Monthly Archives: November 2012

“Aye, Shoo! Why are you talking?”

As a student in school, I was the Class Asshole.

The perennial backbencher, I would sleep, talk, or day dream. If it was Maths class, I was an ostrich, trying to bury my head between the others in class. If it was English, I was a meerkat, peering out of my hole, making some noise, grabbing attention. For the other subjects, I generally switched between ostrich, meerkat, and hippopotamus.

In our school, talking was a crime. I swear. Students would get report cards sent home with the remark – “He talks a lot” or “His marks will improve if he reduces his talking”. Once, my friend got a remark saying he was getting spoilt because he was talking to me.

The whole thing pissed me off. I mean, what is the big deal about talking?

But then, that was our school. Where talking was among many other grave crimes – entering another room, whistling, singing a film song, and reading a book.

Of all these, it was this big deal about talking that pissed me off the most. I mean, children are children. They will talk. And when the teachers would ask me ‘What do you have to talk so much about?’, I would feel like screaming, ‘I’m not a goddamn 40 year old, things still surprise me.’

There are a million things that a kid would want to talk about. How do you explain to him that Pythagoras’ 2500 year old theorem is more important than the hot girl in class? How are Harappan excavations ever going to be more important than his favourite cricketer – his personal hero?

So I kept on talking, and got thrashed like a carpet seller thrashes his carpets to clean them. I have had sticks broken on me, been pinched, slapped, boxed, and once, even been given a langdi by the hostel warden.

The sad part is, most people from my school still think greatly about the way we were brought up.

The sadder part is, I never really stopped talking.

The saddest part is, the teachers never got it, and went on thrashing.

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Now, life has this way of screwing you over in such a beautiful way that you can’t help smiling.

After all these years, after all these jobs, I teach school children in Kurnool. Classes 5 to 8.

And I have to deal with the exact, same issues that I faced when I was a student.

I never shout, or raise my hand. So I am the cool teacher.

I smile, I crack jokes, I encourage the silent students to speak, and spend half an hour before every class, thinking of the most interesting way to teach that particular concept. Through stories, quizzes, videos, or games. Also, every now and then, I give them two minutes to discuss, so that they can blurt out that thing that’s on top of their minds, and on the tips of their tongues.

And in spite of all this, I find that some of the kids aren’t interested. Some of them are talking to the person next to them, others are looking out of the window. Some are staring at me blankly, like the kid from Sixth Sense who sees dead people.

It drives me nuts. I am tempted to scream.

But it just needs a second to take me back to my own school days, and think about what I would have done. And I am calm as the Buddha all over again.

It has been five months now, and I can safely say that the students trust me a little now. They know I am never going to hit or shout at them, and this means they trust me a little bit. Over these months, there are two important things I have learnt.

1. Training and Sensitisation: In most schools, teachers are selected on the basis of their academic qualifications. But like Kapil Dev was miserable as the Indian coach, a great student is never going to guarantee a great teacher.

Even after securing the job, the teacher is never trained. Which means that in the first few years, there is some josh to be a good teacher. But without any sensitisation, after a point, the kids seem like ten year old tadpoles who can be made to toe the line by raising your voice. The ones that don’t, can be tamed by delivering a nice, tight slap. After a point, they stop seeming like children – with individual needs and concerns, and they seem more like a herd of sheep.

2. Assholes make better teachers: Most of the teachers in schools are the studious sort. The ones who never broke a rule, never spoke out of turn, and turned in shiny report cards at the end of every test.

How will these people ever know what it means to have something to say in class while the teacher is talking? How will they ever realise that for the kid, there are more things going on in the mind than angles and triangles? These teachers have lived such a life of discipline that they will never be able to empathise with the ones who are not reflections of their own ten year old selves. And that’s why, assholes make better teachers.

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So now, when a kid talks in class, I don’t say, “Aye, shoo! Why are you talking?”

I know why the kid is talking.

I try to beat the thought in his head, by putting in a more interesting one. And if I fail, it’s ok. I understand.

Because, as a student in school, I was the Class Asshole.

How to Screw Robert Vadra

Last week, Robert Vadra bitch-slapped the entire nation.

Yes, our nation, with its pride on morals, culture and beliefs, was delivered a resounding bitch-slap on the face, the kind that a Bollywood hero delivers to the heroine when he catches her doing scandalous things like sipping some wine.

