Category Archives: People

Life Changers- Part I

Dear Mrs. Anita,

You are the first teacher at school, who made me feel worthy of myself. I still owe a part of who I am to you. Today you might not recognize me, but I forever will.

I had just entered my 6th standard. My previous year had left deep scars emotionally. At that point in my life even I started to believe I was good-for-nothing. I expected to be nobody’s pet, and to be everybody’s punching bag.

We had a few new girls in class that year. I was particularly fond of Anu and Romaine. Anu was this smart, and well-mannered girl. And Romaine was a bit goofy and fun. I was hoping to becoming friends with them. Alas, you sorted them into the Blues.

You gave us our first test that year. It was geography. You started distributing our corrected papers, when you’d stopped dead and asked us,”Who’s Vithya?” I stood up nervously, all the while thinking, Oops, what did I do now? It’s just been a month.

“Good work. You’ve got the top score.”, you said happily. For a moment I couldn’t believe it. I was happy. I was in the stars. I do not remember most of my AISLC scores but I still remember my score on that geography test. I had gotten a 17 out of a 25. It is that much important to me, even today.

Then you made me the class pupil leader. I was surprised. It was the first and only time I was class leader. It certainly uplifted my spirit, and it was the first time I ever thought, “Hey may be I am not as bad. If Mrs.Anita, the scout guide teacher thinks I am good enough to be pupil leader, then may be I am.”

I do not know why you made me the pupil leader. I am forever grateful for that. Not for the bragging rights, but for the self-confidence, and more importantly loads of self-respect that I gained by being chosen. Thank you so much for that.

It was then I began to put more effort into studying, especially English, History and Geography, because those were your subjects.

I had a horrible hand-writing, and you tore my English Prose notes countless number of times. I remember writing our first prose lesson “The Elephant and The Hippopotamus” three times. Then in an effort to make me improve my handwriting you made me write in a four-lined notebook, for the whole term. It wasn’t until my handwriting became tolerable you let me off the hook.

At the end of the first term I got my first ‘O’ grade ever. Even the usual class toppers were surprised, with Aishu congratulating me on my first ‘O’ grade. I felt proud, because so far the only out-standing I knew was standing out of the class.

I had a few ups and downs that year. But overall it was a satisfying one because of two reasons.
Firstly, I had a wonderful handwriting by the end of the year.
Secondly, I finally started to believe in myself.

And I simply owed it all to you. Aishu did not know. I did not know. Perhaps, even you did not know.
But today, I look back at my life, and you stand as one of the people who left a significant mark in my life.
Thank you.

I am forever blessed to have been a student of yours.

Love,
Vithya

A little bit of patience

Impatience has almost been a way of life for me. Fortunately, I realize that it is one of my pitfalls, and I have been working to improve on it for quite some time now.

Greeting my colleagues with a “Good morning” everyday is a habit I’ve fallen into willingly. Firstly, it is the right thing to do. Secondly, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Who would want a grumpy colleague trying to get back at you for some perceived injustice you did the previous day, anyway?

At times when the good mornings turn into small talk, I try to avoid being the jerk and participate in the conversation, even though I would rather tune out the small talk, and mind my own business. But that is how far I can go. I despise meaningless small talk with people about whom I wouldn’t care after work. Admit it, every one of us has a few set of colleagues who we wish would disappear from the face of he earth.

So, one such colleague of mine, chats me up on my office communicator and asks me a question that questions my work ethic. I am the kind of person who accounts for the 1 hour permission I take to leave early from work, when the masses generally skip the 2 hour late entry they make. So I found the question very offensive, and clearly stated that he was under a false perception. And when this colleague of mine, repeated with the “Are you sure?” I got pretty mad. “You can check with records, to make sure that you’ve got it right”, I stated matter-of-factly and put an end to the conversation. Now, I was downright annoyed with this petulant conversation, and hoped to never talk to him again.

