct, be a role model, recognizing each individual student’s unique set of gifts, burrowing and digging deep to discover it early enough in the teaching year and fan the gleaming embers to a fire by the end. What usually happens is that the teacher’s tale is on  fire. I’ve been there. It’s a similar story in many places. (No, tale is spelt correctly 😛 )

And yet this individual soldiers on. There is this verse, so called by Henry Van Dyke, that is fished out at will each year to celebrate a true teacher. It goes like this:

The Unknown Teacher -Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933)

I sing the praise of the Unknown Teacher.

Great generals wins campaigns, but it is the unknown soldier who wins the war.

Famous educators plan new system of pedagogues, but it is the

Unknown Teacher who delivers and guides the young.

He lives in obscurity and contents with hardship. For him no trumpets blare, no chariots wait, no golden decorations are decreed.

He keeps the watch along the border of darkness and leads the attack on the trenches of ignorance and folly.

Patient in his duty. He strives to conquer the evil powers which are the enemies of youth. He awakes sleeping spirits.

He quicken the indolent, encourages the eager and steadies the unstable.

He communicates his own joy in learning and shares with boys and girls the best treasures of his mind.

He lights many candles which in later years will shines back to cheer him. This is his reward.

Knowledge may be gained from books, but the love of knowledge is transmitted only by personal contact.

No one has deserved better of Republic than the Unknown Teacher, No one is more worthy to be enrolled in a democratic aristocracy, ” King of himself and servant of mankind ”

 

We don’t have these “unknown” teachers much these days. In the times of social networking, the slowly crumbling walls of convention and the easeful way that both learners and teachers interact outside and inside the classrooms, thankfully this unknown soldier now has a platoon from within the peer group as well as from amongst the live culture she deals with.  I sound like a broken record, I know, but I must say it – I know, I’ve been there too!  😛 With great crumbling of walls comes great glasnost, which in turn brings freshness of the spirit, but also blurs lines and either side, teacher and learner, overstep boundaries. Happens all the time. Some are “too friendly” or so they say, some are “too lenient”, or so they say. And those who have always been consistent, unchanging, get short changed. This is because change is the reason for progress. And change is needed. The acceptance and openness that change brings is what changes us for the better. Understanding this is perhaps the most difficult thing.

And finally, there has always been this thing that teachers have been, are and will always be a “partial” people. Partial to the studious, partial to the courteous, respectful of learners, the vocal, in terms of healthy interaction, maybe partial to those who speak, write, “behave” well. And once you are seen to prove this as true through your behaviour, as understood by a series of gaffes, misuderstandings, these come to stay and you get labelled. Duh. That’s one blemish that all the bleach in the world will not remove. No use saying, like Lady Macbeth, “out damned spot” – you have already become Lady Macbeth, who murdered the aspirations and dreams of some young ‘un, in the hope of seating your favourite as the chosen one. But then, that’s the thing about life too. It doesn’t stop, for either party. It goes on… maybe a bit more disillusioned by life, maybe, maybe, but nothing stops that relentless ticking onwards, no? 🙂 I’d be the first to admit that yes, such people do exist, and enough readers here would identify with it. However, there is this small detail of generalization, and most often we tend to throw the baby with the bathwater, in a manner of speaking.

So to all of you soldiers, in this game, The Game of Teaching, remember, if you get that Valar Morghulis, your response is, D.U.H. … Valar Dohaeris . That’s what is expected. That All men, read teachers, must serve, even at the cost of the inevitability of not being able to live.

But you know what? I’ve this anagram, deeply personal, that a friend had given as a life saving strategy. FTS. I love being where I am, profession-wise, and if I had to go over the years and be asked what I’d change, I’d still opt to be where I am. That, by itself, tells you, that learning, which is a part of teaching, and teaching itself, is all of the above, and some, and pretty much something I’d want to do again. Amen, is all I’d say. 🙂

That said, let me wish each member of the profession, the support staff, mentors, coaches, life gurus, every person who has touched your life in some way and helped you learn some danged lesson in life by commission or omission, a fruitful day 🙂 May you all touch more lives with the goodness of your being. May your learning never cease. May those who learn with you be guided by you onto paths that call to their hearts. May you instigate curiosity, temper their souls with a sense of adventure, shake the stupor out of their limbs, and make them want to scale their own aspirations with a zeal they never knew they had. Just show them that they can do it. They will. Then. That, you can be sure of! (yippeee, 1500+words, and a preposition to finish it off! 😛 )

5 September, 2017

Earlier posts on Teachers’ Day. Click on the year to be transported therewards 😀

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

P.S. References to GoT’s Valar Morghulis and Valar Dohaeris are universal in nature, and to be seen as a deliberate attempt to spice up a rather dreary blog. Thank you, if only you read it to pooh pooh it 😀

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These are a few of my favourite things…

… about her, this DIL ka tukda (piece of my heart 🙂 ), an awesome Virgo girl, (LINK) partner in crime to the Lion in our family 🙂 Now you know how he flourishes! All because of this young girl, and the way she’s taken him by the hand and walked beside him, having got his back, being the guiding light, the one who fixes him too, and loves with all that she has, in her heart ❤ and soul 🙂

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Yes, Ashwin, HER! Happy Birthday, Neeti!!! 

