Sunday, February 24, 2008

I hate giving titles so this post doesnt have a title!! on second thoughts i would call it Life's Like That - Part II

My 7 year old cousin is going through a phase in his life where he wants to be everything. One day he wanted to be spider man, the next day he swore that he was born only so he could bat like dhoni and then he wanted to be a footballer like zizou. Everything he sees around him enamors and charms him. It reminded of the time in my life when I was going through a similar phase. From the time I was 4 to the time I was 18 there were approximately 137 people I wanted to become and 3764 things I wanted to do when I grew up.

Age 5: Revs the garbage collector
I am extremely serious when I say that at the age of 5 I thought the coolest profession and the best thing to do in the world was to collect garbage. The reason was this. When I was young and amma used to give me something to eat, me being me I would invariably always drop what she gave me. A bar of chocolate, a ladoo, fruits EVERYTHING. And most of the times I would drop it in the dirtiest of places possible and just when I went to pick it up again and put it into my mouth to eat it my mom would say “chi!! Gandha hai” and flippantly throw it into the dustbin without realizing how it broke my heart to see a perfectly edible, delectable piece of chocolate go into the dustbin just because my mom suspected it had contracted germs. So most of my childhood went by with me sacrificing most of the things I liked to the dustbin. Every morning when chandu the garbage collector came home I would stare at him wistfully and think to myself “if ever I grow up I would want to be someone like chandu so I can go from house to house and collect garbage and retrieve all the things amma cruelly threw into it”
Needless to say after I attained a certain level of maturity this dream died.

Age 9: Revs the teacher
Though this sounds like an extremely sane and serious profession to choose, now when I think of it , the reason I chose it for seems extremely silly. All through school the one thing which absolutely enamored me was writing on a black board with white chalk. In class 4 there was nothing in the world I would have liked to do more than writing on the board with chalk and the only person I knew who always did this was my teacher. Because of my lack of stature though I have been monitor many times I was never given the opportunity to write the proverb for the day on the board primarily because I never could reach so high. It was such a grand thing for me to be called by the teacher to solve a sum on the board or something and I used to almost swell and burst with pride and hold the chalk as tightly as possible and do the sum as slowly as possible but that was a rare occurrence and So every time I looked at the teacher I would be like “That’s it. If ever I grow up the only I thing I want to be is a teacher and the only thing I want to do all my life is write on the board with chalk”
This dream died when amma and appa bought my sister and I a black board at home and after writing for 6 months to my hearts content the charm wore off.

Age 11: Revs the pilot
I think EVERY child would have had this dream at some point of time in their life. I haven’t known a single person who didn’t want to be a pilot when he/she was a kid. I think it is just one of those childhood things. Kya banna chahti ho badi hoke? someone would ask me and pat I would reply “Mai to badi hoke pilot banoongi” . I dunno why or what made me chose this profession but the very thought of sailing high in the skies among the clouds and wearing all those badges and stuff seemed like the most interesting and fun profession. I think this dream of mine never did die and never will. Even today I nurture a secret desire to ride a jet or at least a helicopter. The fact that I have never seen the insides of a jet or a helicopter and have a mild fear of heights is something which we shall not waste time discussing.

Age 13: Revs the sleuth
Extremely predictable. Every kid who has grown up reading enid blyton, nancy drew, hardy boys, agatha Christie, perry mason or sherlock holmes would have nurtured this dream. At the age of 13 I knew that I was a reincarnation of fatty (the main character in the five find outers and the dog. My favorite series by enid blyton). I used to dream up non existent mysteries and suspect extremely innocent people . I got the hiding of my life when once my dad had given my cycle to the cycle fellow for some repairs and I went and told him “hah!! Ramanan!!! So u thought u could escape by stealing and selling my cycle, getting some money and then claiming the insurance claims also by declaring the cycle was lost eh? (errr.. yeah. That was the way the book “the mystery of the burned cottage” ended when Mr. what-his-name would set fire to his own cottage to claim insurance claims). Needless to say my dad wasn’t pleased. Parents!! No appreciation for creativity or lateral thinking.
So because of extreme parental pressure I gave up this dream of mine.