So, for the next few days I try to avoid being in any place where I would be forced to come into contact with this colleague of mine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen the way I want, and as this colleagues chats me up the next day I give him one syllable responses against my usually long ones. I guess this indifference must have irked him, because he began to take jabs at me, for which strangely I did not react. I kept giving numb responses like I couldn’t care less. So this keeps happening over and over again, that is, him taking shots at me, and me replying indifferently.

Normally in such situations, I would have let the other person get under my skin, and would have blown off my top. Fortunately this time around, I didn’t. Usually the person who ends an argument with “Whatever!” has lost the argument. For once, I did not mind losing. And it so happened I did not. Because, a few days later, I was talking to a friend of mine when he walked past us. He stopped dead in his track and started poking fun at me again, and I kept mum as usual. And then it happened,”I’ve been trying to provoke you so many times, and you seem not to react. What’s up with that?” he asked, trying to guise it under his comical tone. “I’ve gotten used it”, I stated calmly. And he mumbled,”Whatever!” and moved on.

That’s when I realized by not allowing him to get under my skin, I got under his. Even though he tried to push it aside, he was clearly frustrated that I did not get worked up by his constant annoyance, and was taken by surprise by my retort that he had to resort to “Whatever!” “Gotcha”, I thought to myself, and just grinned. For once, I had handled a tough situation even as trivial as might be in the right manner. I was pretty pleased with myself, and I still am.

Rafa

That’s it. I am through with these Rafa haters. Rafa loses a tournament? You are all up, armed, and ready to fire. Rafa wins a tournament? You still don’t stop, do you?

Firstly, I will state a few facts, and push them out of my way.

1. Djokovic is World #1. Yes, at the moment he’s the world’s best tennis player. He has got a far more balanced game play when it comes to verstality over the different surfaces than Rafa. And clearly he has bested Rafa more often than not in the recent times.

2. Federer is and always will be that guy who took tennis to another level. As far as I am concerned even Pete Sampras can’t claim that. Right now, he might not be on the top of his game. But there is no denying that he is like a Phoenix, and it not be too long before he rises out of the ashes.

3. I have tried to be correct with the facts I have written. Unfortunately I am no tennis expert, and therefore pardon me if I have gone wrong.

Now, coming back to the point in discussion. Rafa. Since the day he ousted Fedex on his maiden run @ the French Open, he has been my favourite. Incidentally, his maiden French Open which happens to be his Maiden French Open title as well. How many people can beat that, huh? That’s right. Nobody.

“No man since Bjorn Borg has won the French Open, crossed the English Channel and conquered the All Englad Club as well”, for four years I heard the guys in the commentary box lament. At the end of three slams, I was crying. At the end of the fourth, I was jubilant. After 3 unsuccessful attempts Rafa had finally conquered the All England Club, and tasted victory (literally). Rafa had done, what no man in recent times had. He achieved what experts called a “Channel Slam”. It should have put an end to the argument of Rafa being one dimensional. Sadly, it didn’t.

Rafa tastes victory, literally! 🙂

Rafa has always reigned supreme at the French Open, apart from the unfortunate loss to Robin Soderling three years back. Many predicted that Rafa will be dethroned this Summer by Djokovic. And that just did not happen. He is, and will always be the undisputed King of Clay.

Over the years, he won the Australian Open, the US Open, and a number of Masters as well. If not anything else, that proves how good a player Rafa was, and still is. And he won the Olympic Gold. How much more better can he get, huh?

What was once a weak serve has improved formidably, and isn’t a liability any more. True, his serve is still no where near to the best serves in the circuit. But I am sure, even Djokovic’s serve does’t measure up to the huge serving Isner. So does that mean Djokovic is no good? The answer is simple. No it doesn’t. So I find it utterly ridiculous to undermine the talent of a player as good as Rafa, citing a few areas as general weakness. Why don’t you just talk about his precise returns?

Rafa is special. What is so special, you ask? Many a time, we find people to idolize as soon as we set sights on them. We secretly wish and pray that they would rise to the occasion, and live up to most of all your expectation. And 99 out of a hundred times, they fail. I have a long list of crushed hopes starting from Felipe Massa to Suresh Raina.

