Professionally innocent


My friend called this weekend, after she read the previous blog on CUSAT Arts Festival. We relived those old-but-gold memories of graduation. She hanged up after a while, but I was still stuck with the CUSAT times.

To a large percent of the population, professional colleges have become turning points in lives. Its you who choose to be good or bad, Its you who choose to be what you are,.. And some of you who would have joined the college, so naïve, so innocent,…. would be tuned,tamed and moulded into experts in technology and many other ‘subjects’ during these years.

It is during these years that girls (at least in Kerala) slowly overcome their timid, apprehensive, reticent attitude and show their inquisitiveness on one of the most important, rather interesting topics – sex. These 3 letters are deleterious, is what the parents normally teach children. Anyone who has a boy friend is taught to be treated as untouchables.When they hear about their daughter’s friend, whose sister has a boy friend, whose friend has seen an x-rated movie, the daughter would be asked to divorce that friend and keep no further contact. Good logic, eh?

Now, why I keep on mentioning ‘girls’ is because ‘boys’ somehow manage to jump out of this loop and find their on ways. Most parents have an explanation to this. “Afterall, they are boys…”Oh yes? Makes lot of sense!!

Under the impression of protecting their daughters, the parents are actually holding them so tight, that the children find no room to grow. No wonder that these ‘naïve’ girls, are either made use of or misuse their freedom, after they land in professional colleges..

However, during the millennium, when we joined CUSAT, there were a few in this category. So during one of the girls-only combined study sessions, topic got deviated a bit and the ones who knew, lined up to educate the ones who didn’t. I scored 50/100, and so was a moderator :-).  The class was done, but the talks went onto aligned topics, one of which was masturbation. Too much knowledge in one day, had made the class weary. But they were still ready for more KA, Knowledge-Acquisition. To remind the class about the seriousness of the subject, Neethu* – the most educated of all, quoted an example. She talked about a girl who had to be taken to the hospital as the test tube that she used for masturbation had broken inside her. There were frowns,grin and sympathy among the class for the poor female. But it all changed to a big embarrassment, when Lekha* asked, “So is that how test tube babies are born?”.

And this is why they are called naïve.

And this is why some parents should grow up.

And this is why Sex Education should be included in the curriculum.

* Identity not disclosed.

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Arts Fest memories reloaded


This blog was in pipeline since the vampire blog. Blaming Pari always would be unfair, though she is one of the primary factors of my so called ‘busy-life’. The actual reason is that, uhhhhh.. I am a bad manager of time. Sadly, I am  🙂 But better late than never. Those wonderful memories of CUSAT and Arts Festivals, let me scribble some more of them right away.

Being the super seniors at college, we were in charge of Arts Fest 2003. Oh!! Back then, all of us were swamped, overloaded, having more than enough on our plates, so occupied,… that looking after Pari would be a lot easier 🙂 Each of us would be delegated an event (either off stage or on stage), and this would be in addition to the events that you participate in. People would need your help at green rooms. Back ground screens would be required for the dances and fashion shows. Guys provided the raw materials and girls proudly materialized their ideas 🙂 One time they even gave us a few buckets of paint and a huge screen which would be as large as a 9×11 dining hall, to create a desert background. We had a sleepless yet eventful night walking and rolling over the screen for the right sand dune impression. Well, sleepless nights were not a big deal when it came to winning the championship.

But Oppana, seemed to be the most effortless of all. Electronics (my stream) team had surpassed and wiped out all the competitors for the last 3 yrs. This being the 4th and final year, we had pressure to maintain the lead position. But as usual, it was a sure win.

So as mentioned in the previous blog, Parvathy (one of the Oppana team members) tried her best to overcome her heavy dopey eyes. We were yet to start our practice for oppana, which was supposed to be at evening 5.  Time would be 3:00am. Dead tired after a day’s eastern dance practice, I found myself comfortable on one of those class room benches.

Walloping hands woke me up. 5:00am. The oppana practice had started. I got up with a jerk, wondering how much they would have covered already. They were nothing, but a bunch of sleepyheads, lazily swaying and clapping hands, going round and round in their own ways, with a clumsy smile at regular intervals. I too was sleepy and was sure I would end up like them during the practice. But Parvathy who stood in the front row of the team, looked more energetic than ever. I still wonder how she carries so much energy in her tiny body!! Hastily, I joined them. During the breaks, Parvathy taught me all the steps that I missed. We were so spirited then that we even skipped breakfast. A packet of parle biscuit and some bananas, was all we had for lunch. The restlessness during two previous nights of insomina had eaten 90% of my grey cells that I could not even recollect 2 subsequent steps even when it was 5pm. The whole team was in the same boat, except for Parvathy. The schedule was postponed by another 2 more hrs. But it did not matter. We needed a plan and we came up with not one, but three.

PlanA. Try to remember the steps and dance.