As intense as they come and as fiercely loyal as they are, this one all of that and more. My DIL, my Neetikutty, an alter ego of all my quirky self too!Be it movies, the fun ‘ideas’, and the love of books 🙂 Both of us ‘hatke‘, me more, though 🙂 She too strives hard to ensure I stay that hatke! The perfect daughter a mom could have!

I know I’ve spoken about her too, a LOT, on this space, over the years, but what you love and admire about a person ought to be said enough times, I guess, and then some! And so it is with her too…

…like you can call her at any time of day or night, and know you shall hear an answering voice, even in the dead of night. Sometimes even your best buddies don’t, can’t do that!

….when life throws a spanner at you, you kind of reel, in slow motion and yelp and curse, right? She smiles, grabs it, puts it in her tool kit, to use, for tightening a few loose nuts around her, primarily her partner’s 😛 😛

… her sense of style and being able to carry off with grace and elegance, even a homely (hehehe Neeeettiiiiiiii 😛 ) sweatshirt and pants 😛 😛 But really, she’s just plain gorgeous!

….the way she can focus on what needs to be done (yep, I can, you can too, duh! but how long do you stay with it???!! Gotcha!!! 😛 ), and does it!

…. those Time Management skills! I’ve learnt a thing or two from her, about incentivizing (the self, people, the self!!!) and actually making it work! However, I’m still a work in progress! (pun-DUH-intended!!! 😀 )

… her ability to see the big picture, and then heck! join in the fun of circumventing it! The goofiness of a good laugh, thumbing one’s noses at such things… I love that about her!

…her deep deep devotion to those she loves. I still need a few lessons that a way! I’m still learning, as we all are, I know 🙂 But you know how it is, how it comes easy to some people more, over the others? She’s one!

… her generosity of her heart, her time, her work, and yes, her bosses do tend to take advantage of it 😛 Much as that is tagged as a no-no these days, it is something just as refreshing!

This, up  here, isjust a wee bit of what makes that gorgeous, zany, passionate gal who’s my darling Daughter In Law, my DIL, an echo of my own heart – and she celebrates her birthday today!

Happy Birthday Neetikutty! You’re a goo gu’l , you are!!! (remember that awesome night we dragged down the beds onto the floor to watch Eliza Dolittle??!! It was the best!!! And yes, I am a goo gu’l too!!! ) Here’s wishing you life’s best, with love, laughter, warm sunshine, romantic rains, stunning rainbows, and all the colours and passions of life to add to the masterpiece of life you are making, as you journey onward! May the Brush strokes of the powers that be, be gentle, healing, loving and soft! Live life Quantum Size, my dearest daughter! There’s no one else I know who deserves to!

I love you, Neetikutty! God Bless, always!

 

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My fav. pic of you 🙂

30 August, 2017

More, for Neeti:

A Goo’ Gurl She Is!

The Queen of His Heart!

Here’s wishing another dil ka tukda, Keerthi Gautham on her birthday too! Another girl who makes me wonder at how these beautiful souls manage to rise above the things life throws at you, take it in their stride and march on oblivious to it! Lesser souls would pause to catch their breath, not these Amazons of the heart and spirit!

A wisp of clouds in the sky takes her fancy, and her camera’s and she brings to you the most wonderful of pictures, words and stories she creates… our girl on Cloud No. 9! Uma, (her blog is HERE!) you’re wished a wonderful day today, and the best of times ahead too! Big hug!!!

Happy Birthday, you gals, Neeti and Keerthi and Uma!! I love ya’ll!


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Looking Beyond

Butterfly wings and magic.
Season of passion.
Seemingly endless.
When the mating is done
Seeds are sown
And worms are born.
 
Passion reigns.
Patience resigns.
 
But who can see?
Will no one see?
Beyond the worms
To the butterfly
 
Inside of us?
9 August 2015


7 Comments

A Talent for Being Oneself

… is an amazing gift to have!
And that in itself, is perhaps, is a talent that ensures everything you do in life, you do with great contentment, in the confidence of being who you are, regardless of what anyone else wants you to be.

