Friday, December 30, 2011

2011, as it was…....

Now coming to the end of the year, and after a gap of nearly three months I have come back with another post. I am not sure if I will post another article here in this blog.

When I turn back at 2011, there are two good things that happened. The first was getting to see my best friend Sushma after a very long time. It was very surprising when I heard my husband say that her husband had contacted him. That evening Sushama and myself spoke over the phone for a very long time forgetting it was an ISD call. I met her in August for her daughter’s reception. It was indeed a wonderful experience!!!

Second, I got in touch with many of my classmates through face book. It is a heavenly feeling to know that there are people who still remember you after a gap of 30 years!!!!!!

If I look at 2011, I think the bad things outweigh the good ones. My health has deteriorated. By the end of March I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. I was having constant fever and chest infection. It was at that time one of my husband’s uncles was diagnosed with TB in the secondary stage. I told the doctor that and I underwent the mantoux test. I was tested positive. I couldn’t control my tears and cried shamelessly in front of the doctor. The doctor pacified me and told me it was okay and I could be alright. I wasn’t given the BCG vaccination when I was small. I was born abroad and the doctor said children abroad (in certain countries) are not given BCG. I couldn’t accept it. There were two diseases that I never wanted to acquire – one was leprosy and the other tuberculosis. I know tuberculosis is curable but the stigma attached to it is scary. Even now I am running a temperature and chest infection. I am not sure if it is anything to do with tuberculosis.

Since then my health has been deteriorating. Initially it was just diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol but now it is all that plus other related problems. I was a person who could sit for hours in front of the computer. But now I hardly ever come to the system. I have to go through the physical pain when I am typing something. So I am avoiding the system as far as possible. Every little thing I do hurts my joints. I realized that even ringing the calling bell could hurt me.

I really don’t know if I’ll ever come back here to post another article. I may read your posts. If health permits me I’ll come back with more posts.

Happy New Year to all of you here!!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Who cares about other people’s feelings??????

On the 26th September 2011, we people heard about the accident that occurred in Channankara. Again a school bus that fell into the Parvathi Puthanar canal in less than 8 months, killing four students of Jyothi Nilayam HSS... I was glued to the television watching the news.

At first, the media informed that it was the driver who was at fault. In less than an hour, there was flash news – “The conductor of the bus was driving at the time of the accident.” Various news was flashed at different points of time. The news was so …. The driver lost control while a dog jumped across the vehicle, the cleaner was driving the bus, he was talking over his mobile phone while driving and so went the news. The reporters were interviewing witnesses and they said that the driver was not over speeding. I was not sure whether to believe the news or not.

The next day’s newspapers said that the driver was the first accused. Everywhere I heard people blaming the driver for the tragedy. Personally I do have an aversion for these drivers (all public carrier drivers) as they pay the slightest respect for traffic rules. But in this case, I somehow felt the driver was not wrong. What was the mistake that the driver did???? Was he careless in his driving???

The news that I heard was that the dog jumped from a high wall. It is quite natural for a driver to lose control in such a situation. Can you blame the driver for this???? If I were in that driver’s seat I could have killed everyone including me in that bus, in such a situation.

All of us sympathize with the parents of the dead students. It is indeed very sad. How many of us will sympathize with the driver????? Have we ever thought of the mental agony that he is going through????? He is being scorned as a killer of four students. The driver will have to live the rest of his life in shame and guilt. He may have to choose another job to earn his living. Who knows if he will ever do that????

The media was celebrating on the tragedy. They got news to fill their prime time. It is the second time that I am coming across wrong information being telecast on television. I think the media has lost its ethics. All that they need are sensational or tragic news to get viewers. They don’t care about human feelings. Who cares about other people’s feelings as long they are sensational news, right?????!!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Nammal ariyathe nammude kuttikal"

A couple of weeks back, the ‘leading’ Malayalam daily – Malayala Manorama had published a series of articles about the degeneration of moral values of the present generation. In one of the issues the reporters had asked parents and teachers to contribute their opinions and suggestions about this article.

