Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Post no. 99

Not counting the enlarged photograph which is anyway a repeat,this is my 99th post.I am off to Bangalore,Tanjavoor and Chennai to attend a few family functions.ITW I'll get in touch with you if time permits.It has been a great year of blogging and getting to know so many of you.I'll be away from blogging for the next three weeks.I'll check your posts whenever I get a chance.But I don't expect to be very regular.I've already saved my 100th post and will post it on 17th June when my blog turns ONE.So let me take a break and do wish me a 'happy vacation'!

Monday, May 28, 2007

A larger view of the photograph

Trying to insert images

This is another photo taken on the same day as mentioned in the previous post.Here Dr. N. Shukla has taken turns to become the photographer and Dr. Kiran shukla has joined us.The rest are the same.You can see Deenu smart and confident beaming at the thought of taking charge of cleaning the new building.I am in the second row behind Dr.Kiran shukla

Sunday, May 27, 2007


This is a photograph taken on the day our new building was inaugurated and for purely personal use. Myself along with a few close friends had just finished our lunch packets and were in a very happy mood. The governor who was the chief guest had himself asked for our founder Dr. N.K. Singh, when he heard about him through the Principal’s address. She pointed out to Dr. Singh who was sitting in the audience albeit in the front row. His Excellency, the Hon’able Chancellor of Jharkhand Universities asked him to come up on stage saying “Sir please come over, your place is here.”

We were thrilled that in these days of empty promises the Governor was kind enough to accord our founder the respect that was his due. We then as a group decided to take a photograph to mark the occasion. The sweeper of our college Deenu who saw us posing for a photograph expressed his desire to join us. You can see him sitting on the steps in the right. The lady standing just behind him is a retired colleague of mine whom we are not able to let go.It is me by her side and our former HOD Dr. Nirmala Shukla by my side. Due to a rotational arrangement she has been replaced by Dr. Kiran Shukla but she continues to be our inspiration.In the second row are Viswanath Rao a temporary employee, Dr. Ruqaiya Bano HOD of the Urdu Department, Nalini Mohanty HOD of the Oriya Department and our lab boys Suresh and Kailash. So you can see that it was an assorted group of like minded people.

We were therefore surprised that it found a place in the inner side cover page of the new college prospectus. It made no sense at all. This photo was not representing a particular department or association or founder teachers. It did not also highlight the new building and so what were we doing in the inside cover page of our college prospectus? Oh yes, apart from a colleague who had taken the picture my department (Botany) was fully represented.

We then realized that knowingly or unknowingly the spirit of our founders has been conveyed in the photograph. I do not know if the editors of the college prospectus realized this when they included the photograph.But it is there for all to see. Where else would you get fourth grade employees and temporary workers posing for a photograph along with HODs with no one in the editorial board thinking twice about placing such a photograph in the cover page thereby acknowledging that we in the college treat all employees not as our colleagues but as family.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Can you laugh at yourself??

I am in total admiration of those among us who can laugh at themselves. To me it shows the highest level of confidence and an innate strength of character. It is easy to laugh at other people and most of us are guilty of having done so at some point of our lives. But to be able to laugh at one’s own folly or mistakes needs some kind of effort but it is not impossible if one tries. But to be able to laugh when one is being put down knowingly or unknowingly is altogether a different thing. And to do it without malice or ill feeling makes it all the more worthy. My colleague Dr. R. S. did just that.

Dr.R.... is an extraordinary person, in full command of her subject and quite capable of taking up any kind of responsibility at home as well as in the college. She is popular among her students and in general an asset to the college and her family. Her family is religiously oriented and her husband can trust her to take care of the innumerable pujas and ceremonies that are regularly performed from time to time in their house. Domestic help being unreliable, she took it on herself to sweep the portico and the entrance early in the morning and to decorate the entrance with beautiful rangolis before daybreak as is the custom in most south Indian homes. She would then clean up the kitchen and the prayer room so that she could begin the day’s chore after taking her bath. It was natural that she disposed the garbage instead of waiting for the servant to do it. There was also no point waiting for the servant who came around eight in the morning by which time her husband would have left home for work. While doing all this work she happened to see a girl working for her neighbor and since the girl’s timings suited her she decided to ask if she would work for her.

