Story of a lost journalist

May 16, 2010

Ignorance is bliss

Filed under: life,My Musing Moments,Personal — Cris @ 02:35

I finally found one use for my ignorance. Whenever I read or hear about something new, no filters start working on my head. I read it as it is written, I hear it as it is told. The enlightened, however, I have learnt, tend to pass it all through a filter of prejudices and opinions and all they have read in the past, before letting any of that in. They doubt everything, they have an opinion against anything. So I can see the goodness in something faster than them. I may be naïve here, but if it takes so much to trust anyone or anything and you have to walk forever with a suspicious and alert mind, well – would you ever be completely happy?

When I hear people interpret simple, straightforward words to come up with inner and double meanings, I stay dumbfounded. How do they manage to dig so much into those simple words, I never understand. Wouldn’t it be real tough for people to say every line after injecting a lot of hidden meaning into it? Life is not a drama with heavy dialogues. It is just life – you live, you don’t act. You react, you don’t direct. You talk, you don’t script. You are you, not someone else!

But people do it – a lot of people do. They just don’t tell you. It gives me the nerves. I could be standing there telling how beautiful a violet flower is, and for all you know, someone may conclude that my first date had to do with a lot of violet flowers, someone else may think I am trying to look at a man somewhere near the violet flowers – cause of course a woman doesn’t simply stand and enjoy the beauty of flowers. This is not the right example to convey the horror these interpreters give you.

Here is another one. You may say you plan to go out next day and your listener may think any one of the following
“It is to avoid me, from calling her”
“It is to show me she is busy”
“It is to make me jealous that I am doing nothing”
Etc etc
Very few take it as it was said: “She plans to go out next day”

I hate being misunderstood. And that happens a lot. I tend to be extra cautious when I am with such people and make it all the more worse. For it never works for me when I try to be something. You have to be nice, not try to be nice. Cause then you are trying to prove, to please, to convince. It doesn’t work. You have to do it cause you are it, not otherwise.

I don’t think these interpretations are exclusive talents of the enlightened. Others do it too. So to not be that way – guess it takes some amount of ignorance, some naivety, some permanent damage in some part of the cerebrum to be a Cris.

May 5, 2010

When my English Teacher passed away

Filed under: life,Personal — Cris @ 20:55

Hearing about the death of someone you knew long ago, but not having touch with for years, is strange. I came to know my English teacher Miss Irene Mary, passed away yesterday. When Jen called to tell me this, I said “iooooo”. But after that, when I called to pass the message to others, I was impatient to know more, not ready to understand that it would be a shock for them as it was for me.

From the moment of hearing the news, I have been searching desperately for some memories with her, trying to create in mind, some images from the past. The first line that comes to mind is “1999 March.”
She used to say these words every so often ever since she became our class teacher in class 9, enjoying the gasps she got in response. She was talking about the time we will write our board exam.

One time she called me to give me my paper and said “My dear, you write absolute rubbish. Take care of what you write.” The way she said it, I didn’t feel bad at all. Besides the important thing was I passed.

Once, I wanted to go home in the noon cause I was not well. My mom came to pick me and Irene teacher came down to talk to her. Mom was wearing a black salwar and I was worried if Irene teacher would consider it proper that a 14 year old’s Mom was wearing salwars. The next term, for our exam, I wrote an essay about ‘Clothes’. With some weird idea of justifying my fears, I wrote that clothes had to be chosen according to age and it would be very funny for a very old woman to wear short skirts or frocks. I got very poor marks for the essay. Guess she was purer in her thoughts than I was.

A couple of more scenes with my classmate Radha and teacher, and then some visuals of her sitting in her chair and reading Midsummer Nights Dreams, about sums up my memories of her. In less than 10 years, I have lost so much from my school memories.

Today as I sat in church listening to her funeral mass, I was going through my school days, somehow making petty confessions to myself, for some of the things I have thought or done at school (like the clothes essay). I thought of totally irrelevant insignificant things like this: once I was swinging with my feet on the school gates. There were these two girls from another division (A division girls we used to call them, we were C). One of our teachers – Shiny teacher – passed wearing a skirt – outside the school (school didn’t allow skirts for teachers). Suddenly, one of the A division girls said “Do you know how old she is?” I said “24-25 I guess” (thinking it was a really grown-up age). “Hah 24 my foot. She is much older, girl!” I was surprised and amused, thinking that this might have been the first and only conversation I had with this girl.

I saw many of my teachers there – Sofi teacher, Suma teacher (remembered Suma teacher and Irene teacher – Malayalam and English teachers – covering their heads in Suma teacher’s sari tail one hot day in the sun and laughing together. Ros, my best friend, pointed this to me and said “ayodaaa so cuteeee”), Anita teacher, Shiny teacher, Geetha teacher (Economics teacher… my friend DU once told me: She teaches about population explosion and has three kids!)… Couldnt talk to any of them… but their faces from 10 years ago were fast filling my mind.

I saw Sandra, who I barely talked to, but who used to be a popular figure back in school – she was one year my senior. She used to be so slim and now she has put on a lot that it is hard to recognise her. I remembered her second last window seat in bus… and her cracking voice and her braces and her uniform skirt (looked real cute on her that it made her a favorite among juniors), and her dancing to “Saturday night I feel the air is getting hot…”. I used to be a last seater in bus, but I was so quiet I dont think she’d know me.

