The newbie-teacher resurfaces

After a very long hiatus, I’m back to my blog! Obviously, my life as a teacher didn’t leave me with much enthusiasm to pen down my thoughts. On most days, I just didn’t have the time or energy to blog. On other days, I didn’t think it fair to color my students in shades of unruly, incorrigible and undeserving – which is what went on in my frustrated head that was worn from using one classroom management technique after the other. That’s not to say they were all tiring bad days. There were good days- not days in which I had shiny happy perfect students, but days on which I wouldn’t judge them by their misbehavior alone.On those days, I’d be able to see hilarity, cuteness and wit in their disruptive fun and frolic, and begin to enjoy simply hanging out with them.

Now that my year with my 8th graders is over, I want to write about some the memories I have that will always remain with me. And through my posts, I hope you get a good look into the classroom of colourful characters that were my students.

The following posts will be published during the course of the next 2 months.
Happy reading! 🙂
(Names of my students have been changed)

Basheer – “I’m the teacher’s friend! Quit bugging her!” My dramaqueen
Naki – my lost cause (Good teachers shouldn’t say that..but with this one, I have no clue what can be done
Ali – his classroom is his vacation spot
Yasir – the one with his hand perpetually raised and the one with all the wrong answers
Abu – the cutest. the wittiest and the funniest – the one I haven’t been able to figure out
Salman – he’s got the hair, he’s got the looks, he’s got..swag.
Mission “Lets go get our teacher back”
The Hijab squad wants to pretty up their teacher
Teacher! Eyes on us!
The meanest I’ve been
Tauba Tauba
I see Red
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Why I Blog

 

This post is in response to the Blogging 201 assignment and has been posted a day too late cos I’m presently holidaying in Kerala and thought I’d be taking a break from blogging..but I notifications from my blogger-friends wooed me back. Soo…here! It’s been almost 2 years since I created this blog, and now I tell you why I’m blogging-

I’m having me a partyy, a party for two EVERYBODY

If anybody’s noticed, I’ve been blogging a lot more in the past month. Besides the fact that I had more time on my hands (since I quit my job), I also hoped to increase readership.

Why would you have a house party and invite a tonne of people? Cos you want to meet a lot of people and engage in conversation with people you wouldn’t have met if you were holed up in your room.

(Google tells me 1 tonne = 1000 kilos, but I”m not really weighing people at my party..soo..even if that dress does make you look fat, don’t worry come on in! – aannnd that’s how you take an analogy too far.)

That’s why I blog. I was plenty shy at first (this blog has twice been private) and then I wanted to speak up, I wanted to find people I had something in common with, meet interesting people who were living lives so different from mine.

My house-party isn’t very happening yet, but I have managed to meet so manyy interesting people!  I’m still a little shy- which is why this blog hasn’t seen the light of Facebook..but maybe one day soon I’ll put this out there..because this is a platform from which my voice can be heard, and getting past the shyness lets me reach more people.

Talking about being heard- soon I want to tell the stories of the people I meet, the children I get to teach- the people who don’t get heard. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them, and I’d like for more people to hear their stories. So, I’ll be their voice on the internet.

Sharing brings joy and happiness. (Also the best line to excuse yourself when stealing your friend’s fries)

It’s what gives us a sense of community. I blog to be part of that community. We share, we encourage, we empathize, we appreciate. Blogging is about sharing- sharing experiences, thoughts and opinions, ideas, art…etc. etc. And every response we get brings us joy, every comment we leave brings the other some joy.

(Was that too subtle? Here’s the not-subtle version: I love comments. And likes too, but comments are super-er! When I see I’ve got traffic and likes, but no comments it’s like having my doorbell rung, and my spirits soar cos I have a visitor and I run to the door and throw it wide open..but nobody’s there. They passed by without saying anything. I’m glad they came and saw my house..but I’d love if they stayed and chatted.

Oh dear. I overdid it when I killed subtlety. Now I sound like a poor ignored child.)