Broom in hand and holding a bucket of water she called out.

“Hey, you , are you free to work here?”

The girl stopped.

“Work where?” she asked.

“Here” said Dr. R… pointing to her bungalow.

“Why do you ask me” the girl replied “Do you plan to quit?”

R….. just could not control her laughter. She threw the broom away and holding her stomach she laughed to her heart’s content while the poor servant girl could not make out what was so funny in what she had asked.

“Oh no!!” said R…. I couldn’t have quit even if I wanted to. Mine is a permanent post. I only want you to help me if you are free to come early in the morning.”

The girl was confused.

“Will the mistress hire a second servant?” she innocently asked thereby sending R…. into a second spell of uncontrollable laughter.

We do not know if the girl was finally hired or not but we do know that Dr. R…. enjoyed repeating the story to all her friends in college making us laugh our lungs out and filling us with renewed admiration for her.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

what am I -2

You Are 45% Normal

While some of your behavior is quite normal...
Other things you do are downright strange
You've got a little of your freak going on
But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

Liked this thing I saw in hillgmom's blog and did it immediately.I thought that I was a near normal person.I see that i am wrong.Tooooo bad

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Tomorrow in International Mother’s day and what better time would I get to do a post on my mother whom I consider the best mother in the world. I can almost hear you saying ‘Not better than mine’. Well I give up. Mothers are a unique species who are considered the best in the world by their children and so we have a whole generation of excellent people in the form of mothers. I felt that I was no good when compared to my mother and I almost hope (shamelessly of course) that my daughters think the same about me. Is that what people call fishing for compliments?? I am not exactly fishing for compliments but would not mind graciously accepting them when offered. Children are you listening???

‘PJ’………. That is my son. I can almost hear him.
Now, this was a term I heard him use often and managed to ignore till recently. Ignorance was bliss and I took it to mean something similar to DJ as in Disc Jockey. I even thought that I had perhaps heard him wrong but refrained from asking him to repeat it out of fear of being labeled an outdated museum specimen. So I pretended to understand but one does not always maintain caution and one day I made the mistake of asking him to explain.

“PJ means ‘poor joke’ mummy, but your jokes are not just poor they are ‘pathetic’…..”

Jokes apart I do enjoy a good rapport with my children and when we get together we interact at an equal level. They tease me like mad and I don’t give up easily. But wait a sec. I thought I was doing a post on my mother. And here I am…. Blowing my own trumpet. Sorry.

Well, my mother was a woman of few words. She had a remarkable dignity and immense will power. She was widowed at the age of forty and spent the next 21 years at her brother’s place, right till the youngest of us finished his engineering course and took up a job. That in all those 21 years there was no ill feeling between her and her sister in law speaks volumes of the manner in which she carried herself as also the generosity shown by her brother’s family in accommodating her. She, in her quiet way taught us not to make mountains of mole hills and to pass on the kindness that we received to others who may need them. My concern for the down trodden has its roots in the example shown by my mother and mami.

There have been times when I felt disappointed that while I did not inherit my mother’s fair complexion I was handed, of all things, her height. I hardly reach the kitchen shelf which was fixed at the lowest level possible to suit my needs. But I am also glad that any credit given to me for adjusting to my in laws or for showing remarkable patience and during trying times is actually the result of her upbringing. Whether it was nature or nurture I cannot say for sure. But I do know that the credits belong to her and the discredits are my own. We as a family are an accommodative lot and though we brothers and sisters differ in physical features we are the same when looks are ignored and our natures analyzed. After all, we have learnt life’s lessons from the same teacher. As the bearer of the culture inherited from her I only wish to hand over the seeds of love and kindness to my children, not by preaching from a pedestal but by leading through example.