Not so surprisingly, none of the media houses seem to be talking about it. And apart from The Hindu, no newspaper is even doing a follow-up story on the issue. But then, that’s our media. Last year, the Journalists Federation of India awarded Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda the best CM of the country.

Before you wonder “Who,da?”, here’s interesting trivia. From 1982 to 2005, only 5,550 acres were allotted for real estate development. Since 2005, when the ‘Best CM’ of the country assumed power, 20,549 acres were allotted to property developers. If this is the best CM, I can only imagine how the Chief Ministers who are not the best, would be faring.

Now, Robert Vadra is a strange fellow. For many years, I thought the guy was an unassuming bloke who got lucky in marriage. All that changed in 2010, when he gave an interview to the Times of India, saying “I’ll join politics when I can make a difference”. He also went on to say that he could win an election from anywhere, but chooses not to.

I wondered what the guy thought of himself! I mean, for a guy whose only link with politics was to be married to a political family, that sort of confidence either meant he was a confident, shrewd man, or an absolute buffoon. The proceedings over the last week have proven that when compared to this guy, even Rahul Gandhi seems like Albert Einstein.

When Kejriwal accused Vadra of wrong doings, three things shocked me:

  1. Cabinet ministers coming in support: Now, I can understand if he was a Congress minister, or even a minister in a coalition. The guy isn’t even a goddamn politician. What the fuck are you defending him for? And that too, someone like Chidambaram….?
  2. IAS Officer transferred: Ashok Khemka, the IAS Officer who initiated the investigations against the deal, was immediately transferred. Sometimes, the quick action our administration takes is quite inspiring.
  3. Mango People: Proving that he was, after all, a moron, Vadra put up a message on Facebook saying “Mango People in a Banana Republic”. We live in a nation where a guy who has married into a political family, when accused of wrongdoings, could call the nation a ‘Banana Republic’

That sealed it for me. This guy, surely, was nuts. An ape in the midst of a shrewd, powerful family.

Laughably, the same Haryana government that was doling out land like Santa Claus on Christmas, gave the guy a clean chit.

I knew Kejriwal didn’t stand a chance in the court of law. There is no law preventing a company from selling and buying at any price it deems fit, and so there would be no case there.

But the more important question that the court should have asked was, “What business did DLF have in giving unsecured loans to someone who wasn’t even in the field of Real Estate two years ago?” There are rules, there is law, and then there are ethics.

And that is how, as a nation, we were bitch-slapped. Asked to shut up, and left like little puppies to whimper at trucks that go by.

But here’s how to screw Robert Vadra.

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Every year, all the news channels organise their annual awards ceremonies. Sycophantic mutual masturbation clubs where everybody compliments everybody, and returns home after a good dinner.

Like the CNN Indian of the Year award, which as a matter of fact, Rahul Gandhi won in 2009 in the field of politics. So what you’re telling me is, this guy, with no administrative experience, no official position in the government, having brought in no reforms or policies whatsoever, was the Indian of the Year? God save our country then!

There is also the Economic Times Award for Corporate Excellence that awards the best performing businesses in the country. Then there are the CNBC-CRISIL awards with a category called the CRISIL Real Estate Awards.

Business Today’s Most Powerful Men in Business, the Indian Business Awards, the Emerging India Business Awards, and a bunch of other Business Awards.

Now, if Vadra’s business is all clean and legitimate, it is an astounding story of business growth.

For someone who was selling handicrafts and other handlooms, to get into a competitive field like Real Estate and go from a 50 lakhs to 300 crores is an unbelievable achievement.

In a time when the world is reeling from recession, and entire countries going bankrupt and people being fired from their jobs, the guy has been made the Director, Addl. Director, or MD in twelve companies in the last six years. To show an exponential growth rate of above 500% when the nation’s economy is tottering at 6%, is an achievement.

I mean, the guy is a miracle, a business force to reckon with, our own Steve Jobs.

Shouldn’t he get an award?

So this is what the media houses should do.

Invite him for these awards. Award him for his excellence. Ask him to stand in front of business leaders, lawyers, and accountants, and talk about the secrets of his success. That should wipe the smug smile off the douchebag’s face.

I mean, his businesses are all clean, right? He deserves accolades, then.

And maybe then, I will have some respect for Indian media.

So, I’m waiting, Mr. Arnab Goswami. Instead of barking into our ears every night, strap some balls on, and give the guy some much needed awards.

Are you listening, Mr. Goswami? Like you keep reminding us, India needs an answer.