Monday, December 31, 2007

Surfing the tide....

It was a Sunday afternoon. No one was at home. And it stood there, looking so inviting. I succumbed to the temptation and quickly drew the curtains. The room became considerably darker now. Aah…perfect. I looked around, half afraid that I’d be caught. But I quickly walked towards it, not wanting to waste any more precious time. It glistened because of a small ray of sunshine coming from a crack in the curtains. Slowly, I picked it up. Giving it a fond look, I committed the ultimate crime. I pressed the red button and switched on the TV. A cacophony of noise immediately took the place of eerie silence and I felt that familiar sense of warmth in me as I sat down with my partner in crime, the remote control; to do what I did best -Channel surf.

Bad habit, I know. It can spoil your eyes and all that. Yes, I’ve been told too. But I’m addicted to channel surfing. And this one Sunday, the remote was all mine. So I started off with the usual channel 8. I’d work my way upto 38 and then start all over again. I’ve tuned all my channels within that frame. On some really boring days, I’d even go all the way upto 99. And then come back to 1. So let’s see what treasure I struck upon today…..

Click Shah Rukh Khan is spending his New Year’s Day in Goa. Good for him. Click Hritik Roshan movie involving aliens and irritatingly bubbly kids. Click The best of Roadies…..all the contestants are sword fighting with some pehelwan kinda dudes. Click Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. Much as I hate to admit that I’ve watched the movie almost 35 times, I decided to bookmark that channel and come back to it later. Click Dawson’s Creek: Some funeral procession going on…not worth mourning for Dawson’s friends on a Sunday. Click High School Musical 2! Oh, but wait…it’s only one of the songs…and it’s in Hindi! Urgh! Click Heroes Nice. I’ll come back to that too Click Q Tv….man is explaining something in Arabic Click Kishore Kumar lookalike contest, I think Click Rerun of some singing competition involving children Click another show involving a children’s singing competition…..really, when I was their age, I’d spend all my free time in the park with other kids…not pleading with the audience to vote Click Oprah’s prime time….oh no….must change the channel quickly…I ran out of all the tissues in the last episode itself Click Some gory movie involving gangsters of some kind. Couldn’t really hear the dialogues…everything was being beeped off Click Tom Hanks….goodie…..but wait…this was only a trailer for the movie that will be aired on Tuesday Click Teleshopping network, I think. Whoa! They’re showing some miracle massaging belt or something Click Another Hritik Roshan Movie…oh wait….this is the sequel to the alien one! The prequel and sequel being shown on rival channels at the same time…doesn’t happen very often Click Click Click All News Channels 19 year old to head a political party. Click Kannada music channel: Kariya, I love you!! Oh dear. Click Discovery: Hmm…sparrows eating lichen with frost on Cacti in the Atacama Desert Click aaah Back to Shah Rukh Khan’s new year plans.

So what did I achieve from 15 minutes of non stop channel surfing? Well, for starters, I know I’m not missing out on anything fabulous while I waste my time watching one channel alone. The feeling of watching everything and yet nothing is so satisfying. Sigh….May god bless the person who invented the remote control!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This Magical Month

Walking home in the mild drizzle
Getting slightly wet, and yet staying quite dry
Singing songs and smiling at everyone around
Watching the trees applaud in the wind
Listening to ghost stories in the dark
amongst friends, sharing a huge quilt
shrieking at the smallest sounds
Running across the campus in the rain
to get that cup of steaming hot elaichi chai
Sneaking rose cookies into psychology class
crunching and eating them stealthily
Looking very interested in the seminars
and yet living in the far-far away world of dreams
eating in the terrace gardens of quaint resteraunts
dancing to goofy hindi item songs
getting all the steps wrong
singing completely out of tune
and yet having the time of my life
passing little notes from secret santa
waiting for letters to be passed to me
writing poems for friends on birthdays
watching their faces light up with joy
giggling at someone's sneeze
pulling monkey faces at one another
singing christmas carols during breaktime
tapping out rhythms with pencils and pens
shivering in the gusts of wind
and yet visiting the terrace at every given chance
eating steaming hot maggi clumsily
and then drinking a freezing chocolate milkshake
waving out to others from across the corridors
colour co-ordinating sweaters and socks
sprinting out of the last class of the day
splashing everyone with puddles around
flying amongst the clouds in the sky
with the feet firmly on the ground

