Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Too young? too old?

My father once made a remarkable observation. ‘For ages I was told,’ he wryly said, ‘that I was too young for a lot of things….and then before I knew what, people started saying that I was too old. Whenever was I ever just the right age?’

I have had somewhat the same problem all my life. It has been aggravated by the fact that I am a teacher by profession, and I try to keep in touch with a lot of ex students, and so I am forced to watch little kids grow up (well, grow bigger, fatter, more conceited and uptight at least) all the time. It doesn’t help that I have a very long and acute memory, so that anyone’s current affectations clash violently with all the foolishness and vapidness of theirs that I vividly remember.

And it is a very strange and common disease that people are so sensitive about age. Class ten-ers will pooh pooh those in class five, a college goer will sniff at class ten-ers, those who have entered working and/or married life will sneer at college goers as ‘just kids’… and so it goes on. Funny they all assume that they themselves have grown much wiser and sharper in the few years that have passed since they were that age themselves, entirely and happily oblivious of the fact that most of them haven’t really matured one whit: they have merely blended with the crowd of the benighted, most of them, and after all, as I love to say, A fool when he grows old simply becomes an old fool!

‘Oh, but she’s so young’, I have heard people say in their twenties and in their fifties. When does a person stop being ‘too young’? Khushwant Singh died aged 99 only a few days ago, so he might easily have said that about me, right, me, at 51, after all I have learnt and seen and done lifelong, and 33 years of teaching? And what can you say of people who call my daughter ‘too young’ because they are ten-twelve years older, but forget how much older I am when they talk to me? Oh, and just by the way, they get mightily offended when I say I get the feeling that I am talking to a much more grown up person when I deal with my daughter than the likes of them…

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Baby forgotten at airport

See this.

These parents would be in their late twenties, I guess.

That means people their age were my pupils 12 to 15 years ago, maybe 20. I remember I used to tell them out of sheer exasperation over their habitual carelessness and irresponsibility, 'What kind of parents and teachers are you folks going to grow up into?' Remember, too, that most of these are educated and 'important' people too - doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, journalists - at least in their own eyes.

What should I say to the kids I handle today?

Friday, February 14, 2014

'emotional fasting'

Look up this website, which I found while surfing the net in a half absent-minded state. It talks about the nine chief moods identified in classical Hindu art/literature/psychology, and how best to deal with them.

While I was reading it up, the line that was playing at the back of my mind was from Chandidas: 'rasik rasik shokoley kahoye/keho toh rasik noy/bhabiya ganiya bujhiya dekhile/kotitey gutik hoy!', that is to say, everybody likes to think of himself as an aesthete, but the true aesthete is one in ten million...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Fair? no thanks

Sriranjani sent me this link to tell me why she doesn't like to visit the Calcutta Book Fair any more. I worked there for eight successive years, and I don't, either, for virtually the same reasons...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Now that is called snow!

This is a photograph taken in Kashmir, not Canada or Siberia.

As I keep telling my daughter, you get virtually everything in India...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Smart, smarting, gone...

Look up this link.

How much 'smarter' do we need our phones to get?

And how much longer before these uber smart machines start thinking 'Why don't we just get rid of these dumb humans lumbering around like dinosaurs and still thinking they "own" us?'

Thursday, January 16, 2014

English in India

Look up this link. They need to conduct 'scientific studies' of this sort to verify home truths like 'an education in English improves your chances of getting a fatter paycheck'! My dear study conductors who suffer from disguised unemployment, hundreds of millions of Indian parents know this already, thank you very much. It is they, and not those who conduct such utterly useless 'studies', who have kept the likes of me in gravy all my working life!

One interesting claim made by this study is that 'only 20% of the Indian population can speak in English, and only 4% can be considered fluent'. Now given my lifetime experience, I think that the first figure is likely to be a gross exaggeration, unless you insist that even the dhaba boy who shouts 'aiye, aiye, bread-butter milega' can 'speak in English'. As for the latter figure, ahem. I suppose all my ex-students now in their 20s and 30s might be technically considered to be fluent in English, but I wonder, truly... I know how many of them talk pidgin or Facebookese, and find it 'too difficult' to write articulate comments on my blogposts!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Teacher, salaam

Being the kind of teacher I am, it always interests me to see teachers being talked about with understanding, appreciation and respect. So it was good to hear Amitabh Bachchan saying in Arakshan, and Saswata Chatterjee reiterating in C/o. Sir that there's no such thing as a 'great' school, and a good educational institution is not made by airconditioned classrooms with wi-fi internet connection: all it needs is a good teacher and a blackboard (funny, I myself have never needed even a blackboard, and it's been a lifetime!)