I was shocked to read the articles but is not sure whether to believe it or not as I have lost faith in the mass media. They will publish any news without looking into facts. When I went through the article I felt sorry that the society has degenerated to the extent that even babies were not spared from sexual assault.

My opinion about the students and youngsters of the present day generation are:

1.) Their family: Family plays an important role in the character formation of the children. A couple of decades ago mothers were housewives and they could take care of their children. They had time to listen to their children’s stories. These days, majority of the women work. They don’t have time for their children. By the time they get back from work they are tired. Evenings are serial times and all mothers (majority of them) are glued in front of the idiot box. Even food is served in front of the TV. They get very little time to interact with their children.

2.) The faulty education system: The present education system is faulty and there is no doubt about that. Students are not allowed to be punished. They grow up in an atmosphere where his misbehavior has to be tolerated by the teachers. Even if they disobey the school rules, he can go scot free.

3.) Consumerism: Kerala is a consumer state and everything is valued in terms of money. Nobody cares any longer about family background, education or values. It all depends on the type of house you have, the cars you have (the bigger the car, the more privileged you are!!!), your bank balance, the acres of land you own, the gold and diamonds in your locker. This is injected in the minds of children. [I personally know a mother who tells her sons that they should wash their hands soon after food. It seems if their hands dry up before washing they won’t get dowry!!!!!!] What can you expect from a society like this???????

4.) Demonstration effect: Demonstration effect is another major problem seen among the lower classes. They try to imitate their rich friends. If they don’t have the source to buy ostentatious articles, they try to get it by hook or crook. Parents too are scared to deny the unwanted needs of children. Parents buy expensive mobile phones and bikes for their sons even when they cannot afford to buy it. They are forced to borrow money to meet the needs of their children.

5.) The newspapers and television channels: The newspapers and television channels play an important role in misleading children with their advertisements. Haven’t we seen ads about contraceptives???? A mother is advising her daughter to use i-pills to prevent pregnancy!!!!! Doesn’t this encourage girls to have pre-marital sex???????

6.) The media is forever in the forefront to attack teachers. For every little thing that a teacher does, the media is out to attack them. A fortnight back, a leading Malayalam newspaper published a piece of news – a teacher cut a students hair because he kept it long. Why should such news be published????? When a student is in a school he is bound to follow the dress code. No teacher will like to teach a student who is dressed in an immodest way. I know many boys who keep ‘pigtails’. It is sick!!!! There are also boys who wear low waist pants and cholie like shirts. Their inner wear is exposed to the rest of the class!!!! Do you think this is acceptable in a co-educational institution??????? As long as there is a dress code in any institution, one has to follow it. If not, they will be punished. The media don’t have to publish such trivial things. Another instance where the media created a lot of unwanted controversy was the incident at a school in Trivandrum where teachers checked for mobile phones. The media went to exaggerate that the teachers stripped students to see if they had mobile phones and a girl attempted suicide. Did the media ever make an enquiry into the antecedents of the girl?????? Did they enquire if students were trying to vent out their anger or were there others who were behind this issue???? Nothing was done and so easily the teachers were crucified for trying to correct the students. The very same media comes out with their ‘findings’ that mobile phones play a very important role in sex rackets!!!!! Teachers do get information about students’ behaviour, if they are bringing mobile phones to school or if they are going out with others. It is on these bases that raids are conducted. The students are too clever that they remove their SIM cards and keep the phones hidden. They go to toilets to make phone calls. After that incident, we teachers are very careful not to even touch a student. If we are out to correct them on moral issues, it will be hazardous to our own health.

I think parents and teachers have to give importance to the character formation of students. If a child is found to be going astray the parents should keep a watchful eye on them. They should inform the teachers about it so that even they can be careful. Teachers too can inform parents about it. Many a time, parents support their children if teachers tell them about their ward. They will not accept that their child is wrong until they completely go out of control and are in deep trouble. If a teacher is involved in a sexual offence he/she should be dismissed from service.

The media should stop giving undue importance to school issues. They should not publish baseless news. Remember that students were punished even before but never did parents question the teachers nor did the media interfere unnecessarily.