I think I'm drunk on the drizzle of December.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Pack Rat Syndrome

My mum always tells me that I suffer from the Pack Rat Syndrome. I just can’t throw things away. I always think that I might need them sometime later and stash them away. Anyhow, I decided to prove my mum (and the rest of the family) wrong by turning out my cupboard. I figured I can prove how I'll need all the things I've kept in there. Uh Oh. Dastardly decision!! Here are a couple (actually, much more than that!!) of things I found in my cupboard. Go on.....have a good laugh at my cost!

Well, to begin with I was almost buried by the bundle of clothes that fell out the moment I opened the doors of my wealth. It took me all of 10 minutes to untangle myself from all the stuff that blessed me from above. So as I began sorting out the things, I found:

1) My swimming goggles. I gave up swimming over 7 years ago. And these goggles have my prescribed power so that I could see clearly in the pool. Well, my power has almost doubled since then,but I can’t throw those goggles away! I mean, if I am thrown out of a ship or something, I'll be able to see something...if not a blurred patch of blue....
2) That kimono top thingy my dad bought for my in Singapore. Sure, it resembles a silk table cloth in a posh Chinese restaurant.....but my dad brought it thinking I'll wear it someday.I cant throw that either-I mean, maybe I can go to some fancy dress competition dressed as a Singapore Airlines Airhostess!!
3) My 8th year birthday frock. It is a pool of Orange organza and tissue. With tiny shimmering beads and a huge bow on the skirt part. My dad brought this on one of his trips as well.I cannot possibly throw that. I mean, birthday nostalgia and all.....full senti trip it sent me off took me 10 minutes to get back and sort out the rest of my stuff...
4) My 10th standard SEEK T-shirt!! This is fairly recent-I even dropped a piece of Pineapple cake on that one!! The stains are off,but the memories of that event will never fade! Okay, so it’s red in colour and I hate red.....but I can’t throw it. Maybe someday I'll start liking red!
5)Four skirts that I've only worn once, never since then...and probably will never wear them. But maybe if my college has something like a skirt day (believe me,we've had days like that before!) then I won’t have I should probably keep all of them...
6) A fluorescent orange kurta. God, what was I thinking when I bought that!! But I must've had some logical explanation....I just can’t I think I'll save it until I think of why I bought it.
7)A huge stack of purple clothes-most of them have all either faded out or I've outgrown them....but still, purple is my favorite colour...and I remember the age when I never bought any other colour!! Sigh.....I have to pay tribute to those memories....I can’t throw them all!
8) My smiley faced socks! I have them in three ghastly colours....fluorescent blue, purple and white......and I can still wear them....maybe on a really cold day I can wear it with my sneakers and one will ask me to remove my shoes, right? I'll at least pray no one does....why waste such ...ahem.....precious socks??
9) A sundress (I think that's what it’s called). It’s black with bright orange spots and at least 5 times bigger than my actual waist size. Must I throw that? I don’t think so-I mean, I may end up growing old all by myself....then I can run away to the Caribbean and become really fat with all their food-then it will fit me perfectly!
10) My copper coloured Silk Pajamas!! (Another one of dad's contribution to my eclectic wardrobe!) So they have some mandarin script on the shirt and the pants don’t even reach my ankles anymore. But still, if I haven’t thrown the Kimono thing...I can’t possibly throw this, right? That poor kimono will need company!

Oh dear! I just re-read all that I've written above. I guess I do suffer from a Pack Rat Syndrome! :(

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An 'Auto'mated Reaction

Urgh. After trying (very very unsuccessfully) for over 3 months, I still haven’t been able to control my horrid temper. And the subject of today is: the auto. Not one, but the whole lot in general. There was a time when I depended on them to take me to and fro college for 2 years. Then I considered them as bright spots of sunshine (read: jarring yellow coloured rooftops). And now, they only look like some jaundiced three wheelers.