She’s got that gift. This girl, this lovely young woman, this precious heart, who has come to me, a daughter and a friend and a sister, and more than that, just being herself, beloved and loved.

Chronologically, it has been just over four years since we’ve “met”, but you know how it is that with some people, you “know” them the instant you talk or meet! It has been the same with her, and the other daughter I’ve welcomed into the family 🙂 The knowing, ah! the knowing.

Marriages, even between communities in the same faith, with similar backgrounds are minefields- heck! within the community too, “love”/”arranged” wala… no exception 😀 , but this lass, as I have already mentioned, along with her lad, has not let it change who she is, or changed others for herself. I find this ability of hers, in managing to be her, no matter where she is and with whom she interacts, to be the one wonderful defining quality that makes her so her 🙂 ❤

Pratibha, meaning the talented, the gifted, the light … my dearest daughter in law, celebrates her birthday today. Another precious year awaits, filled with much love, laughter, happiness, good health, hers and her loved ones’ 🙂 , much baby talk, sweet nothings and days quite breathless, and some with the quietude of peace and stillness (though with Nainu around that would be premium 😛 )

Dearest dearest Parukutty, you are loved so much by each and every one of us! May God bless you abundantly with the freshest and purest of things that life can offer, with slices of tang and spice and sweet to relish along the way!

Happy Birthday Darling girl! Stay sweet, chirpy and YOU, always!

Loads of love and hugs, Amma ❤ and the brood at home – Appus, Parus, Kutts, Mia Mommy and Kunju, Changaru, Ammini, along with the extended family of Naana, Naani, Ammai, G’mman, their kids ❤

Happy Birthday Lady in Red!

Happy Birthday Lady in Red!

Let life be that dance you'll ALWAYS want to do! And yes! Got a lot of the kids in there :D

Let life be that dance you’ll ALWAYS want to do! And yes! Got a lot of the kids in there 😀

14 October, 2015


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The Ogre turned Teacher

… or so the Ogre thinks 😛

Long, sometimes confessional, post alert* That’s bound to get readers in, for there is nothing more tempting than confessional confetti candy, even if it be spicy enough!

At the same time, I must admit that this has come about after an interesting conversation I had recently with kids who had been in my class, or their siblings had. Insightful as always, you know, talking to them kids, and listening, for a change 😀

It began with one of them saying how her sister remembered me from the Primary School – my “beating” so to speak. I had to grin sheepishly.

As with how it has been with very many from my profession, I too used to use either my hand or a wooden scale (a sharp tap below the knee, on the calf) in my own formative years as a teacher. That, combined with my deadly stare has made me a terror. As I told this young lady, it certainly isn’t something I’m proud of at all. I wish I had not, for I knew, even then, I hadn’t a need for it. Still, that is the way  it has been. Probably the first few years there, in the Primary, I did use corporal punishment, till one day I was summoned by the kind-hearted, extremely humane Principal we had back then, who told me of a certain young girl (who was NOT, by the way, at the receiving end 😛 ) being “scared” of me. Gopalan Sir was circumspect, understanding, and gentle in the way he told me of this. And that was the turning point. It finally came home to me that all those thoughts I had while using the scale, or my hand, the discomfort of it all, needn’t have to be at all.

They say it takes a kind word to transform an ogre. For me, even though these days I am still an ogre who roars 😛 , Gopalan Sir has been that catalyst. He is someone I admire for his rational view, his endless patience and empathy, his love of all the members of his school, student or staff. It has been over 13 years since he has retired, and we meet quite often at school meetings, or weddings/functions in and around the city- each time it is with such affection and respect that he is greeted, by me and all the students (former) and staff.

Since that talk with Gopalan Sir, the extent of punishment served by me to the kid/kids is to decorate the wall, as I put it, joining the child with it 😛 (to stand against some corner or wall 😀 – and I’d be standing with the kids for the entire duration 😛 ), for corporal punishment is indeed against all things humane. I have been privy to a lot discussions on the same, from the fraternity, and from the stakeholders of the system, primarily parents. There is a sense of having “lost” something, for many, these days, without being able to “beat”. While I may seem to pontificate (and how ironic is that, coming from someone who was guilty of the same before! But you know what they say about reformed ogres and rakes? 😛 ), one thing is clear: very many, both parents and teachers in schools alike, are of the opinion that for discipline and learning to take place, there has to be a fear factor. That is to say, if the student is suitably afraid of what you might say / do, they will “study”. The sad thing? It works most of the time. Ask kids why they study a certain subject obsessively! To counter this is another school of thought – the Love factor. This one works primarily from liking and loving the kids/ learner group. We know how well equipped we are with that!!! Easy to say, but rather difficult to do. Instead we mouth things like – they have no base, such a* useless, what’s the point when you smile they sit on your head and will not listen to you evah… yada yada yada…. 😀 I speak of what I hear, and know, dear readers, as you all too must be aware!