There were so many, so many other things I wanted to become. A lawyer (the thought of wearing a black robe and carrying a rolled up white paper and shouting “your honor” gave me quite a kick and I have done it many times in the privacy of my room when I was young), an actress (ok!! U can stop heaving a sigh of relief that I did not pursue this dream of mine), a cook (never will become a good one I guess!! :(), a writer, a doctor (I grew up watching corny hindi movies so I have always had this desire to come out of an operation theatre, look at anxious family members and say “inhe dawaa ki nahi duwaa ki zaroorat hai”. Lol. Morbid!! I know!!), a cricketer, an army general (because the fact that there were no women in the cricket team or Indian army rankled me.) and sooooooo many other things that I have lost count.

It is indeed surprising and rather ironical that not even ONCE in my lifetime did I want to become a software engineer. I have nurtured so many dreams when I was young and in none of them have I pictured myself sitting in front of a computer screen and typing away to glory. Well what I am doing now is way way way better than some of the things I have wanted to become. (I mean seriously. Just imagine what would have happened had I pursued my first ever dream of being a garbage collector. Incidentally I am also doing that. Yesterday one of my team mates asked me if my variable in java had been garbage collected and if I had done garbage collection. I couldn’t help but laugh!! :D) and I am extremely happy and have no complaints but sometimes I wonder why I never pursued some of the things I wanted to when I was a kid and ended up becoming something I totally did not think of. But I think all of us have extremely romantic and exotic dreams when we are young but reality is so much different and I guess life’s like that and though right now I may not be exactly fulfilling some of my dreams (Thank god!! :P) I am extremely happy and contented and I hope I stay that way!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Life's Like That!!!

DISCLAIMER:This is a long post as usual but I don’t have the heart to edit any of its contents so please bear with me!! :)

When my sister and I were born my mother took one look at us and hoped that she would have daughters with the looks of rani mukherji, the agility of PT usha and the voice of MS subbalakshmi.

I guess something went wrong in my mothers prayers coz we ended up with the looks of PT usha, the agility of MS and the voice of rani mukherji. :P But my mother, stubborn that she is decided that though god hadn’t given her gifted children she would make her children gifted and somehow make them great singers or athletes or orators. As a result of this my sister and I were sent to extra curricular activity “classes” right from the time I was in class 3 and she was in 6th. I shall try my best to recount my experiences in the various classes I attended.

The Singer:
Now I am not exaggerating when I say I have a voice which closely resembles rani mukherji’s. people who have spoken to me on phone have given the following adjectives for my voice. Bellow, raspy, howl, shrill, grating etc. Even in class 3 i knew that I could be anything I wanted to be but not a singer. Now in tam-brahm houses it is a tradition that if u have girls u have to necessarily send them to singing/dancing classes and if u have boys u have to necessarily send them to singing/ instrument classes. My family is no exception. I have cousins who are brilliant singers, excellent violin players and graceful dancers. I am none of them.

My mother not the one to accept defeat sent my sister and me to this 86 year old vidhwan (I still remember his name: dhinanath updhyay) to learn Hindustani music. In the year 1993 in surat there wasn’t anyone who taught carnatic music so my mother settled for Hindustani. Now Hindustani music is beautiful and soulful and some of the songs which our sir sang have moved me to tears even at the tender age of 8. (our sir sang mind u not us. If it had been us there would have been different kind of tears in our sir’s eyes)

So we were sent to music classes. Now this music class was from 2.30 – 3.30 in the afternoon. School used to get over at 1.30, then heavy lunch and then music classes. Please note the heavy lunch point. By the time we reached the class we would be half asleep. Now this guy who taught was an excellent singer but had poor eyesight (obviously he was 86. I still wonder how he stayed awake from 2.30 – 3.30). So as soon as we sat down to sing preethi would doze off saying “I am sleepy and anyway sir cant see me sleeping so I am going to sleep”, leaving me to face sir’s wrath.