My love-hate relationship with the Autos has been going on for quite a while. Back in Delhi, I’d squeal with excitement if I saw an auto whiz past me. Fatfatiyas, I think, they were called. They were oddly shaped and judging by the number of people squashed inside it, they could easily compete with a minibus! But I was never allowed to go on them. They were considered a taboo. (We South Delhi kiddos took great pride in commuting in the boot of Maruti 800s. They were cozy for two 6 year old girls making faces at everyone behind them!)

And so I grew out of the boot and entered the forested streets (yes, some trees did exist in the Garden City). Here, autos became an essential commodity. Especially in my 11th and 12th standards. My friends and I took a ‘rick’ (as we called it) to college everyday. It was only a distance of 3 kms and no buses went in that route. So we had little option but to take autos….or walk amidst open drains and dusty main roads. And each day was an experience for the three of us. Once, we got a driver who sang all the way to college. Once we got autos with rather ghastly images of knife-stabbing-eye stuck on his windscreen. Once we even got an auto with two drivers. And in the middle of a traffic jam, one of the drivers...get this...... gave a rose to the other! We sniggered non-stop at the back and tried to hide our faces in books!

But you know, despite the weird autos we’d always seem to get, the fares were at least reasonable. The meter would be rigged, but we knew how to pay the right fare and manage our travel finances.

That turned upside down when I came to Chennai. Urgh! My dreams of commuting without a hiccup went for a toss. After a week of sun, sand and bargaining in Goa, I landed up in a similar position. Not the sun or the sand, but a Bargain with the drivers.

So they start off at astronomical rates. And then taper it down to twice the amount you’d pay with a fair meter. You feel like you’ve achieved the impossible when he accepts your ‘quotation’. Only to get home and realize you could have always bargained more. I am awful at bargaining. Simply awful. I prefer order and restrictions which people must abide by so I don’t have to bend the rules. Or maybe I’m just too lazy. But the autos here have taken the little sanity I had left and driven over it. Urgh squared.

The worst thing is, as we’re all being taken for a ride (pun intended) here, no one seems to be doing anything about it. Sure, everyone complains. But it just stops at that.

Well, if you expect a solution in this post, there certainly isn’t going to be one. I just had to rant. About a day full of auto rides. And it seemed so similar to a business proposition, or an auction. The only couple of solutions I can suggest to myself is:
1) Wait patiently for 5 more days and I’m back to the wonderful city of metered autos and a car waiting to be driven (ahem, by me……if I can get it out of my mum’s clutches)
2) Start going for anger management classes. That has to be a priority. The next time I come here, someone is bound to send me to a lock-up for displaying road rash at a couple of innocent looking autos!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Loony Cartoons

When I was barely 7, my school was a 10 minute walk from home….I would sprint to reach the gate and then pant there for a couple of seconds. And then muster up enough energy to go running up the stairs and inside the house. The first thing that would invite me home was not the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen…..or a Cocker Spaniel bounding towards me. What pulled me homewards like a pin to a magnet was in fact, a loony tune……

“Flintstones! Meet the Flintstones.
They’re the modern stone-age fammaleeeee
From the….Town of bedrock
They’re a page right out of Historreeeee

and as the song went on, I’d have a goofy grin plastered on my face and watch the TV without batting an eyelid. Every time Fred got shut out of the house and banged the front door, I’d laugh. I never got tired of watching Dino jump on Fred incessantly. I guess that was the magic of cartoons!

So I grew up watching The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Dexter’s Lab, The Little Lulu Show, The Adams Family, The Popeye show and of course, the unforgettable Scooby Doo.
And most of these cartoons really influenced my life back then. (‘Back then’, in this context, is the mid 1990s. Not some medieval age as I seem to be implying with this nostalgic report.)

I recently happened to read in a book that cartoons do influence children to a large extent. And mostly, in ways that are against ‘appropriate social behaviour’. Call me ignorant, but I certainly beg to differ from that point. Cartoons influenced me in the most bizarre ways possible –

1. I used to think all families must consist of a father, a mother, a sister, a brother and a dog….or a dinosaur, in Fred’s case. I always wondered where my ‘brother’ and ‘dog’ were!

2. I actually believed that the world of Jetsons existed. And that this world was above the sky. And I always suspected that Santa Claus was actually one of the Jetsons disguised as a mortal being. I figured if I’m a really good girl, Santa will take me to meet the Jetsons!

