Friday, April 28, 2017

Time beats everything but Memories!

She taught us English. Joined us when we were in 9th grade. The opportunity to be her students, for us, was only for two years.

Strict, disciplined, impeccable in the language she taught, precise, practical, logical. 
Her persona had a command over others.

Our class was one bunch of troublemakers the school had never experienced before, and she was assigned to be our class teacher.

We knew we were getting a new class-teacher, but, what we did not know was that she would tame the shrew.

The moment she entered the classroom she made it clear she meant business. I liked her. I liked her for the respect she demanded, from us, for the school and for herself, with a few lines that she spoke. The entire class of the unpopular students had already begun to cave in.

No one had ever been able to do that.

The chapters became more interesting, more knowledgeable. Everyday I looked forward to learn from her. English was my favourite, and the love for it had notched up with her teaching.

I even liked getting yelled at by her. Yes, I did.
It felt like she genuinely cared for the students ...she wanted us to become good humans. The scoldings were not just to follow the discipline of the school.

Our school had all sorts of activities going on round the year and her involvement was not restricted to studies.
She made sure the talents of every student was polished and put forth. She was active in the cultural activities and sports. Singing, dancing, plays, debates, essay writing to name a few. She was multi talented.

I was one of the fortunate ones to have been trained under her guidance in some of these activities.

Our school made it to the finals of a dance competition. Every school showcased their dance representing a theme in the inaugural ceremony of the interschool sports competition. Our theme was Goa. She had choreographed and conceptualized along with another teacher. I was part of it and was so proud. Then there was choir singing for the Christmas day celebration. Various activities during annual day.

Two years were over in jiffy. We left school to get into 11th and 12th grade. How I wish our school wasn't limited to 10th grade...we would have the privilege to learn more from her.

Years went by...I got busy experiencing life and growing up. She, however, never left my thoughts. I would proudly tell her stories to friends and family whenever I had the chance to.

Then social media happened. Orkut... Facebook.
A few years ago, I found her on the latter platform along with our math teacher. I send her friend request. It was never accepted. 
I found out she wasn't much active there so, I thought, perhaps she never saw it. 
I even wondered if she at all remembered me. She knew me very well, so, her not being able to place me was unlikely...but, then again... it was years ago. I still wonder.

I, however, did not resend her the request. I thought, I'll instead meet her someday...surprise her and if she had indeed forgotten me, I would help her recollect and tell her everything that I wrote above here.

Tell her what she means to me...tell her how wonderful teacher she her my blog, my other writings, my stories, haikus...make her proud and learn more when she would point out the mistakes...all this...I would do, SOMEDAY.

Here I was waiting for that 'someday', and the TIME bested me.

On 18th of this month, I received a WhatsApp message. The obituary clip mourned the loss of my favorite teacher.

Now, I'll never get to tell her all this. I was stupid to wait for that someday. I took time for granted. I missed all the opportunities that came by or the ones that I could have created myself.

I type this with a heavy heart and crying eyes...
Susan ma'am, wherever you are I hope my feelings reach you. You are being missed by so many lives you have touched. We love you.
I love you!

For you, the reader:
If you want to tell someone what they mean to you, seize this very moment to do so. You might never get the opportunity again. 
There's never a right time or a wrong time.
Time is just...TIME. Bold and in caps... Authoritative...Untamed.

Sunday, April 23, 2017



Years ago, not too long ago though, five years to be exact, I received a call from my cousin.
Here I was gloriously enjoying my glass of sattu ghoal, a traditional Indian recipe that consists of seven ingredients in the form of powder, and is enjoyed either as a drink, or  roti made with its dough...the drink is however my favourite; it helps in cooling down the body naturally and bests the scorching heat during the summer. Beats any aerated drinks or canned liquids any day.

But, sattu is not the hero of this post, it just makes a glamorous cameo. The hero is the one that I did unconsciously.

The desperate phone call from this cousin at 9 am had me wonder if it would be inhumane to tell her not to disturb my moment of enjoyment in the beautiful summer morning.
I gave in before my heart that keeps beating some sense into me whenever I'm in such dilemmas and I was the good girl on the phone.

My "Hey babes, howdy!" (tried to sound fancy) was answered by her nonstop description of a situation thrown at her by her boss. What I understood of the description, which had the speed of light year, that her boss, who's a German and was stationed here in Mumbai, had invited the teams at his place. His family was visiting him, their first time in India, and he wanted the invitees to be as Indian as possible. He themed it "India".

