Sunday, 21 June 2009

The wall

A few of my friends have kids who have just joined school. Or play school as it's called.

The problem is that the kids are a year and a half old. Now I know that I am not a parent and therefore am not in touch with what's happening in the under two feet category. But the way I see it is that school is the end of one's free life. From then on, you are in the rolls somewhere or the other - at play school, at school, at college, or at work. The only break is if you don't work or if you are a freelancer. And that's rare.

My friends assure me that these are 'play schools' - kids come and 'swim' in buckets full of beach ball, watch puppets, eat popcorn, make friends. I wonder if the poor kids know that. Do they see it as fun and games. Or do these translate into discipline and rules in their world?

I guess this is how things are today. Perhaps I am over reacting. There is no doubt that parents have their kids best interests in heart.

What is the hurry to make kids grow up? Why is the system in a hurry to put them in system? Will this reduce to school at six months soon? And then like Arjun, will school start while you are still in the womb?

There is the argument that kids learn social skills better in school than at home, fawned upon by doting parents and grand parents. I don't see a lot of social deviants amongst those of us who grew up at home ... cuddled and pampered.

Is this just a trick to build an industry - schools for sub toddlers?

It's really scary. School before you begin to walk. Cricket and music becoming classes rather than hobbies. Ninety five per cent plus being the cut off for college.

That's when you appreciate being in the right side of your thirties.

I would love to know what the parents feel on this. And more than that, what do the babies think as they get into the bus in their school uniforms.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Back in fashion

Chances are that if you blog and read blogs then you have a back problem too. I sincerely hope not. But it seems that anyone who has anything to do with a computer has a back problem these days.

If you don't have a back problem, and I hope you don't, then I can bet my increment this year that you know someone who does (watchers of corporate India would have caught the bitter joke in this sentence).

But seriously, what's with back aches? Everyone seems to have it these days. From serious ones which need surgery or steroid injections to nagging pains which just doesn't seem to go away.

Some attribute it to bad postures or desk jobs. But I am sure that bad postures always existed even if generations claimed that they had a stronger spine. And desk jobs can't be new to what the Brits considered a nation of clerks at one time.

When we were in college and soon after that... bad backs would be associated with the throes of passion. The rare person who had a bad back would be jeered and cheered. But I am not too sure about this hypothesis either. Almost everyone I know has a back problem. While we don't have prying eyes, I would be surprised if there are many Lonely Lotharios or Lady Chatterley's amongst them.

And if you are addicted to writing, then there is nothing worse than a bad back and a stiff neck.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Growing up with Moley

"I am thirty five today. I am officially middle- aged. It is all downhill from now. A pathetic slide towards gum disease, wheelchair ramps and death" - Adrian Mole

The first time I got to know Adrian Mole was when my aunt gave me Sue Townsend's "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4". I think I was about to turn thirteen then. The book was a rollicking ride of self discovery and empathy. I remember that me and my mates from school had a great time reading about Aidy's love for Pandora, his obsession with his spots, his constant measuring with his foot ruler, his run ins with his principal, his pains as an 'intellectual' and his chaotic life of adolescent self doubt and discovery. I think this was one of the most circulated book amongst us. It had, as my aunt wrote in the book, 'helped me grow up'.

My encounter with Aidy didn't end there. We discovered in college that the Adrian Mole series had grown and we got hold which had a few more diaries detailing his life as he grew older - True Confessions, The Wilderness Years.

I then came across his 'Cappuccino Years' when I'd moved out of home and shifted to Bombay. That's when Adrian had moved out to and was coming to terms with fatherhood and his attempts to be a celebrity chef.

The last rendition in the series is 'Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction' where he turns 35. I bought it when I turned 31 and read it during my birthday trip to Goa. That was in 2005.

I picked up the book from the bookshelf a couple of days back. I couldn't put it down till I reached the last page. I had read it before but still hung onto every word this time. But that's not strange. I must have read the Secret Diary more than five times at the least. I was lost in Adrian's world in the WMD and at times was shocked by the way we connected.. Which is funny because this is not a self help Chicken Stew, Middle Class Dad, Children are from Saturn book. This is just a work of humour.

I then did the math and suddenly realised that this the period when Aidy reached 35. I had earlier read the book when I turned 31. But I am now 35 and could relate to so many things in the book.

Self obsessed, neurotic, living from one failure to failure, depressed, klutz with 'a futon and a few pots and pans to show after thirty five years' ... I guess it would have been more fashionable to say that one connects with James Bond, Rhett Butler or a host of other fictional characters... after all this blog is not a 'secret diary'. But Adrian Mole and I go back too far back for that. So I won't add myself to the list of people in his life who have disowned him.

It's really amazing how Sue Townsend is so insightful and can draw out the psyche of Adrian as he grows up. That's real sensitivity. It takes a lot to understand a person of the opposite sex so well. Especially if you writing the book as a diary with daily recounts of a person's life and thoughts.

I really hope the series doesn't end. The time has come for Adrian Mole to turn forty.

Perhaps Adrian could write one of his famous letters to Ms Townsend.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Hell Down Under

They glamorized sledging... called it mental disintegration

Mocked Gavaskar ... knocked Ganguly

Shoved Pawar

Got behind Murli and called Bhajji an obnoxious weed

Bullied young Manish ... And played ugly

But now it's not even a gentleman's game