For many days, I dreamt of Rafa becoming World #1, winning Slams other than just the French Open. But sadly, I believed Rafa will never become World #1, and never win a slam other than the French Open. But he did not let that happen. As a matter of fact, Rafa saved my dream. He learnt well, and quickly he reached the top. I could not have been more happier. Today, I dream of Rafa holding all the four slams at the same time. Not only that, I also believe he will make my dream come true.

I see in Rafa what many people fail to see. This is why the Rafa fans adore him. The absolute modesty. The eagerness to learn. The will to improve. The eyes for precision. The strength to persevere. The power to excel.  But most of all the heart to accept. I have never seen a player more gracious at defeat, and I love him for that. He gives credit where credit is due, and at times even where it isn’t.

I don’t just love Rafa as a tennis player, I love him as a person.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

No, this is not about the film featuring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, and Cameron Diaz. Neither is it about a triangular love story. It truly is about my best friend’s wedding.

A couple of months back, she said, “Me, and *******. We are getting married”. I could not have been more happier. A fairy tale finish, for a story with so many twists and turns. With just over a month to go, she had an awful lot to do, and me being jobless over the weekends was just what she needed.

We discussed the guest list, and after much thought decided to keep it limited. As a part of the bride-pampering-process, she signed up for a facial and pedicure session. I kept her company through her facial, and then she stepped up for her pedicure. Being a sucker for pedicures I too signed up for it. We had a fun time throughout, talking all sorts of nonsense, and laughing like we were mad. To end what was a perfect grooming session, we both painted our nails in odd colours. She chose Violet, and I chose Lavender. Call me weird, but this is what I call a perfect day. Me and my bestie getting pedicures 🙂

We then made a trip to our favourite place in Chennai – T. Nagar. Not knowing the route, I simply chose to follow the MTC bus towards our destination. After parking my vehicle, we roamed around for almost the entire evening, and she was just done with her first round of shopping.

Her big day was fast approaching, and I was getting ready for it as well. I got my sarees ironed out, and my accessories put together. I planned to stay over for the wedding. After all, how many times is my best friend going to get married? The day before her wedding reception, she called me up and asked me to get her a couple more accessories. “Are you kidding me? Tomorrow’s your wedding, and you still haven’t bought all stuff?” I dragged myself to T.nagar and got her the stuff she asked.

I reached her home at 2 pm on the day of her reception, and was kinda shocked to see her in her jammies. It was after my prompting did she hurry to get her makeup done, and we reached the wedding hall just on time. Her reception was hectic, to put it mildly. I was her “touch-up girl” all through her photo session, and boy was she in her groove. She kept giving stunning poses, while her beau was finding it hard to be casual. I was drained by the end of the day, and was ready to hit the sack at 1 AM. Those who know me personally, would know how much of a stretch that is. We got to bed at 1 AM in the morning, when my adorable bestie decided to open the gifts. I was all but ready to kill her, when she herself realized she was stretching too much, and turned off the lights.

Her wedding was delightful, and finally I had some time to just sit back and enjoy it. From a distance I could how nervous and yet happy she was. The groom tied the knot, and she smiled in delight. And that was when I realized how much I adored her, loved her, and how much I was gonna miss her.

As much as I was happy for her, a small part of me was sulking,”So… I can’t meet my best friend as easily as I used to anymore. She’d be so far away in Delhi. Who would I do my roaming around with? Whose legs am I supposed to pull? Who can I share my everything with? With whom can I discern all my inhibitions?” Honestly, I felt a bit burdened. She was my daily dose of strength. Someone who accepts me with all my flaws. Someone who always had my back.

It was time for me to leave. I gave her a hug, and waved her goodbye. What kept me happy, was the thought that she was just a phone call away.

Parisien Times

We often read in our newspapers, how the European nations are struggling to find their foot in the current global economic crisis. France is one such nation. People are trying to manage their funds in the right manner; worrying about savings, and most of all what the future holds.

