Monday, August 22, 2011

Nervous Nineties Nautanki_Part 1

(Nervous about senior school)

Be it as a day scholar or a boarder, we detest going to school, the first few days. When I was a kid, I remember being happier sprinting out of school than walking in. Ofcourse, with time and as you gain friends, you start getting used to school, if not really like it. You stop over reacting every day morning, atleast. Why only me, everyone would dread waiting for the rickshaw-wala to whistle and call out for Mother to push us out of home towards school. And the rickshaw-wala at that early hour of the morning would so happily reach out and take our school bag, as if he was dropping us to the railway station for a vacation to a hill station!

This takes me to a hill station, a boarding school, a golden prison. You don’t want to go there. Once there you don’t want to leave. What I believe is we used to fear going to day school. Fear of the unknown. We did not know and did not want to know what will school give us today and tomorrow?

At boarding, we could not fear the unknown. We were aware of the obvious. We knew our destiny. We were just nervous from which direction will it arrive? The spread of choices was known too. It could be in the dining hall, dormitory, classroom or play ground. It could be early morning, mid-day after lunch, late evening or late night. It could be a blessing right from Class VII to Class XII. We were never at loss of options.

Still residing in junior school, we had seen some but heard so many tales of terror that the mention of senior school made us sweat even in winters when temperature would get as close to zero degrees. From the cordoned off junior school campus, watching young boys “fagging” on tennis and basketball courts, some of them with red faces and watery eyes after being “dhunned” properly and a few running madly and perhaps blindly to save themselves the painful sessions of “get down and don’t get up till I tell you”. All this was tradition and part of the curriculum. Teachers knew, understood and encouraged such “educational ragging”. (I would vote for it a million times, if asked). Some of it which happened in the dormitory was a “stinky” story. Washing stinking socks, handkerchiefs, under-garments and over-garments, massaging stinking feet and making stinking beds every morning was a ritual. But do I regret it, not a bit. I passed on some stink myself. We knew what waited for us in senior school.

Ofcourse, then there were the “fukko” stories. There was one “Fukko”, one “Toady” and atleast one “Bhont” in each batch. All three characters had high reflexes. The entire batch would have fun on their account atleast once a day. The Fukko would, as a reflex, get over excited and say or do something to entertain the entire class at one go. The Bhont would, as a reflex, not say or not do something which was supposed to be and hence entertain the class/people around. Toady would, well as a reflex, act in the most unpredictable way and yet exhibit the most straight-faced expression as if he is does even exist in the event.

The phrase “a known devil is always better than an unknown one” had its own charm to us. Standing alone or in a group, holding the fence bars and peeping through them, we had a nervous boil in the stomach. It was not butterflies. It were dragon flies, perhaps, because all we could hear and see were fire spewed out from mouths, ears, nostrils et all.

Guess, Chulbul Pandey was an ex-OG. Itne ched kar chuka tha, ke har jagah se aag nikal rahi thi!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raksha Ban-dhan

Since the time I can remember, this day was not just about siblings and their banter. It was about an entire family coming together and celebrating togetherness. Different it may be, but in India, on any given occasion, togetherness is celebrated and a reason is assigned to it. There is a long standing belief, a lyrical story weaved around it, flowers, sweets, lights, vows, chants et all. To me, this was one more.

As per tradition, as the name suggests, the brother would vow to protect and take care of his sister. This was “Raksha”. But then, there were also times, when, simply, the elder would protect junior. Gender didn’t matter. In a lot of ways and many a times, in my case, my sister was my savior. Just by observing her, I learnt a lot. Interestingly, not only did I learn what to do, but also what not to do in life! If asked to rank, one thing I learnt not to do in life from her, I would shout – she taught me, never to under estimate oneself.

Anyhow, back to the nomenclature. To receive proper “Raksha”, i.e. protection, caring and security, one had to “compensate” the other party. In India, compensation has many ways to enter pockets – salary, bribe, gifts et all. This ceremony involved gifts. Indians are very kind souls, by nature. Hence, “gifts in kind” is a preferred mode. The brightest saree, ear-rings, necklace for sisters was the prime and kindest way to show affection. Sisters would shower their kindness by way of new formal shirts, flowery kurtas, colorful tees and sometimes lucky ones would get watches. With time, gifts did not remain kind anymore. They became smarter – smart comments on tees, smart watches and smart phones started ruling.

Hindu mythology has documented that body, soul and money (tann, mann aur dhan) makes or breaks – even the protector. Varying combination of these three aspects in our lives can change our life. Our life can go in either direction, as we want it to. With our tann (body, its strength and uses) we can earn more dhan. With our mann, we can influence our brain (tann) and perform to take balanced decisions. With more dhan coming in, we can care for our tann and keep our mann content. Or, as I said, it could go either way. With a strong tann, we can bully the weaker sections of the society. With more dhan we buy influences in our favor. With our narrow mann, we change the entire thought process of the world.

On this Raksha Bandhan too, a brother came visiting his sister in a big black shining sedan. The entire family celebrated togetherness. Protection vows were taken, expensive gifts were exchanged, sweets shared and laughter spread. On the way out from the housing society where the sister lives, the security guard who would probably be one of the first people to come forward to protect and safe guard the sister, in the unfortunate incident that something happens to her, was abused, physically assaulted and threatened by the brother. The brother, who stays atleast a couple of hours off and who a couple of hours back would have vowed to protect his sister, did not only jeopardize any future attempts by this security guard to shelter his sister. He probably misbehaved with a poor brother who could not visit his sister on this day. The guard was working on Raksha Bandhan to earn some extra money for his family, which may have a sister. His fault, he was trying to perform his duties well – he asked the brother to make an entry in the visitor’s register.

Not sure, if it was the tann, mann or the dhan talking. But security of the security guard was compromised. If he is not safe, is the sister safe? Who vowed, who actioned and who will suffer?