It’s nice to know that we’ve been heard, that we’ve managed to make a little splash in somebody’s ocean eventhough we’re little fish in a pond somewhere, that as spread out as we are- all us are united under the bloggers sun.

Life’s a journey worth documenting

When I’m 80 and a legend, maybe they’ll want to make a documentary or biopic or something about me..and if I’m like frail and quivery, I’m not going to be able to tell them all they need to know. So instead I’ll get “thesalmonyatra.wordpress.com” tattooed on my scalp (cos I don’t think the scalp gets wrinkly- hence my tattoo stays legible, and also I might be naturally bald by then) and they’ll have enough juice to create something amazing.

Until then I’ll make sure my life gets that amazing and document my memories and experiences here. 🙂 Stay tuned! (In 2060, when my movie is out you’ll want to say you knew me and read all about my life as it happened 🙂 )

 

 

Little girls disguised as little boys : A Friendship Story

The year 2002. We were in 8th grade. She sat behind me in class. She was into music. I – not as much she was. I mean, I did enjoy music..but I was happy all my life listening to whatever audio cassette came my way..mostly through my elder sister..and the music was mostly Gospel. Ya, I was the little church girl.

Back to the best friend- She helped me discover the radio. How many people have a best friend that help make such a big discovery. She’s the Pierre to my Marie Curie. Granted I was pretty dumb for a Marie Curie..I mean, I didn’t know a flick of a switch could turn my cassette player into a free-music, many-channel device. Except for that one bit of dumbness, I was tres intelligent. I knew Marconi invented the radio, OK? I just lived in a little bubble where the radio didn’t exist for little girls. And when that bubble popped, I found my best friend.

boy bands were all the rage

The best of 2002

And then we both were crazy about Busted- the 3 member Brit boy band seen above. Looking back, I think she was crazy about Busted, and I normal-liked their music, but chose to crazy-like their music just because I liked being crazy about the same thing with her.
She didn’t help my existing case of awkward, tomboy dressing. She’d wear baggy jeans that fell off her bum, and she thought that was the best, and so I thought so too – hey, the girl introduced me to the radio, of course she was cooler than I was. So we both wore jeans that had room for 3 more bums.

baggy jeans

We were almost that bad.
Image courtesy ynaija.com

We also christened ourselves as the ‘Thinkalikes’ cos we’d say or think the same thing at the same time. It still happens every now and then, but it was way more amazing (to us) back then 🙂 Oh and we had a secret handshake that involved no handshake but instead humming, blinking, chanting, flapping and a high five. And that wasn’t at all strange.

think alikes

The Think-Alikes doing the secret handshake (drawn in class in 2002..or 2003)
She’s the one on the right.

I think my best memory of our friendship is when we studied for our 10th Board exams together. (The Board exams are the MOST IMPORTANT exams Indian students write in their school life. )
We were both hard workers. And a month before our boards we’d study ALL day. If she wasn’t over at my place, we were studying over the phone. At night, she’d disconnect all the phones in her house and leave just the cordless on in her room- so that when I call, her family wouldn’t be disturbed. We’d call and update each other on our progress, or wake each other up, or call and accidentally digress and chat for an hour..even at 4am.

In 2005, I moved from Abu Dhabi to India- and since we’ve  been pen-pal friends living in different countries. In college, I had a bunch of  lovely friends but she was still the one I talked to the most, and she still is.

best friends

Best friends circa 2002
(We’re making bird beaks with Pringles. And posing like gangsters. We’re oozing coolness here, aren’t we?)

This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt:Something so strong.

The Family Rosary

I’m actually glad for today’s DailyPrompt. After my posts on pee and poop, I sincerely hoped my blog wouldn’t begin to be associated with scatological humor. I promise you I am better than that! So in today’s post I’m going to talk about PRAYER. That’s a major upgrade from listening in on someone’s business in the loo, isn’t it?