The government should make amendments in the constitution so that the culprits are given the highest punishment. There should be no party interference in letting the wrong doers go free. Tainted ministers and party workers should be banned for life in contesting in elections and they should also be punished just like any citizen of the country. The police should also be efficient with no criminal history. There are many a time when I have longed for efficient police officers [like Suresh Gopi’s roles] with no political affiliations.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Teachers - Are we sculptors or destroyers??????

I was chatting with my best friend a few days back. As we were chatting one of her statement struck me. She told me that it was a teacher who could motivate a student or de-motivate a student. Then she added that we should have reached great heights if it were not for our teachers. I was thinking of that the whole night and I felt that it was very true.

At the time we studied there were just four schools that followed the ICSE curriculum, here in Trivandrum. We studied in one of these schools – an ancient convent school. I hate to think of those days. The snobbish mentality of nuns, the arrogant teachers and most of all, the partiality of nuns and teachers made life miserable in that school. The only good memory of school was the good friends – with whom I lost touch in course of time.

There were many occasions that I have prayed fervently. The only thing I used to ask God was to take Sr. Brida’s life so that we students could be left at peace. She was a nasty nun….. She scorned all Malayalees. I’m not sure from where she hailed – was it Goa or was she an East Indian????? She would cringe in front of Anglo – Indians and foreigners. She was good at remembering our surnames. We were addressed as, “u Nair girl, u Gomez girl, u Pereira girl, u Menon girl” and so on.

She was indeed a devil’s disciple. The only good thing in our school was that we were spared the rod – the main reason was that a little boy in a Jesuit school in Trivandrum had lost his eye sight due to a teacher’s whacking. But Sr. Brida could leash out her tongue in a manner that could directly stab one’s individuality and one’s morale.

In one of my earlier posts,“Deshadaanakikkal Karayarilla”
I had mentioned how this nun harassed me. It was indeed a terrible phase of my life.

One of my uncles bought me two pendent – one of Buddha’s and the other of Nataraja from Madras [present Chennai]. It was made of cast iron and it was normally worn around the neck with a black thread. It was indeed two beautiful pendants. As I was never a religious person I did not mind wearing a Buddha or Nataraja around my neck. Sr. Brida seeing the Buddha’s pendant around my neck screamed, “Sisterrrr, this Catholic girl is wearing all Hindu things around her neck.” She came to the most absurd conclusion that I was having a Hindu boyfriend!!!!!! In a secular country like India, didn’t one have the freedom to do what ever he/she wanted??????
One bad thing about our school was all importance was given only to the brilliant students. The mediocre students were ignored. The Principal and teachers had the false notion that only the brilliant students were good in everything while the others were good for nothing. This notion continues even today in that school!!!!!
There is an instance in that school that has hurt me very much. It was at the time of our ICSE model examination. On that day we had Biology practical. That incident is still vivid in my mind. The question was to cut a tomato horizontally and draw the inside of a tomato. In my nervousness I cut thee tomato vertically and started drawing the picture. Immediately, my Biology teacher came to me and asked me if I read the question. I just looked up at her and then to the board. I realized my mistake. I stopped drawing the picture and went on to do the next experiment. A teacher from the UP section started ‘barking’ (she was literally doing that.) saying that I was good at disobeying the teachers and she was very generous in showering abuses at me. I felt humiliated and I felt I didn’t have to tolerate the humiliation of an UP teacher who didn’t teach me. I just threw down the test-tube holder in my hand which landed on the floor and walked out of the lab much before the exams got over. I could hear teachers saying, “Bold girl, arrogant girl,” and a whole lot of adjectives with that ‘girl’. I went back to my class and cried uncontrollably. The next day the teachers gave us a sent off party. I boycotted it. I failed for all subjects – thanks to their vengeances. What hurt me most were the remarks that were written on my model exam answer scripts. I will not forget what my Biology teacher wrote on my answer script – “continue to be proud, haughty and disobedient, you will do much better!” Every one wrote rude remarks. It definitely demoralized me.
The only person who gave me constant encouragement was our Principal. She used to call me to her office and say, “Xina , you are very intelligent. Why are you not putting in an effort?” Then she could go to say, “You know, Gracy and Rachel are duffers, but they are hardworking, whereas you are intelligent but very lazy.” She was behind me and finally I managed to score decent marks for my ICSE examination. Probably she was the only person who encouraged me in my school days and I am thankful to her for that.
It is very easy for teachers to demoralize students with their words and deeds. Teachers are like sculptors who can mould students in good human beings or they can destroy the lives of students.
This Biology teacher and I worked together after a decade!!!! She was also my daughter’s teacher in the kindergarten!!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"“Nere chowe veetil valarthathu konda ingane azhinjadi nadakunathu.”