3. I joined Dexter wholeheartedly in believing that Dee Dee was a pest. In fact, I even began looking tall lanky girls with suspicion!

4. I began to use words like ‘Yikes’ and ‘Jeepers’ when I found something scary. The Scooby jargon sort of became a part of my vocabulary.

5. I tried very very hard to curl my hair like Lulu….that only resulted in a long lecture about how ‘I must like myself for who I am’.

These were some small changes that cartoons succeeded in making in my perspective of life. Now, as I look back on these things, I laugh at my incredulous antics. But back then, I was so engrossed in the world of cartoons that it never occurred to me there might not be a Mystery Machine or a nutty Uncle named Fester. I was happy to believe that they all existed. They were more colourful and were extremely sweet to let me share their lives. And somehow, in this blissful state of ignorance, I passed my early school years.

As I grew older, the word ‘technology’ erased my fantasy. I began to learn how these pictures appeared on the screens and they were entirely fictional. I realized that Zombies don’t take over amusement parks, and even if they do, a talking dog can’t rescue 5 teenagers from there. I guess that gullible nature of mine began to dissolve and I stopped staring at little birds on a tree outside my room. (umm…. I used to stare endlessly, waiting for one of the sparrows to say ‘I tot I taw a puttytat!’).

So I was shaken out of that dream world of cartoons. It was replaced by a new world altogether. Harry Potter! But lets not get into that now. There was always this empty space somewhere inside of me that cartoons previously occupied.

In today’s world, where cartoons play no role in my life whatsoever, I see my cousin watching Pokemon, Dragonball Z and all those animated series…..I wonder if he goes into a state of reverie as I used to. I wonder when he plays his pokemon game in the computer, if he feels he’s part of those super-coloured small creatures. Perhaps he is wiser in the world of internet and playstations. But perhaps, that imagination never really dies down in any child…or adult.

This is what I realized when I was flipping channels the other day…I came across an old episode of Tom and Jerry…. I was hooked on to it…and I was watching it with the exact same goofy grin plastered on my face. As Jerry did the cleverest things to escape from Tom, I laughed out loud…without thinking about the fact that cats don’t really survive after a cannonball hits them. See? The magic of cartoons worked again! I was able to ignore all the ‘facts of life’ and engross myself in a completely asinine, loony cartoon.

So in a way, cartoons will always play a rather precious role in my childhood. They got me into believing that Spinach is really strong enough to destroy my ‘enemies’! Well, I know that its true, but I’d like to keep that bit of reality in my fantasmatic world!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oh! So you’re doing a Beeyay?

Yesterday, I attended a family function. It was one of those rare occasions when I resurfaced from my pre-historic cave to peep out in the civilized world. Naturally, all my relatives (mostly the ones who qualify for senior citizen concessions) flocked over me and started off with the ‘Aiyo! She’s become soooo tall. And soo thin. The last time I saw you, you were this tiny’ (and they showed how tiny I apparently was by moving their hands a foot apart.)

Most of this is probably like a deja vu for others like me. If politeness didn’t come in my way, I’d have probably retorted by saying: ‘I am not tall. I’m only 5 feet 2 inches and I can barely reach the top latch of my bedroom door. I’ve become thin? well….ahem….thanks! and I thank the dear lord I have grown since the last time you saw me. I don’t imagine you would be very pleased if I were to defy the laws of growth and evolution and remain a foot long 19 year old anyway.”

See? That’s what always goes on in my mind everytime I have to face the same dialogues thrown at me. But offlate I’ve been receiving other kinds of remarks. The most repetitive ones being comments on the choice of my career. I’m doing a BA. Also known as Bachelor of Arts. Also known as a Beeyay by my relatives.

Beeyay is a new career option. It is different from a BA. A beeyay is a low-down career option you would be glad to consider if your report cards contained only Yeff or Dee. In other words, if you averaged a 41% in your bored exams. BA, however, is only understood by people who average over 85% and yet choose an arts subject out of a passion and interest for it.

But the Beeyay has gained so much popularity over generations, that I wont even begin to defend a BA. Instead, I shall go on to describe what exactly happened in that family function.