PlanB. If Plan A doesn’t work, look at your pair and dance

Plan C. If your pair too doesn’t know, look at Parvathy and dance 🙂 🙂

It was 7:00pm when they called our team on the stage. All of us lined up on the stage. The curtains raised. The song started. With huge expectations, the Electronics crowd cheered us. We started our oppana, the dearest, most favorite and reliable piece of event which always earned points to score high on the chart. Step1,Step2,Step3 and then the song started looking different. Jasmine, my pair on stage, gave me a weird look. It was not just me, but she too could not remember the next step. The same “What next?” looks reflected on the other pairs’ too. But Parvathy looked confident. “Switch to Plan C”,Reshma from our front pair whispered. All of us looked at Parvathy, our own Parukkutty as she was known, and continued. A few more steps, and Paru too seemed lifeless. “The song going the wrong way man”, she yelled from the front row. The rest of the eyes protruded. In that whole day, all we concentrated was what step came after the previous one. We did not notice who sang the song or how she sang. Height of bloody over confidence!! This singer team mate of ours was getting it all wrong. But we were on a stage and some presence of mind had to be shown. So we made an immediate on-stage plan.

Plan D. “We leave it all to you, Paru. Guide us please….”

“Girls”, Paru took charge, “Line up in front. 3 of u on one side of the bride, and 3 on the other”. We did.

“Now clap hands. 3 claps to your left and 3 to your right”. We did.

“Clap again, swaying to the sides”. We did.

“Now form a circle around the bride”. We did

“Z, You stand up and walk to the bride. Whisper in her ear something. Let the broad smile. Shy smile man. Shy!! Shy!!” Paru was all geared up. Her energy gave vibrations inside. All of us moved around the bride in similar fashion 🙂

In Oppana, brides remain in the chair placed on the centre of the stage and often give light shy smiles and reactions to her friends clapping and dancing around her.

Sajni, the then bride and the beauty of CUSAT ’03, did not smile , but got embarrassed by our performance. Little did she know of the mishaps in that morning. Since the role of the bride was just to sit and smile, she had just joined us before we entered the stage. Moreover, she too was experienced in the same role for past 3 yrs.

The crowd too sensed something wrong. Electronics team clapped in slow motion, with a vivid question mark on their faces. The opponent crowd started howling and Paru ran out of steps. So we came up with the next plan.

Plan E. Clap hands, walk in rhythm towards the stage exit.

The plan worked out. We escaped, but there was the bride sitting all alone in the centre of the stage. Sajni didn’t know if she should run along with us or wait for one of us to come and pick her up. Brides do not step without an accompaniment, during oppana.  But we had broken the chord and crossed all limits, so before another plan was made, one of us (I cant remember who) ran to the stage and brought her along.

To make matters worse, it was an open air auditorium. We had to walk through the audience to the car waiting to pick us, and we literally covered our faces with a shawl.

We were obviously disqualified, but the rest of the class who were not present in the audience did not believe us. They thought that we were making up a sad episode for fun, when we told them what had happened. They had such a huge faith in us.

Years later, I still mention this as a joke to friends and family. But deep inside am hurt. Losing the title is no big deal. But the fact that we took the faith of a whole class so lightly, burns me even now. I still appologise……

Btw, the desert background screen won lot of applause!!

The night of Vampires at CUSAT


During my graduation at CUSAT (Cochin University of Science&Technology), there used to be a much awaited Arts festival every semester. Everyone would cheer up for their own teams, plan for the variety of programs for the event and spend time brain storming on how to win the championship and associated accolades. If at all there was someone in the class who does not participate for any competitions, they would definitely be behind the scene helping others. The spirit and unity of the class reflects so evidently, that all engineering branches will be rivals for those 3 days.

During the Arts fest which fell in the final semester, we decided to participate in Eastern dance (a traditional folk dance form that represents Kerala history). The competition was supposed to start that night at 7:30pm. Programs were delayed and by 11:30pm the dances began. After our dance that went kinda ok, Parvathy Devi – a skinny female who was the tiniest in the troop – was exhausted. She heard that coffee was served in a nearby classroom and went to have a sip. After a days heavy pratice rest of us were tired too, but the next item was Western Dance (this used to be the crowd’s favorite then) and we decided to stay and cheer up our juniors who were participating.

There were four of them stepping to the tunes of Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’. The attire was amazing. Two of them, tallest of the lot, were vampires with silver body and black wings. The other two were of average height were vampires too, black body and red wings. They captured the crowd in no time that the whole crowd started dancing and howling. When the dance finished, we decided to join Parvathy.

It would be almost 2:00am then. Parvathy was all alone in the class room having coffee. With just a dim light in the room, she was half sleepy but trying hard not to close her eyes as there was another practice to begin soon. Suddenly there was a heavy thud from behind. “Can I have a cup of coffee?” Parvathy turned back, rubbing her drowsy eyes only to see a huge silver vampire spreading its big black wings waiting for coffee. She moved 2 steps behind, when the vampire asked again “Parvathy, did you not recognize me? Can I have some coffee?” Parvathy hardly heard anything. All that she wanted to was to run out of the room. But to her biggest shock, she saw 2 more vampires stepping inside, smiling at her, their wide white eyes focusing her. Parvathy wanted to scream now, but no voice came out. And to add to her shock, she saw her dance troop coming in frolicking with a 4th vampire.

