Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Vijaya High School Calling!!

Last Sunday marked a rare, one-of-its-kind sort of occasion...We, the ex-students of Vijaya High School, Class of '99, got together and celebrated a much-awaited reunion. The idea was spear-headed by Pradeep BR, implemented by a gang of enthused boys and appreciated by a whole lot of us who marked our attendence with an unconcealed, bubbling pleasure! Aside meeting long-lost buddies and chatting away to the oblivion, it also brought with itself a sense of acute nostalgia...And even before I realised, I had put on memory's precious hat that eclipsed active thought-process....

This school happens to be not just my alma-mater, but also the place where I came into contact with the big, bad world, as they say it. Not that my classmates were vile, wicked types ( Infact our most heinous crimes were limited to bunking classes while still in school, designing pranks that couldn't possibly originate from a sane mind and the like....;-))
But for the kind of person I had grown up to be, after a sheltered and protected childhood where I used to be the queen of all that matters, an apple of ma 'n pa's eye, my teachers' pet, after winning scores of competitions, unbeatable, energetic to the point of being restless and adored, I suddenly felt like I was in this maze where I HAD to find my way. That was the absolute first time I got a taste of people, in true variety.

There were people from various social, religious, economic backgrounds. Which in it's collective unison contributed to chalk-and-cheese difference in the outlooks of people out there. For me, who had grown up in the cocoon of like-minded people, it turned out to be an indispensible learning-process.. There were times when I just couldn't understand why people behave the way they do, or why do they talk about certain important things in such a careless manner..... when I look back, I only see how much THAT experience has helped in shaping me up. Because, beyond the initial moments of blunt shock, once I learnt to adapt myself and not take anything personally, I realised that this is precisely the way people are..that no one is better or worse, everybody out there is present to have the best time of their lives and it is purely a matter of acceptance that people ARE different from one-another, that this difference spurs off a different code of personal ethics, that even the most unethical person is living by the law HE has defined for HIMSELF. And most importantly, cliche as it may sound, it reminded me of Mother Teresa's words that said,
" If you go on judging people you will have no time left to love them"

Well, I understand that loving the entire humanity is a steep Teresa-like quality that atleast I am not capable of, but for the good of my own soul and to maintain my saneness of purpose and comprehension of mind, it is indeed much better to not analyse, but appreciate people and enjoy them!

Vive la difference!!

PS: I will put up some of the pics of the event in my next post where I shall write more about the event itself

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Stirring a reading consciousness in children

Very often we hear about children who refuse to read books and involve merrily in creative activities that give wings to their imagination. Harry Potter has certainly re-introduced reading especially among children, in startlingly significant ways. Still, reading is a habit that needs to be inculcated in children as early as possible. From what we see around, the average age to start reading books like Harry Potter, Eregon etc.. seems to be 7 or 8 yrs. Till then, reading mostly revolves around the ubiquitous 'fairy tales'.

A mother of two kids, Mrs.Shailaja Dixit opines, "Wrapped up in the form of imaginative stories, they have some important values also". Strange as it may sound, it is but true. Because not only do they emanate sheer magic and a pleasant feeling while one reads them, they also have worthy messages for young, impressionable children. Since children are very pliant at that age, to have an essential message passed on to them in the name of a story is certainly not a benign task. For one, there is this inimitable heroine in Cinderella who has so much self-belief that despite having been ill-treated and made fun of by her step-sisters, she still gears herself up to be the enchanting girl who wins the hand of the charming prince! Many more stories of this nature are driven to inculcate self-confidence, truth, justice, honor and valor in children, provided they are guided firmly and intelligently, backed by sensibly chosen stories.

Children have much more to remember than just the story from tales like 'The brave tailor' that heralds the importance of wit and decisiveness, 'Elves and the shoemaker' that entails the story of an honest and duty-bound shoe-maker who eventually gets blessed with colossal fortunes, all because he had the empathy and compassion to help some elves who were in dire need. These stories sizzle with their emphasis on goodness, fine behavior and deportment, sense of justice, character and last but not the least, presence of mind, wit, gallantry, braveness and courage.

However, the challenge is to evoke the submerged interest in stories among children and to captivate them with a delightful narration, which is precisely what the best-selling children's books do! It is no mean feat to reinstate the love for books among children. But once achieved, it only grows. They should be made to understand at an early age itself that reading is a religion in itself and a well-read person definitely comes across as more refined than the rest and is never really alone wherever he is. Books are the primary source of information. Reading is the kind of devotion that, if once evoked, never goes astray. So, children ought to give reading the distinction it rightfully commands.And this is where the responsibility of parents comes into fore by nurturing appreciation and inclination towards reading in their offspring.

