Sunday, September 09, 2007

On being single

I have been married for 51 weeks now. It is a great feeling, no doubt. We've had our share of ups and downs and have been through a lot together. I did reflect sometime ago about why I got married. The more I think of it, the more I realize that it was a matter of choice. Not a matter of need. I didn't HAVE to, I CHOSE to. And I'm enjoying every minute of it.

I'd blogged earlier about The Single Life. About how people looked at me, how they judged me. How they made it their business to poke their noses into my affairs (no pun intended!). I was a threat, a liability, a burden. Things have not changed much in India. All the education on being discreet and civil, on drawing lines, on personal space, either isn't there, or is just a waste.

When I decided to get married, I was almost 30. I broke the news to friends and family only to hear, "Oh, your parents must be so relieved!" Why relieved? Why not happy? What a dumb choice of words! If you can't use the right words in a foreign language, don't use it at all. I was never a burden to my parents. They were not relieved to note that I'd finally found my match. They were thrilled to bits.

Through all the years that I was an eligible single woman (eligible does not necessarily mean available), I had a few arguments with my parents about marriage, but they never put any pressure on me. I did have loads of random strangers and distant relatives telling me I was a fool. OK. I could live with that. But it always amused me. That they were so "genuinely" concerned about my well being. As though I was living off of them!

One of the movies that touched a chord somewhere, and very deeply at that, was Hum Tum. It is based on When Harry Met Sally, but it is a very different movie. I loved it for several reasons and can watch it any number of times. In the movie, there is a scene where Rani Mukherjee realizes that Saif Ali Khan has been trying to fix her up with Jimmy Shergill. And she asks him why a girl can't be left alone. Why the world is restless when they see single women and cannot rest until a girl is married. I could relate to that.

Last heard, single women were humans too. They had lives, they enjoyed their lives and were happy to be just that: single. Single didn't always mean ready to mingle or available or itching to be double or any of those gazillion things that people seem to take for granted. A single woman's life is her own. Her own to make her decisions, her own to live. Her life is not some open book that the random public can read. She is not an object of ridicule.

If only people were sensitive to the feelings of others, I'd not have such a topic to blog about. I wish I could pick from among the 10000 other random thoughts that cross my head, but the world is changing at such a slow pace with regard to the way the world perceives what I was until a year ago: a single woman!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

To Sir, With Love

I was raised by two teachers. My father was a professor of metallurgical engineering and my mother taught every subject to every class before settling down as a kindergarten teacher. A job she loved.

I taught part time at a Montessori school during the 3 years of my undergraduate program.

I can claim to know a lot about teaching and about why people get into it. But I know that a lifetime of teaching wouldn't make me an expert on that.

My life has been shaped by a lot of people. I would give the maximum credit to my parents for making me the person that I am today. Some friends, bosses, and co-workers have had a role to play as well. But there is one man who has been more to me than a teacher. And he has played a vital role in transforming an eager student into a career professional.

I wanted to blog on July 1st. About this great man. It was ten years since I first met him. I still remember the 1st of July 1997. I walked into the orientation program for my master's degree with my parents. His words, his expertise, his demeanour: everything touched me in a way that I didn't even realize at the point. We were burgled just a couple of days before this and my mind was elsewhere.

Prof S V Narayanan, Dean, School of Management, Pondicherry University: The man that people loved and people hated, but the man who none could ever ignore. He was loved by his students for his radical thinking, and was hated by others for the very same reason.

The world lost a great human being last year. To me the loss is something I haven't come to terms with. I had not until then met another like him and I doubt I ever will.

Prof: As if the fact that you are remembered everyday is not enough, they had to have a Teacher's Day. Not one day goes by without my thinking of you. I will forever be grateful for the 9 years that you were an integral part of my life. Even today I catch myself thinking how you may have solved a certain problem of mine. What your answer might have been to a question I am faced with. What my dear Prof would have done, had he been in my shoes. When I heard the news, I thought "The light has gone out of our lives". Now I know that wherever you may be, you will remain my guiding light. You always introduced me to your colleagues as your best student. I do hope that I will be able to live up to that reputation. I am glad to have had the chance to be your student. Because of you, I will always strive to be the best that I can ever be.

Happy Teacher's Day dearest Prof. May your tribe increase. The world sure needs more souls like you.