I was beginning to resemble a giraffe by straining my neck towards the dining room when I was attacked by a couple of aunties. They all kept smiling politely and made the same remarks I’ve mentioned above. Then one of them asked me:
Aunt no.1: So child, what are you doing now?
Me: I’m in my second year degree aunty.
Aunt no.2: Oh……you are doing yengineering or Yembeebeeyes? (MBBS)
Me: Umm….actually, I’m doing Psychology and Journalism.
Aunty no.1: eh? Psychology? Why child? You want to read our minds or something?
Aunty no.2: No no. she wants to become like Barkha Dutt.
Aunty no.1: Haha!! Yes yes. Very good. So you are doing BSc in Psychology and Journalism?
Me: No. I’m doing a BA.

(What followed later was a portrait of shocked expressions. Almost as if I had confessed to a murder or I had injected their children with poisoned darts.)

Perhaps even poisoned darts or murder doesn’t do the justice to that expression they had when they heard me utter the two alphabets: BA.

This is how Beeyay is still treated in most places. On one hand, people come up to me and say that I’m doing something very brave by getting out of the rat race. My friends sometimes envy me and think I go gallivanting to mental hospitals for case studies. I don’t agree with either. I am not out of any rat race. I’m in a different rat race altogether. One that runs on a different track. But parallel to engineering or medical. And as much as I would love gallivanting to mental hospitals, I don’t. because I also study theory, statistics, practicals and write exams with the same amount of tension as anybody else. So why must I be ashamed of my Beeyay anyway?
The next time around if someone does ask me what I’m doing, I’m probably going to raise my nose a tad higher (in a rather futile attempt to look condescending) and reply proudly, “I’m doing a Beeyay. So, what?”

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


What must I do when the teacher hasn’t come?
I can’t sit stiff in class and keep mum.
But its good if the teacher is strict and tough
And you begin to feel that you’ve had enough

Do teachers fill up forms of white and blue?
Or write in handbooks that they’ve had the flu?
Do they stutter and stammer for low attendance?
Then why must we do that? It makes no sense.

Are the teacher’s records ever checked at all?
They can say they are ill and go to the mall.
Anyhow, if these teachers do miss their class
We have an equally boring time in the library, Alas!

I was rummaging through a couple of my old notebooks, when I came across this poem. Obviously written in a fit of boredom, I couldn’t help but laugh as I read through it. I must have written this several years ago. It makes absolutely no sense….and is quite childish actually, but its fun to come across such weird pieces of writing years later.

On teachers’ day, I am at a loss of words to describe the teachers who were part of my life. My life didn’t change radically due to their pearls of wisdom. Nor was I deeply inspired by any of them. Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of teachers. But they were there…..and I learnt….what any student learns in class. Nothing more. Nothing less. But still, kudos to all the teachers who put up with moi for so many years!
The profession is losing the dignity and respect it commands. I really hope someday, I can take time off my ‘busy life’ and teach. And if I do that someday, maybe some other frustrated teen will write this poem sitting in the library because I would have bunked to go see a movie.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Perfect Pair of Black Jeans

My obsession for black jeans began with my visits to the orthodontist. Trying desperately to ignore the high-pitched shrieks coming from within the doctor’s room, I used to bury myself in the tabloid and fashion magazines kept in the reception. After hours and hours of gorging on such magazines, I learnt a couple of important facts on fashion. Everyone must have a pair of black jeans. They apparently went with every occasion (Back then….and even now; I don’t frequent these ‘occasions’). And they took off the extra kilos from….ahem….wherever you wanted them taken off. Every celebrity urged you to own a pair. Almost as if they would come out of the magazine, pull you by your collar and jinx you to buy them. And almost all designers went gaga over the black jeans of film stars and Page-3 socialites.

I began the search for my pair of black jeans. I was in need of a new pair of jeans anyway. I had managed to cut off all my old pairs to transform them into shorts or capris. So I had no pair of decent jeans for the ‘occasions’. And thus I began my quest for the ‘Perfect Pair of Black Jeans.’ I came across all kinds…….from gravity-defying low waist pairs to the skinny kind that can give a stick insect an inferiority complex. None matched my standards. Or my fussy attitude and stingy budget. I had almost given up for good when I saw the words SALE plastered upon one of the top branded shops in a market. I ran towards it to buy my pair. There was almost a premonition that I would get my pair there. But on opening the door, all I saw were men’s jeans. So they use a skinny gorgeous female model to advertise the SALE and then sell only jeans for the male species. Well, I guess that’s the whole point….of luring the male species.