To start with, a child would want to read the kind of books that are sprinkled with imagination, beauty and a taste of humor. The obvious choice would be a well-chosen fairy tale that brightens their moods and colours their spirit with a lot of spunk. This will undoubtedly lay a firm foundation in turning them into vigorous and interested readers who believe that reading is not an activity or worse, a chore, but it is a pleasure and a fun filled experience they would want to indulge in, more and more often.

Further more, when we look at fairy tales from this angle, one can safely conclude that along with a regular diet of generic fairy tales, our very own mythological epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata should also be imparted to children in the form of short, understandable stories. Along side being entertaining, thanks to the rich drama that they unfold, they are also informative regarding our ancient history. Most of us have had nostalgic experiences with our grandparents telling us these stories when we were kids. But now-a-days, due to the shift in family structures from joint to nuclear, not all homes are replete with people who are free enough to pass on these stories.

So fairy tales (or any short story) for children should be written carefully with a well-placed view of awakening the dedicated reader in them and also live up to what could be achieved through word-of-mouth story telling. When this is accomplished, we can happily sit back and watch a new generation of voracious book-lovers who can devour this knowledge source, and a consistent breeze of coming-of-age creative playwrights, not to forget hordes of other people who will be better equipped with abundant knowledge and timely information, not because they have access to all the world's resources but because, they have the drive and capacity to read and are using it to their advantage in any field that they embark on!

Photo Courtesy:www.google.com

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The 'Seducing art' in 'Shopping Mart'

My usual over-worked, over-booked self had yet another engagement yesterday. Fighting to keep my eyes wide-open thanks to the previous night's insomnia, I accompanied my friends to a happening mall for a shopping expedition. The 6 pm chilly breeze did nothing to drive away the icy shivers the evening had fondly granted, so I decided to don my Monte-Carlo sweater and jeans in opposition to my buddies' low-necked tops with ultra-feminine hoop earrings.
Frankly, for me, comfort scores over the need to look like a bomb.

But life tosses out funny experiences in the name of well-intended friends, who advice you endlessly on how to look desirable and hot, especially for the benefit of men. It's even more crazy when girls express mock-shock over a fellow-buddy's single-status.
"The shock IS justified..", I was corrected the other day, "Having a boyfriend is certainly THE status symbol, that you are the prima donna of some young dude's life!" was the point made.
"But how can you just tag yourself onto some guy whose good looks apart, but conversational skills you are clueless about..?" said I.
Coz speaking skills are as important and vital for me in a person as yeast is for bread!
" Chuck it Vini, you are asking for too much! Is a hot appearence insufficient? What kind of ego-trip are you on..you are a trifle too fastidious!" was the reaction.

Ego-trip!! Now after having spent 21 yrs on this dear planet I guess I don't have the right to express shock over such statements, even if they are directed towards me. But to think of something so obviously cardinal and in every way indispensable as a useless thing in the maze of good looks, a hot body and a fat bank-balance is certainly inexcusable, to say the least. While I don't expect everyone to regard a man's or a woman's personality, integrity, character and personal value as the relationship's meat-and-potatoes, I don't agree with the cold rebuff they are meted out with either! It's about time people start regarding their relationships seriously with an eye for future companionship, and look beyond the fine cars, family name and the company tag and recognise and respect the other person for what he or she is. What we represent is not about where we come from, but more about where we are headed.

From yesterday's experience it became more than apparent that people stay on a look-out for prospective love-interests even in places like shopping malls and book-stores. While I can't understand how one can keep their seduction-antennae up and running 24-7-365 till they get hooked onto some prosperous partner, the fact that they even manage to identify the right one in the 'labyrinth-like' shopping-jungles calls for superior identifying and strategizing skills, I must say!

However, what took the cake at the end of the day was an eclectic piece of wisdom I garnered from a self-confessed 'good friend'. The girl had the nerve to let her gaze wander over my jeans-cardigan look and utter, " Girl! You need to learn the fine art of 'seducing through attire'. Else how will you attract men, at all??"

Hmmm...while I'm toying with the idea, HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all...

Photo courtesy: www.google.com