Sir: Gao beta gao. Saaaaa
Preethi: zzzzzzzzzzz
Me: (Pssst. Preethi utth. Sir is asking us to sing)
Preethi (almost musically): zzzz.z.zzzzzzzz.zzzz
Me: (after futile attempts at trying to wake up my sleepy sibling I would start shouting at the top of my voice coz I had to produce the effect of 2 ppl singing): SAAAAAAAAAA…
Sir: (he cant see preethi sleeping away to glory): aur zor se sur mein gao, taal se mila ke gao beta. Sa re ga ma
Me: (thinking): sur aur taal ki to aisi ki taisi. I cant even sing and I have to care abt ur sur and taal also
Me: Sa re ga maaaaaa

And so on and so forth the great man tried to make the voice coming out of my chops a little bearable - in vain. Finally at the end of 3 months he couldn’t take it any longer and he called my mom.
Mom: ji. Kaise gaati hain meri betiyaan?
Sir: awaaz mein dum hai lekin sur aur taal ka milan nahi hai.
he said mustering all the panache he could instead of telling my mom, “Frankly, in my 55 years of teaching music I have never come across anyone so hopelessly disinclined towards music”
And so that was that and my mother dropped dreams of ever having sudha raghunathan’s and MS subbalakshmi’s as daughters

The Orator:
Next was oratory. My mom began having dreams of daughters who would be lok sabha, rajya sabha speakers or Indian envoys of the united nations. Honestly speaking public speaking was something which I was fairly decent at. Till class 10th I have never had a fear of crowds or people. I used to love taking part in debates, extempore and declamation contests in school. And then “THE” incident happened. I am not sure when it was, whether in 10th or 11th but I had to give a speech introducing a particular chief guest who had done a lot of work in uplifting the poor etc.
At one point in the speech I had to say “Sir, your enthusiasm is infectious and has encouraged all of us to follow in ur footsteps” and I dunno what came over me, I suddenly got really really scared fumbled and said “Sir. Your infection is enthusiastic and has encouraged all of us to follow in ur footsteps”. :oops:. I could have left it at that and no one would have noticed but I went ahead and said “I am sorry. Your infection is enthusiasm and …”

The entire school howled, the teachers giggled, the principal frowned and the chief guest wasn’t very impressed to say the least. I still wonder what would have happened if he had really had some serious infection or something. Whatever. Since then I have had this inexplicable fear for public speaking which has never gone completely and since that day I have never gone on stage to give a speech or anything. And so my mothers dreams of making me a lok sabha speaker also went down the drain
The Tennis Star:
Next my mom tried the sports arena. “Badi hoke monica seles banegi meri beti” said my mom when she enrolled me into tennis classes. When I joined tennis classes I was as high as a tennis racket (for people who have seen me stop saying “you still are!!” humph!!) and weighed 10 times as much. Meaning I was really short and really really fat. I could never lift the tennis racket to do a service or do a volley and even when I did miraculously manage to lift it my ball would never cross the net. Now my tennis sir had this weird punishment.
U come late to class – run around the court 2 times
U don’t wear proper sports attire – run around court 2 times
Ball hits the net – run around court once
Drop the racquet – run around the court, talk while practice – run around court, laugh while practice – run around court. U get the drift? Half the time I was running around court. So much so that many times I would come to class and start running around the court without even being told to coz I knew I would break some rule or the other during the course of the day.
Sir: Revathi today u…
Me: sorry sir. I will run around court
Sir: (puzzled). No wait. Today for a change u r on time and have worn the proper attire. U can start practicing ur serve.
Me: (running)
Sir: why are u running now?
Me: I know I will mess my serve, talk or giggle or something!! I’d rather run now than run after I am caught!!

Anyway at the end of 3 months of coaching I was 6 kgs lighter and a fairly decent athlete (all that running finally did pay) but tennis wise I was still the same. MISERABLE. I never did get the hang of the game and I was always made to play against people who were masters at the game. Before I could understand what was going on they would say ace, deuce, game point, match point and I would have lost.

So that ended my mother’s “meri beti monica seles” dreams.

Over the years I have realized that there is nothing I that I am really good at. I mean I was fairly decent at studies, fairly decent in sports, fairly decent in everything but never exceptionally brilliant in anything. I have never been a very ambitious go-getter kind of a person and am extremely comfortable with my shortcomings because I have realized life’s like that. U can never have everything and the beauty of life lies in the fact that it isn’t perfect. Its imperfections define its beauty. Ultimately i never did become any of the things which my mom hoped I would become and neither did my sister (at least she did justice to the looks of Rani and agility of P.T Usha condition. I was completely hopeless!! :P). But I have no regrets because though I know I never will be a monica seles or an MS subbalakshmi I am extremely happy because I am sure monica seles and MS Subbalakshmi (may her soul rest in peace) can never be me. :)
(Nope!! I have gone deaf so I cant hear u say “Huh!! Who u kidding?? They would never want to be you!! ;)”)