My cousin wasn't cool though.

"How are we supposed to act Indian in India before non Indians?"


I said, "Hon, why do you want to act? Just be yourself"

Now, did I tell you the "Be yourself" has always made her conscious of makes her nervous resulting in messing up things with her silly antics? Well that's what happens, always...and I had forgotten it until I said those dreaded two words to her.

What followed was unexpected!

She wasn't much nervous as she was going to have me as her date. What!
It turned out that every invitee had to bring one family member. And my cousin had graced me with the honor.

After ticking off her two brothers, I was the chosen one. Her golden girl. All because her brothers were too busy with their respective girlfriends and I was single. (Story of singletons!)

What were we going to wear, drape sarees? That's so clichéd!...she said, and I agreed. Without thinking much I qualified the 'bindi', which was received with a huge eye roll from her, where the eyes touched her cerebrum when rolling up.

"A cliché again, cuz", she said.

She wanted us to stand out, and not just be there in Indian ethnic clothes. She wanted to be Indian not just from outside but from inside too.

A challenge!
That was it. This was now personal. She was in my team and we had to win. Win over may ask. The win was over the clichés, the stereotypes, and above all it was a win not over something, but of something; our tradition. Not the ones that showcase superstitious beliefs but the ones that are gold...the ones that make your life glorious enough to not to be weighed down by any negative energy that lurks around...the ones that give you the sense of pride...the ones that have nurtured our thinking in a way that it's now our way of life.

Too much of philosophy...too much of spirituality?!
Let's get back to what we did under my guidance. (Gloating)
No, what we did came to us naturally.

We dressed up in cotton sateen, yes the Bindis bejeweled our foreheads. We bought sweets for the hosts, roshogollas and kaju kaltis, all decorated in the Indian way with gold and silver leaves. We knew Germans weren't into the kind of sweets we Indians are, but we were thinking Indian. They were our hosts indeed, but, they were guests here India.
We had to make them feel comfortable too so finally we did get a box of assorted chocolates and a bottle of wine.

Strange combination we were carrying!

Upon reaching we were greeted by my cousin's boss who introduced us to his family one by one. Something I guessed he had already done to the people who had arrived before us.

While I had coached myself in German to greet them, and here their Namasteys had me forget those in no time. Nowadays we (and I'm talking about my experience) hardly use the's mostly the 'hellos' even for our Sharma Aunty's 90 year mother we don't change our greeting in English...and here I was replying to their namasteys...with a namastey, folding my hands and bowing.

The sweets, the chocolates and the wine was received with beautiful smiles, however, what was surprising was, they opened the boxes of the sweets first. They thanked us for getting them the Indian sweets for they were falling in love with them. I saw more boxes of sweets laying on the top of the dinning table. Clearly everyone was thinking on the same lines.

I saw my cousin who was now relaxed, I was happy to see her that way. And then everyone in the room turned at one direction. There was a lady in a turquoise saree, all of 75, which I came to know later that evening. She was the boss's mother. How lovely she looked in the chiffon she was wearing. He was introducing her to everyone and when our turn came I found my body promptly bending forward, my hands touching her feet. It was an unconscious gesture that I was conditioned to do. The touch made me realise what I was doing.

I straightened up and looking at their much expected bewildered expressions, with a reassuring smile (I didn't want to freak them out) I explained the gesture to them; seeking blessings from elders.

Her smile, her gentle eyes, her warm hug took me by surprise. That evening I made a friend who was from German and was 75 years old. The friendship is still hot although now the distance has increased. From Germany to India now it's from heaven to earth.

What happened that evening made me realise how Indian I am and how the thinking even though a simple gesture, wins people...wins friends, for life time.

Our Indian thinking, Indian culture, even the Indian nod, the Hinglish, everything...every single thing contributes to what we are.
We as a developing country are soaring high in every field in the world with this Indian-ess that we carry around. We are #MoreIndianThanYouThink

The Lufthansa commercial always reminds of this incident ...reminds me of my friend.
And I wonder if Lufthansa knew their Indian connection. Although, the word 'Hansa' here has been derived from the Latin word meaning guild, and 'Luft' from the German meaning 'air', 'hansa' in Sanskrit means Swan. The swan of the air!
You are Lufthansa, #MoreIndianThanYouThink

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