A happy mother's day to all of you mothers!! May you all have a great time with your families.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Are we born women?

One is not born a woman, one becomes one.
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) The Second Sex (1949-1950)

This quotation made me think about the role of society in the making of a woman. True we are born as human beings but soon we are fine tuned by society and family into taking on roles and responsibilities as women. I do not want to start an argument about whether it was wrong or right on the part of society to do so or whether we should or should not allow it to do so. No. My take on the subject is different. Being a teacher of Botany I have tried to analyze the process of organic evolution. Nature has supported the division of labor even among unicellular organisms and the explanation given is the conservation of energy and proper utilization of available resources. Keeping this in mind I have tried to expand on the possible reasons for the role undertaken by women in society. If some of you prefer to think that this role was imposed upon women, I have no problem with that too. Either way women had a role to play and an important one at that. Let us never under estimate its importance.

The moment a girl child is born. a mother starts saving for her marriage expenses in most middle class homes. I remember the advice given by a co passenger - a retired IAS officer – when I was returning with my 3 month old daughter to Jamshedpur after having spent around 4 months at my mother’s place. “Start a Recurring Deposit in her name,” he said “Any small amount would do. It will come in handy at the time of her marriage.”

“People will give her gifts in cash and kind” added his wife. “Buy some silver ware or gold out of the money you get. Better you buy gold coins. You can make jewelry at a later date. Fashions keep changing.”

The couple meant well and they had probably done so for their daughter. My opinion in the matter was different. I had decided that I would rather invest in her education and let her buy gold or silver as per her choice when she started earning. Education was perhaps the best dowry I could ever give her. This brings up the next question. Why should the question of offering a handsome/decent dowry come up at all? Women are home makers and try as much as one may, it is going to take a few more generations for women to give up that role without feeling guilty about it.Is that not asset enough? But then a dowry given to the girl was perhaps her share in the ancestral property and the boys family had no control over it. With changing times dowry has become a status symbol to the affluent and a pain in the neck to the working class. That a girl would take charge of the family's well being was the main understanding in society. She'd become a part of her aquired family. This was a kind of division of labor accepted without a murmur till the first half of the 20th century. I was myself under the misconception that women went out to work because of financial strains and it was only when I started working that I realized that there is more to a career than the extra money that a job fetches. My husband tried to be helpful but I preferred to do most of the house hold chores myself. If he diced vegetables they were never done to my satisfaction. When he dried out clothes he either did not wring out the water properly or he did not spread them out without a crease and I did not like the way he folded them or stacked them in the wardrobe. He placed my saris over his shirts or mixed up my work clothes with party wear……..the list was never ending. Finally he gave up and let me remain, well - the WOMAN of the house. Despite this he has taken up certain chores and whipping butter from cream is one of them. Hats off to him! I find it a messy job and gladly let him take it up.

It is twenty six years since I started working and till my husband’s retirement I managed a lot of work outside the home. My college timings were such that I had time to go to the bank, attend PT meetings, pay the telephone bill etc. My husband had no problem there but why then do I have a problem when he offers to help? I wonder whether I was born a woman or became one. I remember my mother in law getting upset when my father in law suggested that I use up the brinjal or tomatoes first as they were likely to get spoilt fast.

“It is her household and she will cook whatever she wants to. Any suggestion will be made by me. You keep out of this. Whether she uses or throws out the vegetable is not your problem.”

I now wonder if it was her way of establishing her importance as the lady of the house or did she feel it was better that men stayed out of house keeping in keeping with tradition? With women taking up responsible jobs is it not advisable to restructure the role of women and arrive at a balance in the division of labor as required by the present days? If we started thinking on these lines there would be much less frustration and lot more happiness. Don’t you think so?