Archive for November 2010

Please Rise For The National Anthem

What do you do when you hear that?

1. Stand up straight, hands by your side, chin up and with loud voice belt out 'Jana Gana Mana'

2. Stand up, shoulders hunched over, head down, hands clasped behind the back and head down, as if ashamed

3. Stand up lazily, shuffle from one foot to another, hands behind your back and / or in your pocket, and gaze into space in boredom

These are some of the postures that I have observed people assume, when asked to 'rise for the national anthem'. And am sad to say that there is a preponderance of people taking postures described in nos 2 and 3 over no 1.

Another thing I've seen is that people rarely sing along these days. This could be because they have dreadful singing voices or technology has made us lazy. And of course there are those singing the anthem all wrong.

It worries me. Because it seems like children are exhibiting these traits more and more. Children learn from adults. This must mean that adults themselves don't know the correct words, tune and respect, that is due to the national anthem.

Is the national anthem just any other song? Is singing the national anthem just tokenism? Does not caring about it mean we do not love our country? Are we becoming less and less patriotic? And if we are, does it matter? What does patriotism mean anyway? In a world where the Indian diaspora is growing by the day, has the notion of patriotism become obsolete? What do you think?

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Journey With A Shrieking Banshee

We're on the Young World Quiz circuit again! Today we took the train from Calicut to Cochin (sorry, but I prefer the old names)where the quiz will take place tomorrow. I'm now going to rant about my experience on the train journey. You may think I'm totally heartless after you read this post.

Whenever I travel, I pray to God, that seats near me are not occupied by kids. Not the cute, cuddly, infants that sleep angelically on their mothers' laps. I mean the 2-3 year olds that can walk, talk and throw tantrums. And the good Lord intermittently tests my endurance. Which He did today.

A lady, traveling with her two children, took the seat opposite us. A boy and a girl. I looked apprehensively at the boy. I know what boys that age are capable of by way of tantrum throwing. I once traveled with a boy, who stamped his foot and rolled about on the floor while his mother looked on in helpless embarrassment.

I need not have worried. The boy behaved impeccably. It was the little girl who was the star of the show.

She began with the usual kiddy babble and curious looking over the seat backs at other passengers. All fine. Till her mother took away something that she wanted. Then began the shrieking and screaming. I swear to God. I never knew something that small could emit a sound that loud!

The little girl's mother did try to quieten her. At which the child only yelled what sounded like 'Adikenda! Adikenda!' I assumed it meant 'Don't beat me' in Malayalam.

I spent the next four hours trying to drown out the sound of that shrieking by turning on my MP3 player. But the sound penetrated even the melodious strains of Mohammad Rafi. I tried Zandu Balm. Didn't work. Finally, I could take it no more. I left my seat and stood at the door of the coach, watching the countryside whiz past till we reached Cochin.

I'm a person who likes kids. I am! I've been around tons of kids, baby sat cousins and nieces. Kids generally like me. But this little girl? She could patent that shriek as a means of torture.

Still, I have no hard feelings for the little girl. God bless her. But I do wish her mother finds a way to stop her incessant shrieking!

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Spouse Grouse

Travel sure takes the mickey out of me these days. Over the past ten days, the spouse and I have been traveling on work all over southern India. It has been exhausting to say the least! After a tiring day at Vijayawada, we were set to leave for Vishakapatnam.

Vijaywada has one of the busiest railway stations in India. Thousands of people milling around, trains arriving, trains departing, vendors yelling and us trying to find out which platform our train was arriving on. The porters told us that Falaknuma Express usually comes on platform 6. The train, scheduled to arrive at 21.40 and depart at 21.50 was nowhere in sight. Soon it was 22.00. The train had still not arrived and I was tired, sleepy and irritable.

The spouse however, evinced no such symptoms. In fact, he seemed to delight in the delay and was full of beans, chatting up other passengers waiting for the same train. In between, he even winked saucily at me and made comical faces. Being the congenital wet blanket that I am, I was not amused and glowered back at him. Sauntering to my side he asked: ' Kya hua?' My grunt...er...reply was interrupted by his phone. I hadn't even heard it ring.

"Yes? Speaking. Yes sir. Please tell me." He glanced over at me before speaking once again.

"What? No. I'm sorry. I'm already married. !!!!

That got my attention in a hurry. "WHAT!" I spluttered.

He was grinning broadly. "Gotcha"!!

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