The girl in the latter movie also made a telling point: the same school and the same teacher's best efforts can still produce scoundrels... it will be a long time yet before something as incredibly difficult as teaching (and I am not talking about mere 'instruction', be it in plumbing or surgery) can be reduced to running pat algorithms with totally predictable results, assembly-line fashion.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Science, or plumb craziness?

Interested in reading some really bizarre stuff of the science fiction/fantasy variety? Try this.

I was fascinated by this sort of thing as a youngster. Wonder why it doesn't thrill me half as much any more, though I keep in touch...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New 'revolution' in Dragon country

Does history really go round in circles, then?

They have just finished the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party.

A century ago, countries like Russia and China were planning to take the 'revolutionary' step of getting rid of capitalism and building a socialist paradise.

Today, they are taking the 'revolutionary' step of going back the whole hog.

What price a century of mind-numbing arguments, quarrels, riots, wars, pogroms and general mayhem?

Anybody who wants a peek at what was going on in Beijing may read this.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

There really are civilized nations on earth!

I wish I had been born in Iceland. See why.

It's a country where most 'educated' people read and write and don't spend all their time telling their kids to become engineers so they can shop mindlessly all their lives! 

Thanks, Saikat, for sending me the link.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Without comment again

This is a news story in today's edition of a national daily.

Whither proletarian revolution?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Toilets and primary schools

This is to my mind one of the most important articles carried by my newspaper in recent times, and it tells succinctly why I shall never call India a developed or civilized country, even if the roads become chock full of BMWs, every urban middle class male has become an IT engineer and every young rich female has become some sort of classical artiste.

As for the reasons cited by the author for why these two shames never go away, I just don't know...

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Subhadip Dutta sent me the following. I hope the advertisers eventually have satisfactory married lives.

These are actual profiles from, hilarious they are 

Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you forget your basic grammar after reading this mail 
I want very simple boy. from brahmin educated family from Orissa state she is also know about RAMAYAN, GEETA BHAGABATA, and other homework. 
(Can smbdy plz explain What 
I want a boy with no drinks. If he 
wants he can wear jeans in house but while steping out of house he should give recpect to our cast. 
(by not wearing his jeans? What the 
hell...! )  
~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ 
(I am loughing {laughing}) 
whatever he may be but he should feel that he is going to be someone groom, 
and he must think of the future life if 
he is too like this he would be called the man of the lamp. 
(I am clueless, I feel so lost. Can anyone tell me what this girl wants A 
LAMP ? ?) 
~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ 
I love my patner i marriage the patner ok i search my patner and I love the patner ok thik hai the patner has a graduate ok? 
(the 'Ok-syndrome' K K) 
~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ 
I am pranati my family histoy my two 
brother two sister and father & Mother. 
sister completely married 
(somebody please explain how to get married ‘completely'?) 
My name is farhanbegum, and i am 
pleaes you marrige me pleaes pleaes pleaes pleaes pleaes pleaes pleaes 
(Heights of desperation! ) 
i am kanandevi. i do own businas. one sistar. he was marred. 
(“1 sistar…he was marred”. I’m dead…) 
I am Sharmila my colour is black, but 
my heart is white. i like social service. 
(Is she a Zebra..???) 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Splendour of colours

Thank you, God, for all Your blessings.

Click on the following link for a sumptuous visual treat. Then pass it on to all you love.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

genius... or, the trouble with being carelessly bilingual

A 15 year old in my class said two days ago, quite unabashedly, 'My dada (elder brother) is three months older than me.' When I observed that that is biologically highly improbable, she looked blank, and was demystified only when a few friends who had caught on faster explained it to her over giggles. She had meant her cousin, of course... most Bengalis refer to cousins like that, rarely pausing to think about complications it can cause.