I come from a Roman Catholic family. And we Catholics pray to (not worship as is widely misunderstood) Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Rosary is a set sequence of OurFathers, HailMarys and GloryBes. And the life of Jesus is meditated upon while saying this 20 minute (approx.) prayer.

Intro over. Google will tell you more if you’re interested. I have a story to tell right now. 🙂

So, my Roman Catholic-ness goes up,up,up my family tree. I’m not sure how up, but that isn’t relevant to this post. Since the DailyPrompt asked what tradition/ritual was my favourite, I chose the Family Rosary. We’ve been praying the Rosary since I was a kid, at home, and in every relative’s house I stay over at during the holidays- therefore, it’s a traditional ritual of sorts.

We usually say the Rosary as a family at night before we all go to bed. And to be honest, Rosary time wasn’t my favourite time of the day growing up.

I’ll give you a peek into what our Family Rosary was like back in 1997 (I was around 7 years old)

Little Black Sheep

Little Black Sheep

 

Ya 🙂 So that was how our Family Rosary was back then. But after all these years, we still come together as a family whenever we’re under the same roof and say the Rosary.

It’s not exactly the prayer or the beauty or power in praying together that’s made me choose this tradition as one that I’m glad has stuck. It’s that it brings the family together. All of us have our own lives that keep us busy and apart from each other, and then come RosaryTime we’re all together, and since no one is all rigid about the Rosary beginning at sharp 7pm or anything, conversation begins..my mum, my dad, my elder sister and I. My parents make us crack up by taking childish jibes at each other, I talk about something that happened during the day, or something my friend told me, my sister gives her opinion on things. Sometimes it’s a big discussion, sometimes it’s one of our anecdotes making all of us laugh..and this goes on until somebody realises they have work or bed to get to and that person gets everyone to start praying.

Now that my sister’s married, her husband is one of us, and joins the fun and conversation.

And now there are 2 toddlers, my niece and nephew, in the mix too!

So, you see what I mean? Rosary time is pretty wonderful- the family, the conversation, and the praying together.

pray together

 

Quietness in the Houusse!!!

I was born in Kuwait. Every blistering Kuwait summer, we would fly to Kerala. And my earliest memory of a place that was home is of a house in Kottayam, Kerala (southern-most state of India) and I guess I was about 4 years old then.

All my memories of that house are tied to the memories of my cousin Quietness* who is a year younger than I am, and vacationing in Kerala just as I was.
*(name changed cos some reputations will be harmed in the making of this post.  Quietness is actually the meaning of his Indian name, and the complete opposite of what he was! I think the only time he was quiet was when he was plotting his next attack on innocent souls like me)

Memory Snippet #1 – The Verandah at the front of the house
This is my favourite memory 🙂

Quietness and I were playing House-House on the verandah. I was 4 and he was 3. It is possible that we were both a year older. Not too sure.
In ‘House-House’, players basically go through the motions of the entire day within the span of 15 minutes. For some reason, kids that age enjoy such games.
So we’re at that part of our game where it’s morning, and we brush our teeth and squat down like good Indian children pretending to attend to nature’s call. PRETENDING being the key word in the rules of the game, and the rule that my cousin Quietness didn’t totally get. ‘Cos there I am squatting and humming while I pretend-pee when I get the stink of what I knew from all my 4 years of experience to be the stink of POO-POO.

So I very apprehensively turn towards the source of the stink until my eyes rest under his 3-year old naked bum on the pile of poop.
My pee-time humming stops mid-hum and I spring up and run screaming for his mother (who’s my mother’s younger sister) “AUNTYYYYYYY!!! QUIETNESS MADE POO-POOOOO!!! OH WOE TO MEEEEEE!” (Ok, I didn’t say ‘Oh woe to me’)
I don’t remember playing House-House with him ever again.