So after 4 years, I have managed to find the “black jeans”. I had to widen both my budget and criteria for the perfect pair. But the moment I looked into the mirror after trying them on……I realized that they were indeed something else. So occasions or no occasions, I will still probably strut around in those jeans…..after all; it took me the longest time to procure them.

Ultimately, I learnt that everyone must have a pair of black jeans….even if they take you longer to find than your entire orthodontic treatment!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A United Venture

The year was 1996. The air was thick with excited whispers coming from all around. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation as we saw the words “The Lion King” appearing on the huge screen. We all gave a whoop of joy and settled down in our seats to watch what was to be one of my most memorable movie experiences.

Fast forward 11 years…

The year is 2007. The air is still thick with excited high pitched noises. And this time we see the words “Chak De India” appearing on the huge screen. I can feel the same childish enthusiasm creeping into me as I settle down to watch a movie that has broken my Lion King record.

So you raise your eyebrows and think that surely, there can’t be any similarity between Chak De and Lion King. Well, that’s true. There isn’t any similarity between the movies. The only thing that’s similar is the fact that I saw both movies with my entire class. And I think that’s what made these two movies stand way apart from the others that I have watched.

After weeks of mundane routines and classes, my Class-Rep came up with the idea of doing something together. As a full class. Still reeling over with notes from the previous IC {Indian constitution} class, one of the girls screamed out, “United we stand, divided we fall!” Ha! United, my foot, I thought. Some of the girls barely even know the names of their fellow classmates. Why on earth would they want to do ‘stuff’ with strangers? And that too, watch a movie? I mean, think about it. A movie is most often screened in a dark theatre for over 2 hours. What is so “united” about seeing it together anyway? The only united factor I could think of is that we would all stare at the screen….united. But that didn’t shake the determination of my class-rep. She even resorted to threats about denying proxy to girls who gave this movie a miss. So which movie were we supposed to go to anyway, I asked her. She gave me this benevolent smile as though God was enlightening his Chosen One and said to me, “Chak De India”. Humph. Perfect. Just what I’d want to see with my entire class. A senti movie about hockey players who run around the oh-so-handsome Shahrukh.

So imagine if the team had lost its World Cup final and were returning home all disgruntled. That was the exact expression I had on my face as I was busy racking my memory about the last thing we decided to do as a class. A trip to Wonderla. Wonder Bah! Humbug. Only 18 of us ended up going. That’s how “united” we generally are. But, there’s always a time for a new beginning, the optimist part of me [which I had so far, successfully shunted away] popped up and said.

So The Day dawned. Not so bright. There was a chance of rain [Oh Please! Oh Please!]
Like all good students [who are scared to death about shortage of lousy attendance], we attended our first two hours of lecture. And then we embarked upon the expedition to reach our place of destination. By foot. Not on those fancy spaceships with all the sound effects. We reached the theatre all sweaty and panting. We were not to worry about our appearance anyway as we examined the crowd around us. In fact, it was the other way round. The ‘crowd’ was examining us. Oh, I forgot to add three things. 1) The fact that we were watching this movie in a seedy theatre close to college.
2) We had only got the ‘First class’ [also known as Gandhi Class, apparently] seats as balcony and mini balcony seats were not doled out to a crowd of 40…
3) Yes. 40. So our class finally decided to do something united after all!!

As we sank into our….not so ‘sinkable’ seats, we could distinctly smell rats somewhere. That distracted my mind till one dirty porki rascal [our new jargon for these rowdy Romeos] screamed “Hi Babies!!” okay. I’m going to end with the description right there and move on…..

The movie started….and I got back into the same days of The Lion King. Only, this time, we could howl, scream and laugh without nervously looking back at our teacher. So howl, scream and laugh, we did. All the bitter feelings about our scattered class forgotten, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. And what better movie to watch with a huge crowd than one that has a nail-biting hockey final match to finish with? We laughed as a class, ‘awwwed’ at the cute scenes as a class, stood up during the national anthem as a class and even cheered for the same players as a class. We couldn’t get more united than that.