Guess how big a laugh we would have had for the next few days…

We did not win anything for the dance that night. Sheeeshhhh!! I was the lead dancer too.. 🙂 But the fun we had those days were incredible.

 

The “House-Maid” Hunt


Finding the right house maid has become a huge challenge for the women of today.  But once you find one, making them stay becomes another big challenge.

Fareiba was born at Kochi,Kerala (my native). A little more than 4 months after  her birth, we took her to Chennai. My maternity leave was supposed to expire in another month, and amma’s BP rose to its peak.

Amma, then vice principal of Maharaja’s College, had built a huge circle of contact through her 33 yrs of service. Her circle included Principals to professors to teachers to students to peons and canteen care takers, to all of whom she had managed to pass on the need of a maid for her daughter. She had undertaken this herculean task since I got pregnant. More than a year and nothing worked out.

People were ready to work at Kochi, but always found lame excuses to come to Chennai. To some of them Chennai was too hot, to some Chennai was too far and to some others Chennai was scary. I still do not know what it means!! However, there was no time to worry about what they thought. We had only a few weeks left and  the “House-maid Hunt” accelerated.

We tried to console her and thought we would hire one from a trusted agency. But amma was against the idea. She wanted the best maid to look after her daughter and grand-daughter. Poor amma!!She travelled even to a relative who lived a few hundred kms away from home to see if she could manage one..

Meanwhile,I too felt the pressure. Handling the baby and home was tough. So handling work, baby, home and a gastronomic husband together would be exhausting. Well, the husband was just gastronomic, no pressure though :). But the others were a must-do-everyday-job.

Being the kind who doesn’t give up easily, I tried to cultivate a routine in Fareiba which would match my office schedule and tried to build the confidence that I would be able to manage. With a day care at office and Shebi helping around, things started moving positively.

And BANG!! The bomb blasted!! Shebi was asked to fly to Dubai in two weeks time. This was a oppurtunity he had been waiting for long, so I would not stop. Shopping, Packing, Ironing, Repacking…We even had our 3rd anniversary to celebrate.Two weeks were just enough.

Life was miserable since then. But two weeks later amma landed home with a maid. She was a decent lady, aged above 60, but still healthy. She was quite expensive, but still impressive. She managed the kitchen and household, took care of Fareiba and made us all feel so better that we finally started believing that the best was served for the last!!

Life changed in a minute. I, who did not have a breather,now started watching soap operas too.She was too sweet to be doubted for anything. She asked permission before she even moved a chair from its usual position or before she sat beside us to watch a movie. Two days later she asked me permission to use the television after I went for work.The tv was never switched off after that. She reigned the kitchen.  I never bothered because the thought of finding someone new was impossible. I even took her a saree  for her birthday that fell on the weekend after she joined. Her regular blood tests and check ups fell on the days immediately after she joined.In additon, I being too generous took her to the doc for her allergic cold also.Mananging everything at home,all alone, was impossible and so keeping her was the only option before me. So when she demanded for a mobile to talk to her people at home and a small wooden stand (the Jaya-Amitabh kinda stand from KKKG) to stand on top and do the dishes, I did not hesitate.

Everything that she demanded was given and every request granted. That was Mistake no.1 🙂

6K per month was too much for an 800 sq ft flat and cooking for two(me and her), but no other choice.

The immediate relief from the tight schedule was all that I could see, and I often showed in words that flattered her.That was mistake No.2. Guess I made her too proud that she started actively participating  in all our family affairs and made sure she let out her comments at everyone’s action. Irritating but we kept mum.

She started developing regular shoulder pains and back pains due to which half of the work would be undone. I offered her help at times, which later became a habit. She started showing faces when amma got involved in something, and would not look after fareiba anymore. She even used our washing machine to wash hers’.

She had a whole day to laze around after me and Fareiba go to office, and looks like she enjoyed it a lot.

Huh!!!But one of the rarest species of its kind was finally found and I had to preserve it by all means.

Two weeks after she came, the next bomb fell. Her son fell down with Chicken pox. She was all in tears, not for her som but she had to leave me and the baby. But tickets were not available on a short notice. When I told her that she could not go immediately there was a huge scene as though I kept her in central prison.Finally after a lot of running around, we managed a ticket, brought her son (the one who was not affected) all the way from home and sent her off.She promised she will come back as soon as he recovers. I believed and even gave her the salary and some money for travel&expenses. Mistake No.3.

Luckily,one mistake that I did not do was that even when she demanded for some more money for the extra expenses that was supposed to come for her son’s treatment,I dint give.

Its been 2 weeks since she left. No news. They don’t pick my calls anymore. Am back to the old routine. We have a part-time maid who is paid lesser than one-third of what we paid her. With amma at home, things are moving on pretty well. At least I have the freedom to move around in my kitchen.

The 2 weeks that she stayed, I ended up spending almost half her salary, for the check ups and phone calls.That was of course in addition to the salary.

I think,now I know why people are not willing to come all the way to Chennai. If they work at their home town, they can make any excuse and run away.

Amma has started a fresh ‘House-Maid-Hunt’.