It was years later that I realized that boys unlike girls squat only when they want to make poo-poo.If I’d known better, I wouldn’t have insisted on us squatting. That explains his motivation to do poo-poo when I wisely chose to pee – PRETEND-PEE.My pants stayed on, unlike his!

the cousins

the cousins

Memory Snippet #2 – The Room near the Kitchen
There were 2 beds on opposite sides of the room. My mum used to put me to sleep on her leg (as seen in the picture below), and Quietness’ mum used to do the same with him on the opposite bed.

Sara has an Aura

Sara has an Aura

There was a Godrej almirah (cupboard) near his bed. I remember this because I had some homeopathic white sugar balls medicine on the top of that cupboard.I don’t know what it was for, but I know that I loved it and would somehow manage to get me more of that sugary goodness when unsupervised.

Quietness tended to do everything I did. The older one is somehow always the trend-setter. The older one failed to impart necessary knowledge though. And that is probably why all the moth balls in the Godrej almirah went missing when Quietness was on the loose. moth-balls

Haha.No. I embellish 🙂 Quietness didn’t ingest moth balls. There was a time in my childhood where I might’ve wished he did though, because over the next few years he turned into a Quiet-zilla.

quietzilla

Quietzilla

Memory Snippet #3 – The Dining Room
I didn’t do much dining in there. I hear that when I was younger..maybe around 2, I used to sit on top of the table when others dined and played with food.

But if I remember right, I think the room opened to the backyard.

Memory Snippet #4– The Backyard
The Backyard is also where I remember my mum bringing my cousin Quietness to pee. Real pee.

I don’t remember wondering why he needed my mum’s help when I didn’t. I guess after that pooping fiasco, I assumed Quietness needed all the guidance he could get when it came to doing away with his bodily wastes.
Or maybe the adults thought supervising him made life easier for them than discovering his bodily wastes in different parts of the house.

I guess I should’ve at least taught him to hum loudly while doing his business. Maybe that way we’d always know before..umm..shit happened.
Then again, that wasn’t ever Quietness’ style. He was more ‘Calm before the Storm’ than ‘Hum before a Dump’.

–This post was written in response to the Daily Prompt : Our House.

Audio Cassettes, I miss you.

2002. Westlife came out with their Greatest Hits Album : Unbreakable Vol. 1.

Westlife

Westlife – The Greatest hits : Unbreakable Vol. 1 (2002)

If I have to mention any one song of that album, I’d choose “If I let you go”..or maybe “Flying without wings”? But, that’s only if I’m forced to choose just one song.

audio cassettes

Dear Audio Casettes, I’m sorry you had to go away.

My year was made. I owned the audio cassette. Those were the years..the last few years when audio casettes still reigned supreme in my life. They made it hard for you to skip songs, so you’d eventually learn to love all songs on Side A and Side B equally. Of course, Westlife didn’t make that hard at all. I LOVED that entire album. Still do!

Oh! I just remembered that whirring sound you can hear between songs and at the end of a side until all the tape rolls to one side. That sound was strangely comforting and yet stirred a tiny bit of dread because I knew an unpleasant sound was to follow- that loud*PCHUKK*noise of the Play button popping up (I hate that sound!), once a side was over. Ugh. Way to kick me out of my happy reverie.

I remember going to bed every night, glad it was time for my nightly Westlife-time. I’d play Side A and if I wasn’t asleep by the end of it, I’d quickly flip the tape and begin listening to Side B. I don’t remember ever tiring of it.

To this day, anytime any song from this album of Westlife’s plays on the radio or in a department store, I drop what I’m doing and sing along to the song. Nothing and no one must stop me from capturing that moment for myself. It transports me back to the nights as a 13 year old, lying on my bed and having Westlife play the soundtrack to my perfect little life.

–This post was written in response to the DailyPrompt : Always Something to Remind Me.

I’ve got 2 months until I join Teach for India, and I want to fill this time with as much writing and drawing as I can. Starting today. I’ll draw in my sketchbook at work, and use the phone camera to upload it.