Tuesday, July 19, 2016

So, What's your Super-Power?

When I took a headlong plunge into changing careers back in 2015, I had no idea what was in store for me. All I knew deep down inside that I was taking a measured calculative risk. I had spent months analysing and weighing out the pros against the cons. Pros was aplenty, so were the cons. I mean, I could just fail as a teacher and then it would all be another huge mess to clean up. I was straddling between two options; either an analytics course to up-skill or an entirely different unknown path.

I chose the unknown and what a fabulous journey it has been so far! Picking up books and course materials after a point in my life was quite a challenge in itself. Plus I had to study through harsh Delhi winters and I also managed to successfully train Aathukar in making Bournvita just the way I liked it! It is such a win-win situation, right? Unfortunately not, the real challenge actually lies outside the training territory when you’re put in charge of training / teaching / facilitating real human beings.

One interview led to another, and I found myself in an NGO that teaches English to under-privileged kids. After what seemed to be a really long training, I was assigned a centre of my own; the manager promised that I was going to be in-charge of transforming the lives of 60 odd children. So, I walked into what would be my classroom only to be confounded by an eerie sense of emptiness. In a short while, I was brought up to speed by my co-facilitator and long story short, I was entirely in charge of building three batches of students from scratch! Sounds crazy, right?

That was the beginning of a brand new career. In the 6 months I spent in the NGO, I did learn a great deal about teaching, motivating students, learning to be disciplined and in the process disciplining children, learning to lead by example, also figured out in a strange way that I could simplify and breakdown information to easily understandable bits and most importantly, I realised that I could teach and inspire students in my own little way!

When you look at teaching as a profession, it seems rather easy; all you can see is a fixed content and a teacher leading a classroom. But what you don’t get to see is the amount of effort that goes on behind the scenes, the amount of time spent in preparing for each session, thinking like a student to come up with possible curve balls, coming up with interesting anecdotes and instances to help them correlate it with reality and what not. It definitely is not a walk in the park! You have to be on your toes, literally and figuratively and constantly work towards maintaining that dynamic environment, which by the way is easier said than done.

Facilitating pushes you to the very limits of your patience, especially for somebody like me, who can spot errors, but what I couldn’t do is – help you understand why it is wrong and how you can correct it. All my life I’ve sat in the back benches making fun of people who made mistakes, but today I realise that pin-pointing is the easiest step, the steps that follow to help that individual correct that takes a huge amount of effort, patience and perseverance.

This idea reinforced itself a lot more prominently when I started teaching / training individuals. This is an entirely different ball game because, in a classroom, you can always switch your attention between students, but in an individual class, your sole focus is on that person sitting across you in a virtual environment. What’s been amazing so far is, I’ve come across people in their 40s come in to up-skill themselves and that’s fascinating, because most of us believe that education ends in college.

The most demanding aspect is to be able to switch roles rather effortlessly; one moment you’re a teacher talking about some grammar rule, the next you’re a facilitator making a bunch of students or an individual think, and then you have to switch to storytelling to reinforce the learning. There are moments when you have to be a motivator and help them believe that it’s not an insurmountable task. But you know what? The high you get when the point hits home is priceless!

It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster and I’m enjoying every bit of it! I never came to realise that until my last day of work at the NGO, when I bid goodbye to 30 odd teary eyed faces. Here’s hoping that I’ll never get tired of doing this, because, just when I was about to leave the class, a bunch of kids came running out to hug me and it really did look like that, tussi na jao scene from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I had no idea I could make a teeny tiny difference in the lives of students I interact with.
That’s the moment along with so many others is what I will look back on and hold on to, when somebody tells me that teaching is good time-pass!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Two years on..

2013 started on a beautiful note, things were moving forward as planned. Wedding preparation was in full swing; I was on full-on Bridezilla mode and couldn’t be more excited. Yeah, I was nervous deep down inside, but you don’t go around telling people how nervous you are, especially when there’s a weird infectious energy enveloping everybody. It was supposed to be the year of new beginnings and abundant happiness.