The other day my daughter told me that a ‘famous’ Malayalam poet had visited her college and her remark was, “I somehow did not like him. He is a hypocrite.”
I told her that he was indeed a hypocrite as I knew him since my college days.

I studied in Mar Ivanios College nearly 25 years ago. This poet was teaching there at that time. To be truthful, I had never heard of this poet (or was he a novelist????). My second language was French and since I had no touch with Malayalam I was not aware of the existence of a literary figure in college.

It was at that time that I contested in the college union elections. It was a regular practice for candidates to go to classes and ask for votes. Along with my friends and party workers I went from class to class asking for votes. I went to a class and one Sir did not allow me to enter his class. As I walked out, he passed a comment. He said, “Mudi yum vetti, kutti udupum ittu kure society ladiesnte makkal ivide padikundu. Nere chowe veetil valarthathu konda ingane azhinjadi nadakunathu” (“There are some society ladies’ children who comes with short dress and hair. It is because they are not properly brought up that they are going around like this.”)

I felt terribly bad. It was a big crime to call a woman a “society lady” in those days. Society ladies were ones who went to clubs, stayed late nights in clubs and had loose morals. That idiot had called my mother a “society lady” when she hated clubs and parties. I was really angry. I would have really shot him if I were not a student of that college.

My friends told me that he was a great figure and that a book of his was made into a movie. I was not the least bit bothered of what his position in the society was. I felt that he was a creep. His words kept haunting me.

The next year his daughter joined our college as our junior. She was a huge girl who wore short skirts and kept her hair short. I was shocked when one of my friends told me that it was his daughter. How could he use that sort of a language on me when he had a daughter who was worse than me??????!!!!! She looked vulgar in those short clothes as she was overweight. I understood why he passed that remark on me. Probably his wife was a society lady who had no time for his children. He must have been a frustrated man and showed his frustration on a student of that college assuming that all who wore frocks were children of society ladies.

The best thing that happened to him was that his daughter eloped with a classmate of mine. I have deep sympathies for my friend for getting a father-in-law like him. When I heard that news the first thing that came to my mind was the same words he told me, “nere chowe veetil valarthathu konda ingane azhinjadi nadakunathu.”

[I know it is wrong to put a post like this. The wound that he inflicted on me hasn’t healed till date.]

Friday, July 15, 2011

Whom are you trying to convince????????

I was forced to write this because of an article by a blogger in Jalakam Aggregator.

The blogger has claimed “വിദ്യാലയങ്ങളില് നിന്ന് മറ്റ് വിദ്യാലയങ്ങളിലേക്ക് കുട്ടികളെ കൊണ്ടുപോകുന്നതടക്കമുള്ള കൃത്രിമം തടയാന് ഏകദിന വെരിഫിക്കേഷന് കൊണ്ട് കഴിയുമെന്നാണ് അധികൃതരുടെ വിശ്വാസം.”

I wonder if this blogger is living in a fool’s paradise or is he feigning to be ignorant of the fact that cheating takes place in many schools. All the small built boys and girls from the higher secondary section are sent to the school section. They are given uniforms by the school authorities (Headmaster/ headmistress). The higher secondary students sit in high school classes for the day. I saw teachers bringing students from one class, made them jump through the windows and asked them to sit in certain classes. Here, this blogger claims that no cheating takes place!!!!!! A classic example of hypocritism!!!!!