With all those imported clothing costing so much, I thought the French were probably lavish. That was so racist of me. And I am ashamed to have thought it that way. My French visit, for the most part was more enlightening than fun. In a way, it made me appreciate India in all its goodness.

You would be surprised, to see how conscious people are while spending money. They would not waste a single cent, on useless stuff. A lesson that Indians of our generation have to learn. On the other end of the spectrum, you can clearly see that they wouldn’t cheat their government of a single cent. We’re not saints on that front either.

We Indians, especially those of our generation, roam around the streets wearing gaudy t-shirts with barely intelligible words scribbled in a scrawny font that reads, “Ruck Fules”. Yes, we are that cool! Not.

In comparison, The French have rules for everything. Even for filling water in the coffee machine. And every single one of them follow it. Amazing!
What was even more amazing was their sense of traffic.

See a red light? Stop
See a yellow light? Stop
See a green light? Is there a pedestrian waiting to cross the road? Stop, and wave signaling the pedestrian to cross.

Yes, it was that damn amazing!

I was a bit paranoid when I first landed there. I was worried about how the people would react to me, and my being there. I was worried I would feel homesick. I was worried I would have no friends. To summarize, I was worried A LOT.

It took me just one day at work, and a day at the domestic supplies store to lose all my initial prejudices.

From gesturing me to join him in the queue when I was standing alone, lending a jacket for the weekend because it was going to get colder, to showing empathy towards the minor earthquake in India, Xavier(our application manager) epitomized the gallantry the French men in general personified.

Well, the only other race I’ve known being our Indian men, I can surely say that I have never seen a more gallant race in my life.

[Some of our men, stomp you on your foot; don’t ask sorry; whine when reprimanded; and finally mock you on Facebook saying, “You want equality? This is what it is. So deal with it!” In their twisted mind, this somehow is something clever to say!]

At work, people held doors open. Waited for me to enter the elevator.
At the hotel and work, I always had the men working there wishing me good morning, and good day.
Even though I wasn’t any good at French, I was appreciated for the effort that I made at work, and at the hotel.
Every time I lost my way, someone helped me out. After some time, Xavier even taught me how to use color schemes to get to the place I wanted to reach.
I had a total stranger carry around my supplies, because he thought it was too heavy for me.
And when I had no clue as to what to buy in the wine section, I had another stranger help me out.
On board the flight from Paris to Dubai, a fellow passenger helped my get my stuff into and out of the overhead cabin.
At the airport, another fellow passenger carried my hand luggage (that was so heavy) to a table nearby, since I had my hands full.

I felt happy throughout my stay there. Most of all, I never felt alone. I always had someone to help me through. Sometimes, I asked for it. But most of the times, I was helped out without me asking for it.

I am guessing the French men are polite not just to women, but towards men too. It is just the way they are. But this being new to me, it felt amazing.

All these were simple acts of kindness. But they amount to the larger part of my trip to France being pleasant and memorable.

As an added bonus, most of them are smart, funny and handsome 😛

A birthday wish

I received a call from my niece this morning, and as soon as I took the call she yelled, “Happpiee Birthday!”.”Thank you Priya”, I said. I was pleasantly surprised, that my 15 year old niece remembers my birthday. ‘Wow,How many birthdays of hers have I missed? Many’ I thought to myself, starting to feel a bit guilty. “Hold on, my dad wants to wish you too”, she said, and called out to her dad.

It took him some time, and I was getting late for work, and was starting to get a bit frustrated waiting for him to get to the phone. After a few minutes, he was on the line,”Hi ma”, he said.”Hi”,I was about to continue when he wished me,”Happy new year!”

“Thanks”,I said smiling. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It was a strange and yet happy feeling, that I am not able to exactly put it in words. Whether it is illiteracy,ignorance or simply a slip of the tongue, I do not know. But I found his wishing me a happy new year very pleasant in an innocent kind of way. It made my day.

In a way, it is a new year indeed. My very own new year. The next time, any of my friends have their birthday, I know what I am going to wish them,”A very happy new year!”