The wedding was a grand success and there was a fair amount of drama that ensued between the families. I don’t think I can write about it, without kicking up an unnecessary storm that only means more Karan Johar like drama.

The last one and half years of my life have been terribly upsetting. I was extremely homesick to start with; I would miss Amma’s cooking, every time I ate something bland, Appa’s coffee when the coffee was too dark and bitter, Adi when somebody shouted at me or when I needed some company. 
It only intensified when I moved to Delhi, I was longing for some semblance of comfort in a strange city and not so familiar people.

Things worsened when the people around me decided to judge me and ridicule every action of mine. At one point, a certain somebody remarked that I wasn’t family and nobody actually spoke up for me. Over the months it only snow balled into something I couldn’t handle; my privacy was being invaded, I was treated like a errant child and to top things off, there was too much interference on how I lived my life. People thought I’d give them Prima Donna treatment, with little regard for my choices.

The darkest moment came in October that year, when I was diagnosed with inflamed tonsils. It was something as simple as that, the condition was blown out of proportion and I was coerced to undergo an effing tonsillitis surgery much against my wishes. In the meantime, my professional life had taken a beating, I was trying to look for work around Delhi and every place was either too far or not to my liking. It was personal and professional turmoil at its best.

That’s when I started diving into jars of Nutella, takeaway Chinese and overloaded myself with chocolates of every kind. I started gaining loads of weight, kept falling sick; I would cry all day long, spend sleepless nights worrying about what I had turned into. There was a point when I had forgotten how to smile, not exaggerating it one bit. I was bloody depressed and decided to keep things to myself by putting on a facade of being “fine”.

It took me more than a year to pick up the broken pieces of life and put them together. 2014 was all about finding my feet, and no it isn’t as easy as that. People were still meddling with my life and I wanted to put an end to my misery. I could have picked up the phone and turned it into a ghastly drama, and drag everybody through the hall of shame. Instead, I chose to ignore them, which was easier said than done.

The real challenge was in rebuilding my life from scratch, I had become this whiny, sad and depressed woman I did not recognise anymore! Thankfully, I had people who I could reach out to, cry my lungs out, crib about my life, and spell out my fears and frustrations. Those were the longest six months of my life. I’m glad that I had them around otherwise I’d be bloody lost. By this time, my corporate career had come to a dead end, nobody hires you when you have goddamned long break.  

It was then, I decided to do what I’d been meaning to do since I was a teenager, become a teacher. I enrolled in an English teacher training course this January after British Council rejected my CELTA Application. The last three months have been the best three months in a long time; I thoroughly enjoyed studying, participating in the classes and writing assignments. I completed the course today morning, and it was a bittersweet moment. I was sad that it was over, but I was glad that I rose above the cesspool of depression and did something worthwhile with my life.

I’m looking forward to the good things that life might have in store for me. I have vowed never to let people get the better off me and never be depressed ever again. Here’s hoping that 2015, turns out to be a really good year, both personally and professionally!

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Last year this time, if I had known wearing socks, drinking hot water and covering my ears would help me survive my first winter, I would have had a job, saved a whole lot of money and most importantly saved myself from a whole lot of pain, trauma and suffering.

But then again, if I had known if I had known wearing socks, drinking hot water and covering my ears would help me survive my first winter, I would have never gained a best friend for life, never known the true colours and intentions of certain people, never realised that people could be so calculating and mean. Most importantly, I would have never gained perspective about the realities of life.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Kyunki Mujhe Hindi Nahi Aati!

Now, here’s the thing, not so long ago, I thought I’ll survive North India like a pro and I’ll jot down a few points to justify my stance

- I could read and write Hindi, studied Hindi until class 12.

- I could even write essays and comprehensions *show off alert*

- I knew a fair bit of Hindi and could hold a decent conversation with a handful of people who spoke the language.

- I spent way too much time watching useless Hindi movies and serials.

- I was sometimes the only one who understood most of the dialogues in these movies, songs and serials.

- I also learnt Sanskrit in school.