However, in all of these situations, there is a learner group, we know, who is waiting to do just that if you allow them to, at their own pace, however that might be, even if it is not to your liking!!! I have a questions/ranting here!

  1. How many parents would in any way encourage their kids to become teachers, these days?
  2. How easy it is to pick holes into the fabric, hard woven, by either parent/teacher of the learner in their care!
  3. How many teachers are there, who love what they do? And the learner group with it?
  4. How is the larger system addressing the situation of the marginalized group in teaching, eulogized once or twice each year?
  5. Finances are just as important, but then teaching is to be seen as a noble vocation, and no matter what remuneration you receive, don’t you DARE think of perks, just the noble vocation!!! 😀
  6. Thankless job it is, say many! You now get it from Management/HMs/HoDs/Students/PARENTS – only you are there for you. Why should you take the risk?
  7. Oye! I’m here to “teach” – you learn, understand? I cannot be bothered by what’s going on in your home! Or, if you are concerned, it can become added stress when you involve in a domestic battleground, and your heart bleeds, most especially for the child, when you feel helpless.
  8. Teaching? That’s easy peasy? Who’s going to do the endless grading? The marklists? The organization of the Zoomabastically Phantastically Amazing Awesome Cultural/ Physical Education/ Management sponsored / Inter-ballistic School stuff? I mean the “gombetitions”??? Multi tasking is only one tiny tip of the deadly iceberg called teaching!
  9. Yeah yeah yeah! Shut the effing up is best, because once you voice your opinion, you get to market it, manage it, plan it and implement it. You see why many will be silent???

Sooooo… as Nivin Pauly goes, in “Bangalore Days” it ain’t just the consideration of the student population of which there is still a deliberation as to whether the situation is to warrant a explantion of such underrated aberration and dingolification of things without a least notion… you get it?

Yes, I’m still an ogre, but I shall tell you which kind. As a young lad in class 6, gazing horrifically when I confessed my true nature of being (ogre… duh!) said, Teacher! NO! Seriously! Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, Ah! Like Shrek? Laughter exploded in the class! I joined and said yes, now, a bit like Shrek, because I don’t eat kids no more 😛

And finally, if there are those who read this and know of those who have been at the receiving end of the corporal punishment I had, in the Dark Ages, doled out, please convey my apologies for the same. I have, not much, by way of memory, but certainly those kids would 😀 If it were to make a difference to way I had been, this is the one thing I would most certainly change about the way I was! To my own two kids too 🙂 ❤

But. Would I want to change what I am, and how I am? Nyet. Nahin. And emphatic No. For being with the learner group has given me something I know I’d never, ever, ever, EVER get any place else. A sort of affection, that is hard to come by, esp. if you’ve been an ogre or no 🙂 ❤

Happy Teachers’ Day to everyone who teaches, mentors, guides, coaxes, persuades, nudges, niggles one to learn something, each day, or whenever possible! The world progresses because of such people!

********

“Teacher” Tattle covers most of the 5 Sept. posts here 🙂

Last year, on Teachers’ Day: LINK – and at the bottom of that page you can see the posts from the previous years 🙂 😀 Sigh. No escape, I tell ya 😛

P.S. Added here is an album of scanned images of perhaps the best bio ever, of a class and it’s class teacher. Made lovingly by my previous class (of the AK47 fame 😀 ) So you see, even Ogres have their redemption, when they reform. Other than Shrek, ie 😛 😛

Click on the images to see the writing, which is awesome, as awesome as the art work, which, if I am not mistaken is Harigovind’s? The ideas, of course, are…. I know whose all… 😀

1. The Cover page

1. The Cover page

2. The Fairy Tale, errr... begins!!!

2. The Fairy Tale, errr… begins!!!

3. The Hook!

3. The Hook!

4. The Plot Thickens!

4. The Plot Thickens!

5. Allusions galore -

5. Allusions galore – “obviously” – had to be!!!

6. The not-so-forever-after. Obviously!!!

6. The not-so-forever-after. Obviously!!!

7. The Amazing Likeness, in the fantastic close, to my AK 47

7. The Amazing Likeness, in the fantastic close, to my AK 47

2-5 September, 2015 for 5 September, 2015.