The movie finished…but we were still high on the excitement of the whole event. As we got out, one of the ‘more’ energetic of us yelled out loudly “Three cheers for 2nd PyEJ” and every one started cheering loudly. Urgh. This is the end of my already non-existent social life, I cringed. But when I looked around, I saw everyone in the theatres giving us looks. Not looks of impish disapproval or rolling of eyes. But looks of envy. Looks that clearly read, “Che, I wish I was in that class”. I then realized how cool my class actually was….is, actually. Okay. It was something I always knew but never wanted to admit lest I add fuel to the fire of the enthusiastic girls. I can only hope that we continue this tradition and do more stuff together. Hey, we’ve already come up with a new agenda. Our next destination? To watch the International Film Festival of India in Goa……united!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chewing Gum, Exams and Friends

Bewildered at the heading? Well, this title takes me back years in time. Chewing gum, exams and friends was my debut as an actor. This isn’t the nostalgic report of a movie star who is telling you ‘how it all happened’. And this isn’t going to end with ‘the rest is history’. This is, however, the musing of a teenager who has nothing better to do other than sit at home and go back in a time capsule to the time when she was 13. Chewing Gum, Exams and Friends (damn, I couldn’t come up with a suitable abbreviation, which is so much in fashion these days) was a play I acted in when I was in the 8th std.

Our school had introduced these compulsory ‘Hobby Classes’ and we had to, well, choose a hobby. My first choice was the Newspaper Club. The idea of having my name being printed on every issue of the school newspaper thrilled me to no end. Seeking inspiration from the Archie comics’ ‘Blue and Gold’ newspaper, I imagined myself strutting around with a smart notepad and a pencil behind my ear, interviewing famous celebrities…But I guess I wasn’t the only one with that dream. During a school assembly, when we were officially sorted out into various clubs, I discovered that the Newspaper Club had the maximum number of students. So all the juniors (that would be us) ended up in the Club we had marked as a second choice. In my case, Theatre Club. This wasn’t exactly my second choice. I was so sure of getting into the Newspaper Club, that I randomly ticked another club as a back up. Now, I was stuck in a theatre club.

I had always looked upon theater as a platform for failed film actors. Hey, you can’t blame me for the misconception. I was, after all, a starstruck teen!! So, with a rather forlorn expression [and I wasn’t acting] I entered the basement. I had only three classmates as company. All the rest were 9th std. students. There was a sprinkling of a few 7th std. kids as well.

The first thing [the first of many many more things] that struck me as odd was the location of this club. The Basement. Why would anyone want to learn acting in the basement? It was a place for the TT tables and broken cycle pumps. These were all put to one corner and we had the rest of the basement to ourselves. We all looked pretty clueless as we waited for our instructor. We didn’t wait long though.

Our ‘instructor’ turned up in a kurta with rolled up sleeves and jeans. I can’t say I expected Al Pacino, but still. I thought he would make a ‘dramatic’ entrance. After all, this was drama, right? So anyway, he came in and removed his shoes, gesturing us to do the same. He then kept a duster in the middle of the class [the basement] and asked us to form a circle around it. I thought we were in for a game of dog in the bone. But he asked us all to pick up the duster in turns and then treat it as an object. Any object, he said. All we had to do was act out a scene with the duster. The class kept ogling at him. He finally realized he ad to demonstrate. Now, this was 6 years ago. So I can’t really remember what he made of the duster. But I can, however remember I thought of it as a seed. And clearly, I was the only one who could interpret my acting. The rest of the class thought I was depicting the duster as a misguided missile. They were all staring at my ridiculous antics with awe. I finished my turn and walked away. I was still getting those awed looks.

I thus learnt my first lesson in theatre. No matter what you do on stage, everyone has their own interpretation. Often, this turns out to be much better than your interpretation. This was a feel good factor of my failed first class. If you’ve got bored reading this, I’m sorry to say…there’s much much more to come!! This was just an appetizer for the full 10 course meal I was served in the theatre club.