Ok, the last point was completely irrelevant. I wasn’t really worried about communicating with people until I moved to Delhi. Apart from the usual suspects like; culture shock, homesickness, sheep in the big city syndrome, missing my friends back home, the fear factor associated with Delhi, there was one thing that stood apart – the language barrier.

Coming to the point in focus, a week after I moved cities with my in-laws in the tow, I faced my first household challenge. The house was barren except for two cots and a sofa thrown in for good measure. The walls were bare, there were no shelves in place, the doors needed repairing, and you get the picture right? So, I was in charge of helping the in-laws set up the place. Thus, I went to the watchman and asked him for a carpenter, wait, it’s not as simple as that, the complaint book had stuff written in Hindi, I had to muster my long lost knowledge and write something. And this was just the beginning of a never ending ordeal.

The carpenter came home, looked around the place and whilst I was trying to explain what I wanted, he suddenly started speaking Greek, or it sounded like that. He was asking me for Kheel*, hathodi* and a drilling machine in Hindi, and this was despite telling him, I don’t understand a word of what he was saying. The best part was when he looked at the door and told me – iskeliye toh kundi badalna padega, I burst out laughing, because Kundi in Tamil means something entirely different!

After a while, there was no water supply, which I couldn’t rectify, so here is the Plumber or Pilambarr in Hindi. My first conversation with him was something like this: “Unga eerugal la vali iruka?? Unga toothpaste la uppu iruka?? / Aapke nall mein paani nahi aa rha hai?? Aapke tanki mein paani hai?? I was taken aback for obvious reasons; a) he was speaking too fast, b) my brain kept telling me, no match found! So after asking him to repeat the entire thing slowly and steadily, I figured that he was asking me if the *tank* was full. Now I dint know that my apartment had an individual tank, also, Delhi apartments are notorious for having multiple taps and each of these taps serve different purposes; one is for regular paani, the other one is for saaf paani (corporation / metro water). If you think that’s simple, let me elaborate, my bathroom has 4 taps and two of them don’t work. My cousin’s kitchen has three taps for God knows what! Okay, I digressed, the pilambarr looked at taps, told me that bohot saari gandagi hai like he was Abbas in a Harpic Ad, and that my tank is desperately in need of bileeching powder wali wash. All this happened while trying to communicate in my best Hindi and it was depressing to watch all my efforts go down the bloody drain, literally.

Now, apply the same concept to customer care executives from Tata Sky and Airtel; I find it really difficult to answer most of their questions, and they refuse to speak to me to English even when I request them to effing switch languages. And so on and so forth with people I meet on a regular basis; auto drivers who piss me off, my maid who thinks I’m a pushover because I’m a madrasi, to servers at takeaway joints, shop owners and delivery guys! I’m at a loss of words when it comes to expressing and explaining what I need.

So much for knowing a language! Hindi isn’t an alien language, but it isn’t a language I’m comfortable with. Honestly, I don’t think in Hindi, it’s either English or Tamil, so responding in either of these languages comes naturally to me. What pisses me off the most about Hindi is that I can't come up with instant rebuttals, and it’s really irritating when I cannot say what I really want to say. And when I want to say something, I’m kind of worried that I may say something that means something very different. For instance if a shopkeeper tries to cheat me back home, I’d simply ask him – enna anna, kaadhula poo sutharengala? Or when an auto driver over charges me, I’d say – idhu porum! See, articulating in Hindi my biggest problem, because I know for a fact that am taken for a ride, they’re taking advantage of my lack of knowledge and every time I can’t place a word or a phrase, I feel like Alia Bhatt!

So, if you’re somebody who is fluent in Hindi and can come up with awesome sarcastic comebacks, get in touch. I’m looking for something on the lines of – poi saavu da thanni lorry yethi!

PS: Kheel – nails, Hathodi – hammer, nall – tap, Tanki – Tank. Kundi – latch (Go figure :P)

PS1: This happens when I blog after ages, I write so much that it might just sound like blubbering.

PS2: thank you for reading.

PS3: Ok, Now I’m going to play Pistah and piss off my neighbours.