Random memories kept scrolling through my mind, throughout the mass. I stood up when they prayed and sat down later, with the rest of them, not aware of what was happening. I wouldn’t have minded staying when they took her coffin out to the cemetery and would have waited till end of day – how could anyone be bored when old memories in blue and white check skirts and navy blue ribbons, just kept flashing scene after scene in front of me… better than any movie you could think of.

And then I thought… all those faces that came then. Ros or Radha or Irene Teacher – where was Ros? Where was radha? Where was Irene teacher now? Where was all that I thought was important in my life, back then? Why did I never think of all those important things all these years – did I not even know that I didn’t have them anymore? Or that they were not important anymore?

And then of course dramatic visions. I imagine her coming to see all of us grieve. Invisible of course. She stands there in front of me, looking – scrutinising – through those tiny eyes – each and every one of us – with a soft little smile on her lips, and her forefinger on her chin. She then walked out through one of the doors, and just flew away. It was such a lovely picture – my tiny little teacher in the sky. I hope no one thought it weird that I was smiling at a funeral.

It was time to see her. I saw her relatives cry as they kissed her for one final time. I thought, she has so many people to mourn her death even when she was unmarried. So maybe, I wouldn’t be too lonely in my death bed.
I saw her hands covered in white gloves clutching a cross tightly. I saw just a little of her face through the white veil. And I swallowed a lump. I don’t know if it was of sadness and loss of the teacher, or of the times I will never get back…

May 1, 2010


Filed under: Personal — Cris @ 23:57

I seriously have a problem with phones. Almost all the people I know would vouch for me on this. The never-picker Cris. Partly, yes, because I actually miss, but partly, cause I like to stay from it as much as possible. I do not like talking in phone. It is a complete contrast to my school days when my best friend Ros and I would be hung up on phone for hours. College too. Those were the days of land phones and a hard stare from one of those bill-paying parents ended our blab for the day.

But those treacherous nasty little creatures called mobile phones landed on earth and ruined my life. It made me a phone-hater. I hereby declare that the mobile phone is fully and completely responsible for any anti-phone attack I practise. It is all his fault (such a huge troublemaker has gotta be a ‘he’).

So dear friends, trivandrumites, worldhumans (I still believe in the one-world-for-all rule), if I dont pick up your calls, please direct all your curses and shuns on that little device called a cell phone. I get unpredictably uncomfortable when it rings and sticks to my ears. Talking for me is a huge effort. I keep saying I am a writer not a talker. Yes my job needs talking. But that is different. It is strictly business – you talk and ask what you need to talk and ask. End of job. But no casual and friendly follow ups puleese.

Sheesh I really sound like a – hmm anti-social? What do you call such people? Not introverts – ye I am that too. But this is not about not having the ability (ahem). This is about not having the interest.

So as I was saying, friends and more friends, let me recommend you to put on hold all ministrations on murder (as some have threatened me with), swearing (as some have already put into practice), and any sort of ill-feeling. I am just not a phone person. Consider it – I find it hard to say this – my handicap (ouch that hurts).

Journalistic Troubles – Part 1

Filed under: Journalism — Cris @ 18:23

Since I have proclaimed myself a journalist – a lost one at that – maybe it is time I got around to writing about my journalistic experiences. Not a lot since I am still new in the field and the actual job of reporting started less than 3 months ago.

One of the biggest problems I face now is explaining that I work for a web portal – “it is a newspaper, only it opens in a computer”. They are not happy with my credentials. If it is a paper they could see. One time, I talked to a vegetable vendor to ask her opinion about Tharoor’s resignation. She asked if this would come on “your website”. Yes. Will she be able to get a copy? Sure, come to my office (right opposite her shop). I published my article that day. Next evening my boss called and asked if I promised a certain lady some print-out? Err yes, could you get a print out of the Tharoor opinion piece?

One thing that happens to me a lot – and I want to know if it happens to other new journos – I am asked a lot of questions – some of it personal and having no relevance to the subject in hand. I start with the questions and they answer thankfully, not with a lot of reluctance. When I am done, they start the questions. So are you basically from Trivandrum? Where in Trivandrum? You studied journalism? From where?

Coupla days back I talked to a fruit vendor about hartal and without any hint, he suddenly asked my age. “You are what, 18?”
“No I am above 20.”
“20 what?”
“Not telling you (I surprise myself here).”
“Oh yea, you shouldn’t ask girls their age, but that is really an old theory and it is pretty cheap.”
“Yea maybe but I don’t have to tell my age to each and everyone I talk to.”
“Well, I suppose that is true.”
Hmm, have I started becoming age-conscious? Who am I kidding? I have ever since I crossed 17!

And then there are the little insults. Not exactly insults but being rebuked in public. I took a snap of a drama I went to, to write a review about it. A security guard came and told me not to do that. Suddenly I feel all eyes are on me instead of being on the play. Another time, I click a picture of a temple I pass. A man comes out of the temple and tells me in no soft terms that one is not supposed to take pictures “of any nada”. Darn.

Well I could go on and on. Maybe I will record it as and when something worth talking about happens. Hey I just realized – I am not funny anymore! I don’t like it.

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