Thursday, May 16, 2013


" How many times do I tell you to beware of your spellings? Though you seem to have understood the concept, you are not able to express it in proper English". Jenny mam sounded serious this time.

"Cool down mam, I will manage it in the public exam. You not worry." Arun was all smiles without the slightest feel of remorse or fear.

We girls were giggling at his words. "Hey, dont laugh. This is abroad english. you not understand."
This time, Arun was serious and Jenny mam had to try hard controlling herself from smiling.

Abroad Arun, as we fondly call him, was my classmate  in 12th standard (PUC). He joined our school after his SSLC from a government school. This cool guy never got tensed. And he knew the knack of handling anybody at any point of time. I was a fan of his sense of humor and timely wit.

On the last day of school, we were exchanging slam books. Arun returned mine and I found the 'ambition in life' column left empty. I pointed it to him. In a hushed tone, he said, "you know what, dont share future plan with others. It wont happen. Because you are one of my best friends, I tell you. My ambition is to go abroad." He smiled.  Amateur kid, I pitied.

Seven years later, I was busy with my marriage preparations. To all those not so close, I had sent the invite through orkut, the social networking site that was popular, then. On the eve of my wedding, I got a call from an unknown number.

"Congrats Vaishnavi! I reached India yesterday. I will be coming there in a few minutes". The voice sounded familiar. But I could not remember. "Hey, dont remember still? This is abroad Arun", came the response. I was surprised. Being in the midst of the photo session, his words did not sink into my head.

After a few hours, my school friends came and along came Arun with a big gift and a broader smile.
He told he was working in a pizza outlet in London. Still the same naughty fellow, I thought. Nasira interrupted me. He was right. I was perplexed. How did he go to London? He could not speak a sentence in English correctly. His father, a simple cloth bag manufacturer could not have afforded it either.

Nasira explained it to me. During his college days, he had worked part-time, involving himself in a range of activities such as delivering newspapers, selling insurance policies, typing assignments and even going for election rallies. He had saved the money earned, attended spoken English class and had gone to London, his life ambition.

He might not have studied hard and earned a great job. He might not have purchased properties in his name. But for a person like Arun, going abroad in itself was a dream and he had realized it.

Today, his facebook status was updated.

 'Promoted as a branch manager. Am very happy".
His profile picture was changed. Arun was standing near the Big Ben with his wife and one-year-old daughter, and yes, with a big broad smile as usual. I smiled.

I wish to get my story published in Chicken Soup for the Indian Entrepreneurs Soul in association with

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Games children played

The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.
Erik H. Erikson
American psychoanalyst

I know I am a bit late in posting this article as the summer vacation for kids is almost over, but this compilation of games children played two decades ago as observed by me, might help you find different ways to engage your kid.

I myself find it tough to keep my 3-year-old busy, sigh. However, as a kid I was more creative and enthusiastic in indulging myself in self-play and engaging my fellow friends (I seriously admit to have lost most of my innovative thinking and innocence as I grew up:( ). Here are a few things we did during our holidays:

I. Indoor fun: Due to the hot weather, most of our day time was spent indoors doing the following.

. Board games - The board games played today existed then as well. Business/trade (better known as monopoly today), Snake and ladder, chess were some of them. The twist lied in one important aspect - not all of us owned one, so we made our own board game with crayons and sketch pens. Every kid added their unique places in monopoly and colorful snakes, making it more interesting.

. Greeting card making - My school used to teach us make greeting cards with different materials and
we always shared them with the neighbourhood friends of other schools. During Diwali,New year, 
birthdays, we ensured to make our own cards and surprise friends and parents by keeping them in their cupboards. Out of over-enthusiasm, I once threw the greeting card through the closed doors of a neighbor who had gone on a holiday, hoping to surprise her on her returning a week later. I was dissappointed and she embarrassed, when we found the card in the dustbin the next week :(. Couresy - Her over-enthusiastic maid on the attempt of impressing her masters with a spic and span house had done it!


.Other games - Hangman, Name-place-animal-thing, word crocodile , anthakshari, dumb charades, quiz were the other games played. We decided on the game to be played based on majority of votes.

II. Outdoor fun: We did not stay in an apartment. Still, the streets which were not traffic prone were our playgrounds. The following games were played by us with great excitement.

. Color color - The thief who comes in search of colorful jewellery spells out a color after which we run to touch objects of that color befor he catches us. At times,it was a fair game. Some times when we were bored, we would agree to play pranks on the catcher. For instance, when he shouts black, we run towards him much to his confusion, and pull his hair in all directions :)

. Pair game - The kids are supposed to pair themselves in numbers called out by the leader and the one who doesnot pair himself before being caught is out.

.stone or sand - Popularly known as kalla manna in Tamil, children stand near the gates of houses. They must go to the house which the leader tells. He can catch you as long as you are in the sand ie., the road. You must run to reach the gates of the house told, as a group, at your full speed.


.Other games - Apart from these,some of the other games played include hide and seek, lock and key, skipping, throw ball, flying kites, marble game, top game and paandiaattam/nondiaattam .

Children learn faster from children than adults. It is important to nurture their growth in their natural play. A request to today's mothers - Let them learn to make mistakes while playing with their friends.
 You may be your child's guardian, but he/she has to co-exist with those kids after a while when you may not be there to direct him/her.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The end

"It will be over before your ad break", pleaded hubby as I stopped at Sony Max when I was flipping between the final over of a not-so-interesting IPL match and the climax of an unheard old movie. It was only then did my grey cells start setting to think hard on how obsessive we were to know THE END of anything and everything. More importantly, it is the result that matters irrespective of performance.

As suggested in a Tamil movie, in a race, the winner is one who reaches the end line first, not the one who leaves the start line first. Similarly in examinations, the highest scorer in the final exam is deemed to be the most brilliant student irrespective of the year-long performances. We are judged based on the end result. If so, what is the plight of a person who had put his maximum efforts all his time but couldnot perform adequately on d-day due to unforeseen circumstances? What if a director had spun an exciting plot with interesting characters but made a mistake in presenting the perfect climax? Sadly, these people are neglected by the society.

Maybe they are equally responsible for their failures in life. A certain level of smartness is required surely. Ramanujan could get recognized for his mathematical contributions because of his network of professors and friends. Shakunthala Devi was not that fortunate. Anna Hazare could gain media attention by roping in eminent personalities in various fields for his cause. Irom Sharmila has not learnt it yet.

If you think they were not smart, wait a minute. Had we learnt the techniques used for rapid mathematical calculations from Shakunthala or strongly supported the fight against AFSPA with Sharmila, our country would have had much more acceptance in the global arena. WE are the ones who lacked the smartness to harness our resources.

Having said all that, I would consider success not in terms of the goals achieved but in terms of the tough fight fought. It is not just the destination but the journey with memorable moments and learnings for generations to come that would make our short stay in this planet worthwhile.