Teachers who are supposed to set an example for students teach them to cheat. The reason behind it is to protect their teaching post. It is because of the helplessness of the teachers that they are forced to do it. What irritates me is that certain bloggers sings praise for the prevailing system of education and claims that everything done in a fair way!!!!!! How long can you people throw dust into people’s eyes???????

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What a selfish breed!!!!!!

I was transferred to a distant school at the beginning of this academic year. The school is around 30kms away from my house and it is a typical coastal village with no much development. I was shocked when I heard about my transfer and was even more shocked when I heard that 99% of the teachers were transferred to distant schools and the aim of the manager unknown. All that we could analyze was that the management derived some sort of a sadistic pleasure in creating inconvenience to majority of the teachers.

I joined school on the re-opening day itself. The Principal was a very selfish lady who had been into a lot of controversial issues and she was the last person I wanted to work with. She is a person of beauty but not of any quality. I cursed my stars and started working.

The second day was terribly disappointing. I went to class. I introduced myself. First I spoke to them in English. Fifty pairs of eyes were blinking at me. I repeated what I had said in Malyalam and then was response from the class. I decided not to teach them that day.

“Take out a piece of paper, please,”

Again there was no response and everyone was gaping at me. Once again I had to repeat it in Malayalam. I think my tone had changed. Immediately students took out a piece of paper. I asked them to write down their name, address and other personal details. I got to know the students.

I spent a sleepless night. I was going to teach a class who did not know even the simplest English sentences. I decided that I would teach them in ‘Manglish’.

The next morning I went to school. The first hour was mine. I started teaching them the basic concepts of my subject. Students looked at each other and became restless as I started teaching them. One girl had the courage to stand up and say,

“Njangalku English ariyilla. Malayalathil padipikanam.” [We don’t know English. You have to teach us in Malayalam]. I thought she had a Tamil accent in her Malayalam.

“Ningale kazhinja varsham teacher eganeya padipiche????? English l alle????” [“How did the teacher teach you last year????? Wasn’t it in English????”] I asked

“Teacher Malayalam text vayichu padipikumayirunu” [“The teacher used to read out from the Malayalam text and then teach], the girl replied.

My face flushed with anger. I sternly told her that the medium of instruction is English and so I would use English as well as Malayalam. I told them that there was no question of me reading out a Malayalam text to teach them. I had my own way to teach them. I told them if they had any complaints they could complain about me to the Principal or to the Manager.

I saw the frustration on the students’ faces. I decided that I was not going to give in. I knew it could be difficult but I was adamant. This particular school had the best result for the Higher Secondary Examination March 2011and the students here claim that none of them wrote their examinations in English and they were taught completely in Malayalam!!!!! I was angry with the teachers. Did they not have the responsibility to teach these students in English??????? When NCERT text was prescribed for all subjects, how come they buy Malayalam texts for students?????? How come they read out what is in the text instead of teaching?????? And finally they achieve the best results when their quality was miserable. What an irony?????!!!!!!

I strongly feel that results should not the ultimate aim of a teacher. It is the duty of a teacher to bring about an overall development in the students. Is it not selfish on the part of teachers to teach students only in Malayalam with an aim of getting 100% results????? How can these students survive the next year in college??????? It is here that the students realize that they are a big zero.

Students admitted to the Plus one are a class of unbaked students. 95% of them don’t understand English nor do they know how to read in English. It is a laborious task teaching them but by the second year they start following what is said in class. I really don’t understand the logic behind teaching only in Malayalam. 99% of the teachers don’t teach their own children in local schools. They are sent to other streams like ISC, CBSE or to English medium schools. It is very difficult for students from government and aided Malayalam medium schools to fare well in interviews. I feel it is the responsibility of the teachers to teach them English in schools itself. This is not happening in many schools.
When I argued that students should learn how to speak in English, a teacher asked me,

“Alla, evare English padipichu IAS kar aakano????” [Are you planning to make them IAS officers by teaching them English????]

After all they are the children of the poor and they don’t need a foreign language to work as manual labourers, right??????!!!! What a selfish breed!!!!!!